Microsoft’s UK HQ was my base of operations today as I took part in the first Office 365 “Ignite” training, anywhere in the world. It was a very well put together day with great content delivered by great presenters, I picked up quite a few tidbits of information I’d like to share with you all. Be warned, this won’t be a particularly cohesive post, more a list of interesting things I learned today!
Told you it would just be a list
Microsoft Kinect, the motion sensing, wii-beating, game changing Xbox 360 add on, now has official pricing.
US = $149.99
UK = £129.99
It’s good to have pricing but it does seem we’re getting the short end of the stick here in the UK. The current conversion rate puts it around £90, which would far more palatable. I don’t see why it is so much more over here…almost 50%!
When I pre-ordered my Kinect a couple of weeks ago, Game told me they expected it to be less than £100 as Microsoft wanted to “make it as accessible as possible”…that sounded plausible but alas, clearly isn’t the case
In my opinion the Kinect should be positioned as a way to attract new Xbox owners, but I can’t see £300 being seen as that attractive…especially when a Wii costs £119.99!
Will I still pick up my pre-order? To be honest, yes…but I’ll be expecting even more from it now!
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.
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.
Microsoft have announced that the next versions of a number of their products will cease to support Itanium processors; making:
Windows Server 2008 R2
SQL Server 2008 R2
Visual Studio 2010
the last to support the Itanium architecture.
The reasoning behind this is that 64-bit processors & servers are now so hugely scalable that Itanium, as a solution for massive data-centers/high performance clusters etc, is simply no longer needed.
With both Intel & AMD releasing 6/8 core CPU’s and a servers with 8+ processors being offered by a dozen manufacturers, 64+ core boxes are available & close to becoming common. Windows Server can handle 256 logical CPU’s and so is perfectly placed to look after the datacenter.
Itanium users need not worry though, Windows Server 2008 R2 is fully supported until July 9th 2013, then going into extended support until July 10th 2018; so Microsoft aren’t abandoning anyone!
See the full post here:
Not often is the end of a series welcomed by all, especially when it hasn’t even started yet…but this is different. Microsoft’s upcoming mobile OS is now officially titled:
“Windows Phone 7″
The previous name was a bit of a mouthful and I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone use the whole title anyway, so it seems like a good move to me…the reaction on Twitter has been positive so far too
Now we just need it to be released…and be better than Android
Office 2010 is a little bit closer as today Microsoft announced the FPP (Full Packaged Product aka Box Copy) SKU lineup, along with US retail pricing.
The Tech Preview & Beta have been very well received with the current beta being downloaded over 2,000,000 times already! Now consumers & small businesses can see what versions are available and which Office products they will contain.
Office Home & Student:
This version has proved very popular on Office 2007, giving great flexibility for home users & students while also offering great value for money. The 2010 release includes:
Office Web Apps
It will continue to allow installation on three PCs in one house; which is a huge draw for everyone
Office Home & Business:
This is aimed at small businesses and includes all the above plus Outlook 2010.
This is the top level version of Office available outside of Volume Licensing, and is comprised of:
Office Web Apps
You’ll notice that Sharepoint Workspace (the new name for Groove) isn’t included…that’s included in Office Pro Plus on Volume Licensing.
Office Professional Academic:
This contains the same products as the regular Office Pro but with Educational pricing, so around 1/5 the cost! The inclusion of Outlook et al make this a great offering for more advanced students such as those in Higher Education.
Although not mentioned in today’s announcement, Standard & Professional Plus will still be available in Volume Licensing with Office 2010. Don’t forget that we will also have Office 2010 Starter as the free, ad supported replacement for MS Works!
I’m excited for Office 2010 both as a user and a partner…how about you?
I’ve just watched a documentary called King of Kong: A Fistful of Dollars, about the battle to be classed as the World’s #1 Donkey Kong Player.
A documentary about 80’s video games perhaps isn’t to everyone’s taste but, in my opinion, this is a great film that you should definitely watch if you’re at all interested in Arcade games. To be honest, I think even if gaming isn’t your thing, this film is still worth watching…it does a great job of making you have real feelings (for and against) the main protagonists and I really cared about the outcome of the high-score battle. Seeing inside the world of competitive gaming is very interesting; it’s a lot more cut-throat that I previously imagined
This film is entertaining, engaging, very well made and highly enjoyable…this, my second post on a film, urges you to go and watch it…but keep an eye out for barrels on the way to BlockBuster
For a few disputed facts, see Wikipedia here (but do it after you’ve watched the film!)
It seems that October will bring some pretty great updates to 2 key Microsoft products: App-V & MED-V.
A Service Pack for App-V 4.5 will allow it to work with the task bar and jumplists found within Windows 7 as well as enabling the virtual applications to offer full federated search, just as if they were on the desktop.
MED-V 2.0 will be released in October 2009 (so next month) rather than the “sometime” during Q1 2010 that Microsoft initially stated. This will give support for 64bit desktop OS’s among other things.
See a bit more over at The Register.
Asset Inventory Service (AIS) is one of the core components of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) and, as the name suggests, is aimed at helping customers to manage their assets.
Software Asset Management (SAM) should be a key part of a businesses processes these days, as ensuring software compliancy is a big thing. In a nutshell, SAM is making sure you have the right number of licences for the number of users you have and making sure they were purchased correctly. Licence Compliancy is a big thing for Microsoft and they, as well as most other major software vendors, have a dedicated SAM team to help customer (and partners) with this process.
Even with the best will in the world it can be hard for customers to remain compliant, if they don’t have a SAM system in place. I recently visited a customer who, through one person deploying an incorrect system image a number of years ago, have found themselves under-licensed by a substantial amount, which must now be corrected-and that has a not-insignificant cost attached to it.
Microsoft AIS is a SAM system that can help customers keep track of their assets:
Ensure compliance to reduce risk:
By getting the most complete view of the software installed on enterprise PCs, you can determine whether licenses have been deployed. You can also tell whether all software is compliant with license agreements, key industry standards such as Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA, and corporate policies. By identifying applications that are out of date or that don’t comply with corporate policy, Microsoft Asset Inventory Service can help IT staff find unapproved applications that may be causing conflicts.
Improve forecasting and budgeting:
Data can be gathered on all software assets in a single query without consuming the IT Dept’s time or interrupting users.. AIS captures a comprehensive list of all the applications installed on each machine which is then reconciled against the AIS Application Knowledgebase. This contains hundreds of thousands of software titles, to create a detailed inventory of the software that is in use in your organization. This information can be transformed into browser-based reports that help your IT staff manage software assets and forecast future needs. The service also analyzes how Microsoft Volume License agreements are deployed to help you more easily manage true-ups, renewals, and license reallocation.
As well as under-licensing, enterprises can also determine if they’re over-licensed; this can happen if a number of people leave and so you have Office licences in reserve for example…many companies automatically purchase a new licence for each new starter-AIS can help stop them over-spending.
Software Asset Management-Not this SAM