website tracker
September, 2007 - The UK Higher Education Blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The HE Blog
News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
Home     rss feed     email us     our website

September, 2007

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    It's arrived - Office Ultimate 2007 for Students - for £38.95!



    We have been working on this for a while, and it has finally arrived. Yesterday we announced the availability of Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007 for UK Higher Education students, as a download, for £38.95.

    The headline summary is:

    It's a time-limited offer available to students with a email address as a digital download, containing the full Ultimate package.

    This is a pilot in a limited number of countries - UK, US, Canada, Spain, Italy and France - and it's good news that the UK is in the pilot. Most UK students think that Office costs £000's of pounds, and aren't very aware of the lower cost licences that have been available (for example, under the Select licence), so this makes it easier for them to buy a legitimate copy easily and cost-effectively.

    We're not going to spend lots of money advertising this - for one thing, it is only available to students with a email address, and so putting adverts all over the media isn't going to work. But we will be doing some on-campus promotions at some universities, using email to students, and many universities have already asked for posters and emails to send to their own students.

    If you'd like to get some posters, flyers, or want to check what you can email to your students, drop a line to Ceri Morriss in our HE team We're just about to post an email which you could use to let your students know about the offer. It's only a suggestion - you can use it or write your own to meet the needs of your specific student body!

    We're getting a few basic queries by email. Can I ask you to add them as comments on this blog instead, and we'll (a) guarantee to answer them more speedily and (b) we'll both be helping everybody by answering your questions publicly.

    All of the details are on the offer's website:

    ps Have you got questions? Add them as a comment, and then I'll answer them here - hopefully everyone else will benefit from the answer too!

    pps You need to login to add a comment (to avoid comment-spam).

    ppps If you really don't want to login and share your comments and our answers then you can contact us at

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Product launch invitation: Office Communications Server 2007


    Here's another launch that might be of interest to you. This one is for our Office Communications Server 2007, which shifts the convergence of phone, email, fax, IM, web conferencing and voice over IP.  You will have seen how different mechanisms of communication are multiplying - in both our personal and professional lives - and this product launch takes a step forward in finding ways to integrate these mechanisms and helping individuals to manage their communications more flexibly. As an example, I'm working from home today, but you wouldn't know it - if you call me on my office number, your call will be automatically rerouted to my mobile number or my IP phone on my PC. In fact, it is so seamless that sometimes, when I'm unavailable, people ring my office number and leave me a message - and then call my mobile with the same message. They hadn't realised that their first call had been rerouted to the same device - and I end up with two identical messages.

    The agenda provides a good look at the general direction of unified communications, and ways of delivering Voice Over IP (VOIP), provide a single identity system, and improve universal communications security. There are also two great customer references, Tayside Fire and Rescue (watch their video) & United Bristol Health Care Trust, both of whom will be presenting on the day.

    The Event takes place on the 17th of October in London and there are two events, a whole day event for Technical Decision Makers, and a shorter 'breakfast briefing' for Business Decision Makers:

    Business Decision Maker information and registration

    Technical Decision Maker information and registration 

    Not sure which one to attend? If you understand this:

    "Deliver VoIP without needing to rip and replace your existing BX and telecommunications infrastructure. OCS 2007 works with legacy PBXs and connects to the PSTN through an IP/PBX gateway."

    then you should probably go to the Technical one!

     For further details of Office Communications Server 2007

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Accessibility kit for MOSS


    Recently, I've had a few conversations with Universities looking to use MOSS as their main Internet site Content Management System and in particular around the area of accessibility.  In general, sites needing to meet AA standards require some development effort to help them on their way.  In my role as the Higher Education Business Manager, this has been a fairly frequent conversation up and down the country.  Of course, there are some excellent sites which have already been deployed in SharePoint that meet many accessibility criteria such as:

    These are wonderful examples of how a rich Enterprise Content Management system in all its glory is delivering superb web content to practically any audience.

    In recognising that organisations wishing to deploy MOSS for portal, Intranet and Internet scenarios will need to consider accessibility Microsoft reached an agreement with HiSoftware to develop the Accessibility Kit for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.  For more information on this, and its phased availability, please refer to the SharePoint blog:

    It's coming soon and I'm sure will be of interest to anyone considering MOSS for their Internet sites.


  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    The Ultimate Steal - More Students Qualify



    You may recall that the criteria for students purchasing the Ultimate Steal promotion was that they should have a email address, and a 1/2 course load. Although that made a lot of sense in some countries, in the UK we have a more complex model of Higher Education than some, so we've worked on a new definition, which encompasses everybody that we think should be eligible.

    In a nutshell, if you're a Higher Education student, and enrolled in an undergraduate and postgraduate level course, then you're in!

    This means that if you're doing a distance learning course with a UK university, or a part time MBA, and your university gives you an email address, then you can order Office Ultimate 2007 at £38.95. This definition therefore includes many of the 200,000 students of the Open University, as well as some of the other queries around grey areas we have received.

    The specific criteria, now on the website is:


  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Thin Client, Rich Client or hybrid?


    My colleague Michael Royster, in Microsoft Consulting Services, has just finished a briefing document on the approaches available to implementation, addressing the questions about thin client versus rich client, and provides excellent advice and insight into how you can plan for the most appropriate blend. The title, "Application Deployment Architectures - The 'Rich' versus 'Thin' debate and beyond" is a pretty good description of what it is all about, but to clarify a little more, here's a couple of extracts from the summary:

    "Today, there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer. Different applications have different characteristics which may make them more suited to the traditional rich client deployment model, while others may be more suited to a server based computing model. Many organisations are beginning to deploy a hybrid of traditional rich client with a server based computing model (and in some cases, application virtualisation where this is appropriate).

    The impact on the productivity of the end users or their learning experience must be central to the decision of an application deployment strategy. Graphics and media have become more widely used and the Web has led people to expect easy interaction with software. These rich graphical multi-media applications are particularly suited to the traditional rich client deployment model. Some industry analysts are now predicting that the pendulum is now moving again towards the rich client.

    Whether the appropriate deployment model is rich client, server based (thin client), or application streaming, Microsoft has a breadth of integrated products across the spectrum of deployment architectures."

    If you want to understand what the different Microsoft solutions are, then this is a really good starting point, with succinct and clear chapters on:

    • Microsoft SoftGrid Application Virtualisation
    • Microsoft Windows Terminal Services
    • Microsoft SoftGrid for Terminal Services
    • Citrix Presentation Server
    • Windows Embedded Powered Thin Client Devices
    • Blade PC Solutions
    • Windows Vista Enterprise Centralised Desktop Solutions
    • Pure Browser-based Solutions

    And Michael's included UK & International case studies, within and outside of education, of different implementations.

    Download the guide here

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Office Ultimate 2007 for students - promotional materials


    Following on from the announcement of the Ultimate Steal promotion for students - Office Ultimate 2007 for £38.95 - here are some more materials to help you to promote the offer to your students.

    Student Email

    One of the things we've been asked for frequently since last Thursday is a standard email for you to your students. So here's a template document. You can either send this text as it stands, or modify it to suit your own students.


    University Briefing Document

    Here's some further information on the offer, and information on hosting the download - especially useful if you want to avoid any bandwidth issues.


    Coming next...

    Next to come will be a web banner that you can use on your student website

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Product launch invitation: PerformancePoint Server 2007


    There are a number of product launch events coming up in the next few months. They may not be as high profile as the two "big" ones - Halo 3 this week and Windows Server 2008 next year - but in terms of more immediate value to you, then the Performance Point Server 2007 launch, in two weeks' time should be of interest.

    There's an ugly term, Business Intelligence (or BI), used to describe the ability to draw together different strands of information from around an institution, and present and analyse it in real-time. It means, in a university for example, the capability to create a single point where you can see how next year's student recruitment is going, alongside this year's retention and attendance rates, and putting that information alongside your Research & Knowledge Transfer key indicators, your financial trends, and service availability figures.

    Although the launch event is aimed at the commercial sector, this struck me as a good opportunity for senior managers in universities to get an insight into both the product and its uses to create information from data, carry out organisational analyses and produce scorecards. In addition to a keynote from Robert Kaplan, there's also presentations from businesses that use Business Intelligence systems to drive more informed decision making, such as Unilever.

    The Launch takes place on the 16th of October in London, aimed at a Business leaders and will include a presentation from Professor Robert Kaplan

    For further details of the launch event, or to register

     For further details of PerformancePoint Server 2007

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Microsoft Research Assessment Toolkit


    A colleague has alerted me to this resource, which could be valuable to you, or your colleagues, if they are involved in either IT teaching or research. The MSR Assessment Toolkit includes resources to assess and evaluate instructional programs that involve current and emerging technologies. Resources focus primarily on computational sciences and engineering, but also covers other disciplines and interdisciplinary research and teaching projects.

    The Microsoft Research Assessment Toolkit was conceived to provide higher education faculty members with user-friendly, focused resources to assist in developing and conducting rigorous educational assessment. The Toolkit includes a variety of items to facilitate the planning and implementation process, including:

    1. An overview of assessment and assessment planning guide.
    2. User self-assessment tool to help faculty determine their level of assessment experience. The components of the kit are coded to allow users to find tools and strategies appropriate for their needs.
    3. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) that explain assessment issues with minimal use of jargon.
    4. Case studies of effective assessment that provide a snapshot of faculty in various computational science or STEM disciplines.
    5. A guide to selecting assessment tools.
    6. Annotated resources primarily focused on computational science and STEM disciplines and organized by topical categories.
    7. Web links to various assessment-related sites or organizations.

    Development of the Toolkit will be an ongoing effort; Toolkit materials are available online at

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Build a Green Datacentre


    At the UCISA conference, earlier this year, there were some astounding figures quoted with regard to the cost of the running a datacentre - environmentally and financially. A Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories report states:

    "The energy used by a typical rack of state-of-the art servers, drawing 20 kilowatts of power at 10 cents per kWh, uses more that $17,000 per year in electricity. Given that data centers can hold hundreds of such racks, they constitute a very energy-intensive building type. Clearly, efforts to improve energy efficiency in data centers can pay big dividends. But, where to start?"

    Well the debate is having an impact on the way people think about datacentres. Companies around the world are announcing ways to save energy and reduce costs by buying new hardware and services. Yet, there is little guidance on how you can take action to control energy costs. In the past, electricity has been treated as an overhead expense, like the cost of space. But with rising power costs and issues regarding reliability, supply, and capacity, electricity requires its own specific strategy.

    My colleague Dave Ohara has written an article for TechNet magazine about the issue, looking at the importance of Energy Monitoring Systems, helping define 'the green datacentre' and going on to conclude that "Knowing is half the battle".

    It's a good read, and provides a useful insight on how to get started.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Windows Vista - after hours technology events


    Our Windows Vista team have just let me know about these events coming up this month and next. If you're a technology enthusiast, these events are designed to help you get an understanding of Windows Vista. It is not designed specifically for education, but I think it will make a great opportunity to see it in action, and listen to and talk with some of the key Microsoft people involved with our operating systems in the UK

    We ran two of these back in May and the response from attendees was incredible (you can view one example here). These events are for technology enthusiasts - you'll be buzzing afterwards! The event covers what's in Windows Vista out of the box and how you can extend it, encompassing: Windows Vista (search, photography, movie maker, DVD maker, back-up and restore, network and sharing centre and more), Windows SideShow, digital picture frames, Home Server, Xbox 360, Media Centre, Windows Live Gaming and Virtual Earth.

    20 September, Manchester

    25 September, Newcastle

    27 September, Falkirk, Scotland

    3 October, London (sorry, full)

Page 1 of 2 (11 items) 12