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.  

November 2007 - David Overton's Blog

  • Is Vista really that bad or do we have rose tinted glasses - How well was Windows XP accepted in the early years

    I have had a bit of a rant with Vlad over at Vista SP1 vs. XP SP3 Performance Stats: Flawed Samples or Market Reality? and the comments are good - the communication is very worthwhile, but I thought I would share some of the "what was it like with Windows XP" reality. That does not excuse the issues people see, but rather highlights the fact that with XP, it took some time for things to bed down and hopefully what you are seeing with Vista is a more responsive Microsoft and partner eco-system. Complaints about Whistler (Windows XP and 2003) come in the form of performance, adoption rates, application compatibility, relevance - all things people are complaining about today with Windows Vista. I will say it again - ONLY DEPLOY VISTA IF IT MAKES SENSE FOR YOUR BUSINESS. What is more, only deploy Windows XP on new machines if there is a compelling reason to NOT deploy Vista . Remember that if you buy Vista Business / Ultimate and downgrade you can then re-load Vista at a later date without having to re-buy...
  • 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...
  • How to make Office 2007 always save in Office 97-2003 format

    This is another area I get a lot of questions, so I thought I would share the answer. While my person preference is to tell people to load the tools onto Office 2000/XP/2003 machines as documented at How to open Office 2007 (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007) files on Office 2000, Office XP and Office 2003 by downloading the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for File Formats - David Overton's Blog for some people this is not an option. So, how do you force Office to save in the older format? If you want to do it to lots of machines then look at http://msmvps.com/blogs/bradley/archive/2007/07/14/default-save-as-doc-and-xls.aspx . If you want to do it on your own personal machine, try this: Go the the "Opal" or the round Office button, and select Word Options Then go to the save tab and choose the file format you want, so Word 97-2003 for .doc files. You need to do the save in Excel and PowerPoint to get those too do it too. ttfn David Technorati Tags: Office 2007 , Office 2003 , Office XP , Office...
  • MSDN Evaluation Center for Office system, Biztalk, SQL Server 2005/2008 and Windows Server 2008

    I just found the MSDN Evaluation Center online today to give you evaluation resources that you might develop against. These include BizTalk Server, Office Communication Server, Office Enterprise , SharePoint Server, SharePoint Designer, SQL Server 2005, 2008, Express 2005 SP2, Windows Server 2008. I've pasted much of the content, but all the download links etc are country specific, so I have removed those. Click on the link above to get to download this stuff! MSDN Evaluation Centre Welcome to the MSDN Evaluation Centre, the central location for all Microsoft developer product trials and beta evaluations. Try a product before you buy it or test the latest beta to see what is in store for the next release. Start at the beginning of the evaluation process and follow the new products as they go through to the final releases. Remember to check back often as new products will be added as they become available. As you evaluate your software, we'll provide you with comprehensive and relevant insights and information...
  • BBC NEWS | TV rivals (BBC, ITV, C4) form on-demand service

    I saw this and had to share. I signed up to the BBC iPlayer service and it is very good. Now all 3 major TV channel providers are looking to put make everything available under one hood ... fantastic. From the BBC news site - BBC NEWS | Entertainment | TV rivals form on-demand service TV rivals form on-demand service Channel 4's Ugly Betty is one of the shows likely to be on the service The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are to launch a joint on-demand service, which will bring together thousands of hours of television programmes in one place. The service is set to go live in 2008 and will offer viewers access to current shows and archive material. Plans will have to be approved by the BBC Trust and the other broadcasters' boards, and a name for the service will be unveiled ahead of its launch. The three broadcasters currently offer their own separate on-demand services. The BBC's iPlayer and ITV's catch-up service will continue to exist along the new online "aggregator", which will provide a...
  • Vista SP1 beta vs XP SP3 beta and performance - what a load of old <insert your favourite derogatory term here>

    I saw the article at ZDNet ( Windows XP outshines Vista in benchmarking test - ZDNet UK ) and at various other places and decided to comment. It compares a 1GB XP machine and a 1GB Vista machine and says that Vista is slower - both using beta service packs. This article links back to the blog of a certain benchmarking company ( http://exo-blog.blogspot.com/2007/11/windows-xp-sp3-yields-performance-gains.html ) and the result was an article with quotes in it like: "Vista, both with and without SP1, performed over two times slower than XP with SP3 in the test, taking over 80 seconds to complete the test, compared to the beta SP3-enhanced XP's 35 seconds. Vista's performance with the service pack increased less than two percent compared to performance without SP1 — much lower than XP's SP3 improvement of 10 percent." Now this annoyed me twice. So did they turn off things like the pre-loading of applications, was this a fresh PC or one where the inbuilt tools could optimise themselves? Did they...
  • Office Open XML file format information or Standard ECMA-376 and the OOXML SDK information on MSDN

    I saw this question asked internally today, so I thought I would share. If you want to develop to use the Open XML document format you probably want to look at two things. The Microsoft resources (eg http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-gb/office/aa905545.aspx ) and the ECMA resources Standard ECMA-376 . On the MSDN site you will find documentation and a MS SDK (less interest if you are developing using a functional language for your mainframe ). The ECMA site has the following: Standard ECMA-376 Office Open XML File Formats (December 2006) This Standard defines Office Open XML's vocabularies and document representation and packaging. It also specifies requirements for consumers and producers of Office Open XML. An Office Open XML overview is available on the Ecma website. Copy these file(s), free of charge: File name Size (Bytes) Content ECMA-376 Part 1 350 630 zipped DOCX file ECMA-376 Part 1 1 441 795 zipped PDF file ECMA-376 Part 2 341 625 zipped DOCX file with 2 Annexes ECMA-376 Part 2 1 286 494 zipped PDF file...
  • What is in Office Accounting for accountants... well, multiple account views, sharing, customisation and more, but it is not an practice management solution

    I saw that someone said on one of the online forums that there was not anything in Office Accounting for Accountants. I beg to differ. This product is not something that offers anywhere near the same capabilities of someone like Iris for Practice Management - it is not designed to do so, it is aimed at small businesses who want a simple to use accounting package and then a tool for accountants to simply extract and manage data from it. I am not an accountant, but Microsoft offer several areas for Accountants with Office Accounting: Ability to customise the product to brand it for a specific organisation, such as an accountant, ISV or partner Ability to monitor several people's accounts from the one place and gather updates via an secure online process (through Office Live) Client sends accounts to accountant, continues using them and then the changes are synchronised back from accountant without data loss Run payroll for multiple clients Single Journal entry with VAT that spans multiple dates, customers and...
  • Another Vista UI tweak - change the size of the thumbnail (preview) picture in Vista Aero when you hover over an icon in the taskbar

    The final one from Ave, another amazing UI tweak. Thumbnail Sizer Thumbnail Sizer allows the user to change the size of Vista's Window thumbnails that show when one hovers over the taskbar button for the window. download from Ave's Vista Apps ttfn David Technorati Tags: Windows Vista , Vista Tweaks , Vista
  • 3D Rotating (swaying gently back and forth) User Pictures in Windows Vista Start Menu

    Another User interface trick that I am now using from Vishal's blog - it just adds minor touches to Vistas UI. 3D Rotating User Pic in Windows Vista Start Menu Ave’s 3D UserPic In the old longhorn 4xxx days, the startmenu user picture was more animated as it was today. Today, we get a cheap alpha-fading effect when you hover over an item: the user picture simply blends with the icon for a while. Back in the days, the user picture was actually rotating when you had the start menu opened. This application tries to achieve that effect. Screenshot ttfn David Technorati Tags: Vista Tweaks , Windows Vista , Vista
  • Glass/ translucent Toast and balloons in Vista from Tweaking with Vishal

    I got a mail from a MVP asking me to link to his site. This is not that uncommon an experience, but often I can not find anything in common, however Vishal's request is different. I found lots to link about. Added to this is the fact that Steve Clayton recently blogged on something I covered ages ago (Steve's was at Change your Vista logon screen and mine at Vista enhancements and utilities (changing the screen savers, adding extra search functionality , but I've just realised he's not got me on his blog roll!!) The 1st link is how to go from the "new" opaque balloons translucent ones ala early betas of Vista Glass Toast: Get longhorn 4xxx style Glassy notification balloons in Windows XP / 2003 and Vista From this To this: GlassToast Download link and more at Glass Toast: Get longhorn 4xxx style Glassy notification balloons in Windows XP / 2003 and Vista | Tweaking with Vishal ttfn David Technorati Tags: Vista Tweaks , Windows Vista , Aero
  • What has Visual Studio 2008 got for developers of applications for Windows Mobile devices

    I saw the story at Visual Studio 2008 adds mobile application features that summarised the new features in Visual Studio 2008 for mobile application developers and realised that developing for the small platform is getting easier and easier. I plan to see a master at work in a couple of weeks on using the .Net Micro framework, which is even smaller, but the stuff you can produce with the stuff for mobile is amazingly flexible. Eric has an update on training available for Visual Studio 2008 which includes the Compact Framework stuff at Visual Studio 2008 Training Kit updated for RTM Visual Studio 2008 adds mobile application features <snipped> Microsoft says, "developers will be able to build a mobile device client application that works [even] in a partially connected environment. The application will be able to send and receive data from a server, even if the device disconnects or roams." New features for developers, summarized previously by a post on the Windows Mobile Team Blog , include: Automated...
  • Photos, photography, JPEG XR, Photosynth, the future of photography and Seadragons - why all the excitement?

    It's funny working in an industry where if you are not going at 50,000 miles an hour you are considered to be standing still. One area where Microsoft is speeding along is photography. In this post I will explore the announcements, the demos, short and long term products and then the future that lots of people are beginning to see. For me, the fact that people are already seeing such a future and its possibilities is very exciting (both the visions and the fact they are having them without drugs!! (humour)) Look at the recent events: Raw photo support in 2005 - Microsoft and Imaging Industry Leaders Unveil Support for Digital Photo HD (which some people thought was a JPEG killer.. tut tut) - HD Photo - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia JPEG XR - JPEG committee supports Photo HD as next gen JPEG TrustedReviews - Official Jpeg Successor Is Microsoft's HD Photo Now this is all very nice, but so what - a better format for bigger pictures, that could be a bit like FAT disks getting FAT32 format, but it is not...
  • Lots of Partner training (new url) - Licensing 101, Sales 101, Office PerformancePoint, Office Business Applications (OBA), Enterprise Search, SharePoint Services and Server 2007, Office Communications Server 2007, Infrastructure Optimisation (IO) ...

    [updated with a working URL] Partner Licensing 101 – The next one is being held on the 4 th December 2007 This session will equip sales people with a top level knowledge that will enable them to talk to new and existing customers about Microsoft licensing. Target Audience: This session is aimed primarily at sales people from all Partner types, although it is appropriate for all Partner roles whether in Sales, Purchasing or Technical. The course is ideal for new starters looking for a good introduction to Microsoft licensing or just a great as a refresher for those who have taken a break from Microsoft licensing. This session is suitable for people who present technology solutions to customers from a non-technical perspective and need to demonstrate the correct way for customers to purchase. Click Here to register For further information please contact Carla Symonds. Partner Sales 101 - The next one is being held on the 5 th December 2007 - Aim: This session will equip sales people with the knowledge and skills...
  • Microsoft Releases Another SQL Server 2008 CTP

    I've seen plenty of blog entries saying this has not yet shipped, but I've just been to the download site and SQL Server 2008, November CTP is definitely there: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=3BF4C5CA-B905-4EBC-8901-1D4C1D1DA884&displaylang=en There are several people talking about it, such as SQL 2008 CTP5 First Glance , however perhaps the best item I saw was from Steve Lamb who was offering " Would you like with free technical support to help you deploy Windows Server 2008, System Center ". I think that would be a yes :-) Microsoft Releases Another SQL Server 2008 CTP This third update includes compatibility with Windows Vista and the upcoming Windows Server 2008. "SQL Server 2008 running on Windows Server 2008 provides customers with trusted and secure access, high availability through revamped failover clustering, and simplified scripting through Powershell," Francois Ajenstat, director of product management for SQL Server, told eWEEK here at the TechEd...
  • Visual Studio 2008 and .NET 3.5 Released - MSDN members can download the product and the Express and trial versions are available for download now too.

    I just saw this as Scott's blog while preparing something on SQL 2008 CTP. This is an amazing set of tools now released!! Visual Studio 2008 and .NET 3.5 Released Today we shipped Visual Studio 2008 and .NET 3.5. You can download the final release using one of the links below: If you are a MSDN subscriber, you can download your copy from the MSDN subscription site (note: some of the builds are just finishing being uploaded now - so check back later during the day if you don't see it yet). If you are a non-MSDN subscriber, you can download a 90-day free trial edition of Visual Studio 2008 Team Suite here . A 90-day trial edition of Visual Studio 2008 Professional (which will be a slightly smaller download) will be available next week. A 90-day free trial edition of Team Foundation Server can also be downloaded here . If you want to use the free Visual Studio 2008 Express editions (which are much smaller and totally free), you can download them here . If you want to just install the .NET Framework 3.5 runtime...
  • Data recovery for small businesses by true professionals

    A while back I had the pleasure of working with some guys in one of the UK's largest and probably most capable data recovery companies. They did everything from simple recoveries to physically broken media recovery and proved that the excuse "the dog ate my homework Mrs Teacher" could be proven and recovered from. Well, that was then. Now a group from this company, including Justin who I worked with have broken away to create their own small business and they continue to offer a huge amount of experience and are keen to work with SBSC partners to build their network and solutions. They offer 8 people each with years of experience from one of the leading recovery vendors Clean blench facilities for handling all levels of hardware related data recovery from all storage media. No fix no fee and trade pricing from less than £200 [ed: they did name a price, but I decided you could go talk to them to learn more] . Flexible service options. Standard services turnaround in an average of 2-3 days. Computer...
  • MSDN Events in November (Silverlight dynamic applications, SharePoint, SQL Server 2008, web applications and Smart Client) and not in Reading, but Manchester, Edinburgh, Bradford, Birmingham and Bristol ... and one in Reading

    MSDN Events – Free Technical Events for Your Partners We have the following free MSDN developer events taking place as listed below covering various topics/technologies. It would be great if you could communicate these events with your partners to offer them the opportunity to receive technical 'know-how' demos and insights into our latest technologies. · 15 November 2007, Manchester MSDN: Building Dynamic Web Applications with Microsoft Silverlight · 20 November 2007, Edinburgh MSDN: SharePoint for Developers · 21 November 2007, Edinburgh MSDN: SharePoint for Developers · 22 November 2007, Bradford MSDN: SQL Server 2008 · 27 November 2007, Reading MSDN: An Introduction to the Microsoft Web Platform (and how do it for zip, nvada, zero cost to you) · 28 November 2007, Birmingham MSDN: Web, Web, Web: Visual Studio 2008, ASP.NET 3.5 and Silverlight · 29 November 2007, Bristol MSDN: What’s new in Smart Client Development Click Here If you wish to view the overall events homepage. ttfn David Technorati Tags...
  • Where to get lots and lots of information on BCM (Business Contact Manager) 2007

    I found this blog and realised several things. 1) The Brelsford family (no, they are not related) are very good in the small business space. 2) I now have a BCM 2007 hero. Who am I talking about? Bill Brelsford - http://blog.rebarbusinessbuilders.com/about.html - who says "For the past 20 years, I have been working with and for small businesses in a variety of roles." I love BCM and here are some of the things he has written about BCM. It is worth noting that Bill does not just write about BCM, but many things including marketing and many other issues that a small business would face. BCM: Setting Up Marketing Campaigns in BCM Tracking Customer Anniversary Dates in BCM Getting Started Managing Suspects in BCM Small Business CRM It has to be worth a look. ttfn David Technorati Tags: Business Contact Manager , BCM , Small Business
  • When digging holes in the garden, watch out for suspicious objects... it might mean you have to get the bomb squad out!!

    It was a rare weekend, I had agreed to do some digging in my parents garden to put up two arches. Some of you will know my dad - Derek Overton from various SBSC events. They live just over the way from a piece of MOD land that used to be used for all sorts of things and bangs were not unusual. Anyway, we were drilling into the ground when we hit something that should not be there - it was tubular and metallic. Having joked a bit that "who knows what it could be when around here" Dad decided to call the police. They arrived, examined it, decided since one of them used to be in the army that it could be dangerous, so calls were made to the bomb squad. The bomb squad said it sounded potentially hazardous, so came for a visit :-) The neighbours were obviously quite interested when we had 2, then 3 police cars out the front of the house and finally the bomb squad van and army folk. Finally, several hours after the 1st phone call the object was declared safe and that it had not ever have been a threat, but...
  • How to start a VPN automatically on boot with Windows

    My dad was asking me about a branch office solution where clients connected to the AD controller, but needed to VPN to get to the AD. My preferred option is to either have a VPN on the router or a DC in the branch office, but failing both of those, perhaps this is the answer? Starting a VPN automatically on boot with Windows XP I recently needed to figure out how to make a Windows XP machine connect to a particular VPN automatically on reboot, before anyone logged into the machine. I eventually managed to assemble bits and pieces of information floating around the net into a working solution to the problem, but it wasn’t completely addressed in any single location, so I thought I’d stick the details in my blog for other people to Google and use (if you found this blog entry useful, please add a comment and let me know!). The first thing I tried was to look for a property I could set on the VPN network connection to tell Windows that I wanted this connection to start automatically when the machine boots. I couldn...
  • Do you need a Windows server solution for people with 50-250 users? Have you heard of "Centro"? Well, Windows Server Centro is now the Windows Essential Business Server and you can now participate in the beta!

    From the http://blogs.technet.com/kevin_beares/archive/2007/11/07/windows-server-centro-is-officially-unveiled-and-has-a-new-name.aspx a small amount about Centro and the tech beta. This is produced by the same team who build SBS 2003 R2 and SBS Cougar. More on those next year. Windows® Essential Business Server is the new Microsoft server solution for small to medium businesses, with 50 to 250 client computers in their organizations. Windows®Essential Business Server offers a standardized server configuration that is designed to meet the needs of most midsize businesses. The configuration is optimized to meet the currently recommended practices for networking, security, collaboration, and remote access. The tightly integrated Windows Essential Business Server simplifies setup, migration, and licensing for Microsoft infrastructure server products that a midsize business uses most frequently. Most network services and resources are managed through a single Windows®Essential Business Server Administration Console...
  • Microsoft's Small Business Blog : Fancy winning £5,000?

    I saw this at Microsoft's Small Business Blog : Fancy winning £5,000? and thought I would pass it on. Fancy winning £5,000? We’ve just launched the Microsoft Office Live £5,000 prize draw and you’re amongst the first to hear about it. You have the chance to win £5,000 or one of several £100 Amazon gift cards. Just click the link and enter the prize draw at https://microsoft.eprize.net/officeliveuk . If you haven't explored Office Live yet it really is worth spending some time looking at what it could do for your business. Microsoft Office Live is a set of Internet-based tools aimed at helping small businesses to quickly and easily create a professional web presence. ttfn David Technorati Tags: Small Business , Office Live
  • New reliability, compatibility, USB and MCE Updates to Windows Vista available via Windows Update now. The USB update fixes 1-2% of all Vista crashes!!

    I saw this on the blog and thought I would tell you all about it. I'm testing SP1, so I did not see it on my updates, but SP1 has this in it, so I think it is worth getting!! New Updates to Windows Vista available via Windows Update this week As you probably know and as we’ve mentioned in previous posts, we use Windows Update to periodically deliver updates for Windows Vista. We do this so that customers need not wait for a service pack or another or larger release to benefit from the ongoing improvements we make to Windows. With Windows Update, we can regularly service Windows as quickly, effectively and unobtrusively as possible, so that keeping your Windows OS up-to-date is easier and more convenient for you. All you have to do is make sure you are signed up to have updates installed automatically, and you’re good to go. Continuous improvement is the name of this game. The non-security updates planned for release through Windows Update this week include: An update on system compatibility, reliability and...
  • Office Accounting Professional 2008 ships in the UK ... download the free Express version, buy or try the Professional version for extra features (Multi user, SQL support, sales order, purchase order etc) and also sign up for online services (Paypal, BACS

    Microsoft Office Accounting Professional 2008 It is finally here!! There are 2 major versions - the free version and the paid for version, plus a number of add-on services you might want to buy too. You can get lots of information at http://www.msofficeaccounting.co.uk/default.aspx and if you are an accountant then the Microsoft Professional Accounting Network is for you ( http://accounting.microsoft.com/mpanuk.aspx ). You can download the Express Version here: You can Download Free Trial here It says about itself: Microsoft® Office Accounting Professional is an easy to use, comprehensive accounting package that works with other Office applications you already know. Easy to learn and use Works just like Word, Excel and Outlook Get started in minutes with wizards that import your data Save time managing everyday tasks Share and reuse data across Word, Excel and Outlook Manage customers, suppliers, employees and stock Pay bills, track expenses, send invoices and bank online Get a complete view of your business Run...
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(c)David Overton 2006-17