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December, 2010

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  • Ten Top New Years Resolutions for IT Professionals

    At this time of year it’s traditional for everyone to start planning for next year but what are the most important things for an IT Professional to do in the coming year?  Next year is going to be the year when we start to see widespread cloud (both public and private) adoption now that some of the big players have proven the path.  It’s going to be a year where things need to be completed and where you get things ready to take on the next set of challenges.  You need to have your client and cloud in alignment and ready to work seamlessly together.  So here’s my top list of 10 new years resolutions for the IT Pro.

    1. Complete (or start if you haven't) your Windows 7 upgrades

    Lots and lots of people have already started on the path of upgrading their clients to Windows 7.  Tools like the WAIK, MDT and System Center make it easier than ever to migrate and technologies like XP Mode, App-V and Med-V and help from toolkits like ACT 5.5 take much of the pain out of ensuring application compatibility.  2011 though is the year you need to be running Windows 7 so that your users can have the best experience that you as an IT Pro can give them, better support, easier use and frankly it’s not fair to make them use an OS that had training materials distributed on VHS

    2. Eradicate IE 6 from your company, replacing it with IE8

    Internet Explorer 6 is the the scourge of web developers everywhere.  They need to develop separate fixes to make things run in IE6 that need to in other browsers, costing more in development, testing and management time.  Moving up to IE8 (which you can do on XP or along with your Windows 7 upgrade) is the way to go.  “Ahh but IE9 is on it’s way with all it’s beauty” you say.  This is true, 2011 will see IE9 land and yes, it’s true you’ll want to deploy that too, but the move to IE9 will be much easier from IE8 and besides IE8 is more manageable and more secure than any other browser(thanks to InPrivate Browsing and Filtering and being part of your regular patch infrastructure) .

    A modern browser means you are protecting your customers, your company and your own reputation.

    3. Start understanding and using cloud services like BPOS, Office 365, Windows Intune

    2010 has definitely been a year of excitement about the cloud, it’s literally everywhere – even on a CNN panel debate a couple of days ago where they just used the term “cloud” because it was cool.  2011 will be the year that businesses start to derive value from cloud solutions, the fastest of which will be email and BPOS and Office 365 are poised to do that with true enterprise class email.  More over though the ability to manage your environment will start the move to the cloud with Windows Intune being a very good starting point. 

    4. Learn new skills; upgrade your certifications

    For lots of people “get a new job” will be top of their new years resolutions list.  Make it easier on yourself by upgrading your certifications.  It’s something I’m currently doing having just sat all the IT Pro entry level MTA exams.  Certifications might not mean that much to you in your current role but when you go looking having certifications on your CV gets you through that level of Recruitment consultants that are just looking for you to tick some boxes.  The most important thing though is the knowledge that you gain from doing the courses and that’s what helps you perform better in your current job.

    5. Do your number one alpha geek project

    It can’t all be about work.  Get your Media Center working at home.  Learn how to take great photo’s or make excellent videos with the camera you got for Christmas or in the sales.  Get yourself a Home Server to keep all your family memories safe or create your quadro-copter / UAV. 

    6. Use free virtualisation solutions

    Microsoft give you virtualisation for free in Windows Server 2008 R2.  Turn on the Hyper-V role and as long as you don’t install anything else on your Hyper-V server you can use your Windows 2008 R2 license again on that box.  That means you can get great density from that single bit of hardware and because it’s Windows – not some Lunix distro with hard to find drivers that needs specific hardware – you can use Hyper-V on almost any server made in the last few years.  And yes Hyper-V does the cool stuff like live migration too.

    7. Build applications for the cloud

     Azure is a true cloud platform that uses almost any language that you want to build your application in so that you can architect a solution that really makes the best use of the clouds elasticity to grow and shrink and your applications and data needs.  Tim Anderson even thinks it’s ready to rock.  For a great example of an application built on Azure take a look at

    8. Get Silverlight onto every corporate desktop

    Silverlight is  bit of an unsung hero but it should be a part of your standard Windows 7 deployment.  It’s used by Office 2010 to make synchronising to the cloud (public and private) slicker and to train your users with free interactive training built into Office 2010.  SharePoint 2010 uses it to look even slicker and you can share corporate insights with simplicity with SharePoint and PowerPivot.  Not only that but your Developers can create super slick applications and reuse code simply thus reducing development time and costs.

    9. Make sure you have good anti-malware protection

    2010 saw us make Microsoft Security Essentials free for businesses of 10 computers or less and it has always been free for home use.  Install it on any machines without AV and make sure you keep it updated.

    10. Get fit and loose weight

    Come on you know you need to do this one too….


    Whistler_2010_orginal_square_400x400 Simon May is an Evangelist for Microsoft specialising in Client and Cloud.  Simon’s blog covers Windows deployment and Microsoft Public Cloud, when he’s not writing for TechNet or explaining technology he’s normally playing with Media Center PCs, taking photos or renovating houses.

  • Merry Techmas from the TechNet team

    Well, it’s that time of year again and we’re about to shut up shop and head home to our families for Techmas. It’s been an exciting few months on the UK TechNet blog since we wrote our first post back in July. Thanks for helping to make it successful and jolly good fun.

    Have a very merry Techmas – we’ll be back in the New Year.

    Team Techmas

    L-R: Andrew Fryer, Sam Taylor, Georgina Lewis, me (Rachel Collier), Simon May.

  • A Windows PowerShell Christmas Carol with Hey, Scripting Guy!

    Enjoy festive times on the Hey, Scripting Guy! blog as the lads talk Windows PowerShell with Ebenezer Script, Bob Snippet, and Tiny Shim. The A Windows PowerShell Carol series of posts comes courtesy of Microsoft MVP Sean Kerney – find out more about him on the HSG blog. You can also follow the scripting guys on Twitter.


  • Did Father Techmas choose you?

    Ho, ho, ho…merry Techmas. Well, boys and girls, Father Techmas has been busily reading the letters you sent him and he’s told me which three of you he’ll be sending a copy of Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010. I offered to tell you myself, but Father Techmas insisted he wanted the news to come direct from him. So, without further ado, it’s over to the big man himself…

    See Father Techmas address the nation.

    And the winners are…

    And the winners are…

    If your name appears below, give it a little click and see what happens.

    Andy C
    Mark Richards
    Mitch Kaye

    Well done to the three of you. Write to me with your addresses and I’ll have a couple of elves send out your parcels.

  • Watch The Register’s Windows 7 webinar

    Hopefully you’re winding down for Christmas this week, so what better time to sit back and enjoy this Windows 7 webinar with Tim Philips from The Register. Tim’s joined by Dale Vile from Freeform Dynamics and Microsoft’s Julie-Ann Muir and Doug Elsley to discuss the challenges and choices around Microsoft desktop upgrades.

    Watch the webinar and find lots more Windows 7 resources on the TechNet Springboard pages.

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  • The week that was on the UK TechNet blog - 13-17 December

    Ah, the end of another working week, and the last one before Techmas. I don’t know about you, but it’s about this time on a Friday that I like to sit back, stroke my beard and ponder the week’s events. I’m sure you do the same, so here’s your round up of this week’s TechNet fun.

  • Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010 – download now from TechNet

    Woohoo! Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010 is now available for you to trial on TechNet. If you don’t know what it’s all about, read on:

    Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010 simplifies and improves endpoint protection while greatly reducing infrastructure costs. It builds on System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2 and R3, allowing customers to use their existing client management infrastructure to deploy and manage endpoint protection. This shared infrastructure lowers ownership costs while providing improved visibility and control over endpoint management and security.

    Evaluate your socks off.


  • Download Microsoft Forefront Unified Access Gateway 2010 SP1

    New for you - Microsoft Forefront Unified Access Gateway (UAG) 2010 Service Pack 1 provides an easy and secure remote access solution with a focus on application intelligence and granular access control. Forefront UAG 2010 SP1 is the one solution to fit all of your remote access needs, as it provides centralised management and policy control across all users, devices, and network resources.

    Visit TechNet to download.



  • What’s Microsoft IT getting up to with Windows Server 2008 R2?

    Find out in this new TechNet Edge video – here’s the blurb:

    Windows Server Strategy in the Microsoft IT Datacenter

    Learn about Microsoft IT's deployment of Windows Server 2008 R2, a release that builds on the Windows Server 2008 foundation. Windows Server 2008 R2 includes technology improvements aimed at giving client computers running Windows 7 a reliable and flexible network productivity feature set. Included features are DirectAccess, Microsoft Branch Cache, and BitLocker ToGo, as well AD DS policies that integrate with Terminal Services’ new RAD and VDI desktop and application virtualisation features allowing administrators to deploy virtualised apps and desktops based on policy.

    So now you know.

  • IE8 and IE9 defeat more malware than anything else


    I’m a huge fan of IE9 which is why I made a bunch of videos about it but what I like is that we’re really pushing ahead with innovation in the space and it feels like hardly a week goes by without there being something (really) good to say about it.  The thing is it’s still in beta and not what people should be using right now you should be deploying Internet Explorer 8 as part of Windows 7 and as an upgrade to anything else. Which is why it’s super news that IE8 is included in these figures. NSS Labs have just released a report that – independently – proclaims Internet Explorer 8 and 9 the most secure browsers on the net.  Oh how things have changed!

    Internet Explorer 8 stops 90% of all malware attacks and IE9 builds on this by stopping another 9% with things like Application Reputation.  To provide contrast that’s 5X more than Firefox, 9x more than Safari and 33x more than Chrome.

    What does this mean to me, your average IT Professional?

    It means lots of things, depending upon your point of view…

    • Internet Explorer is the best browser at preventing the most common attack vector, social engineering, on the Internet.
      • Which matters to your business because there’s less risk to your corporate assets and lets face it less work clearing up the mess that uneducated, click happy users create.
    • When you deploy Windows 7 you know you’re deploying it with one of the most secure browsers on the Internet.
      • Which matters because it makes deployment easier, and it’s nice and simple to keep up to date using Windows Update.
    • If you have legacy versions of Internet Explorer deployed you really need to get rid of them, they are not as secure as the world now expects browsers to be.
      • That means you have to do more work to keep them going, probably in the area of edge management where you’re spending more time than is needed
        • And that’s not cost effective.

    You can trust Internet Explorer 9 because of Built-in security, reliability, deployment and control

    Try IE9 and check out the Internet Explorer Tech Center on TechNet