It’s been over a year, but this fall seems a fitting time to return to regular blogging.  I’ve still been involved with the Chicago Windows User Group (CWUG) and now work at the Chicago MTC (Microsoft Technology Center), but with the job change came some time to get familiar with a new team, new processes and a new routine.   We’ve got so much stuff coming this fall overwhelming is an understatement.  It’s like the fire hose when I first started…

Here’s a preview of some of the things we’ve been hard at work on:

1) Office Tips and Tricks sessions.  I’m working with the Microsoft Store to provide our customers some killer tips and tricks sessions.

2) Windows Apportals (Prototype Generator hands on lab) – Application management, role based views, and customization are just a few of the features that these will provide. 

3) Dogfood – it’s amazing the amount of opportunities given to full time employees to check out what is coming.  These aren’t always the typical well known requests (like the next version of Windows or Office), but are for every imaginable platform (including competitors) and involve well known products on their own – Skype and Xbox are just two examples.

4) Demos and more demos – we build some pretty amazing elaborate demo environments.  One of the things I have taken on is to update these environments with the latest and greatest Microsoft software and features.  One example is the Office 365 demo that mimics how our largest customers would deploy the cloud service.  Instead of cloud-first, most companies started server-first (and then multiple servers to the point of running out of room and issues managing them, sprawl, etc.) and then on-prem virtualization.  Virtualizing a mess just means you have a virtual mess.  So management becomes even more important.  Now customers are looking to the cloud as the next major shift (and again – moving a mess to the cloud just means the mess is up there – like shoving everything in your closet).  There will be lots of info on what this looks like over the coming weeks.

5) Microsoft Midwest Toastmasters – it took a lot more time than I originally thought, but we now have a Toastmasters club at Microsoft (open to employees and partners) in the Midwest District!  If you aren’t familiar with Toastmasters, you should start over at – it’s about presentations, listening, feedback, leadership and networking.  One aspect that I had not counted on at work as the networking.  It has allowed new employees to engage with others in so many various roles I have lost count.  It allows our partners to meet and work with us on both meetings and events.  It sharpens skills many of us already have, but practice makes perfect (and unlocks the mind reader in each of us – what did your audience really think of your presentation?  What could you have done to improve?).

You’ll learn more about all of these this fall.