David Overton's Blog and Discussion Site
This site is my way to share my views and general business and IT information with you about Microsoft, IT solutions for ISVs, technologists and businesses, large and small. I specialise in Windows Intune and SBS 2008.
This blog is purely the personal opinions of David Overton. If you can't find the information you were looking for e-mail me at admin@davidoverton.com.

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  • Tech days 2010 – UK, covering Virtualisation, Office 2010, Windows 7, SQL Server 2008 R2, Visual Studio, the Essential Mix, Rich Client and Windows Phone

    Registration for UK Tech Days events from 12 th to 16 th April is open!. UK Tech Days 2010 is a week-long series of free events run by Microsoft and technical communities to celebrate and inspire developers, IT professionals and IT Managers to get more from Microsoft technology.  Our day events in London will cover the latest technology releases including Microsoft Visual Studio 2010, Microsoft Office 2010, Virtualisation, Silverlight, Microsoft Windows 7 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 plus events focusing on deployment and an IT Manager day. Please visit our website for full details: http://www.microsoft.com/uk/techdays and follow what’s happening @uktechdays   The agenda looks like this: Monday 12th April Tuesday 13th Wednesday 14th Thursday 15th Friday 16th IT Pro Days Virtualization Summit Office 2010 - the next wave Windows 7 - Deployment SQL Server 2008 R2 - The Platform Raising the profile of IT Dev Days Visual Studio 2010 Launch Visual Studio 2010 and .NET The Essential MIX Rich Client Windows Phone   ttfn David Technorati Tags: Virtualisation , Office 2010 , Windows 7 , SQL Server 2008 R2 , Visual Studio , the Essential Mix , Rich Client , Windows Phone
  • Want MIX08 in the UK? Then come to ReMix08 in Brighton on 18th and 19th September and save if you book an early bird place now

    I love what goes on at these events. It would be good to see you there. Here is the little advert: Final chance to save £110 . Very limited Early Bird places left - don't say we didn't warn you! 1,000 web developers, designers, development managers and technology evangelists are going to take the media they love to the next level. Why? Because ReMix UK 08 is getting bigger and better. Scott Guthrie Developer Track Bill Buxton Design and UX Track For Designers, Developers, the Community and Beyond Work Julie Howell, Fortune Cookie • Brendan Dawes, Magnetic North • Paul Foster, Microsoft Evangelist • Guy Smith-Ferrier, Capella • Tim Regan, Microsoft Research • Mike Taulty, Microsoft Developer Evangelist See the website for the growing list of speakers... What's in the mix • Panel discussions to Interactive Mash Ups • Designers and developers hand-in-hand to • All day VJs to conceptual walls • Open Source project, CodePlex • Backnetwork to Moo cards • Photosynth master classes to Microsoft Surface • Our international act to geek bars • Swag giveaways to inflatable lounges • Designing for compatibility and for the wild • Visualising books to sneak previews • The latest developments in IM, VE and IE8 • Latest developments in RIAs and SSDs • WPF and Silverlight applications at work • • The technology Silverlight | Deep Zoom | Mobile | Expression | ASP.NET/AJAX Windows Live services | XNA | Partnering with Microsoft | Photosynth Robotics Studio | Data | Microsoft Research | Popfly | Advertising It's a full-on interactive event. Be a part of something special. Don't forget the Early Bird offer and register today at www.microsoft.com/uk/remix08/ . Early Bird price £239 (inc.VAT), full price £349 from the 301st ticket. See you there! ttfn David Technorati Tags: Silverlight , Deep Zoom , Mobile , Windows Mobile , Expression , ASP.Net , Ajax , Windows Live Services , XNA , Microsoft , Partner , Photosynth , Robotics Studio , Data , Microsoft Research , Popfly , Advertising
  • If you liked the Deep Zoom (aka Sea Dragon) tool, then you will be blown away by the preview of the Deep Zoom Composer

    I created my Star Wars Deep Zoom preview and really liked it, but then contacted the author of the site to see how I could add more pictures and control the layout &/or host it myself. Normally when I ask these sorts of questions I get a response about "later" and "out of beta", but instead I got pointed to these 3 articles and I have to say Wow!! You can see what someone can do with this technology at The Hard Rock Cafe - http://memorabilia.hardrock.com/ Download the Preview of the Deep Zoom Composer What is the Deep Zoom Composer? Deep Zoom Composer allows you to quickly import your own images, arrange and position them to your liking, and export the final output as either a Deep Zoom Image or Collection that can be fed into Silverlight's MutliScaleImage control. This means that you too can use your own images and display them using our Deep Zoom technology. Download the Deep Zoom Composer However, having done this I needed a simple user guide. At this point the blog Expression Blend and Design : Deep Zoom Composer User Guide came to my aid where there is indeed the user guide to download. The tool is simple, but the guide helps you understand what you are doing. Finally, I had arranged my pictures, however the output did not have zoom and pan capability. Then I found the article Expression Blend and Design : Deep Zoom Sample with MouseWheel / Pan / Click-Zoom which basically enabled me to finish the job off. All quite simple and the output looks fantastic. In your Web Site project, inside your ClientBin folder, you will see a folder called vistaWallpapers. The vistaWallpapers folder contains the images, xml, and bin files Deep Zoom Composer (DZC) output. To reuse this sample for your own projects, delete the vistaWallpapers folder and import your own folder containing the DZC output. Once you have done that, open Page.xaml in your Silverlight project and change the source of your MultiScaleImage control to point to your new folder and its info.bin file in your Web Site project: Once...
  • How to Report a Problem Page in IE8 with the Report a Problem Webpage for Internet Explorer 8.0 Beta Add-On

    I've spent the day using IE8 and while it is faster, some pages have problems. If your seeing this, download this add-on to submit to Microsoft. Report a Webpage Problem Internet Explorer 8.0 Beta Add-On The Microsoft Report a Webpage Problem Internet Explorer Add-on allows the user to submit a report to Microsoft for webpages they believe are having rendering problems, scripting errors, or various other types of problems Download details: Report a Webpage Problem Internet Explorer 8.0 Beta Add-On To use, go to the tools menu and select Report a Webpage Problem Then you get to submit a page like this: thanks David Technorati Tags: Beta , Microsoft , IE8 , Internet Explorer , Application Compatibility , Support
  • Microsoft SQL Server Data Services - more online services announced this week

    This is one big week for developers (as Mix was always going to be). We now also have data services in the cloud ( http://www.microsoft.com/sql/dataservices/default.mspx ) On-demand Scalability SQL Server Data Services (SSDS) are highly scalable, on-demand data storage and query processing web services. Businesses use storage resources as needed transforming large upfront capital and operations expenditures into much smaller on-demand costs. On-demand storage and access Store and query your data virtually any time, anywhere on the web. Use and pay for storage resources as you go. Scales easily as your data grows Take advantage of virtually no restriction on the amount of data stored. Use the same service interfaces for your storage needs at any scale. Easy to manage Easy to use web-based service for provisioning, deployment, and monitoring. Lights-out manageability and commodity hardware for lowest service cost. Business-ready SLA SQL Server Data Services are built using robust Microsoft SQL Server database technologies and will provide strong service level agreement (SLA) covering high availability, performance, and protection against data loss. Built using enterprise-class SQL Server Database technology as a storage node Industry Standard SQL Server and Windows server technologies. Years of experience running these technologies in-house. Novel distributed data fabric for massive scale out operation. Richer functionality exposed over time based on feedback from business customers. High availability, security, and performance Store and manage multiple copies of the data for reliability. Back up data stored in each data cluster. Geo-redundant data copies to ensure business continuity. Secure data access to help provide business confidentiality and privacy. Input/output (I/O) are optimized for high throughput. Application Agility SQL Server Data Services supports simple web-programming interfaces like SOAP and REST for quick provisioning of web applications. Developers can focus on innovating with data while reducing...
  • Training announcement for ISV who are developing or planning to develop on the Windows Live Platform (Silverlight, Live Controls, Live ID, Messenger, Spaces)

    Another entry from the ISV blog - this time for developing on the Windows Live platform Training announcement for ISV who are developing or planning to develop on the Windows Live Platform. The Partner Readiness have just announced the release of the Windows Live Platform Services course. This 1.5 day deep dive covers the core technical aspects of Windows Live Platform Services including: Overview of Windows Live Silverlight Streaming Windows Live Controls Windows Live Tools for Visual Studio Windows Live Data (Authentication/Delegation model) Live ID Quick Apps Deep Dive (dev.live.com/quickapps) Messenger Presence Spaces APIs Dates currently scheduled are: 28–29 April (London) https://training.partner.microsoft.com/plc/details.aspx?publisher=12&delivery=242857&site=UK&lang=en-uk 14 -15 May (Altrincham) https://training.partner.microsoft.com/plc/details.aspx?publisher=12&delivery=242858&site=UK&lang=en-uk 9-10 June (London) https://training.partner.microsoft.com/plc/details.aspx?publisher=12&delivery=242859&site=UK&lang=en-uk Place will be limited so hurry to sign-up! UK ISV Blog : Training announcement for ISV who are developing or planning to develop on the Windows Live Platform. ttfn David Technorati Tags: Windows Live , Developer , Messenger , Spaces , Silverlight , QuickApps , Visual Studio , Live ID , Live
  • Office from the past, ODF and OOXML (Office of today and tomorrow) and why is organic growth nearly always bad for software and why re-writing is not good either

    As I have said many times in the past I used to write document conversation tools. I believe this gives me a valid reason to be able to pass comment on the ODF/OOMXL debate that is raging at the moment. If these types of questions interest you, have a look at the book I talk about later ( In Search of Stupidity: Over 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters (UK) or here for US link ) Lets start with some history about the Office 97-2003 file formats. Joel was writing about this today ( Why are the Microsoft Office file formats so complicated? (And some workarounds) - Joel on Software ). Note that part of what he has commented on is the fact that the documentation for the binary file format is now available from Microsoft: Why are the Microsoft Office file formats so complicated? (And some workarounds) This item ran on the Joel on Software homepage on Tuesday, February 19, 2008 Last week, Microsoft published the binary file formats for Office . These formats appear to be almost completely insane. The Excel 97-2003 file format is a 349 page PDF file. <snipped> If you started reading these documents with the hope of spending a weekend writing some spiffy code that imports Word documents into your blog system, or creates Excel-formatted spreadsheets with your personal finance data, the complexity and length of the spec probably cured you of that desire pretty darn quickly. A normal programmer would conclude that Office’s binary file formats: are deliberately obfuscated are the product of a demented Borg mind were created by insanely bad programmers and are impossible to read or create correctly. You’d be wrong on all four counts. With a little bit of digging, I’ll show you how those file formats got so unbelievably complicated, why it doesn’t reflect bad programming on Microsoft’s part, and what you can do to work around it. The first thing to understand is that the binary file formats were designed with very different design goals than, say, HTML. They were designed to be fast on very old computers. For the early...
  • Microsoft DreamSpark - Free developer tools for students around the world. Think of the opportunities!!

    I heard about this a day or two ago and I have to say this is a MASSIVE move for Microsoft and something that can only do good. As a student you can now download, at no cost, the professional Microsoft development tools. That is all there is to the programme, however this is a dream come true for many educational institutions. Just think of the opportunity - help them implement all this software, when the software is free to the students!! Channel8 described it as : How would you like a free copy of Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 ? How about the entire Microsoft Expression Studio ? Not enough...... how about Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and more? For once, something that sounds too good to be true really is this good and really is true. Starting today (or soon in some areas), students worldwide will be able to download our professional development and design tools for free ! It's called DreamSpark and it is upon us. For information on the project from PressPass: PressPass: What is the thinking behind Microsoft DreamSpark? And how did you come up with the name? Wilson: Microsoft DreamSpark is a community-based program to provide students with free access to Microsoft’s industry-leading software development, gaming and design tools. Working with schools, governments, partners and student organizations worldwide, we will be making this available starting today in Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Other countries will come online over the next year, as well as expanding the program to include high school students. The program is open to all students at education institutions worldwide, though those studying science, technology, engineering and math disciplines (STEM-D) are expected to be the first to jump on it. All eligible students need is access to a computer with an internet connection to download the products, as well as free access keys at http://channel8.msdn.com . We call it DreamSpark because every great technology breakthrough starts...
  • Business Contact Manager Team Blog - good information, including SQL and VBA tools, Smartphone and product information

    I was hunting for an answer to a questions someone asked me and I came across this the BCM Team Blog. Below are some of the recent posts. It is worth adding to your RSS feed list. Troubleshooting BCM for Pocket PC/Smartphone Get Business Contact Manager with Outlook Standalone How to Change BCM Polling Interval? Happy Holidays Business Contact Manager for Outlook 2007 SP1 is Live Business Contact Manager Team Blog ttfn David Technorati Tags: Microsoft , BCM , Business Contact Manager , Office 2007 , Office System , CRM , Small Business
  • Time to Nominate your solutions for the Awards at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference!

    You may remember people who have one awards at the Worldwide Partner Conference before - is it your time now? I saw Steve Morrow (my boss) has put some great information on the UK ISV blog and while he is thinkking about it from a purely ISV point of view, you could apply under any of the categories. Time to Nominate your Applications for the Awards at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference! Time to submit your entry for the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference Awards program! This is a great way to get some free PR. As a finalist or winner you’ll receive promotions that identify your company as part of an elite class of Microsoft partners. Logos will also be displayed in Microsoft Solution Finder. The nomination process is open NOW and closes on 4th April 2008 . Finalists for the 2008 awards will be announced on June 9, 2008. Winners will be announced and recognized at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston, July 7-10, 2008. Go to Award Submission Tool For a full list of the award categories can be found here . UK ISV Blog : Time to Nominate your Applications for the Awards at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference! ttfn David Technorati Tags: WWPC , WPC , Worldwide Partner Conference , Microsoft , Awards , ISV , Developer
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 VPC Image

    I saw this and thought I would share for those who had not seen it - Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 VPC Image Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 VPC Image Get familiar with the upcoming Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 release: Preview Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 in a Virtual PC (VPC) image. Overview This Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 preview leverages Release Candidate (RC0) code in a Virtual PC image. The demo is designed as a one-computer setup with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 server and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 client for Microsoft Outlook. Note: Although the image can be utilised on a single PC or laptop computer, it is strongly suggested that the image be run using an external USB 2.0 hard drive for best performance. If you do not have an external drive, you can run the image locally on the host computer; however, you will experience a decrease in performance. Contents This VPC contains the following: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 (RC0) Microsoft Dynamics CRM Laptop and Desktop Client Microsoft Dynamics CRM SDK (C:\CRM Tools\SDK) Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition (SP2) Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Internet Explorer 7 Microsoft Office Professional 2007 Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 POP3 E-Mail Services (No Exchange) Microsoft LCA Approved Sample Data System Requirements Supported Operating Systems Windows Vista operating system; Microsoft Windows XP Other Requirements Personal computer with1.5 GHz or higher processor and at least 2.0 gigabytes (GB) of RAM 12 GB of available hard drive space Super VGA (1024x768) video adapter/monitor Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 software (Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 and Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 also compatible) ttfn David Technorati Tags: MS CRM , CRM , Dynamics , Virtual PC , VPC
  • Register Now for the Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008 UK Launch Event

    I saw this in the Technet newsletter and thought I would pass it on: The launch of Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008 is drawing near and we are pleased to announce the three main launch activities to help you learn more: 1) The main launch event on 19 March at the ICC Birmingham - register now 2) The TechNet and MSDN Roadshows in April and May - pre-register now 3) The Virtual Launch Experience also on 19 March - pre register now ttfn David Technorati Tags: Events , Windows Server 2008 , SQL Server 2008 , Visual Studio 2008 , Launch
  • Heroes Happen Here - Where are you?

    If you don't know about the Heroes Happen Here :: Home campaign then you are very much behind the times. The Launch events for SQL Server 2008 (errrm), Visual Studio 2008 and Windows Server 2008 are fast approaching and so is your customers ability to buy and use them - do you understand what, why and when? If not, go to the website and see how your customers can benefit and why you should learn more about the product and what you can do to improve your business with these products. ttfn David Technorati Tags: Heroes happen here , Heroes happen {here} , Heroes , Windows Server 2008 , SQL Server 2008 , Visual Studio 2008
  • Microsoft Live Labs Volta Team Blog

    I saw this and thought I would share. Write apps with another simple set of tools. Between Popfly, this and more it seems that building on Microsoft is getting easier and easier. Have a look at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2007/dec07/12-05Volta.mspx for some more info. Announcing Volta: Web Development Using Only the Materials in the Room Today, we are announcing the Volta technology preview , a developer toolset for building multi-tier web applications using existing and familiar tools, techniques and patterns. Volta’s declarative tier-splitting enables developers to postpone architectural decisions about distribution until the last possible responsible moment. Also, thanks to a shared programming model across multiple-tiers, Volta enables new end-to-end profiling and testing for higher levels of application performance, robustness, and reliability. Using the declarative tier-splitting, developers can refine architectural decisions based on this profiling data. This saves time and costs associated with manual refactoring. In effect, Volta extends the .NET platform to further enable the development of software+services applications, using existing and familiar tools and techniques. You architect and build your application as a .NET client application, assigning the portions of the application that run on the server tier and client tier late in the development process. You can target either web browsers or the CLR as clients and Volta handles the complexities of tier-splitting. The compiler creates cross-browser JavaScript for the client tier, web services for the server tier, and all communication, serialization, synchronization, security, and other boilerplate code to tie the tiers together. In effect, Volta offers a best-effort experience in multiple environments without requiring tailoring of the application. Learn more about Volta and download it to try building applications yourself > Microsoft Live Labs Volta Team Blog ttfn David Technorati Tags: Developer , Volta
  • Looking for where to focus as a developer - latest job ads data suggests Microsoft based technology is the place to be!

    I saw this data on developer jobs at http://www.itjobswatch.co.uk/default.aspx?sortby=0&orderby=0&q=&id=1300&lid=2618 and thought it would make some interesting reading. It shows: lots of demand around MS technologies and reasonable pay (average salary over £40K and about 3rd of the market is focused on MS specific skills) J2EE and Websphere pay/cost the most in terms of staff, but represent just 7.8% of the market demand, so if you are here, you are feeling good!! Old style HTML web jobs are dying in terms of pay (html, CSS, XHTML, JSP) and falling demand in terms of the number of jobs AJAX, the next great web dev scenario is not in high demand, which is a surprise to me For those of you who like graphs, you can see the highest salaries for J2EE & Websphere people, but this is probably caused by the fact that there are so many fewer jobs, so rushing to get skilled in this area could severely weaken any salary advantage. The chart above was created from the data below. Development Skill Average Salary Average salary change Number of Job Ads Percentage of all IT Job Ads .NET £40,685 1.57% 34623 15.72% XML £40,624 -3.55% 19978 9.07% ASP.NET £37,046 0.98% 16975 7.71% HTML £34,228 -1.96% 14740 6.69% J2EE £49,061 1.28% 13049 5.92% CSS £32,981 0.71% 9559 4.34% WebServices £43,242 -0.60% 6686 3.03% JSP £42,265 -4.93% 4761 2.16% AJAX £37,246 -4.56% 4739 2.15% WebSphere £50,239 3.81% 4311 1.96% XHTML £32,747 -0.03% 3848 1.75% ttfn David Technorati Tags: Jobs , Developer , .Net
  • Partner Perspectives : There's a new breed of Web Solution partners

    If you work in the ISV / developer end of the market then there is a chance you will have met Katy already, however here is a person who is passionate about people who design and deliver solutions. When I first sat down and "worked" with Katy (rather than chatting several times previously) it was when I was new to the ISV team and Katy was a beacon of information. Once we had the ISV "bit" done we then spent a considerable amount of time looking at what designers and web developers needed in life. Now, as if by magic she now has a new area of focus... read more at Partner Perspectives : There's a new breed of Web Solution partners . Oh, and yes, it is about Silverlight, Expression Web and more!! There's a new breed of Web Solution partners Katy Hamilton's got something up her sleeve. It's a new brand of partners - the Web Solution partners. The move towards next-gen web applications such as Silverlight and web tools such as Expressions has opened up a whole load of new opportunities for our partners. We in the MSPP tower recognise this and have updated the MSPP programme by introducing a new partner type. Here's Katy to tell us all: So Katy, you’re no longer looking after ISVs. What are you doing now? Hi Emma, yes that’s right – I have ‘changed direction’! My new role is looking at building the web communities – design and developer. However, my focus on ISV hasn’t completely gone because I am also looking at the ‘Partner’ focus for ‘Next Web’ which ISVs have a major part in! It’s a really exciting time for anyone working in the web space and Microsoft is creating some fantastic support initiatives and benefits – it’s a real ‘watch this space’! ttfn David Technorati Tags: Web solution partners , Web Developers , Web Designers , Microsoft , Partners , Developer
  • Action Pack - you now have to take an exam to qualify ... so do so!

    I suspect that you will have seen this everywhere before, but just in case, see below - notice that SBSC and Web Developers, designers and agencies get an even more valueable kit: Enhancing the value of Microsoft Action Pack Subscription In response to feedback from our partners, on 30 November 2007 we will unveil a new renewal and subscription procedure, as well as launch two new special edition kits. This is all part of our continual effort to enhance the value of the Microsoft Action Pack Subscription (MAPS), our quarterly toolkits of software and resources that help our Registered Partners stay competitive, meet their sales goals and grow their business. Essential courses and assessments Starting 30 November, new MAPS subscribers must take an online course and pass an assessment (with a score of 70% or higher). From 1 March 2008, those partners that would like to renew their subscription will also be required to take an online course and pass an assessment. Most courses run for an hour, while our straight forward assessments take just 30 minutes. All are 100% subsidised. Launch of special edition kits We're launching two new editions, supplementary to the standard Action Pack kit and offered to qualified partners up to twice per year, at no additional cost. They include: Small Business Specialist Community toolkit for actively enrolled Microsoft Small Business Specialist Partners. Toolkit for Web developers, designers and agencies. Ideal for partners wanting to build a business practice with Web offerings. If you have any questions regarding your current Action Pack subscription, please call the Regional Service Centre on 0800 917 3128 . ttfn David Technorati Tags: Action Pack , SBSC , Web Developers , Developers
  • Microsoft Passes OpenAjax Alliance Interop Tests

    More evidence that Microsoft is playing very nicely with its "open" buddies. The Open Ajax Alliance has confirmed that Microsoft has passed its interop tests. Microsoft Passes OpenAjax Alliance Interop Tests By Darryl K. Taft Microsoft joins several other companies and open-source projects in meeting OpenAjax guidelines. Microsoft has passed the OpenAjax Alliance's suite of interoperability tests to prove that its software can interoperate with other parts of the OpenAjax ecosystem. On the eve of the AJAX World Conference and Expo 2007 West taking place Sept. 23-26 in Santa Clara, Calif., Microsoft officials said the Redmond, Wash., company's software passed the OpenAjax InteropFest 1.0 tests and is interoperable with other AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) components in the OpenAjax ecosystem through the OpenAjax Hub. The OpenAjax Hub is a set of standard JavaScript functionalities defined by the OpenAjax Alliance, with strong focus on being small and fast. Brad Abrams, a project manager for Microsoft's ASP.Net Atlas, wrote in his blog Sept. 23 that Microsoft passed the OpenAjax InteropFest test. Bertand Le Roy, a Microsoft engineer who prepared the Microsoft entry for the OpenAjax test, also blogged about the entry and the testing process itself. <snipped> The organization's key objective is to accelerate customer success with AJAX by promoting a customer's ability to mix and match solutions from AJAX technology providers and by helping to drive the future of the AJAX ecosystem, OpenAjax officials said. Microsoft Passes OpenAjax Alliance Interop Tests If this is right up your street then you might want to look at ASP.NET AJAX plays well with other AJAX frameworks or Too Much Choice with AJAX . ttfn David Technorati Tags: Developer , OpenAjax
  • The Open XML Vote (OOXML) and why I hate politics

    This is a rant and it is my opinion and does not reflect that of Microsoft or others - It is my Opinion! From 1992 to 1995 I had to write document converters - I had to pick apart binary file formats and translate them to another format. It was hard work and I JUST WISHED people would create a largely encompassing standard for documents that was documented so I did not have to do all the work myself. Role forward to today, Office is still the prominent document format (which is now documented on http://msdn.microsoft.com ), but there is a new kid in town that encompass everything that an Office document is and more. This is the Open XML document format. People have cried for years that they wanted the Office Document standard to become more than a defacto standard, they wanted it to become a format an open standard. It was always going to be large, but to cover all the features and functions available in Office, it would have to be. There is no point in the standard being something different to that used in Office as it would be useless. Today, something like 600 million people use the Office document standard and Open XML format is growing too with tools existing for previous versions of Office prior to 2007 to make the use of the ECMA standard seamless for users. So what happens, Microsoft submits their file formats to the standards bodies and while it is accepted by ECMA a HUGE POLITICAL effort is made to stop it becoming an ISO standard. I don't mind people saying they want more documentation, but the only reason I can think why people want to stop it becoming an ISO standard is because they don't want it to be easier for people to use Office documents - they want it to be hard, to make use of Office harder for developers, not easier. This means that those who said "make it a standard" really meant "don't use it because it is not a standard and that is the only weapon we have as to why you should not use it". You may disagree with me, but a while ago I tried to enter the discussion...
  • New blog "hackers @ microsoft"

    A new blog has opened at Microsoft called "hackers @ microsoft". As many people know Microsoft is very strongly involved in the security arena. Part of this is having people who have hacked or now hack against our products to understand how to make them more secure. This group of people know have a voice in the blogsphere. Welcome to a new blog from Microsoft. The focus of this blog is likely to be a little different from most other blogs you'll see on blogs.msdn.com. Microsoft employs some of the best hackers in the world and actively recruits them and develops them. They work on all kinds of projects, whether it be in development, research, testing, management and of course security. Of course, there is controversy even in the word " hacker " but I don't think that should stop us from using it in the manner I think is the most appropriate. At his or her core, a true hacker is someone who is curious and wants to learn how systems work. This can and of course at Microsoft is done in an ethical, legal manner. We employ " white hat hackers " who spend their time pentesting and code reviewing applications and software looking for weaknesses and vulnerabilities so that others don't once we've released that code into the wild. We employ many many smart testers who know more about some of our software then perhaps the architects who designed it. We also employ some of the top researchers in their industry, dedicated people working on the bleeding edge of whats going to be common place in the next 5 or 10 years of computing. So yes, Microsoft does have hackers, and its time to introduce you to some of them and show you what it is, exactly that they do. Generally most of the content you'll read and people you'll meet on this blog will be somehow related to security but not all by any stretch. -techjunkie hackers @ microsoft ttfn David Technorati Tags: Hackers , Hacking , Security , Microsoft
  • The Linux is beginning to admit that Microsoft might have some good ideas, but shows that it is still important for you to code the kernel and there still is not a way to know an application will run on it!

    You know me, I like talking about Linux and when I saw these three articles I thought I had to share them. They all came out last week. The 1st article discusses the need for a bit more respect between the Windows an Linux camp. Microsoft has tried to put fact behind the arguments against Linux adoption and while some people think the surveys were doctored (they were not), they did start the discussion as to why each OS was better. I have said before that this should not be a religious discussion, but an evaluation based upon needs. In some cases people will choose Linux, in others Windows. It is nice however to have this recognised by the Linux community. While the article only discusses Microsoft's PR, there is an underlying respect beginning to grow with statements like "has a good track record in fending off competition" have to mean more than just marketing otherwise it paints most users as pretty stupid. One other thing discussed is the fact that the lack of release synchronisation causes users pain. Backwards compatibility does not seem to be high on the Linux charter of needs and therefore seems to always cause problems when running a complex system with something that does NOT come in the box, which is quite often. To this extent Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian called on the Linux community to develop a standard application-certification process for independent software vendors (ISVs) . Ron and his company however are not flavour of the month with the Linux community for their "audacity" of signing a deal with Microsoft - something so "bad" that explicit changes were made to GPL v3 to stop it happening, which is about as silly as it gets. For the Linux community to tell you that you are bad for signing business deals is simply stupid. Meanwhile, Andrew Morton, a co-maintainer of the Linux Kernel reminded people recently that they should get involved, help code Linux . For most of my partners this is an OMG moment - they don't want to code Linux, they want to sell solutions and...
  • MicrosoftBlog.com » Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008 to Launch on February 27, 2008

    Just a FYI, 6 days after my birthday Microsoft launch another storming set of products. Microsoft announced at its partner conference on July 10 that it will launch Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008 together in a single launch on February 27, 2008, in Los Angeles. MicrosoftBlog.com » Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008 to Launch on February 27, 2008 ttfn David Technorati Tags: Windows Server 2008 , Visual Studio , SQL Server 2008 , release date
  • How to customize Business Contact Manager 2007 forms in Outlook 2007

    I found this on the Office Website when someone asked me about form customisation for BCM. I thought I would share it. Demo: Customize Business Contact Manager forms You can customize Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager forms by adding fields and list items (drop-down lists) that are unique to your business. You can customize the following types of forms: Account Business Contact Opportunity Business Project You can customize drop-down lists by clicking Edit this list and then adding your item to the list. Watch this short demo to see how to customize a Business Contact Manager for Outlook form. How to do it (text version) Customize your Business Contact Manager forms through user-defined fields Customize drop-down lists on Business Contact Manager forms Demo: Customize Business Contact Manager forms - Outlook - Microsoft Office Online ttfn David Technorati Tags: Business Contact Manager , BCM , Customise , Customize
  • Vista Squad 2nd Reading meeting on 24th May 2007 - Bitlocker and WPF to be discussed

    Did you make it to the 1st Vista Squad event? Well, if you did you will know how well it was appreciated, and if you did not, then time to get down here. The details are: The next Vista Squad meeting is confirmed :) All your favourite superheroes will be in attendance. In addition we have two guest heroes sharing their superpowers on WPF and Vista's BitLocker feature. Date: 24th May 2007 Time: 5.30pm onwards Location: Microsoft UK HQ, TVP, Reading, Building 3 Room: Memphis Agenda: 6.15pm - 6.30pm "Introduction" 6.30pm - 7.20pm "BitLocker presented by Stephen Lamb" 7.20pm - 7.30pm "BitLocker Q&A" 7.30pm - 8.30pm "Food and Networking" 8.30pm - 9.20pm "Introduction to WPF presented by Ray Booysen" 9.20pm - 9.30pm "WPF Q&A" Link: http://vistasquad.co.uk/blogs/announcements/archive/2007/05/02/vista-squad-2-0.aspx Come along!! ttfn David
  • SBS 2003 R2 & CALsare now on the Academic Price list so you can sell SBS to schools again :-)

    Hi guys, I've just picked this up from one of our internats web chats and thought I would share it. SBS will be on the Academic Price List and available in all languages (SBS Standard, Premium + 5 CAL packs) through Volume Licensing as of April 1st. For FPP, retailers will be able to get the product as of May 4th. This is great news and I have had it confirmed that it is on Wescoasts price list, plus some other distributors. ttfn David
  • Help to make the Office 2007 document type a standard (Open XML) - click the link

    I love standards - they make life easier. TCP is one, ODF is one, SNA is one, ASCII and EBDIC are. Even PDF is one. It just makes life easier. In this connected world standards are a good thing and sometimes more than one standard is very good. Microsoft has offered the Open XML (Office 2007 document format) as a standard too. We can have it as a standard in a short time frame or a long time frame. I want you to sign the petition to help it happen in the short time frame. Even Novell are supporting this as they see it as just making their customers lives easier. Go here and sign the petition to help move things forward in the short time frame. If you want to see how developers could use the standard have a look at http://openxmldeveloper.org/posts.aspx . You might wonder why I am asking you to do this. Well I've read the text at the microsoft.com site on Open XML and I like the idea of this being a public standard that people can write to without having to pay for the right to do so and the knowledge that writing to the standard will give them good interoperability. My 1st three years after University was writing document converters, including those for Microsoft Office and Open XML would have made my life MUCH MUCH easier. To aid interoperability, XML-based file formats can unlock data in documents and help integrate front- and back-office processes. Recognising these benefits, Microsoft has implemented XML-based formats in successive releases of Office. Both public and private sector customers have expressed their preference for making Open XML an open standard so that they have broad rights to use, without cost, any Microsoft patents necessary to implement all or part of the format. Responding to this, Microsoft and others called for the standardisation of Open XML. On 7 Dec 2006 Ecma International, a highly respected standardisation body, approved the adoption of Open XML as an international open standard. The strengths of Ecma Open XML are clear: Ecma Open XML was developed through the collaborative efforts...
  • Was Vista's arrival a surprises to anyone? No? Then how come so many people were unprepared - hardware vendors, ISVs, even Microsoft to an extent

    Lets start off by saying this is a RANT. If you don't like rants, look away now. I saw this in CRN and it made me laugh and cry. We have seen news that iTunes has undisclosed issues with Vista (even after being fixed ), poor drivers from nVidia and others and even enough to stop a BBC reporter from getting it going , yet from the list below, most are down to 3rd parties. I have only a little sympathy for hardware partners who didn't get drivers out - I was at WinHEC 3 and 2 years ago when the need to build drivers was hammered home. I have seen the offers of help to ISVs to get their applications working. I have seen the large amount of online training available for partners of all sizes to understand the benefits of the products. However, I have also seen the difficulties people have in when to bet on Vista and deploy the resources - I think its success has taken a few people by surprise! Microsoft is certainly happy with the launch . If like me, when you have 2 years to solve a problem it is always tomorrows problem, until eventually the deadline looms and it suddenly urgent - perhaps many face this issue. Of course, I am hugely over simplifying the issue. Some people chose not to move, saying that they would wait until there was enough market demand. Others, so the rumours say, have no desire to make older versions of hardware or software work on Vista and are using it as a lever to drive upgrades. Finally, the meaning of "minimum requirements" somehow seems to have been lost on people, so when all editions other than basic recommend a minimum of 1GB, that should not be seen as optimum for all users, but the minimum. I am frankly amazed that some vendors "top" PCs are not Vista compatible and it is because they were not ready - I thought the product was delayed to help these guys get ready - and if lower spec machines are working... gosh! While others have got it all working, on new machines and with new hardware designed for Vista style PCs . For application issues, many uncertified Windows Vista Apps May Work...
  • Building Office Live applications - this is where you need to start

    I had a partner ask me about Office Live today, so these are the places you need to start: 1) Client SDK - Windows Live ID Client 1.0 SDK in Alpha 2) Web Based Info - http://forums.microsoft.com/msdn/showpost.aspx?postid=924592&siteid=1 and http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/office/aa905514.aspx 3) Windows SharePoint v3 APIs - Working with Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Web Services (what is supported from WSSv3 and what is blocked) 4) Some important sections: How to: Integrate Access 2007 and Excel 2007 with Office Live How to: Integrate Office Live with other Office 2007 applications Chris's unofficial Office Live developer blog That is it for now - the client SDK is key - you can build rich client applications and then share data via the OfficeLive web. nice. ttfn David Technorati tags: Office Live , Live , Saas , Software as a service , software with service
  • Microsoft, BT hook up for hosted apps | Tech News on ZDNet

    Given the recent good moves forward with Office Live (UK web site - http://www.officelive.co.uk , partners getting excited - Tim Long , bCentral information on the products and 5 amazing case studies ) I thought I would share this further advancement in the online world. There will always be a place for the small business products that rely on physical servers, but the business by Vlad and many others shows us that the SaaS (Software as a Service and Software AND Service) work well for a business model. The difference between SAAS and SaS, IMHO, is one is rich in both client and web based tools, the other is ONLY rich when connected. Take Exchange and Outlook - Outlook is a great client when connected to Exchange. OWA is a great client too, however Outlook's offline ability is what sets it apart. You can get get great online and offline experiences with SaS. Microsoft and BT are to launch an online marketplace for hosted applications, with small-business customers as the target. The BT Applications Marketplace forms part of Microsoft's concerted push into the field of "software as a service." In this delivery mechanism, software is remotely hosted and usually paid for on a monthly subscription basis, rather than hosted on a company's own server and paid for up-front. In the marketplace, customers can expect to see "commodity apps" such as those for human resources, customer relationship management ( CRM ) and payroll, said Claire O'Halloran, of Microsoft's partner development group. But the linkup with the U.K. communications giant will also likely provide niche applications geared to the likes of realtors and dentists. Around 30 hosted applications are expected to be available through the marketplace at its launch. Source: Microsoft, BT hook up for hosted apps | Tech News on ZDNet Technorati tags: SaaS , Office Live , Software as a Server , Software and Service , Hosted , Microsoft , BT
  • Getting started with Word, including Word 2007 training, tools to make moving from Word 2003 (or earlier) to Word 2007 much easier including Word 2003 to 2007 command reference and how to build your own Ribbon tabs

    I saw these links in the latest Microsoft downloads e-mail, but the more I looked into this the more I was amazed: Training materials you can use to deliver training on Word 2007 to your customers Tools that load onto a customers PC to enable them to find Word 2003 commands in Word 2007 Tools that put a useful set of getting started tools into a "Getting Started" tab within word Tools to build your own customised Ribbon tabs I'm going to start with the simplest of tools, the Interactive Command Reference . The Word 2007 Guide- Word 2003 to Word 2007 interactive command reference guide is available online, but the link is to the standalone downloadable version - which gives you an emulation of Word 2003, you click around on it and it then tells you where to find the selected item in Word 2007. great for that "Where has my command gone" conversations. Getting Started Tab for Word 2007 (download here) As you can see this tab has several features - the 1st one takes you off to the online version of the downloadable tool stated above. It then takes your to several pieces of online training - the best of which was the online demos on how to use word ( http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word/HA101672751033.aspx ) and then the 4 online courses ( http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/training/CR100654561033.aspx ) covering Up to speed with Word 2007 , Length: 40 min, Rating: (2032 votes) Up to speed with the 2007 Office system , Length: 30 min, Rating: (547 votes) Security I: How the 2007 Office system helps you to stay safer , Length: 20 min, Rating: (167 votes) Keyboard shortcuts in the 2007 Office system , Length: 30 min, Rating: (445 votes) For delivering training yourself or going along in a self paced way, there are a number of PowerPoints that you can download and tailor to your needs. All of the current Office training is linked off of this site , but the only item on Word that is downloadable is currently located at Training presentation- Word 2007—Get up to speed Finally, if you like the Getting Started Tab, then the...
  • Office 2007 and Vista coming in January Action Pack

    [updated - see the FAQ at http://uksbsguy.com/blogs/doverton/archive/2007/02/12/windows-vista-windows-xp-office-2003-and-office-2007-action-pack-update-my-faq.aspx for more information on the benefits of the Action Pack and in answer to the questions raised in the comments] One of the most asked questions I get is "When will it ship in the action pack". Well, the January Action pack starts shiping in the 2nd week on January, so before General Availability Launch (GA). This is what it will contain: Software Included software in January 2007 MAPS: • Windows Vista Business • Microsoft® Office Enterprise 2007 • Microsoft Office Project Professional 2007 • Microsoft Office Outlook® 2007 with Business Contact Manager • Microsoft Office Visio® 2007 • Microsoft Office SharePoint® Server 2007 • Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 • Microsoft Expression® Web Because Action pack is for business use, you are not getting Vista Ultimate, but we are working on a special partner rate to upgrade to Ultimate - more news in the action pack. So, have a nice Christmas, not playing with the PC, then power up in the new year with Office and Vista!!
  • David Overton moving to a solution / revenue based role (it means I need to help partners sell)

    Many people ask me what I do and sometimes they are amazed with the answer "I help Microsoft Partners build solutions that deliver value to their small business partners – for free". This is a great job and part of it is to engage with as many partners as possible to improve the quality and knowledge around the solutions that can be built upon Microsoft technology. This year my role has a slightly different focus, but the way I achieve it will have many similarities. It has becoming important for me to ensure that partners are not just technically capable, but also selling solutions, sometimes even offering their customers alternative licensing options to suit their business needs. Some may see this as me selling out in some way, but while I love technology, if it is not applied correctly and you and I can't make money out of it, then there is a limit to the business value of the technology. I will still be blogging, posting on both business and technical ideas, but also be discussing how to sell solutions, what the licensing options truly mean, what extras you can add to a sale to add value for you and the customer. I'll even be discussing how online services are an opportunity for you, but more on this later. On this note, is there more I should do to help you sell more, have more customers and make more money? If so, let me know what is needed, whether it is something from Microsoft or David. Comments are open on this one, so fire a comment onto the blog. Expect to see a post on the work we are doing with the Technet team to get you even more technical resources and the process for access to all those nice betas, hosted services and where they fit as part of a solution and the options on licensing to make it easier for your customer to understand the value of technology and even buy earlier. Ttfn David

(c)David Overton 2006-13