Find the account owner’s e-mail alias for VSO

Visual Studio Online (, formally known as TF Service (, allows you to create a copy of TFS in the cloud. Because I’ve been using it and demoing it since summer of 2011, I’ve created quite a few accounts. Now that the service has gone commercial and is out of general preview, I wanted to start cleaning things up. However, the default behavior (there are some cases where you can own more than one account but it’s not normal as of the date I wrote this post) for the platform is that you can only own one account per alias. Thus I’ve created a number of demo Live IDs Microsoft Account that “own” accounts. In most cases, I went and added my main Microsoft Account.

Thus when I log into my profile page I see a nice long list of accounts that I’m a member of. The problem is how do I figure which of my accounts owns it? Also, some of the accounts are owned by other people. How do I contact them if I want my account removed? Jump below for the answer


You’ll note that each account you’re a member of is a hyperlink so jump to the account.

Then click the cog wheel in the upper corner.




You’ll get a new browser tab or window. Click the Settings tab.





On this page, you’ll see the account owner’s e-mail address or display name.









If it’s just their e-mail address, great. But what if it’s a display name and you don’t remember or know the e-mail address that goes with it? Well, click the Control panel tab.

There’s a link on the page the says Manage collection security and group membership. Click it.

Updated method
Once you get to this page you can find the admin’s e-mail alias one of two ways. The easiest is to just select the Project Collection Administrators group and the click the Members link at the right. The account owner will be in this group and you won’t have to do any hovering (great for tablets without mice) like my original method to get the e-mail address.


Original method
On this new page click the Users link under the top two tabs.







Finally, select and then hover over the display name of the user who you found was the account owner and you’ll have their e-mail address.






In the EU? Missing your IE desktop icon in Windows 8.1?

I’m in the UK this week working with my mates and endjin.

With Windows 8.1 going GA, I brought up the issue of the Browser Choice update that Microsoft is required to do because of the EU.

The problem is when you’re given the choice and pick Internet Explorer, you do NOT get the IE desktop icon on your task bar.

How do you get it back? It turns out it’s pretty simple if not a bit nonobvious.

Hit the Windows key (or click the Start button) and locate the “modern” IE tile. Right-click on it (or touch and hold) to bring up the app bar.






Select pin to taskbar




Voilà, you now have your IE “desktop” shortcut back.






Tech Ed 2013 Continuous Deployment Links

Here’s some links to help learn more about Continuous Deployment with Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server & Team Foundation Service and to get you started with your own process and builds.

Tech Ed 2012 Links

I’m at Tech Ed in Amsterdam today and need to provide some links from my talks.

Here’s where they will go. Smile

The links are also good for the same talks I did in Orlando just over a week ago.

2 Birds, 1 stone—Windows 8 Release Preview

Like many of you I downloaded the Windows 8 Release Preview as well as Visual Studio 2012 RC today.

I knew I’d want to use it in some Virtual Machines as well as Boot to VHD.

So how did I do it and save some time?

  • Download the ISO from Microsoft.
  • Create a new Hyper-V VM.
    When choosing the VHD size, I start small—I can always make it bigger. For Windows 8, Visual Studio 2012 RC, and Office 2010, I make it 32 GB fixed since I know I’ll need that much plus a bit of buffer.
    NOTE: If you’re going to use Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 (instead of Windows Server 2012 RC) to host your Window 8 VM, you’ll want to make sure you have this hot fix installed before you try and boot your Windows 8 VM as a guest.
  • Install Windows 8. When I get a chance to create the first account, I only create a local account like Installer since I know I’m going to use sysprep. I wait until I’m using a “real” version before I add my Live ID.
  • I like to enable the local Administrator account and set a password.
  • I then run Windows Update and then shutdown.
  • Export a copy.

Windows 8 Release Preview


Windows 8

  • Install Visual Studio 2012 RC.



Visual Studio 2012


  • Install Office 2010 Pro with SP1.
  • Windows Update and then shutdown.
  • Export a copy.
  • Now start it back up and log into the virtual machine.
  • Log on as the local Administrator.
  • Start a command prompt (elevated if you’re not using the local Administrator).
  • Change directories to C:\Windows\System32\Sysprep.
  • Type sysprep and press return.








Windows 8 Sysprep

  • Pick OOB, generalize and then click OK.
  • Wait for it to Shutdown.
  • Backup the VHD.
  • Now copy to a real machine that I want to use it on with Boot to VHD.
  • Go to Windows 7 for example and mount the VHD .
  • Use System Configuration to make sure I don’t have an existing Windows 8 entry. If I do rename with BCDEDIT.
  • Start an Administrative command prompt.
  • Change to C:\Windows\System32 and type bcdboot V:\Windows where V: is the driver letter assigned to the mounted VHD.
  • Reboot and let Windows 8 do through the OOB experience.
  • Log in with my Live ID, add missing drivers.
  • Visit the Windows 8 store.







How I got the Windows 8 Consumer Preview on my //BUILD tablet

If you paid to go Microsoft’s Build Windows Conference last September in Anaheim, CA, you received a pre-release version of Windows 8 (the Developer Preview) running on pre-release Samsung hardware (which you can acquire with Windows 7) as the morally equivalent Samsung Series 7 Slate.

Now there’s a couple of ways to do it. In fact, I tried the USB key stick way. However, I couldn’t get it to work. Turns out there’s a few tricks including using a 4 GB USB stick (I was using a 16 GB model). If you want to try it this way, go over to the forums.

What did I do? Well, I followed in the foot steps of my fellow developer Ian Griffiths: I installed from an ISO over the network. Naturally if you have room, you can just do it locally.

First I downloaded the x64 ISO.

Next, I created a network share to the drive where I stored the ISO.

I then mounted the ISO using the new built-in ISO mounting feature in Windows 8.



From there I ran the Setup program.








I then answered a few questions. In particular, I had the choice of migrating my old settings. I said no.














Once things were updated and I had logged into my new install, I went to reclaim some space. My C: drive had a few extra folders that I wanted to get rid of:

  • $Windows.!BT
  • MSOCache
  • Windows.old

The MSOCache is a hidden folder used by Office 2010. I removed it manually. I then started to remove Windows.old manually first (it’s not hidden so I noticed it first). While possible, it’s easier to get rid of the two “Windows” folders by using Disk Cleanup.

Start the Control Panel.
Access the Performance Information and Tools
Click the Open disk cleanup.


Check Temporary Windows Installation files (see below) and DiskCleanupPrevious Windows installation(s):












Now on to installing Visual Studio 11.

I feel the need … the need for speed-part 1

I love SSDs. As do others. Currently all of my SSDs are from Intel except for one. I’ll have to count them up at some point but needless to say from my first 80 GB generation one X-25, I’ve been hooked.

Recently, one of my generation 2 Intel 160 GB drives was acting up. Now unlike old mechanical drives, you don’t get much warning. Generally they just die. I quickly copied off all the data and then put it aside.

Today while working on other things, I did some testing on it with the Intel Solid-State Drive Toolbox as well as HD Tune Pro. I had been using the drive in an external case over eSATA (more on that later). In order to use the Intel tools, I needed to direct connect it to my laptop using the ultra bay in one of my Lenovo W510s.

The Intel tools all reported all was well. I then ran all the tests in HD Tune Pro both with and without a partition (you can only run the write tests without one). The health report did in fact show an issue. It doesn’t look too bad so with regular backups, I think I can continue to use the drive.















One down side to SSDs is that their performance can degrade over time (especially if you have a drive without TRIM support or like me, you put the drive in a case that prevents regular use of TRIM).

I was interested then in how the drive was doing performance wise.

Here’s the raw Benchmark Read results in the ultra bay:















Here’s the raw Benchmark Write results in the ultra bay:















Overall, not bad for a drive that’s almost two years old and has been used extensively to host VHDs for Hyper-V.

As I had mentioned, I had been using the drive in an external case. So I put it back in the case and ran the same HD Tune Pro. The results, depressing.

Here’s the raw Benchmark Read results in the external case over eSATA:















Here’s the raw Benchmark Write results in the external case over eSATA:















As you can see the read is down about 100 MB/s (!) and the write is down about 25 MB/s.

What’s going on? I’m not quite sure.

Is it the eSATA port on Lenovo? The external case?

I’ll investigate more in part 2 as well as do some tests with a brand new Generation 3 Intel 160 GB drive.

About the author

Brian A. Randell is a Partner with MCW Technologies, LLC. Brian is also currently a Visual Studio ALM MVP.

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