Is Office 2007 a whole new ball game for ITPros? Well, we think so. There's new security, deployment and management features that are valuable for you as an ITPro. Check out these webcasts (lots of Sharepoint content as well) to learn the latest/greatest, and you can also have a shot at winning an Acer Ferrrari laptop or smartphone, or Zune player.
Here's some more info on the goodies you can win by watching:
Dean AndrewsTechNet Webcasts
Hi TechNet Webcast Blog Team:
I am a Microsoft Partner who considers the TechNet webcasts an essential part of my training program.
Despite having used the beta version Microsoft 2007 Office system for close to a year, I consider the next six months or so to be critical to my increasing my knowledge so that I can pass that knowledge on to my clients.
When I read about this promotion on Keith Combs blog post of December 29, 2006 (http://blogs.technet.com/keithcombs/archive/2006/12/29/want-to-win-a-ferrari.aspx, I decided these webcasts met a very timely need I decided that I really did need to watch them, that the new year was a great time to make a commitment to watch the whole series and have the chance to win some cool gear including the possibility of an Acer Ferrari laptop .
It was at this point that things got interesting and complex. I quickly came to realize that the user experience for this series is less than optimized and that many of the irritants I was facing appeared to be endemic to other TechNet series and to the TechNet Webcasts operation as a whole.
I assume that the issues I have been facing are faced by other Microsoft Partners using TechNet. I further assume that many of the problems exist because no end users have pointed them out to people within Microsoft who have the power to make things better for everyone. My hope by posting here is to open a conversation that will result in that better end user experience.
The first issue I have is, “How do I even track which TechNet webcasts are included in this series?”
This promotion “begins on November 1, 2006 and ends on June 30, 2007 (‘Entry Period’). The Entry Period consists of eight monthly prize drawings,.; You will be automatically entered into each monthly sweepstakes drawing when you complete and submit an evaluation form following a live or on-demand TechNet 2007 Office webcast during the Entry Period (“Webcast Series”). See landing page for webcasts. The available webcasts are subject to change at the sole discretion of Microsoft.” (http://www.microsoft.com/events/officialrules_newballgame.mspx).
When I started on January 1st, there were still six months left. When I went to the landing page for the webcasts (http://www.microsoft.com/events/series/technetoffice.mspx), the page consisted of 58 webcasts, some of which were live and some of which were on-demand. I think the breakdown was 9 live and 49 on-demand. As the dates for the live webcasts passed, the landing page was rewritten to move the expired live webcasts to the list of on-demand webcasts.
Every presenter I have listened to in this series leads me to believe that they are busy producing new webcasts on these topics and it is likely that they will be added to this promotion as they are produced for live on-demand viewing. That means that the list of webcasts in this series will expand and change frequently over the next six months.
My first question then is how do I keep track of the changes on the page? Even if I visit the page each week, there are so many entries already that it would be impossible to compare the list from any one week to the list of any other week. Even when “New” is typed next to an entry it is difficult to tell if the “New” is just a move from live to on-demand or if it is an extension to the pre-existing list of 58 webcasts.
I have several initial ideas on how to alleviate this pain point. First, this blog could post when additions to the webcast list is made. Second, you could encourage the presenters to notify their viewers of additions. Third, you could use tags that are more descriptive than new to differentiate between moved and newly listed webcasts. Fourth, you could apply what I refer to as the WWSD principle – What would Scoble do? He would put a RSS feed on the page so that subscribers would get updates in their feed readers and not have to constantly monitor the page itself.
I am sure there are other ways to resolve this problem. In the near future, I’ll discuss some of them as I address other issues I think we attendees are facing under the current set-up. In the meantime, I hope others will join this conversation with their own ideas on how to make things better.
While we are waiting for the members of the webcast blog team and the community to join in this conversation, let’s take a look at this blogs role in the community.
Until last week, I did not even know this blog existed. Yet I am a strong member of the TechNet webcast audience. I have over 280 Microsoft Blog feeds in my RSS reader. I have over 200 webcasts and virtual labs in “My Microsoft Events” page. I have attended virtually every TechNet quarterly briefing for at least the past six years. I have attended over 40 TechNet Live or on-demand webcasts this month (a highly unusual month of viewing on my part, btw). While I haven’t counted them, I think it is safe to say that I have over a thousand TechNet webcast .wmv’s and over a thousand TechNet webcast .ppt’s on my hard drive or on my TechNet Event DVD’s.
I am a member of the TechNet Community. I don’t find community stats on http://www.microsoft.com/technet/community/start.mspx but there must be at least tens of thousands of us worldwide. The list of available TechNet webcasts on http://www.microsoft.com/technet/community/events/default.mspx is staggering. Even the list of Virtual labs is impressive.
How many people watched a TechNet webcast or did a TechNet virtual lab in the last year? Now, compare that to the number of people who know that this blog even exists. While I can’t tell you the numbers I can tell you these stats about this blog:
Average Per Day: 9
Average Visit Length: 1:29
Last Hour: 0
This Week: 66
Average Per Day: 17
Average Per Visit: 1.8
Plus 4,855 visitors before joining Site Meter on July 1, 2005
So this site gets an average of 9 visits per day compared to x for say http://www.microsoft.com/technet/community/events/default.mspx or y for http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/default.aspx
This blog declares at least one of its missions in the right toolbar when it states, “Let's talk about TechNet Webcasts. About your experience, about the value, about the content, about the good, bad and the ugly. TechNet Webcasts exist to provide you with the content and answers you need to do your job. Let's talk.”
If that is true, why isn’t this blog listed in the Resources or The Next Steps, or the Questions and Answers of every slide deck for every webcast produced? Why do you have every presenter and every webcast announcer (what I call the person who introduces the presenter and comes back to close out each webcast at the end) point out the existence of this blog?
All I am saying is that it doesn’t seem to me that you can have a conversation with a huge community when only a tiny fraction of that community knows of your existence.
10 General Observations about the TechNet Webcasts Weblog Site
1. There have been two posts in January – only one of which directly relates to TechNet webcasts.
2. The one post relating to webcasts did several things well in my opinion:
• It brought enthusiastic attention to a webcast series that has its first four webcasts this month
• It mentioned Harold Wong, the presenter, by name
• It linked to his blog.
3. There were forty TechNet webcasts scheduled this month according to the TechNet Webcast calendar (which you nicely linked to in the lower right sidebar). By the end of today, twenty-three of them will already have been broadcast and none of them was highlighted by a post this month. How can a reader of this blog get excited about watching a webcast this blog doesn’t even mention let alone highlight?
4. Excluding Harold Wong, we still have presentations scheduled this month from:
• Bryan Von Axelson
• Don Jones
• Chad Jones
• Chris Henley
• Abbott Lowell
• Lyle Rice
• Leon Alexandrou
• Alain Lissoir
• Chris Avis
• Blain Barton
• Fred Delombaerde
• Jason Buffington.
5. I think it would be nice to write some posts promoting one or more of these upcoming presentations and their presenters. If nothing else, you could simply cut and paste the summary information from the webcast presentation page. Doing so would drop that information into the RSS feed reader of your reader and give him or her an idea of the content , who the presenter is and a little background about him or them without having to click through to the webcast registration page to get that information.
6. Lets look at some more post stats on this blog since May 2005
• There were 54 posts (6.75 average per month) and 101 comments (12.63 average per month) during the last eight months of 2005.
• The numbers dropped in 2006 to 38 posts (3.166 average per month) and 60 comments ( 5 average per month)
• The numbers to date for 2007 are two posts (2 average per month) and 2 comments (2 average per month)
• Putting those figures in Excel and create a column chart and you have an interesting trajectory.
7. It is pretty clear that more posts mean more comments and more community.
8. It might also be a good time to review the right side bar. For instance:
• What is up with the “TechNet Events & Webcasts Bloggers What’s on your mind? Microsoft TechNet” button? The link is broken and anyone who clicks on it is lead to http://search.microsoft.com/?mkt=en-US.
• The link to Kevin Remde’s blog is broken. It should be http://blogs.technet.com/kevinremde/default.aspx
• While the link to Robert Scoble’s blog is still live, it leads to his old blog – which hasn’t been updated since November 27, 2005. His current blog is located at http://scobleizer.com/
• Where are the links to all the presenters who have blogs? If nothing else, I think it would be a good idea to begin the list with this month’s presenters who have blogs and add their links there.
• I think that the more you link to your presenter bloggers, the more likely it is that they will link to you – which will lead to a larger community for all.
9. Vista and Office are all about Keywords and tags going forward. They are also very common on blogs. On the upper right corner of this blog, it notes, “Tags No tags have been created or used yet.” Now might be a good time to begin using them.
10. Part of being a community involves an ongoing conversation – an exchange. When someone posts a comment, responding to or at least acknowledging its existence and inviting others to add their ideas helps move that conversation forward.
Two Questions for January 20th
Why isn’t TechNet Webcast: Deploying the 2007 Office System with the Solution Accelerator for Business Desktop Deployment 2007 (Level 200) scheduled for February 1st still at the top of the page at http://www.microsoft.com/events/series/technetoffice.mspx since it will still occur in the future? Right now it is buried about a third of the way down the page.
The Microsoft Webcast: Enterprise Search at Microsoft with Office SharePoint Server 2007 webcast scheduled for the 15th is tagged with the in the “View other sessions from” section of the summary at http://msevents.microsoft.com/cui/WebCastEventDetails.aspx?EventID=1032323829&EventCategory=4&culture=en-US&CountryCode=US with the IT Manager Connections: Build Business and Careers on the Microsoft Platform tag. Why isn’t it also tagged with “View other sessions from 2007 Office System Webcasts: Plan and Deploy with Confidence?
Why is TechNet Webcast: How Microsoft IT Manages the World's Largest Windows SharePoint Services Deployment (Level 300) Event ID: 1032324073, scheduled for February 6th, tagged with “ View other sessions from 2007 Office System Webcasts: Plan and Deploy with Confidence” at http://www.microsoft.com/events/EventDetails.aspx?CMTYSvcSource=MSCOMMedia&Params=%7eCMTYDataSvcParams%5e%7earg+Name%3d%22ID%22+Value%3d%221032324073%22%2f%5e%7earg+Name%3d%22ProviderID%22+Value%3d%22A6B43178-497C-4225-BA42-DF595171F04C%22%2f%5e%7earg+Name%3d%22lang%22+Value%3d%22en%22%2f%5e%7earg+Name%3d%22cr%22+Value%3d%22US%22%2f%5e%7esParams%5e%7e%2fsParams%5e%7e%2fCMTYDataSvcParams%5e and yet it isn’t listed on http://www.microsoft.com/events/series/technetoffice.mspx?">http://www.microsoft.com/events/series/technetoffice.mspx?
The same question goes for TechNet Webcast: Deploying Windows Vista and the 2007 Office System Using Business Desktop Deployment (BDD) 2007 (Level 200) Event ID: 1032324692 at http://www.microsoft.com/events/EventDetails.aspx?CMTYSvcSource=MSCOMMedia&Params=%7eCMTYDataSvcParams%5e%7earg+Name%3d%22ID%22+Value%3d%221032324692%22%2f%5e%7earg+Name%3d%22ProviderID%22+Value%3d%22A6B43178-497C-4225-BA42-DF595171F04C%22%2f%5e%7earg+Name%3d%22lang%22+Value%3d%22en%22%2f%5e%7earg+Name%3d%22cr%22+Value%3d%22US%22%2f%5e%7esParams%5e%7e%2fsParams%5e%7e%2fCMTYDataSvcParams%5e. It also has the tag but isn’t listed on http://www.microsoft.com/events/series/technetoffice.mspx.
Questions for January 22, 2007
To participate in this promotion, one must complete the survey at the end of the webcast. I have been informed that the links to surveys are pre-scheduled to have a limited lifetime. If on tries to access a survey that has timed out, you are taken to https://msevents.microsoft.com/cui/Error.aspx?culture=en-US&EventID=1032305464 which states, “Thank you for attending TechNet Webcast: [Whatever the title is]. The evaluation you are attempting to access is no longer available.”
Of the 54 on-demand webcasts that I have watched in this series this month, six of them included links that failed to present a survey landing page. Given that there are only 58 webcasts currently listed on the page that is a failure rate of over 10%.
There are no instructions of what to do in case a viewer runs into a broken link.
Is someone on the promotion team tasked with insuring that viewers will have live links to follow until this promotion ends on June 30th and would you have him or her attempt to insure that other viewers will find live links at the end of the webcasts?
When we view webcasts and fill out a survey, the scale is from 1-9. When we look at the on-demand offerings on http://www.microsoft.com/events/series/technetoffice.mspx , they have been rated on a scale of 1-5. There is no explanation on the page of how the ratings were determined, the ratings are not linked to anything we can click through to and read for ourselves, and there is no explanation of whether any rating we put in a survey will affect the 1-5 star rating on the page.
Why aren’t these things clearly explained on the page?
Questions for January 23, 2007
At the end of each webcast is a survey/evaluation form. The forms used are not uniform across the series. Why is that true? Wouldn’t using one form template provide a better user experience (UX)?
Why don’t the survey forms remember the “State” I live in, my “Job Role,” my “Department,” my webcast timeframe, my day for viewing them, and my ideal length of webcast preference answers from one webcast to another?
Wouldn’t a better user experience be provided if those preferences were pre-populated based on previous answers and that user could change only those that have changed since the last survey/evaluation form was submitted?
Two Questions for January 24, 2007
If IT Pro viewers want to plan their viewing of TechNet webcasts for an upcoming month they can go to the calendar at http://www.microsoft.com/events/webcasts/calendar/MonthView.aspx?stdate=2%2f1%2f2007&audience=0&series=0&product=0&presenter=0&tz=0 , match their interests and their availability to that calendar and register according. They can even print out a copy of the calendar. I did that a couple of days ago when there were 37 webcasts scheduled for February. Now when I look, I see 50 scheduled.
Is there some point before the end of a month when the list of webcasts for that month becomes fixed so that there “one version of the truth?”
If the TechNet webcast calendar is constantly being modified, it isn’t much a tool to help the viewer schedule his time effectively. Since it appears to be constantly changing, then the viewer has to constantly refer back to the TechNet calendar and then constantly try to sync its offerings to his available time to watch those offerings. If this is true, a viewer could spend more time reviewing the TechNet webcast calendar, his calendar, and syncing the two than he does actually watching TechNet webcasts. The irony is that the more he stays on top of the former task, the less time he has to spend on the later task.
The question then becomes, “How do the creators and maintainers of the TechNet webcast calendar expect the viewer to use it effectively?”
Three Questions for January 25, 2007
As already noted, at the end of each live and on-demand webcast there is a live link to the survey/evaluation form.
Towards the end of each webcast there are various slides that include “hyperlinks.” That is, they are hyperlinks in the PowerPoint Presentation the presenter is using but they are just images to all of us on the other side of the monitor.
If Microsoft wants us to take next actions, or check out resources, or recommend webcast content, or try LiveMeeting, why doesn’t it provide live links like it does to the survey/evaluation?
If it doesn’t do that, why doesn’t it move all links in a presentation to the Live Meeting Custom View Pane which does permit live links?
If it doesn’t do that, why doesn’t it provide text versions of the links in the chat window? Doing so would allow the attendees to cut and paste those into Word, OneNote, Notepad, etc. and from there choose which one(s) to follow and cut and paste them into a browser. While this third option provides a pathetic user experience (UX), it is better than simply mocking the attendee with an image that you want us to write out ourselves – with the attendant risk of error not to mention the colossal waste of time.
Please choose a remedy to this “broken by design” problem.
Questions for January 26, 2007
Why does TechNet insist on crippling the functionality of PowerPoint by converting the presentations it makes during its webcasts into .pdf versions for download during the webcast? PowerPoint allows for live links; the .pdfs don’t. PowerPoint allows for such things as adding Notes, Comments and links to other documents, resources, websites, etc; the .pdfs don’t. In PowerPoint, one can change the font, the font size, and the size and location of graphics; the .pdfs don’t.
In my opinion, this move results in Microsoft spending huge sums of money to train their faithful IT Pro community each year and then having TechNet actively cripple the learning experience by abandoning the functionality of Microsoft’s own product and format in favor of using a much more limited product and format by a competitor that doesn’t particularly like them.
What message is that sending to their IT Pro community?
While I think this is an unwise move by TechNet, they compound it shortly thereafter by sending out emails with links to a downloadable PowerPoint version of the presentation. The only problem is that they have now password “protected” the presentation. The attendee gets a copy that presents a nag screen when first opened that allows him to either enter a Password that isn’t provided, to open the presentation in Read Only mode, or to Cancel opening it at all. If one does choose Read Only mode, he is left reading a presentation as crippled as the one downloaded in .pdf format during the presentation.
I don’t know TechNet’s motivations and they apparently haven’t ever gone to the trouble of explaining it. I have found no rationale provided on their sites, in their blogs, during the presentations, or in their follow-up emails. I am wondering if it boils down to “that’s just the way it is.”
Questions for January 27, 2007
At the end of most of the webcasts that I view is a typical “Question and Answer” slide.
The fourth bullet point down states, ”Got webcast content ideas? Contact us at: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=41781 “which brings me to a passport sign in page and then passes me through to a form at https://support.microsoft.com/common/survey.aspx?scid=sw;en;1240&showpage=1&ws=multimedia.
I am then requested to fill in a lot of form text boxes that have nothing to do with making a content suggestion.
If I am there to provide webcast content ideas, why do they need to know the answers to the following questions/requests?
• In what country/region do you reside?
• What is your Internet Connection speed?
• Is your connection behind a corporate firewall?
• Please list your audio output device:
• Do you have Internet pop-up blocking software installed?
• Provide the operating system and version on which the problem occurred.
• Describe your support request:
• Webcast Title:
• Webcast Date:
• Webcast link (URL) that you are trying to access:
Is even one of these questions relevant to making a webcast content suggestion?
What happens if one fills out the form and submits it.? If you are like me, you get an email that reads:
Microsoft Contact US (email@example.com)
Subject: RE: 'RTCProd=014-253-491' Webcast Content Suggestion
This is in response to your concern regarding your Webcast content suggestion.
We would like you to know that to better assist you with your concern about the webcast suggestion, we suggest that you visit the TechNet Online team at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/community/events/listing.mspx
Note: They are the ones who will originate the content you are suggesting.
Should you have additional concerns, please do not hesitate to e-mail us again.
Microsoft Online Customer Service Representative”
Unfortunately, when I follow the link provided by the Customer Service Representative , it takes me to the "TechNet Events Repository - Find supporting documentation, reference materials, and media from TechNet events and briefings listed by product or technology" page and there is no form, no email address and no link to somewhere to submit my suggestion.
I think the result of trying to submit content suggestions results in a terrible user experience (UX).
Why isn’t someone taking action to correct this situation?
Questions for January 28, 2007
February is fast approaching and we currently have sixty webcasts listed on http://www.microsoft.com/events/webcasts/calendar/MonthView.aspx?stdate=2/1/2007&audience=IT%20Professional&series=0&product=0&presenter=0&tz=0 which is the TechNet Webcast Calendar filtered for February and for an IT Pro audience.
Harold Wong is presenting twelve of the webcasts in his excellent 24 Hours of Exchange series.
Rajiv Arunkundram, Jim Ni & Arun Jayendran are presenting a four sessions this month on Virtualization. The series begins today with TechNet Webcast: The What, When, and Why of Server Virtualization (Level 300) at 9:30 AM.
Virtualization is a hot topic. Why not write a post promoting this series?
Later in the month presenter Uri Lichtenfeld has four presentation on four successive days that deal with security. The first one begins on February 20th at 9:00 AM and is entitled TechNet Webcast: How to Define and Configure Endpoint Security Policies with the Intelligent Application Gateway (Level 300)
Security is always a hot topic. Why not write a post promoting this series?
Questions for January 29, 2007
At http://www.microsoft.com/events/series/technetoffice.mspx we are dealing with a series of webcasts.
Yet there is no way to:
1. Register for the entire series
2. Track my attendance for the entire series
3. Track my completion of the survey/evaluation forms for the entire series
There is no option to register for the series. That leaves me with having to register for the webcasts individually. If I register for even one of the series of 58 which is for a live webcast, I am immediately taken to a “Register Online” page. If I click on that, I am taken to a passport sign-in page. If I fill in the requested data I am taken to an “Event Registration” page. If I fill in the requested data, I am taken to a “Thank You For Registering!” page, where I can download a calendar reminder if I want to. Since I want to add the event to my calendar I click “Add a reminder to your calendar for this event.” That opens a File Download Window which lets me open or save an ical file. If I click “Open,” an “Appointment” window in Outlook opens and is pre-populated. I then make minor modifications and hit “Save and Close.”
In my case, if I want to register for the entire series, I return to my still open http://www.microsoft.com/events/series/technetoffice.mspx window and repeat the process.
At this point, I have done seven clicks to register for and insert a reminder in Outlook for a single live webcast. While the registration process for on-demand varies slightly from that for a live webcast, I still prepare an Outlook entry for each one I attend. If I register for all 58 sessions, I need to complete about 406 clicks and spend a considerable amount of time doing that – and that is before I have watched one minute of the series.
Why isn’t there a choice to register for all 58 webcasts in this series at once? For example, if I want to register for the SBSC 70 – 282 Exam Prep series (http://www.msreadiness.com/promotiondetails.asp?promoid=5574&referrer=rn), and choose “Register Now” it takes me to http://www.msreadiness.com/wscart.asp, shows all five webcasts in the series and with one click, I am registered for all five.
For another example, if I use the Monthly Event Calendar for the Longhorn beta over on the connect site, it allows me select and download all the relevant ical files I need at one time?
It seems to me that this issue with registering for a series with a single click should be a very simple fix? Am I missing something here?
More Questions for January 29, 2007
The list of webcasts for this series at http://www.microsoft.com/events/series/technetoffice.mspx has been updated within the past 24 – 48 hours. Why aren’t the six webcast listed below listed at the top of the page under Getting Started | Live Webcasts since they will all occur in the future? Right now they are buried about two-thirds of the way down the page. Why is that?
In addition, when new webcasts are usually added to this page, they are tagged with a NEW tag ahead of the words “TechNet Webcast.” None of the six webcasts listed below has the NEW tag. Why is that?
I think that all of the webcasts listed on this prior to this latest also has the “View other sessions from 2007 Office System Webcasts: Plan and Deploy with Confidence.” tag in their individual “Event Overview” on their registration pages. (For example, see TechNet Webcast: An In-Depth Look at Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and Office SharePoint Server 2007 (Level 200) where the tag appears near the bottom of the “Event Overview.” None of the six webcasts listed below has the “View other sessions from 2007 Office System Webcasts: Plan and Deploy with Confidence.” tag in their individual “Event Overview” on their registration pages. Why is that?
TechNet Webcast: Adding Rich Reporting to SharePoint Server 2007 with SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services (Level 200)
Monday, February 12, 2007
1:00 P.M.–2:00 P.M. Pacific Time
TechNet Webcast: Business Intelligence with Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 (Level 300)
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
TechNet Webcast: Planning the Deployment of Enterprise Search Solutions (Level 200)
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
9:30 A.M.–10:30 A.M. Pacific Time
TechNet Webcast: Deploying Windows Vista and the 2007 Office System Using Business Desktop Deployment (BDD) 2007 (Level 200)
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
1:00 P.M.–2:30 P.M. Pacific Time
TechNet Webcast: Security, Performance, and Compliance Considerations for Planning the Deployment of Enterprise Search Solutions (Level 300)
TechNet Webcast: Planning for and Deploying Search in SharePoint Server 2007 (Level 300)
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
I didn't know there was a person out there who lived and breathed TechNet webcasts like you do. I'm equally amazed, pleased, and humbled that someone would take so much of their time to both gain valued learning from the program, and take so much time to provide constructive criticism on the program and user experience shortcomings.
You're engaging with us in a unique time, a transition point for TechNet webcasts. I'm moving to a new role on our team to strategize and plan new emerging media vehicles, new ways to get valuable content out to customers. Katheryn Baker is taking on the TechNet webcast program. You'll hear from her next. I'll write a post about the transition soon.
To your credit, you've tried just about every feature and option in the book on TechNet webcasts. And many of the shortcomings you've found are shared across our Microsoft webcast programs, not just TechNet. I work in a group that puts on MSDN webcasts for developers, and webcasts for small business owners, and business end users. (I'll be sharing your feedback with all of them as well).
While I won't be responding in this comment to your many comments, questions and suggestions, I'll take a high-level stab at them, and Katheryn can follow up as she has time. You'll need to provide some grace, as she is ramping up on the program, and has her hands very full.
Regarding the TechNet webcast blog, the facts you pulled out speak for themselves. As you say, more posts mean more community, and I've not spent as much time on the blog over the last year as the first year by far. There are many ways we work to get the word out about TechNet webcasts, this blog being one of them. There's even more work put in to actually produce the 30-50 webcasts we create every month. So we'll try to give the best inside scoop we can on TechNet webcasts, just realize that some months we're more busy than others, so the quantity of communication will vary. The most important thing is to keep the webcast content flowing to the community.
The broken links on the blog are just a sign that I hadn't clicked on them for awhile. Haven't given the site much TLC. We'll fix that.
Regarding promoting the upcoming webcasts, I do want to point you to the other aggregated blog site that we created over a year ago, the TechNet Webcasts and Events Bloggers site (http://techneteventsbloggers.net). That site actually has a top post that lists the upcoming week's webcasts. The point of that site is to build out a community of ITPros who can communicate around either the experience of events or webcasts, or around the content of Microsoft products and technologies for ITPros. We have Microsoft presenters registered, Microsoft staff, and real live ITPro customers, all blogging there. If you're registered on the site, and you post on your blog, then if it's relevant to a category on the site, you get picked up, and all consumers of the site, or RSS feeds on the site, will view your post. So I encourage you to register on that site, and join that community as well. You probably already know about it...because you get redirected there after you complete a webcast eval. And we plug the Events/Webcasts blog site as a call to action on the custom panel of our live webcasts. We made a decision to point people to that, versus the single TechNet webcast blog, because the aggregated site included postings from TechNet webcast blog, plus much more.
Regarding the many feature requests and "why is it this way?!?" comments, you mentioned that you assume many of the problems exist because no end users have pointed them out to people within Microsoft who have the power to make things better for everyone. I'd respond by saying that most of what you mention have been kicked around by the team for some time. Looking over the list, there's some that we can make better by revisiting some forms and improving. The larger issues, like "shopping cart functionality", so you can register one time for a multi-part series, is something we all want. Unfortunately, the internal registration system we use does not allow for it. We've had certain webcast series in the past that have had it, but we paid a vendor to create it special for that series. It's stupid that we don't have that feature. The registration system we have, which manages in-person events, webcasts, virtual labs, is a worldwide system that ties into other global Microsoft systems, so it's a tangled web, but the bottom line is that the system was created for in-person events, and over time, it has gotten more and more friendly to online events, but we're still not there yet. It's by far the most frustrating limiting part of running our business, at least for me. The partner webcast process you mention at msreadiness.com doesn't use our internal registration system.
As I mentioned, I'm going to take your feedback to our team, because many of the issues you raised around PDFs, customer service emails, shopping cart functionality, how webcasts are displayed on our landing pages...those are all webcast team issues across our various programs.
I appreciate the time you've taken Robert, and do hope that we can actually improve on some of these limitations in the near future, so you can be a more satisfied customer. Sounds to me like you are happy with the content of the webcasts, but you're not at all pleased with the customer experience around the content. I have to agree with you on most of your suggestions for improvement. Some of them are just easier for us to fix than others.
More later ...