Microsoft buy Yammer

It first came to light when a couple of Yammer employees got a little TOO carried away with the caramel in their lattes in a Seattle coffee-house and now it’s been made official…Microsoft are buying Yammer for $1.2 billion.

Yammer will join the Office division, headed up by Kurt DelBene, which is a great move as it will surely be integrated into Sharepoint, Outlook and Lync as soon as possible. There was talk that it would be moved into the Dynamics team which, while logical, would have limited the reach of Yammer among Microsoft’s install base.

Microsoft have crafted that most current of crazes, the InfoGraphic, to help explain the rationale behind the purchase:


You can see a bigger version here.

I’ve never had a chance to use Yammer but I’ve always been very intrigued by it, I can see it being a great addition to a lot of companies. I’ll be keeping my eye on out internal use rights at work to see when Yammer pops up Winking smile

Skype will come to Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft’s recent $8.5 billion purchase of Skype is close to being officially completed (pending international anti-trust go-ahead) and it’s first appearance will be in Office 365, Microsoft’s just launched cloud offering.


Kurt Delbene, MS Business Division President said:

“Office 365 will be the lead offering along with the client that should drive parity”

Client, in this case, means Office so does that mean there will be a separate “Skype” component in Office 15 or, more likely, will “Lync” simply connect to both?

Talking of the next version of Office, Mr Delbene had some info on that too.

Talking about when we can expect the next version of Microsoft’s desktop productivity suite, he said:

“We’re typically in a 2 1/2 year cycle”

which would put Office 15 (as I’m calling it for now) at June-December 2012. I’m not too sure about that as it is likely that will be the release schedule for Windows 8 too…I feel that trying to promote new versions of their 2 biggest products at the same time could be tricky.

Although if my prediction that Windows 8 will have a much bigger consumer focus is right,that could make it easier for Redmond’s marketing teams. Predominantly push Windows to consumers and predominantly push Office to enterprises…do you think that could work?

Wikipedia, via Neowin, also tells us that:

“notable changes in Excel include a tool for filtering data in a storm, the ability to convert Roman numerals to Arabic numerals, and the integration of advanced trigonometric functions. In Word, the capability of inserting video and audio online as well as the broadcasting of documents on the Web were implemented”

For more info, head over to the Seattle Times sites here.

Windows Phone 7: My thoughts

Windows Phone 7 has been with the world for 5 or so months, and I’ve had the Samsung Omnia 7 for 3 of those:

This is, I believe, enough time to have formed some proper, coherent thoughts on what I do and don’t like about Microsoft’s new Mobile OS. First of all though, the device itself…

The Samsung Omnia 7 is by far the nicest mobile device I have ever held.

It’s light, it’s slim, it’s smooth, it’s sleek and yes…it’s sexy. It’s brushed metal body feels cool to the touch and looks great, as does the huge 4.3” screen. Not only is it a great size, it’s AMOLED…giving a clarity and brightness that puts most, if not all, other mobile devices to shame.

I haven’t seen another device that comes close to it’s overall aesthetic appeal.

Now on to the big one though, The OS!

I’m not going to go into hugely detailed comparisons with other mobile OS’s, just my opinions and what I think are it’s strong points. As a bit of background, I had an Android 2.1 device for over 12 months before getting WP7.

The first thing is how striking it is, especially on the Samsung screen. You can see in the pictures above, the “Live Tiles” in WP7…as you get an email/text message etc, the totals in the tile increase.

  • The Xbox tile is truly live…your Xbox avatar pops in from the side of the tile.
  • The Zune tile shows a scrolling image of the last artist you listened to.
  • If you pin a contact to the home screen it scrolls through their name and their picture.

Having these ever changing sections, right on the home screen, make Windows Phone 7 feel fluid, dynamic and interactive right from the word go.

Two huge, brilliant, unique features of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 are:

Xbox & Zune


The Xbox integration is still in its infancy but already is cool, useful and fun. There are 2 sides to it: interaction with your account & games.

Having it on my phone makes it much easier to do things such as editing my avatar, comparing my game progress against friends & inviting new friends. All things that can be done on the console but all much easier to do via the mobile OS.

Even better than that is the ability to earn actual Xbox achievements and gamer points on your mobile Smile I’ve currently got 5 games that contribute to my gamer score and they make gaming on my mobile more worthwhile, at least in my opinion!


I’ve wanted a Zune device for years but, being in the UK, they’ve never been officially available to us. I’ve looked at Ebay many a time and got close to buying one, but when I heard the rumours that Microsoft’s next mobile OS would include Zune, I decided to wait. Lo and behold, WP7 arrives with full Zune integration Smile

I’ve been using the Zune desktop client for quite a while now and it is brilliant – check out my post here:

Read Zune 4.0 Desktop Software

The Zune client on WP7 is, like the rest of the OS, very slick, great to look at and great to use. No music player that I saw on Android came anywhere close to the polished look and feel of Zune…it really is a joy! It has so many great features such as:

History – This section shows the last 6 media items you played. Note I said “media items” not just “songs”…it includes videos too and not just local videos but also videos from YouTube too.

New – This section shows the last 8 items added to Zune…songs, videos and playlists.

Both of these sections are very visual, they both use album cover art and, if it’s a video, a screen grab.


This section is pretty special and not something I was expecting. If you have other apps that tie in or relate to Zune in some way, then they appear here. For me this section includes:

  • YouTube
  • Lyrics


This is something I missed when I moved from Windows Mobile 6 to Android. Not having Microsoft Office on my mobile made things just that bit more difficult. Microsoft makes up a big part of my job so Word documents, Excel sheets and PowerPoint slides feature pretty heavily day to day so being unable to read them on my mobile device was pretty annoying!

Now with Windows Phone 7, I’ve got:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • OneNote

at my fingertips and boy is it useful.

The other day I was at home when I came across a MAP 5.5 document that I thought might be useful, so I downloaded it and it showed up in the Office hub on my phone. Today when talking to someone at work about MAP 5.5, I pulled out my phone and quickly showed them the section they needed.

One random thing is how much quicker it is to connect to wireless networks that my Android device. It’s usually a matter of seconds between me arriving at home/work and my phone being connected automatically…that never happened with Android 2.1…

I’m sure there are other parts of Windows Phone that I’ve missed here and when I remember, I’ll put another post together Smile

Microsoft BPOS Wave 14: Client Support

BPOS, Microsoft’s Online Services offering, obviously plugs in to their Office suites but there are restrictions about which versions you can use. Currently Office 2003/2007 & 2010 are all supported but, once the new online release happens, that will change.

Based on current rules, partners are expecting Office 2003 support to end by early 2011 but, based on the MS Online Service post here, that may not be the case:

“We are currently investigating Office 2003 support and will publish a list of supported capabilities in the future”

which indicates at least some functionality will still be available to organizations running Office 2003. There are a HUGE number of reasons why upgrading to 2010 is a great idea, but that’s for another time 🙂

The full list of supported products is:

Operating Systems:

  • Windows XP SP3 with RPC over HTTP patch
  • Windows Vista SP2
  • Windows 7
  • OS X 10.4 (Tiger)
  • 10.5 (Leopard)
  • 10.6 (Snow Leopard)
  • *Windows XP Home and Windows Media Center edition are supported but will not support federated identity.

    Office Client:

  • Office 2007 SP2 or Office 2010
  • Office 2008 for Mac & Entourage 2008 Web Services Edition
  • .NET 2.0 or later
  • Microsoft Communicator “14”
  • Mac Messenger 9
  • *Office client is not required for customers who choose browser-only access. Office Communicator ‘14’ will be generally available later this year.


  • Administration Center and My Company Portal
    • Internet Explorer 8 for Windows XP
    • Internet Explorer 7 or higher for Windows Vista and Windows 7
    • Firefox 3.x
    • Safari 4.x
  • Outlook Web App
    • Internet Explorer 7 or later
    • Firefox 3 or later
    • Safari 3 or later on Macintosh OS X 10.5
    • Chrome 3 or later
  • Outlook Web App Light
    • Internet Explorer 5.5 or later
    • Firefox 2 or later
    • Safari 3 or later
    • Opera
  • The news that Office 2003 won’t be killed off completely is good news, as it allows partners to position BPOS separately to Office upgrades…and allows customers to keep the costs apart!

    Microsoft BPOS July Service Update

    Microsoft’s BPOS updates usually bring great features and July 2010 is no different:

    Hosted Blackberry Admin Centre:

    While Microsoft have offered Blackberry hosting for a while, most of the admin features required you to raise a ticket with support. Now however you will be able to:

    • Add/Delete users from licences
    • Activate Devices
    • Perform Remote Wipes

    all through the portal. This makes Microsoft’s Blackberry offering much more attractive.

    You will also be able to increase your number of Blackberry licences via the portal, removing the need for paper orders. Decreasing now just requires a support request.

    Live Meeting LifeCycle:

    The Live Meeting client will now be supported for 18 months from release, and there are quarterly releases of the (free) client.

    There is also a new version of the Live Meeting Outlook Add-in which goes about:

    • Improving the ability for users to respond to access control prompts when sharing control for Application Sharing.
    • Retaining the scheduled meeting on the Office Live Meeting service when an attendee has been removed from an invitation created by the Outlook Add-in.
    • Displaying invitees’ tracked responses for recurring meeting series that were converted to Office Live Meeting via the Add-in.

    The Microsoft Online Services Blog is here:

    Service Update- July 2010 Release Availability, Features Announced

    Office 2010 Activation

    Microsoft Office 2010 purchased through Volume Licensing now needs activating in the same way as Windows. Previously this only applied to Office through the OEM & FPP channels. This is a new introduction with 2010 and is surprising some people.

    There are the same options to activate as with Windows, which are:

    • KMS (Key Management Service)
    • MAK (Multiple Activation Key)
    • MAK Proxy


    KMS uses a host computer to establish an activation service on your local company network. With a KMS host you can activate thousands of computers at the same time when they regularly connect to the company network. If you use a KMS host to activate Windows, you can use the same host to activate Office 2010.


    With MAK, each computer activates Office 2010 with the Microsoft hosted activation servers over the Internet or by phone. MAK is recommended when you have fewer than 50 computers to activate, and for computers that are not regularly connected to the company network.

    Planning activation:


    A single internal server authenticated with Microsoft and in turn, the organization’s devices authenticate to that machine.

    KMS activation through firewall

    A KMS “Client Key” is installed inside every Volume Licensing copy of Office 2010, which means that no action is required by the end user and that a product key doesn’t need to be entered for the clients. All an administrator needs to do is activate the 1 KMS host reducing the amount of time spent on this task.

    The KMS service does NOT require a dedicated server and can happily sit on a machine already in production. The Operating System requirements are:

    Windows Server 2003

    Windows Server 2008 R2

    Windows 7 purchased through Volume Licensing <—This means OEM & FPP/retail won’t work

    Devices are required to “re-authenticate” every 180 days.

    Technet article is here:


    MAK activation at each desktop occurs directly with Microsoft, rather than via an internal server.

    MAK independent activation via Internet

    If machines are unable to connect to the internet, MAK activation can be via telephone too.

    This method works well for smaller organizations and also sub-sets of larger organizations, such as mobile divisions who are away from the corporate network a lot.

    MAK gives you a number of activations equal to the number of licences purchased.

    Technet article is here:

    MAK Proxy:

    MAK Proxy activation uses VAMT (Volume Activation Management Tool) 2.0. Using this method, one designated machine collects activation info from multiple other machines and then sends a single centralized request for activation to Microsoft. Only the VAMT device connects to Microsoft’s servers, reducing bandwidth usage.

    MAK Info:

    MAK activation does NOT require periodic re-activation however it will be needed if significant changes are made such as replacing the hard drive or re-installing Windows. This will reduce the number of available activations, so if you:

    Have 100 licences

    Install on 90 machines

    Re-install Windows and re-authenticate Office on 10

    You will have 10 machines on which you cannot activate Office.

    In this case, you would need to contact Microsoft to increase the number of available activations.

    However if you use MAK Proxy, you can save the Confirmation ID given via VAMT and simply re-apply that to re-activate machines without reducing the number of activations available.

    VAMT 2.0:

    Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT) 2.0 is a managed MMC plug-in. VAMT uses Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) to configure managed systems. A convenient command line interface (CLI) allows automated, scheduled VAMT tasks without UI interaction.
    Using the VAMT console, administrators can perform many activation-related tasks on remote computers:

    • Manage product keys obtained from the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) or other sources including retail and Microsoft subscription programs such as MSDN, TechNet and partner programs — and product activations using those keys.
    • Activate remote systems using Key Management Service (KMS), Multiple Activation Key (MAK) or retail activation methods.
    • Perform disconnected proxy activation and reactivation of systems without each system having to connect with Microsoft activation services individually.
    • Assist with license compliance by enabling IT administrators to monitor system license state, including whether systems are licensed and running genuine Windows or Office.

    You can download it here:


    The Technet Troubleshooting page can be found here:

    which will hopefully cover off any issues you may be having.

    OneNote 2010: RTM Upgrade

    I upgraded to the final release version of Office 2010 yesterday and opened up my newly installed RTM version of OneNote this morning, to be greeted by this message:


    This didn’t cause me any issues as I haven’t been syncing OneNote and I imagine that people who do would usually sync everything each day so this wouldn’t really come up.

    However I can also imagine that this would be really annoying if it DID affect you as you’d need to:

    1. Uninstall Office 2010 RTM
    2. Re-Install Office 2010 Beta
    3. Sync One Note
    4. Uninstall Office 2010 Beta
    5. Re-Install Office 2010 RTM


    which is quite a long winded process!

    So, moral of the story is:

    If you’re going to move up to the Office 2010 RTM, SYNC ONENOTE FIRST! 🙂

    I hope that helps someone…

    Office 2010: Installing the RTM

    The Office 2010 Beta was downloaded and used by millions of people the world over and I imagine that most of them, like me, used it in a live environment; at home and/or at work. (I’ve never met anyone with a dedicated beta machine!)

    Well the RTM (Release to Manufacture) version is available now to those of us with Software Assurance, TechNet or MSDN and from June 15th for FPP (Fully Packaged Product) boxed copies. This is great news as there are a few new additions and tweaks, plus you don’t have to worry about it expiring halfway through an important presentation in the future 🙂 There is however a downside to this:

    There is no upgrade path from Office 2010 Beta to Office 2010 RTM

    What do I do?

    You need to completely uninstall the Office 2010 beta from your machine, but in itself, this often isn’t enough. You must also uninstall a number of other products, otherwise you’ll have problems! The total products you must remove are:

    1. Office 2010 Pro Plus Beta
    2. Sharepoint Designer 2010
    3. Project 2010
    4. Visio 2010
    5. Hotmail Connector for Office 2010
    6. SQL PowerPivot


    I don’t think it would ever have occurred to me that PowerPivot was going to cause me issues, but it did! Luckily I got this list from a friendly neighbourhood Microsoftie before I lost my entire afternoon 🙂

    Also, on my home machine I’m pretty sure the Hotmail Connector would have caught me out…but not now, oh no!

    Hopefully you’ll see this before you start your RTM install process and potentially lose your afternoon/day/hair/mind 😉

    Office 2010 Components

    Office 2010 has hit RTM (Release To Manufacturing) and is just about to start making itself available to users in it’s final version. Most people are aware that there have been some changes with what is included in which Office editions but I don’t think I’ve seen a full breakdown yet, so here you are 🙂


    A couple of major changes are:

    No more Office Enterprise

    New Pro Academic Option

    and one that is quite big but isn’t really getting mentioned:

    OneNote is now in ALL versions of Microsoft Office 2010 (except Starter); previously it appeared in just the Enterprise SKU. OneNote is a great application (What is OneNote?) and this will help increase it’s adoption among home users and also within Corporate Environments.

    You can see more on Technet here.

    Microsoft Licensing – Rental Rights

    Blockbuster And Microsoft ...

    Microsoft Rental Rights are aimed at customers who

    “rent, lease, or outsource PCs to third parties with qualifying Microsoft Windows or Microsoft Office software”

    and are designed to make this previously tricky situation much easier by helping ensure all parties involved are compliant with MS licensing rules

    “Rental Rights” are sold with, or on top of, existing volume licences and assigned per device. The rights exist for the life of the licensed device and cannot be re-assigned.

    They have been available in a limited number of countries for a few months but, as of January 2010, they will be part of the Worldwide pricelist. The will be available on:

    • Open
    • Select
    • Select Plus

    (so not available on Open Value, Enterprise Agreements or Campus/Schools)

    for the following products:

    • Windows 7 Professional
    • Office Professional Plus 2007
    • Office Std 2007

    Rules for Office

    There are a couple of rules changes once Rental Rights are assigned.

    Portable Copy:

    “You may not use or permit use of additional copies of the qualifying software on a separate portable device or a network device. This prohibition overrides any right you have under the license terms that came with your qualifying software

    Office gives you “Portable Installation Rights” which allows users to install their copy of Office on both a desktop AND a laptop. This is very useful for business users but, as you can see above, it is NOT permitted with Rental Rights.

    Rules for Windows

    Downgrade Rights:

    Always a hot topic when it comes to the desktop OS, the ability to use previous versions.

    “You may use a prior version of the software in place of the qualifying software only if the qualifying software was licensed under your volume licensing agreement, except for Windows XP Professional licensed from an original equipment manufacturer”

    So downgrade rights are available where the original software was purchased via Volume Licensing. The exception to that is OEM XP Pro (so that came pre-installed on the machine).

    Rules for both:

    Remote Access:

    “You may not permit remote access to the qualifying software. This prohibition overrides any right for the primary user of the licensed device or any user of a separately licensed device to access that software under the license terms that came with the qualifying software.”

    Virtual Machines:

    Rental Rights don’t apply in virtual environments…

    “In other words, the primary customer may not create and rent virtual machines.”

    How Rental Rights Work:

    Here are a couple of diagrams to illustrate the whole thing:

    Acquiring Software Assurance:

    Software Assurance (SA) gives users many benefits including version upgrades, e-learning, training vouchers and access to MDOP among others. It is becoming more and more useful to more and more organizations in more and more ways…and businesses that lease their machines can take advantage too.

    SA isn’t available to the “Primary Customer” acquiring the Rental Rights (i.e. the leasing company) but it CAN be purchased by the end user. So an organization that leases it’s machines on a long term contract can purchase SA on their own Volume Licensing agreement.

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