Computer Weekly Blog Awards 2010 Nomination


The Computer Weekly blog awards are back for 2010, and I’ve been shortlisted in the:

“Individual IT Professional Male”

category, which is pretty exciting!

I can see I’m up against Mark Wilson and Steve Clayton so any and all votes will be most appreciated Smile

I’m also shortlisted in the:

“Company/Corporate: Large Enterprise”

category. I was in this section last year and again find myself up against the likes of TechCrunch, BBC and Cap Gemini!

The voting link is here:

http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2010/10/18/243307/Vote-in-the-Computer-Weekly-IT-Blog-Awards-2010.htm

I’m “Software Ruminations” in the list – vote away!

Microsoft Office 365 & BPOS


Microsoft made a big announcement today – Office is available online!

Yes Office Web Apps have been with us for a little while but they are lacking many features and, in the corporate world, you need a full Office licence on your desktop to use them. This however is “proper” online Office so, just like the original BPOS offerings such as Exchange & Sharepoint, it exists solely in the cloud…no on premise(s) software required.

There were also name changes, new products and new prices announced today so let’s take a look at the whole shebang!

Office 365

This is the new name for Microsoft’s cloud services, both existing and new. Family members include:

Office 365 Small Business

Office 365 for Enterprise (BPOS V2)

BPOS Government

Live@EDU

To be honest, I’m not really sure about the name. Maybe it will grow on me but for now at least, it feels a bit cheap and I’ve already seen people asking what happens on day 366 of a leap year Smile

Office 365 Small Business

This cut down version of Microsoft’s cloud offerings is, as the name suggests, aimed at small businesses with up to 25 users and offers:

  • Exchange Online
  • Sharepoint Online
  • Lync Online
  • Office Web Apps
  • External Web Site

for $6 per user per month.

Office 365 for Enterprise

BPOS V2 aka Union will be available in the first half of 2011, as per Mary Jo Foley’s info.

This will give companies:

  • Office Professional Plus
  • Exchange Online
  • Sharepoint Online
  • Lync Online
  • 24×7 Phone Support
  • On Premise(s) licences

It’s to be noted that the upcoming Wave 14 releases of the online products will introduce dozens of new features that make them much more compelling to businesses, such as the ability to federate Lync and host extranets on Sharepoint:

Read Microsoft BPOS- More new features

All this will cost just $24 per user per month – that is really amazing!

Availability

Beta testing across 13 countries has started, with beta sign up available at:

http://www.office365.com

If you can get it to load up for you – I’m having no luck!

Office365 will be available in 40 countries during 2011. It will then expand to include Dynamics CRM 2011 Online (a great product) and then a separate Educational focused offering will arrive, rolling into it Live@EDU.

Follow @Office365 for more info.

I’m already thinking of a number of our clients who will be very interested in Office Online but one question I have already been asked is:

“Can I get Office Online as a separate product?”

I don’t think so but I will check…

Microsoft Kinect & Sky Player


Microsoft Kinect is coming, and it’s going to be awesome.

Sky Player on Xbox 360 is already available and can be pretty awesome.

Microsoft’s Channel 9 have revealed that you’ll be able to combine the two. Yes that’s right, in a little under 6 weeks, you’ll be controlling Sky with Kinect…nice Smile

“Kinect for Sky Player on Xbox 360 will also let viewers control TV with their voice to pause, fast forward, rewind and play content.”

Microsoft Enrolment for Education Solutions (EES)


Microsoft licensing has a new family member, Enrolment for Education Solutions AKA EES.

Currently, there are 2 education specific licensing programs, Schools Agreements & Campus Agreements (I’m not including Open Academic & Select Academic as specific). These offer huge savings over standard licence costs but there are certain requirements that don’t always please people, mainly the requirements to cover ALL eligible desktops, even if they’re already licenced or not to be used for that purpose.

Last year, Microsoft introduced a pilot licensing scheme for education called SESP, which I covered here:

Read Microsoft Licensing- Subscription Enrollment for Schools

Not much has been heard about SESP since then, but it’s influence can definitely been seen in EES.

It’s interesting to note that Live@EDU, the free email+ service for Further/Higher Education establishments will be fully integrated into EES.

What’s different?

The big change is that EES is based on an FTE (Full Time Employee) count, rather than the number of desktops. This will, for almost all schools and colleges, dramatically reduce the number of licences needed.

Another change is the ability to add “non-platform” products in any quantity at any stage of the contract. This will reduce costs as well as help reduce complexity and perceived “pointlessness” of licensing. A good example of this is one we had with a customer a year or 2 ago, where they wanted 70 something Terminal Service CALs but they were required to purchase 700+ as that was their desktop count! Many grumbles were made about that as 600+ of them were never used and seen as a complete waste of money.

Something else that will help organizations further reduce costs is the ability to pro-rate the pricing of additional products, with a minimum charge of 6 months. For example:

Product added in month 3 = full price x 0.75

Product added in month 9 = full price x 0.5

You can also define an organization in a much more granular fashion so it could be:

  • Entire school district
  • Entire school
  • Just Year 11
  • Just the science departments

or more…much more flexible Smile

However you define the organization, the minimum entry point is still 300 units.

What exactly is FTE?

Perhaps not surprisingly, FTE isn’t quite as straight forward as just “Full Time Employees”! The actual calculation is:

image

“Non desktop PC Users” such as maintenance or food service staff can be excluded from the count. MS point out that you must include “student employees”, although I’m not sure what they are?!

Launch

EES is being made available at different time in different regions, and also through different channels. December 2010 will see the limited launch of EES.

In the US & Canada = December launch of EES under Campus Agreement via Distribution & Value Add Resellers (VARs).

In EMEA = December launch of EES to Campus Customer only via Large Account Resellers (LARs) only.

In APAC = December launch of EES under Campus Agreement via LAR only.

It won’t be available to primary & secondary schools in EMEA until March 1st 2011.

Microsoft XP OEM Downgrade discontinued


Microsoft Windows XP is still used by the majority of business around the world and it’s proving hard to get some people away from it. Well, Microsoft and it’s hardware partners are moving to make it more difficult to stick on XP and this is, in my opinion, a good thing.

What’s Happening?

From October 22nd 2010, downgrade restore media will not ship in PCs or Notebooks from HP.

If customers still require XP downgrade media, they will need to speak to HP support. A key bit of information is that this service will

“be available through HP Support until the end of July 2011”

which suggests in 10 months time, this service will be discontinued completely.

This isn’t specific to HP and is in fact a Microsoft directive that applies to all hardware OEM partners, although I believe the cut off dates may vary slightly.