Microsoft begin Office 15 Technical Preview

The latest edition of Microsoft’s flagship Office Suite has entered the Technical Preview stage. Currently known as “Office 15” (being the 15th “wave” of productivity products”*) the current beta edition has been released to selected customers, of course under NDA.

PJ Hough, Corporate Vice President of Development, Office Division said:

“Office 15 is the most ambitious undertaking yet for the Office Division”

and also:

“With Office 15, for the first time ever, we will simultaneously update our cloud services, servers, and mobile and PC clients for Office, Office 365, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Project, and Visio. Quite simply”

This second point appears to indicate that there will no longer be a gap between new editions, and thus features, arriving on-premise and them being available to cloud users…a view which ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley seems to share:


If this is the case then it’s good news for partners & customers alike.

There will be a public beta in the summer so only 5 or so months to wait to see what’s going to be in there:

  • Will there be a “Microsoft Accounting”?
  • Will there be an Office Suite that includes Visio and/or Project?
  • Will Word easily allow centralised building blocks for document creation?

Check out the Office blog post here:

*Well actually the 14th as they skipped 13 for reasons of superstition. So Office 2007 = Wave 12 and Office 2010 = Wave 14

Blackberry Cloud Services Launches for Microsoft Office 365

This is great news. Microsoft’s Office 365 Online Services can once again play nicely with RIMs Blackberry mail service.

“BlackBerry Business Cloud Services is available at no additional charge to Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise Plan subscribers. This secure service, hosted by Research In Motion (RIM), directly links Microsoft® Exchange Online with BlackBerry smartphones to offer reliable, mobile access to synchronized email, calendar, contacts, tasks and memo pads.”


The previous iteration of Microsoft Online Services had a chargeable BES (Blackberry Enterprise Server) element hosted by MS which, after a little while became free of charge.

In the run up to Office 365 being launched, the decision was made that RIM would take over hosting the Blackberry services which seemed sensible to me. The odd part is that Office 365 went live in July 2011 but RIM said it would be at least 6 months until they were ready.

This led to a scenario where many people were “waiting until BES arrives” before genuinely evaluating Office 365, particularly in the mid-market space. It’s great to see that this is available and will give our teams another great thing to talk about with our clients Smile

Go and find out more info here:

and/or grab the Technical PDF, which compares the different flavours of Blackberry Services here:

View the Feature and Technical Overview

System Center 2012 Licensing Changes

System Center 2012 is getting closer and today saw Microsoft release details of the new licensing models.

Currently the various System Center products (SCCM, SCOM, SCSM, DPM etc) can be purchased individually or as bundles, from 2012 however it’s bundles only. There will be 2 flavours:

  • Standard
  • DataCenter

with the difference being the number of OSEs (Operating System Environments) that can be managed:


Following DPM 2010’s lead there will now be no more console server licences or SQL needed, simply Management Licences for the endpoints being managed.

Determining the number of licences needed will involve knowledge of the virtual environment & physical processors, similar to SQL:



System Center 2012 has a much greater focus on “The Cloud” and as such:


This enables organizations to move to a hybrid infrastructure much more easily.

What if I already have System Center?

If you have System Center with Software Assurance that is current at the time of 2012 General Availability you will receive the following grants:


What about Client devices?

More changes abound here too, there are now 3 Client ML offerings:


It’s important to note that, as with the Server MLs:

“Components included in the Client MLs are not available separately”


Overall I think this is a good move. Again, Microsoft are modifying their licensing to make it more dynamic, more future proof and more accessible to companies going forwards.

Yes, there will be situations where it works out more expensive for some companies but for the vast majority this is a great move…they’ll have the ability to deploy a wider range of System Center products with streamlined licensing, which is good for everyone Smile

That said, I’m off to review a number of proposals to see how they map to the new models and what changes need to be made – good times! (Thing is, I actually mean that Winking smile)

Any questions, let me know.

Microsoft takes action against Comet for Counterfeit Windows

I’ve just seen this and it’s quite surprising:

“Microsoft Corp. today issued proceedings against Comet Group PLC for allegedly creating and selling more than 94,000 sets of counterfeit Windows Vista and Windows XP recovery CDs. The alleged counterfeits were sold to customers who had purchased Windows-loaded PCs and laptops.”

That is a huge number of copies and also from a large, well established high street name.

Website “TheNextWeb” have a statement from Comet which reads:

“We note that proceedings have been issued by Microsoft Corporation against Comet relating to the creation of recovery discs by Comet on behalf of its customers.

“Comet has sought and received legal advice from leading counsel to support its view that the production of recovery discs did not infringe Microsoft’s intellectual property.

“Comet firmly believes that it acted in the very best interests of its customers. It believes its customers had been adversely affected by the decision to stop supplying recovery discs with each new Microsoft Operating System based computer. Accordingly Comet is satisfied that it has a good defence to the claim and will defend its position vigorously.”

Their argument that it was in the best interest of customers won’t hold much/any weight if it’s found to infringe upon Microsoft’s IP rights. Microsoft will of course be very certain that this is the case and won’t have launched this suit without proper forethought and fact checking.

I do find this quite encouraging in a way, as it shows that Microsoft are not just targeting the small, local retailers (who tend to be the ones involved in things like this) but also scrutinising the big, well established retailers too…which can only be better for the industry and customers in the long run.