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.  

July 2006 - David Overton's Blog

  • Exchange 2007, Office 2007, Collaboration, Business Intelligence and Unified Communications - More PTS-TV Videos

    So, having written about the Vista messages on the PTS TV Channel, I realised that there were a number of Information Worker related TV sessions, so here they are. These cover the areas in the titles, so here they are - this is about meeting the team too: PTS: Collaboration using Exchange and SharePoint Stream this video Download video (right-click/save as) Comment on this video View John Westworth's Blog PTS: Exchange Server 2007 Stream this video Download video (right-click/save as) Comment on this video PTS: Business Intelligence - Business Score Card Manager / Excel / SQL (BSCM Demo) with Chris Parkes Stream this video Download video (right-click/save as) Comment on this video View Chris Parkes' Blog PTS: Information Worker - how to get skilled up in IW and Office 2007 Stream this video Download video (right-click/save as) Comment on this video PTS: Information Worker - How important Search can be to your business Stream this video Download video (right-click/save as) Comment on this video PTS: Unified...
  • How to get content filtering (anti-virus, anti-spam, anti-malware), archival services, DR / Continuity and Encryption services for your SBS box at a great price

    As many of you know, I have always argued that MS online services only serve to complement our other solutions. One classic example of this is the Hosted Exchange Services - now before you run around with your fingers in your ears shouting "LALALA", have a look to see what they are. These services work with an existing Exchange server - ala SBS, so there is no threat to the SBS system at all. We then offer 4 services which includes those listed below, but the nice thing is the price. On the How to buy page is lists the prices - these are per user and you can start at 5 users - oh, and this is real per user, so if you have 20 aliases for 5 users (eg sales, support etc) - that is 5 users: Estimated Pricing All prices below are based on estimated retail pricing (per user, per month licensing). This pricing would apply to a small business with as few as 5 users. Services Prices Comments Microsoft Exchange Hosted Filtering $1.75 US Exchange Hosted Filtering is a fully managed service that employs multiple...
  • Microsoft's Anti-virus and Anti-spam technologies for an Exchange Server - ForeFront

    This is not something for every Exchange / SBS user, but it might be interesting to some. We have released our "ForeFront" security technologies that includes mail clensing as an option. CNet gave it a small amoutn of coverage, but you can get more information from the Microsoft web site . It is worth noting that to buy ForeFront you need a volume license agreement, hence why I said it *might* not be ideal for smaller businesses. For most SBS customers, the Hosted Exchange Services may well be the right answer at the right price. ttfn David
  • Microsoft is damned if it does and damned if it doesn't sort out security in windows Vista

    One again I was scanning the news when this article caught my eye. It discusses the complexity of trying to make a more secure OS for Vista while also trying to enable application compatibility. I once discovered that we had over 10,000 "fixes" in previous OSs to cover for bad applications to ensure they ran, rather than breaking them by putting in place more robust APIs. Microsoft around the time of Windows XP SP2 started to change this, we now favour security over compatibility. Having said that, we have put in place a HUGE amount of technology to make applications run, but rather than breaking security we put in new ways to allow them to work without opening up a security hole. In my opinion, one of the biggest holes in Windows today is the number of users who run as administrator and then ignore any warnings we put up. If we had a dialog box that said "By clicking OK you agree for us to scramble all the files on your hard disk" I wonder how many people would click OK if it let them view...
  • Two PTS-TV videos about Vista

    Windows Vista. An exciting operating system, but is there more to it than "eye candy". Can finding information, making systems easier to manage, support great applications and making another step change in Security really do enough to persuade people to buy? I don't have the answers to this yet, but there are now a total of 4 PTS-TV videos on Vista (2 newer ones with Mike Dixon and Tim Tiscornia and two I recorded a little while ago now). You might want to go see what it is all about :-) Obviously the downloads of Vista Beta 2 have closed, but this will be shipping in Action Packs , so you can still evaluate it yourself. Hopefully RC1 is not too far off and you can see the progress we are making in closing bugs. The videos for PTS -TV are always found at http://www.microsoft.com/uk/partner/blog/pts-tv/ and the Vista ones are: PTS-TV: Tim Tiscornia Stream this video Download video (right-click/save as) Comment on this video PTS: Vista Stream this video Download video (right-click/save as) Comment...
  • SBS 2003 R2 delay and what people are saying baout it - especially Vlad

    Sometimes you have to shout about when you think things are right while others are putting it down. SBS 2003 R2 - I have had sooooooo many conversations over the last 9 months about why this feature is in or out. I ended up being very blunt, saying, this is the 2nd release of SBS 2003, it has a bunch of new features ala Windows Server 2003 R2, yes, it might not have everything in we wanted, but the "Green Check" and SQL 2005 are significant enough that NEW customers and existing customers should look at it. Now, here we are, having just releases SBS 2003 R2 and we are pulling it back in due to bugs, before it has reached the shelves for most people. I was expecting flak, but instead I see comments like this at Vlad's site saying thanks for us actually being bold enough to fix the problem. It is also worth going to his site to see the video!!! This is why I love the Small Biz community - we can be honest with each other. At the Small Biz Blog we were able to say that there is a quality issue and we...
  • R2 delayed by a few bad files

    I knew a day or so that this was coming - R2 was delayed because a few of the core files were "old" versions and should have been updated. As expected this will delay R2 being in the shops and at distributors. As expected Susan B has blogged on this and I saw it at ZDNet . The usual SBS Team are saying very little about it, as you would expect, but worth looking at http://seanda.blogspot.com/2006/07/r2-recalled.html . So, still coming, just a wee bit delayed. ho hum - better it is stopped now than when in the hands of customers!! ttfn David
  • Microsoft's online strategy discussed at analyst meeting

    I saw this article from the NY Times and thought I would share it. It is a report on MS plans for Internet enabling even more things that we do. Some key statements from it included: "any big payoff from those investments would not come for a few years" - so this is a long term play "Internet search, according to Microsoft, will increasingly become seamlessly integrated into the Windows desktop operating system, Office productivity software, cellphones powered by Windows and Xbox video games" - I like the idea of hybrid utilities and the fact that search is a tool for me to do something, rather than something I explicitly have to go to a web site to do "In a demonstration, Mr. Mehdi showed some of the work being done by a group exploring the future of advertising in Microsoft’s research labs. In a digital television prototype, a viewer who liked a dress worn by Sarah Jessica Parker in an episode of “Sex and the City” could click on it, automatically pausing the video...
  • Microsoft releases campaign builder tool for partners - Non-marketing folks can use it (as well as the marketing ones) as a step by step process for delivering Microsoft aligned marketing campaigns to your customers

    Imagine the scene - Microsoft is running a marketing set of events and awareness to encourage customers to buy their technology. We tell customers that they need to work with SBSC specialists and point them to the bCentral web site. However, at the same time, you also get the materials you need from Microsoft to run your own campaign - be it post cards, handouts, telephone scripts, letters. And using a simple tool it will take you a few minutes to create the materials. Below is a walkthrough of how I built a campaign for SBS using 5 types of material (Telemarketing script, Postcard, Business Letter, e-Mail and Flyer) 1st off, you need to visit the Campaign Builder Web site and log in. This enabled you to choose the campaign that is right for you. You may notice it looked at the fact that I am a registered partner with the SBSC badge, so suggested the SBS Campaign (there are also campaigns for solutions that major in Office, Windows, CRM and so on). One I had selected the campaigns, it is simply a case of walking...
  • UK Research shows that small business owner managers are doing everything to avoid working at the weekend - is this good or bad news for IT suppliers?

    I came across this article which suggests that small business owner / managers are avoiding working at the weekend. The article is backed by research from Barclays Bank . There are a few facts that really sound out to me: The development and uptake of new technologies is having a positive impact on hours worked: - 46 per cent of businesses with internet access work a standard 5 day week, compared to just 35 per cent of those without. Owners of small and medium businesses in the UK work 24 hours longer each week than the rest of the UK workforce 43 per cent said they now will not work weekends compared to 36 per cent in 2003 and Sundays have become even more precious with only 29 per cent admitting to working on that day compared to 36 per cent in 2003. On average entrepreneurs are spending over 15 hours a week – equivalent to almost two full days for most workers – on administration. Six out of ten entrepreneurs feel that regulation is a barrier to doing business, particularly in larger SMEs, where...
  • Why Microsoft Betas are often broadly available and the changes coming to the Office Ribbon Bar to resolve some of the biggest complaints about it

    Earlier Tim said he thought Microsoft betas were too common and that they were more like unsupported released products. Some would say that at one time, Microsoft used to release its products with all the bugs and charge customers full price to beta testing them. The truth is that we need more people to tell us what they think about our products. We need IT people, business people, customers and more, however the 1st group we need are our partners -if they don't think they can sell, use and build solutions with our product, then we have lost our sales force. That is not to say that we should not offer assistance here, but the critism and feedback is very welcome. I commented on the same blog back to Tim, so will not re-cover that ground again. So, Office and the Ribbon bar - the loss of menus in Word, Excel and PowerPoint has been quite a talking point and the replacement with the Ribbon bar has been refreshing. Finally, findign the function you want is easier - sometimes you even find things that have been...
  • Sorry Tim, but the Exchange beta has been updated

    I should not poke fun at Tim - sorry mate. The Exchange 2007 beta 2 has released. It can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/beta2 and a nice news article about it can be found at http://www.internetnews.com/ent-news/article.php/3622081 . To find out more about the product, you need to go look at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/exchange/E2k7Help/e2715491-5b98-4d85-acc7-e038cf3f46ca.mspx?mfr=true The list of new features includes, however the unified messaging piece is key for me.: • Exchange Management Console The Exchange Management Console, one of two new administrative interfaces for Microsoft® Exchange Server 2007, is based on MMC 3.0, and is required to install and manage Exchange 2007. The Exchange Management Console combines all of your management tasks into one user interface. By using the Exchange Management Console, you can manage all Exchange servers, recipients and organizational components within your Exchange Server 2007 organization. • Exchange Management Shell...
  • looking for bugs in Vista at the moment is the right thing to do, but to say that by finding a bug constitutes a security risk just makes me laugh

    Symantec Continues Windows Vista Bug Hunt I saw this article and it just made me want to cringe. Symantec have released a report that has rightly pointed out issues and concerns with the new technology in Vista. Every time code is changed there is a risk of inserting new security vulnerabilities, however, new code is the way of new products and the evidence from Windows Server 2003 and SP1 vs Windows 2000 shows that the processes Microsoft goes through has a real and tangible impact on the security quality of the applications. Now, security is indeed a key feature of Vista and while we all know there will be a security patch for the product at some point, jumping up and down and pointing the finger at bad code before we have finished the security sweep or even got out of beta is not likely to reflect life once the product releases. I have to say, this looks like someone getting a little upset with the features in Vista and therefore saying - look, you need us because they are not good at this security stuff. Obviously...
  • IE7 to become your befault browser - by default

    I read about this internally yesterday and then on the blog posts today - IE7 will become part of the core OS when it is released. What does this mean - simple, unless you load a " blocking tool " similar to the XP SP2 blocking tool, then IE7 will ship down to your PC as a security update. Why - well IE7 does make the browsing experience much more secure using the including ActiveX Opt-in , the Phishing Filter and Fix My Settings features. ttfn David
  • Have you used Office 2007 yet and wondered why the UI has changed (the Ribbon Bar) in some applications and not in others (eg Outlook)?

    I love Office 2007. If you have not yet downloaded or played with it, pop along to http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/beta/overview.mspx to either download the bits or even better - played with it online without download the software!. There is also a nice set of videos, including a one on the UI to be found at http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/ui/video.mspx?showIntro=n and a fuller set of info at http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/ui/highlights.mspx?showIntro=n However, this is a little polished , so you might also want to go browse these two blog entries for more specific information: Outlook and the Ribbon - http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/archive/2006/01/18/514300.aspx What programs get the new Office UI? - http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/archive/2005/09/30/475687.aspx that was it - simple, but hopefully effective. ttfn David
  • Find all the Microsoft MVP and employee blogs around SBS 2003

    I just found this tool that lists all the MS & MVP blogs that relate to SBS - they can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/communities/blogs/PortalResults.mspx?ResultPage=1&Charset=iso-8859-1&BlogPart=Blog&BlogCategory=f9e5172a-da57-4efb-ac8d-3eebbfeecf1f or via the OPML File . ttfn David
  • Too technical to successfully sell or market you and your business and your capabilities - think again!

    I often find it interesting when talking to many small business partners about their business. These people are often very credible and capable technically, but struggle when it comes to "running a business" especially on some aspects of "marketing". I have been wondering how to offer credible assistance to partners that see themselves in this space, as often described by the book E-Myth Revisited - Why most small businesses don't work and what to do about it - people go in to business for a multitude of reasons, often to make money out of their skills (technical in the case of small businesses) - not to run a business. While on my hunt for information around this area I came across another of Susanne's wonderful blog entries on marketing . She once again articulated that everything you do leaves your customer with an impression of you - so best ensure that every employee (from you down) knows what impression you want to leave. The next thing is to understand some basic tools of being...
  • Microsoft finally confirm that they are entering the media entertainment device arena - with the Zune

    http://www.billboard.biz/bb/biz/magazine/upfront/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1002877378 This web site features an interview aroudn the Zune. Not much is really present in the article, except for the fact that it should ship this year, it will support wireless syncronisation, which could be used for wireless playlist and music swapping. Other places for info on the Zune include - https://www.comingzune.com/default.aspx and http://news.com.com/Microsofts+Zune+to+rival+Apples+iPod/2100-1041_3-6097196.html as soon as I hear more, I promise to tell all :-) ttfn David
  • New UK Vista Magazine, online portal and blogs

    I have been known to blow my own trumpet in the past and today is no exception :-). I currently have a utilities section in Windows XP Magazine and I have been asked to move this to a features column and blog on the Windows Vista magazine. Now they have not seen any of my material, so it is very possible that nothing will come of it, yet it is also possible that this might end up another important source of information regarding the world of Windows Vista and if I have anything to do with it - what small businesses can do with the technology. To visit the magazine, go to http://www.windowsvistamagazine.co.uk and if you want to see the blog, currently written by Jon Hicks, go to http://www.windowsvistamagazine.co.uk/page/windowsvista ttfn David
  • Review of SBS vs 3 Linux Solutions - do these people really know what a business needs

    http://www.crn.com/sections/breakingnews/breakingnews.jhtml;jsessionid=DL55IXWI4XNX4QSNDLOSKH0CJUNN2JVN?articleId=190900821 As always, it is interesting to have to see your own product being compared to others. Having read this article, it is balanced in many ways, but a few things annoyed me. They compared the Premium version of SBS to the Linux versions, even though no Premium functionality was used - and then said it did not compare price favourably. Well, call me a bit cynical, but if the SBS product were to have been compared at the Standard pricing, I think any price difference would have disappeared Having an AJAX enabled web based browser is no-where near as useful to most businesses as the ability to use mobile enabled e-mail on a phone or pda, web based browsing AND full blown Outlook in Cached mode which offer better mobile usage and functionality when remote from the office Application compatibility is often a key reason for choosing a server - the SBS server provides a platform for core LOB applications...
  • Windows Vista Upgrade information

    Vista, Your operating system of choice. So how are you going to get there? Hard Disk format, in-place upgrade, new system? Microsoft have released more information on the upgrade matrix - obviously you can not upgrade from anything to anything, so what can you do? Well the matrix at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/upgradeinfo.mspx shows WINDOWS VISTA EDITIONS Home Basic Home Premium Business Ultimate Windows XP Professional Windows XP Home Windows XP Media Center Windows XP Tablet PC Windows XP Professional x64 Windows 2000 Requires clean install. In-place installation option available. There is also a little side note that needs a little more testing that I have not had a chance to check into yet. "If you are currently using Windows 2000 Professional or Windows XP Professional x64, you are eligible for an upgrade copy to a corresponding or better edition of Windows Vista, but a clean install is required." This might mean that all of you with x64 copies of Windows might get the new OS...
  • Channel Business Says "Partners’ Vista marketing must drive solutions message"

    Having attended the [wpc] conference it was interesting to view this press coverage of the Vista message. It is true that Vista (and Office for that matter) will be marketted by Microsoft to both consumers and businesses alike. At the moment we are still building the messages for UK small businesses (We are running a technology adoption programme to get evidence specific for small business customers for the 1st time in the UK), but the article states that partners will need to think about customer solutions in their PR rather than just "safer, easier, faster" type messages. The campaigns will be based on our People Ready Business messaging and we will have materials for partners to use via campaign builder and other tools freely available to partners . ttfn David Related Links:
  • Great Training on Small Business+

    Small Business+ has been seen as something that might be scary for a few partners - is Microsoft trying to take away the very business that most partners are searching for? This is interesting as I was talking to one partner last week who said that the types of questions that SB+ sought to answer were the ones that when they charged the customer for the support, customer got upset. The reason for this was that when a customer phones up and asks a question that takes just 5 minutes to resolve, how do you bill them - per the 5 minutes, by the quarter of an hour. If you try to track all of these, you end up in a admin mess and often a costly one at that. Since the original concern, not much in the way of bad press has aired, so I can only assume this was not the killer many had assumed. Also add to the fact that we are working on how to give a pre-selected partner contact details to the customer means that this can become a support service for both the partner and customer rather than a burden to the partner. Now...
  • Updated Technology Assessment Toolkit – Understand your customers and deliver the right solution

    Hopefully you have all heard of the Technology Assessment Toolkit – if not, it is a great set of tools, whitepapers, presentations and other "stuff" to enable you to quickly take your customer through the thought process as to what technology can do for them and how you can deliver the value their business needs. One award submission to the Worldwide Partner Conference awards stated – "We make great use of the Small Business Technology Assessment Toolkit we received from Microsoft. This has proved to be an invaluable tool for us and our clients in outlining their business / IT requirements & defining the solutions. We provide an excellent service to our clients & they recognise this from the hard work we put in for every installation—from sales, design, installation & post-installation support—they know they are in good hands and we would never let them down." As to the actual contents of the toolkit: Ready-to-use "Business Assessment" guide Comprehensive...
  • How to open Office 2007 Word, Excel and PowerPoint files in Office 2003 and Office XP

    This is a straight lift from a recent TechNet newsletter, but if you don't get it... Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 Microsoft has added new file formats to the 2007 Microsoft Office system to reduce file sizes, improve the recovery of corrupted or damaged files, and improve integration with external sources. The Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 file formats (Beta 2) ensures that users of Microsoft Office XP and Office 2003 can exchange documents between Office releases. Get more information on the Open XML file format page. ttfn David
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(c)David Overton 2006-17