July, 2006

  • Steve Clayton

    the best coffee in London


    • I’m at home in god’s little acre this weekend (The Wirral) and surfing the web from the comfort of my brothers garden. England just lost their game against Portugal which meant a second bottle of Italian red is being savoured. The wine here is good but I miss London coffee. Seattle is coffee central but London has probably the best coffee I have ever tasted and I’ve been keeping it a secret for a while as it’s a hideaway from our SoHo office but given we’re moving from there soon I can safely let the cat out of the bag and hope it’s not going to turn in to Microsoft’s alternative coffee shop.

    Flat White. There, its out. If you’ve been then sorry for sharing our secret but if you haven’t you should go. Run by cool antipodeans and serves truly amazing coffee. These guys love coffee and though sometimes you have to wait, trust me, it’s worth it.

  • Steve Clayton

    My partner favourites: download 'em


    [click for bigger image]

    Nope, not a list of my favourite partners but a list of favourites that will (I think) be incredibly useful for Microsoft Partners (and others) to add in to their web browsers. I actually promised this quite some time back but it’s taken me a while to track down the file and then to get it posted to microsoft.com.

    Basically what you have here is a directory of microsoft websites in a favourites file as an A_Z listing. So if you need to find information on Sharepoint for example, you navigate to “S” in the list and you will see the folder above. Under Sharepoint there are more than 20 useful links and in total there are almost 2500 well researched URL’s contained in this ZIP file. I know that may seem like a funny way of helping you find the information you need from Microsoft but in my experience it’s a great start. All you need to do is extract the ZIP file to a folder (say c:\microsoft) and then copy that folder in to your favourites folder (usually c:\documents & settings\username\favorites). All of the favourites will then appear in your browser. You may need to tweak the location of the files to work with browsers other than Internet Explorer but it should all work fine.

    Enjoy and let me know if it works for you!

    Get the file of faves (1.3mb)

  • Steve Clayton

    Boston blogging


    Wow the last few days has been my longest break from blogging in a while. I flew to Boston on Saturday for the WorldWide Partner Conference and spent some time acclimatising. Nice city, good climate and full of Microsoft Partners – 7000 or so in total. It’s always interesting when we have a conference like this as time becomes warped and everywhere you go there are Microsoft people, partners, buses with logos on, drinks and dinner receptions and a general buzz. It’s not every day you see a huge bus go by with SQL Server down the side and barely bat an eyelid. Two weeks time and we do it all again in Orlando at the Microsoft Global Exchange.

    With a few days in I’ve not managed to get any PTS-TV footage but met a lot of people at Microsoft UK welcome reception last night that I plan to get on camera -that means you Susanne!. With just over 24 hours til my session on Selling the Stack I’m off to do a quick rehearsal and tech check for that.

    Parting thought: nice to see Mr Ballmer on stage today with the same phone as me - the QTEK 8500. Cool other stuff we saw today though – a demo of the forthcoming search capability on Vista, Office Sharepoint and a standalone search client that was very cool. I also saw an amazing CRM Live demo and execs bashing out the words “mashup” with increasing frequency. My guess though is that over 70% of the audience doesn’t know what mashup is so I’ll be back soon to explain more.

    [update] – Charlie gives a great rundown on Day 1 keynotes

  • Steve Clayton

    Hugh MacLeod on Microsoft Marketing


    [click to download the original]

    “Note to the marketing team: If you cannot communicate what your bloggers are communicating [and I'm not just talking verbally, either], you will fail.”

    Hugh’s tracking Microsoft bloggers and is convinced that collectively we’re making the difference, not our marketing teams. I’m not sure that is totally true but hey, who am I to disagree with the bard of blogland? I have given out 8 copies if Naked Conversations over the last few weeks to a few notable folks in the UK business. People are starting to listen and there is momentum building from Partner Group and Developer in particular. We have much to learn but as often happens in Microsoft, the small guys can make a difference and some of us a trying pretty hard. Scoble is gone but that’s not the end – it should be just the beginning. I keep saying that so here is what I mean:

    Within my group we’re trying to communicate with a vast array of 30k Microsoft Partners across the UK and potentially the world. The web changed business and now it has to change how we communicate, provide training and interact with our partners and cusotmers. What do I mean by that? Here are some thoughts

    • We need to deliver our partner communications via RSS at the very least and think about how we help partners who don’t know about it connect using that technology. we live in a world of newsletters and email but Web 2.0 is making some of that stuff redundant by shifting the balance of communications back to the receiver. It reminds me of Pointcast but it works and has been proven. We need to adopt it, embrace it and not feel bad about letting some of the old stuff go when it makes sense. It has to and we’ll save a few trees in the process
    • We need to think long and hard (and we are) about how we deliver skills training. In the past we’ev focused on classroom led training which has served a purpose but in the era of broadband, less and less time and again technologies like RSS, iPod’s and podcasting we need to think about how we can deliver better packaged, more flexible training. we also need to think about how we start to segment for the audience better and things like RSS categories can help us do this. I’ve started to test this with the new looks PTS-TV blog which will likely just become a Partner TV blog as we add marketing and sales information to the existing technical. You will then be able to select your channel and have just that news you need delivered to your inbox, iPOD or whatever. You just want content on technical and sales information related to Vista. No problem…we can slice and dice in the blink of an eye. So much better than reading a tonne of websites eh?
    • We need to get out of the echo chamber as Scoble calls it. I try to do this as much as I can but it’s still not enough. The recent partner roundtables were fantastic and led to me finding and sharing things like the Favourites zip file. In the meantime, Hugh has seen what happens himself when we listen and he enojoyed it. We need to do that a zillion times more and people will actually quite like us. At a team get together earlier this year I challenged everyone in my wider group (over 50 people) to have a partner buddy. I think some scoffed at it to be honest but some took it to heart and are benefittng from it. I have over 20 partners in my IM list as buddies and use them daily to sound out on ideas and plans we have. I’ve thought long and hard about posting my IM address here but have deciced not to for fear of IM spam more than anything…maybe I should though so I’m going to noodle on that one for a bit longer. Feel free to email me if you have views or just reply here.
    • Scoble once said we need to be thrilling customers but given over 96% of our business flows through Microsoft Partners I’d say we need to be doign at least as good a job at thrilling partners. That’s the mission of part of my team as we enter our new financial year – to go thrill partners more widely than we ever have and help build momentum for Vista and Office to make them and us successful. That is Job 1 this year and I’m about to spend a few days out of the office thinking about that too. Bill has Think Week’s so I’m going to have a few Think Days.

    There are a whole load of other “we need to” statements I could add but these are the ones I am working on and can influene right now. if there are more important ones feel free to let me know or comment back here. I’m listening and so are several (influential) others.




  • Steve Clayton

    Free Download: Assessment and Deployment Solution for Midsize Businesses


    Another of the announcements you may have missed at Worldwide Partner Conference:

    The Assessment and Deployment Solution for Midsize Businesses (ADS) provides partners with a quick way to assess a customer’s IT environment, create a network diagram, and produce a proposal to upgrade the customer’s network infrastructure to the latest Microsoft software. It can also save time by automating network deployment. I guess you coudl argue that this removes a potential revenue stream in initial consultancy on network design etc but my guess is much of that type of service form a partner is pro-bono. Maybe I’m wrong

    Anyway, definitely worth a look as it’s a free download to all registered members of the Programme.

    “The tool works by first performing an automatic network inventory of a customer’s IT environment. Upon completion, it automatically creates a Visio diagram of the network environment, and generates a project proposal. The proposal contains an implementation plan based on the customer’s current IT inventory and migration scenario. If the cycle moves on to a sale and eventually to the deployment of new Microsoft software, then the tool will also automate most of the deployment tasks, significantly reducing your time and effort while helping to ensure a smooth and successful deployment.”

    check out Flash Demo`

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