Category Archives: 12399

Free Microsoft Tech Showcase Events

Microsoft has teamed up with some of its Microsoft Learning Partners to provide free first-look clinics covering Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Visual Studio 2012, SQL Server 2012, Exchange 2013, SharePoint 2013, and Lync 2013.

These events are happening all around the world, so you should hopefully find one near to you. I found out about these from a Microsoft UK blog that said they were being run “across the UK” – looking at the currently published list of events, “across the UK” is defined as London and Wokingham, so your mileage may vary.

Still, it’s worth a journey because event offers these opportunities:

  • Lead the Technology Wave – Get a first-hand look at new, breakthrough product features available with Microsoft’s most recent technology releases.
  • World-Class Education – Receive instruction from Learning Partners – the premier technical and instructional specialists endorsed by Microsoft to deliver training on Microsoft technologies.
  • Boost your Career – Learn about the latest Microsoft training and certification offerings to elevate your skills to the next level.

To find an event near you, head over to

Imagine Cup North East

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been helping behind the scenes with Imagine Cup North East. If you’ve never heard or the Imagine Cup it’s an annual student competition run by Microsoft to build technology solutions to address real-world problems, and this year two great local organisations promoting digital industries, Codeworks and Sunderland Software City, have teamed up to run a regional heat.

This week students from Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland, Durham and Teesside universities and local colleges will be attending taster and information events (in Newcastle and Middlesbrough), where Microsoft’s Ben Nunney will be on hand to discuss the finer points of the competiton.

The competition is a great opportunity for students to work on a project outside of their studies (looks good on the CV, etc) and it should be good fun too, with a 36 hour hack event later in the month. Of course there’s also the possibility of a trip to the global finals in Australia to aim for too!

If you’re a current student (or graduated in the last year) there’s still time to get involved, and if you aren’t eligible to take part, you should still be able to support the teams at a future NEBytes event. Head to the Imagine Cup North East site, the Facebook page, and follow @ImagineCupNE on Twitter to keep up with all the goings-on.

IE6 Migration Roadshow touring England

Please stop using IE6.

If you haven’t yet, then you might want to attend one of these events. This comes direct from Microsoft…

We are thrilled to extend the invitation to you to attend our series of Internet Explorer 6 Migration Roadshow events!

With support for Windows XP coming to an end on the 8th April 2014 and IE6 standing in so many people’s way of migration, what better time to start taking the leap to a more modern browser? Problem applications are all too often the blocker, so Microsoft have teamed up with CamwoodCitrix Systems and Quest Software, all application compatibility experts, to help jump-start your move.

Join us at a date below for a packed agenda discussing the technical challenges faced by IT departments when migrating their users off of IE6. We will establish:

·         Why you should go through the trouble of migrating;

·         How you go about identifying those problem applications;

·         What you can do about them.

There are a range of dates to choose from, each offering a slightly different spin and all promising to be thoroughly informative! Take your pick and use the links below to register with our partners.

Who, Where & When?
Tues 21st February

Microsoft & Quest Software 
Manchester United Football Ground (Old Trafford) 
09:30 – 14:00 (+Stadium Tour!)
More Information & Registration

Thurs 22nd March 
Microsoft & Citrix Systems (Including newly acquired AppDNA)
Chalfont St. Peter (Easy access via the M40 & M25 as well as rail)
09:00 – 16:00
More Information & Registration

Tues 3rd April 
Microsoft & Camwood 
London, Cardinal Place 
More Information & Registration TBC

Thurs 19th April 
Microsoft & Quest Software 
Reading Football Ground (Madejski Stadium) 
09:30 – 14:00 (+Stadium Tour!)
More Information & Registration

On behalf of all the team at Microsoft, we hope to see you there!


In case you’re wondering, I’m usually a Chrome user myself. I’m not one for adding multiple extensions to a browser, so I like the way that Chrome natively syncs my bookmarks, etc, and has Flash and PDF reading funtionality built right in. So that’s IE6 and Adobe’s Flash and Reader that I no longer use. Three birds, one stone.

I wish Microsoft hadn’t discontinued these products…

Now I’m not the sort to get sentimental over software. In fact the opposite is usually true. Something newer and more shiny comes along and I forget about all the old stuff. I can’t think of many long-gone products that I wish would come back, software or otherwise. However, I got thinking about this over the weekend when I was using one of my favourite applications that Microsoft has ever produced.

Digital Image Suitewas a photo editor, which had previously gone by the name Picture It!, along with image library management. The reason that I liked it so much was that the barrier to entry for a large number of tasks was really low, but you could add functionality for more complex operations because it supported the use of PhotoShop plugins.

Microsoft discontinued the product, stating that many of the features are available in new Microsoft titles, which is true, but many is not all. It’s fair to say that Windows Live Essentials is one of the first things that I install on a fresh copy of Windows, and I like its included Windows Live Photo Gallery, but it’s no Digital Image Suite.

As I was manipulating some photos to print for family members as Christmas presents, I had to hunt out my copy of Digital Image 2006 Anniversary Edition (the last release, which supported Windows Vista and fortunately continues to run on Windows 7) because Photo Gallery was just too basic for what I needed to do.

Now I’m sure that everyone, especially all my photography buddies, will tell me that I should be using PhotoShop, but it’s expensive and significantly more complex than the Digital Image editor. I dare say there will come a day when I’ll have to move on to something else, but until then I’ll keep on with my favourite old package from 2006!

While I’m a big fan, I can understand that the Digital Image Suite may not have been a great product for Microsoft in revenue terms. Not being a market leading package, I get why it was cut. I find it harder to understand why you’d get rid of another product that was doing ok in terms of revenue and was clearly a market leader…

Microsoft Flight Simulator pre-dates even Windows and was easily the most popular consumer flight simulator. It was damn good too. I remember very clearly my first experience of Flight Sim 98 along with Microsoft’s marvellous SideWinder force feedback joystick (also sadly no longer with us) – having recently spent some time flying a Cessna thanks to the RAF, I was amazed at how real the experience was. Of course that was before the graphical improvements, real-world weather and ATC in the later versions.

It’s fair to say that for a bunch of years, the reason that I kept upgrading my PC hardware was to continuously be able to turn up graphic detail and milk more performance out of Flight Sim. Each new version that came out was like a gift that kept on giving (or taking, depending on how you look at it). I spent a crazy amount of time experiencing different aircraft and airports, knowing that it translated well to the real world (even though that’s experience I’ve never taken advantage of since). I’ve flown helicopters and gliders too in the past, and Flight Sim did as good a job of modelling them as it did light aircraft or airliners (I’m guessing, since I’ve never flown one of them). Overall, I’d say that Flight Sim could well beat Elite as my most played game ever.

When the studio behind Flight Sim became a victim of Microsoft’s cuts in early 2009, I know that I wasn’t the only, or the most, disappointed fan of the series. Hopefully the team members, who have formed an independent studio, will be able to release a product worthy of the legacy.

You never know, it being the festive season, perhaps Microsoft will announce that they’re re-launching these products, along with the other item on my Microsoft Christmas list – releasing BitLocker To Go as an update for every SKU of Windows 7 (not restricting it to Enterprise and Ultimate), because the world will be a better place if everyone can easily encrypt their USB keys!