Category Archives: Office

Microsoft Certifications 2014 can you a JOB

With the new technologies coming in the market every other day, life has become advanced these days. In this modern era, you have to be on your toes all the time especially if your career in related to the field of IT: one has to stay updated with all the latest programs and their features in order to stay ahead of his peers. For instance, there was a time when Gramophone was the invention of the century but then it was replaced with mobile phones. Similarly, the invention of television and radio created quite a heap in the early 20th century but later on, the thunder was stolen by computers in the late 20th century.

In this day and age, computers and internet have become the center of attention. Consequently, IT has become the most popular field. IT experts are quite in demand these days; but with the emergence of new programs every other day, they have to keep up with the latest technology in order to stay ahead in the race. One way of staying ahead is the certification courses. These courses ensure that the candidate has attained all the latest knowledge and is ready to roll in the world of technology.

This article will discuss some of the most popular certification courses offered by Microsoft.

Microsoft Technology Associate

This is a certification course designed for the starters: people who want to start their line of business in the field of technology. Accordingly, it tests the fundamentals of IT and validates that the candidates have a basic understanding of the essentials. This course has been divided into three tracks and the candidates can choose any one of the tracks, depending on their preference. The tracks are: IT infrastructure, Database Design and Developer.

Microsoft MCSA- Windows Server 2008
This exam is designed for the IT personnel and it validates their skills in Server Networking management. IT professionals and System Administrators are suggested to take MCSA- Windows Server 2008 exam especially if they are looking forward to earning their MCSE certification.

Microsoft MCSA- Windows Server 2012
This certification exam is an advanced level exam which validates that the candidates have sufficient knowledge of Windows Server 2012 for its proper installation, configuration and working. MCSA- Windows Server 2012 certified can easily get the position of Network Administrator, Computer Systems Administrator or Computer Network Analyst.

Microsoft MCSE- Server Infrastructure
This certification course is designed for IT experts and it will get you the title of ‘Solutions Expert’. It tests individual’s skills in effectively and efficiently running a modern data center with some experience in virtualization storage and networking, identity management and systems management.

Microsoft MCSE- Desktop Infrastructure
This course validates that the individuals can manage desktops and devices, while maintaining their security and integrity, from anywhere around the globe. It also tests individuals’ expertise in application and desktop virtualization together with remote desktop services. With this certification in hand, you can easily qualify for a job of Data and Application Manager or Desktop and Device Support Manager.

Microsoft MCSE- Messaging
This certification is an expert level certification and it validates that the applicant has relevant skills in order to increase user productivity and flexibility. It also validates that the person has sufficient knowledge as to how to improve data security and reduce data loss. After passing this certification exam, candidates can easily qualify for the position of Network and Computer System Administrator.

Microsoft  MCSE- Communication
This certification validates candidates’ expertise in using Lync Server to create an effective communication path that can be accessed from all around the globe. This certification is also an expert level certification and you can easily qualify for the position of Network and Computer System Administrator with it.

Microsoft  MCSE- SharePoint

This Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert certification course verifies that the candidates have the necessary expertise to share, synchronize and organize the data across the organization. SharePoint 2013 is the updated version of Microsoft Office, and passing this certification can get you a job of Systems or Network Analyst.

Microsoft MCSD- SharePoint Application

This Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer certification course is another of expert level certification courses which validates individuals’ expertise in web programming. It also requires the individuals to design and develop applications with Microsoft SharePoint. With this certification, you can easily secure the position of Software Developer or Web Developer.

Microsoft Private Cloud

MCSE- Private Cloud certification course tests candidates’ expertise to manage Private Cloud computer technologies. It also verifies that the candidate can implement these technologies in a way to optimize service delivery. You can easily get the position of Server Administrator and Network Manager with this certification on your resume.

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager
Microsoft System Center Certification focuses on the skills to manage computer and clients. The candidates should be able to configure, administer and deploy System Center 2012 in order to pass this exam. You can earn the title of Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist through this certification.

Microsoft Server Virtualization
This certification verifies that the candidate is familiar with Server Virtualization, both on Windows Server and System Center. This course expands individual’s expertise and skills in order for him to meet the rapidly modernizing technological business needs, and it can get him the title of Microsoft Specialist in no time.

Microsoft Office Certifications
Microsoft offers many certifications that verify candidates’ skills in handling and using Microsoft Office Applications. These certifications start from beginners level and go up to the master level. Microsoft Office Specialist is a beginner level certification whereas Microsoft Office Specialist Expert is an advanced level certification. Last but not the least; Microsoft Office Specialist Master is a master level certification.

Microsoft MCSA- Office 365
This course focuses on individual’s skills in handling Office 365 together with productivity tools and cloud-based collaboration. This certification can easily get you the position of Cloud Application Administrator or SaaS Administrator.

Microsoft Dynamics

This Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist certification confirms an individual’s expertise in Microsoft dynamics: a specific module can be chosen for this certification. However, this certification will be withdrawn from the market, at the end of this year, and replaced with the new ones.

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Windows XP and Vista: No Office 2013 for you

Microsoft bars 55% of all current Windows PCs from running the newest suite

Computerworld – Microsoft confirmed yesterday that the new Office 2013 will not run on older PCs powered by Windows XP or Vista.

“The new Office will work with Windows 7 and Windows 8,” a Microsoft spokesperson said Monday in an email reply to questions about Office 2013 and Office 365. “Vista or XP will not support the new Office.”

Users running those operating systems will not be able to advance beyond Office 2010, the suite that launched about seven months after Windows 7.

The omission of the two operating systems means that more than half of all Windows computers — 54.6%, to be exact — now in place will be locked out of the upgrade, according to statistics compiled by Web metrics company Net Applications.

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Windows 7 does not yet have a majority of all Windows PCs: In June, it powered 45.1% of all PCs that went online, said Net Applications. Windows 8, which has not been released except in preview formats, accounted for just 0.2% of all copies of Windows.

But those shares are moving targets, and will be different come the release date of Office 2013 and the various Office 365 subscription programs. It’s difficult to project how much more share Windows 7 and Windows 8 will have then, since uptake on Windows 8 would be a blind guess, and no one knows whether Windows 8’s gains will come from former XP or Vista users, or from people moving up one edition from Windows 7.

One projection is possible, however: Absent any Windows 8 impact — unlikely, of course — Windows 7 will edge upward to 54.9% of all Windows PCs by February 2013, one of the several release dates that has been bandied about.

“It makes sense for them to do this, what with the end of life for XP approaching,” said Alan Krans, an analyst with Technology Business Research.

As Krans noted, it’s no surprise that Microsoft excluded Windows XP from the supported OS list. Windows XP is due for retirement in April 2014, when Microsoft stops serving the 11-year-old operating system with security updates.

“Those people are due for an upgrade [to a new operating system] anyway, but it is a nudge to push people to Windows 8,” acknowledged Krans. “Microsoft is imposing that line in the sand where users running software a couple of generations old need to upgrade.”

Microsoft has said that XP users will be able to upgrade to Windows 8, assuming that their hardware passes the eligibility test.

Krans pointed that out as well. “A lot of upgrades will go straight from XP to Windows 8,” he said, referring to the possibility of those users buying into Office 2013 once they’ve upgraded to the new OS.

Microsoft has eased the pain of upgrading to Windows 8 by cutting the price to just $39.99, a deal good through the end of January 2013.

Less expected was Microsoft’s decision to bar Vista users from acquiring Office 2013. Although the five-year-old edition was never popular — it peaked at a 19.1% share in October 2009 by Net Applications’ tracking — it still represents about 7% of all currently in-use copies of Windows and will account for around 5% come February 2013.

Krans had an explanation for Vista’s absence from the Office 2013 list as well, saying that it was a sign that Microsoft recognized what users have known for years: The 2007 edition was a washout.

For those reasons — XP users needing to upgrade or buy new PCs soon, and Vista’s irrelevance — Krans downplayed the potential financial hit to Microsoft of its decision to block XP and Vista from running the new Office.

What’s also notable about Windows XP’s inability to run Office 2013 is that it ends the operating system’s long run of supported suites. The aged operating system was able to handle four different editions: Office XP, which shipped in March 2001, Office 2003 (October 2003), Office 2007 (January 2007) and even Office 2010 (June 2010).

By comparison, the perception-plagued Vista only supported two editions — Office 2007 and Office 2010 — another demonstration of its short shelf life.

And it’s not as if Microsoft hasn’t put the kibosh on XP and Vista before.

March 2011’s Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) was refused to XP users, a decision Microsoft made the year before and stuck to even in the face of critics who howled that they’d been left behind.

Vista, meanwhile, will not run the upcoming IE10 that Microsoft plans to ship with Windows 8 and also release for Windows 7, later this year.

The ban on an Office 2013-Windows XP combination can also be read as another way for Microsoft to condemn the OS to the ash bin of history. For over a year now, Microsoft has said it was “time to move on” from Windows XP as it’s dubbed it the “lowest common denominator” and kicked off a retirement countdown for the software.

Users running Windows 7 or the Windows 8 Release Preview can try Office 2013 through one of the Office 365 Customer Previews, available from Microsoft’s website.

Windows XP and Vista users, of course, need not apply.

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Leaked Microsoft roadmap shows 2013 launch for Office 15

Microsoft needs to better communicate plans to developers, enterprises and customers, says analyst

Computerworld – A leaked Microsoft roadmap shows that the next version of Office won’t ship until the first quarter of 2013, according to the Dutch developer who found the document.

Maarten Visser, the CEO of Meetroo and a decade-long Microsoft partner, stumbled upon the roadmap a week ago after clicking on a link posted on Microsoft’s Dutch website. The PDF was not password protected.

“I’m always curious about the roadmaps,” said Visser in a YouTube video he posted yesterday. “For me, since we build SharePoint applications, the release of SharePoint 15 is an important thing. The better I know when this will happen, the better I will be to ready my products before launch.”

Visser’s Meetroo is building project management software that relies on SharePoint.

While Visser noted that much of the information in the roadmap was already known — that Microsoft will release a public beta of Office alongside betas of supporting products like SharePoint and Exchange — he pointed out that the document pegged the suite’s final release as the first quarter of 2013.

The roadmap’s date for the public beta, however, doesn’t jibe with Microsoft’s recent comments.

On the roadmap, the Office beta was marked as smack-dab between the third and fourth quarters. While Microsoft has not yet revealed a detailed timetable for Office, two months ago the executive who runs the Office group, P.J. Hough, said “Everyone will have the opportunity to try the Office 15 public beta later this summer.”

To meet Hough’s “summer” promise, the beta would have to appear in the stretch between late in the second quarter and near the end of the third.

Microsoft has not assigned the next Office an official name, but has used “Office 15” as a placeholder. The roadmap used the same label.

Another section of the roadmap showed timelines for Windows — both client and server editions — as well as Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) and Windows Phone.

Windows 8’s schedule was bare, with only last September’s Developer Preview marked, and others, including Windows Server 8 — which is expected to launch at the same time as the client editions — simply showing a label of “Historical Release Cadence” that stretched from mid-2012 through early 2013.

Most experts anticipate a formal release of Windows 8 — at least the desktop version — in the fourth quarter, possibly October, because they assume Microsoft wants new Windows 8 PCs on shelves during this year’s holiday sales season.

IE10’s launch was marked as some time in the second half of 2012.

One analyst said the roadmap demonstrated just how opaque Microsoft is when it comes to disseminating information to customers. “Not only do ISVs [independent software vendors] and corporations need to know release dates, but as a customer, you need to know them, too,” said Michael Cherry of Directions on Microsoft.

“Everyone needs a timeline that’s dependable, but it’s not enough to just give us dates,” Cherry said, referring to the leaked document. “You have to give us descriptions why those dates are what they are.”

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That’s something that Microsoft doesn’t do early enough in its development process, Cherry said, making it nearly impossible for software makers like Visser, companies that craft their own applications for internal use, and customers — especially enterprises — to make intelligent decisions on developing for a new platform or migrating to it.

Cherry argued that a reliable timeline was more important for an operating system than for an application like Office, big as the latter is to Microsoft’s revenue, because fewer partners work with Office than with Windows.

“For an OS like Windows, especially WOA [Windows on ARM], I’m kind of stunned at the lack of information available at this point,” Cherry said. “There are a lot of people who need to be aware of the changes in Windows and WOA.”

Directions on Microsoft creates detailed roadmaps for its clients, but the job is neither simple or easy.

“It’s very hard to do, to represent [a roadmap] well,” said Cherry, adding that it’s necessary to show dependencies between products — how Internet Explorer relies on Windows, for instance — and timelines that include older products for those rare times when Microsoft takes features from a new edition and backports them to a predecessor.

Cherry highlighted the roadmap’s Office 15 launch in early 2013 as another example of dependency. If Office won’t be available until then, Cherry was skeptical of a WOA launch in 2012, what with Microsoft having stressed the importance of Office on that tablet-oriented OS.

“Apple can be secretive because they build the hardware,” Cherry said. “The more you control the ecosystem, the more closed you can be. But I’ve always thought of Windows as open.”

Microsoft declined to comment today on the roadmap that Visser uncovered.

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The inside story of how Microsoft killed its Courier tablet

Steve Ballmer had a dilemma. He had two groups at Microsoft pursuing competing visions for tablet computers.

One group, led by Xbox godfather J Allard, was pushing for a sleek, two-screen tablet called the Courier that users controlled with their finger or a pen. But it had a problem: It was running a modified version of Windows.

That ran headlong into the vision of tablet computing laid out by Steven Sinofsky, the head of Microsoft’s Windows division. Sinofsky was wary of any product–let alone one from inside Microsoft’s walls–that threatened the foundation of Microsoft’s flagship operating system. But Sinofsky’s tablet-friendly version of Windows was more than two years away.

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For Ballmer, it wasn’t an easy call. Allard and Sinofsky were key executives at Microsoft, both tabbed as the next-generation brain trust. So Ballmer sought advice from the one tech visionary he’s trusted more than any other over the decades–Bill Gates. Ballmer arranged for Microsoft’s chairman and co-founder to meet for a few hours with Allard; his boss, Entertainment and Devices division President Robbie Bach; and two other Courier team members.

At one point during that meeting in early 2010 at Gates’ waterfront offices in Kirkland, Wash., Gates asked Allard how users get e-mail. Allard, Microsoft’s executive hipster charged with keeping tabs on computing trends, told Gates his team wasn’t trying to build another e-mail experience. He reasoned that everyone who had a Courier would also have a smartphone for quick e-mail writing and retrieval and a PC for more detailed exchanges. Courier users could get e-mail from the Web, Allard said, according to sources familiar with the meeting.

But the device wasn’t intended to be a computer replacement; it was meant to complement PCs. Courier users wouldn’t want or need a feature-rich e-mail application such as Microsoft’s Outlook that lets them switch to conversation views in their inbox or support offline e-mail reading and writing. The key to Courier, Allard’s team argued, was its focus on content creation. Courier was for the creative set, a gadget on which architects might begin to sketch building plans, or writers might begin to draft documents.

“This is where Bill had an allergic reaction,” said one Courier worker who talked with an attendee of the meeting. As is his style in product reviews, Gates pressed Allard, challenging the logic of the approach.

It’s not hard to understand Gates’ response. Microsoft makes billions of dollars every year on its Exchange e-mail server software and its Outlook e-mail application. While heated debates are common in Microsoft’s development process, Gates’ concerns didn’t bode well for Courier. He conveyed his opinions to Ballmer, who was gathering data from others at the company as well.

Within a few weeks, Courier was cancelled because the product didn’t clearly align with the company’s Windows and Office franchises, according to sources. A few months after that, both Allard and Bach announced plans to leave Microsoft, though both executives have said their decisions to move on were unrelated to the Courier cancellation.

The story of Microsoft’s Courier has only been told in pieces. And nothing has been disclosed publicly about the infighting that led to the innovative device’s death. This article was pieced together through interviews with 18 current and former Microsoft executives, as well as contractors and partners who worked on the project. None of the Microsoft employees, both current and former, would talk for attribution because they worried about potential repercussions. Microsoft’s top spokesman, Frank Shaw, offered only a brief comment for this story and otherwise declined to make Microsoft’s senior executives available.

“At any given time, we’re looking at new ideas, investigating, testing, incubating them,” Shaw said in a statement when word leaked in April 2010 that Courier had been cancelled. “It’s in our DNA to develop new form factors and natural user interfaces to foster productivity and creativity. The Courier project is an example of this type of effort. It will be evaluated for use in future offerings, but we have no plans to build such a device at this time.”

While the internal fight over Courier occurred about 18 months ago, the implications of the decision to kill the incubation project reverberate today. Rather than creating a touch computing device that might well have launched within a few months of Apple’s iPad, which debuted in April 2010, Microsoft management chose a strategy that’s forcing it to come from behind. The company cancelled Courier within a few weeks of the iPad’s launch. Now it plans to rely on Windows 8, the operating system that will likely debut at the end of next year, to run tablets.

Courier’s death also offers a detailed look into Microsoft’s Darwinian approach to product development and the balancing act between protecting its old product franchises and creating new ones. The company, with 90,000 employees, has plenty of brilliant minds that can come up with revolutionary approaches to computing. But sometimes, their creativity is stalled by process, subsumed in other products, or even sacrificed to protect the company’s Windows and Office empires.

‘Not a whim’
Courier was much more than a clever vision. The team, which had more than 130 Microsoft employees contributing to it, had created several prototypes that gave a clear sense about the type of experience users would get. There were still tough hardware and software issues to resolve when Microsoft pulled the plug. But an employee who worked on Courier said the project was far enough along that the remaining work could have been completed in months if the company had added more people to the team. Microsoft’s Shaw disputes that.

“There was extensive work done on the business, the technology and the experience,” said a member of the Courier team. “It was very complete, not a whim.”

Ballmer and Microsoft’s senior leadership decided to bet solely on Sinofsky’s Windows vision for the company’s tablet strategy. Though it crushed some innovative work from dedicated employees, that decision had plenty of logic to it. Corporate customers may be more inclined to use a Windows tablet than, say, Apple’s iPad, because those devices will likely include well-known management and security tools that should make them easy to plug into secure corporate networks.

A new survey by the Boston Consulting Group found that more than 40 percent of current tablet users in the United States want a tablet that runs Windows. That number jumps to 53 percent when non-tablet owners are included. The reason: familiarity with Windows, which still runs nearly 90 percent of all PCs sold.

“They think a common operating system will make this experience seamless across devices,” said Boston Consulting senior partner and managing director John Rose. “The products will be introduced, and they’ll be better (than the iPad) or they won’t be.”

Ballmer went out of his way to underscore Microsoft’s Windows strategy at the company’s financial analysts meeting last month, which it held concurrently with a conference where Microsoft wooed more than 5,000 developers to the Windows 8 platform for tablets.

“The first thing, which I hope is obvious, about our point of view is Windows is at the center,” Ballmer told analysts. “Certainly I can read plenty of places where people will question whether that’s a good idea or not. I think it’s an exceptionally good idea.”

But using Windows as the operating system for tablets also implies that Microsoft will update the devices’ operating systems on the Windows time frame, typically every three years. Compare that to Apple, which seems likely to continue to update the iPad annually, a tactic that drives a raft of new sales each time a new generation hits the market. By the time Windows 8 rolls out, Apple will likely have introduced its iPad 3. Moreover, Amazon’s much anticipated Kindle Fire tablet, which goes on sale November 15, will have nearly a year head start on the Windows-powered tablet offerings.

On the other hand, Courier, with its modified version of Windows, could have been updated more frequently than the behemoth operating system itself.

How far behind is Microsoft? Tablet makers sold 17.6 million devices in 2010, and are on a pace to sell 63.3 million more this year, according to industry analyst Gartner. In 2012, the firm expects sales to jump to 103.5 million devices. Just 4.3 million of those tablets, the ones that go on sale at the end of the year when Windows 8 debuts, will run Windows, according to the firm. Gartner expects Apple’s game-changing iPad to continue to dominate with a two-thirds share.

Building consumer muscle
Microsoft counted on Allard, more than any other senior executive in the last decade, to help it figure out how to reach the types of consumers who are now racing to buy iPads. Once an Internet wonk who helped a mid-1990s Microsoft wake up to the Web, Allard led the team that created Microsoft’s biggest non-PC consumer success story–the Xbox video game business. Always willing to stand up to leadership, Allard successfully argued that Windows wasn’t suitable to power the video game console, something Gates wasn’t initially keen on.

The success of the Xbox led Microsoft to create its Entertainment and Devices division under Bach. And Bach tapped the chrome-domed Allard to be his chief visionary.

Allard is a downhill mountain-biking maniac, who co-founded a cycling team, dubbed Project 529, whose name is intended to reflect the team’s after-hours passion, what they do from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. He often used Apple products, such as the iPod or the Mac, much to the disdain of some Microsoft colleagues. While he has serious technology chops, Allard also appreciated the importance of design, creating studios, rather than traditional office space, where his teams toiled. A key Allard trait: challenging convention.

Gizmodo broke the Courier story in September 2009, posting leaked pictures of what the device might look like and how it might work. Rather than the single screen that consumers have come to know as a tablet, Courier would have had two screens, each about 7 inches diagonally. The device would have folded in half like a book. It would have supported both touch and pen-based computing. The gadget-loving site drooled over what it had found.

“It feels like the whole world is holding its breath for the Apple tablet,” Gizmodo wrote. “But maybe we’ve all been dreaming about the wrong device. This is Courier, Microsoft’s astonishing take on the tablet.”

The gadget was the creation of Allard’s skunkworks design operation Pioneer Studios and Alchemie Ventures, a research lab that also reported to Allard. (The lab took the German spelling of “alchemy” to highlight the stereotypical Teutonic traits of structure and regiment it hoped to bring to its innovation process.) The two groups were created to identify consumer experiences that Microsoft could develop and hatch.

“Our job is to incubate those and work with the product teams to bring them to market,” said Pioneer’s co-founder Georg Petschnigg in a video posted to Microsoft’s developer Web site last year.

Allard created Alchemie to focus on innovation process to make sure that the efforts of Pioneer were not scattershot. It studied best practices, both within and outside Microsoft, to “design a repeatable, predictable and measurable approach for building new business” for Bach’s division, according to the Alchemie Ventures Toolkit, an internal Microsoft book reviewed by CNET.

“If Microsoft wants to truly implement effective and sustainable incubation, we have to embrace rigorous, repeatable, and measurable processes–and make those processes available to everyone,” Alchemie’s general manager Giorgio Vanzini wrote in the book.

Courier was born from the minds of both groups. And while Apple was working on its iPad at the same time, Courier was designed to be something entirely different. The iPad is all about content consumption–surfing the Web, watching videos, playing games. Courier was focused on content creation–drafting documents, brainstorming concepts, jotting down ideas.

“We weren’t fearful of it,” a Courier worker said of the iPad. “We were doing something different.”

Early on, the group opted to use Windows for Courier’s operating system. But it wasn’t a version of Windows that any consumer would recognize. The Courier team tweaked the operating system to make sure it could perform at high levels with touch- and pen-based computing. What’s more, the graphical shell of Windows–the interface that computer users associate with the operating system–was entirely removed. So while it was Windows under the hood, the home screens bore zero resemblance to the familiar PC desktop.

Creating a new approach
The Courier group wasn’t interested in replicating Windows on a tablet. The team wanted to create a new approach to computing. The metaphor they used was “digital Moleskine,” a nod to the leather-bound notebooks favored in the design world. In fact, according to a few team members, a small group led by Petschnigg flew to Milan, Italy, to pick the brains of the designers at Moleskine to understand how they’ve been able to create such loyal customers.

“Moleskine was interested but a little perplexed,” said one executive who worked on the Courier project.

Designers working on Courier came up with clever notions for how digital paper should work. One of the ideas was to create “smart ink,” giving text, for example, mathematical properties. So when a user wrote “5+8=” on, say, digital graph paper, the number “13” would fill in the equation automatically. Additionally, if users selected lined digital paper, words would snap to each line as they were jotted down.

The phrase at the core of the Courier mission was “Free Create.” It was meant to describe the notion of eliminating the processes and protocols that productivity software often imposes on workers.

“Free Create is a simple statement that acts as a rallying cry, uniting the consumer’s core need and Courier’s core benefit,” reads a passage in an internal Microsoft book memorializing the Courier effort, reviewed by CNET, that was given to the team after the project was shuttered. “Free Create is a natural way to digitally write, sketch and gather inspiration by blending the familiarity of the pen, the intuition of touch, the simplicity of the book and the advantages of software and services.”

It’s clear there were substantial resources behind the effort. The commemorative book, designed to resemble the journal-like look of the Courier, lists the 134 employees who contributed to the gadget’s creation. Moreover, Petschnigg writes on his LinkedIn profile page that he “managed $3.5 (million) seed funding, (and) secured $20 (million) to develop this new product category.”

Those funds helped build a multi-disciplinary team. It included interaction designers, who worked on new interfaces using pen- and touch-computing. There were also employees who worked on software to synchronize data from the Courier to Web-based services. The project had moved far enough along that there was staff that worked on brand strategy, advertising, retail planning, and partner marketing. Courier even had a deeply considered logo, something of a squiggle that looks a bit like an ampersand, meant to evoke the doodling that often is the start of a creative process.

“The Courier logo expresses the free-flow and formation of ideas,” reads the description of the logo in the commemorative book. “It references simple scribbles that are often the beginning of new ideas.”

While the software prototypes ran on existing tablet PCs built by Microsoft’s partners, they didn’t meet the performance goals for Courier. So Allard’s team also worked with several hardware makers, including Samsung, to create hardware prototypes.

“It was not off-the-shelf tech,” said a Courier team member. “There is no commercial product today that meets the specs we had for it. It was highly demanding and innovative and no one partner had all of the pieces.”

When Courier died, there was not a single prototype that contained all of the attributes of the vision: the industrial design, the screen performance, the software experience, the correct weight, and the battery life. Those existed individually, created in parallel to keep the development process moving quickly. Those prototypes wouldn’t have come together into a single unit until very late in the development process, perhaps weeks before manufacturing, which is common for cutting-edge consumer electronics design. But on the team, there was little doubt that they were moving quickly toward that final prototype.

“We were on the cusp of something really big,” said one Courier team member.

In late 2009, before the iPad had launched, the Courier team recognized the market for tablets was ready to explode. It laid out a detailed engineering schedule and made the case to Microsoft’s top brass that Courier could be a revolutionary device that would define a new product category. The team put forward a vision that Microsoft could create a new market rather than chasing down a leader or defending an established product.

“J (was) incubating with his tribe, very much thinking consumer and very much thinking the next few years,” a former Microsoft executive said. “He was trying to disrupt Microsoft, which hasn’t been good at consumer products.”

In fact, one of the mandates of Alchemie was to look only at product ideas and business concepts that were no farther than three years into the future. The Alchemie book includes something of an innovation process road map that lays out four “gates” that ideas needed to pass through to move from incubation to product development. And a source said that Courier had made it through all four gates.

So why did Courier die? The answer lies in an understanding of Microsoft’s history and cultu

Office 2007 SP3, another Mango phone event and more Microsoft news of the week

Now that Nokia World is over, I’m grabbing a pint (and a planned weekend of fun in London) before heading back to the states.

Here’s a quick round-up of some of the Microsoft tidbits I didn’t get to write up earlier in the week:

Office 2007 and SharePoint 2007 Service Pack (SP) 3 is out and downloadable. Here’s a Microsoft blog post with the download links. Here’s some background on this cumulative update that includes a couple of minor new features. SP3 is available via the Download Center as of this week, and will be pushed out as an Automatic Update in 90 days Microsoft execs said.

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Microsoft delivers new test builds of a number of System Center 2012’s components. Even though the official launch for the entire System Center 2012 family isn’t until some time in early 2012, Microsoft is continuing to roll out new Release Candidates (RCs) and betas of the point products before then. This week, the Softies made available for download near-final RCs of Orchestrator, Configuration Manager, and Endpoint Protection; and betas of Service Manager and App Controller. (App Controller is the private/public cloud-management dashboard app formerly known as “Concero”).

Microsoft is planning another Windows Phone Mango event in New York on November 7. Some of us press folks got invites to the “Backstage” event that will include appearances by Windows Phone President Andy Less and Corporate Vice President Joe Belfiore. While the team didn’t share many details, the invitation featured a picture of three Windows Phones that looked like the HTC Radar, Titan and the Samsung Focus S, all bearing AT&T logos, making it seem that this will be the “launch”/general availability of these already-announced devices. The invitation also includes a mention of “a unique experience in the middle of Herald Square at 12 PM following this VIP event.” (which may have something to do with this?)

Microsoft’s biggest OEM partner isn’t quitting the PC business after all. In the company’s latest about-face, Hewlett-Packard officials have decided not to sell off the company’s PC business, after all. HP is Microsoft’s largest Windows PC OEM and is onboard with selling/support Windows 8 tablets. There’s no word as to whether HP will retrofit the TouchPad to be a Windows 8 machine or not. Meanwhile, there’s also no word as to whether HP will remain committed to webOS, going forward. I guess that is one reason the head of developer relations for webOS at HP just jumped to Nokia to head up developer relations….

Microsoft updates its view of the future of productivity: The Office Labs’ “Envisioning” team has made available its latest version of its regularly produced “Future of Productivity” videos. The “2021″ version doesn’t look a whole lot different to me from the 2019 one that Microsoft has been showing off until now. Computing devices will be lighter, thinner and more flexible. Touch, voice and gestures will figure more, but keyboards and stylus/pens won’t have entirely disappeared. And sensors/big data will allow users to interact more intelligently with their environments.

Pre-registered testers are getting the Xbox Live dashboard preview next week: The Xbox Live Dashboard update due “this fall” is going to preselected testers the week of October 31. The update includes support for Kinect voice search powered by Bing, as well as the promised Xbox Live TV service capability, among other new features. WinRumors has reported the coming update is codenamed “Madrid” and also will feature support for a marketplace for applications.

5 ways to make your keyboard easier to use

How to use a keyboard might seem academic, but there’s more to typing than just tapping the keys. For most people, the keyboard is the primary computer input and control device—that’s why it’s important to leverage the features and shortcuts that keyboards offer. Read on for tips to maximize ease of use, comfort, and efficiency.

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1. Get to know your keyboard

Whether your keyboard is just out of the box or it has seen years of use, it may have features you don’t know about. Take a moment to review the literature that came with your keyboard, visit the manufacturer’s product website, and familiarize yourself with the layout of the keys. Knowing your keyboard’s capabilities and limitations—and where to find time-saving keys—can make it easier to use and can even increase your productivity.
2. Customize keyboard settings

After you’re familiar with your keyboard, customizing just a few basic settings can further improve your efficiency and accuracy. For instance, you can adjust:

The pause before a character starts repeating.

The speed at which characters repeat, which can help you avoid typing errors.

The rate at which the cursor blinks, which can enhance its visibility.

You can make these changes right now:

Windows 7

Windows Vista

Windows XP

3. Take shortcuts

Even if you’re a genius with the mouse, keyboard shortcuts can still save you time. They’re called shortcuts for a reason—they reduce multiple clicks to a single combination of keys, like hitting a chord on a piano. They also economize hand and arm motion.

Using keyboard shortcuts for the things you do all the time, like saving or closing files, can make computing much easier and faster. So whether you want to work more easily and efficiently in Internet Explorer, streamline your Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010 experience, or key international characters into your emails, you’ll find scores of shortcuts to speed you on your way. The table below offers only a few common standard-keyboard shortcuts, many of which work across Office applications—from Outlook to Access, from Visio to PowerPoint, from Word to Excel. You can find a more complete list of built-in keyboard shortcuts for a particular application by searching in Help for keyboard shortcuts. You can even peruse keyboard-shortcut lists:

Windows 7

Windows Vista

Windows XP

Press this

To do this


Open Help


Check the spelling of titles or words in any Office application with the Spelling & Grammar checker

Windows logo keyWindows logo key

Open the Start menu


Quit a program


Switch between open programs or windows


Open a new (blank) document


Select all content in a document, window, or text box


Save the current file or document (works in most programs)


Copy the selection


Cut the selection


Paste the selection


Print a document or webpage


Undo an action


Redo an action


Find text in a document


Find and replace text in a document


Boldface text


Italicize text


Underline text


Go to a page, line, or bookmark in a document

Windows logo key Windows logo key +F1

Display Windows Help and Support


Cancel the current task

Application key Application key

Open a menu of commands related to a selection in a program (equivalent to right-clicking the selection)
4. Make it easier to press multiple keys

If pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del seems an acrobatic feat, you can set up Sticky Keys. The Sticky Keys feature lets you hit shortcut keys one at a time rather than all at once. You can even set Sticky Keys to make a noise so you know it’s working.
All together now

You can set up Sticky Keys:

Windows 7

Windows Vista

Windows XP

(Tip: In Windows 7 and Windows Vista, Sticky Keys has a keyboard shortcut—press Shift five times in a row.)
5. Find a comfortable keyboard

Keyboards come in many shapes and sizes, and the Natural Ergonomic Keyboard your coworker swears by might feel downright awkward compared to the Comfort Curve 2000 you covet. Keyboards come in a variety of colors and key styles, too, not to mention with and without wires. And some keyboards are definitely louder than others. All Microsoft keyboards are carefully designed to balance form and function with comfort. Test drive a keyboard or two to find the right one for you.

Although using the right keyboard can really make a difference, ergonomics also play a key role when it comes to typing comfortably.
Tips for using your keyboard ergonomically

It is essential to use good ergonomic practices to help prevent or reduce soreness or injury to your wrists, hands, and arms. It is particularly important if you’re in front of your computer for long periods.

Here are some ergonomic tips for a safer, more comfortable computer session:

Position your keyboard at elbow level, with your upper arms relaxed at your sides.

Center your keyboard in front of you. If it has a numeric keypad, use the Spacebar as the centering point.

While typing, use a light touch and keep your wrists straight.

When you’re not typing, relax your arms and hands.

Take a short break every 15 to 20 minutes.

Type with your hands and wrists floating above the keyboard, so that you can use your whole arm to reach for distant keys instead of stretching your fingers.

Avoid resting your palms or wrists on any surface while typing. If your keyboard has a palm rest, use it only during breaks from typing.

How you use the keyboard is up to you. But by taking the time to adjust a few settings and to follow the guidelines above, typing on it can become easier, faster, and even safer.

Microsoft launches Office 365, glosses over cloud limitations

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer pitched his answer to Google Apps Tuesday as Microsoft announced worldwide availability of Office 365, but made no mention of the company’s biggest cloud rival or any of the limitations in cloud computing generally or Microsoft products specifically.


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Office 365 will likely attract a big audience, since a huge number of businesses use Microsoft products already. But the Office 365 beta, which is now over, engendered some customer complaints, and Microsoft has deliberately held some functionality back from its cloud service to avoid cannibalizing software license sales.

FIERCE RIVALS: The 10 bloodiest battles Microsoft and Google fought in 2010

Some beta testers complained about limitations in importing contacts for shared global address lists, and the requirement to use the complicated PowerShell to perform tasks they felt should be simple.

At a fancy event in New York City, Ballmer spoke to media, analysts and customers, revealing little that wasn’t known already but providing a look at potential use cases for Office 365. The cloud service wraps together many pieces of software: Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, and of course, Office, in both on-premises and Web-based versions.

While few would argue that the rival Google Apps offers more functionality than on-premises Microsoft Office software, Microsoft’s online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote are limited compared to Microsoft’s packaged tools and perhaps even compared to Google’s cloud offering.

Office Web Apps does a better job importing Microsoft Office documents than Google Docs does, but it lacks the auto-save functionality of Google Docs. Additionally, the ability to let multiple users edit documents simultaneously, provided in the browser by Google, is not offered with Microsoft’s Web-based versions of Word and PowerPoint. The rich clients of Word and PowerPoint are required for co-editing, even though Microsoft does provide browser-based co-editing in Excel and OneNote.

“Office Web Apps is purposely lightweight and is designed so that it will not cannibalize Office Pro revenue,” Gartner analyst Matt Cain says in an email interview. “If Google makes further inroads, Microsoft will clearly beef up Office Web Apps to be more competitive with [Google] Apps. The last thing that Microsoft wants to see is a diminishment in the Office franchise, and Office Web Apps is the instrument Microsoft can tune to combat Google Apps.”

Microsoft’s Office 365 not ready to leave beta, analyst says

Support forums illustrate numerous customer complaints about the beta of Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud service

Microsoft Office 365 cloud service is likely on the verge of exiting beta and entering general availability. CEO Steve Ballmer revealed that the service will launch this month and will be giving a speech about the service’s future on June 28.


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But is Office 365 really ready to ditch the “beta” tag? One analyst who has been testing Office 365 for a few months says no — and a quick look at Microsoft help forums shows that numerous beta testers are experiencing problems.

MICROSOFT’S CLOUD: Office 365 beta now public

“I’m a big fan of Office 365. I think it’s going to do well,” says analyst Paul Burns of Neovise, who spent 20 years as a software engineer and senior product manager at HP, a strong Microsoft partner, before becoming an industry analyst. “But if they are moving out of beta at the end of June, then yes, I’m surprised.”

Burns signed up for the Office 365 beta for himself and five part-time employees, and plans to continue using the service at the small-business rate of $6 per person per month once it becomes generally available. Burns is using Exchange for email as well as SharePoint, Lync, Office Web Apps and the regular version of Microsoft Office.

One missing capability, in Burns’ opinion, is the ability to import contacts from, say, an Outlook client into a shared global address list that can be accessed by all employees through an Exchange server.

Currently, Microsoft requires Office 365 customers to either manually enter each email address one by one, or use Windows PowerShell.

Burns isn’t the only one complaining about this, as a help forum thread shows.

A Microsoft support specialist told users on May 12, “If you’d like to import a list of contacts into your Global Address List, you’ll need an Enterprise subscription. In Enterprise, you can use Remote PowerShell.”

A week later, the Microsoft moderator followed up and said, “Small Business subscribers can now use Remote PowerShell.”

But PowerShell requires users to work in a command-line interface, and “not everyone has the expertise to do that,” Burns said. It’s also time-consuming.

Because of the global address list snafu, and another issue that made it difficult to create properly functioning email aliases, Burns says, “I went to download PowerShell, but very quickly I realized this is going to be time-consuming — and if I write the script, how do I test it? How do I know it’s right? Now I’m afraid to run the script on my data. What if I biff it and delete all my stuff instead?”

One Office 365 beta user complained in the global address list help forum, “This is another example of how such a basic requirement from any business cannot be executed unless you have the Enterprise package. Why the heck should you need to have the Enterprise package simply to be able to import contacts into the GAL?”

In response to a query from Network World, Microsoft said it provides tools to small businesses to migrate users and mailboxes from other services MCTS Online TrainingMCITP Online Training.

“Office 365 for small businesses is designed specifically for smaller businesses and professionals who are looking for cloud-based productivity tools without the IT hassles,” Microsoft said in an email statement.

Microsoft 70-680 Exam Windows 7 Configuring

The TS: Windows 7, Configuring (70-680) is the primary exam that covers Microsoft MCTS Certification and is one of the required exams for the MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator 7 and MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Support Technician 7 certifications. It also counts as the client requirements for MCTIP: Enterprise Administrator. For those who are seeking the MCITP: Enterprise Administrator, the 70-680 is usually the easiest of the required exams. Therefore, it is usually the first one taken.


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The 70-680 exam covers installing, upgrading, and migrating Windows; deploying Windows; installing and troubleshooting drivers; troubleshooting compatibility problems with applications; configuring network settings including the Windows Firewall; managing disks; and recovering Windows in case of a failure or problem. While the 70-680 is a comprehensive exam, it tends to give a little bit more focus on newer technologies introduced or modified in Windows 7.
Exam Details

65 questions (Note: Microsoft does not publish this information and may change the number of exam questions without notice.)
Multiple choice
Passing score 700 out of 1000.
90 minutes
You can take the exam at Prometric.
The complete listing of exam objectives appears on page 2 of this article.

Before you take this MCTS: Windows 7, Configuration exam, you should have either taken or acquired the equivalent knowledge found on the CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Network+ exams. Both of these exams give you the background to understand, install, configure, and troubleshoot computer and network problems and allow you to get the most out of studying for your 70-680 exam.

Compared to the equivalent exams for Windows XP and Windows Vista, the 70-680 covering Windows 7 is a little bit more difficult. You need to understand the material that is covered and apply the knowledge in various scenarios.

For those who may think that they are experienced with Windows, you need to review the objectives to determine if you really know Windows 7. For example, most people who are trying to get a start in Information Technology have installed Windows 7 from the installation DVD, and many people have upgraded Windows Vista to Windows 7. However, unless you work in a corporate environment where you are responsible for
free Microsoft practice tests( deploying Windows 7, most people have not used system images or automatic installation with an answer file.

Microsoft Office 2010 takes on all comers, LibreOffice, IBM Lotus Symphony, SoftMaker Office, Corel WordPerfect, and Google Docs challenge the Microsoft juggernaut

Ask most people to name a productivity suite and chances are they’ll say Microsoft Office, but they might also name one of the numerous competitors that have sprung up. None have completely displaced the Microsoft monolith, but they’ve made inroads.

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Most of the competition has positioned itself as being better by being cheaper. SoftMaker Office has demonstrated you don’t always need to pay Microsoft’s prices to get some of the same quality, while proved you might not need to pay anything at all. Meanwhile, services like Google Docs are available for anyone with an Internet connection.

[ Also on InfoWorld: “10 great free desktop productivity tools that aren’t” | “Great Office 2010 features for business” | Follow the latest Windows developments in InfoWorld’s Technology: Microsoft newsletter. ]

Microsoft’s response has been to issue the newest version of Office (2010) in three retail editions with slightly less ornery pricing than before, as well as a free, ad-supported version (Microsoft Office Starter Edition) that comes preloaded on new PCs. Despite the budget-friendly competition, Office continues to sell, with Microsoft claiming back in January that one copy of Office 2010 is sold somewhere in the world every second. (Full disclosure: The author of this review recently bought a copy for his own use.)

How well do the alternatives shape up? And how practical is it to switch to them when you have an existing array of documents created in Microsoft Office? Those are the questions I had in mind when I sat down with both the new version of Microsoft Office and several other programs (and one cloud service) that have been positioned as low- or no-cost replacements.

Microsoft Office 2010
Despite all efforts to dethrone it, Microsoft Office remains the de facto standard for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and to a high degree, corporate email. Other programs may have individual features that are better implemented, but Microsoft has made the whole package work together, both across the different programs in the suite and in Windows itself, with increasing care and attention in each revision.

Test Center Scorecard

20%    20%    20%    15%    15%    10%
Microsoft Office 2010    10    10    10    8    9    9
20%    20%    20%    15%    15%    10% 3.3.0    7    7    7    7    7    7
20%    20%    20%    15%    15%    10%
LibreOffice 3.3.1    7    7    7    7    7    7
20%    20%    20%    15%    15%    10%
IBM Lotus Symphony 3.0    7    7    7    7    8    8
20%    20%    20%    15%    15%    10%
SoftMaker Office 2010    9    9    9    7    7    9
Very Good
20%    20%    20%    15%    15%    10%
Corel WordPerfect Office X5    6    6    6    5    6    6
20%    20%    20%    15%    15%    10%
Google Docs    7    7    7    7    7    7

If you avoided Office 2007 because of the radical changes to the interface — namely, the ribbon that replaced the conventional icon toolbars — three years’ time might change your mind. First, the ribbon’s no longer confined to Office only; it shows up in many other programs and isn’t as alien as before. Second, Microsoft addressed one major complaint about the ribbon — that it wasn’t customizable — and made it possible in Office 2010 for end-users to organize the ribbon as freely as they did their legacy toolbars. I’m irked Microsoft didn’t make this possible with the ribbon from the start, but at least it’s there now.

Finally, the ribbon is now implemented consistently in Office 2010. Whereas Outlook 2007 displayed the ribbon only when editing messages, Outlook 2010 uses the ribbon throughout. (The rest of Outlook has also been streamlined a great deal; the thicket of settings and submenus has been pruned down a bit and made easier to traverse.) One feature that would be hugely useful is a type-to-find function for the ribbon; there is an add-in that accomplishes this, but having it as a native feature would be great.

Aside from the interface changes, Office 2007’s other biggest alteration was a new XML-based document format. Office 2010 keeps the new format but expands backward- and cross-compatibility, as well as native handling of OpenDocument Format (ODF) documents — the .odt, .ods, and .odp formats used by When you open a legacy Word .doc or .rtf file, for instance, the legend “[Compatibility Mode]” appears in the window title. This means any functions not native to that document format are disabled, so edits to the document can be reopened without problems in earlier versions of Office.

Note that ODF documents don’t trigger compatibility mode, since Office 2010 claims to have a high degree of compatibility between the two. The problem is “high degree” doesn’t always mean perfect compatibility. If you highlight a passage in an ODF document while in Word 2010, and LibreOffice recognize the highlighting. But if you highlight in or LibreOffice, Word 2010 interprets the highlighting as merely a background color assignment for the selected text.

Exporting to HTML is, sadly, still messy; Word has never been good at exporting simple HTML that preserves only basic markup. Also, exporting to PDF is available natively, but the range of options in Word’s PDF export module is very narrow compared to that of

Many other little changes throughout Office 2010 ease daily work. I particularly like the way the “find” function works in Word now, where all the results in a given document are shown in a navigation pane. This makes it far easier to find that one occurrence of a phrase you’re looking for. Excel has some nifty new ways to represent and manipulate data: Sparklines, little in-cell charts that usefully display at-a-glance visualizations of data; and data slicers, multiple-choice selectors that help widen or narrow the scope of the data you’re looking at. PowerPoint lets you broadcast a presentation across the Web (via Microsoft’s PowerPoint Broadcast Service, the use of which comes free with a PowerPoint license) or save a presentation as a video.

One last feature is worth mentioning as a possible future direction for all products in this vein. Office users who also have a SharePoint server can now collaborate in real time on Word, PowerPoint, or Excel documents. Unfortunately, SharePoint is way out of the reach of most casual users. But given how many professional-level features in software generally have percolated down to the end-user level, I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft eventually adds real-time collaboration, perhaps through Windows Live Mesh, as a standard feature.

Among the many new touches in Office 2010 is a much more useful document-search function, which shows results in a separate pane.

Among the many new touches in Office 2010 is a much more useful document-search function, which shows results in a separate pane.