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June, 2012 - The UK Higher Education Blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
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June, 2012

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    What happens at the end of the Office 365 for education trial?


    Originally posted on the UK Education Cloud Blog.

    It’s less than 48 hours since Office 365 for education launched around the world but already I’m building up a nice list of frequently asked questions, first of which is “what happens when my trial expires?”.

    30-day Trial

    Every Office 365 for education customer has to sign up for the 30-day trial before they get access to add extra licenses. This is so we can verify that you’re an eligible academic institution. To get you started we provide 50 trial A3 plan licenses; if you go to the licenses section in the Microsoft Online Services Admin Portal you’ll see something similar to this:


    Once you’ve verified your eligibility you’ll get access to the purchasing section to be able to add in more licenses. There are several to choose from:

    A SKU license purchase

    You need to purchase the licenses you want to use with your users from this portal as the trial licenses cannot be extended. At the end of trial period, if you’ve not purchased any additional plans, your trial licenses will expire and you may lose access to some of the services.

    Unlike Live@edu, where there were no plans, Office 365 for education offers a number of different plans and prices to suit your requirements which is why you must choose which plans to purchase; we don’t make that decision for you.

    Once you’ve purchased the licenses you need you’ll see in the billing and subscription management section that you have a number of subscriptions running, including the original trial licenses that will expire 30 days after signing up:


    When you go to manage one of your users you’ll be able to assign the licenses you’ve purchased and can disregard the trial licenses:


    If you’ve not already, you can sign up for the free 30-day trial of Office 365 for education at and get started with your deployment today!

    Have you signed up for the trial?

    Tell us what you’re planning to do with Office 365 for education in your institution in the comments!

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Getting to know Office 365 for education


    Just a few hours ago Office 365 for education launched around the world so we thought it might be a good time to give you a quick tour of what you can expect to find. So, sit back and relax as my colleague Damon introduces you to Office 365!

    Don’t forget that you can sign up for the 30-day trial absolutely free which will give you the chance to experience this first hand. Just head over to the new website at to get started.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Announcing Windows Phone 8


    By Joe Belfiore

    Three years ago I was lucky to join the Windows Phone team at a time when we were “resetting” our approach to mobile operating system software. We made big changes to our design, our approach to partners, and our platform. The result was Windows Phone 7.

    Now it’s time to start telling you about the next exciting chapter of our story: Windows Phone 8. Officially announced this morning in San Francisco, it’s the most advanced mobile OS Microsoft has ever made and will arrive on new phones later this year.

    Many of Windows Phone 8’s new capabilities come from a surprising source: Windows, the most successful and powerful operating system on the planet, and one used by more than a billion people. Yes, you read that right: Windows Phone 8 is based on the same core technologies that power Windows 8. As a result, Windows Phone 8 will unleash a new wave of features for consumers, developers, and businesses.

    Today I’ll give you a high-level sneak peek at the Windows Phone 8 platform and tell you just some of what it’s going to make possible. I’ll also share some exciting news about apps and updates for current Windows Phone customers. This isn’t a full disclosure of everything in Windows Phone 8—look for a more complete tour of new features later.

    The power of Windows

    If you’ve seen Windows 8, Microsoft’s groundbreaking new release for PCs and tablets, you’ve probably noticed it bears more than a passing resemblance to the look of Windows Phone. Here’s how the Windows 8 Start screen looks in the latest preview release.

    The Windows 8 Start screen, as it appears in the preview release.

    With Windows Phone 8, the similarity is more than skin deep. We’ve based the next release of Windows Phone on the rock-solid technology core of Windows 8. It means Windows Phone and its bigger sibling will share common networking, security, media and web browser technology, and a common file system. That translates into better performance, more features, and new opportunities for app developers and hardware makers to innovate faster.

    This new shared core—along with all the extra work we’ve done on top of it—opens up a new world of capabilities, which you don’t have to be a techie to appreciate. Here’s a taste:

    • Multi-core processor support: As reviewers have noted, Windows Phone runs buttery smooth on phones with a single processor. But piggybacking on the Windows core provides support for multiple cores—so we’re ready for whatever hardware makers dream up.
    • Bigger, sharper screens: Windows Phone 8 supports two new screen resolutions—1280x768 and 1280x720, opening the door to amazing new handsets with high-definition 720p displays.
    • More flexible storage: Windows Phone 8 supports removable MicroSD cards, so you can stuff your phone with extra photos, music, and whatever else is important to you, and then easily move it all onto your PC.
    • NFC wireless sharing: If you haven’t heard the term “NFC” yet, I’m betting you soon will. This emerging wireless technology lets phones share things over short distances. In Windows Phone 8, it helps make sharing photos, Office docs, and contact info easier—just tap your phone another NFC-equipped device. How cool is that?
    • Internet Explorer 10: The next version of Windows Phone comes with the same web browsing engine that’s headed for Window 8 PCs and tablets. IE10 is faster and more secure, with advanced anti-phishing features like SmartScreen Filter to block dangerous websites and malware.
    • Wallet: Windows Phone 8’s new digital Wallet feature does two great things. It can keep debit and credit cards, coupons, boarding passes, and other important info right at your fingertips. And when paired with a secure SIM from your carrier, you can also pay for things with a tap of your phone at compatible checkout counters.
    • Better maps and directions: Windows Phone 8 builds in Nokia mapping as part of the platform. Our partnership will provide more detailed maps and turn-by-turn directions in many countries, plus the ability to store maps offline on your phone so you can work with maps without a data connection.
    • Cooler apps and games: Basing Windows Phone 8 on the Windows core will unleash a new wave of amazing apps and especially games, for reasons I’ll touch on in a moment.
    A new Start

    We’re putting the finishing touches on Windows Phone 8 as I write this. It has a ton of great new consumer features that I can’t wait to tell you about in the months ahead. Today, however, I’m going to show off just one: the beautiful, flexible new Start screen.

    The new Start sceen in Windows Phone 8 is even more flexible, with more theme colors and three sizes of Live TilesThe new Start sceen in Windows Phone 8 is even more flexible, with more theme colors and three sizes of Live Tiles.The new Start sceen in Windows Phone 8 is even more flexible, with more theme colors and three sizes of Live Tiles.The new Start sceen in Windows Phone 8 is even more flexible, with more theme colors and three sizes of Live Tiles.

    The new Start sceen in Windows Phone 8 is even more flexible, with more theme colors and three sizes of Live Tiles.The new Start sceen in Windows Phone 8 is even more flexible, with more theme colors and three sizes of Live Tiles.The new Start sceen in Windows Phone 8 is even more flexible, with more theme colors and three sizes of Live Tiles.The new Start sceen in Windows Phone 8 is even more flexible, with more theme colors and three sizes of Live Tiles.

    As you can see, we’re making Windows Phone 8 even more personal, with a new palette of theme colors and three sizes of Live Tiles, all of which are under your control. We know Live Tiles are one of the things current owners really love about their Windows Phones, and we wanted to make them even more flexible and unique. This short video shows the new Start screen in action.

    Windows Phone…7.8!

    The new Start screen is so useful and emblematic of what Windows Phone is about that we want everybody to enjoy it. So we’ll be delivering it to existing phones as a software update sometime after Window Phone 8 is released. Let me repeat: If you currently own a Windows Phone 7.5 handset, Microsoft is planning to release an update with the new Windows Phone 8 Start screen. We’re calling it “Windows Phone 7.8.”

    Some of you have been wondering, “Will we also get Windows Phone 8 as an update?” The answer, unfortunately, is no.

    Windows Phone 8 is a generation shift in technology, which means that it will not run on existing hardware. BUT we care deeply about our existing customers and want to keep their phones fresh, so we’re providing the new Start screen in this new update.

    100,000 apps and beyond

    Today we announced that the Windows Phone Marketplace officially hit 100,000 apps and games—a milestone we reached faster than Android, and a testament to the thousands of talented developers around the world who’ve supported us since launch. Together they deliver more than 200 new titles, on average, each day.

    On behalf of everybody at Windows Phone, THANK YOU! We appreciate your effort and creativity and the value you bring to Windows Phone users.

    To mark the milestone, today we’re announcing a new batch of marquee titles. The official Audible app for audiobooks arrives in Marketplace today. Official apps from Chase and PayPal are in the works. Gameloft has Windows Phone versions of Asphalt 7: Heat and N.O.V.A. 3 Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance on the way.

    And Nokia is helping deliver the much-requested Zynga games Words with Friends and Draw Something to Windows Phone later this year. Check out Nokia Conversations today for more details about this and other new Windows Phone-related announcements today. (And don’t miss the fun new “100,000 Apps and Counting” mugs and other goodies in the official Windows Phone Gear Store!)

    Developers, developers, developers

    Since we’re talking about apps, I want to tell developers a little bit about what they can expect in Windows Phone 8. Some of the exciting changes on the way include:

    • Native code support: Windows Phone 8 has full C and C++ support, making it easier to write apps for multiple platforms more quickly. It also means Windows Phone 8 supports popular gaming middleware such as Havok Vision Engine, Autodesk Scaleform, Audiokinetic Wwise, and Firelight FMOD, as well as native DirectX-based game development.
    • In-app purchase: In Windows Phone 8 we make it possible for app makers to sell virtual and digital goods within their apps.
    • Integrated Internet calling: In Windows Phone 8, developers can create VoIP apps that plug into our existing calling feature so Internet calls can be answered like traditional phone calls, using the same calling interface.
    • Multitasking enhancements. Windows Phone 8 now allows location-based apps like exercise trackers or navigation aids to run in the background, so they keep working even when you’re doing other things on your phone.

    This is just a taste. Later this summer, we’ll have much more for developers on the Windows Phone 8 Software Development Kit (SDK) and the new Visual Studio 11-based development tools. So stay tuned.

    Windows Phone 8 @ work

    In Windows Phone 8, we’re also moving into the workplace in a big way, introducing a number of features and capabilities that companies and their IT departments demand. This is just one more benefit of sharing a common core with Windows 8. Some of the new business-friendly features include:

    • Device encryption: To help keep everything from documents to passwords safe, Windows Phone 8 includes built-in technology to encrypt the entire device, including the operating system and data files.
    • Better security: Windows Phone 8 supports the United Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) secure boot protocol and features improved app “sandboxing,” so the phone is better protected from malware with multiple layers of security.
    • Remote management: With Windows Phone 8, IT departments can manage apps and phones remotely, with tools similar to ones they now employ for Windows PCs.
    • Company Hub and apps: Companies can create their own Windows Phone 8 Hub for custom employee apps and other critical business info.

    An example of how a new company Hub might look in Windows Phone 8.

    New languages, update process

    I get a lot of tweets asking, “When will my phone get Arabic? Farsi? Turkish?” They’re also the top feature requests on the Windows Phone Suggestion Box site.

    I’m happy to tell you these languages are coming! In fact, Windows Phone 8 will support a total of 50 languages, or double the current geographic coverage. We’re also expanding Marketplace, our store for apps and games, to support app downloads in over 180 countries—nearly triple its current footprint.

    Another area I know many of you care deeply about is Windows Phone software updates and how they’re delivered—something we’ve gotten a lot of feedback on over the last year. Today I’m excited to tell you that we’ve been working closely with our many partners to improve the update process for Windows Phone 8, and help get you our latest software more quickly and easily.

    How? First, Windows Phone 8 updates will be delivered wirelessly over-the-air, so you don’t have to bother plugging your phone into your PC to update anymore. Second, we will support devices with updates for at least 18 months from device launch.

    Finally, we’re working to create a program that gives registered enthusiasts early access to updates prior to broad availability—a little gift to our biggest fans and supporters. We think these three initiatives will help keep your phone fresher than ever before.

    What’s next

    I know that’s a lot to digest—and look forward to. And I didn’t even mention actual phones yet!

    We’re really excited about the strong line-up of hardware partners who are putting their support behind Windows Phone 8. The first wave of devices for Windows Phone 8 will come from Nokia, Huawei, Samsung, and HTC, all built on next-generation chips from Qualcomm.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Inspiration for student developers –Harry Potter site built on Windows Azure platform


    Pottermore, the official Harry Potter website, was recently launched and attracted billions of page views in its first two weeks. The site is built on Windows Azure, an open cloud platform that lets users quickly build, deploy, and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed data centers.

    Harry Potter is one of the largest entertainment phenomenas of all time, so fans of all ages couldn't wait to experience the world-famous stories and social and interactive experiences that the site offered. Eagerly awaiting the launch of Pottermore, the website based on the popular Harry Potter stories, Brittany Talbot and her sister, Priscilla, raced to sign up when the site went live. "I like being able to go up there and do potions and spells and walk around where Harry was," Talbot said. "I read the first book in the first week because I was so excited."


    The Pottermore website demonstrates the powerful platform that Windows Azure offers for even the most challenging development projects. The site currently features activities and text based on the storyline of the first "Harry Potter" novel, additional material from Rowling, and highly interactive elements such as the ability to make comments, earn house points, learn spells, mix potions, and duel with other fans.

    A factor in favour of Windows Azure, is that it provided a platform as a service (PaaS), which means that Pottermore could simply move its application onto the Windows Azure platform without the burden of managing and maintaining virtual machines. Windows Azure provided a cloud-based testing environment that enabled Pottermore to test whether the site could scale up to meet massive demand. "Elasticity was critical," said Julian Thomas, chief technology officer at Pottermore. "We knew there were between 2 million and 20 million Harry Potter fans who were waiting to get on the site, and we had to be ready."

    Working hand-in-hand with Microsoft, Pottermore had its new site up and running in just three months. On April 14, Pottermore launched the new site with just a single tweet @pottermore "we're opening to everyone."

    "Literally within minutes, the traffic started to flood in," Thomas said. "The demand was just enormous, but the site continued to work properly, running on Windows Azure."

    Visual Studio Achievements for student Windows Azure developers

    There are many talented students working with Windows Azure, and we hope the Pottermore website will provide further inspiration for developers.  As additional motivation for students and to bring some game to their code, Microsoft has released Visual Studio Achievements. The achievements of students talents and learning are recognised as they perform various coding feats. This unlocks achievements and earn badges which can be shared and displayed on social network profiles and web sites.

    We recently announced an update to Visual Studio Achievements, adding 15 new achievements, all focused on Windows Azure development. The Visual Studio Achievements Extension includes fifteen new achievements, all focused on exercising features of Windows Azure. Using the extension, various achievements are unlocked based on your activity. When you unlock an achievement, Visual Studio lets you know visually with a pop-up. In addition, your Channel 9 profile is updated with any achievements you earn. So, head over to Channel9, sign up for an account and download the plugin.


    There are 15 Azure achievements, such as publishing to Windows Azure from Visual Studio (Heading into the Cloud), using page blobs (Attack of the Blob), using SQL Azure (Database Darling) and configuring start up tasks (It’s My Party). Two of the achievements – Phone in the Cloud and Game in the Cloud – require use of Windows Azure toolkits.


  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    System Centre Configuration Manager 2012 free eBooks


    If you’d like some step by step guidance on how to set up System Centre Configuration Manager 2012, you need look no further than this helpful eBook by Neil Hodgkinson.

    Neil is a Network Administrator at Twynham School has been hard at work over the last few months writing the eBook. It is now available at no cost on his blog Technodge.

    Technodge eBooks

    On Neil’s blog you will also find the start of his next series of eBooks, which is around the subject of application virtualisation using Microsoft App-V5.

    You can download the eBooks at


  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Exciting times ahead with the announcement of Microsoft Surface


    Midnight last night, the announcement made by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in LA that Microsoft are releasing our very own devises for Windows 8, the amazing looking Surface – a new family of computing devises.

    Surface with Windows 8 will offer some exciting opportunities for education, and already there is a real buzz around the office, as everyone wants to get there hands on one!

    At the moment, we don’t have a release date for the two models in the Surface family, Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro however, you can keep up to date with the information here or download the Windows Release Preview.


    And if you are anything like me, you too will love the launch video!

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Microsoft Cloud Day for Developers – June 22nd 2012, London


    Windows Azure, Windows 8, Devices and Open Source - The Microsoft Cloud Day on June 22nd at the Vue Cinema in Fulham, London is a free conference for public sector developers where you can find out more about the latest innovations in Microsoft technology for the cloud and open source.

    If you are building or considering building applications for the cloud, our one-day conference will provide invaluable insights and information on our latest innovations.

    There are four tracks in the Microsoft Cloud Day agenda:

    • Track 1: Core platform services such as infrastructure, data, High Performance Computing and big data.
    • Track 2: Sessions on PHP, node.js, Java and Office 365 and SharePoint.
    • Track 3: Sessions on developing for Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Windows 8 backed by Windows Azure.
    • Track 4: Sessions on Team Foundation Build, Agile, CI, MongoDB and Windows Azure.

    Registration for the Microsoft Cloud Day on June 22nd, 11:30-18:30 is free for developers and IT professionals from the Public Sector.

    You can find out more and register to attend the Microsoft Cloud Day here:

    Registration code for Public Sector developers and IT professionals: CG150SAMSMQ

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    The Sunday Papers Addition: 17th June


    This week’s roundup of posts -

    Get started using OneNote

    How to add a video to a PowerPoint presentation

    Microsoft UK Education upcoming live webcasts

    Kodu student activity: editing your world

    Controlling access on your child’s Windows Phone

    Supporting numeracy with Kinect Sports 

    Evidence that students do better with a PC at home

    Virtualisation in your school: Installation

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    Get started using OneNote


    Some of you might want to know what OneNote is. It's the ultimate digital notebook. Think of it as a giant container where you can collect and organise all sorts of information. You can use it as a scrapbook, photo album, research notebook, and more. A OneNote notebook is organised like a traditional notebook except you can add or delete as many sections and pages as you want.

    Today you'll learn how to:

    • Set up a notebook
    • Add sections and pages
    • Name sections and pages

    Setting up a new notebook

    Here you can see how OneNote is organised. Notebooks are listed in the left column, sections are the tabs on top, and pages within each section are listed in the right column.

    How OneNote is organized

    To create a new notebook:

    1. Go to File, and click New.
    2. Choose My Computer. (Later tips will discuss storing your notebook on the web or on a company network site.)
    3. Give your notebook a name, then click Create Notebook.

    Your new notebook opens with a section already in place,and you can add as many sections to it as you want.

    To add a new section to a notebook:

    1. You'll see a tab with a star on it to the right of a Section tab.
    2. Click the starred tab to create a new section.
    3. Each time you add a new section, another starred tab opens to the right.

    Create a new OneNote section

    To name a section:

    1. Name your sections by right-clicking the Section tab.
    2. Choose Rename, and type a name for the section.

    To add a new page:

    1. Click New Page on top of the right column.
    2. A new page is automatically added to the list.

    Add new OneNote page

    To name a new page:

    Type the title on the page itself, and the page tab automatically populates with the name.

    name a new OneNote page

    Now that you're notebook is set up, you can start putting stuff into it!

    Originally posted on the OneNote blog.

  • The UK Higher Education Blog

    How to add a video to a PowerPoint presentation


    Welcome to Office Tip Classics - a series of one-minute videos where you'll get to see clips of film classics and learn a tip about Office 2010. In this episode, school tough-guy Marty has a hard time keeping his cool after losing the class presentation contest.


    His teacher tries to cheer him up, explaining how to add a video to his PowerPoint presentation. Maybe he won't be such a sore loser next time.

    Originally posted on the Microsoft PowerPoint blog

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