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Office & SharePoint Pro
With the economy in the dumps (at least that's what we're being led to over-subscribe to), market watchers look more closely at the futures of the markets to determine the likely movement of those markets during the day. In this issue, I'd like to share some of my thoughts on the futures that affect us in the SharePoint community. At the PDC last week in Los Angeles, Microsoft shared some insight into some truly amazing and community-reinvigorating futures! Things are looking very much "up."
The Azure Services Platform
Microsoft lifted the veil on the platform that Steve Ballmer started to talk about in late September: the Azure Services Platform. Folks, I think this is great. The "nutshell" version of Azure is that familiar Windows operating systems, services, and applications will be available "in the cloud" as well as "in the box," and you will be able to leverage and develop applications that span both. Small shop? Services in the cloud will be more affordable, hosted by Microsoft in its massive datacenters. Big shop? Host the same applications internally. Dynamic shop? Parts of applications hosted in the cloud, parts locally; some users served by the cloud, some locally. Across all devices. This is the first step toward the "anytime, anywhere" vision that seems the next common sense place for IT to go. This really is huge, and depending on whether you're a developer, an IT pro, an IT leader, or an end user, the impact will be different, so read up on Azure Services on Microsoft's site and on our own Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows. But this is the future. It's rich, seamless, dynamic, and agile, and it is likely to be easily adopted, both because of the flexibility the model provides to enterprises and the familiarity it provides to a billion users of Microsoft operating systems and applications worldwide.
SharePoint Services gets its own "Azure" treatment as well. Details are light for now, but will certainly be forthcoming. As you know, Microsoft is just about to finalize the launch of Microsoft Online Services, which provides hosted Microsoft Office SharePoint Services (along with Exchange, Live Meeting, and eventually Office Communications Server) at a very cost-effective rate to enterprises of any size. Microsoft also hosts dedicated SharePoint services for large enterprise customers. SharePoint 14 will extend this trend as it becomes increasingly service oriented, and Azure promises the ability for developers to create applications that use SharePoint capabilities from Azure. This could get very interesting.
The details about Office 14 are only slightly richer, as Microsoft demonstrated Office Web Applications. Office Web Applications are Microsoft Office in the cloud: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. (Outlook is provided by Outlook Web Access--OWA--which will become an Outlook lookalike in Outlook 14, I bet). These are no AJAX-based demi-applications. These things look rich. They provide what looks to be an insanely good user experience from the browser or from a software client. The browser based versions are Silverlight, and Microsoft demonstrated Office Web Applications in both Internet Explorer (IE) and Firefox, which bodes well for other browsers-anything that supports Silverlight-- means Macs and Linux too!. See some compelling screenshots on Paul Thurrott's site. One of the more interesting features is the ability for multiple users to work in documents at the same time and see each other’s changes. This could make for a great lightweight online meeting-slash-collaboration functionality, eh?
Plenty of sources have detailed the exciting changes that Microsoft is bringing to Windows 7, the successor to Vista. Yes, it's being dubbed "Vista done right." Ya know, there could be worse monikers. Vista was built with a heavy emphasis on the back end, particularly security, to the detriment of some fundamental functionality (file copies pre-SP1, anyone?) and usability. Microsoft heard the screams (mostly undeserved, but screams nonetheless) loud and clear, and this version focuses on the user experience in a big, big way. While some of Microsoft's competitors focus first on flash, then on the underlying architecture, Microsoft took the reverse route. Now, at least, the roads come together. Windows 7 is sexy, usable, and streamlined. It was demonstrated on an ultralite computer with a 1GHz processor and 1GB of RAM... the OS can run in less than 512MB and boots up much faster. It's likely to have fast boot options that will provide functionality for watching DVDs or other media without requiring the full OS. And because Windows 7 is built on the same kernel as Vista, we won't suffer from vendors who leverage a Windows upgrade to obsolete their drivers and hardware… in other words, no compatibility problems. Thank goodness!
Windows Server 2008 R2
Windows Server 2008 R2 is also on the horizon, with big improvements to virtualization and virtual machine (VM) management. Among the big headlines here: 64-bit only! This is something Microsoft disclosed awhile ago, so there are no surprises, but now we are on final notice. It's happening! I'm most excited about PowerShell 2.0 and the new PowerShell-based consoles, including the Active Directory Administration Console. There's lots more going on-again I refer you to Paul's Windows Server 2008 preview.
It's a Great Time to Buy a New Computer
So we're coming to the end of the tax year for most of us, and the US Government (and many other governments) allow us to deduct the purchase of business assets to some extent. If you have computers that are not in primo shape, or if you are lucky enough to have a little money to spend from this year's budget, consider buying those new computers now.
Here's why. All the major vendors have just released brand new models based on the very latest, thinnest, most power-friendly Intel (and AMD) chipsets. Checking out sites such as Dell or HP or Lenovo, I can find phenomenal systems. On the "value" end of the spectrum, new models offer more storage, better power utilization, and key new interfaces including eSATA. On the "high-powered workstation" end of the spectrum, I find laptops easily powerful enough to edit HD video and burn it to a BluRay disc. Editing HD video is about the most intensive task we currently ask of business computers. If those systems are available now, and if vendors are hungry to make deals given the economy, it might be a great time to replace those systems on their last leg.
I believe a computer bought today (particularly on the more powerful end) will have a much longer usable lifespan than at any point in recent history. Because of the work I do, I expect a high-end laptop to last 1-2 years at most. I can see new systems lasting 3 years now, for me. They are 64-bit, support lots of RAM, HyperV, BluRay, eSATA, mobile broadband, and all the most demanding and in-demand components. Especially now that we see that Windows 7's hardware requirements might actually be lower than Vista's, and that powerful new functionality will be coming to us from Microsoft from the cloud, not necessarily from local power, my hunch is strengthened even more.
I know times are tough, and not every organization can look at hardware replacement. But spend some time considering what you're going to be asking your computers to do for the next couple of years, and make sure you're not caught short later on. I've been running into technical limitations on my 18-month old laptop, and I'm excitedly looking forward to my new laptop.
The Excitement is Palpable
There are a lot of people excited about what they saw at the PDC last week. There's good reason for that. Vista was a necessary replumbing of the Windows OS for security, and yes things could have been done better. Now they are. We've watched Google and other Web 2.0 vendors begin to make strides into cloud-based applications, and Microsoft's vision has been non-disclosure. Now we see Microsoft coming out fighting, and with a vision that makes great sense. Take what we already know--the OSs, the applications, and (perhaps most importantly) the development tools, and make them available inside or outside our enterprise networks, on our laptops, our phones, and our ultra-mobiles. Let us get to our data from anywhere, and let a huge community of developers and ISVs create value-rich applications on top of these services. People are excited because this is exciting stuff. The future, at least for Microsoft, is bright!
Until next week, all the best!
danh at intelliem dot (top level commercial domain)
Events and Resources
If I Ran Microsoft..." ITTV Video Contest
Here's your chance to tell it like it is! "If I ran Microsoft" is the inaugural video contest of ITTV (http://ct.email.officesharepointpro.com/rd/cts?d=33-16843-982-443-3598-1785769-0-0-0-1-2-196), a new video sharing site devoted to all things IT. Brought to you by your friends at Windows IT Pro, ITTV provides access to technical videos, interviews, product evaluations, demos, screencast tutorials, special features, and much more. The first 250 entrants earn a free t-shirt and are entered to win one of three 8GB Zunes to be given away. But hurry--the contest ends December 31, 2008. Register here.
Don't Miss This Free Online Event!
Virtualization: Get the Facts! November 13, 2008 (North America), November 20, 2008 (Europe). Attend this live in-depth online virtual conference on November 13 and 20, 2008, produced by Windows IT Pro. Virtualization experts Michael Otey, Mel Beckman, and Mike Campbell will provide the knowledge you need to successfully implement your virtualization solution in whatever environment you choose--server, application, or desktop. All registrants are eligible to receive a complimentary one-year (12 issues) digital subscription to Windows IT Pro (a $49.95 value)! Register here.
SharePoint Training Event, November 20 in UK
SharePoint has the potential to revolutionize the way your enterprise works, but the path to SharePoint expertise isn't an easy one. Hype and spin cloud the picture. New technologies take time to master, and aligning with your business requirements can be a challenge.
In this in-depth, in-person event on 20 November, 2008, at the Manchester United Football Club, you'll learn how to make the most of SharePoint to deliver collaborative solutions that solve real-world business challenges and ensure a successful end-user adoption of this powerful technology.
Featured White paper
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SharePoint Conections event returns to Las Vegas November 10-13
Connections returns to Las Vegas for this exciting event. Each attendee will receive a copy of SQL Server 2008 Standard edition with one CAL. The event is colocated with Microsoft ASP.NET, SQL Server, and Windows Connections and offers over 250 in-depth sessions delivered by 150+ Microsoft and industry experts. Last year's Connections event sold out at 5,000 attendees, so register today.
http://ct.email.officesharepointpro.com/rd/cts?d=33-16843-982-443-3598-1785774-0-0-0-1-2-196 or call 1-800-438-6720
Ease Your Scripting Pains with the Flexibility of PowerShell!
Join MVP Paul Robichaux on December 11, 2008, at 11:00 AM EDT as he equips you with PowerShell basics in 3 introductory lessons--all on your own computer! For only $99, you'll learn how to
* enter and run commands with and without aliases and experiment safely with the -whatif switch
* string together information to format and export it in a variety of ways
* mix and match variables and command output
Seats are limited to allow for lots of live Q&A at the end. Register today!
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