MCP Virtual Business Cards


Microsoft’s MCP Virtual Business Cards are pretty darn cool. I saw these over on Matt McSpirit’s Blog and, after completing my new exams, I got round to setting mine up.

You can check it out here:

https://www.mcpvirtualbusinesscard.com/VBCServer/rich/interactivecard

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These are a nice, eye catching way of letting people see your Microsoft credentials.

BPOS 2010 aka Wave 14


BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite), Microsoft’s Online Services offering has been somewhat successful over the last year or so, but it is about to become a much more robust platform. Over the next few months the “Wave 14” rollout will begin, with an aim to being completed by the end of 2010.

The biggest update is that the products will match the versions that are available to purchase “on-site”. That is, BPOS will offer Exchange 2010 and Sharepoint 2010 with near feature parity; removing one of the biggest hurdles to BPOS adoption…at least in my experience.

However, there are a number of other additions and improvements coming…

Identity and authentication has been an issue for many people, as this whole area is quite clunky & “un-modern”. As Program Manager Dan Kershaw says:

“the password policy isn’t configurable, you can’t use the same credentials used inside the company for single sign-on with BPOS so admins have to maintain separate credentials, there’s no two-factor authentication and no role-based administration”.

The fact that Microsoft recognise these limitations is great as that means they’re also working on fixes. The update will bring:

  • Password Policy controls
  • Five admin roles
  • Federated ID’s w/ 2 factor authentication for single sign-on
  • New Admin Console
  • Service connector for managing Pcs & apps.

 

Powershell is definitely the way forward for 21st century system admins and, while it can be used for certain things with the current iteration of BPOS, more is coming soon.

I covered off some of the new features of Sharepoint Online 2010 in this post but now there is more information on what’s coming for Office Communications Online (OCO) over the next year.

Currently OCO gives IM and presence, along with peer to peer video, only within the customer’s domain. One of it’s biggest limitations is the inability to “federate” with on-premise OCS servers…this slightly puzzling block will be removed with Wave 14.

It’s said there will be “full integration” with Exchange & Sharepoint, both on-site and online.

This will lead to:

  • using the calendars on Exchange/Sharepoint to determine someone’s IM availability
  • voicemail in Exchange Online
  • IM functionality in OWA 2010.

One of the biggest questions people have is whether Office Comms Online will have VOIP/Voice capabilities.

"it might be more than a year later," says Ziv Fass, Senior Product Manager in the OCS team "but it won’t be years".

From a reseller AND a customer point of view, the updated versions of Microsoft’s Online Services will be a real benefit to us all.

Microsoft Webinars with Bechtle


I am running a series of Microsoft webinars through the month of June which I think/hope will be of interest to a lot of people out there :-)

The sessions and dates are:

June 15th

Windows 7 – Overview of Business Benefits

Click to register

June 17th

Overview of Microsoft Desktop Optimisation (MDOP)

Click to register

June 22nd

Office 2010 – Business Benefits and WebApps

Click to register

June 24th

SharePoint – Document Management, Business Connectivity Services and SharePoint Workspace

Click to register

First Event

The first webinar is tomorrow so it’s not much notice (sorry!) but the agenda is:

This session will cover the business benefits of deploying Windows 7, from both an administrator and user perspective covering things such as:

  • Increasing user productivity
  • Enhancing security
  • Flexible working

and more. The session will also cover Windows 7 Enterprise, Software Assurance (SA) benefits & Windows Server 2008 R2.

As well as myself, our Account Manager from Microsoft will be hosting the event too so there will be a chance to ask questions/give feedback directly to MS…which is always nice :-)

You can hit the “Click to Register” links above to email me or you can message me on twitter:

@richfrombechtle

We’ll be sending the registration info out around 16:00ish this afternoon so I’ll need to hear before then.

This is open to pretty much anyone so feel free to register :-)

I don’t often mention Bechtle on my blog as I don’t use it as a sales platform at all, but I feel this is a good exception ot make…I hope you agree!

Windows 7 Service Pack 1 coming soon


Windows 7 is, by far, the best Operating System Microsoft have produced but we all know it isn’t perfect…and so do Microsoft. They have announced that Service Pack 1 will be available as a public beta next month (July), not just for Windows 7 but also Windows Server 2008 R2.
For server it will bring RemoteFX (VDI multimedia performance) and Dynamic Memory Allocation; for the desktop it is really just a collection of fixes, many/most of which have already been delivered via Windows Update.
It’s real use is going be moving people off XP, something which many companies are still reluctant to do. The “accepted wisdom” is not to deploy a new MS OS until the first service pack has been released and, in times gone by, this was generally sound practice…as Vista proved ;) However Windows 7 has always been stable…even as a beta, so a lot of people are missing out on the dozens of benefits it brings,for no real reason. Once this milestone has officially been reached I’ll be very interested to see its effect on corporate buying strategies.

Downgrade Rights

OEM licences (the ones that come pre installed on new pcs/laptops) can currently be downgraded to Vista or XP, and many people are still choosing to drop down to XP. However:

“Can I downgrade my OEM version of Windows 7 Professional to XP Professional?

For a limited time of 18 months after the general availability of Windows 7 or the release of a Windows 7 Service Pack, whichever is earlier , the OEM license of Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate will include downgrade rights to Windows XP Professional. After that period the OEM license will enable downgradeable to Windows Vista Business.”

That excerpt from the “Microsoft Downgrade Rights Chart” shows that, very soon; downgrading to Windows XP Pro will only be available to Volume Licensing customers.

I believe that this will be the push most people need to stop clinging to XP and make the move to the 21st century, so this will drive Windows 7 usage. If not, and there are people who insist on downgrading then it will drive adoption of Volume Licensing and all the extras and benefits that brings.

All in all, pretty big changes that will have a positive effect for customers, resellers & Microsoft.

Thoughts on the iPad


The iPad is upon us in the UK and so over the Bank Holiday weekend, I went into the local Apple store to have a look at what it was all about.

The first thing that struck me was the crowd…there were around 50 iPads available to play with and people were queuing up for almost every one, 2 or 3 people deep! I eventually burst through the crowd of people, deftly side stepping a small child and a nifty Jordan-esque manoeuvre around another shopper until BOOM…an iPad was in my hand. This, the most magical of devices, cause of hysteria worldwide and apparent confirmation of “The Greatness of Jobs” was in my hand…and…

“Meh”

That was my first thought and even now, a couple of days later, it’s still my overall opinion.

It was smaller and heavier than I thought, so something of a double loss there really! Upon first sight I was completely under-whelmed…there wasn’t even a twinge of “OMG – I MUST buy it”…and I really was expecting I’d have to fight that urge. I got an iPod years ago, when I saw the first iPhone, despite knowing all it’s shortcomings, I nearly got one…and the same for the MacBook Air.

This time however, I truly wasn’t tempted to buy it at all. I think part of the reason for this may be that it isn’t really anything new…I’ve seen tablet PCs before and I’ve seen an iPhone so I’ve seen an iPad. If someone had a huge potato I’d go and look at it…but I wouldn’t want to buy it :-)

Part of my lack of interest in the iPad also applies to all tablets and it’s this one question:

“When would I use it?”

If I’m at home, I’ll use the laptop to surf the web, the Xbox to watch movies & the stereo to listen to music. If I’m out and about, depending where I’m going I’ll use my phone or my laptop…I don’t see what a tablet can do better AND easier than any of that setup.

My other complaint is transporting it. It’s too big to fit in a pocket so +1 to a smart phone so it will need to be carried in a bag/case of some sort…it which case you might as well take a laptop; or if weight is an issue…take a netbook.

If I’m going somewhere which means a Netbook is too big/heavy then it isn’t going to be much different with an iPad. Plus, and I know this is a tired argument but it’s worth repeating, netbooks and laptops can all play Flash!

There is one thing I’ll say (kind of) in it’s defense:

The “Multitasking” issue seems to be a little less clear cut that it’s made out. I was playing music and surfing the web which I had been led to believe was, in the words of Ralph Wiggum, “un-possible”. I guess perhaps it’s just 3rd party apps that can’t be multi-tasked?

Summation

All in all, it doesn’t seem to be anything special and I can’t see any compelling reasons to get one. I know Mac fans will be able to reel off any number of rebuttals to this but honestly it doesn’t matter…I can’t see the iPad attracting any new customers to the Apple fold; I’m going to say that nearly all iPad owners will already have an iPhone and/or iPod.