Tech Strategy Trends

March 21, 2012  1:28 PM

Microsoft Cuts Back on Free Software for TechNet Subscribers

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

One of the benefits of subscribing to Microsoft TechNet is that it gains you access to the latest Microsoft software. But, TechNet subscribers will soon have a little less access.

An announcement on the TechNet subscriptions home page explains:

Beginning in mid-March 2012, subscribers to TechNet Subscriptions (excluding TechNet Standard which are entitled to 2 keys per product) may access a maximum allocation of three (3) product keys for Microsoft Office and Windows Client products in connection with their subscription. The allotted keys may only be used for software evaluation purposes. Once the maximum keys have been activated, no more keys will be made available. Additional product keys may be acquired through the purchase of an additional subscription.

Ed Bott points out that this is actually the second time in less than two years that Microsoft has slashed the TechNet subscriber benefits. It used to be 10 registration keys per product, then 5, and now it has been slashed to three.

Microsoft claims the move is an attempt to reduce software piracy from TechNet subscribers abusing their privileges and sharing software product keys with others. The TechNet product keys are for evaluation purposes only, though, so three should be plenty to evaluate a given operating system or application.

Do you think the move by Microsoft is justified?

March 20, 2012  8:09 AM

Windows 8 Launch Slated for October

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

Not that it takes a Nostradamus to predict, but sources are now confirming that Microsoft plans to officially launch Windows 8 in October of this year. The timing is great for the holidays–that is, assuming that the OS is well-received.

I’ve been working with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview on my Dell XPS M1330 notebook, and so far I’m not really sold. I mean, it has a lot of nice features, and I like it in general. But, I love Windows 7, and Windows 8 feels like Windows 7 with Metro added as an additional, frustrating layer I have to work through to get to the features and capabilities I actually want to use.

I think Metro is the key to the success of Windows 8, though. I think Microsoft needs to get it right, and that it needs to have massive support from app developers. Finally, the hardware developers that create Windows 8 tablets need to create sleek, compelling devices at competitive prices to position Windows 8 tablets aggressively against the dominant Apple iPad.

If Windows 8 tablets can live up to expectations, and if ultrabooks are introduced with touchscreens and other features that leverage the capabilities of Windows 8, it could be a very nice holiday season for Microsoft and its partners. But, don’t expect existing Windows users to rush out in droves to pay for an upgrade to the latest OS.

March 8, 2012  4:56 PM

Microsoft Questions Legality of Onlive Streaming Windows / Office

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

OnLive has a very impressive service. For a nominal fee you can stream a complete Windows 7 desktop–with Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, and even Adobe Flash–right to your iPad or Android tablet. The service is different than a remote desktop connection back to your own Windows 7 PC somewhere because this is a Windows 7 virtual desktop hosted from the cloud.

If that scenario seems too good to be true, perhaps it’s because it is. It turns out there may be some issues of legality and software licensing when it comes to sharing a Windows 7 environment from the cloud.

Joe Matz, corporate vice president of worldwide Licensing and pricing at Microsoft, explains in a blog post:

“Customers that want to work with partners to have them host Windows 7 in a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure solution on their behalf, can do so when the customer provides the partner licenses through the customer’s own agreements with Microsoft. The hosting hardware must be dedicated to, and for the benefit of the customer, and may not be shared by or with any other customers of that partner.”

What that means is that OnLive *can* provide a virtual Windows 7 desktop for customers, but only if those customers have acquired all of the appropriate Windows and Microsoft Office software licenses, and only if OnLive hosts it from hardware specifically dedicated to that client.

Something tells me that following the rules might make the service significantly more expensive and less appealing.

February 28, 2012  10:49 AM

Skype for Windows Phone Is Step in the Right Direction

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

Skype has finally come to the Windows Phone platform–and it’s wearing a fresh coat of Metro UI paint. It took longer than I expected for Microsoft to get Skype onto Windows Phone, and the current form and function is not as integrated as I had hoped for. But, I guess they have to start somewhere.

Tony Cripps, principal analyst at Ovum believes that Skype fills one of the obvious application gaps on Microsoft’s smartphone platform, but that this first beta represents a baby step on the path to a larger vision.

“At least in its initial guise, Skype for Windows Phone offers a fairly typical Skype experience on smartphones running as a standalone application. We expect this to change in future iterations with Skype becoming a more pervasive part of the Windows Phone software platform and experience, with its functionality integrated tightly with applications and services across the phone increasing its utility.

“Moreover, this is an important step in Microsoft’s strategy to make Skype a ubiquitous – and unavoidable – part of its product portfolio, integrated wherever it makes sense to do so. A pervasive Skype has much greater potential to disrupt existing models of communication than one that is dependent on users proactively choosing to install it.

“In this capacity it could begin to act as a social “glue” helping to drive usage of the service and furthering sales of Skype-enabled Microsoft products considerably in future. It could eventually help blur the lines between business users and consumers with Skype increasingly seen as simply a convenient tool to communication available anywhere.”

February 28, 2012  9:51 AM

Attend MVP Nation from Your Couch

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

The text on the registration site says it all:

World’s First Windows 8 Conference is now being Broadcast Live Globally!

You asked we listened.  No Travel, No Airfare and No Hotel.  There are only 500 virtual seats so act fast.  Get 2 full days of Windows 8 and Windows Server 8 insight for only $99.00.

I will be at MVP Nation 2012 presenting on a panel about Windows 8 tablets on Saturday. No matter where you are in the world, you can attend the MVP Nation conference and get all of the valuable information and insight on the upcoming Windows 8 for a mere $99.

That’s a tough deal to beat–especially as far as conference registration and attendance is usually concerned.

February 21, 2012  10:50 AM

Office for iPad Coming Soon?

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

Microsoft appears to finally be embracing a strategy I have been evangelizing for years. Rather than building walls that try to force users to stick with the Windows operating system, or Windows Phone smartphones, Microsoft seems to be expanding its horizons and working to ensure that end users are still Microsoft customers no matter what platform they’re working from.

Microsoft already offers OneNote for iPad, and recently added OneNote for Android. It has also revealed that there will be Microsoft Office 15 apps for the upcoming ARM-based Windows 8 tablets, and it has expanded the SkyDrive cloud storage ecosystem to span multiple platforms ranging from Windows to Mac OS X to Windows Phone to iOS.

Now, there are rumors–including alleged images of the actual apps–that Microsoft is planning to launch Microsoft Office apps for the iPad through the Apple App Store imminently.

I will withhold final judgment until I see how well the rumored apps work and integrate with the traditional Microsoft Office suite, but from a purely theoretical standpoint I welcome an iOS version of Office with wide open arms.

February 17, 2012  8:45 AM

Adapting to Keep Up with Technology Trends

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

A recent post from the Windows for Your Business Blog plays off of the buzz around “Fashion Week” to take a look at the hot trends in technology, and how they affect small businesses.

The post addresses four major trends: BYOD (bring your own device), mobility, social media, and new technology. The “answer” laid out in most cases is to upgrade to current technology running Windows 7. I think I would disagree at this point.

Windows 8 is too close in my opinion, and there are too many question marks out there regarding what types of devices we will see. I would not go out today and buy a notebook running Windows 7 because I’d be afraid that I’d be kicking myself before the end of the year when I see what kinds of cool hardware is launched running Windows 8.

I agree with the premise of the underlying trends. I just think that right now it is better to remain in a holding pattern as long as your current technology is at least getting the job done. Wait and see what’s available at the end of the year, and then choose which platforms and technologies to invest in.

The one bit of advice in the Microsoft blog post that is not dependent on technology, though, is one you can jump on now. Microsoft suggests that businesses–no matter how small–invest the time to understand social media and develop an effective strategy for engaging customers and using social networks as a marketing and customer relationship tool.

February 2, 2012  10:51 AM

Staying InTune With Remote Users

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

Over time, the traditional concept of a job being in an office where people sit all day at a desk is eroding. The Internet and mobile computing have shrunk the world and torn down the walls. Now, organizations of all sizes can be more agile, and more flexible by employing people around the corner, or around the world and getting work done wherever and whenever it needs to be.

The challenge is to manage and maintain PCs that are roaming about and may never actually connect to a local network domain. That is where Windows InTune comes in.

Because Windows InTune is a cloud-based platform, it can reach and manage your PCs no matter where they are. It is there when they connect to ensure the PCs have the latest policies and updates. This post from the Windows for Your Business blog describes some of the use cases and scenarios where InTune comes in handy.

If you have remote and mobile users that rarely step foot in the traditional office, and you need to manage and protect their PCs, you should check out what InTune has to offer.

January 31, 2012  11:45 PM

Microsoft Backpedals on Ribbon in Windows 8

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

Users have a love / hate relationship with Microsoft’s ubiquitous ribbon interface. Some users love it, but those who don’t tend to be seething with hatred over it.

The ribbon haters appear to have won a minor victory with the upcoming Windows 8. Early builds prominently feature the ribbon interface, but in the wake of backlash Microsoft is making some changes that minimize its appearance and impact.

This article from PCWorld by Jared Newman details some of the tweaks Microsoft is making with Windows 8.

January 31, 2012  11:40 PM

Which Is Best: Laptop, Tablet, or Smartphone?

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

Most mobile business professionals have all three of these devices–or at least two out of three–but if you could only have one, which one would you choose? Each has its unique pros and cons, and deciding which one you need is a function of first figuring out what you need it for.

Take a look at this series of articles, and chime in on the comments here to argue your case for which one you think is “best”.

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