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News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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July, 2012

  • FE blog

    Office 365 for education webinar

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    Following the release of Office 365 for education, we are sharing a recent webinar we held held which shows how students see Office 365 and how they can utilize each part of it.

    The webinar was attended by over 50 colleges thanks to JISC, and it demonstrates how teachers and faculty can get the most out of Office 365. It also gives some ideas for teaching plans.

    The webinar shows how IT administrators can go from nothing to setting up their establishment as well as how to mazimise the use of Office, SharePoint and Lync. The webinar shows how Office 365 for education gives anytime learning to everyone.

    You can view the webinar below. 

  • FE blog

    How to enrol for Office 365 for education step by step

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    The anticipated wait is over and Office 365 for education is now available. So how can you get started using Office 365 in your school, college or university?

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    Below you can find a detailed guide of how to sign up for your 30 day free trial of Office 365 for education. Increase productivity in your education institution with free email, instant messaging, online document editing and viewing and lots more. Here’s how to enrol:

  • FE blog

    Student-Developed Windows Phone Apps

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    The Underground app is all about student developers and the great experiences they create for Windows Phone. If you don’t know about this app yet – we will fill you in. The Underground app was created to feature apps and games developed by students. Support your peers, learn from them and join the student developer community.

    Join thousands of student developers and start building Windows Phone apps with resources available on the Go Underground website.

    Have you downloaded any of these apps built by students? If so, which one(s) have you downloaded and what do you think?

    Posted on Microsoft Student

  • FE blog

    RM Technical Seminar in Birmingham by Gerald Haigh

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    Gerald Haigh is a freelance journalist who writes regularly for the Microsoft Education Blogs.

    Towards the end of April I went to Birmingham, to one of the nine Technical Seminars which RM ran in venues around the country this Spring.

    They were primarily dealing with technical challenges schools face and how their ICT management product ‘Community Connect 4’, can help network managers solve them.

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    RM have been holding these seminars for twenty years now, covering successive generations of RM schools networks. At first they were small affairs, held in informal venues (yes, it’s true that some pubs were involved). Now they’re major events for over a hundred people at a time, and are often oversubscribed. So, you’d guess, they’re probably getting something right.

    That’s certainly the opinion of the people I met in Birmingham, many of whom attend the seminars regularly.

    (‘They’re not just about knowledge, I find them inspiring, ‘was the verdict of one network manager who’s been attending for ten years.)

    Gill Rhodes, who manages the networks for three neighbouring primary schools in Oxfordshire puts it like this.

    ‘In effect they give cut down versions of their courses – the kind of brief overview which is what you often need. They bring you up to date, and add some of the latest tips. I always pick something up – and then there’s meeting people of course, and speaking to experts face to face.’

    They’re also, it must be said, very friendly gatherings. As they’ve developed over the years, RM organisers and presenters have done a quite remarkable job of hitting and keeping just the right balance of information, informality and expertise.

    Unsurprisingly, the people I met were all convinced of the advantage of using RM’s Community Connect to manage their networks. Ian Wilson, Assistant Head at Manor High School in Leicester says,

    ‘We know that a plain vanilla Microsoft network will deliver a lot of what’s required, but in my view Community Connect adds a set of education-specific tools which allow the network team to concentrate on high value education activities and not so much on lower value network activities.’

    The case becomes even clearer when the network team is small and overstretched.

    ‘If you have a small network team, Community Connect makes life much easier,’ says David Greengrass, Network Manager at Uppingham Community College.

    Gill Rhodes agrees.

    ‘I do a lot of my work remotely when I’m in one school and another has a problem. I couldn’t do what I do without Community Connect.’

    The partnership with RM is also worth a great deal – everyone spoke well of the quality and promptness of their support.

    The optional seminar sessions themselves – nine in all – covered a range of issues. Some, like the one on ‘Troubleshooting: Drivers’ were no-nonsense technical sessions obviously responding to specific needs. By no means all were like that, though. ‘Developing an Effective AV and Classroom Technology Strategy’ was very much about senior leaders and network teams picking their way through the forest of available technologies towards a position where effective classroom AV is at the core of teaching and learning. And in ‘Negotiation Techniques’, Gethin Nichols dealt with what can sometimes be an elephant in the room – the importance of building an effective relationship between the network team and the leaders of learning in a school.

    I was particularly interested in two sessions that dealt particularly with CC4. One, ‘CC4 Management Tasks’, run by Matt Edwards, might have been a bit technical for me in parts, but I thought it a very clear statement of what Community Connect, and particularly CC4, is all about, which is making the network team’s life easier.

    Matt started by listing eighteen basic network management tasks, common to virtually all schools, ranging from ‘checking backups have worked, through ‘resetting passwords’ and ‘fault diagnosing computers’ to ‘creating and supporting package installation’.

    He then set about methodically looking at teach task to see how, with CC4, it can be made easier, or automated, or are effectively administration tasks that someone else could be doing. Talk to any seasoned CC4 enthusiast and they’ll soon tell you that the ease with which they can manage routine tasks is in fact one of the main attractions. At BETT this year, I shot a short video clip showing Darren Williams, of the Abbey School, Reading, making exactly that point. In the clip, Darren, who has his own school’s Management Console open on his laptop as he speaks, uses the same phrase that was the main theme of Matt’s presentation.

    ‘It’s made my life much easier’.

    (You can see the video on Merlin Johns ‘Agent4Change’ site at http://www.agent4change.net/people/five-things/1339-gerald-haighs-five-things-to-think-about-1.html

    The other CC4 session I was interested in was ‘CC4 The Future’, also run by Matt Edwards. Here, Matt was keen to emphasise the ‘future-proofed’ nature of CC4,

    ‘The focus of CC4 is very much in line with what’s going on in the industry,’ he said. -- To support BYOD (bring your own devices). To support remote access to services. To support use of new software and hardware technologies.’

    Part of this approach, he explained, is to offer a subscription model for users, whereby licenses are paid for annually rather than up front.

    As well as reducing the up-front expenditure, Community Connect Subscription customers will be entitled to future product enhancements, new server and client operating systems when available, CC4 updates, maintenance fixes and future Community Connect versions. They will also be able to add clients or

    servers to their network without having to increase their subscription.’

    (Quite like Microsoft’s own subscription licensing models in fact, was the thought that crossed my mind as Matt spoke.)

    For me, though, what was most exciting about Matt’s look into the immediate future was the prospect of CC4 working with Windows 8. Matt has clearly made himself very familiar with Windows 8 and spent some time showing its features to his audience. Developments are still going on in this area at RM, but there’s a clear determination to make sure that all of the innovative features of Windows 8 including the Start Screen, Metro Apps, ‘Swipe, Slide and Zoom’, are exploited to the full. And just to comfort those in the audience whose brows were furrowing by the second, he said,

    ‘The key to using Windows 8 in my opinion is to get your head around the concept that the Start screen (Metro look) has simply replaced your old fashioned Start button.’

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    As Matt went on with his description of Windows 8, a question was forming in my mind, and just as I’d decided to tackle him with later, he answered it like this.

    ‘Although I do not currently have a great deal of detail on how the new Start screen will work with CC4 policies and security, I can reveal at least one little Windows 8 CC4 secret - we are currently developing CC4 specific Metro apps that can give you fast, direct access to management areas of your CC4 network.’

    In other words, as network manager you’ll find specific CC4 functions accessible via individually labelled CC4 apps on the start screen.

    He was able to show one example – an app called ‘RM Users’ which will come up on the Start Screen and allow direct access, without going to the management console, to all CC4 user groups.

    As you’d expect, there was quite a buzz about this afterwards, and some network managers were clearly worried about what they saw as a big change from the Windows environments that they’d lived in harmony with for so long.

    But thus has it ever been.

    I guess the very fact that these questioners take the trouble to attend RM Seminars in order to keep up with trends and provide the best possible service to their learners shows that they’ll be quickly won over.

    I have no doubt that there’ll be much more on Windows 8 in the Autumn Technical Seminars.

    Frankly, I can’t wait.

  • FE blog

    How to add Skydrive to Send to menu

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    With the release of SkyDrive, backing up files to the cloud has become easier than ever. SkyDrive offers 7GB free storage (25 GB free upgrade for loyal users.

    As we all know, SkyDrive is available for Windows. If you have already installed and are using SkyDrive, you probably have noticed that one can easily drag-and-drop a file to a SkyDrive folder to sync file to the account.

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    But if you want to backup a large number of files by transferring files to your account, dragging and dropping files may take quite a while. So, what’s the best way to easily send large number of files to a SkyDrive folder? 

    The best way is to add a SkyDrive shortcut to the Send to menu. By adding a SkyDrive shortcut to the Send to menu, you will be able to send files in a jiffy.

    Procedure:

    Step 1: Navigate to C:\Users\UserName directory (“C” is your Windows installation drive letter and “UserName” is your user account name). Right-click on SkyDrive and select Create Shortcut. 

    Step 2: Open Run dialog box. To do this, simultaneously press Windows + R keys. In the dialog, type shell:sendto and hit enter key to open SendTo folder.

    Add SkyDrive and Google Drive To SendTo Menu

    Step 3: Copy the SkyDrive shortcut that we have created in step 1 to SendTo folder. That’s it! You should now have a SkyDrive shortcut in your SendTo menu. From now onwards, you can simply right-click on file, highlight Send to option and then click SkyDrive to send the selected file to the cloud.   

    The only catch is that when you use the Send to menu to send a file to SkyDrive, the file will be stored in the root folder. In other words, if you want to send a file to the subfolder of SkyDrive, you will need to manually drag-and-drop the file.

    Users who don’t mind adding multiple shortcuts to the Send to menu can add shortcuts of Documents and Public folders to the the menu.

    Originally posted on Into Windows

  • FE blog

    Bing adds hundreds of new venue maps

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    Whether you live in Poland or Spain, Russia or Belgium, or pretty much anywhere in-between, you will now be able to explore your local shopping mall through Bing maps - helping you locate the stores you are looking for, find the closest services and facilities like restrooms and cash machines, and even browse their directories.

    Through Microsoft’s partnership with Nokia, Bing Maps just boosted its Venue Map coverage in the US and internationally expanding the experience to more than 2,700 Venue Maps across the world. This update is primarily focused on shopping malls across North America, Europe, and Asia.

    All new Venue Maps are now available through www.bing.com/maps and, in the US and UK, are also available on Windows Phone Maps (7.5), m.bing.com/maps, and the Bing app for iPhone.

    Simply zoom in over your favourite mall to enter the experience. You can also browse all the available Venue Maps and countries at www.bing.com/maps/venues.

    Here are a few examples:

    Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, Belgium

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    Centro Commerciale Fiordaliso Italy

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    Europe Mall, Russia

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    Eurovea Galleria, Slovakia

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    Factory Getafe, Spain

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    We hope you enjoy the update! Let us know what you think.

    By Chris Pendleton

  • FE blog

    Microsoft unveils the new Office

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    Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer has unveiled the customer preview of the new Microsoft Office, available at office.com/preview. The next release features an intuitive design that works beautifully with touch, stylus, mouse or keyboard across new Windows devices, including tablets. The new Office is social and unlocks modern scenarios in reading, note-taking, meetings and communications and will be delivered to subscribers through a cloud service that is always up to date.

    “We are taking bold steps at Microsoft,” Ballmer said at the press conference in San Francisco. “The new, modern Office will deliver unparalleled productivity and flexibility for both consumers and business customers. It is a cloud service and will fully light-up when paired with Windows 8.”

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    Office at Its Best on Windows 8

    • Touch everywhere. Office responds to touch as naturally as it does to keyboard and mouse. Swipe your finger across the screen or pinch and zoom to read your documents and presentations. Author new content and access features with the touch of a finger.

    • Inking. Use a stylus to create content, take notes and access features. Handwrite email responses and convert them automatically to text. Use your stylus as a laser pointer when presenting. Color your content and erase your mistakes with ease.

    • New Windows 8 applications. OneNote and Lync represent the first new Windows 8 style applications for Office. These applications are designed to deliver touch-first experiences on a tablet. A new radial menu in OneNote makes it easy to access features with your finger.

    • Included in Windows RT. Office Home and Student 2013 RT, which contains new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote applications, will be included on ARM-based Windows 8 devices, including Microsoft Surface.

    Office Is in the Cloud

    • SkyDrive. Office saves documents to SkyDrive by default, so your content is always available across your tablet, PC and phone. Your documents are also available offline and sync when you reconnect.

    • Roaming. Once signed in to Office, your personalized settings, including your most recently used files, templates and even your custom dictionary, roam with you across virtually all of your devices. Office even remembers where you last left off and brings you right back to that spot in a single click.

    • Office on Demand. With a subscription, you can access Office even when you are away from your PC by streaming full-featured applications to an Internet-connected Windows-based PC.

    • New subscription services. The new Office is available as a cloud-based subscription service. As subscribers, consumers automatically get future upgrades in addition to exciting cloud services including Skype world minutes and extra SkyDrive storage. Subscribers receive multiple installs for everyone in the family and across their devices.

    Office Is Social

    • Yammer. Yammer delivers a secure, private social network for businesses. You can sign up for free and begin using social networking instantly. Yammer offers integration with SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics.

    • Stay connected. Follow people, teams, documents and sites in SharePoint. View and embed pictures, videos and Office content in your activity feeds to stay current and update your colleagues.

    • People Card. Have an integrated view of your contacts everywhere in Office. The People Card includes presence information complete with pictures, status updates, contact information and activity feeds from Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.

    • Skype. The new Office comes with Skype. When you subscribe, you get 60 minutes of Skype world minutes every month. Integrate Skype contacts into Lync and call or instant message anyone on Skype.

    Office Unlocks New Scenarios

    • Digital note-taking. Keep your notes handy in the cloud and across multiple devices with OneNote. Use what feels most natural to you — take notes with touch, pen or keyboard, or use them together and switch easily back and forth.

    • Reading and markup. The Read Mode in Word provides a modern and easy-to-navigate reading experience that automatically adjusts for large and small screens. Zoom in and out of content, stream videos within documents, view revision marks and use touch to turn pages.

    • Meetings. PowerPoint features a new Presenter View that privately shows your current and upcoming slides, presentation time, and speaker notes in a single glance. While presenting, you can zoom, mark up and navigate your slides with touch and stylus. Lync includes multiparty HD video with presentations, shared OneNote notebooks and a virtual whiteboard for collaborative brainstorming.

    • Eighty-two-inch touch-enabled displays. Conduct more engaging meetings, presentations and lessons, whether in person or virtually, with these multitouch and stylus-enabled displays from Perceptive Pixel.

    While the full lineup of offerings and pricing plans will be announced in the fall, Ballmer discussed three new Office 365 subscription services. When available, each new subscription offer will include the new 2013 editions of the Office applications — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access. In addition, subscribers will receive future rights to version upgrades as well as per-use rights across up to five PCs or Macs and mobile devices. The three new editions will be the following:

    • Office 365 Home Premium — designed for families and consumers. This service also includes an additional 20 GB of SkyDrive storage and 60 minutes of Skype world minutes per month.

    • Office 365 Small Business Premium — designed for small businesses. This service also includes business-grade email, shared calendars, website tools and HD webconferencing.

    • Office 365 ProPlus — designed for enterprise customers who want advanced business capabilities and the flexibility to deploy and manage in the cloud.

    The customer preview is available at office.com/preview.