Last minute testing today with the Xbox 360 Elite, Zune, the T7-HSA and...what's that other controller...?
This is just the start....
If you still want to register for the events, you can still do it:
Awesome news from the guys up North - Their new Home Server baby is shipping, and it's going to be a revelation, I can feel it!
According to David and the guys, demand is high for the T7-HSA, and rightly so. It's a very innovative product, which will strike a chord with a huge number of people out there. The guys have even reduced shipping costs over to the US, so everyone can experience the benefits of the product!
Nice work guys!
The guys are also shipping a unit down to yours truly, for us to use in the upcoming Vista: After Hours events, so if you want to see one of these baby's in action, make sure you come along to the event. If I get the chance, I may even give it a review myself!
Just a quick update from my post the other day - you can now download the VHD file of System Center Virtual Machine Manager.
Get it here!!
Oh, and don't forget, you'll need something to run it on! Try Virtual PC 2007, or Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1, and have fun!
If you want some interesting how-to video's, all about System Center Virtual Machine Manager, you can find those here. Kudos to Clive for finding those beauties.
As a Microsoft Partner, are you making the most of the benefits that are available to you? Things like documents, presentations, webcasts, demo's etc? If not, what if your competitor is? Do you think they have an advantage over you? I'd say they do. If you do make use of the benefits, are there even more that could be of use, to ensure your organisation is performing optimally?
Well, if you are a Gold or Certified Partner, you can now use the Partner Dashboard get an instant picture of how your organisation is performing, and gain partnership insight to help make better informed partnering decisions. This dashboard has been the brainchild of the Partner team in the UK, and it gives you, as a Partner, instant visibility to your organisation’s key performance indicators (KPI's) within the Microsoft Partner Programme. You can see, at a glance, the status of your business activities - deals submitted and won for example, or solutions you've profiled, employees’ training, your partner points and more.
The Partner Dashboard provides a business snapshot which can be used to identify those areas of an organisation that may need additional focus, with the aim for it to be used to make better, more informed business decisions – for example achieving another competency, or increasing sales opportunities through Partner Channel Builder.
Best of all, it's free to those Gold and Certified Partners among you, so why not give it a try, and, if there's anything you can think of to improve it, why not suggest it by leaving some feedback.
Access the Partner Dashboard here.
I know it's short notice, but some of you may still be able to make it!
Microsoft UK and a number of UK Partners, are running a Desktop Deployment day, here at Microsoft Campus in Thames Valley, with the aim to provide a look in to the latest deployment processes and the opportunities these open up for reducing the overheads associated with deploying and maintaining desktop and mobile estates. It sounds like it will be a pretty useful event for a number of reasons - one of which being, it's a great chance to learn about a methodology called BDD, or Business Desktop Deployment, and how it's use can really streamline deployment within your infrastructure. If you want some information on BDD, and lots more, you can find it all here: http://desktopdeployment.co.uk/default.aspx
It's not just focused on Vista - oh no, Office too has a big presence, so if you are thinking about deploying one, or the other, or....both, then I'd really encourage you to attend.
The agenda is as follows:
09:00 – 09:30 Registration & Coffee09:30 – 09:35 Welcome09:35 – 10:05 Keynote "Deployment Challenges”10:05 – 10:35 BDD 2007 Methodology10:35 – 10:50 Break10.50 – 12.00 BDD 2007 Technical Walk Through12.00 – 12.40 Lunch12:40 – 12:55 BDD 2007 Session Follow-up and Q&A12:55 – 13:55 Office 2007 – Managing and Mitigating Compatibility13:55 – 14:10 Break14:10 – 15:10 Office 2007 Deployment – Discussion and Demonstrations15:10 – 15:55 Application Remediation – Preparing applications for migrating to Windows Vista16:00 – 16:15 Close
You can register for the event here.
For those of you out there who have been watching the different Windows Live services evolve over the past few months, you'll be pleased to hear that we've released a single package many of the services. This handy package is completely customisable, so by visiting this link: http://get.live.com/wl/all and selecting "Get Windows Live", you'll be presented with:
Where you can select the services you want. One of my favourites is the Photo Gallery, which replaces the built-in Photo Gallery functionality in Vista, with a new and improved version, which can sync directly with your Windows Live Spaces blog.
After I'd finished my install, I was redirected to a new look Windows Live Homepage, which is currently in beta:
I think this is really cool! So, from this page, I now have access to all my Windows Live tools, such as my SkyDrive area, my Spaces blog, I can launch Windows Live Messenger, and I can even search the web. I also get updated information on my Windows Live Mail inbox.
Try it out at http://home.live.com
I'll be honest with you - I think this tool is a cracker. I've blogged about System Center Virtual Machine Manager before, back when it was still in beta, but it's now been released, and it's about time :-)
"Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007, part of the Microsoft System Center family of system management products, provides a simple and cost-effective solution for unified management of physical and virtual machines, consolidation of underutilized physical servers, and rapid provisioning of new virtual machines by leveraging the expertise and investments in Microsoft server technology"
So, why is it cool, and why should you want it? Well, as stated above, VMM not only assists with management of your virtual, but also your physical environment, and not only works with current technologies, but will, further down the line, also support the up and coming wave of virtualisation technologies from Microsoft. One of the big gripes of Virtual Server was the web front end. I know it. You know it. Microsoft knows it, hence why for Windows Server virtualisation, the interface has been replaced by a clean and tidy, and functional, MMC 3.0 interface. VMM has a very similar interface, and another one of the cool things with VMM is, is that it's built on Powershell. What good is that? Well, say for example, you have a number of VMware virtual machines, with VMDK's, that you want to convert into Microsoft virtual machines, with VHDs - well, you'd select one in VMM, and go through the wizard to convert it, and right at the end of the wizard, there's a magic button. This magic button say's "View Script" and magically pops up the Powershell script that it will execute to convert that VMware VM to a Microsoft VM. Oh, in around a minute.
Great, you say. So what? OK, so you have your Powershell script - whack a loop round it, to say something along the lines of, while there are still VMware VHDs existing, run this script...I'm not saying you have to try it with this, it's just an example!
But what other cool stuff can it do? Well, Physical to Virtual conversion is in there, and once it's converted your physical box to a virtual machine, it will also intelligently suggest the best place to put it, I.e. on which host. Clever stuff hey? It doesn't stop there. It integrated perfectly with the other Microsoft products too, especially System Center Operations Manager 2007, which monitors the health and status of not only your physical, but your virtual machines too. So, when a VM, say running an IIS Server as part of a web farm, starts to get hammered with traffic, SC Operations Manager can pick this up, as it's registered above some pre-defined threshold, and it will communicate with SCVMM to start up another instance of the IIS Server, from its library of VM's and configuration files, and plop it into the farm, hence spreading the load! Genius! The systems working together really do help to push an infrastructure closer to that Dynamic level that we all want to be at!
What's clear to me is, is this virtualisation battle that Microsoft are finally stepping up to, isn't just about a tick-box comparison of viridian vs. VMware vs. Xen, it's a comparison of how different pieces of software and technology can work together to enable a dynamic infrastructure, that requires less intervention from the IT Admins, and can effectively manage and heal itself.
You don't have to wait until Viridian ships to take advantage of SCVMM - it works with Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 today, so you can prepare your foundation on the platform, before migrating across to Windows Server virtualisation next year. Both Virtual Server and Windows Server virtualisation utilise the VHD file format for virtual machines, hence the logical migration from one to the other.
The guys are Rackspace have been using the System Center VMM, and as detailed over at Computerworld, "Sysadmin James Bothe can get a quick snapshot rating of each physical server based on a combination of factors. Those include parameters such as CPU utilization, RAM usage, and hard drive space. That information gives Bothe quick insight into how many more virtual machines he can deploy onto a given physical host, and what kind."
At present, VMM will only manage virtual machines created using Microsoft virtualisation technologies, but we already have in the works, a version that will allow that management of not only Microsoft created virtual machines, but also those created by VMware, or Xen. Great for those interested in interoperability. Another interesting piece of information on VMM is the price; just $499 for a workgroup licence, which will handle unlimited virtual machines, but you're restricted to 5 copies.
Anyway, that's enough blabbing on by me - as you can tell, when I'm passionate about something, it's hard to shut me up! I'll leave you with some resources:
Compared with XP, I really do believe that Vista has upped the ante in terms of mobility functionality. Having all of the laptop related commands in something like the mobility center, gives me very easy and efficient access to all the controls I need to configure my laptop when on the move, and the fact that it allows manufacturers such as HP, Toshiba etc to bolt their controls for their hardware into the Mobility Center is an added bonus.
Improved tablet functionality across the different versions, and excellent media features in the home versions mean that when I'm on the move, I can stay entertained. However, I'm not actually seeing how this can save me money at present. Sure, Mobility Center ensures I can be quicker and more efficient accessing those controls, but, in the grand scheme of things, is it going to save me a fortune? I doubt it. However, a report has been published detailing how Vista, along with the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, can save you money, compared with Windows XP, and get this, it could be as much as $605 per machine per year. Multiply that by 1000 and that gives you over $600,000, or in Soccer terms, 4 days of a Beckham week ;-)
That's a lot of money - but how were these savings made?
Well, you can read the whole PDF article here, entitled "Reducing TCO with Windows Vista - Quantified Savings for Mobile PC's".
It's actually quite an interesting read, and eWeek have a good write up; "Bill Barna, a consultant for Wipro Technologies, headquartered in Bangalore, India, worked with GCR Custom Research on the study, which started in January and ended in May. He said the TCO savings were achieved in three ways. The first was replacing Windows XP machines with Vista ones and taking advantage of Vista's out-of-the-box features, which yielded a saving of $251 per PC per year."
So, even out of the box, Vista was saving $251 per PC per year? Obviously this won't apply to every company out there, but it's promising nonetheless. This $251 was broken down into Security ($55 savings per machine), Desktop Engineering and Support Savings ($46 per PC), Service Desk Savings ($8 per mobile machine), Labor Savings ($141 per PC).
Interesting reading I'd say.