Microsoft News Summary – 25 August 2014

Not much has happened since last Friday morning. VMworld is on this week in San Francisco – maybe it’s no coincidence that there have been earthquakes nearby?


  • AzureConf, free online Azure conference: On September 25th, 2014, Microsoft will be hosting AzureConf, another free event for the Azure community. This event will feature a keynote presentation by Scott Guthrie, along with numerous sessions executed by Azure community members.



  • The Windows Intune Team will be performing scheduled maintenance at the end of August: All service functions and operations are expected to perform normally during this maintenance window. Once the upgrade to the Windows Intune service is complete, a number of mandatory agent updates will be pushed out to all PC client machines connected to the service. In most cases, these updates will not require a reboot after being applied.

Office 365

  • Matter Centric Legal Document Management: MSFT has launched a limited pilot program for an industry vertical O365 solution to improve the way law firms and attorneys work together by making it easier to organize files by client and matter, review documents, and find information when needed without ever leaving Microsoft Word or Outlook. < I wonder, if like some other verticals, this only applies to the USA … try set the URL to be non-US.

Microsoft News Summary-30 May 2014

Greetings from Belgium where I will be presenting a Hyper-V over SMB 3.0 session (designing & implementing a SOFS) at E2EVC, a community virtualization conference. Here is the Microsoft news of the last 24 hours. It appears that the momentum to signing up to support and partner with Azure is growing.


Microsoft News Summary-29 May 2014

Not much going on in the last 24 hours:

Don’t Be An IT Dinosaur – Attend TechCamp 2014 On June 19/20

A monumental change is happing in IT right now. You can fight it all you want, but cloud is a disrupting force that will effect our entire environment. IT pros are scared of “the cloud” … but is their fear justified?

This is why a bunch of us are presenting on the IT pro aspects of the Microsoft Cloud OS on June 19th and 20th. It’s a 2 day event in Dublin Citywest, where you can register for the Hybrid Cloud stuff (infrastructure as a service or IaaS) on June 19th, the Office365/etc stuff (software as a service or SaaS) on June 20th, or even register for both days.

The content on June 19th will span on-premises IT, building private clouds, automation, and mixing your on-premise infrastructure with Microsoft Azure. On June 20th we move on to SaaS where there will be lots of Office 365, Windows Intune, and Power BI. All presenters have been instructed to present demo-heavy “here’s how to …” technical sessions.

Now is the time to learn and evolve. Don’t be a dinosaur; get on board with the cloud now and be the person who is employable in 5 years time. You can choose to cover your ears and close your eyes, but you’ll be dug up from an IT tar pit in a few million years time.

dinosaur (3)

IT pros that ignored the cloud as it made them extinct

This event WILL NOT BE REPEATED. This is a once-off collection of subject expert speakers. No roadshow, no Microsoft Ireland event, and no partner event will repeat what we’re doing at TechCamp.

And consultants … this message goes double for you.

Event: TechCamp 2014 On June 19/20 In Dublin

Another community event is coming on June 19th and 20th in Citywest in Dublin. This time, with TechCamp 2014, we’re switching to a more “here’s how to do it” style of presentation. Based on feedback, we’ll have 1 track per day, over 2 days. Day 1 (June 19th) will focus on Hybrid Cloud, mixing Windows Server, System Center, and Microsoft Azure content into one track. On day 2 (June 20th) the focus switches over to the public cloud, and products like Office 365 and Windows Intune.

Most of the speakers are MVPs sharing their knowledge and experience with these technologies, with keynotes by local Microsoft product-line managers.

You can choose to register for either or both days.

Please retweet, post on Facebook, LinkedIn, share with workmates, customers, etc.


Microsoft News Summary – 8 May 2014

Here’s the news for the last 24 hours. I suspect things will remain quiet until the keynote at TechEd. Even then, I’d expect news to be limited to cloud services.

Microsoft News Summary-29 April 2014

There is a lot of reading material this morning.

Changes To Licensing For Enterprise App Sideloading in Windows 8.1

The Windows 8.1 Update, with changes to volume licensing, is bringing changes to the licensing of Enterprise Sideloading.

Sideloading is where you can use a tool like Windows Intune to push a custom developed/acquired “Metro” app onto Windows without using the Microsoft Store. Note that Intune can also do this with iOS (free license) and Android (not looked into the licensing). The solution is nice. If the device is IT-owned, then IT enrolls the device. If it’s a BYO device, then the user electively enrols to Windows Intune via the Company Store app. And IT then publishes the custom app (and can link Store apps) to the portal that users can pull down. It’s basically a private app store for enrolled devices.

Prior to May 1st 2014, Enterprise Sideloading requires per-device licensing. And it’s pricey. In fact, it’s only sold in blocks of 100 devices. When you compare that to the free option from Apple, then that iPad or iPhone looked cheap when you needed to push sideloaded apps to your devices. This made Windows devices expensive and the 100-minimum purchase was a blocker for smaller deployments.

That all changes on May 1st 2014. According to a blog post by Microsoft:

In May, we will grant Enterprise Sideloading rights to organizations in certain Volume License programs, regardless of what product they purchase, at no additional cost. Other customers who want to deploy custom line-of-business Windows 8.1 apps can purchase Enterprise Sideloading rights for an unlimited number of devices through Volume Licensing at approximately $100. For additional information on sideloading licensing, review the Windows Volume Licensing Guide.

The Windows 8.1 Volume Licensing Guide goes on to say that the following editions of Windows can sideload:

  • Windows 8.1 Pro Update (that’s Windows 8.1 Pro with the Windows 8.1 Update, by the way)
  • Windows 8.1 Enterprise

The machines must be domain joined and have a policy setting enabled. That setting is Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > and then App Package Deployment > Allow all trusted apps to install [TRUE].

Back to the licensing

Customers can also enable Enterprise Sideloading of trusted Windows 8.1 apps on Windows RT 8.1 or Windows 8.1 Pro and Windows 8.1 Enterprise devices that are not domain-joined by using a Volume Licensing Multiple Activation Key (MAK).

OK, what does this all cost? If you are signed up to one of the below licensing schemes then Enterprise Sideloading will be free from May 1st 2014:

  • Enterprise Agreement
  • Enterprise Subscription Agreement
  • Enrollment for Education Solutions (under a Campus and School Agreement
  • School Enrollment
  • Select and Select Plus

Other customers who want to deploy custom line-of-business Windows 8.1 apps can purchase Enterprise Sideloading rights through the Open License program as of May 1, 2014. These rights include the ability to sideload on Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 devices. MAKs for these customers will be made available through the VLSC.

This license will be $100 for an unlimited number of devices.

So in short:

  • The ability to distribute custom apps via Enterprise Sideloading is added to Windows 8.1 Pro via the Windows 8.1 Update.
  • The license for Enterprise Sideloading is free to those larger customers that are enrolled to an applicable large customer volume license agreement.
  • Anyone else can get the Enterprise Sideloading license for an unlimited number of devices for $100 through an Open volume license program.

Good news, I would say.

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You Can Buy Windows Intune Through Volume Licensing As Of Today

Windows Intune was originally launched to the sound of silence. This was because it was too expensive and it didn’t really do what it needed to in the market that Microsoft was pushing it to.

How the market originally reacted to Windows Intune

The product gained features as a mobile device management (MDM) solution that is integrated into your on-premise network. The packaging and pricing were also restructured to make Intune much more attractive.

But one problem remained. Intune was sold only directly to customers, and not through the channel. This is a huge deal breaker for partners … the people who actually implement Microsoft solutions in the majority of cases for small, medium, and large customers.

Today is the first day that you can buy Windows Intune through volume licensing. That means a partner can buy the software/service from a distributor (at a reduced price) and sell it to their customer (at the regular price). Now the partner has a reason to care about Intune (cold reality: sales people sell toasters at a profit and don’t give a flying monkey’s you-know-what about solutions).

Will availability help Intune? In my opinion: yes. We have been getting calls from partners over the past few weeks about this. History (Office 365) tells us that availability through VL not only gave MSFT a new VL sales income, but it increased MOSPA (direct) sales – that’s because the partners were invested in the ecosystem and sometimes a direct sale is best for a customer scenario.

Learn about Windows Intune now:

BTW, this is another product I expect will be renamed to Microsoft Intune. It does cover Windows, Windows RT, Windows Phone, but also iOS (phone and tablet) and Android (phone and tablet). And long term, it would make sense if it merged or consumed System Center Configuration Manager with just proxy/auditing/distribution points placed on-site.

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TechCamp 2013 Wrap Up

Yesterday we ran TechCamp 2013, the Irish community launch of Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, and Windows Intune.  All the feedback I have heard has been positive – thankfully!  🙂

We kicked off with Dave Northey (Microsoft CAT Program Manager).  Dave was the IT Pro DPE in Ireland for quite some time and has spoken at every launch event since Windows NT.  It would have been wrong not to have Dave in to do the keynote.


After that we broke into two tracks.  I did the WS2012 R2 session and next door, Damian Flynn (MVP) did the Windows 8.1 in the enterprise session.  I wanted to attend Damian’s session – I hear it was excellent, covering the BYOD and mobile worker scenarios.


In the desktop track, some speakers from Microsoft introduced the new generation of devices that the various OEMs are bringing to market for Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1, and what Windows Intune now offers for distributed end users, mobile workers, and BYOD device/app management.

Back in the server & cloud track, Paul Keely (MVP) did a session on service automation.


Damian was back on stage in the server & cloud track talking about using SCVMM 2012 R2 and Windows Azure Pack to build a hybrid cloud on Azure and Windows Server 2012 R2.  Kevin Greene (MVP) wrapped up the track explaining how System Center can be used to manage service availability and quality.


Niall Brady (MVP), an Irish man living and working in Sweden, wrapped up the desktop & devices track by talking about System Center Configuration Manager 2012 R2.


We asked for a small registration fee to encourage legitimate registrations and to get a higher turn-up rate.  That fee went to a good cause, an NGO called Camara.  We had Mark Fox in from Camara.  This gave Mark a chance to tell the audience (after the keynote) about the good work that Camara does.  They take unwanted PCs from businesses, securely wipe the PCs, track them, and reuse those machines to provide a digital education to needy kids.  Education is the best weapon against poverty and war, and Camara is on the frontline. Mark also staffed a stand in the exhibition room, and hopefully businesses found a way to get rid of machines in their drive to rid themselves of Windows XP, and make a difference in the world while doing it.


We have a whole bunch of sponsors to thank:

  • MicroWarehouse: My employers were the primary sponsor.  This event would not have happened without the huge effort by John Moran.  I would have been happy with a projector in a shed (with VPN access to my lab) but John made this a professional event.
  • Microsoft: Thanks for the support from Ciaran Keohane, the help from Michael Meagher.
  • Ergo: One of the leading Microsoft partners in Ireland, regularly winning Server partner of the year.
  • DataOn Storage: One of the manufacturers of certified Storage Spaces hardware
  • Savision: Creating dashboards for System Center that aid IT operations.
  • Toshiba: who had some devices on hand (including their new 8” Windows 8.1 tablet), most of which aren’t even on sale yet!

A big thank you goes out to each speaker who prepared 75 minute sessions (two of them in the case of Damian).  In case you don’t know, that’s probably a couple of days work in preparing slides, demos, and rehearsing, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning.

And finally, thanks to everyone who helped us communicate the event, and of course, came to the event to hear about these new solutions.  I hope the day proved valuable.

We had a number of people ask if we’ll run more events like this next year.  I believe that this is something that we will strongly consider.  There won’t be any launch stuff for us to cover for a while, so maybe we’d look at doing more “here’s how” content.  We’ll have to review and consider our options before we make any decisions.