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November, 2012

  • FE blog

    Azure IT Pro Camp (Free 1 day training event)


    This is a Microsoft delivered training day, hosted by Salford Software in Manchester on Monday 10th December 2012.

    It’s a technical hands on introduction to some of the IaaS Cloud Services that Microsoft is now offering to Academic organisations.



    The camp will be led by an Azure specialist and is aimed at the IT Professional. On it you will build and deploy an entire SharePoint infrastructure with a dual-machine server-farm, Active Directory Domain Controller and SQL Server. On the road to that infrastructure you will create a dual-server, load-balanced IIS website, a WIndows Azure Virtual Network in to which you will deploy the Active Directory Domain plus all the member servers (SQL and SharePoint) and you’ll also learn how to generalise your images and add them to your library of images to make future deployment simpler.

    All running in the Cloud!

    You will walk away with a complete – Cloud based – service that you will be able to continue to use, further develop and show colleagues following the camp.

    Please register at the site below:



    Windows Azure IT Pro Camp



    09:00 – 09:30


    09:30 – 10:00

    The Windows Azure Platform

    10:00 – 10:30

    Windows Azure Virtual Machines

    10:30 – 10:45


    10:45 – 11:15

    Lab: Windows Azure Virtual Machines

    11:15 – 11:45

    Windows Azure Virtual Networks

    11:45 – 12:15

    Lab: Windows Azure Virtual Networks

    12:15 – 12:45


    12:45 – 13:15

    Active Directory in the Cloud: Windows Azure Active Directory, Running a DC in Windows Azure


    Lab: Running an Active Directory Domain Controller in Windows Azure

    14:15 – 15:00

    SQL Server and Sharepoint in the Cloud

    15:00 – 15:15


    15:15 – 16:45

    Lab: Running a complete infrastructure in the cloud (Sharepoint, SQL Server, Active Directory)


    Wrap-up and Review

    You will need a working Windows Azure subscription and you need to have applied for and successfully been granted access to:

    § Windows Azure Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks – for the IT Pro camp.

    There is a video that describes how to apply for these features here.

    Any working subscription is suitable; paid or free.

    You can get a free trial subscription. This grants you access to certain resources free for 90 days. You will need a Windows Live ID and a Credit Card to register. The spending limit on the free trial account is set at £0.00. When the free trial period of 90 days has passed you will be asked if you’d like to remove the spending limit and from that point on treat it as a standard paid subscription.

    If you use more than the free allocation of resources in a month, you will also be asked if you’d like to remove the spending limit. There is no perpetually free subscription available for Windows Azure. There are also free trial subscriptions available to certain MSDN subscribers, BizSpark partners and MPN members.

    Details of the free trial accounts are here:

    IT Pro camp pre-requisites

    As an IT Pro who uses a laptop, you’ll almost certainly have the required software already installed. You will need:

    • A working Windows Azure subscription – see details above. You need to have successfully applied and been granted access to the Windows Azure Virtual Machines preview.
    • A wireless-enabled 64-bit laptop with Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 8 RTM. The camp is written with Windows Vista/Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 R2 users in mind. If you are using Windows 8 there will be variations in the way the UI is described.
    • Bring the power supply: you will be using the laptop all day.
    • A basic knowledge of the Windows infrastructure stack (Windows, Windows Server, Active Directory, Web, Security, SQL Server etc) to the level required by an IT Pro.
    • Perform the following software setup:

    1. Log in to an account that has full administrative privileges on the 64-bit machine. This is the account you will do the machine setup from and also the lab-work. It’s essential to ensure you use the same administrative account for both setup and lab-work to avoid permissions problems. By far the biggest problems on this bootcamp are to do with permission problems on machine setup.

    2. Install the Windows Azure Powershell Cmdlets by following the instructions on this page:


    Frequently Asked Questions

    How much do I need to know about Windows Azure to attend this Camp?

    You don’t need any prior experience or knowledge about Windows Azure to attend this Camp. The purpose of the event is to provide you with the basic skills and knowledge to get started with learning about Windows Azure.

    Who can attend the Camps?

    Students, developers, technologists, IT Pros, architects, hobbyist, technology enthusiasts. Everyone is welcome! All we ask is that you are ready and keen to learn about Windows Azure.

    How much does it cost to attend this Camp?

    Your luck’s in – it’s free.

    What do I need to prepare in advance to make the most of the Camp?

    There are a basic set of things you should prepare before attending the Camp, listed above. Please make sure you are prepared so you can make the most of your day at the Camp.

    What if I have registered already and cannot make it on the day?

    Please let us know as soon as you can if you can’t make the camp as there’ll be plenty of people who are keen to take your spot. Please respect the trainers and your fellow delegates by turning up if you have registered and committed. Thanks!

  • FE blog

    Free Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 Hands on Labs with Tech Showcase


    Are you interested in learning more about the latest technologies from Microsoft like Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8? 


    Microsoft Learning Partners across the UK are running a full range of free first look clinics across the country covering:

    • Windows Server 2012
    • Windows 8
    • SQL Server 2012
    • Visual Studio 2012
    • Exchange Server 2013
    • SharePoint 2013
    • Lync 2013

    These sessions are run by expert Microsoft Certified Trainers who will help you explore and discover the new technologies and help you lead the way in your institution. Click here to find an event near you and book a seat.

  • FE blog

    Windows 8 Volume Licensing


    With Windows 8 now officially on the market, you might have some questions about licensing for your school, college or university.

    Whether you want to upgrade your PCs to Windows 8, gain access to exclusive offerings such as Windows 8 Enterprise edition and the Microsoft Desktop Optimisation Pack, or use Windows with greater flexibility, there is a Microsoft Volume Licensing solution that is right for your education institution.

    There are many benefits to volume licensing for your institution including cost savings and flexibility.


    To find out all you need to know about Windows 8 volume licensing, such as qualifying operating systems and a buyers guide, visit the website.

  • FE blog

    Creating a more flexible IT environment - Cranfield University


    Cranfield University, a postgraduate institution, needed to provide its staff and students with a technology environment with the safety of knowing that server platforms could be installed without the worry of licensing them. The University invested in a Microsoft Enterprise Server Platform Agreement (ESPA), which saved them over £30,000 and provided the flexibility they were looking for.


    Cranfield University, set on two campuses in Bedfordshire (Cranfield) and Wiltshire (Shrivenham), is a wholly postgraduate institution catering for those wishing to enrol on Masters’, Doctorate and professional development programmes. Cranfield serves around 2,600 full time students, with an additional 2,000 studying part-time. With expertise in aerospace, automotive, defence, energy, environment, health, management, manufacturing and security, Cranfield rely on their technology being reliable and flexible to their needs.

    Like so many other academic establishments across the UK, Cranfield are constantly battling to drive down costs yet still deliver to a high standard. The University felt that they may be able to alter their IT infrastructure in order to achieve the target of lower costs, but were wary that any large changes to their current technologies may adversely impact their ability to deliver in the way they wanted.

    Cranfield’s IT department realised that, when building new academic applications in Microsoft SQL Server, they were paying out to license each of them individually, which was often expensive. They found that this was not only uneconomical, but it also did not provide them with the flexibility they were looking for.


    Having been a Microsoft SQL Server user, Cranfield were aware of the capabilities which Microsoft products could offer.  They therefore approached a number of Microsoft partners, including Pugh and Civica, to see what new licensing options they may be able to adopt as they felt that ‘Microsoft are known products, and that’s what people expect to use.’

    Mike Young at Pugh’s clear communication of the options to the University allowed them to discover ESPA, an agreement developed by Microsoft which enables new server platforms to be installed in the safety of knowing that they do not need to be separately licensed. The fixed cost of ESPA meant that Cranfield paid a one-off cost up-front and didn’t need to worry about budgeting for any additional costs associated with new requirements throughout the year, whilst also allowing the numerous faculties to develop their own server platforms as and when desired.

    ESPA not only gave Cranfield the flexibility that they were looking for, but also saved over £30,000, whilst maintaining their capability to deliver.

    For more information please contact educationuk@microsoft.com

  • FE blog

    Help Boost Student Employability with Microsoft IT Academy


    Guest post by Anthony Nneke

    Microsoft IT Academy is our Membership Program that provides Institutions with discounted curriculum learning resources and exams. IT Academy helps Institutions deliver Microsoft Qualifications to their IT Staff, Teachers and Students respectively. The Microsoft IT Academy Curriculum offers today’s students the hands on skills and experience that they will need to succeed in their education and their careers. With Microsoft Certification, students can validate those skills and pursue a career path in business or technology.


    Did you know that you can add IT Academy to your current Volume Licensing Agreement e.g. EES, OVS-ES, and School Agreements, at a special discounted rate?

    IT Academy program members receive attractive price reductions on Microsoft certification exams aimed at enabling skills development and certification for their students and staff.

    As part of the IT Academy Program subscription, members receive free Digital MOAC Courseware from Wiley on Office and MTA curriculum, Free Teachers Certification Starter Kits (10 MOS, 20 MTA) New Welcome packs with USB keys, posters etc and enhanced ELearning and EReference Libraries, including Office 365 and Windows 8 content and more…

    Microsoft Certification Road Map


    The Microsoft Certification Roadmap is designed to help members choose their certification and career path. It provides a guide to Microsoft certifications in the following areas:

    · MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist) an industry recognised qualification that enables students to tap the full functionality of the Microsoft Office programs and ensure students leave with skills that will increase their employment opportunities.

    · MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate) for students looking for a career in technology, the MTA certification validates core technology concepts in infrastructure, database and development.

    (MTA exams and classroom content are included as benefits within the Microsoft IT Academy program subscription)

    · MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional) supports the IT Staff professional development and goes toward their CPD points.

    As an IT Academy Program member, you are entitled to a variety of resources that can help you save time.

    · Customisable lesson plans
    Downloadable and customisable lesson plans help you save time on class preparation and hone in on which topics are most important for a given technology.

    · Tool to create online courses
    The Microsoft Learning Content Development System (LCDS) is a complimentary tool that enables you to create high-quality, interactive, online courses and Microsoft Silverlight Learning Snacks.

    · Course completion certificates
    Access to a customisable course completion certificate. Just download the certificate, add your school logo, insert the course and student information, then print and distribute. Course completion certificates are a great way to recognize the achievement of students that take and pass your course.

    · Marketing resources to promote your IT Academy
    Unlimited access to marketing materials to promote your IT Academy and special offers within the program.

    · Digital Literacy course
    Online courses to help you and students develop a fundamental understanding of computers and the essential skills you need to begin computing with confidence.

    As an IT Academy member, you are also entitled to academic pricing on a variety of materials that help you teach and get certified.

    · Academic pricing on Microsoft Official Curriculum
    Advanced-level members receive academic pricing on Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) textbooks, designed for three- to five-day courses, seminars, and workshops.

    · Academic pricing on Microsoft Official Academic Courseware
    All members receive academic pricing on Microsoft Official Academic Course (MOAC) textbooks, designed for semester- and quarter-based courses.

    · Academic pricing on Microsoft Technical Certification exams
    All members receive academic pricing on Microsoft Certification exams for students, educators, and other staff members.

    · Discounts on E-Reference Library subscriptions from Microsoft Press
    All members receive a 60 percent discount on annual subscriptions to the Full E-Reference Library, which is the complete collection of E-Reference Libraries for Microsoft Press.

    · Discounts on Microsoft Certified Trainer memberships
    All members receive a 25 percent discount on enrollments in the Microsoft Certified Trainer program for qualified educators.

    IT Academy is a great example for Institutions to showcase their commitment to their Student Learning, by enabling the institution to be a certified Microsoft IT Academy Centre that up skills their IT staff and supports their Teacher learning plans and empowers students to boost their employability potential.

    For Further Information on how to sign up for IT Academy please contact the Education Team at educationuk@microsoft.com or alternatively contact your reseller.

  • FE blog

    Exciting New Challenges for University College Falmouth


    Case study provided by Crimson

    University College Falmouth is embarking on an ambitious implementation of Microsoft Dynamics 2011, starting with core business to business processes and marketing activities and eventually providing an holistic approach to the overall requirements of the institution.

    The first phase of the project is being sponsored by Dr Jeremy Richards Head of Innovation, and will deliver a solution to manage business relationships for University College Falmouth’s new Academy for Innovation & Research (AIR) – a European Regional Development Fund supported project to stimulate innovation in the Cornish Economy. Dr

    Jeremy Richards says “This CRM system will enhance substantially our ability to manage relationships with the business community and improve the effectiveness of our communications.” The second phase of the project sponsored by Jeremy Whitaker, Director of Marketing & Student Recruitment, will initially focus on event management, including open days, exhibitions and performances and will then move on to deliver a solution to enhance and support the fundraising and alumni strategies. Jeremy Whitaker says “The focus of this project is to deliver efficiencies in core processes and most importantly to improve the visibility of relationships across the institution’’.


    Sharepoint 2010 to Integrate to CRM 2011

    As part of this exciting project UCF will also be looking to Crimson to provide consultative support on a cross University implementation of SharePoint 2010 for a number of key functions, including document management and a number of key internal staff intranets and portals. The integration of the two core products and Crimsons extensive knowledge of both solutions will be hugely beneficial in terms of functional delivery and budgetary control.

  • FE blog

    Khan Academy is in the Windows Store


    Originally posted on the Next at Microsoft Blog.



    A great addition to the Windows Store last week – the official Khan Academy app. For those not familiar with the Khan Academy, it’s an online phenomena that enables you to learn almost anything. For free. It's the focus on a story on Forbes.com titled One Man, One Computer, 10 Million Students: How Khan Academy Is Reinventing Education that notes Khan Academy videos have been viewed more than 200 million times int the past two years.

    The Windows 8 app includes the Khan Academy’s complete library of over 3,400 videos covering a huge number of topics, including K-12 math, biology, chemistry, and physics, the humanities, finance and history. To quote from the app itself

    Spend an afternoon brushing up on statistics. Discover how the Krebs cycle works. Learn about the fundamentals of computer science. Prepare for that upcoming SAT. Or, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, learn how fire stick farming changed the landscape of Australia.

    It doesn't matter if you are a student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology; Khan Academy's materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge.
    Head over to khanacademy.org to learn more.

    The app allows you to download videos – either individual or entire playlists to watch offline and integrates with the search and share charm as you may expect.

    Bill Gates is a big fan so what’s not to like? Go grab it.

  • FE blog

    Microsoft in Education: Infographic (updated)


    The final version of our Microsoft in Education Infographic is now available to download or view in full below.

    From helping teachers to connect and share best practice with peers to creating more emotional connections with learning through our gaming technologies, Microsoft is committed to helping students and educators throughout the world realise their full potential.

    With this in mind, our new Infographic offers an overview of some of the products and programmes that academic institutions are embracing to help raise attainment and transform the delivery of teaching and learning.

    Did you know all of the 8 things about Microsoft in education covered in the Infographic? Let us know in the comments below.

  • FE blog

    Surface reviews from IT education staff



    Following the recent release of Microsoft Surface, we were really keen to find out how Surface is working out in an education environment. We interviewed Ian Mills from Bolton Metropolitan Council and Mike Richardson from Stockton Borough Council. Both these guys work in local authority roles that support schools with the use of IT. Here’s what they said about using the Surface device:


    Surface is a really easy out of the box tablet, the manual is tiny manual and its simple to set up and start using. I was really impressed with the touch interface, having used an iPad in the past, I felt the Surface touch element was really good.

    I have other Windows 8 devices including a home laptop and a work laptop. I love the way that Windows 8 brings all those devices together. I really like the remote desktop app, so I was able to use Surface as a primary device. I am working on Surface now in place of my laptop – I haven’t used my laptop for days! Initially  I was concerned about not having Outlook, but the Mail app allows me to do everything I want across all my email accounts.

    I’ve had some interesting feedback from schools too. The kickstand has been very popular because it means that the pupils don’t have to hunch over the device like they did for the iPad, which was causing their posture to suffer. The kickstand is also robust so it’s perfect for schools.

    Microsoft Office on Surface is a huge advantage for teachers and pupils, as it allows them to easily create all the documents they need to. The battery life was also brilliant, lasting for the whole school day.

    I actually gave my Granddad a Surface and a Kindle Fire to play with, to see which would be more suitable for him as a Christmas present. He couldn’t understand how to use the Kindle at first, but he was able to start surfing the web immediately with the Surface device.


    One of my favourite features of Surface included the ability to print. I connected to my wireless HP printer at home immediately for really quick and easy printing. I also liked the multi-tasking option to ‘’snap’’ to multiple apps running simultaneously to the screen.

    Something else I liked that will be key for schools is the flexibility, particularly with the saving to areas. The ability to save work on a school network or Skydrive will be great for schools.

    I was able to run my wireless mouse and keyboard straight away using the USB which was really impressive. This will give different working style options for schools, as well as the touch screen option. The solid design of the tablet and the kickstand is also absolutely ideal for the school environment.

    I think that OneNote is excellent for the classroom, and I really liked the Skype app too.

    I gave Surface to a 6 year old, and she was able to access all the apps and games easily and said the Surface was her favourite device.

    Another big deal for schools is the ability to use Flash sites. This means there are hundreds of playable games that can be accessed from Surface. Some sites do need to be ‘’whitelisted’’ by the IE team for them to work though, but most games are easily accessible.

    The start screen is something else I really love, it’s so simple but displays so much information on the front screen. I like the information that is fed to you from the LiveTiles, which has encouraged me to look further into the live information being displayed on the tiles.

    I think overall Surface has a fresh design and the wow factor.  


    Both Mike and Ian interact with schools on a daily basis regarding IT and so they really understand the benefits that Surface RT can bring to Education.  They also mentioned that they are really looking forward to Windows 8 Surface.

  • FE blog

    Skype for Windows Phone 8


    It's been an exciting few weeks for the team at Skype. We've launched our new fast, easy-to-use and beautiful Skype for Windows 8, and updated Skype for Windows desktop which features the beautiful and modern design Windows Phone users have come to love while, like Skype for Windows 8, delivering the best of what you've come to expect from Skype.

    Skype for Windows Phone 8 isn't just about the design - we've built a completely new app from the ground up to be an important part of the Windows Phone experience. Here's a preview of some of the exciting capabilities coming with Skype for Windows Phone 8:

    Always Reachable
    Just like on Windows 8, Skype for Windows Phone 8 enables you to receive chats and notifications for voice and video calls even if you've navigated away to another app or have your phone on lock, so you can stay connected with your contacts whatever you're doing. Best of all, this all happens with limited battery drain.

    For the first time, incoming Skype calls arrive using the familiar incoming call screen from Windows Phone. We have also included useful new features such as call waiting, so switching between a Skype call and a regular mobile call is fast and easy.

    Skype call.png

    We've set out to bring Skype to Windows Phone 8 with a clean, beautiful and modern interface. When you first open the app, your most recent conversations and chats are the first thing you'll see. From there, you can pan over to your contact list or the newly added Favorites screen (more about that below) or see your entire contact list.

    home screen.png

    Windows Phone 8 has allowed us to bring new, resizable Live Tiles to Skype, so you have even more choices for making Skype a part of your Start Screen. On Windows Phone 8, Skype will show a count of your unread messages on all tile sizes - and with the largest size tile we show you a preview of the last message you received. The Live Tiles will help you to stay in touch with your friends and family, faster and easier than ever.

    windows phone screens.jpg

    You will now be able to see what's going on inside Skype without being in the app. Skype notifications can be added to the lock screen to appear alongside missed calls, unread emails and text fmessages, so there's no need to unlock your phone to check if you've missed a message or call in Skype. You can also see Skype notifications at the top of the screen when you're in other apps, so keeping up with the conversation has never been easier.

    windows phone screens 2.jpg

    Your People At Your Fingertips
    Just like Windows 8, once you sign in to Skype on your phone, your Skype contacts are automatically added to your Windows Phone, making it possible to call the people who matter to you via Skype right from the People Hub.


    Once you're in the app, you can set up Favorites to keep the most important people right at your fingertips.


    And finally, just like on Windows and Mac, if you have linked your Skype Name and Microsoft account, you can now see and chat with your Messenger buddies on Skype, making it possible for you to connect with more people than ever. And with the family of platforms Skype is available on, including PCs, iPhones, iPads, Kindles, Androids, Macs and even TVs, doing things with your friends and family whenever you are apart has never been easier.

    windows phone screens 3.jpg

    We're hard at work finishing up Skype for Windows Phone 8 and looking forward to bringing Skype to the Windows Phone Store soon.

    To get the latest Skype news and tips about how to make your experience with Skype better than ever, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, or join us on the Skype Support Network.

    Originally posted on the Skype blog.

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