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The FE Blog
News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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October, 2010

  • FE blog

    Cost saving with Microsoft System Center


    imageI've just heard about another free event, on Friday 5th November, focused on cost saving with ICT. Although it isn't specifically education focused, I think that there will be a lot of readers that would appreciate a whole day full of network management tools (oh, and a lot who could imagine nothing worse Smile). The entire day is dedicated to the Microsoft System Center suite, which is becoming more widely used in universities, colleges and schools.

    The event is being run by one of our partners, Inframon, and has a big list of Microsoft System Center specialists and product managers, who are travelling over from the States for the event. There must be a mid-Atlantic BA flight that's full of Microsoft people, as on the agenda there's the Senior Director for System Center Product Marketing, the Director of the Management and Security Product Management Group, four Senior Technical Product Managers, and two Senior Programme Managers - all coming over from Seattle to talk.

    The agenda for the day is focusing on how System Center can help you to reduce your network infrastructure costs, and your workload, whilst improving the reliability and flexibility of your network. Some of the issues it will cover include the impact of more mobile users, application virtualisation, managing multiple platforms like VMWare and Oracle, data protection, and an extensive look into the future product roadmap for the System Center components.

    imageThe Inframon team have gone to town on the "War on Cost" theme, and are hosting the event in the Cabinet War Rooms in Whitehall, right underneath the Treasury buildings, and just around the corner from Downing Street. And towards the end of the day, there's a full tour of the War Rooms lined up too.

    The event is on Friday 5th November, and runs from 9-5

    Learn MoreFind out more, and register, here

  • FE blog

    An Education in ICT Efficiencies - a Dimension Data event on the 3rd November


    Well, it seems that saving money's and cutting costs is on the agenda. But talking about saving money with ICT, and actually doing it, can be two different things. For example, knowing that you should be virtualising your servers to reduce cost is fine, but it would be handy to have somebody explain how.

    If you want to start moving from cost saving ideas to cost saving projects, then here's an opportunity.


    Dimension Data, one of our partners, is hosting an event here in Reading on Wednesday 3rd November, focusing on cost savings in education, through improving and introducing efficiency by the adoption and deployment of technology. As they put it:


    We are confident this will be a sound investment of your time, and we will answer the following questions on the day though presentations, discussion and demonstrations:

    • What technologies will drive efficiencies, and reduce cost?
    • How will they save cost, and how much can be saved?
    • How can I build confidence through examples and case studies?
    • How do I adopt the technology and start saving?

    We have secured key speakers from Microsoft and Dimension Data and you will also hear from an influential education establishment who is benefiting from these efficiencies. 


    Agenda for 'An Education in ICT Efficiencies'

    The agenda runs from 10am to 3pm, and they Dimension Data team have packed in a great line-up of practical sessions into the day - including Paul Chapman from Leicester College talking about his server virtualisation project, and James Akrigg from Microsoft. Oh, and I've been volunteered to talk about Cost Savings in Education.

    9:30 Registration
    10:00 Introduction - Simon Bliss (Dimension Data)
    10:15 Keynote: Cost Savings in Education - Ray Fleming (Microsoft)
    11:00 Break
    11:15 Virtualisation and Systems Management - Stuart James and Dan Frost (Dimension Data)
    12:00 Cloud, Windows and Business Productivity - James Akrigg (Microsoft)
    12:45 Lunch
    1:30 Case Study - Paul Chapman (Leicester College)
    2:00 Unified Communications - Chris Clark (Dimension Data)
    2:30 Microsoft Licensing - Clive Pugh (Dimension Data)
    2:45 Q&A, conclusions and next steps - Simon Bliss (Dimension Data)
    3:00 Close

    If you have to go to your manager to ask to be out of college for a day next Wednesday, then I can't imagine a better investment of time - it could pay back in weeks.

    Just click here to register by email with Dimension Data

  • FE blog

    The Salford Software 15-minute Friday webinar


    Salford Software is running a series of webinars every Friday specifically for education.  This week’s webinar may be of interest, the topic is "Migrating your services to Microsoft – What are the real benefits?" . The session, from 11:30-11:45, only lasts for 15 minutes and offers the opportunity for you to raise questions on and offline.  If you would like to receive an invitation to the webinar this week, then just drop an email Lisa at Salford Software.

  • FE blog

    Microsoft Office 365 for Education appears on the horizon


    imageLast night we officially announced Office 365, which is the next generation of cloud services – bringing together Exchange 2010, SharePoint 2010, Microsoft Lync (previously known as Office Communications Server) and Office (on both the web and your PC). And the good news is that there will be an education specific version of it.

    As with most of our announcements, the product release is scheduled for next year although we haven’t announced dates, but we did announce a public beta programme that you can sign up to and start using.

    Here’s some of the key information, summarised from mass of data published on the web:

    Summary of Office 365

    Microsoft Office 365 brings together cloud versions of our most trusted communications and collaboration products with the latest version of our desktop software and companion Web Apps. Office 365 is designed to meet the needs of organisations of all sizes — from independent professionals to small, midsize and large businesses and from government agencies to educational institutions — helping them save time, money and free up valued resources.

    Office 365 Key Benefits

    • Access to e-mail, documents, contacts and calendars on nearly any device
    • Simple and highly secure collaboration with colleagues and others within and outside of your organisation
    • Works seamlessly with Microsoft Office, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Lync
    • Business-class features, such as IT-level phone support, financially backed 99.9% uptime, geo-redundancy, disaster recovery, and robust security and privacy controls and standards
    • Comprehensive solutions, such as desktop productivity applications, portals, extranets, external websites, instant messaging (IM), voiceconferencing and videoconferencing, webconferencing, e-mail, voice mail and unified messaging

    What’s in Office 365

    • Microsoft Office
      The world’s leading productivity tool on the desktop (Office Professional Plus) and on the Web (Office Web Apps) now seamlessly connected and delivered with cloud services — for a comprehensive productivity experience across the PC, phone and browser.
    • Exchange Online
      Cloud-based e-mail, calendar and contacts with the most current anti-virus and anti-spam solutions. Includes the ability to get e-mail on virtually any mobile phone and options for voice mail, unified messaging and archiving.
    • Office SharePoint Online
      Cloud-based service for creating sites to connect colleagues, partners and customers. Includes enterprise social networking and customization options.
    • Lync Online
      Cloud-based IM, presence, and online meeting experiences with screen sharing, and voiceconferencing and videoconferencing

    Office 365 for Education

    Cloud-based services for colleges can help save money and give students access to familiar, next-generation productivity tools — while helping you free up resources. By eliminating the time and effort spent managing servers, IT staff can deliver the latest services to students while still maintaining control.


    • Large 25GB mailboxes and the ability to send attachments up to 25 MB
    • Anywhere access to e-mail, important documents, contacts and calendar on nearly any device, including PC, Mac, Windows Phone, iPhone, Android and BlackBerry
    • Works with the programmes students know and use most — Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote
    • Student access to Office Web Apps for viewing, sharing and light editing of documents
    • Team sites to share, manage and search for information and resources
    • Industry-leading, always-up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spam solutions
    • Optional student access to 25 GB of free online storage on Windows Live SkyDrive
    • Latest version of Microsoft Live@edu, which has thousands of education institutions and millions of student users today

    And the good news is that this is now the roadmap for Live@edu, as we expand it well beyond the email system that many people use today.

  • FE blog

    Do you want to download Windows 7 in Welsh?


    Did you know that we run a worldwide 'local language programme' which provides language packs for a range of our software? And that if you're in Wales, you can use them to run Windows and Office in Welsh natively?

    Welsh is one of Europe's oldest languages, and is growing, with over half a million speakers, especially amongst young people. Since 1993 public bodies have been required to provide services in both English and Welsh, and so Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw in Torfaen uses ICT systems running on Windows 7 and Microsoft Office in Welsh. Historically the school had computer labs for lessons across the curriculum, but while students could create documents in Welsh, and look up Welsh websites, the interface of the applications was in English. “The tool bar and menus were in English. I found myself having to use English words to talk about the technology,” said Alun Thomas, Head of ICT at the school. “This was interrupting our practice of immersive learning, and giving the impression that Welsh is not a language used within modern technology.”

    Microsoft partnered with the Welsh Language Board to develop the first Welsh Language Interface Packs, for Windows XP and Office 2003, and has continued to develop these as new versions came along - with the latest being Windows 7 in Welsh. Of course, the main benefit is for the students, as they can now stay fully immersed in their Welsh work. Once the interface is implemented, the applications automatically open in Welsh. As Alun said:

    Everybody’s accepted the new interface easily. The technology that used to be in English is now in Welsh. Staff have taken to it well because it’s easy to integrate it into more lessons. Even people who were used to working on an English menu are using it more because it supports the ethos of our school—providing an immersive education in Welsh.

    You can read more details in the Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw case study, or download the full range of language packs (Welsh packs are available for Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Office 2007, Office 2003, SharePoint 2007 and Windows SharePoint Services).

    Here's the quick links for the most recent Welsh packs:

  • FE blog

    The new RM Slate PC


    I was away at the end of last week, so I didn't see that details on RM's upcoming slate PC had made their way onto their website. Called the RM Slate, it does exactly what you'd expect - a fully functioning PC running Windows, in the style of a pad/tablet/slate device.


    imageYou can read more details on Merlin John's website too, but here's the key specifications:

    • 11.6" multi-touch screen
    • 1.66GHz Intel processor
    • 32Gb flash drive and 2Gb RAM
    • Front-facing 1.3 megapixel webcam
    • WiFi & Bluetooth
    • 2 x USB ports
    • HDMI, SD & SIM ports
    • And less than 1 KG

    And, very importantly, it's going to sell at £399. Which seems like a great price for a fully specified PC - especially in these days when smaller and lighter seems to more more cost.

    I've always been a fan of truly portable PCs, and owned one of the original RM Tablet PCs, which went round the world on a year-long family gap year trip seven years ago. It wasn't designed as a ruggedised PC, but it withstood 12 months of backpacking, with no special protection (and even survived twice when I dropped it in the street). In fact, it was my mainstay device until I destroyed it by cracking the screen under a chair leg (don't ask!).


    And the new tablet that RM have produced is the first tablet device that I've really, really wanted since then. To me, it means that I can have the convenience of leisurely web-browsing  sitting on the sofa, whilst having a full Windows PC when I'm out and about. This probably makes the perfect student device - a device just as capable for creating information as for consuming it.

  • FE blog

    Upcoming Live Meetings - System Center in Education



    After the success of the last few Live Meetings, with over 100 attendees at each, the 'System Center in Education' series Continues with a closer look at each of the products and what they mean to Education Customers. They have been scheduled as a series in advance, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, at 10:30, until the end of November, so you can pop them in your diary as a regular session.

    Registration is simple - register once and choose which meetings you would like to attend.

    System Center Configuration Manager 2007

    System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007 has long been a favourable choice for education organisations of all sizes to comprehensively assess, deploy and update servers, clients and devices across physical, virtual, distributed and mobile environments.

    The upcoming version R3, introduces the ability to centrally monitor and control the power consumption of Windows clients, and can therefore help organisations decrease their carbon footprint and potentially realise significant cost savings on energy bills and reduce their overall environmental impact.

    In this live meeting with Microsoft Partner Dimension Data we will explore some of the key capabilities of SCCM and give you chance to ask the experts your questions.

    Tuesday October 19th 10:30-11:30 or

    Thursday October 21st 10:30-11:30

    System Center Data Protection Manager 2010

    Data Protection Manager (DPM) provides a fast and reliable backup and recovery solution for Windows Environments. DPM seamlessly uses disk and tape to provide a scalable and cost effective solution. DPM provides unified protection of a growing number of Microsoft Servers including SharePoint, Exchange, SQL, virtualisation and file-servers.

    DPM provides native site-to-site replication for Disaster Recovery to either another DPM server or an off-site cloud provider and can also be extended to non-Microsoft workloads for a unified solution across the campus.

    In this live meeting Microsoft Partner Esteem will discuss the many benefits DPM can bring to education organisations.

    Tuesday October 26th 10:30-11:30 or

    Thursday October 28th 10:30-11:30

    System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2

    System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) provides a straightforward and cost-effective solution for the unified management of physical and virtual machines. VMM provides a host of features including Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO) for dynamic and responsive management of virtual infrastructure and the consolidation of underutilised physical servers. Converting existing physical servers to virtual is easy using the P2V (Physical to Virtual) converter. In addition to Microsoft Virtualisation, VMM can also manage and migrate VMWare virtual machines.

    Tuesday November 2nd 10:30-11:30 or

    Thursday November 4th 10:30-11:30

    System Center Essentials 2010

    For smaller organisations managing less than 500 PCs and 50 servers, System Center Essentials provides a comprehensive management solution where perhaps the entire suite might be a little excessive.

    SCE provides a unified solution with a single console for managing a broad range of tasks across your physical and virtual servers, clients, hardware, software, and IT services.

    Tuesday November 9th 10:30-11:30 or

    Thursday November 11th 10:30-11:30

    System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2

    System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) provides end-to-end service monitoring enabling Operations and IT Management teams to identify, and resolve issues affecting the health of distributed IT services – before they become problems. SCOM can monitor both your Microsoft on non-Microsoft environments and therefore provide a unified solution across the entire campus.

    Microsoft partner Inframon will be presenting this session and will be available to answer any of your questions.

    Tuesday November 16th 10:30-11:30 or

    Thursday November 18th 10:30-11:30

    System Center Service Manager 2010

    System Center Service Manager is Service Desk solution providing incident and problem resolution, change control, and asset lifecycle management. By unifying knowledge across the System Center suite, Service Manager helps IT continuously adapt to new business requirements while reducing cost and lowering time to resolution.

    This session presented by Microsoft partner Silversands will provide a good overview of the key functionality of the product – and give you chance to get your questions answered.

    Tuesday November 23rd 10:30-11:30 or

    Thursday November 25th 10:30-11:30

    Windows InTune

    Join this live meeting for a glimpse of the future of cloud based PC management. Currently in Beta, Windows InTune is a comprehensive solution that includes PC management, malware protection, windows upgrades, remote control and more. This could potentially be a great solution if you are managing a number of organisations, or distributed IT systems (for example, managing multiple primary schools, or remote university departments or learning outreach centres of a college)

    Tuesday November 30th 10:30-11:30 or

    Thursday December 2nd 10:30-11:30

    And there's a bonus for attending…

    Richard has also got his hands on a limited number of full DVD sets of the Microsoft Management Summit 2010, which include:

    • Keynotes
    • Breakout Tracks
    • Hands-on Lab manuals
    • Supporting Materials from Microsoft and Event Sponsors
    • Videos recorded during the even

    On each Live Meeting he'll be giving one set away to a random attendee - but you've got to be at the Live Meeting to get into the draw.

    Learn More

    You can register for the whole series, or individual live meetings here

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