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Ho, ho, ho! Merry Techmas!
Have you been good boys and girls this year? Providing you’ve been on your very best behaviour, Father Techmas wants to hear from you. We’d like to see your Techmas technology wish list, and the three funniest efforts will win a copy of Office Professional Plus 2010. Be warned, though - Father T is a tough chap to impress – in fact he told me he thinks developers are much funnier than IT professionals. But what does he know? Prove him wrong in 200 words or less by 16th December, and we’ll let you know the next day if you tickled his fancy enough to win. Don’t forget to check out the terms and conditions below (yawn).
Letters to Father Techmas Competition Terms and Conditions
1. ELIGIBILITY: This competition is open to UK residents who are 18 years of age or older at the time of entry. Employees of Microsoft or its affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising or promotion agencies are not eligible, nor are members of these employees’ families (defined as parents, children, siblings, spouse and life partners).
2. TO ENTER: To enter post your letter to Father Techmas in the blog’s comments box . The person submitting the funniest letter, as selected by three judges, will win a copy Office 2010 Professional Plus. Only one entry per person will be accepted. Incomplete, damaged, defaced or illegible entries may be deemed invalid at the sole discretion of Microsoft. Entry constitutes full and unconditional acceptance of these Terms and Conditions. Microsoft reserves the right to disqualify anyone in breach of these Terms and Conditions.
3. TIMING: This competition runs from 9 December The closing date of this competition is 5pm GMT 16 December 2010. Completed entries must reach Microsoft no later than the closing date.
4. USE OF DATA: Personal data which you provide when you enter this competition will not be used for future Microsoft UK marketing activity.
5. SELECTION OF WINNER: Three judges will select their favourite letter from all the entries and the winner will be notified by email on 17 December 2010 by 6pm GMT. The winners may be required to become involved in further publicity or advertising.
6. PRIZE: The prize is one copy of Microsoft Office Professional Plus with an estimated retail price of £330.00. Prize as stated and non-transferable. No cash or other alternatives available. Microsoft reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value. The prize will be dispatched within one week of the competition’s closing date. Prize may be considered a taxable benefit and the winner will be directly responsible for accounting for any tax liability arising on their prize.
7. WINNERS LIST: The winner consents to their surname being made publicly available. The winner’s surname will be available for a period of 3 weeks after the closing date by emailing email@example.com
8. OTHER: No correspondence will be entered into regarding either this competition or these Terms and Conditions. In the unlikely event of a dispute, Microsoft’s decision shall be final. Microsoft reserves the right to amend, modify, cancel or withdraw this competition at any time without notice.
9. Microsoft cannot guarantee the performance of any third party and shall not be liable for any act or default by a third party. Participants in this promotion agree that Microsoft will have no liability whatsoever for any injuries, losses, costs, damage or disappointment of any kind resulting in whole or in part, directly or indirectly from acceptance, misuse or use of a prize, or from participation in this promotion. Nothing in this clause shall limit Microsoft’s liability in respect of death or personal injury arising out of its own negligence or arising out of fraud.
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.
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….
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.
The Windows 7 deployment learning portal, our whizzy online assessment and learning tool, helps you identify the strengths and gaps in your knowledge around Windows 7 deployment and provides some targeted learning to help you show up your colleagues. Comprised of brief modules, it takes just a few minutes to get started.
Sign up now and you’ll get 40% off a wide range of MS Press books. What’s more, the first 100 people to complete all 11 training modules will receive a free Windows 7 Resource Kit worth £54.99*.
Sadly, a fairy dies every time you enter a competition without reading the terms and conditions, so have a look before you get going.
Windows 7 Deployment Learning Portal – Gift of Windows 7 resource kit.
1. ELIGIBILITY: This offer is open to any person resident in the UK who is 18 years of age or older at the time of registration excluding Public Sector employees/Government Official*. Employees of Microsoft or its affiliates, advertising or promotion agencies are not eligible, nor are members of these employees’ families (defined as parents, children, siblings, spouses and life partners). This offer cannot be combined with any other Microsoft offers or rebates. This offer is subject to availability.
2. TO ENTER: Register for this promotion at the Windows 7 Deployment Learning Portal at http://technet.microsoft.com/windows/ff470986.aspx(Portal)between 12.01:00 a.m. GMT on 13 December 2010 until 11.59:59 p.m. on 28 February 2011 (inclusive) by completing your details at the Portal and ensure you have ticked the box to be entered into the free book promotion and thereby shown your acceptance of these terms and conditions.
There are 11 (eleven) modules within the Portal and the entrant is required to successfully complete all eleven modules and achieve the specified pass mark within the said Portal in order to be eligible to be awarded 1(one) online voucher to redeem their copy of a Windows 7 resource kit by Mitch Tulloch, Tony Northrup, Jerry Honeycutt, Ed Wilson and the Windows 7 Team at Microsoft, according to the availability and selection process outlined below. See clause 5 below for further details. Only one entry per person will be accepted. Incomplete, damaged, defaced or illegible entries may be deemed invalid at the sole discretion of Microsoft. Entry constitutes full and unconditional acceptance of these Terms and Conditions. Microsoft reserves the right to disqualify anyone in breach of these Terms and Conditions.
3. TIMING: This promotion runs from 12.01:00 a.m. GMT on 13 December 2010 until 11.59:59 p.m. on 28 February 2011 (inclusive) subject to the limited availability of the 100 books. A notification will be made at the Portal when all the books have been claimed.
4. USE OF DATA: Personal data which you provide when you enter the promotion will be used for administering this promotion only. If you agree to this use, please tick the box at the Portal.
5. SELECTION OF WINNERS: The first 100 entrants who complete all the eleven modules and achieve the specified pass mark will be awarded 1 (one) online voucher to redeem their copy of Windows 7 resource kit by Mitch Tulloch, Tony Northrup, Jerry Honeycutt, Ed Wilson, and the Windows 7 Team at Microsoft. Completion is determined by answering all eleven modules and achieving the specified pass mark for that module. Pass marks are stipulated at the start of each module or can be requested from emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. GIFT: There will be one hundred copies of Windows 7 resource kit by Mitch Tulloch, Tony Northrup, Jerry Honeycutt, Ed Wilson, and the Windows 7 Team at Microsoft to give away to the first one hundred entrants completing the 11 modules at the Portal.There will a voucher code for the Windows 7 resource kit that the winners can redeem online directly with MS Press. The voucher codes will be automatically issued if a candidate meets the above entitlement criteria. The voucher codes for the Windows 7 resource kit will be made available within the Portal, as part of the record of achievement which is automatically generated and available online within the Portal once a participant has successfully passed all eleven modules and achieved the specified pass mark. The links where the winners can redeem the vouchers will be supplied to the winners at the same time as the voucher codes. Each voucher code is unique. Once a voucher code has been associated with a participant, it is not possible to reuse the voucher code, and neither will the same voucher code be made available to subsequent participants. Therefore the Windows 7 resource kit is subject to availability. Gifts are as stated and non transferable. No cash or other alternatives available. Microsoft reserves the right to substitute a gift of equal or greater value. All gift recipients will be notified once they login, on or before the 20th February. Windows 7 resource kit may be considered a taxable benefit and winners will be directly responsible for accounting for any tax liability arising on this gift.
7. WINNERS LIST: The winners consent to their surname being made publicly available. Winners names will be available for a period of one month after the final draw date by emailing email@example.com for the list of names.
8. OTHER: No correspondence will be entered into regarding either this promotion or these Terms and Conditions. In the unlikely event of a dispute, Microsoft’s decision shall be final. Microsoft reserve the right to amend, modify, cancel or withdraw this promotion at any time without notice.
9. Microsoft cannot guarantee the performance of any third party and shall not be liable for any act or default by a third party. Participants in this offer agree that Microsoft will have no liability whatsoever for any injuries, losses, costs, damage or disappointment of any kind resulting in whole or in part, directly or indirectly from acceptance, misuse or use of a gift, or from participation in this offer. Nothing in this clause shall limit Microsoft’s liability in respect of death or personal injury arising out of its own negligence or arising out of fraud
Promoter: Microsoft Limited, Microsoft Campus, Thames Valley Park, Reading, RG6 1WG, England
*Under Microsoft's Anti-Corruption Policy, a “Government Official” refers to all of the following: • any employee of a government entity or subdivision, including elected officials; • any private person acting on behalf of a government entity, even if just temporarily; • officers and employees of companies in which the government owns an interest of 10% or more; • candidates for political office; • political party officials; and • officers, employees and representatives of public international organizations, such as the World Bank and United Nations.
Whichever industry you’re in, you have processes to deal with. Some processes are similar regardless of industry; claiming expenses follows similar patterns even if there are variations from company to company. Other processes vary by industry or region. Some are unique to an individual organisation. A lot of these processes involve people outside of the organisation. An obvious example is the retail industry, where purchases start with a customer but then get processed by staff. There are examples for virtually all industries where someone outside of the business plays a part in a business process.
SharePoint is a great platform for handling business processes. You have SharePoint Designer for those simple, linear workflow and Visual Studio which can handle processes as complex as they come. SharePoint allows you to bring together document management, collaboration, BI, and task management in a single unified platform, with links to other systems in your organisation, so that your processes can flow smoothly into the operation of your business. If you’re running a SharePoint intranet, you can make use of the workflow capabilities to help speed up your internal business processes.
But what about those processes that have external factors? What about those situations where a process is kicked off by a form on a website?
There are all sorts of ways that this can be handled, with information being pulled into SharePoint via the Business Connectivity Services, or communicated via web services, or using technology such as BizTalk.
But wouldn’t it be so much simpler if everything was on the same foundation?
SharePoint is generally thought of as being a product for building intranets. People often forget that it can be used to produce rich websites. If you build your internal portals and external sites on the same, SharePoint platform, then suddenly it becomes much simpler to have your processes flow from external to internal people. If you’ve already invested in building up the skills to automate your internal processes, then those same skills can be applied to these external processes.
A basic example of this might be a process around requesting contact. In this scenario, the organisation has a SharePoint farm with (at least) two site collections. One site collection forms the intranet, with collaboration spaces, mysites and portal pages. The other site collection is the company’s internet site. On this site is a simple form for requesting contact, designed in InfoPath with data validation to ensure it is correctly filled out. When the user clicks on the submit button, the form updates a list in the internal site collection. A workflow automatically activates, adding a task to an appropriate member of staff, after performing some logic to determine who would be the best placed to respond. That staff member then has the details from the form in a SharePoint task list. When the task is completed, the list is updated by the workflow to remove this item. Throughout the whole process, a business intelligence portal uses the SharePoint lists as data sources to surface information about the number of contact request, speed with which they’re dealt and even which staff members respond most promptly. By having both sides build on the same platform, information can flow from website to intranet, meaning processes that can be completed quickly and are easy to maintain.
Through the whole procedure, you can make use of those features of SharePoint which make automating business processes so much simpler: rich web forms from InfoPath, workflow visualisation in Visio, data connections through BCS, as well as seamless integration to the wealth of other capabilities SharePoint provides.
If you want to know more about building workflows, both inside and outside the firewall, then there is reference reading, examples and planning guidance available in the TechNet libraries. You can also visit the SharePoint TechCentre for the latest information and comparisons of SharePoint products.
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.
L-R: Andrew Fryer, Sam Taylor, Georgina Lewis, me (Rachel Collier), Simon May.
At PDC10 last month, Microsoft announced several enhancements for the Windows Azure Platform. Today, we're happy to announce that several of these enhancements are ready for you to try as a Beta or Community Technology Preview (CTP). You can find more details about these new features in the announcement on the Windows Azure team blog or in the webcast “Getting Started with the Windows Azure November 2010 Release”. If you are new to Windows Azure, you might want to read this post first, which contains guidance on getting you up to speed with the platform.
Download today the Windows Azure SDK and Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio release 1.3 and the new Windows Azure Platform Developer Training Kit and start exploring the new services and features in the Windows Azure Platform.
Developers and IT Pros have several cost-effective choices to try the Windows Azure Platform including the Introductory Special with 25 hours per month at no charge and in addition to these offers, MSDN Premium and Ultimate Subscribers are eligible to a 16-month free access for development & testing purposes. Learn more about your MSDN Windows Azure Benefits and how to activate your account today.
Now that you have installed the tools and activated your Windows Azure account you can use the following resources to learn and get hands-on experience on some of the key services and features on the Windows Azure Platform.
Learn – Webcast
Explore – Hands-on Lab
New Service or Feature
Building, deploying & managing Windows Azure Apps
Introduction to Windows Azure HOL
Full IIS; New Developer Portal; Remote Desktop; Apps Deployment; Apps Diagnostics
Migrating and Building Apps for Windows Azure
Advanced Web And Worker Roles HOL
Windows Azure Virtual Machine role; Elevated Privileges for Web & Worker roles; Full IIS; Remote Desktop
Inside WA Virtual Machines
Virtual Machine Role HOL
Windows Azure Virtual Machine role
Understanding Windows Azure Connect
Connecting Apps with Windows Azure Connect HOL
Windows Azure Connect
Building High Performance Web Applications with the Windows Azure Platform
Windows Azure CDN HOL
CDN Dynamic Content Caching; Full IIS; Elevated Privileges for Web and Worker roles
Here it is, folks, all this week’s UK TechNet blog action in one handy post.
This fortnight’s TechNet newsletter is live and kicking. Why not write the rest of the day off and have a read. My very technical father’s view on this edition is that ‘there’s some good stuff in it’, which is quite some praise from him.
Don’t forget to write your letter to Father Techmas – you could win a copy of Office Professional Plus 2010 for your trouble.
That’s all from us for another week. Have a great weekend!
The next version of the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit (MAP) is now available in beta release. Join the MAP Beta program and test drive what’s coming next— Windows Azure and SQL Azure readiness reporting, Internet Explorer 8 upgrade assessment, heterogeneous database discovery, and more. More assessments and reports help your customers streamline and simplify their IT infrastructure planning. MAP works with the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit and Security Compliance Manager to help you plan, securely deploy, and manage new Microsoft technologies —easier, faster, and at less cost.
Tune into this on demand desktop virtualisation webcast and hear from industry expert and Enterprise Solutions Architect, Patrick Rouse, about how implementing VDI with Windows 7 can help streamline the migration process.
Key topics discussed include:
About your host Patrick Rouse is an industry expert with 15 years of experience with enterprise application delivery, desktop and application virtualization and is a 7 time recipient of the Microsoft MVP Award in the area of Remote Desktop Services.
Listen to the webcast here
Sponsored by Quest Software.