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September, 2007 - Microsoft UK Schools blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The UK Schools Blog
News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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September, 2007

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Product launch invitation: PerformancePoint Server 2007

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    This is probably something for local authority teams, rather than individual schools, but I thought it worth a mention to everybody because there may be some schools who are interested in using this for their own monitoring - especially in federations, where information sharing across institutions allows for greater integration and communication.

    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 local authority, that you can create a single picture of attendance, attainment and exclusions, alongside key financial targets across the whole authority data set, and then map that against your wider CYPP targets.

    Although the launch event is aimed at the commercial sector, this struck me as a good opportunity for senior managers in local authorities too 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 senior managers, 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

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Futurelab annual conference - innovation, innovation, innovation

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    I realised today that I'd forgotten to remind everybody about Futurelab's conference, at the end of October. We're supporting it, but the reason I think you should go is that it brings together some of the key innovators, in an environment where it's okay to think radically, and talk about how things could be different....

    Futurelab's conference, this year entitled ‘Why Don't You...? Supporting innovative approaches in education' will take place on 30-31 October at INMARSAT, London.

    The conference has been designed to build on what might be done to enable and develop new practice to improve learning and teaching. Through inspiring keynotes and exciting, practical workshops, the conference explores the factors that prevent or discourage innovation in education, as well as the strategies, approaches and resources that support and nurture innovation.

    Keynote speakers include Trevor Baylis OBE, inventor of the clockwork radio; Shaa Wasmund, CEO, Bright Station Ventures; Professor Lizbeth Goodman, Founder of SMARTLab; and Donald Clark, Director of Strategy at LINE Communications. The two-day programme also includes workshops from Andy Black, Becta; MIT; and Natalie Jeremijenko, New York University.

    This exciting conference, supported by Microsoft and Promethean, will appeal to teachers, ICT co-ordinators, researchers, policy makers and the technology, software and creative industries.

    More information and a booking form can be found on the website at http://www.futurelab.org.uk/. Early bird rates available until 21 September.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    How to get the best deal on Microsoft software in Education

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    As you probably know, Microsoft sells our software through partners - just like consumer goods manufacturers, or people who make cars, we appoint a range of partners to supply our various products to our customers, including education.

    However, there are different types of partner - and knowing about the differences will help you to get the best deal when you are buying academic licences. Let me explain a bit more in a minute, but first I'll explain what our different licences are...

    Now, because this is me writing this, without a lawyer over my shoulder, then you can take this as a general guide, but to check anything specific you'll need to consult an official source - start with the Licensing information on the UK Education website, or talk to your Microsoft partner. And all of this info is specifically written with schools in the UK in mind - if you're not from a UK School, you'll definitely need to check with your usual Microsoft partner.

    The Windows licence supplied with a new computer

    When you buy a new computer there is a standard licence for Windows, which is provided to you by the computer manufacturer.

    COAEvery PC you buy should have a Windows licence provided with it (you can easily check to see, by looking for the Certificate of Authenticity (we call it a COA) stuck to the case. You'll need to have this licence to buy Academic upgrades for your Windows, for example to add a Windows Vista Business upgrade, or to move to a higher version (eg from Windows Vista Home Premium to Windows Vista Enterprise Edition). The reason that I've included the last bit, is that it is normally more cost effective to buy a Windows Home Basic/Premium licence with your new PC, and then upgrade to Windows Vista Business or Enterprise through the Select licence scheme (below).


    Types of licence - for your other Microsoft software

    Step One: For use in an education establishment, always buy an Academic licence.
    This is sold at a significantly lower cost than normal commercial licences - normally saving you about 80%. I'm 99% certain you already buy Academic licences, especially if you're buying a few at a time. But it is worth checking if you're not sure.

    Step Two: Decide whether you want to buy perpetual or subscription licences.
    'Perpetual' licences are exactly what they say - you buy them, and keep the licence forever. You are only licensed for the version you have bought. So if you buy a licence for Office 2003, you can't run Office 2007 without buying another licence.
    'Subscription' licences are where you pay to use the software for an agreed amount of time, usually a year. Of course, this costs less up-front, but more over a number of years (but does come with the automatic right to upgrade to newer versions).

    Perpetual Licence types
    For schools there are two main types - Select and Open licences.

    Select Licence
    This is normally the best deal of these two types, but there's a catch to be aware of (wouldn't you know it!). Select licences are designed for customers who normally buy lots of software - typically people with 250 PCs or more. In the rest of the world this isn't much of a problem, because local or central governments buy in bulk, on behalf of schools. But here in the UK, each school has complete choice - so you mostly buy individually. Secondary schools are normally large enough to buy Select licences, and most do. But for primary schools, it is normally difficult to reach the minimum purchasing quantities, so what you should do is identify whether you are able to join up into somebody else's Select agreement. For example, if your local authority education team have one (what's called a Master Select Agreement), which you can then buy through. This could save you quite a bit of money. There are other organisations that have these master agreements, like the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT), so if you're a member, you can buy through their agreement.

    Open Licence
    This scheme is normally more expensive than Select, but is handy if you want to just buy a single bit of software quickly, with a copy of the disks etc, and you don't have a Select agreement already in place. For example, if one member of staff needs a copy of Microsoft Project to help plan the new Sports Hall, and you need it now...

    Subscription Licence Types
    Or more accurately, subscription licence type - because for schools, the subscription is called School Agreement. This is a one year or three year option, where you decide which software you want (maybe a licence to upgrade all of your computers to Windows Vista Enterprise Edition, plus Office 2007 and licences to access a Windows Server and SharePoint server). You then count up all of your computers, and pay a fixed fee for them each year of the agreement. If you increase the number of your computers every year, you pay for those extra ones too. One of the best things about this is that you automatically have the right to upgrade yourself to the latest version - so schools that currently have an Agreement can start using Office 2007 from day one, without having to pay more. But bear in mind, that at the end of the agreement, you either have to continue with a new one, or stop using the software - because you've only paid for the right to use it for a set period of time, not forever. (If neither of these options sound appealing, you could also opt for "buy out" licences - where you convert from a licence for a set period of time to a perpetual licence. The info on that is here)

    Phew, we've got this far. Let me summarise:


    • You need a Windows licence with your new PC, which is normally provided by the manufacturer. Consider Select licence upgrades to get from basic versions to the advanced versions of Windows.
    • For all of your other Microsoft software, your best option is to buy a Select licence or a School Agreement licence.

    The "Partner" bit

    There are two main types of partner that can sell you Academic licences.

    • Education Large Account Resellers (or EdLARs)
      Stop. Just before you think "I'm not a large account" and skip this bit, read on!
      These partners are our largest education partners, and they can sell you any of our Academic licence types. We call them "Large Account Resellers" because they are our largest resellers, not because you have to be "large account" to buy from them. So even the smallest primary school should get a quote from them!
    • Authorised Education Resellers (or AERs)
      These tend to be partners that are either much smaller, or where education customers are just a small part of a bigger business. They can only provide some of the Academic licences I've mentioned above. So you can get a School Agreement or Open Licence from them, you can't get a Select Licence (which is the lower priced of the two perpetual licences).

      I can hear you thinking "So, if AERs can't always sell me the lowest cost licence, why would I buy from them?". Good question.
      Well, back to the example of a small primary school - you may prefer to deal with a bigger company, because you think that's how you get the best value; or you may prefer to deal with a local company, just around the corner, because you think that's how you get the best service. So if you wanted a couple of computers, with the software installed for you, and an agreement that they'll pop around and fix any problems, you could got to a local company, who is a Microsoft AER, and will supply you with Academic licences under the Open scheme. It might cost a little more, but you may be willing to pay for that to get a local supplier. It's your choice.
      You should always check that you get the licence paperwork - for example, the original software CD and the licence key - when you buy an Open Licence, and especially if the software has already been installed for you. If you don't get this, you'll have no proof that you own the licence for the software you are running on those computers.

    Okay, let me summarise again:


    • I'd recommend that you always consider buying your Microsoft software from an Education Large Account Reseller, because they can offer you all the possible licence types, including the Select licence option, and therefore can offer the most cost effective one for your circumstances.

    Finding the right partner

    The UK Education website contains the lists of partners.

    EdLARs all work nationally, so there's a page with all of their contact details (at the time of writing, there's 20 to choose from)

    AERs tend to work more locally, so you can search in your local area by county or town, or by company name


    Licensing can be complex, but it is worth spending a little time to understand a little more - you could save your school money.

    Let me ask you a question now - Did this article help you at all? Did it make licensing easier to understand? If I hadn't written this, would you have noticed? Please add a comment to the blog or email me, and let's talk about it... 


    Remember what I said at the beginning - because this is me writing this, without a lawyer over my shoulder, then you can take this as a general guide, but to check anything specific you'll need to consult an official source - start with the Licensing information on the UK Education website, or talk to your Microsoft partner. And all of this info is specifically written with schools in the UK in mind - if you're not from a UK School, you'll definitely need to check with your usual Microsoft partner.

     

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    World Teachers' Day - October 5 2007

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    A colleague in America (where else?) has reminded me that we're approaching World Teachers' Day (or, as our US colleagues refer to it, World Teacher Appreciation Day) according to UNESCO. I kind of feel the usual British-stiff-upper-lip about this kind of thing, but will join with all of my other Microsoft blog writers and write an item on the day about the teacher who changed my life as I was passing through their care. My example is related to cinematography (I'm too old for it to have been related to 'computing', as it was then) but I wonder if there are a wave of pupils leaving schools more recently who would describe an interaction with their teacher, and ICT, that would have changed the course of their life? 

    Discuss...

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Windows Vista - a shiny, new brochure!

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    We've just published a new Windows Vista brochure specifically for schools, which provides a good overview of the reasons for using Windows Vista, and the way that it can support teaching and learning in your school. Yes, it is a bit of marketing, but put that to one side, and think about what you've heard about Windows Vista so far. I bet most of it has been about what to do with it in business, or as a consumer. But how does it work in the classroom? That's what this documents sets out, and also how it can help the ICT teams in school to run your ICT more seamlessly. And when the next teacher wanders in to the IT Suite and says "What's all this Vista stuff all about?", it may just help you.

     If you want printed copies, drop me an email using the link above.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Windows Vista - after hours technology events

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    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)

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Thin Client, Rich Client or hybrid?

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    This isn't for everybody - it's a technical guide, written primarily for IT staff - but I've posted information because I know that it will be of interest to people involved with BSF, and some schools and local authorities have implemented some of the technologies described, and the case studies could help if you're planning ahead, and wondering what your network should look like in 5 years' time.

    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

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Would You Like To Know Even More About Unified Communications?

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    Exchange Tour Unplugged 2007

    24th October - 5th November 2007
    Reading, London, Sheffield, Manchester, Maidenhead, Warwickshire & Glasgow

     

    This isn't for everybody, but if you are involved with running the ICT in a big or multi-site secondary school, the technologies underlying this could help you to imagine a completely different way of enabling communications between staff, and potentially using Windows Mobile devices to link back to your communications as well as your IT systems. I've seen some schools that have already implemented systems like this - and it has changed that way that staff are able to work together and collaborate - and made life easier for the office team too! 

    More dates have just been announced, covering much more of the country.

    This is your opportunity to get the inside scoop on Exchange Server 2007,  Office Communications Server 2007 and the rest of the Unified Communications platform.

    Microsoft UK’s Unified Communications (UC) specialists will all be there to guide you through Exchange Server 2007, Office Communications Server 2007,  Mobility and the rest of the Unified Communications stack. You’ll learn, first-hand, how Exchange 2007 has changed in response to customer feedback,  how to migrate from your existing solution to a unified communications solution and how Office Communications Server 2007 can help your users communicate more effectively.

    Sessions will include:

    • Exchange Server 2007 including SP1, an architectural overview and details on how it integrates into the rest of the UC suite.
    • Real world experience from a customer.
    • How to migrate from your existing platform to a new UC platform.  It’s not just ‘move mailbox’.  This section will cover other essential parts of migration including storage, public folders and hardware.
    • How email and voicemail are coming together in Exchange 2007 in Unified Messaging. Also covered in this section is how Outlook Voice Access give can give you another way in which to interact with your inbox.
    • Mobility and how Windows Mobile,  Exchange 2007 and Office Communications Server 2007 provide secure and scalable communications such as email, calendaring, presence and IM across an array of mobile devices.
    • Office Communications Server 2007. Communication can be seen, typed or heard.  Hear about the latest entrant into the Unified Communications stack and how it will change the way in which people will communicate forever.

    This is a brilliant opportunity to hear about the technologies that make up the Unified Communications stack and shouldn’t be missed.

    Register to attend one of these free events

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