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July, 2010 - The UK Higher Education Blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The HE Blog
News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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July, 2010

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Windows 7 and Live@edu takes off


    Two numeric examples of how fast things are moving forward in education ICT these days:

    Windows 7 is being rapidly adopted in universities

    The chart below shows the visitors to this blog this month. Which shows just how fast Windows 7 is being adopted, and displacing Windows XP and Windows Vista.


    As most readers of this blog are from UK universities, and most big system upgrades happen over the summer holidays, I’m guessing we’ll see Windows 7 racing ahead further by the start of the new term.

    Microsoft’s cloud is being rapidly adopted across education, around the world

    I saw this Tweet yesterday evening:

    Tweet "Dow Chemical, Hyatt Hotels and University of Georgian select Microsoft to evolve to the cloud"

    The press release it links to lists a few of the numbers around the move to cloud services. Outside of education, 13 of the top 20 global telecom firms, 15 of the top 20 global banks, and 16 of the top 20 global pharmaceutical companies are now using Microsoft’s cloud services. And over 10,000 customers in more than 40 countries have chosen the Windows Azure platform in just nine months.

    And in education, over 10,000 universities, colleges and schools in more than 130 countries are now using Microsoft’s Live@edu cloud-based email and collaboration service, serving 11 million students, staff and teachers worldwide. Today’s announcement was about the University of Georgia, which is moving 85,000 students, faculty and staff to our cloud based email, calendar and documents service. Dr. Barbara White, chief information officer at the University of Georgia, put the reasons pretty clearly:

    With Live@edu, we believe we will have a best-in-class communications and collaboration infrastructure including full-featured e-mail, increased storage space, better spam protection, and mobile phone integration, Live@edu will help us transform the campus learning environment by connecting our students, educators and staffers through the cloud. This transformation of our infrastructure will also provide capabilities to our students that they will use in their educational pursuits as well as in their future careers.

    imageFind out more about Live@edu


  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    WebMatrix - making it easier to deploy Moodle, Joomla! and WordPress


    imageI noticed last week that Scott Guthrie announced the release of the beta of WebMatrix. Basically, it’s an easy and free way to get started building Web sites on Windows. WebMatrix is a tool for building, customising and deploying your Web sites in one common, straightforward way. The idea is that WebMatrix can be used by a wide range of developers, and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to use it. It brings together a bunch of our resources into a simple install - a Web server (IIS Developer Express), a database (SQL Server Compact), and a programming framework (ASP.NET). It’s a simple free download – just download and install it onto a spare server.

    But the extra useful bit is that you can then use the Microsoft Web Application Gallery to install and customise popular ASP.NET and PHP open source community applications, whilst also seamlessly integrating with our professional development tools and servers including Visual Studio, SQL Server and Windows Server.

    The Web App Gallery contains a long list of free downloads to install on top of WebMatrix, including Moodle, Joomla!, WordPress and a long list of other free apps to install (the main categories are: Blogs, CMS, eCommerce, Forums, Galleries, Tools and Wikis)

    It also includes a new, easier-to-learn syntax for ASP.NET to provide you with a faster way to build standards-based Web sites. The built-in helpers simplify the use of ASP.NET to perform increasingly complex and common tasks like connecting to a database, displaying a Twitter feed, or embedding a video.

    This means that you can have the flexibility and freedom to use the tools you choose, and have an easier way to deploy web servers that fit into your existing IT infrastructure.

    You can get WebMatrix by downloading the Web Platform Installer, and then install additional apps from the Web App Gallery

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Saving money by effective power management


    One of the hidden costs of ICT in education is the power usage of the equipment you’ve got around your campus. I call it hidden because it is often not visible to the IT team, and the full energy costs of all of your servers and computers are simply part of the university's overall electric bill.

    As we release new products, we are doing more and more to help you manage and reduce power consumption. For example, both Windows Vista and Windows 7 reduced the power usage of a typical PC configuration, by reducing the power it uses when in use, as well as better management and use of low-power states such as Sleep and Hibernate.

    On the network management side, we’re making a lot of changes to System Center Configuration Manager, with Release 3 (R3) due this year – this now has power management built within it to help monitor and manage all of your networked PCs.

    For a typical campus, the potential savings annually run into hundreds of thousands of pounds, so it is definitely worth looking at how you can more effectively manage your power usage. Conserving power at the desktop level translates not only into potential cost savings through power consumption reduction it also has the added benefit of helping to reduce your university's overall carbon footprint.

    Power Management in System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3

    While energy-saving desktops and laptops have been available for some time, many organisations are not getting the most cost and energy saving benefits from these devices because power-saving settings are often disabled out of fears of data corruption, to support overnight IT operations, or simply from force of habit.

    imageClient power management with System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3 helps you get manage the energy consumption of your hardware by providing a set of power management tools to enable centralised client power management. If you’re using Windows 7 , it allows you to easily optimise power settings on a granular level, and if you’re using earlier versions of Windows, it takes full advantage of the power management capabilities available in them.

    Configuration Manager 2007 R3 tools allow you to:

    • Monitor current power state and consumptions

    • Plan and create a power management policy and check for exceptions

    • Apply power management policy to enforce different power settings for peak and non-peak periods

    • Check compliance and remediate non-compliance

    • Reduce energy costs associated with power and reduces CO2 emissions

    • Report savings in power consumption and costs


    Client power management with Configuration Manager 2007 R3 can yield you potential cost savings with minimal effort and expense.

    Where to find out more about System Center Configuration Manager

    There are three levels of further detailed information:

    1. For an overview of System Center, take a look at the System Center website

    2. For the Configuration Manager specifically, take a look at the System Center Configuration Manager section

    3. There’s more detailed specifics still in the Power Management Datasheet

    4. And more detailed still, there’s a quick demo the power management capabilities, on the System Center blog

    5. Read all the above, and want to play with it yourself? Well, you could always download the free System Center Configuration Manager beta and try it on a test server.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Live Meeting–What’s new in Office 2010 for students and teachers



    Following on from the Deploying Windows 7 Live Meeting last month, Richard Lane (who’s our resident techie in the Education team) is hosting a pair of Office 2010 Live Meetings in July. As it is a Live Meeting (webinar), you don’t need to leave your desk, and no travel is needed – you can simply logon to the Live Meeting website, and you can join in, and ask questions as we go along.

    Microsoft Office 2010 introduces rich and powerful new ways to express and share ideas, which matches the way that students are working today, and the needs of academic staff. Join this webcast for a demonstration of key features that will resonate with both students and teaching staff alike.

    • Discover how Office 2010 will enable you to bring ideas to life with advanced video and picture editing, broadcast capability in Microsoft PowerPoint 2010, easy document preparation through the new Microsoft Office Backstage view, and visualise data in new ways with Microsoft Excel 2010.

        • See the new Office Web Apps 2010 – online companions to Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote – which enable you to review and edit documents from a variety of web browsers.

            • Understand how students can collaborate better by taking shared notes or co-authoring documents in real-time with a fellow student.

            This session will be mainly demonstration based – there will also be the opportunity to have any questions you have answered.

            Dates and Times

            You can join the meeting on either Tuesday July 27th 10:30 – 11:30 or Wednesday July 28th – 11:00-12:00.

            You’ll need to register in advance here and you’ll then get a confirmation email and joining details.

            What equipment do you need?
            You will need a PC with a web browser and either headphones or a telephone to hear the audio - To save time before the meeting, you can easily check your system to make sure it is ready to use Microsoft Office Live Meeting, using this link

          • The UK Higher Education Blog

            Free Microsoft software for charities


            I know that many universities get involved in activities with charities, and university staff are often involved in charities in their private lives. Did you know that we run a scheme that allows UK charities to obtain Microsoft software free? (Well, almost free, as there is an administration charge from CTX who handle the order and supply the software)

            imageThe Computer Charity Trust is a charity with a mission to demonstrate how the effective use of technology can improve the efficiency of charities and not-for-profit organisations. As part of that it manages a software donations program called CTX, which enables charities, of any size, to access free licensed software (from Microsoft and a range of other partners). Because the scheme hasn't had wide coverage I think it’s worth a mention here, because it is actually very easy for a charity to get the software through the scheme. There are some limits (from memory, I think there is a maximum of 50 pieces of software of any particular type – eg 50 copies of Office, 50 Windows upgrades) but the scheme is designed to be very flexible, and especially useful for smaller charities.

            There’s an easy to understand guide to getting started, and for each software supplier a specific set of eligibility criteria. The Microsoft eligibility criteria for charity donations is quite wide but it does exclude schools already included in the criteria for Academic licensing (yes, I know that private schools are often charities – that’s probably why we had to set the criteria to exclude them!).

            There are quite a few case studies on the CTX website, which helps to illustrate what charities can do, and many of them are charities which work with children and students:

            imageGo to the CTX website for charity software


            From outside the UK? Check out TechSoup to see if there’s a similar scheme in your country, as they work in 31 others too.

          • The UK Higher Education Blog

            Translating your websites into 30 languages–with 5 minutes work


            With so many international students in Higher Education today, you need to be able to make your university websites and portals as accessible as possible to students, employers and parents from outside of the UK.

            When I saw the new version of the Microsoft Translator tool, I realised this will therefore be really useful. It’s free, and it translates web pages into 30 languages

            Basically, it’s a little web widget that sits on your website or portal, and allows visitors to translate your website with a mouse click into one of 30 languages. You don’t have to do anything except add a small piece of code to your website (or MLE or SharePoint etc).

            You can try it using the blue widget at the bottom of the page (you will need to view this post on its own page – if you can’t see the widget below, then click here to see it) which will translate this web page for you. Imagine if you can add it to every page on your website – how pleased would visitors be?

            How to use the Microsoft Translator on a website

            1. Go to this page:

            2. Select the colour you want to match your website

            3. Click “Generate Code”

            4. And then simply copy and paste the code, and pop the resulting short script onto your website page design

            It’s really simple, and really easy to use. But most appealing of all, you can make yourself look really good to the rest of your colleagues – because it’s something they’d like to do, but might never have thought to ask for.

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