Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

TechNet 2.0 – Episode 1 – Core Scenarios and Branding

TechNet 2.0 – Episode 1 – Core Scenarios and Branding

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The TechNet team at Microsoft is planning some big changes to the website over the next few months – they call the project “TechNet 2.0” or “TN20” for short. John Martin leads the TechNet team, (he’s also my boss!) and he and I decided to partner on a new blog series to introduce all the new things the team has planned and get feedback from the IT community.

So, each Tuesday and Thursday in February I’ll post a new episode here that covers some important aspect of this project.

Last week I sat down with John to record a podcast on episode one of this series.  In this episode we are going to go over the vision for TechNet, the core customer scenarios we think are important, the TN20 project, and some new things we are doing with branding. 

Here’s the podcast on those subjects and below is a summary of what we talked about. You’ll also noticed at the end of this post I have provided the podcast in .MP3 format for podcast subscribers.

Episode 1 Podcast

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What is TechNet?

TechNet is Microsoft’s site for IT professionals, here to make you successful with Microsoft products and as a technical professional by providing the best technical content, essential tools for the job, and connections to Microsoft product groups and the technical community.

What are we trying to do with TechNet?

We are on a mission.  We want to make TechNet the best possible online experience for IT Professionals. As you can see, our mission goes beyond just providing product documentation and whitepapers. Sure, we still want to provide the essential architecture and planning guidance for our products and technologies, but we also want to connect you to people inside and outside Microsoft and enable you to actually participate in the TechNet experience. 

And, in order to do that, we focus on five key scenarios.

  1. Help Me! - Help me find technical content and solve technical problems, quickly
  2. Keep me Smart - Provide me with content and resources to increase my technical skills and stay up-to-date with the latest developments in my area
  3. Connect me with the product - Show me your future plans and let me provide feedback
  4. Connect me with people - Help me find and engage smart people at Microsoft and in the community
  5. Downloads - Make it easy for me to find and download the bits, tools, and resources I need to do my job

Across all five scenarios, we invest in:

  1. Content quality, relevance, and timeliness
  2. Ease of discoverability
  3. Opportunities for community participation and contribution

John does a great job in the podcast of describing each and what we think they mean.  Is he correct?  Feel free to comment below.

What is TechNet 2.0 ?

TechNet 2.0 is a broad initiative kicking off this month to increase your success with the core scenarios above. We especially want to make sure to improve the way you discover information. 

This of course includes site navigation but as you’ll see in other parts of this series, we have a few tricks up our sleeve I think you’ll like, that go beyond just navigating the site. 

TechNet 2.0 project goals also include better content quality and timeliness, and new opportunities for you to participate in the site.  I am not going to steal the thunder from all of those key areas right now. We’ll describe those more fully in future episodes of this blog series.

Now that you have an idea of the strategy and mission, let’s take a look at one of the new features of TechNet 2.0 since it’s going to be immediately visually apparent.  In fact, you don’t even need to wait to see some of the changes I am alluding to.

Stacked New TechNet brand and Product-branded centers

As you can see in the screenshot at right, the TechNet brand has been updated to a new look-and-feel and the TechNet home page reflects the new design and color scheme. But, as you can see in the picture (click the pic to see a much larger version), TechNet will no longer be a vast sea of blue – TechCenters are changing.

When we launch TechNet 2.0, you’ll see each major product TechCenter will be “themed” with its own unique brand elements.  For IT pros, TechCenters are the online face of each product and each product will have its own unique home on TechNet.

The most striking example of this will be Office with the orange theme, but all centers will share some important common elements in their design. This will provide a consistent experience across the TechCenters which should make the site easier to use and the content more discoverable. 

I like the product oriented branding.  The color and theme immediately registers with me and helps me determine if I am looking for information in the right place.  For instance, check out the Exchange TechCenter.  Their logo is there, theme, and versions.  We will dive deep into versioning, and other changes to TechCenters in later blog posts.

Summary

TechNet 2.0 is a broad initiative to make you more successful with core scenarios on TechNet. The TechNet team focuses on Content, Discoverability, and Participation across five core customer scenarios. One major change to TechNet will be how TechNet and TechCenters are branded. But that’s not all. We will dive deeper into all the new features that make up TechNet 2.0 release in the next seven parts of this series.

Please comment.  We would like to know in each part of the series what you think.  We take your feedback seriously and it helps us frame and prioritize what we do now, and in the future.  It’s one of the reasons I went to work for the TechNet team.  Where else could I have a more measurable impact on the IT Pro customer base than technet.microsoft.com?

I’m also part of the v-team already thinking about TechNet v.Next so it’ll be important to get your feedback on what you like and dislike over the next few weeks and months.  We look forward to that conversation.

On Thursday I’ll post TechNet 2.0 - Episode 2 – TechCenters. In that episode we’ll talk about the new TechCenters design and how they help you find what you need, quicker. See you Thursday!

Attachment: http://msinetpub.vo.llnwd.net/d1/keithcombs/podcasts/tn20/episode1/TN20_Episode1.mp3
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  • Please make Mac products available on Technet as well. They are greatly missed when doing testing and development for systems that go across the OS' and products.

    I my minf TechNet should hold all non-development tools from MS regardless of the OS used.

  • Soren,

    Are you referring to the products at http://www.microsoft.com/mac/default.mspx ???

    Just double checking that is what you are wanting to see.

  • Yes. Office for Mac (all versions as some older are still used) and all upcoming versions. If possible I would even include non-Office products for the Mac such as the Virtual PC and Expression Media 2.

  • I hope the new TechNet content works well. Would be nice if you all would just keep the TechNet Web Site and resources stable for a few years.  Most of us would take even 2 years of stability on your end. You are compelled to do new and improved yearly so we tend to go elsewhere to find constancy. Thanks, best of luck.

  • Hi Kendra, thanks for the comment. What parts of TechNet would you like us to leave alone? and what parts (if any) would you like to see improved? - John Martin

  • I expect the coming technet 2.0 search will be more SMART, as i find the search result always not the stuff i m looking for. but when i put the SAME search key to google n search back to microsoft.com, it give me a much better result. In fact, the technical folks around me rare use the technet search but google search back to microsoft.com or technet.microsoft.com, anyway, i m looking for the new technet 2.0!

  • Teddy,

    Search improvement is high on our list.  Episode 3 (next Tuesday) is on deck for that topic and discussion.

  • I like how you approved other comments but not mine. Hmm... are you dissing the Deaf I.T. professionals?

  • Tony,

    I have approved all of the comments I have received thus far. We have had some issues receiving comments in the past few weeks but I thought they were resolved. It would appear from your most recent comment that it's working, at least intermittently.

    If you'll repost your question, we'll try to answer it.

    Keith

  • Have you received my latest comment and have you got it OK or has it gone missing again?

  • I have this one Tony.

  • Keith, I am very much excited abotu the changes and direction TechNet is going to.

  • What the web pages look like is not important to me.  What is important is how easy is it get required, detailed, technical information.

    A common problem is finding a reference (e.g. in a newsgroup, forum or blog) and finding that the target has been moved and the reference (hyperlink) is broken.  Then I have to waste more time trying to track down where it now is.

    Also, some documentation that was available is disappearing.  For example, the wonderful document (robocopy.doc) that was part of the Server 2003 Resource Kit.  Although robocopy is now included in Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, that, or an equivalent document, is not.  The documentation in the Technet Library for robocopy is incomplete - for example, it does not list the exit codes, nor does it have the complete and useful explanations that were included in robocopy.doc.  This is very unfortunate and backward step.

    I'm not a fan of blogs because, for one thing, there are too many to follow.  Also, in most cases, if I find a reference to an interesting blog article and follow the link, that article is not displayed.  Instead, the "current" entry is displayed and there is no way to easily find the article of interest.  The index is almost always by date, not subject, which is no help at all and there is no table of contents.  So, again, I have waste my time trying to find the information I thought I had already located.

  • Thanks for the podcast and for the updates by email. I am looking forward the TN20 new features. I'd like a to see a more organized/easier way to access learning materials on the Keep me Smart section.

  • Hi, i think this is beautiful for microsoft users, there is a forum i see. i am not an it pro but i can search about .net or asp. this is very helpful site for internet users. thanks again.