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February, 2012 - 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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February, 2012

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    The Microsoft Education Desktop (Webcast)


    What does the modern education desktop from Microsoft look like today? This webcast talks about how Windows 7, Office 2010 and Learning Suite, to name a few, come together to provide more engaging learning experiences for learners, while also saving costs.

    Furthermore, if you are responsible for managing the desktops within your institution, this webcast shares some insight into MDOP with adds significant value and removes cost from the process of managing the desktop environment.

    Finally, while not specifically a licensing orientated session, an overview will also be given on the CAL Suites.

    If you have any questions about the Modern Education Desktop from Microsoft, please leave your questions in the comments below.

    Thanks for taking the time to view the webcast and if you have any ideas for future topics, we would love to hear them. Again, leave your thoughts in the comments below.


  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Virtualisation with Microsoft®Hyper-V (New eBook)


    We’re conditioned to assume, especially in education, that a cost-saving measure will threaten the quality of what we’re able to offer. That being so, the news is more than welcome that in many schools, colleges and universities, information technology professionals are turning that assumption on its head. They have found a proven way not only of saving significant sums of money for their institutions, but of doing so while delivering better and more effective ICT for staff and students.

    Already the questions are forming. How is that done? Can any school do it? Exactly what cost savings are in the offing? Is the end product really good enough for us?

    Our latest eBook, titled ‘Virtualisation with Hyper-V’, attempts to provide you, a decision-maker in a school, college or university, with the information you need to make informed decisions about how to save money within your institution. One of the solutions, and the key focus of this eBook, lies in server virtualisation using Microsoft® Windows® Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V.

    Within this eBook, we’ll tell you what Hyper-V is already doing for real UK schools, and arguably more importantly, in broad terms what it could do for your school.

    The content covered within this eBook is structured in two parts. Part 1 provides a non-technical introduction to the concept of server virtualisation. Part 2 presents a more technical guide to help you implement a virtualised environment.

    This eBook has been co-authored by Alan Richards, West Hatch High School, and Gerald Haigh. The full eBook can be viewed and/or downloaded below.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Learning Without Frontiers 2012: First batch of videos now available


    The folks at Learning Without Frontiers have made the first batch of videos from the 2012 conference available online. The remainder of the videos will apparently be released in batches over the coming weeks.

    As discussed in my recent posts on the conference (check them out here and here if you missed them), Learning Without Frontiers was one of the most thought provoking conferences I have attended in some time.

    I am not going to post every video shared from the #LWF12 team, but thought it might be useful to add a couple of the videos to the blog. I will post additional sessions that I found particularly interesting to the blog when available.

    In the meantime, the stand out sessions from the initial batch of videos are as follows:

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Faculty Connection Registration - Want to stay informed of the latest technology and educational trends?


    Want to stay informed of the latest technology and educational trends?

    When you become a verified Faculty Connection member, you gain access to benefits such as the latest technology news, faculty only material, and more.

    How do you become a verified member?

    Just send a email from your UK Academic email address, including your Job title and institution to

    We want you to be assured that Faculty Connection is a community of your peers, so that's why we ask all members to complete this initial step. We will then send you a Faculty Connection verification code to allow you to register to this resource.

    We want you to stay connected to the UK Faculty Connection program and by subscribing to the Faculty Connection resources, including the Linkedin Group and dedicated newsletters, we can keep up-to-date on the latest information about new curriculum resources, research projects, software tools, workshops, etc.

    If you have not subscribed to the Faculty Connection newsletter simply send us a email to requesting your validation code and then click the Register button at

    It is easy and quick.

    Need to Check your Subscription?

    Not sure if you have already subscribed to the Faculty Connection newsletter? Click the Check Subscription and review your profile.


    1. Sign in with your Windows Live ID
    2. If you see Faculty Connection Newsletter in the Your Subscriptions column then you are all set
    3. If you don’t see the Faculty Connection Newsletter in the Your Subscriptions column select it from the list of Available Communications and click Subscribe
    4. Click Save

    That’s all there is to it!

    Originally posted on the Microsoft UK Faculty Connection Blog

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    How can we make our blog more relevant to your needs?


    I have a bit of a favour to ask. I want to ensure that the information we share via our blogs is relevant to your needs and continues to add value.

    With this in mind, would you mind taking a minute out to give me an indication of what kind of content you would like to see more of over the coming months by completing the short poll below? We will always look to mix up the content types that we share on the blogs, but if there is a particular type or style of post that you enjoy most, let me know and I can work on ensuring that I post more of this kind of material.

    Thanks in advance, and if there are any specific topics you would like us to address via the blog, please leave your thoughts in the comments below.


  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    End of Support for Microsoft Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003


    Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) and Office 2003 will be reaching end of support in April 2014. We want to help you avoid the risk of running an unsupported version of Windows & Office, and to assist with your IT planning for 2012.

    With this in mind, the objective of this Blog Post is to highlight the potential risks involved with the upcoming end of support of these products and to outline the options available to mitigate these risks.

    What is the situation and potential risk?

    Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 will no longer be supported from April 8, 2014 onwards. After this date, Microsoft will not provide any public support for these products, including security patches, non-security hotfixes or incident support.

    Running Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 in your environment after their end of support date may expose your company to potential risks, such as:

    • Security & Compliance Risks - Unsupported and unpatched environments are vulnerable to security risks. This may result in an officially recognized control failure by an internal or external audit body, leading to suspension of certifications, and/or public notification of the organization’s inability to maintain its systems and customer information
    • Lack of Independent Software Vendor (ISV) & Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Support – A recent industry report from Gartner Research suggests "many independent software vendors (ISVs) are unlikely to support new versions of applications on Windows XP in 2011; in 2012, it will become common". And it may stifle access to hardware innovation: Gartner Research further notes that in 2012, most PC hardware OEMs will stop supporting Windows XP on the majority of their new PC models. See Creating a Timeline for Deploying Windows 7 and Eliminating Windows XP SP3, June 2011.

    What are the available options?

    1. Upgrade - This option affords customers the best return on investment by deploying a modern PC with Windows 7 Enterprise and Office 2010. Whether you’re a small business or the largest corporation with offices worldwide, moving to a modern PC with Windows 7 Enterprise and Office 2010 offers your business the ability to improve productivity for your employees and increase operational efficiency through improved PC security and management.

    To help customers with the migration/deployment process, Microsoft and our consulting partners offer several options including proof of concept (POC) and production pilot programs, available through Microsoft Consulting Services or one of our Certified Service Partners, to help you achieve a successful upgrade to Windows 7 Enterprise and Office 2010.

    2. Purchase a Custom Support contract through Premier Support to stay on unsupported products – If, for any reason, you decide to remain on Windows XP SP3 or Office 2003 after support ends, you have the option to purchase Custom Support. As a condition of buying a Custom Support contract, you must have a Premier Support agreement and we ask our customers to have a migration plan in place. The cost of Custom Support is significantly higher than regular support, and rises annually due to the rising costs of supporting a legacy product.

    3. Do nothing – Microsoft recommends customers avoid this option for it can put you at risk of potential security and compliance issues.

    Where can you find more information?

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Microsoft UK Education Webcasts: New Dates Added!



    Further to our recent Education Desktop webcast, the next on our series of Live Webcasts have now been scheduled. Details are shown below. We hope you can join us!

    System Center 2012 – An Overview

    March 6th, 11am-12pm

    System Center 2012 can transform your IT Infrastructure, from your Desktops, to your Data Centre and out to the Cloud. Join this session, presented jointly by Microsoft and a Microsoft System Center Partner to understand what System Center 2012 can do for you. This session will provide a good overview of the capabilities of the suite and also provide a “what’s new” update if you are aware of previous versions. You will also have chance to get your System Center questions answered by a Specialist.

    SharePoint 2010 – An Overview for Education

    March 27th, 11am-12pm

    This session, presented by Dave Coleman, SharePoint MVP – will cover the key features of SharePoint 2010 –highlighting key education scenarios. Whether you are completely new to SharePoint or have experience with previous versions, this session will give a great recap, and provide a “what’s new” in this current release. You will also have the chance to get answers to any of your burning SharePoint questions.

    Deploying Windows 7 – from Planning to Deployed
    April 17th, 11am-12pm

    This session will give you an overview of the key steps needed to plan for and deploy Windows 7 effectively.

    There are a whole range of free tools and utilities from Microsoft that enable you to remove huge cost out of the deployment process. Including:

    · How to simplify assessing your current PC estate for suitability

    · Checking your application compatibility – and reducing the impact of any that aren’t compatible

    · Application deployment methods to reduce your workload

    · Capturing and migrating existing user data

    · Automating deployments – from light touch to zero touch installations

    The session will be relevant for IT managers in schools, colleges and universities

    You will also have chance to get any of your deployment questions answered by a Microsoft Specialist.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Complete flexibility with Microsoft cloud solutions – UCISA 2012


    With so much change in the world of Higher Education, UCISA 2012 seems to have come around even more quickly than usual this year.  Microsoft are a Platinum sponsor again and we will be sponsoring the formal dinner on 15th February.  In addition, you can also find us during the first two days of UCISA, in the main exhibition hall on stand no. 22. Cloud Computing

    One of the unavoidable challenges facing everyone in the sector regardless of size, is the need to save money.  Microsoft address this in a number of ways and we’re fortunate in that our strategy enables a truly flexible approach.  One way of reducing costs is by moving certain aspects of your IT into the cloud.  The reality is that cloud computing is still a technology which in certain areas, Universities are wary of. 

    · Student e-mail is a well-trodden path, whereas staff e-mail in the cloud is by no means as well progressed.

    · Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is far more acceptable and popular than Platform as a Service (PaaS). 

    Microsoft have a cloud strategy which allows complete flexibility in terms of which parts of your IT (and therefore data) you place where.  You could have:

    · An on premise solution

    · A private cloud solution (provided within a University or perhaps shared between Universities or hosted via a   Microsoft Partner)

    · A Private cloud solution (think Live@Edu, Office 365 or Windows Azure)

    · A hybrid model covering any combination of those above. 

    The reality is that all institutions will have some form of hybrid model.  The benefit of Microsoft’s hybrid model is that we use the same products across each of these environments, providing compatibility and management that is in our humble view, unsurpassed.  Come and talk to us about how this could work for your own Institution.

    In addition to cloud based strategies which can reduce costs, there are specific Microsoft products which are very hot topics within the sector at present.  One of these is Microsft Lync

    lyncLync provides a number of things such as Instant Messaging, Presence, OnLine Meetings (video and voice) across multiple locations and also Voice, as a replacement for traditional PBX switches.  The savings are in the region of hundreds of thousands of pounds per institution, with savings reaching seven figures for some of the larger institutions.  Add to this the significant productivity and flexibility increases and Lync makes a very compelling case indeed.  We will be presenting alongside a customer during the break-out sessions, so come along and hear more about this from one of your Sector colleagues on the day.

    Over the past year, IT departments have increasingly had to cater for the fast growing “bring your own technology” or “consumerisation of IT” movement.  Support for multiple devices, entirely different form factors, running various operating systems now need to be incorporated into the organisation.  Clearly IT can drive this movement or be dragged along by it.  Microsoft’s strategy is clear in this area and we’d be happy to talk to you some more about it on the stand. One of the key areas of our strategy can be seen in the forthcoming release of System Centre 2012.  This will allow the management of iPads for example.  Increasing use of the browser to access applications also opens up access to many Microsoft applications to non PC devices. Basically anything that runs Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox or Chrome.

    Finally, we hope to have made some announcements as a company by the time UCISA is in full motion which will be of interest to anyone interested in the evolution of cloud computing.  We are becoming more and more open as an organisation and have some exciting announcements just around the corner.  We are also expect to have some early versions of Windows 8 tablets on the stand so do drop by and see us.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Microsoft® Windows® Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V was a game changer


    The arrival in 2009 of Microsoft® Windows® Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V was a game changer for schools. This release of Windows Server included virtualisation built-in, for free. It means that if you’re already using Microsoft technology, you can work within that without adding a new layer of infrastructure and training. As Microsoft puts it, “If you know Windows, you know virtualisation.”


    The cost savings

    Just how much could be potentially saved? At Microsoft we’ve recorded one or two striking examples. Servers typically cost £3000 each to replace, for example, often on a rolling annual programme.

    We talked to three schools about this. Two were reducing from 20 servers to 5, the other from 20 to 6. All three separately calculated annual savings of about £7,000 a year in hardware replacement costs alone.

    By the same token, many schools will significantly reduce the cost of contracted IT support. On top of this there are energy savings, because not only do fewer servers use less electricity, but they also cost less to keep cool. Again, the schools tell similar stories, of annual energy savings in the region of £8,000 to £10,000 – good for the school’s environmental impact as well as the budget. Do some simple math, come up with a global sum, and it seems that, at the very least, a virtualisation project will pay for itself quite quickly.

    With the project successfully implemented, it will continue, year on year, to make a real impact on the whole-school budget. To give just one specific example, Steve Gillott, Head of ICT at Wootton Bassett School in Wiltshire, describes reducing his school’s servers from 13 to 3. “ It came to a point where we needed to replace the hardware anyway, so money was earmarked for that”.

    After seeing a demonstration of Hyper-V by Microsoft Partner Clarity-IT Solutions we decided that the additional benefits of virtualising our server infrastructure was a much better investment than buying replacement servers. The cost savings in the first year alone paid for the virtualisation project.”

    It was a decision that saved the school over £38,000 in that first year and continues to save £14,500 a year on
    electricity and support contracts.

    But does it work?

    School network managers were originally cautious about virtualisation. The cost savings looked attractive, but there was a gut feeling that by abandoning the notion of one separate server box for each key function, you were doing something risky. One of the early adopters of Microsoft’s virtualisation solution, the highly experienced Alan Richards of West Hatch High School, ran a year-long small-scale test before he was convinced. Indeed Alan, as you’ll see in his excellent major contribution to our recent Virtualisation eBook (available to view or download below), still recommends a test project. Not so much to make sure the basic technology works, but to be certain of exactly what’s needed for the particular school.

    Now, all the doubts about functionality and reliability have gone away. From its launch in 2009, Microsoft’s
    Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V technology, has been proving just how efficient and cost effective it can be. Plan properly and carefully, follow the key principles, take the right advice, and what you end up with is a virtualised environment that’s better than the system you had before – easier to manage and easier to change as your school’s needs change, and users aren’t subjected to irritating down time.

    For Alan Richards at West Hatch it’s that improved service that really counts. “ It’s obviously nice to save money, but the main reason for the change is to ensure reliability and sustainability for the school. Alan’s right, but it’s also true that by moving in a planned way to a virtualised environment with Hyper-V, the network team is effectively presenting the school with a considerable financial bonus that continues year on year.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Upcoming changes to the way we make Microsoft Office available to students


    There are a number of upcoming changes to the way we make Microsoft Office available to students as part of a worldwide program to simplify and broaden the availability of our academic offerings. These changes will enable more students to buy Office at a significant discount from the product available to other consumers. Today, 95% of higher-education students use Office, while only 23% are aware of Office student discounts. With the launch of Office University, we are expanding the number of partners who will be eligible to sell this product, including many popular retailers.

    The details of the current changes are:

    • Office University 2010 and Office for Mac University 2011 were released on 1 February 2012. Office University 2010 and Office for Mac University 2011 offers university and college students great value for the same applications, services and support as Office Professional 2010 and Office for Mac Home & Business 2011. With the release of these products, we are dramatically increasing the number of partners able to assort the product.
    • Office Home & Student 2010 is the current offering for school students and parents wishing to purchase Microsoft Office for their studies and home needs. This product is available from a wide range of retail and online partners.
    • Office Professional Plus 2010 and Office for Mac 2011 under Student Select will no longer be available for purchase through this program starting 1 April 2012. This is the current program used by Software for Students and other partners currently who specialise in this market.
    • Office offerings for students will remain, such as those available under Student Option for EES and Campus & School Agreement. A number of enhancements have already been introduced to make it more attractive for institutions to license their students under their institutional agreement, including free ESD and volume discounts.

    Microsoft has been working with our existing partners in the UK to help them prepare for these changes, so that they can in turn communicate with their customers –both Universities and the students themselves – about how they can continue to get discounted Office software packages.

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