4 Nov.

More events announced in ModernBiz Series for SMB


Quick Links

to training in this Newsletter.

Grow Your Business with Technical Training

Below is a list of all the Modern Biz Technical training sessions to help you and your team skill up on the latest technology, solutions and news.


The Modern Biz Technical Series provides training, demonstrations, and hands-on instruction on how to use the latest Office 365, Windows, Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft Azure, and SQL Server 2014 capabilities to deliver solutions to small and midsize organizations. This set of training courses is designed to prepare Microsoft value-added reseller (VAR) partners to help your customers modernise their business by providing solutions and services in the areas of server and cloud, productivity, mobility and remote access, and business intelligence.


In this training, you will:


· Get hands-on experience: With a focus on building real-world solutions, this training consists of presentations, demos, and hands-on labs.


· Get the skills you need to build real-world solutions: This technical series is designed specifically for partners working with small and midsize business (SMB) customers to build solutions using the latest products and technologies from Microsoft.


If you have any questions/feedback about any of the training below or would like to suggest training for us to run please email the Microsoft Australia Readiness Team at msaupr@microsoft.com


For the latest news from the Microsoft Australia Partner Team be sure to visit the Australian Partner Blog http://blogs.msdn.com/b/auspartners/


Modern Biz Technical Series for SMB  
grow efficiently day 2

Register here
Type: Technical (L300)
Audience: IT Professionals, Consultants, SMB Resellers
Cost: $160

Product: Windows 8.1, Office 365, SQL Server 2014 on premises & SQL Server in Azure

Duration: 1 Day

Location: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth (Nov)

The Modern Biz Technical Series course, Grow Efficiently, Part 2: Adapt to Change, provides training on how to use the latest Microsoft client, database, and cloud productivity technologies to deliver solutions that help small and midsize organizations grow and adapt to change—from expanding the infrastructure that powers their business applications, to adding new PCs, devices and apps that help employees do their best work.

business anywhere

Register here
Type: Technical (L300)

Audience: IT Professionals, Consultants, SMB Resellers

Cost: $160

Product: Microsoft Intune, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows 8.1 VDI, Azure Applications, Office 365, Exchange Server

Duration: 1 Day

Location: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane (March)

Want a larger slice of the market for mobility and remote access? This course is designed to help you leverage the latest servers and cloud technologies to deliver the right solutions. We’ll cover Windows Intune, Windows Server 2012, Azure and Office 365 in a mix of presentations and hands-on labs.

connect with customers

Register here
Type: Technical (L300)

Audience: IT Professionals, Consultants, SMB Resellers

Cost: $160

Product: Office 365, SharePoint Online, Azure Security, Powerview

Duration: 1 Day

Location: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide (Dec)

We’re in the midst of a data explosion – and you can help your SMB customers seize control of theirs. Learn how to deliver powerful BI solutions that help them find and combine multiple data sources, gain insights through interactive dashboards and reports and to share them with the company.

grow efficiently day 2

Register here
Type: Technical (L300)
Audience: IT Professionals, Consultants, SMB Resellers
Cost: $160

Product: Windows 8.1, Office 365, SQL Server 2014 on premises & SQL Server in Azure

Duration: 1 Day

Location: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth (Nov)

The Modern Biz Technical Series course, Grow Efficiently, Part 2: Adapt to Change, provides training on how to use the latest Microsoft client, database, and cloud productivity technologies to deliver solutions that help small and midsize organizations grow and adapt to change—from expanding the infrastructure that powers their business applications, to adding new PCs, devices and apps that help employees do their best work.

be lean stay lean with microsoft azure (REPEAT)

Register here
Type: Technical (L300)
Audience: IT Professionals, Consultants, SMB Resellers
Cost: Free

Product: Microsoft Azure

Duration: 1 Day

Location: Sydney, Melbourne (Nov)

Gain the Azure knowledge and skills to deliver cloud-based solutions and services to SMBs. Learn about partner opportunities, key SMB trends, and a range of Azure capabilities and solutions, including backup, storage, websites, IaaS, PaaS, virtual networks, deploying VM workloads, and more. Please note this is a REPEAT of training ran in August.

safeguard your business

Register here
Type: Technical (L300)
Audience: IT Professionals, Consultants, SMB Resellers
Cost: $160

Product: Microsoft Azure, Windows 8.1 Security & Management, Windows Server 2012 R2, SQL Server

Duration: 1 Day

Location: Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane (Jan)

Gain the skills to provide solutions to SMB customers in three key areas: mobility with Windows 8 devices, remote access to on-premises LOB applications, and mobile productivity in the cloud with Office 365.

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 7 Oct.

ModernBiz Tech Training Events Coming In October and December

I’ll be delivering this series of readiness events for Microsoft in October and November, this time round the cities being visited are Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Below is the official invite text, let me know in advance if you are planning on attending. There will be other events in this series, which will dig into additional topics, but to start, take a look below and see if this is appropriate for you or others in your business

Grow Your Business with Technical Training

The Modern Biz Technical Series provides training, demonstrations, and hands-on instruction on how to use the latest Office 365, Windows, Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft Azure, and SQL Server 2014 capabilities to deliver solutions to small and midsize organizations. This set of training courses is designed to prepare Microsoft value-added reseller (VAR) partners to help your customer’s modernise their business by providing solutions and services in the areas of server and cloud, mobility and remote access, and business intelligence.

In this training, you will:

· Get hands-on experience: With a focus on building real-world solutions, this training consists of presentations, demos, and hands-on labs.

· Get the skills you need to build real-world solutions: This technical series is designed specifically for partners working with small and midsize business (SMB) customers to build solutions using the latest products and technologies from Microsoft.

Grow Efficiently – Part 1

This solution area is about helping customers grow and adapt to changing business environments – and at the same time improving efficiency and getting the most out of their IT investments.

After attending this course you will understand:

· How to deploy on-premises virtualization solutions with Windows Server 2012 R2 and Hyper-V while providing SMB’s with tactical guidance and services needed implement a virtualized infrastructure

· The tools and technologies that are available to partners when executing migration off of legacy platforms while providing tactical guidance to SMB customers as they migrate applications and services to Hyper-V or Azure IaaS

· How to deploy Windows Server 2012 R2 Active Directory in various migration scenarios including migration from a Windows Server 2003 domain infrastructure

· How to deploy Azure VMs (IaaS) and integrate those VMs with on premises services with minimal change to on-premises infrastructure

· How to implement cost effective, durable, and scalable storage solutions using the Microsoft Storage Stack on industry standard hardware.

Who Should Attend:

The ModernBiz Technical Series is for Microsoft value-added reseller (VAR) partners who work with small and midsize organizations. The training is designed for IT professionals and consultants who are ready to learn more about meeting the technical needs of SMBs with Microsoft solutions.

Dates and Locations:

October 14th

Cliftons Adelaide

Level 1, 80 King William Street

November 19th

Cliftons Melbourne

Level 1, 440 Collins Street

November 26th

Cliftons Brisbane

Level 1, 80 King William Street

November 28th

Microsoft North Ryde

1 Epping Road


$160 per person, this includes GST, meals and labs

Register Today

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 15 Sep.

Intune to support iOS 8 at launch, adds new features

The Intune team have announced that they will be support iOS 8 on launch day, here’s the text from their blog post on the topic, and a more in depth post is here. Regardless of your personal views of what the new iPhones deliver, for many organisations they will be arriving en masse shortly due to user demand, and there will be plenty of eager iOS7 users updating within the next few days, and expecting you in IT to make them play nicely. We’ve been seeing some great Intune and Office 365 working together to protect information on iPad demos at a few different Microsoft events recently, so we know what we have to look forward to.

So, apart from iOS 8 support, what else has recently arrived in Intune? There is now email profile provisioning for Windows Phone 8/8.1 (and iOS) by Intune as a standalone service. This was previously available to those who had deployed Intune alongside SCCM, but as you may know, not everyone has System Center deplyed already. Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 RT also received some new mobile device management capabilities via Enterprise Mode support  in Internet Explorer 11.

You can read about the new features here…

Email Profile Provisioning
Mobile Policy Support for Enterprise Mode in Internet Explorer


From the Intune team blog…

Next week iOS 8 will be released to the public, and our Intune service will be ready on Day 0 to manage devices on this new version of the platform.

With iOS 8, we believe that two of the most critical enterprise features today are Managed Domains and Document Extensions. With Managed Domains, enterprise data will be tracked from its source, which will allow management systems to better separate corporate from personal data. Document Extensions will provide significant interaction between applications, introducing new extensibility opportunities that iOS hasn’t had previously. However, with that extensibility will come additional security concerns that will require additional policy and controls from management systems.

For more details on this, we recommend you check out the “Day Zero Support for iOS 8 with Intune” post on the In the Cloud blog by Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President, Enterprise Client & Mobility. It provides a great overview of the new iOS 8 features that are most important to IT admins and enterprises and details out how the Intune service will take advantage of these new features as we continuously upgrade the service.

We encourage you to stay tuned to this blog as we continue to share updates on our efforts to leverage some of the new and interesting features available in the latest version of iOS. Also, if you’re not yet using Windows Intune, sign up for a free 30-day trial today!

-  Kieran Gupta, Program Manager

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 8 Sep.

Nokia Lumia 1520 with Here Drive+ As My Car navigation System – The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Last week I decided to use my Lumia 1520 as my sole GPS while driving from Sydney to the Gold Coast and back, I wanted to see how well Here Drive+ would work as my primary navigation system, which would also be putting the Windows Phone 8.1 updates with Cyan to the test, and it was also the first serious workout that my recently purchased Nokia CR-201 wireless charging car holder. Rather than breaking this post into a section on each of the components that were under test, I will break them down according to the experience I encountered with them.

The Good

The Nokia CR-201 did a great job of not just holding the phone, which for the oversized 1520 can be a challenge, but it also successfully charged the phone while it was performing GPS tasks, streaming music via the Xbox Music service, and connected to the car audio system via Bluetooth. I’ve had poor experiences with some other car chargers that couldn’t supply enough power to phones when all of these capabilities are being used, and I was wondering if wireless charging would hold up. Once I was satisfied that this was working well I plugged another phone that had an empty battery into the USB charging port on the CR-201 bundle, and again there were no issues with both devices receiving power and charging.


Here Drive+ delivered some good features as well. Downloading the maps in advance over Wi-Fi was appreciated, and having the maps shared with Here Maps is also a benefit. Alerts and notifications via Bluetooth, along with the streaming music, was a better experience than alerts from the phone being missed due to music volume. The route recalculation speed when I took alternate paths was impressive, but the results left a bit to be desired, but I’ll cover that later. Traffic information was also good, especially considering my old car navigation system requires a special cable in order to get that information.

Finally, the 1520 itself lends itself to this type of functionality incredibly well. The size of the screen is great for viewing, and typing on a larger screen with a familiar keyboard is also a bonus. Enabling Driving Mode from settings helps to minimise the distractions that your phone would normally present.


Driving mode is accessible under Settings, and as you can see you you can configure calls and texts as well as the Bluetooth devices that require this feature.


In Bluetooth you can see that it’s not an all or nothing type setting, you probably want driving mode enabled in your car, but not with your Bluetooth headset, and definitely not with your other Bluetooth devices like a FitBit Flex.


Want a nice peaceful driving experience? While driving mode can’t control the traffic or the other drivers, it can eliminate calls and texts.


You can configure automatic replies via SMS if you have people who panic when they can’t contact you, so now you can focus on the task at hand instead of trying to multitasking.

The Bad

The bad points of Here Drive+ are some of the features it lacks versus other navigation systems I’ve used. There were no obvious multi-stop trip capabilities, so i had to repeatedly stop navigation, enter the new location, go there, and then stop navigation, and go back to a previously found location. This isn’t a showstopper for me, but more of an annoyance. The second annoyance was that if I was searching for my preferred fuel supplier, it would give distances, but wouldn’t let you know the direction, so you may have already passed the locations at the top of the list. Other systems do things like having directional arrows to let you know if they are on your path, behind you, or way off the path you are taking. The inability to adjust alert volume was also an annoyance. I also had a few weird route issues, where it was insisting I take a certain path which I knew wasn’t correct, and it wasn’t until I was about 10KM from that missed turnoff, and where I needed to be, that it realised I was already there. I had a few other minor issues like this where the recalculations were trying to push me back to the way it wanted me to go rather than analysing where I was and if there was an alternate route I may have been considering.

The other bad entrant is Windows Phone 8.1 related and that’s the ever present lack of certain apps. Windows Phone users are accustomed to certain apps not being available, and in my case it was fuel related, I had to use another platform to find locations that where I could easily locate the type of fuel I was after. Trying to do this via the browser on WP8.1 was no match, the native app was the hands down winner.

The Ugly

I’ll start with Here Drive+ which I found one major problem with -  it did not know about school speed zones. There are other shortcomings I don’t see as showstoppers, but this is one that I think really needs to be addressed. The map data seemed fairly up to date overall, there’s always going to be some type of roadwork that means that speed limits don’t match, but school zone alerts were an area that I just didn’t have a good experience with.

Most of the ugly was really around Windows Phone 8.1, starting with the inability for it to work well in landscape mode. So many of the inbuilt apps and phone functions just don’t rotate. This is something that has been an annoyance for me with Windows Phone devices previously when I was using them as media playback devices, but it was easy enough to rotate the phone in my hand. In the car however, the story is very different. The angle of the windscreen combined with the size of the 1520 means that I couldn’t place the phone in an area that allowed good visibility and rotation capabilities. Someone with a more vertical windscreen may not have this issue, but I certainly did. There was an upside to this limitation though, it meant I did use the device for navigation while driving, and as a phone while not driving, which is a win for the phone in a way…

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 18 Aug.

Restoring Your Windows Phone 8.1 After A Reset

In an earlier post I covered how to use the Nokia Software Recovery Tool to either restore your Lumia with the WP8.1 Preview for Developers to the factory image, or better yet have Windows Phone 8.1 Update and Cyan be applied automatically. There was a downside though, which is that it didn’t maintain your data In my last post I covered backing the phone up, today I will cover restoring the phone. Let’s run through this from a phone running WP8.1 that has been reset so you can see all of the steps.


Yes, this form of English will do nicely.


Let’s start? Let’s shall!


Of course I probably should take a look at what I’m accepting, but reading something long on a small screen isn’t going to happen…


In order to continue I have to provide the details that are needed for a WiFi connection, as I don’t have a SIM card in this test phone.


Due to the frequency with which I reset phones, any assistance that a caching solution provides makes my life a bit easier.



WiFi Sense is an interesting beast you should take a look into, but read up on it before you choose whether to use it or not.

Using WiFi Sense to get connected

WiFi Sense FAQ


It’s up to you whether you want to go with the recommended or custom settings, just make sure you are aware of the implications either way.


Yes, that’s where and when I am.


At this stage, you want to sign in with the Microsoft account that you had backed up with previously.


Provide your Microsoft account and password to continue.


You can see that the phone is now online and looking for backups.


And here’s a screen you should see a simplified version of, making it easier for you to choose the right phone. You can see here that the Nokia model names not matching the brand names can make things a little bit tricky!


We are quickly flicked back to the Restoring screen, but we aren’t quite ready to restore yet, thanks to multi-factor authentication.


We need to supply the appropriate details that we supplied in our Microsoft account to continue, in this case an email address.


And in this case I need to check email or a browser on another device to get my Code.


Now we are back at the Restoring screen again, but this time it’s serious!


As the settings start being restored we see the screen change back to black to match my backed up settings.


This can take a while depending on how much you had installed and backed up and the speed of your connection, but in my case it took around 10 minutes to restore.


Email accounts are restored,  but not the passwords, so we need to enter those again.


The next advises that WiFi is required for the apps and games to be restored due to the potential cost over your mobile connection.


I am prompted for a password to be created due to corporate policy on my Office 365 account.


Choose a password!


I am a fan of opting in, with long term hopes that it improves products I’m using.


Now we can see that I have a bunch of queued up apps that want to be reinstalled, and some of them are demanding attention, but thtere’s also a toast message that I captured at the top of the image.


If I swipe down to go to the message center I can that notification and tap on it.


This isn’t Kansas, Toto. And my Kansas, I mean Windows Phone 8. And by Toto, I don’t mean the band that had the hit Africa.


Time to enter my Outlook sign in details.


I’m prompted for an update, but this is just a small one, it adds language support, I assume for Australia, but who knows?


After a restart I’m back at the sign in screen, and you can see that my SMS notifications are letting me know the phone has synchronised my previous messages.


The phone can now speak Australian! That doesn’t mean it always sounds drunk, just sometimes.


Now, let’s go back to what I we were about to do before we were rudely interrupted by that Australian update.


As we go into the Store, we can see that there are 59 apps that are ready to install.


I’m still seeing Attention required. Tap here. And when I do, I see this unexpected, but not shocking blocker.


I’ve got too many phones associated with my Microsoft account, so let’s clear one out.


To remove a phone from your Microsoft account, go to www.windowsphone.com and sign in.


Okay, there’s the problem, I do indeed have 5 different phones associated to my account, and one of the flaws in the site is that it doesn’t exactly make it easy to figure out which phone is which.


Today’s purge victim will be a Lumia 720, so I can remove the phone via the Account settings page.


Of course it’s a nice safety net that it verifies the removal of the phone.


Once removal is complete, it moves on to the next phone, and you can see the number of phones has dropped to four.


Now I can go back to the store and allow the applications to restore.

If you are really bored, you can watch the apps restore, and you will see which apps restore settings as well as the app. This can take a while, especially if you have installed plenty of larger apps, in my case the reinstallation of games blows this time right out.

Gradually you will see your phone looking much more like what you had previously, including the Start screen layout as well as your apps. There will still be some things you need to setup up again or confirm, but overall it shouldn’t be too time consuming. The exception to this is games, they don’t seem to want to restore where you are at, so be careful if you’ve invested time in a game and don’t want to have to work your way back through it.

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 17 Aug.

Backing Up Your Windows Phone Before Upgrading To Windows Phone 8.1

In the last post I covered using the Nokia Software Recovery Tool which allows you to restore your phone to a base Nokia image if you had joined the Preview for Developers program and gained early access to Windows Phone 8.1. One of the key points I mentioned was that it was a complete reset of your phone, meaning that you would lose your data and settings. Today I’ll cover what you should be doing, even when there aren’t imminent upgrades, to ensure that you can always go back to a good base.


I’ll start with the top option – “backup – save stuff to the cloud”. Yes, take a look, that’s the actual wording, not mine!


Once in here we have three settings, which we will take a look at in order.


We can choose to backup settings for browser favourites, Start screen layout, passwords and more, and then there is also the ability to backup settings for applications that support that capability.


Below those options we have the option to do a manual backup, which you want to do before applying a software update, just to be sure.


The final choice from the apps and setting screen takes us to manage backups, where you can delete the backups if you want.


Once we go back to the backup screen and choose the next option, we have the ability to have text messages backed up, which of course means we can also restore them!


When it comes to photos and videos, I strongly recommend that you choose best quality, but be aware that this option only synchronises over WiFi. If you are on a wireless network regularly, or if you manually copy pictures and videos to your PC over USB, then they will get copied to OneDrive regularly. However, be aware that the longer you go without WiFi or copying, the more precious images you could potentially lose should you and a working phone part ways. If you are using something like a Lumia 1020, Lumia 930 or Lumia 1520 which have high megapixel cameras, the file sizes here are larger than with the lower resolution images taken by the other cameras.


If we go back to settings, and move down to sync my settings, you will see where we can start leveraging more of the OneDrive capabilities.


Here you can see that you can choose exactly what gets synced across different Microsoft devices. This means that if you are using Windows 8 or later on your PC or tablet, these settings can synchronise to these devices as well, really adding value to the whole Microsoft account and OneDrive combination.


As the final piece to wrap up today’s post, I just want to highlight one of the welcome changes to re-install apps that you have installed previously. Swipe up while in the Store, and you will see my apps. Tap on that…


And you are presented with a list of all the apps you have installed via that Microsoft account. For those who have been using Windows phone for a while, you may find that the list is rather extensive. You can multi-select by checking the box alongside the app image, making reinstallation of old favourites very easy.

In the next post I’ll cover restoring, as a few things have changed over time with Windows Phone, but thankfully these are changes for the better.

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 13 Aug.

Nokia Software Recovery Tool Images Updated With Windows Phone 8.1 And Cyan

This post started off quite differently from what it has ended up as, thanks to some changes that were occurring behind the scenes part way through writing and capturing screenshots. The original goal of the post was to show how you could easily use the Nokia Software Recovery Tool to reset your Lumia back to the Windows Phone 8 base image for those of you running the Developer Preview (DP) to get Cyan on their faster. The available images include the customised images for various mobile operators around the world, not just the non-branded releases.

It was a multistep process – use the tool to restore, lose everything, and then update to the 8.1 Update with Cyan, and then restore. Notice that I said “lose everything” – of course this doesn’t happen if you have backed everything up, but more on that later. Now some of the phones are already receiving the 8.1/Cyan combo directly through the tool, making life a bit simpler.

1320 2
No version decrement this time round using the tool, and no need to check for updates after the process was complete.

I had already used this tool to reset a 520, 620, 720, 920, 925, 1040 and 1520, but it was only when my wife allowed me access to her 1320 (Australian) that I immediately noticed that I wasn’t changing build numbers within the Nokia tool. As I went back through the tool I noticed that some had been updated directly to 8.1 with Cyan, which I completely overlooked, and the way I was able to verify this was by connecting the phones up again and seeing if any new packages were downloaded. The Lumia 925 (Australian) was the first success story, as displayed in the image below.

The top 2 files show that in a new image update was released for the RM-892, or what us regular people call the Lumia 925

The next phone I was able to get an updated image for was the Lumia 1020 (Australian), and the Nokia tool showed this was the case straight away as the version numbers of my manually updated 1020 matched what the recovery tool downloaded and installed.

Yes, this is a Lumia 1020, despite reporting itself as a Lumia 909

If we take a look in the RM-875 aka Lumia 909 aka Lumia 1020, we can see the updated image alongside the previous image

The newer download at the top is bigger than the previous one, which obviously means it’s better!

Next I tried the Lumia 1520 (Latin America), and was again rewarded with a new download that included WP 8.1 Update and Cyan.

A new download is a good sign…

And again we see the new build at the top, which has been made available at some point in the last couple of days.

So what phones in my collection didn’t succeed getting WP8.1 and Cyan installed directly with this tool? A Lumia 720 (LATAM), Lumia 920 (Telstra) and Lumia 530 (Telstra), but considering that these aren’t showing as updateable to Cyan yet on the Nokia update pages, it isn’t a surprise that they weren’t getting updated images through this tool yet. I’ll keep an eye on the Nokia pages before I try again, unless I’m incredibly bored.

Where would you use this tool rather than doing updates over WiFi? The main reason I use it so that I’ve got a locally cached copy of the image to apply, which can save a bit of time when you’ve got a handful of phones to reset regularly. For IT departments this is a great way to do updates for multiple users, as the images won’t be causing network traffic as the updates are downloaded. Take a look at the variability I encountered in download speeds with different phone updates.

Check out the download speed here – it looks like the content distribution servers weren’t paying attention to this one!

And here we are a few minutes later with a file that does seem to be on a content distribution network…

Now, earlier I mentioned that it’s important to note that you need to back up the appropriate files and settings before you run this tool with your phone attached, so I will cover some details of that in my next post.

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 5 Aug.

The Windows 8.1 Update User Experience Part 2

In the first part of this series I discussed some of the ways you can start customising Windows 8.1 to suit your personal needs, including making the Start Screen more relevant and booting straight to the desktop. Other interface enhancements that have been introduced with previous versions of Windows have also moved into the Windows 8 family of products, including Jump Lists and Snap. If you are a Windows 7 user, you have probably already used Jump Lists, which allows you to easily access the most frequently used documents from the Task Bar, rather than opening the application and then trying to locate the document. You can also still take advantage of previewing opening applications from the Task Bar as well.


Jump Lists


If you frequently have multiple applications open at the same time and are always resizing them, Snap makes it easy to split the screen down the middle. This allows the comparison of different versions of documents, ease of cutting and pasting between different apps, as well as having applications that provide real time data open without interfering with other applications you are running. With the Windows 8.1 Update you can also now use Snap on the desktop, but also have a modern application open alongside it. This is perfect for situations where you may have a modern application that you need open, and don’t want to switch away from the desktop.


Tri-Snap Plus Modern Preview


While on the topic of switching, you can still use keyboard shortcuts such as Alt-Tab while on the desktop, as well as many other of the keyboard shortcuts you have relied upon for a long time. Your keyboard shortcuts within your favourite applications still work, drastically reducing some of the learning requirements people think they will encounter. You can now also minimise and close modern applications more easily, by clicking on close and minimise items in the top right hand side of the apps.

Store Skype Minimise


The final hint for this post is for those of you who have been using some form of search on your previous version of Windows to find and launch the applications you need. Windows 8.1 makes this easy by exposing search directly from the Start Screen. In the previous post I mentioned that there was a Search icon alongside the Power icon, but left it there, but if you click on it and start typing, the results that match your typing will show up. A timesaving tip is that you don’t even need to get to the Search icon to start searching, you can just start typing while you are on the Start Screen!



The two articles in this series have been a whirlwind tour of some of the ways you can work in Windows 8.1, and once you start using it you will find many more that will make your time on your PC easier regardless of whether you are using a mouse and keyboard or using a touch enabled device.


 This content has been created in partnership with Microsoft Australia


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 30 Jul.

More Fun WIth Office Click To Run Deployments

Okay, maybe fun isn’t quite the right word, but sometimes that’s really the only way to explain the attraction to dig a little deeper. After the last post where I covered how to take advantage of some of the lesser documented product IDs that work with Office Click To Run, it’s time to see how including a product ID versus ExcludeApp affect what gets deployed. Let’s start with the Lync client, because the one I had to work with most recently from a standalone deployment perspective.

Based on what I covered in the last post, we can approach the Lync deployment from two angles with C2R – we can deploy Lync retail versus deploying Office 365 Pro Plus and excluding everything but Lync. While on the surface that may seem to be suggesting the same process is taking place, that really isn’t the case at all. First of all, if we think about it from what is actually getting deployed, one of the versions of Lync will identify itself as Lync in Programs And Features, while the other identifies itself as standalone Lync. This makes sense, but let’s take a look anyway…

Lync, brought to you by Lync

Lync, brought to you by Office 365 Pro Plus

I’ll come back to discuss some of the longer term implications of one approach versus the other, but first let’s see what the properties are from within the Lync client. What you will notice is that the Lync install from Office 365 ProPlus calls this out on the second line – so there really shouldn’t be any confusion about which one you are working with.

Lync, brought to you by Lync

Lync, brought to you by Office 365

What differences are there between the two installs? Well, it’s pretty much what you would expect, the Lync only Office 365 ProPlus installation is larger than LyncRetail. The majority of the consumed space is in the DCF folder which contains the necessary bits for the Database File Compare tool.

The LyncRetail standalone install comes in at 840MB

Lync via Office 365 ProPlus comes in at 1.15GB – so there is obviously more getting installed here, and from this directly alone we can see Office telemetry elements installed by default.

What about adding additional applications in? I deliberately started with Lync because it, shall we say, doesn’t exactly conform to the backstage view that the Office desktop applications have been moving towards with Office 2007. Granted, Lync is a very different type of client to the other desktop applications, so I’m not going to be to harsh on them about this. Now let’s add Word to both of these virtual machines.

All we need to do is replace LyncRetail with WordRetail inside of a configuration xml file for the standalone installer, and we need to remove Word as an Excluded App ID in the Office 365 ProPlus configuration xml file.

While it’s easy to install Word alongside Lync, you can’t use your Office 365 credentials to activate it. Those who have tried to use their P plan credentials to activate Office 365 Pro Plus would have seen a similar problem.


The Office 365 ProPlus install acts as expected – I can activate it with my Office 365 E3 credentials, and it’s easy to see that it’s part of the overall suite, despite Lync being the only other installed application.

What’s the takeaway of all of this? Be careful when you are deploying via Click 2 Run to ensure that you are deploying the right version of the required application. If you aren’t sure what the user will need and want to pre-install the single image, use the Office OPK that I mentioned in the previous post on this topic. If you do know that the user is going to be using Office 365 Pro Plus, you can either install the whole suite, or exclude the non-required apps. You can see from the above screenshot that adding in new applications is easily done, and it’s a pretty quick process to do it.

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 27 Jul.

The Windows 8.1 Update User Experience Part 1

With each new release with Microsoft Windows, there are always a large number of new features and capabilities, but sometimes these can get can get washed out amongst the noise that usually surrounds some of the other changes. This has definitely been the case since Windows 8 was released, much of the focus has been on the changes to the interface, rather than focusing on some of the benefits these and other changes bring to users of earlier versions of Windows. With the recent release of the Windows 8.1 Update, there’s plenty to offer both Windows 8 users, as well as those who are looking at moving from earlier versions of Windows.

Let’s start with some of the undercover changes that aren’t quite as obvious. There have been huge improvements in the basics such as startup performance and security, in many ways the latest releases have taken what was good with Windows 7 and made them great. While some of these under the hood changes aren’t the glamour features that jump out straight away, over time they are the ones that you start to appreciate the most and come to depend upon day after day.

A great example of this is the ability to associate your Windows sign in with your Microsoft Account. What’s a Microsoft account? You may have known it previously as your Hotmail account, your LiveID, or for those of you who have been doing this for a while, you may know it as your Microsoft Passport account. By enabling this association between accounts, you can start to backup and synchronise a large number of settings across multiple Windows PCs including your Internet Explorer favourites, background, Start Screen layout, apps that you’ve installed, web passwords and much more.

OneDrive Sync
Use Microsoft’s free OneDrive service to Synchronise your customisations across multiple Windows 8.1 devices with your Microsoft account.

Many of the new features that are included with Windows 8.1 Update are for both the business user but can also be used by consumers, it’s common for many to use the same device for business and pleasure. If you do have a Windows tablet or a laptop with touch, you will quickly learn to appreciate how useful pinching and zooming can be in Internet Explorer. This works in the same way as we are accustomed to from our smartphones, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble taking advantage of this capability. The modern version of OneNote which is available from the Windows Store is a great way to see how touch can enhance business applications that you have been using for quite a while.

What this means for us as users is that we can easily access our documents and settings if we use multiple Windows PCs, whether they be laptops, desktops or tablets, and have a much more tightly synchronised experience across them. It even makes the process of setting up a new PC much easier, as you can sign in with your Microsoft Account and choose to synchronise settings from your first sign in, saving you lots of time that would normally be spent making the PC behave the way that you want.

An area where there has been a great deal of attention focused on Windows 8 and the follow on releases is the change in the user interface, which really is the first major overhaul since Windows 95. This means that we do need to learn a few things that are new, but we all live in a world where we are working with many different interfaces across our phones and tablets. For the rest of this post I will focus on some of the user interface changes that have  taken place, as well as how some of the interface elements you know and love have moved forward into Windows 8.1.

The biggest change overall is the introduction of the Start Screen as a replacement for the aging Start Menu, which has been designed to work better in a world where touch enabled devices are becoming the norm. This doesn’t mean that those of us using a keyboard and mouse have been left behind, as we have the ability to interact and change this experience by right mouse clicking, as well using drag and drop in ways which we have grown accustomed to. In many ways we can think of the Start Screen as a simplified launcher, and then rely on the enhanced search capabilities to find those applications we don’t use all that often.

Default Start Screen
The Start Screen needs to be customised to suit your needs, you can add and remove Live Tiles until you are satisfied.

For many people, their first experience with a Windows 8 based system was seeing the new Start Screen, which hadn’t been customised for their requirements. This can feel a bit overwhelming to begin with, as it is a major change to previous versions of Windows. However, once you start working with the interface, and discover the ease with which you can customise it to suit your needs. This is something you can change over time as different applications become higher and lower priorities, and ends up providing something much simpler than the Start Menu had become. If you take a look at the top right hand corner you will see that there is an easily accessible power icon, as well as the ability to search your PC as well.

Customised Start Screen
My customised Start Screen with much less clutter, and easy access to my most important apps, the desktop, and search.

Windows 8.1 Update includes doesn’t just include shortcuts to the inbuilt search capabilities, but it also provides an easier way of navigating to the power button shortcuts, easily available when you are using a keyboard and mouse. For those of you a bit more adventurous, right mouse clicking on the Start button will also bring up a shortcut with power options, as well as a few more options that are more suited to the more technical users.

Shutdown From Start
Right mouse click on the Start button to expose additional capabilities, including a more familiar way to shut down and restart

It’s important to mention that you can choose to boot straight to the Windows desktop where you can pin your favourite time tested applications, as well as get easy access to modern apps when you need them. This blending of old and new means that we can leverage whichever app works best for what we need to get done, something which took huge leaps forward in the Windows 8.1 Update. This highlights one of the greatest strengths of Windows, which is the huge base of business and personal applications we have been relying on for years, and we don’t have to sacrifice these as we move forward.

Boot To Desktop
The fourth checkbox enables boot to desktop, a welcome return!

Like any new experience, there is going to be an adjustment period to some of the things that have changed, but within a short while you should find that you have found a few new features that make your tasks easier, and will have customised Windows 8.1 to deliver the experience that you need. There are more changes that will help you to adjust to Windows 8.1,,and I will target those in part two of  this series.

This content has been created in partnership with Microsoft Australia

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