Guest post By Alan Richards, Senior Consultant at Foundation SP and SharePoint MVP.
This time last year the computing worlds view of Microsoft Windows changed forever, Windows 8 changed the way we interact with not only our PC’s but also our laptops, phones and tablet devices. Windows 8 was not only a new operating system for your PC but it was also a new way of working, a single consistent interface across all your Windows based devices with the ability to have all your settings, document, images & videos accessible from any Windows device you logged onto.
Now that was the really cool bit, suddenly all my Windows devices were personal to me, I took a photo on my Windows phone and it was immediately available on all my other devices, no more emailing it to myself. This was just cool, no other description for it.
So a year on, everything has settled down and the release of Windows 8.1 has been and gone, have you made the move yet? Perhaps, it’s now time you took that step and upgrade all your devices to Windows 8. Let’s look at your options in three distinct areas; hardware requirements, ways to upgrade & licensing
The hardware requirements for Windows 8 varies depending on what device you want to run it on; do you want touch, do you want game level graphics or do you simply want a device to get some work done.
The basic hardware requirements are very reasonable, in fact if you have a device that runs Windows 7 it will quite easily run Windows 8.
The table below shows the system requirements for Windows 7 & 8
If you still have Windows XP and are looking to upgrade you may very well need to buy a new Windows 8 device, of which there are numerous choices as you can see from the images scattered around this article. From normal PC’s & laptops to convertible devices, from tablet devices to all in one computers.
So you are going to take the plunge and get your new view on the world, personalise your device experience and why not, upgrading is easy. Let’s look at the options; if you are simply upgrading your personal device then you can simply get an anytime upgrade if you have a compatible current Windows OS, or you could go out and buy the DVD and install it on to your device. If you want to check in advance then why not use the Windows 8 upgrade advisor, a nifty little tool supplied by Microsoft, check out the page here
If you are a large organisation then you have a few more choices because, let’s face it, running around 100’s of devices with a DVD is not really an option.
This one is a bit like a DVD install but you upload the contents of your volume licensed Windows 8 media and do an in place upgrade of your current version of Windows, assuming of course that your current version has a direct upgrade path (use the upgrade advisor to find out) Only really any good for a small number of devices, I really wouldn’t recommend this for 100’s of devices.
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit
This toolkit brings together various pieces of software such as the Windows Automated Installation to provide a system which can capture and deploy images of Windows to both bare bones devices & devices that already have a Windows installation. The toolkit is downloadable from Microsoft for free using this link.
Install it onto a server with Windows Deployment Services and you have a system from which you can create base devices, sysprep them, capture the image over the network and then deploy the image to multiples of devices.
The toolkit also has the ability to preload drivers to ensure the Windows installation goes without a hitch, all you need is the driver software to load up to the management interface of the toolkit.
All of the deployment options are configured using scripts which you can adjust to meet your needs. You can have a deployment that asks the end user all the usual installation questions right the way up to a completely zero touch installation.
This beast of a piece of software is the installation gold standard. In essence it gives you the same functionality as the Deployment Toolkit in that you can capture & deploy images and do it all using scripts. However the big difference is the functionality and control you have over the installation. System Center gives you so much more, allowing you to send packages to the machines once they are installed. Automating the installation of applications & service packs, allowing you to view the hardware of devices, check upgrade statuses.
If you are licensed for its use then System Center should be your choice for full control over your devices.
Unfortunately something this good doesn’t come free but Microsoft licensing makes it fairly simple to get your hands on Windows 8. How you license your copy of Windows will depend on your personal circumstances; individual, business or education.
For individuals you can purchase an upgrade version of Windows 8 as long as you are currently using a licensed version of a previous version of Windows. If you currently don’t use Windows or are using a version that doesn’t fulfil the upgrade requirements you will need to purchase the full versions from an IT store.
Businesses & education have a multitude of ways to purchase Windows 8, you can purchase the full version or upgrade in the same way that individuals can, however, they can also use their current licensing arrangements to purchase their upgrade to Windows 8. Volume licensing with software assurance allows you access to the latest software for your organisation and so upgrading to Windows 8 is as simple as checking your hardware meets the requirements and then downloading the install package. Do remember though that software assurance only allows you to install an upgrade version of Windows and so the device you are installing it to must already have a fully licensed previous version of Windows.
Windows 8.1 has now been released, so we should look at the licensing arrangements around the latest upgrade. Well the simple answer is - its free!!
If you are a personal user already running Windows 8, then simply update your device to the latest Windows 8.1 version.
If you are a business or education customer who buys copies of windows outright then the same process applies as per an individual user however if you have a volume licensing agreement with software assurance you can download the Windows 8.1 upgrade to install as an ISO onto your devices, remembering of course that they must have a fully licensed copy of a previous version of windows.
Windows 8 is new, it’s different, and it’s personal. Now all your files and settings follow you from device to device. There are also plenty of new devices ready to take advantage of the greatest features of Windows 8. However with the reasonable hardware specifications it’s easy for you to use your current device and upgrade to Windows 8 using any of the easy to access licensing methods, whether that’s as an individual, business or education.
So in summary, go out and get rid of that old version of Windows and upgrade to Windows 8 and open up a new view in your world.
Over the next 12 months the Tablet Academy will be supporting Microsoft and a number of Windows 8 resellers to identify the needs of teachers in the classrooms in order to supply training and support, specific to Windows 8 tablets. With 40,000 surface tablets being deployed in schools across the UK over the next few months, the Tablet Academy will be there to support both the teachers and pupils of the schools.
We are really excited about the opportunities of shared knowledge and experience that this relationship will bring across our network of schools/colleges and universities. We’ll be sharing our technology integration stories with you over the next few months, so please do look out for these here as well as on our Facebook and Twitter channels.
In an interview when explaining why the Tablet Academy was formed Professor Molyneux said:
"One of the issues with technology particularly by teachers in the classroom is fear. Fear that the technology will let them down and fear that their skills are no match for those of their pupils. Teachers have to feel comfortable, confident and competent in using technology in a teaching role before any true transformation can take place. We have never given these skills and confidence to teachers in the past. We put PC's in the classroom or laptops in their hands and tried to teach them the technology. In essence, we tried to turn Science teachers, History teachers and English teachers into IT experts. We never trained them in how to mould the technology to meet their needs in the classroom and potentially look at now pedagogic models. The aim of the Tablet Academy is to rectify this situation by not only providing teachers with the necessary competencies but also exploring with them new pedagogic and didactic models that can by achieved using technology in and out of the classroom."
"One of the issues with technology particularly by teachers in the classroom is fear. Fear that the technology will let them down and fear that their skills are no match for those of their pupils. Teachers have to feel comfortable, confident and competent in using technology in a teaching role before any true transformation can take place.
We have never given these skills and confidence to teachers in the past. We put PC's in the classroom or laptops in their hands and tried to teach them the technology. In essence, we tried to turn Science teachers, History teachers and English teachers into IT experts. We never trained them in how to mould the technology to meet their needs in the classroom and potentially look at now pedagogic models. The aim of the Tablet Academy is to rectify this situation by not only providing teachers with the necessary competencies but also exploring with them new pedagogic and didactic models that can by achieved using technology in and out of the classroom."
The Tablet Academy was formerly recognised as the iPad Academy until August 2013 when it officially became the Tablet Academy. When asked why they chose to support other tablets and mobile devices Mark Yorke the Managing Director replied:
"Teaching and learning with tablets or any mobile devices is about enhancing current teaching practice by introducing technology when needed to help increase engagement or attainment. It's not about the technology becoming the focus of the lesson; it's about the pedagogy. We recognise that iPads have a market lead, but as good as they are in the hands of an individual child, we have found that the IOS Ecosystem does create a number challenges for schools in terms of data management, compatibility, workflow and integration. In short the iPad is not the right solution for everyone in the same way that some people prefer Biros to write with whilst other prefer fountain pens. This is why as an organisation who focus their training on teaching we will remain device agnostic so we can support schools regardless of the tablets they choose." "There's a feeling in schools that Apple's dominance regarding tablets in schools is coming to an end as many schools are waiting to get their hands on the range of Windows 8 tablets emerging this Autumn. We have found that each school is different with different needs and challenges - there is no 'one solution fits all' solution and we want to be there to independently support schools through the decision making and implementation process."
"Teaching and learning with tablets or any mobile devices is about enhancing current teaching practice by introducing technology when needed to help increase engagement or attainment. It's not about the technology becoming the focus of the lesson; it's about the pedagogy. We recognise that iPads have a market lead, but as good as they are in the hands of an individual child, we have found that the IOS Ecosystem does create a number challenges for schools in terms of data management, compatibility, workflow and integration. In short the iPad is not the right solution for everyone in the same way that some people prefer Biros to write with whilst other prefer fountain pens. This is why as an organisation who focus their training on teaching we will remain device agnostic so we can support schools regardless of the tablets they choose."
"There's a feeling in schools that Apple's dominance regarding tablets in schools is coming to an end as many schools are waiting to get their hands on the range of Windows 8 tablets emerging this Autumn. We have found that each school is different with different needs and challenges - there is no 'one solution fits all' solution and we want to be there to independently support schools through the decision making and implementation process."
14 November 2013 – Microsoft, Cardinal Place, London
ASCL and Microsoft are delighted to announce Elizabeth Truss MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare, DfE, as one of our keynote speakers at our conference taking place 14 November in London
This new jointly run conference between Microsoft and ASCL seeks to explore the challenges facing school leaders as they respond to the introduction of computing in to the school curriculum.
Spaces are offered on a first come first served basis, so we do encourage you to sign up quickly if you would like to attend.
Follow this link to reserve your place.
Delegates will have the opportunity to participate in workshops featuring presentations from GCSE pilot schools, the examination boards, training providers and specialists in the field of computing including:
Clare Riley, Group Manager, Education Relations, Microsoft
Simon Peyton-Jones, Chair of the Computing at School Working Group and Principal Researcher at the Microsoft Labs in Cambridge
Peter Kent, ASCL Vice President 2013-14 and Head, Lawrence Sheriff School
Duncan Baldwin, ASCL Deputy Policy Director
Sue Sentance, Senior Lecturer in ICT and Computer Science Education, Anglia Ruskin University
Mark Dorling, Specialist School Link teacher, Langley Grammar School
Derrick McCourt, Director of Government, Public Sector, Microsoft
Should you have any questions about this event, please do give us a call on 0116 2991122.
During the event you can also connect with us via @microsofteduk and during the day you can be part of the conversations using #microsofteduk
If you are interested in becoming a showcase school, please read below for some further details on how you can get involved…
I wanted to advise you of our recent schools program aimed at raising awareness of our services and technologies within education geared towards supporting productivity within the school, classroom and raising attainment with professional development.
Please see link to our UK Microsoft Showcase School Webinar on Thursday November 14th, 4-5 pm discussing how we recognise and help your school convey its great teaching with technology learning story. The webinar will cover a range of our offerings and outline key requirements needed to become a Microsoft Showcase School.
If you are a School Leader, ICT Champion, Head of ICT Curriculum, and are keen to learn what Microsoft Education can offer your school then why not join our free webinar ? We have a range of free services and professional development for classroom teachers and school leaders that will help encourage 21st century design.
To register for the free webinar you simply need to email Anthony Nneke at : firstname.lastname@example.org
At home and in our personal lives, through collaboration of technology available to us, we have the capabilities to organise how our devices and our individual data is managed. For today’s generation of young people, and students in particular, orchestrating the sharing of information between our; smartphones, tablets, laptops and PC’s couldn’t be easier and has almost become a prerequisite when considering the purchase of a new device and how it will interact with everything already owned.
So what happens when students go to college or university. Surely they’ll find the same degree of unified working will have been applied across various academic departments?
This week I had coffee with Jamie Clarke, a young gentleman who has fairly recently finished his further education. He shared his frustration over having had a somewhat chaotic schedule of systems.
Jamie said “The sixth form was being run very much like a corporate company with each department working separately and having their own individual learning platforms”
He went on to share how it created extra work having to log into individual systems and try to mentally collaborate his coursework and class schedules. The systems were designed to function well individually but studying multiple subjects each with demanding workloads meant that there was something missing from the student experience. All of this and paper planners were still being issued alongside the technology that the school had put in place. Jamie was certain there must be a better way.
With a good few years of bedroom coding behind him and a deep interest in the way things work, Jamie decided to create something that he could use on a daily basis to help him manage his studies and his time. He’d began coding at age 13 and developing his skills by playing around with HTML, CSS and PHP. He told me how, as an absolute beginner in mobile app development he found lots of great Windows resources online that could guide him step by step and build his skills and interest in Microsoft technologies. This was one of the fundamental reasons behind his decision to choose a Windows phone platform for his project.
My Study Life was designed so that Jamie could consolidate his range of subject timetables, which included Computing, Physics, Maths and Psychology. In addition to his workloads, deadlines and exam dates. Reminding him of what was upcoming to keep him on track.
He wanted to create a simple, one access point application that would work to facilitate and improve his time management, allowing him to work smarter.
His own use of his personal project and the fact that he was the target audience allowed him to refine and develop the app for its purpose and Jamie quickly realised he may be onto something.
Development of My Study Life started around his classes in October 2010 and was complete by December of the same year. In just 12 months his site had generated a wealth of interest with 40,000 users.
By mid December 2011 the number of users had increased to in excess of 50,000 and Jamie was awarded with a Microsoft student prize for My Study Life in the Windows 7 competition.
I asked Jamie how he feels mobile apps integrate into our daily lives. He went on to describe the time that tablets were first introduced, how many of us were sure they were a luxury we didn’t need but today they are essential to both work and study lives.
He added “Applications were a similar story, but today, people live in apps. They’ve integrated them into their daily lives and can often take them for granted”
I was curious to know as now Jamie isn’t a student, what’s in store for the future of My Study Life and for him. He assured me that My Study Life’s future was secured by Virblue, the company he had founded earlier this year with the help of Angel investment. He also hopes to look into greater compatibility with schools and teachers. Jamie then showed me some of the latest updates of the app now that it has been developed for Windows 8 which include greater scheduling support as well as a complete redesign.
Meeting with Jamie reinforced a number of things in my mind when it comes to education and technology. We can often be spoiled in that we now just have incredible devices that facilitate every aspect of the way we do life. We go to a shop and purchase the latest advancement to technology and soon enough there will be something greater in its place. But thank goodness that we have young people who don’t take this for granted. That take it upon themselves to learn and be able to develop not only for business or mass consumption but to build products with the intent of improving their own lives. I personally feel that empowering students with digital skills such as coding so that they can modify their own tech experience opens incredible opportunities and creates a core foundation for them to develop world changing technology.
Why not check out My Study Life for you or your students at www.mystudylife.com
The Aspire S7 is an ultra-thin, ultra-light premium ultrabook from the folks at Acer. This touch based device comes in white, with a super durable gorilla glass lid, and offers an amazing Windows 8.1 experience for those students, IT pro's and school/college/university leaders looking for a premium device that ticks both the style and performance boxes. This device is definitely not style over substance!
With an i7 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB SSD, this device literally flies through tasks such as researching on the web, video editing, word processing and is well suited for even the most power hungry users.
The touch screen is responsive and is great for taking full advantage of Windows 8.1. Additionally, the high resolution 1080p screen really makes content shine, whether it's a PowerPoint presentation, lines of code within Visual Studio 2013 or movies.
The S7 packs a responsive gesture based track pad that makes swiping across different apps or scrolling through web pages a breeze. The overall responsiveness of the device also translates over to the keyboard and offers a comfortable and accurate typing experience, whether it’s for a 10,000 word dissertation or an SMT report. It may be a little shallow for some people, though.
The battery life on this device is good, but will not get you through an entire day without needing to reach for the charger. I should say, however, that the version of the device that I was testing was not using the new 4th generation i-core Haswell chip from Intel, so you can expect a nice battery boost with the more current version of this device.
From a connectivity perspective, due to the slim line nature of this ultrabook, a range of dongles are required for connecting Ethernet etc, but this is an easy sacrifice for the overall portability of this device and will definitely be keeping users away from the chiropractor for some time.
All in all this is a beautiful and elegant Windows 8 devices that is aimed very much as the premium end of the market. It's clearly not necessarily for primary of secondary age students, but is a highly attractive option for HE students, IT professionals and senior leaders within schools etc who are looking for a device that both performs and really stands out. It is definitely an early entry onto my Christmas list!
Great new video showcasing some of the awesome new features within Windows 8.1 and the wide range of PC’s that they run on.
This video is a great complement to the Windows 8.1 in Education Infographic we shared recently. In case you missed it, the full infographic can be viewed/downloaded below.
Since the recent announcement introducing Student Advantage almost a fortnight ago we’ve been inundated with questions. I’m super excited at the response to the news. As a result, we’d like you to join us for a live Q&A on Student Advantage at midday (GMT) on 31/10 on Twitter.
We’ll be tracking your questions and conversation on all things Student Advantage on the #SAFAQ hashtag. The two accounts to follow are @ukeducloud and @microsofteduk.
We’ll kick off at 12pm, midday, GMT and we’ll be around “live” for an hour. Of course, we’ll answer any questions that come in at any point afterwards as well, just not so quickly!
To make things a bit easier we’ve already published an FAQ that might answer some of your questions, so please check it out!
The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S is a unique hybrid device that can be used as both a tablet and traditional laptop.
With a vibrant orange colour scheme that really helps make the device stand out, the Yoga 11S offers 4 orientations that provides an ultraportable full Windows 8 experience. With the ability to easily go from a traditional laptop to tent, kiosk and tablet mode, the Yoga 11S is great for group work, writing dissertations or sitting back and watching movies. This device is, in my opinion, a perfect single device for students and educators alike.
More specifically, the high resolution screen is ideally suited for reading eBooks and viewing online lectures, and with 4GB RAM under the hood, the Yoga 11S doesn't lose a step when running multiple applications at once or performing resource intensive tasks such as video editing. That being said, a 1080p screen would be an exciting addition to the next iteration of the device.
The keyboard is both well laid out and responsive and rather cleverly disables itself when the screen is flipped over into tablet mode. It is a little strange at first, though, when you can feel the keys while holding the device in this mode.
The overall finish of the device is very high quality and Lenovo have really focused on the detail. The feel of the device in the hand is solid and well-built and is definitely durable enough for the demands of student life or for educators travelling from class to class or different locations across campus.
Furthermore, as a full Windows 8 machine, the 11S runs both Windows Store and X86 applications, such as Photoshop and Visual Studio 2013, which helps provide a no compromise experience that makes the most of both touch and keyboard and mouse.
This is an elegant device and definitely caught the eye of the marketing intern within our team who said that this would be her ideal device for when she goes back to university for her final year. I had better keep an eye on it ;)
Originally posted by Lee Stott on Microsoft UK Faculty Connection
What is Azure Tracker?
Azure Tracker is a tool designed primarily with faculty and educators of students with Azure Educator grants. The tool allows users to manage and monitor student use to help optimize Windows Azure in their classroom.
What can I do on Azure Tracker?
The various sections of Azure Tracker are designed to help support the use of Windows Azure in the classroom.
Accounts provides a consolidated view of all accounts in the course, allowing users to track the status of all accounts under their control.
Sessions are individual sections (i.e., groups and classes) associated with Azure courses under an instructor. Sessions are customizable, so they can be managed in a way to segment students in the manner that best fits the instructors needs.
Usage allows for tracking and reporting across multiple services, resources, and user groups.
Feedback is a way for us to connect with you to help optimize the site from a user perspective. Send an email directly, participate in periodic surveys, and submit a case study are all ways we seek your input in order to optimize your and your students Windows Azure experience.
Getting Access to Azure Tracker Portal
You must login using your Microsoft ID (LiveID) which your Academic Passes have been granted against.
Azure Tracker Portal Site is : http://tracker.windowsazurepass.com.
· Having trouble with Microsoft Azure, contact Azure Support at http://www.windowsazure.com/support and sign in
· Need help migrating to a paid subscription, please contact www.windowsazurepass.com/convert/default.aspx
· Have a question related to your Azure Pass subscription or Azure Tracker, please contact Azure Pass Support directly at email@example.com
· Interested in finding more information about Azure Academic Passes see http://www.windowsazure.com/education
· Windows Azure and Cloud Curriculum resources see http://www.microsoft.com/faculty
Originally posted by Lee Stott, Microsoft UK Faculty Connection
DreamSpark subscribers can download Visual Studio FREE of Charge from either their Institutional DreamSpark ELMS store or direct from DreamSpark.com.
Visual Studio 2013 is the best tool for developers and teams to build and deliver modern, connected applications on all of Microsoft’s platforms. From Windows Azure and SQL Server to Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8, Visual Studio 2013 supports the breadth of Microsoft’s developer platforms.
As part of the Cloud OS vision, Visual Studio 2013 enables developers to build modern business applications that take advantage of the cloud and target a variety of devices and end-user experiences, all delivered within today’s rapid and dynamic application lifecycles.
Accessing Visual Studio 2013 via DreamSpark.com
When student download and install Visual Studio 2013 from DreamSpark.com, they will receive a static key to complete the installation. The key simply means the students do not have register or reregister the product every 90 days are per the RTM version..
For administrators and IT technicians the DreamSpark institutional ELMS Store contains a copy of Visual Studio 2013 with a Pre-Keyed serial number this version can be used to install on institution teaching and learning lab machines either manually or via a managed desktop image.
Visual Studio and Cloud services
When the student/institutions have installed Visual Studio 2013 on premise, they will get prompted to go an connect online to use online features of Visual Studio a Windows Live ID or Microsoft Account is required. If a student signs in with their WLID this will save there solutions to the cloud.
What are the new features?
There are great new features and capabilities in Visual Studio 2013 for every developer, including innovative editor enhancements such as Peek and CodeLens, diagnostics tools for UI responsiveness and energy consumption, major updates for ASP.NET web development, expanded ALM capabilities with Git support and agile portfolio management, and much, much more. Check out what’s new with Visual Studio 2013 for details.
Want to know more about Visual Studio 2013
Visual Studio 2013 launch on November 13th at the launch event the Visual Studio team will be highlighting the array of new features and capabilities in the Visual Studio 2013 release.
Visual Studio 2013 supports development of great Windows Store applications for Windows 8.1, which is also available for download today FREE of charge for all DreamSpark Premium subscribers.