Microsoft’s approach to stuff is to ship the basic product as part of a license and then provide you with lots of other add-ins, packs, resource kits and so on which are all free to use on top of what you just paid for e.g.

  • Windows has the Live platform which gives you basic photo editing (Live Photo Gallery) , a really good off-line blogging tool (Live Writer) and e-mail client and there's a free consumern orientated anti-virus tool to come.
  • Office puts out several add-ons under the office labs banner
  • SQL has a feature pack and the upgrade advisor which you download separately

This is good for IT professionals, because it doesn’t clutter up the operating system/ application with stuff you don’t need, it's good for Microsoft and the IT Professional, because  these can be continually updated and enhanced independently of the application. The only downside is that you need to know where to find these extras and install them seperately.

Sometimes it’s not the add-on or gadget you need it’s simply knowing how to make the best of the product, so you need to know where to find the virtual labs or the relevant whitepapers.

To make all this a little easier Alex Ball has created a special page on TechNet with all this on..

We hope it’s a definitive list, but if you find something we’ve missed please let us know - we are only human.