I reckon the IT Professionals working in education have some of the most demanding jobs in in the IT industry, they have to contend with all sorts of privacy and security problems, a multitude of software and with only one or two per school they need to be real Jacks (or Jills) of all trades.  Clearly they aren’t in for the money either, so I got to spend a day with them yesterday to find out what makes them tick and understand a little of their world. 

They have a big not for profit community  complete with its own portal (#Edugeek) which is now growing beyond the UK and they decided to visit Microsoft for their grand day out. 

I wanted to break up the more day to day stuff on Office 365, System center and licensing with a look at what  Microsoft are working on in the near and distant future, and this is bit like being a Londonner;  you really ought to know what to see and where to go in  your own city but you don’t always make the effort until friends or relatives  turn up.  So I had to do some digging around.

The big stuff worked on by Microsoft labs and Microsoft Research is pretty much all in the space of natural interfaces.  Kinect and Surface are good examples in this space and the new Surface 2 (the Samsung SUR40) has now made this exciting device more of a commodity and integrated more into the Windows fold.  The Kinect SDK for windows will do the same for this device and I may well be able run my future PowerPoint presentations using gestures rather than a mouse.

I also found a public video of StreetSlide Microsoft Research’s approach to showing the detail of roads integrated into Bing Maps.  This has already addressed the problem of making the view visually appealing and easy to navigate, the other change is privacy to avoid the concerns this technology has raised in the past.

In between this blue sky stuff I also wanted to call out the interesting free stuff that might be useful in schools like Live Photo Gallery with its fuse function to clean up you photos

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and photosynth, to stitch together a 3d composite which can then be geotagged on Bing maps

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They loved all of this stuff and so hopefully I’ll get an invite to the next one, in the meantime if you are in education you might wish to sign up for EduGeek (it’s free) and share problems with your hard working peers.