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June, 2012 - 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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June, 2012

  • Microsoft UK Schools 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!

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Immerse your students in a subject with Bing


    It’s amazing what you can find on a Bing map. Discover interactive, 3-D Photosynth® technology and encourage students toexplore historic or curious places as if they’re standing right there.


    1) Take a virtual field trip

    Other online maps show you the roof of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. With a Photosynth found on Bing maps, you can explore the galleries inside.

    2) Go on safari

    Visit Africa on Bing Maps. Head to Tanzania and set your students loose on the Serengeti plains with wild 3-D synths of giraffes, zebras, and much more.

    3) Take a trip in a time machine

    Bring ancient Greece and the Parthenon to your classroom. Get close enough to see the lichen on the rocks of Stonehenge. Share an archaeological dig in Egypt. Or see the battlefield at Gettysburg as it looks today.

    4) Study architecture

    Photosynth lets you compare the colourful domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow to the majestic Taj Majal in India to Toronto’s modern SkyDome.

    5) Make any subject more engaging

    Imagine lots of crisp digital photos stitched seamlessly together to create eye-popping experiences you control. The Photosynth world offers ways to engage your students no matter the subject — biology, history, geography, or art. It’s a world of possibilities found on Bing Maps.

    For more information, including a step-by-step instruction guide and related videos, go to:

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Kodu at Cadoxton Primary School


    Last week I had the pleasure of working with the Digital Leaders at Cadoxton Primary School in Barry, South Wales. We looked at and explored Kodu . They all had a copy to take home, to begin to investigate for themselves. Our options in school were limited at the present time, as the school is developing an innovative PC network. This is based on Windows Multipoint Server and powered by Solar Energy, which sounds amazing and will be a fantastic and innovative resource when the installation is completed.


    So we discussed Kodu, I did some demos and we thought about what skills they might employ to develop computer games.

    Here are two initial reactions from Rhys and Tegan, two of this great and talented group of pupils.

    Last Wednesday I worked with Microsoft using a programme called KODU . KODU is a programme were you create your own video games .I enjoyed using KODU because it was like I was a professional programmer. When we learnt how to work it we created our own game. I liked it when we found out how to score points because I want to challenge anyone who might play my games. Now we have KODU on our memory sticks we can access it at home it is amazing.boom


    I attended a Kodu workshop with Microsoft, I enjoyed Kodu because it was an easy, interesting and engaging way for me to create games it used lots of colours and the design was cool. The character (Kodu) was adorable. It was amazing making him turn pink! I liked the fact that you had to use lots of computer keys in the game. It filter.fishwas interesting to program the Kodu, their simple sentences used some confusing language! I loved the fact that we could use it at home as well as school. It had a wide variety of characters suitable for boys and girls. Overall I was ecstatic that I could make create and design my own using the Kodu software.

    Thanks to all the Digital Leaders at Cadoxton Primary School , I look forward to hearing a lot more from you in the future.

    By Stuart Ball

  • Microsoft UK Schools 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.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Cost savings in education–know your school’s set-up


    Know your own IT story from the start

    Most existing schools have a mixture of ICT provisions that, over the years, has organically grown in response to a succession of short or medium-term needs. New software and hardware added. New curriculum areas, departments, technologies, even whole new buildings appear.

    After a few years, what does the school’s IT landscape look like? What does your IT look like? Is it well integrated, transparent, and as future-proof as anything can be? Or is it, like so many, a rambling collection of assets that need continuous attention to keep going?


    Where that’s the case, it makes sense to start the cost saving journey by making sure that you know not only what hardware and software you have, but how it’s funded, and what it’s actually doing for the school.

    That way you can see exactly where you are, and have a baseline against which to measure future progress. It’s a case of being able to answer questions like this, and these are only a sample.

    ‘Exactly what software licences and licensing structures do we have? How and when are we paying? Will any licences run out? If so when, and what’s the follow up plan?’

    ‘What about those sixteen computers in the old library? Are they earning their living?’

    ‘Is the network infrastructure proof against all the new demands we might make?’

    ‘What will need replacing/updating this year, next year, in three years time?’

    ‘What’s the most heavily used hardware/software, and what is hardly ever deployed? Do we have figures on that?’

    We could go on like this, but you get the picture. Look at your ICT through an outsider’s eyes. The aim is to be capable of answering any questions about it. If the information is not in the network manager’s head, then it should be easily accessible.

    Our mission here is to help you make those good decisions, and reap benefits from the extensive efforts being made by Microsoft® to provide products for education which are both affordable in themselves, and also capable of contributing to across-the board spending.

    To assist with this, and as part of our on-going series of eBooks, we have partnered with the Guardian to make our new 'Cost Saving in Education' eBook exclusively available within their Teacher Network until the end of September 2012. The eBook can be viewed/downloaded directly via the Guardian's Teacher Network download centre.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    How best to use technology in schools - from UK school Principal and founder of The Skills Lab


    Without substantial institutional rethinking more students will question what schooling is for.” – UK

    Chris Gerry, Owner and founder of The Skills Lab - UK

    To Chris Gerry, innovation isn’t about making small changes – it’s about complete systemic alterations that rebuild and redefine learning. In fact, during Gerry’s 18 years as high school principal – notably as Executive Principal of the Future Schools Trust, which encompasses Cornwallis Academy and New Line Learning Academy – he completely rebuilt three schools. “I have been interested in how the teacher work model can be re-formulated to enable teachers to work in teams rather than in social isolation,” says Gerry. “Isolated individuals tend to see their social skills decline over time as they lack feedback. I have developed larger spaces where pupils have technology to assist them and teachers work in teams.”

    With this model in mind, Gerry led the building of a sophisticated metrics model that measures risk factors for children who are not being successful, and attempts measured interventions to ensure that they are. Additionally, he has focused on measuring student social skills – self-management, work ethic, the ability to work in groups – and correlate deficiencies in these spheres with academic performance. Taking these and other measures together, Gerry and his team built a “Business Intelligence” system that uses numbers to assess school performance in a variety of domains on a day-to-day basis. “Insights gained from these approaches have enabled the schools to make significant progress as measured by more conventional exam performance,” says Gerry.

    Today, Gerry heads up The Skills Lab, which “brings ideas and people together to test new initiatives in education.
    The aim is to create smart, simple and practical tools that facilitate cultural change in education to allow young people to develop the skills they need to access wider life opportunities.”

    Here, Gerry shares his thoughts on the best way to reform schools in times of financial austerity, how to best use technology in schools, and what “innovation” really means to him.

    What has changed as a result of your efforts?

    The shape and feel of education within these schools is different but the whole system is designed to usher in more online learning for students as we shift the role of the teacher from ‘sage on the stage’ to ‘guide on the side.’ Larger flexible spaces enable that shift to take place.

    Additionally, schools with this design are cheaper to build (by about 24%) and – potentially – cheaper to operate.

    How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?

    Innovation in school has traditionally been weak because few people think of changing all the variables in the process. Looking at space, technology, metrics, management, experience and outcomes as a total system enables more effective modernization of the whole rather than individual pieces. The issue in many school systems around the world is that there is a poor grasp of cost and local schools have limited autonomy to act. The educational bureaucracies that support schools can be very slow-moving. The UK is fortunate in having a very minimalist bureaucracy beyond the school itself. The country has also supported schools by giving them their own budgets and enabling the schools to hire and fire at their own discretion. This has produced quite agile institutions.

    Change does involve risk and one reason we see so few significant innovative approaches is that – in the words of John Maynard Keynes – ‘Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for reputations to fail conventionally than succeed unconventionally.’

    How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?

    Yes, hugely. All our schools have had 1:1 computer access for some years. Recently that has shifted to mobile devices within an all-wireless environment. We have also invested heavily in screen and projection technologies.

    What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are
    receiving a quality education?

    The current government has shifted focus away from skill acquisition towards more traditional knowledge acquisition. I believe this is a mistake as employers do not complain about historical knowledge, but they do complain about a lack of basic skills, self-anagement skills and work ethic. With an economy where more than ninety percent of workers are employed in the service sector, we are surely missing something by not focusing on these areas.

    What is your country doing well currently to support education?

    Funding remains positive despite recent cutbacks. Increasing the autonomy of
    individual schools via the Academies program has also been positive. An insistence on academic rigor is no bad thing either – except note my comments above.

    What conditions must change in your country to better support education?

    We have to start teaching and measuring skills.

    What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?

    Systematic remodeling of the education system through the deployment of new ways of thinking combined with a shrewd understanding of costs. We have to do more with less and be more effective. In austere times, societies tend to become more conservative in their thinking when in fact these are the times to embrace substantial and significant reforms. In the US it is notable that looming state bankruptcies have forced some rethinking with the consequence that 3 million US students are today receiving some of their learning online. This ‘disruptive innovation’ – to use Clayton Christensen’s term – needs to be seized upon and thought through. Additionally we have to think how a 19th century model can be brought into the 21st. That means changes to curriculum, assessment, where and when students learn, how they learn and links with the world of employment.

    What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?

    If you are interested in change, then get to a position where you can influence it.

    What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?

    Online developments are helping. I think that without substantial institutional rethinking more students will question what schooling is for. This works disproportionally against more deprived groups who have to face daily the privations of poverty. We have to find better ways to support such groups.

    If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?

    I would give them a device to connect to the Internet, plus some sites to visit as they can learn a lot from the online world.

    About Chris Gerry

    Owner and founder of The Skills Lab. Gerry was formerly the Executive Principal at Future Schools Trust Schools in Maidstone Kent UK from 2005 until 2011. He built two new schools based around the concept of “plaza learning”: larger spaces with a great deal of technology (1:1 laptops) and a reorganization of the teaching model.

    Birthplace: Cornwall, UK
    Current residence: Tunbridge Wells Kent, UK
    Education: 1972: BA(Hons) American History, University of Sussex; Brighton UK
    1974: Wien Scholar, Brandeis University, Waltham MA, USA
    1976: MA, History, Brown University Providence RI, USA
    1982: PhD American History, University of Sussex
    1982: PGCE (teaching qualification) University of Sussex
    Website I check every day:
    Person who inspires me most: Franklin Roosevelt
    Favorite childhood memory: I don’t really have one!
    Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Shanghai in July for work
    When was the last time you laughed? Why? All the time. Brits are known for their sense of humor and enjoyment of the absurd.
    Favorite book: Good-bye to All That by Robert Graves
    Favorite music: Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue
    Your favorite quote or motto: ‘Things that can’t go on forever, don’t.’ – Herb Stein, economic adviser to Richard Nixon

    Originally posted on daily edventures

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Welcome to Office 365 for education


    Starting today, Microsoft Office 365 for education is available, providing the world’s best productivity, communications and collaboration experiences to schools at no cost.

    The cloud and online learning are key trends transforming education today. Office 365 for education delivers a holistic collaboration platform that will change the game,” said Anthony Salcito, vice president of worldwide education, Microsoft. “As schools face ever-tightening budgets and the pressure to innovate, we are offering enterprise quality technology for free that will modernize teaching practices and help prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow.”

    At BETT 2011 we announced that Office 365 would be coming to our education customers – an upgrade for the current Live@edu service used by over 22M users worldwide. Over the last few months some of our early adopter customers, including University of Dundee, Westminster University and The Schools Network (formerly SSAT) have been deploying this upgraded service and they’re really happy with the results.

    The university selected Office 365 over Google Apps because it gives us a robust enterprise-class platform for developing a radical new approach to collaboration and communication that goes far beyond email

    Tom Mortimer, Director, Information and Communication Services, University of Dundee

    As of right now education institutions can sign up for the Office 365 for education 30-day trial for free via the Office 365 website.


    Classrooms Without Boundaries

    Office 365 allows schools to teach from virtually anywhere*, reach more students, teach software skills employers are looking for and provide enterprise-class tools that reduce IT costs.

    Students can engage in ad-hoc instant messaging or video chats to collaborate on class projects in real time, regardless of where they are working or on what device. They can create documents with Office Web Apps that provide the same features as the desktop version of Microsoft Office, share class notes by synchronizing OneNote notebooks, and create digital portfolios.

    Teachers can create curriculum, record lectures and publish them on online class sites in the cloud where students are able to view, open, produce, edit and share their homework. Office 365 provides new ways to extend classroom teaching time and distance learning, tutor students online, and whiteboard ideas.

    Educational institutions and parents will get peace of mind knowing students’ content and personal data are protected and won’t be scanned for advertising purposes, thanks to a rich set of privacy, security and protection capabilities that adhere to federal laws.

    School IT departments can save money and free up more critical time by counting on Microsoft to manage routine tasks such as applying server updates and software upgrades. With the influx of digital content, datacentre demands and lessened and with 25GB mailboxes, people won’t be forced to purge files.

    *An appropriate device, Internet connection, supported browser and/or carrier network connectivity are required. Data charges may apply.

    What should I do now?
    Go over to the Office 365 for education site and sign up for a 30-day trial!

    Education institutions currently using the Microsoft Live@edu platform will be upgraded to Office 365 beginning this summer.

    Originally posted on UK Education Cloud Blog

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Benenden School saves 40% on cost of new PBX with Lync 2010


    Leading girls school Benenden School needed to replace its private branch exchange (PBX) telephony system. Having considered offers from four different PBX vendors, the school chose Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Standard Edition for telephony and unified communications. The Microsoft solution cost 40 per cent less than any of the competing offerings. Plus, it was scalable and easily accommodated new accounts for staff and students.

    To learn more, view/download the full case study below:

  • Microsoft UK Schools 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.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Keep within your school’s budget with our free cost savings eBook


    It’s important that a school sees its ICT not as a drain on the budget but as a contributor to efficient and cost-effective learning.


    In our first Cost Saving eBook, we started out by urging network managers not to allow their department to be seen as a drain on precious resources. They have to present it instead as a value-for-money driver of efficiency for the whole institution.

    It’s a case of moving the school leadership from this –  

    ‘Information Technology costs us money, and we’re living in hard times.’ 

    To this,

    ‘We’re living in hard times and information technology can save us money.’

    It’s a change of mindset, from technology as a cost to technology as an investment. The aim is for the school’s leadership to make that change, but before that can happen, the people immediately engaged with ICT, such as network managers and ICT leaders, have to believe in it themselves.

    That means doing the research, learning and knowing exactly how, when and at what cost (if any) your school’s ICT resources, plans and policies can be deployed, or changed for the maximum impact on your school’s budget.

    We, with our Microsoft Partners, can help you with that, and if you read this eBook first, you’ll have a good idea of the right questions to ask.

    We have partnered with the Guardian to make our new 'Cost Saving in Education' eBook exclusively available within their Teacher Network until the end of September 2012. The eBook can be viewed/downloaded directly via the Guardian's Teacher Network download centre.

    We would love to hear what you think!

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