Christmas comes but once a year, which is similar to the frequency in which I blog.  I thought as it’s the season of good will, I would write a blog that details some of the free stuff we have to offer.  

Free Training  - Microsoft Virtual Academy

We know budgets for training are not what they use to be and that we’ve just had a wave of new products launched.  The Virtual Academy is a great way to get up to speed with our products, learning at a  pace that suits the individual.  I have had some feedback that perception is that this is a site for issuing marketing slide and that’s really not the case.  I bumped into a former colleague the other day who works in one of our key partners.  He mentioned the Academy and how it had helped him skill up on some areas of Windows Server 2012 that were unfamiliar.  Try it, what do you have to lose?  My current score is 1257 let me know if you’re doing better!

Get your free training now  - www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com

 

Free Books & How To Guides

There are lots of free books available on Microsoft Technology, I thought I’d collate some of my favourites:

  • Windows 8: Introducing Windows 8 for IT Professionals:

I’m not sure how long this book will be available for free so download early to avoid disappointment:

 

PDF

Introducing Windows 8- An Overview for IT
  Professionals - PDF ebook

Mobi

Introducing
  Windows 8-An Overview for IT Professionals – Mobi format for Kindle

ePub

Introducing
  Windows 8-An Overview for IT Professionals – ePub format

 

  • Windows Server 2012:

There is a great guide to getting started with Windows Server 2012 to be found on TechNet: http://technet.microsoft.com/library/hh831620

Also our own @DeepFat has been getting hands on with some videos with some of the features he likes.  The series can be found here: http://blogs.technet.com/b/andrew/archive/2012/12/08/evaluate-this-an-introduction.aspx  

 

  • SQL Server 2012

If databases are more your thing then check out Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2012: 

http://download.microsoft.com/download/F/F/6/FF62CAE0-CE38-4228-9025-FBF729312698/Microsoft_Press_eBook_Introducing_Microsoft_SQL_Server_2012_PDF.pdf

I’ve found further free books here: 

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/microsoft_press/archive/2012/05/04/free-ebooks-great-content-from-microsoft-press-that-won-t-cost-you-a-penny.aspx

<Update> one of my colleagues got in touch to say there are even more free books detailed on his blog:

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/mssmallbiz/archive/2012/07/27/large-collection-of-free-microsoft-ebooks-for-you-including-sharepoint-visual-studio-windows-phone-windows-8-office-365-office-2010-sql-server-2012-azure-and-more.aspx 

 

Free Events: Tech.Days

Our free events sell out quicker than the latest Tamagochi/Tracy Island Pokémon thing (I think you get my drift).  I regularly get emails from grumpy  un-happy IT Pros that go something along the line of “You’ve sent me an invite to x event and it’s full, why invite people to full events”   The truth of the matter is that we have some events that have sold out in less than 20 minutes.  As a team we want to deliver as many events, to as many people that we can.  We are however constrained by the amount of bandwidth the team can deliver and the money we have to deliver events.

My top tips on getting a place at one of our free events:

1)     Follow us on Twitter if you use it, @TechNetUK it’s one of the first places we will announce an event on

2)     Keep an eye on  http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/techdays/events.aspx, we are working on a RSS feed but until then this is the first place any event will be posted

3)     Send us an email UKITPro@microsoft.com  “Hey Guys any events coming up?”  Certain times of the year lend themselves to more events in the calendar due to the workings of a large organisation like Microsoft.

Find out about events near you now: http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/techdays/events.aspx

 

Get involved with User Groups

We’ve recently launched our new usergroup community portal: https://www.technicalcommunity.com.  There is a bunch of great people running UserGroups up and down the country.  Having worked with many of them I have always found them to be friendly and open to sharing knowledge.   You will find that the range of technologies is comprehensive and it’s a great way to meet people with similar interests and network.

 

Free Software and Templates

The majority of our software is sold but there are some nuggets that are free 

If you’re not running Windows 8 then you should be thinking about AntiVirus as part of defence in depth.  If you’ve not got a solution or your trial period has run out, have a think about Security Essentials.

You don’t need to spend lots of money on expensive software to create movies, Movie maker is a great free tool. 

If you want an easier solution then walking round with a CD in your hand to install software and then search the web for drivers then this may be it.  It’s not a comprehensive as System Center but will still help automate the deployment process.

Want to create the next Unhappy Birds or FaceFriendBook?  Or simply create a app that displays news on the go.  Visual Studio Express is free and helps you unleash the inner developer.

Powerpoint Templates: http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/templates/results.aspx?qu=presentations

If I’m writing a new set of slides, my process for slide design is as follows:

  1. Open Powerpoint
  2. Stare at  white, boring, dull slide
  3. Adjust background
  4. Delete background
  5. View previous Powerpoint presentations
  6. Pick one that I like the style of and then start deleting the content
  7. Save as a different file so I don’t lose the original presentation

There is another way, on the office.microsoft.com template page there are a number of templates that can avoid the repetition of above.

Congratulations on getting to the bottom of my blog piece. I hope that you find some of the above useful, if you do please leave a comment.

Have a great festive holiday and look forward to hearing from me about this time next year :)

Dan @danpi