Windows 8 is just Windows…

Well with all the hoopla that Redmond would have us believe. All the hype, all the screenshots. I must admit they had me fooled. I thought my Windows was gone. Thank you Microsoft, for leaving the Window wide open!! It’s nice to be back home because the Metro

 Windows 8 System Settings

Windows 8 System Settings

(call it what you want) interface is not as productive for the buisness PC user, as it is for a Surface user. It’s certainly not as elegant a solution as OSX’s Launchpad. Microsoft should have given people a choice before forcing a default tablet interface in place of the start menu. I am sure many a CIO cursed Microsoft, but I am here to tell everyone it’s all for not. Yes, you can certainly have back the corporate desktop environment. It’s just being snarky and hidden. Behold! The goodness, pay no attention to the Window behind the mask… move along…move along…these are not the icons you are looking for! I was able to get to the desktop fairly simple because the basic mechanics of Aero’s interface from Windows 7 is still the same. You can access the programs from a start menu. You can install the same Windows enhancements such as Roboform, and browser add-ons. You can even stick your My Computer to your new Start (Metro) interface (see below).

Desktop and Start Menu without the button!

It’s interesting why they didn’t choose to replace all the underpinnings with a more secure model. All your files and command prompts are available for the buggering by viruses. It’s as secure than Windows x.x. My favorite options are adding the normal desktop options to the new Desktop Start page as seen in the screenshots. Now its not only cool that you can now customize your new Windows 8 experience, but you can still access the Control Panel, install IIS 8 maybe, access the Administrator Tools, some very wicked new tools in the Control Panel, and even the Task Manager is cooler. All in all its shaping up to be a great Friday! Take a look at some of the screenshots. To get to this interface, launch the desktop from your Start Page, Open Internet Explorer, In the address field, type C:\Windows\Explorer.exe hit enter, choose Run from the security prompt and you are back in the back office of windows. The corner hotspots still work. It’s all smoke and mirrors magic! Check out more images.

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SharePoint 2010 is really a game changer…

After spending a week in training at ISInc in Sacramento, CA, I realized that Microsoft has really been working on listening to Administrators around the world that use their product. Some of the features I found in my training were straight out of the “WTF manual” floating around in most Admins heads. If you don’t know what the WTF manual is ask an admin. Basically, I found many features that normally make you jump around from system to system encompassed in SharePoint.  For instance:

  • Search. I am not talking about just any search but even the basic search allows you to catalog, index, filter and sort data, documents, and photos in pleasing order. The photo pages are well created right out of the box on par with WordPress and the NexGEN Gallery. I was very much pleased with what I was working with.

Database management. Wow what can I say. You can replicate Databases, create, then deduplicate Farms, cluster, and manage your databases inside SharePoint. This was amazing. I know some people are saying, “So What? we could do this in 2007!” Well yes but not as easy as this.

Domain Names – Yes you can internally manage DNS fairly easy inside Sharepoint for your domain structure even creating A records and issuing certificates for a domain if you are using Windows Server 2008 R2. Mind you this is internal Intranet based DNS fulfillment. I am not talking so much in a public domain enviroment but it can do a lot their too but we didn’t to work with that aspect of the product.

Performance Point Services – OMG, this is cool stuff. Take an Excel spreadsheet and upload it into a Site Collection. Then start connecting it and outside databases together to form KPI’s ( Key Performance Indicators) and Graphs, Dashboards, and some incredible displays of shared data all in one view. Its an executives dream come true. And its doesnt take any programming to accomplish this. None! Not years of developers but 30 min tops! I Love it. They call this magic Insight. It allows RESTful processes to occur (Representational State Transfer). This means when an Excel spreadsheet loaded in the system is changed, Excel is then updated on every property (Server Farm, Sharepoint Site in a comapny domain, data integrated, Dashboard, EVERYTHING!!!) simultaneously in real-time! Oh by the way… WITH NO PROGRAMMING!!! Its awesome.

SharePoint is white hot. Collaboration suites are white hot. My fingers are on fire because I have seen the light…again Amen!! more to come….

Intranet Insight: Sharepoint 2010. I have seen the light!

This is part one in a multi-part series on Intranets.

I have admittedly been a SharePoint hater for the best part of a decade. Recently we upgraded to SharePoint version 2010 along with Office 2010 and MS Communicator the IM chat system from Microsoft. Together it is a positive synergy that integrates your workplace. I like it so much I am blogging about it. The key feature is its melding with Active Directory (AD) and Exchange so seamlessly. The other day I added 3 different calendars together to make one color-coded monster that I can see and update in real-time. But with all of that SharePoint is becoming much more than that. With Windows 7 users and the search features that are incorporated, extend across Office and SharePoint. Using the FAST search ability that Microsoft purchased from FAST, a Norway search company, it incorporates advanced features such as including a content-processing pipeline, meta-data extraction, visual search, and advanced linguistics. This is a huge improvement over anything in the past and is parts and bits that make up the new  Bing Search engine.

Another wicked feature that my colleagues are going to love is Visio Services. Visio services in SharePoint 2010 lets users share and collaborate on Visio diagrams. with a built-in viewer. This feature allows SharePoint users to view Visio files in their Internet browser without having Visio installed on their system. A great time saver and certainly a license fee saver. When it comes time to open/remodel a branch or reconfigure a rack, everyone on staff can help decide and make recommendations all from their browsers.  Word 2010 now has the ability to save directly to your workspace in SharePoint eliminating group drives, and tons of lost files. Documents can be shared, checked-out (so no one can access them during changes), or distributed for approval via built-in SharePoint work-flows. I was very surprised by its maturity level. We currently use Ektron, SQBoxes IntranetConnections, and SharePoint. I can say that from an ease of use, SharePoint forms creation are still a little advanced for the common Office user and IntranetConnections has it beat. But with the ability of Wizards, Microsoft is set to make forms creation even easy. I will be posting regularly about Intranets and sharing tips and information I find to be helpful. Stay Tuned