Today the keynote presentations were from Bill Gates & Brian Valentine.
Bill’s presentation was “Innovating through the digital decade”. He spoke about Microsoft’s big dreams and investments over the years: The Windows PC, The Web and .NET Web Services. And he spoke about the big investments we are making now, which is all about software and services. We got to see demonstrations of Office 12 (the next release of Office, due out this summer), Exchange 12 (the next version of Exchange, due out towards the end of this year) and Windows Live (which you can experience for yourselves at: http://www.live.com) – it’s one place on the internet where you can go and look at everything you want, a focal point if you like. Bill also spoke about Microsoft Assets both in the terms of the products we make and in terms of the technologies that we have and that we research – things like Translation, Speech, Ink, DRM, and the likes. Some technologies we have had for years but the products are only just coming into play – IPTV for instance (we’ve had that for nearly ten years, but it’s only now that broadband internet is more widely available, that television over the internet is becoming a reality. Bills presentations are always pretty interesting – it’s good to hear “the bosses” views on things.
Brian’s presentation was about Windows Vista (the next version of our client operating system, due to release to manufacturing (RTM) this summer – it will be widely available sometime before next Christmas. Brian only had a couple of slides, which meant that his session was nearly all demonstrations.
I also attended a session that covered off the next point release of Systems Management Server 2003 R2 – which basically is SMS 2003 with service pack two applied and with two neat additions: a scan tool for vulnerability assessment and an inventory tool for custom updates. The scan tool for vulnerability assessment uses the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyser (MBSA) 2.0 engine to perform vulnerability assessments on your machines and then lets you report on all the misconfigurations that you might have. The inventory tool for custom updates will let customers deploy updates to any software, not just Microsoft (things like Adobe for example – or any in-house written application).
There was a good session on System Centre Reporting Manager 2006 – which has been in beta for a long while now. It should be released before the summer. SCRM takes operational data from SMS and MOM and joins it with business context data from Active Directory. It’s going to helps IT and Business Managers to make better decisions, to improve their service quality and to better manage their IT resources.
I also attended a great session on Windows Mobile. We’ve gone from having pretty much zero percent of the market (when the big battle was Palm vs. Pocket PC) to a place where Palm are shipping devices running Windows Mobile and we have the biggest share of the handheld market. There are some great devices out now that are either telephones first (with all the other PDA software as secondary – mail, calendar, contacts, etc) or a PDA that has the telephone functionality built in. We got to see loads of demos of the new devices and got to see how we can now compete with RIM – our solution is better and cheaper than Blackberry.
That’s it for Wednesday – more tomorrow..
Today was the first "technical day". The keynote was from Bob Muglia, who's our VP for Server & Tools. He spoke about our commitments to our customers – which are: Fully Integrated Servers, The Right Server for the Right Job, Self Managing Dynamic Systems, End-to-End Connected Systems, Comprehensive Database and Analysis Tools, Universal Distributed Storage, Secure Anywhere Access, Rapid Application Development Tools, Direct Customer Connection, Cut the Cost on the Desktop and New World of Work Infrastructure. The point being that we (Microsoft) are “doing stuff” to make each of these a reality. e.g. The Right Server for the Right Job (role based servers) – we have done a lot (and will do more) around the branch office (with Windows Server 2003 R2 and Longhorn Server), around the Web Platform (with IIS 6.0 and 7.0 in Longhorn), Virtualisation with Virtual Server, etc (you get it). For each of our commitments we have evidence of what we have done so far and a roadmap of what’s coming to make it even better. In Longhorn Server for example, the Right Server for the Right Job, would include the Server Core (Windows Server without the GUI and all the other stuff not needed to run Windows), the ability to install just the bits required to run a particular role (File Server, Print Server, etc). Secure Anywhere Access, would include our Federated Identity stuff, Network Access Protection (the ability to only allow “approved” PCs onto the network) and the great stuff that we’re doing with Terminal Services (application publishing & seamless windows).
Other sessions I attended included a great session on Longhorn Server, and a fantastic demo of Voice Recognition in Windows Vista. The Voice Recognition bits are in the December Customer Technology Preview (CTP) of Vista, so if anyone is running that, have a play - it's VERY impressive.
That's all I’ve got time for today, so that’s it – more tomorrow…
As promised, I'm blogging from my annual "chip in the back of the head". I'm over in Seattle attending a Microsoft, internal only, technical readiness conference (TechReady).
Today, the first day of the event, didn't have much / any technical content - it was a "role day", where Microsoft people in the same role gather together and discuss what it is we do and what we should be doing better. We did have a couple of great keynote presentations from Steve Ballmer and Kevin Turner (Steve Ballmer called them: "the least technical thing you're going to do all week").
Steve spent his time framing the event by sharing his "confidence, passion and enthusiasm" and reminding us that we do well because we innovate in the right areas (which are pretty much everything): The Core Platform and User Experience, Business & E-commerce, Information Access & Organisation, Entertainment, Analysis, IT & Dev Platform / Tools, Communication Collaboration & Expression. He covered what we have done over the last five years and shared with us the direction for the next five. He called out where our competition is and closed by calling out the fantastic new products that we will be releasing over the next 12 to 18 months.
Kevin Turner, our new chief operating officer, told us why he joined Microsoft: He loves our mission statement (which is "enabling people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential") and the fact that we all work for a company where we're all part of something that is bigger that ourselves. Our values (integrity and honesty, open and respectful, big challenges, passion, accountable, and self-critical) offered him something to aspire to and something that he would enjoy working towards. He then reminded us what the company stands for and what we (the technical people within Microsoft) should be focusing on.
We did get a chance for a Q&A session with both Steve and Kevin, but because this is an internal event, I won't tell you any of the detail (suffice to say that they were asked some very difficult questions and gave some very open and honest responses).
Something I will share (because I'm sure we all know it), is the fact that Microsoft are putting a lot of effort into making our search technologies world class. So on that note, here's my tip for today: Go to http://www.microsoft.com/windows/desktopsearch/default.mspx and download our free desktop search tool and give it a try. It's not just for home use, it's enterprise ready and comes with Group Policy templates for centralised management.
That's all for today,
OK, I've been back from my holidays for three days now. I've nearly caught up with everything that I missed while I was away and somehow squeezed in a day and a half out of the office talking to customers.
Something I often find when talking to non-Microsoft people is the lack of awareness of new Microsoft product releases (there's been a few in the last few weeks alone). I hadn't intended this becoming a marketing bulletin for new stuff, but figured it was worth calling out a few (just in case you also are not aware of them):
We completed System Center Capacity Planner 2006 (SSCP) just before Christmas - it will be in your Technet Plus subscriptions this month. The last beta can be found here: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/systemcenter/evaluation/capacity/default.mspx SSCP is all about helping you size and plan your Exchange and MOM deployments. Future releases will help with other products (SQL & the likes).
System Center Data Protection Manager 2006 (DPM) (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/systemcenter/evaluation/capacity/default.mspx) has been available for about a month now. It's all about backup to, and recovery from disk - reducing the backup & retsore windows (initially just for File data, but extending to Exchange and SQL in future releases).
Windows Server 2003 R2 is a re-release of Windows Server 2003 roughly two years after we initially shipped. It's basically Windows Server 2003 with SP1 applied, it includes everything that has shipped for Windows Server 2003 since it shipped (things like: 64-bit support, version 2.0 of the .Net Framework, Windows SharePoint Services, Automatic Deployment Services, etc) and a couple of great solutions to big business problems: Do I put a server in a branch/remote office or not? How do I enable resource sharing between separate directories without duplicating users? and how do I manage file servers more effectively? More info here: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/default.mspx
Virtual Server 2005 R2 was launched at IT Forum in November and is a major update to our award winning (and very cost effective) virtualisation technology. It includes things like 64-bit support and clustering. More info here: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/virtualserver/default.mspx
I'm off to Seattle on Saturday for my annuall "dipping" in Microsoft technologies - more on this next week.
I still want to close with a tip (seeing as my last one was so successful that it's now been included on the advanced search page on microsoft.com).
I'm often asked things like "wouldn't it be great if Microsoft added this feature to this product?" or "This feature is so complicated to use, why don't Microsoft make it easier by changing it?" Well I'm probably the wrong person to ask, but there is a process for getting your "wishes" answered. Just send a mail to mailto:email@example.com and your wishes will be listened to. The MS Wish Program is your route into the product groups for feature changes. Do note however, that most (about 90%) of requests are for features that already exist in the products...
That's it for today. I'll post again from Seattle next week.
So, for those of you who don't know me - I'm Dave Northey.
I joined Microsoft (and moved to Ireland) nearly ten years ago as the first consultant in the newly formed Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS) group and have been working in pre-sales for the last five or six years. Some of you might know me as the guy that gets to launch Microsoft products - standing up in front of hundreds (or sometimes thousands) of people, risking life & limb demonstrating new Microsoft technology.
I've been wanting to do something like this for years, but didn't want to start something that I wouldn't be able to continue. When you're in consulting or sales, other things seem to take precedence (normally things related to making money).
When I come back to work after the holidays, I’m starting in a new role; I’ll officially be an “IT Pro Evangelist” (not too keen on the title – I’ll probably never mention it again) - which basically means I get to do what I really enjoy (learn new things & tell people about them) and NOT to have to think about selling either my time or products.
My new role (my new beginning) is all about helping you to better understand Microsoft products & technologies and this Blog is one of the vehicles I can use to do just that. This Blog is part of my new job – so it won’t be disappearing, it won’t be something that I start & give up on. Like it or not, it’s here to stay. My challenge then, is to keep it up-to-date, relevant and full of useful / interesting content.
With that said, I’m off now until January 3rd – so I’ve started and finished for the year already!
I guess I should include something useful? Here’s my tip on how to find stuff on microsoft: Just type http://www.microsoft.com/"Whatever it is that you’re looking for"
(e.g. /windows, /security, /mom, /sms, /xbox – pretty much anything really).
And one last thing, we (in Ireland) are trying to breathe some life back into TechNet. So have a look at http://www.microsoft.com/ireland/technet and register for our new bi-weekly newsletter.
Happy Christmas, and I'll see you in the New Year...