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.  

May 2006 - David Overton's Blog

  • Are you a Small Business Specialist, a SBS 2003 Specialist, a small business technology specialist or an IT Techy?

    I have met a whole bunch of partners over the last couple of weeks, all requesting different things, and it has got me thinking - are you / do you want to be a specialist or generalist and then do you want to be all things to a business, or a super capable techy? First off, if you are a generalist, then this honestly means that you are a "Jack of all trades and a master of none" - well either that or you seriously need to get some more sleep. I prefer working with people who specialise in a few areas rather than those who try to do anything. If you do want to appear bigger and have a broader skill set, why not try relying on your local community of SBSC partners and farm out things you don't know well to those you can trust and become amazing at the things you do. If you fear competition with these guys, it is worth remembering a couple of things. 1st off, there are 4m small businesses in the UK and around 500 SBSC partners - that works out at 8,000 customers each - do you really think you are all going to compete...
  • Need to understand how to do things in Office 2007 - watch these short videos

    I love the idea of these. I will be putting WSS V3 on a SBS box soon to see the impact, but until then, you can watch the following by going to http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=BD5C77B0-F556-4136-8730-1D7FEEAE0A42&displaylang=en Building ASP.NET Web Parts for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (AspWebPartsForWss3.wmv) Creating and Customizing Site Pages with SharePoint Designer 2007 (SharePointDesigner.wmv) Creating and Testing Features with Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (WssFeatures.wmv) Creating and Using Content Types in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (ContentTypes.wmv) Creating and Using Event Handlers in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (WssEvents.wmv) Creating and Using Site Columns in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (SiteColumns.wmv) Creating and Customizing Document Information Panels with InfoPath 2007 (DocInfoPanel.wmv) Creating Custom Workflows with SharePoint Designer 2007 (SpdWorkflow.wmv) Extending the Office 2007 User Interface with a Custom Ribbon (ExtendedRibbon.wmv...
  • Small Biz Ignite - Could you improve your customers remote tools with SBS, need to get much more out of SharePoint Services (WSS), benefit from understanding what Live Communication server cam do and see what hosted solutions can offer....?

    If any of this sounds really useful, then why not book on a local ignite tour - for the 1st time we are coming as the small business team to your location. The events have plenty of technical show how (i.e. we will show it, might even show a config screen or two, but not build and install it in front of you). Click http://www.microsoft.com/uk/partner/training/ignite/default.aspx to book on the event and click on a location close to you on the map and select the Small Business Ignite or, if you are into CRM, the CRM one. Overall the event lasts 2 - 2:30hrs and is very interactive. While you may say you know everything about these technologies (and thankfully, to date, everyone has learnt something about the technology at the events) The existing ignite tours have been very well received - I got a mail today saying - if you liked the event and have already been to one, drop a comment and say how much you did so: "I always come away from your presentations fuelled with new ideas which I can implement for customers...
  • Office 2007 beta 2 is now downloadable – you can play with it online or download it

    Hi there, this is just a very quick post to say that Office 2007 beta 2 is available. For more info on how to play with Office, go to http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview - to understand how to get ready for the online test drive, go to http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/beta/testdrive.mspx?showIntro=n and if you want to download or order CD’s/DVDs now, go to http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/beta/getthebeta.mspx?showIntro=n . Small Business Information can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/smallbusiness/highlights.mspx and this is actually a very good quality set of information. Thinking specifically about the desktop and areas where small business owners can immediately see value, I see this coming in the following areas: Manage information better How many people are going to have less information next year Reduce the duplication Be more productive Loose the fear factor Stop using Office the 1996 way Look professional Make your documents look several notches above everyone elses...
  • Vista beta 2 is now available – what can it do for Small Businesses

    If you get TechNet or MSDN , you have access to Beta 2 of Windows Vista now. If you don’t, then I am afraid you will have to wait a little bit longer. To find out when you can download if you do not have access, go to http://www.microsoft.com/technet/windowsvista/get_it.mspx to pre-register for the Community Tech Preview. The official Microsoft page at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/features/forbiz/smallbiz.mspx for information as to why it is applicable for small businesses is a little thin today. However, I have been talking to small businesses and small business partners for a while and the 3 hot topics on Vista appear to be: Make me safer Make it easier to do what I want to do Make my PC more reliable Depending on your point of view, these are either really simple, or really complex, but in terms of Vista, this is how I think it breaks down. There are obviously thousands of Vista features, but these too me start to make it a no-brainer Make me safer Better security features (admin users and virtualization...
  • getting 8 people to service 30,000 parnters is nothing compared to getting <1000 partners to service 4.1M busineses - that is the reality for UK SBSC members

    My boss, Steve Clayton recently noted how hard the job that the team I am part of has. We are responsible for working with, understanding and helping all UK partners, irrespective of size. To this end, he as written an excellent article " 30k divided by 8 just doesn't work ". This got me thinking, the ratio we have here is 1:3750 (PTS to Partners), but in the small business space where we have less than 1000 in the UK, to the 4.1M UK small businesses, we start to see a ratio of twice that at the moment, so while we feel pain, it really highlights just how difficult it is in the partner market. At the same time, it shows that for each partner, working together in community is very sensible as the number of times you are likely to compete with a fellow partner is a rounding error on a percentage. To this end, Susanne Dansey wrote an excellent posting http://www.uksmbgirl.co.uk/blog/archives/7 discussing the community and this was followed up by http://www.uksmbgirl.co.uk/blog/archives/8 and then http://www.uksmbgirl...
  • PTS-TV is now downloadable

    Hi guys, slowly our team are making snippets available about us and our roles. Tomorrow I record a session - probably about Vista and our partners. Anyway, if you go to http://www.microsoft.com/uk/partner/blog/pts-tv/ you can see all the sessions and download or stream the content. Now who says we do not listen and react to your feedback. ttfn David
  • Two more PTS-TV sessions - Security and Business Intelligence available

    At the PTS-TV site, we now have 5 sessions for your downloading and feedback pleasure. Go there ( http://www.microsoft.com/uk/partner/blog/pts-tv/ ) watch or download and then pump back questions. ttfn David
  • Small Business Ignite Tour - 15 cities in UK, come and get it

    We got the message - we need to come to more places and have a more blended technical and business session. This will last 2hours plus some MS funded food and it is at no charge to you!! The slides are written as are 40+ mins of David Overton Stylie demos and interaction. This is a use it or lose it situation - go to the site - http://www.microsoft.com/uk/partner/training/ignite/default.aspx - and book on the closest place and come along. give us your feedback, tell us what changes you want and next time it will be event better. While the event is billed as a non-technical event, there will be plenty of technology in view, on show and available for questions. As a snippet, the demos should show all this - and in such a short period of time - woo-hoo!!! If this is not to taste, reply in the comments!!: Collaborative Business How can I share information with my colleagues and partners - WSS Sites - Hosted Sharepoint - Office shared working documents How can I ensure only the right people see the documents - WSS...
  • UK SBSC members can see more information about SBS 2003 R2 and ask questions

    One of the benefits of SBSC membership is the regular livemeetings with Microsoft and the ability to ask us questions. On Monday we have one for SBS 2003 R2. For more info on these go to http://www.microsoft.com/uk/partner/sbsc - you need to have passed the exams to see the exclusive content. ttfn David
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  • Want do develop solutions based on Office – come to Office Dev Con – June 21st – 22nd – included WSS

    So, learn more about Office 2007 - a great set of tools for small businesses - I will blog why once the beta is launched - soon!! ttfn David Microsoft Office System Developers Conference http://www.microsoft.com/uk/business/devcon/ Microsoft Office System Developers Conference is the best opportunity for you to learn more about all the new solution technologies and capabilities in the Microsoft Office System 2007 wave of programmes and servers. At this two-day conference, members of the Microsoft product development and management teams will drill into the latest Office System 2007 innovations to show how developer extensibility will allow you to build powerful custom solutions. You will learn the latest techniques for creating applications around business intelligence, enterprise content management, collaboration, and more! You will also have the opportunity to meet and network with developers and architects on the Microsoft product teams and other customers and partners from the UK and Ireland. Key benefits...
  • Find out about Longhorn Server – not SBS Longhorn, but Longhorn Server via online chat

    We will not have a version of SBS Longhorn for many months yet, but we do already know that it will be a x64 product only – as all Microsoft products are heading in that direction. Anyway, to the chase, on the 9 th June there is a chat on Longhorn. Details as below: An Introduction to Windows Server "Longhorn" Please join Bill Laing, General Manager of the Windows Server Division, and Iain McDonald, Director of Central Program Management within the Windows Server Division, for a discussion about Windows Server “Longhorn” Beta 2. Windows Server “Longhorn” is the next generation server operating system from Microsoft that will help IT professionals maximize control over their infrastructure and deliver a more secure, reliable and robust server environment. Join us to provide feedback, input into the product and to get answers to your tough questions. http://www.microsoft.com/technet/community/chats/default.mspx ttfn David
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  • Do we know when Windows Vista will ship yet – answering the CTS arguments?

    I have just seen an article in which the conversations from CTS (16 shows on Vista and Office 2007 in 2 days) have been misrepresented. Since I was the Vista presenter, I feel the need to set the record straight, 1 st off, the site where this is all being so heavily debated: http://arstechnica.com/journals/microsoft.ars/2006/5/15/3974 http://forums.hexus.net/showthread.php?t=75041 http://lifestyle.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=5570 (article) To clarify Vista and Office 2007 are coming, as per the PR announcements at the same time – there is no new delay . At CTS we were speculating when in January the launch might happen. The only timeline shifts were those already mentioned in the MARCH press release - http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2006/mar06/03-21WindowsVistaDeliveryPR.mspx There were several interesting highlights from that article which were either not accurate or misunderstood. Whether that is the joy of journalism or my mistake we will never know. Vista will ship for Volume License customers...
  • Check if your machine is ready for Vista with the Get Ready tool – Vista Ready or capable PC specs

    You will be hearing more from me around Windows Vista and Office 2007 over the coming months. Until the beta ships, one of the first things you might want to do is to find out if yours and your customers systems are likely to have any problems running Vista. People often ask what the minimum specs are for running Vista and there are really three ways to think on this: What can run Vista, provide access to search and new UI features All of the above, plus the 3D and transparency graphics Take advantage of all of the features possible To take advantage of the nice graphics, you will need at least 64MB of speedy graphics memory (but my 2yr old laptop with a Radeon 7600 does this fine) and a graphics card that the manufacturer states will be available with both a WDDM graphics driver and will support “Glass” For the other features, you will need to have technology such as TPM 1.2 or above for the BitLocker technology or SideShow technology to enable applications that run on other hardware alongside your PC. This defines...
  • New Microsoft web site design tool – Expression Web Designer

    Microsoft is launching a number of products over the next two years, which means a number of products coming into beta. Many of these cans be used by skilled small business IT consultants to build better solutions for customers. One such tool is the Expression Web Designer. It is designed to be highly accurate to online standards, ensuring greater compliance with a variety of browsers. It also makes extensive use of CSS to ensure a greater standard across sites. Finally, providing access to data and enabling data manipulation tasks through the browser is a key capability. To see more and downloads the product, go to http://www.microsoft.com/products/expression/en/default.mspx and watch the videos and start playing today. Ttfn David
  • Off-topic – Get a bit of Vista technology on Windows XP - Windows Media Player 11 (wmp11) beta

    I know this is off topic, but as a beta tester of Windows Vista, I have also been using the new media player to manage my music. The new ways of organising music and seeing what is in albums or podcasts has got easier. WMP also now handles pictures, which given the number of them I have, it is a nice change to see this functionality off of Media Center systems. So, to get the new UI, formats and ease of management, go have a look at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/player/11/default.aspx Ttfn David
  • More feedback that Microsoft Support for SBS and Windows XP, no matter where in the world, is great

    Every so often I get a mail telling me how MS Support was poor in one way or another. Recently I have been getting the other type of e-mail - how GOOD Microsoft support is. Yesterday, Paul sent me this e-mail: David i found your email address on the sbsbpi.co.uk website, i thought it appropriate to drop you a mail asking you to pass on praise to the relevant people for the technical support i received from Microsoft today. the problem was quite complicated and both support representatives who dealt with it seemed knowledgeable, thorough and also easy to get on with on, all the essential requirements for a telephone support engineer, lots of bad things are said about the support available from Microsoft but today i experienced something very different, please pass on my thanks to the SBS support team. How nice it is to get these, but also in the forums, someone posted this: http://uksbsguy.com/forums/thread/401.aspx I have used Microsoft support a bunch of times over my entire career and a few times since I have...
  • Microsoft CRM V3 on SBS 2003 Livemeeting presentation from "An Hour with Dave" for SBSC members

    Hi, SBSC members get a special ability to request livemeetings on any topic they want. This months was on MS-CRM. I provided an overview and then details as to how to join the partner programme, get training and further information. Given the fact that as a MS partner you can get discount off the price of the software when you have passed your exams, this can be an important source of income or differentiation for you. The presentation can be found at http://uksbsguy.com/files/445/download.aspx and I will post the URL for the recording in a day or two. ttfn David
  • Learn about Windows SharePoint Services easily using online courses and books (for a small few $s)

    People are always asking me about how to learn more about Windows SharePoint Services and now finally we have two selfpaced items of training that can help. Have a look at these - they do cost a bit of cash – less than $23, but worth a look from the agenda. Course 4115: Getting Started with Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services Plus Access to Online Book The self-paced e-learning course will help you become familiar with the basics of working with Microsoft Windows SharePoint sites via interactive simulations that provide hands-on practice to master specific tasks. It also includes skills assessment to help pinpoint the areas where training can have the most impact. In addition, this course can be downloaded for offline use for the length of your subscription so you can learn even when you’re not connected to the Internet. https://www.microsoftelearning.com/eLearning/offerDetail.aspx?offerPriceId=73964 Course 4114: Doing More with Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services Plus Access to Online Book The self-paced...
  • Patch Management on SBS and Windows XP machines - advice and best practises

    I was asked this in the forums, but I felt it was important enough to write about it both here and in the forum. Patch Management should be a key part of what you do. Patching is like car servicing - it can sometimes be put off a little bit, but failure to keep the oil and water up todate and without a regular service, things go horribly wrong. You MUST tell your customers this so they can choose how to pay you for this service. (they can always just call you in when things go wrong, but it will take longer and cost them more). Obviously patching is just one tool in yout kitbag for keeping systems secure - local and perimeter firewalls and anti-spyware and anti-virus software is also needed, as is good password and administrator policy. The best person to talk about patching is the now famous Susan Bradly, who is a SBS MVP and known as a Diva. Before I point you off to some of her blogs on it, I thought I would answer some questions often asked in this area: 1) How do you decide whether to patch or hold off? You...
  • Vista and Office at the CTS show for small businesses and System Builders

    Wow, what a packed agenda. Over the two days, myself and James Akrigg (of PTS TV Fame ) gave 16 whirlwind tours of Windows Desktop Search, Windows Vista and Office 2007 client applications. When I say it was whirlwind, I mean each presentation lasted just 35 mins and we then had just 10 mins to get the next audence in. Overall, more than 900 people came and saw the two products and the feedback was awesome. (and all without even a lunch break) We then had super stars on the stand outside our briefing area who answered more questions and demonstrated answers to specific questions. Vista and Office mania definately started in Birmingham over the last two days. I will be posting the slides on the site later, but the key messages can be found at the following Microsoft sites: www.microsoft.com/office/preview www.microsoft.com/windowsvista As soon as the products reach beta 2 I will post lots of info on why Vista and Office 2007 for small businesses ttfn David
  • Learn what Information Worker is when Microsoft talk about it (Office 2003 & servers) and what James Akrigg has to say - More PTS TV

    The PTS Team (the group I work for - Partner Technical Support) are recording regular small videos to explain what we do and what it means to partners. One of my hero's in the team is James AKrigg. You will know if you have ever seen him present - he is very passionate about technolog and getting the most out of it - very much like me - and he was also one of the original architects of the SBSC programme idea. So (being one of my favorite words), what has he done, well he has recorded a small piece on PTS-TV about Information Worker. My advice to you, go spend 7 minutes learning what he has to say - you will find it valuable, and possibly funny as we seem to be leaving in outtakes :-) Where can you get it? - http://www.microsoft.com/uk/partner/blog/pts-tv/ let me know if you like it :-) ttfn David
  • Latest Beta of Windows Live Messenger (replacement for MSN Messenger ships)

    Hi, this is a little off topic, but for those of you who like to play with betas, Windows Live Messenger is available, along with other products at http://ideas.live.com - worth a look in for sure. Lots of new features, but the ones I like the most are: Cheap calls to land lines from my PC send an IM to someone offline and they get it when the log back in IM while appearing offline :-) ttfn David
  • How to configure Mac’s with SBS 2003

    I was recently asked by a colleague about the ease of setting up Mac’s in the SBS 2003 world. We are all aware of the pitfalls of using a .local domain name (I hope) and that some of the wizards do not work (or perhaps none of them do), but I have never actually been through the detail. One question that stumped me was around certificates on the Mac. So, I posted the question internally and someone Mark Stanfill piped up asking if the customer / partner had looked at the Whitepaper on how to setup a Mac. For my sins, I was not even remotely aware of the whitepaper, so I downloaded it and had a look. Talk about an awesome document, so if you need to set up a Mac on a SBS network, get this document. The link is http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=46578 and this should take you to the download. Microsoft is not the only source for information like this, it is also worth looking at the below for some ISA and Mac info: http://simultaneouspancakes.com/Lessons/archives/2005/11/internet_access_1.shtml Ttfn David Just...
  • MS-CRM and Mappoint for your customer map needs, of course it works with SBS

    I promised it a while ago, but it is finally here. Jedi Master Simon Hutson has finally documented the quick process of getting Mappoint services and MS-CRM working together. All the details including a downlaod are located in his blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/ukcrm/archive/2006/05/04/590006.aspx ttfn David
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(c)David Overton 2006-17