Monday, August 20, 2007

OCS 2007 Downloads now available on Technet/MSDN

I just checked the Technet website, and Office Communications Server 2007 and Office Communicator 2007 are now available to download. If you haven't signed up for a Technet/MSDN subscription, you can visit http://technet.microsoft.com/en-au/subscriptions/ and sign up now. A full list of the benefits of a Technet Plus subscription can be found on the Technet site, but some of the highlights include:

  • Microsoft software licensed for evaluation purposes: Evaluate full-version commercial products--without time limits or feature limits, including Windows Vista™ Microsoft Office System and Exchange Server 2007. With full-version software, IT Professionals can make informed decisions about new technologies and deployments at their own pace.
  • Beta software: Automatically receive pre-release versions of Microsoft operating systems, servers and business applications.
  • Exclusive tools: Get access to exclusive tools not available to the general public such as System Center Capacity Planner. System Center Capacity Planner helps size and plan deployments of Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft Operations Manager. It provides you with the tools and guidance to deploy efficiently, while planning for the future by allowing for "what-if" analyses.
  • Professional Support incidents: For the toughest technical questions, a TechNet Plus subscription also comes with two complimentary Professional Support incidents**. Subscribers can talk to a Microsoft Support Professional to quickly resolve their mission-critical technical issues fast.
  • Unlimited Managed Newsgroup support: TechNet Plus provides access to over 100 Managed Newsgroups. Subscribers can exchange ideas with other IT Professionals and get expert answers to their technical questions within the next business day — guaranteed.
  • Technical resources for Microsoft products: Subscribers also get the TechNet Library containing the Microsoft Knowledge Base, security updates, service packs, resource kits, utilities, technical training, and product documentation to keep their systems and IT skills up to date.
  • Microsoft E-Learning courses: To prepare them for certification or simply to help them build their technical skills, TechNet Plus includes a selection of Microsoft E-Learning courses for free each quarter.
  • Online Concierge Chat: Subscribers can chat with a Microsoft Search Assistant online for help finding the technical resources they need or for assistance with non-technical questions.
  • Free subscription to TechNet Magazine:†† Subscribers also receive a free subscription to TechNet Magazine. TechNet Magazine provides hands-on information to help IT Professionals maximize their system’s security, reliability, scalability and interoperability.
  • Technet Plus is a very valuable resource for any IT Professional or support group. No MCSE should be without it.

    Sunday, August 12, 2007

    Windows Internals - a "must read"

    If you work with Windows servers and clients, in either a support role or as a developer, then this book is a must read. MCSEs will find it gives a valuable insight into what Windows is doing behind the scenes, and how to best manage it. If you thought you knew all there was to know about Windows, well, your wrong. Written by Mark Russinovich (of WinInternals fame) and David Solomon (noted expert on Windows internals), it delves into the inner most workings of the kernel and its architecture.

    It includes in depth information on:

    • Concepts and Tools
    • System Architecture
    • System Mechanisms
    • Management Mechanisms
    • Startup and Shutdown
    • Processes, Threads, and Jobs
    • Memory Management
    • Security
    • I/O System
    • Storage Management
    • Cache Manager
    • File Systems
    • Networking
    • Crash Dump Analysis

    Go and have a look inside at Amazon.com.

    Saturday, August 11, 2007

    Microsoft Office Roundtable

    This is one of the coolest things I have seen in a while. A 360 degree video conferencing camera.

    The Technet Australia team got their hands on one and posted these details about it.

    The device creates a 360-degree, panoramic video of side-by-side images of everyone who is taking part in the conference. It tracks the flow of the conversation, so the image and voice of the person who is speaking are spotlighted. People across many locations can attend meetings together virtually.

     

    RoundTable works with Office Communications Server 2007 and Office Live Meeting, allowing companies to integrate virtual presentations, shared whiteboards and file sharing into their audio/video conferences. If someone misses a conference call, the RoundTable sessions can be recorded and viewed later.

    The Microsoft Office Roundtable device

    The Roundtable device in action using Microsoft Office Live Meeting

    Close up of the panoramic view

    Awesome! I want one! Definitely going on the shopping list.

    Unified Communication continues to amaze me. One can already sense how much UC is going to change the way we communicate. The industry is growing and adapting so rapidly. Vendors and service providers that get their foot in the door today are going to ensure they secure a firm place in this rapidly growing market - its going to boom!

    More OCS Info

    Johann has recently posted information about some of the features in the upcoming OCS 2007 release. He also talks about his personal experiences with OCS/OC.

    • Software powered VoIP: by using a smart end-point (aka a PC), OCS and Communicator 2007 allow a much richer experience than traditional VoIP systems.
    • Software economics: OCS works with a broad range of devices, phones, applications from a wide range of partners.
    • Voice quality: The listening and call quality offered by a pre-release version of Office Communications Server 2007 was “considerably better than that provided by [a leading provider’s] IP phones,” according to an independent benchmark study conducted by Psytechnics, a firm specialising in voice-quality research.
    • Easy transition: Companies can get more value from their existing PBX systems, networks and desk phones by using Office Communications Server to add VoIP and unified communications capabilities without ripping and replacing existing investments.
    • Streamlined communications: click-to-call from Outlook, Word, Sharepoint and other apps - including the ability to simply add presence and telephony/video to LOB or custom applications/websites.
    • Tools that travel: It doesn't matter if you're in the office sitting at your desk, working from home, or sitting at a coffee shop - you still have all of your communications tools available.  In fact right now I am writing this from a hotel in Seattle.  My girlfriend in Sydney can dial my local 02 phone number and I take the call over here on my PC.  All of this without a VPN!!  As long as I have web access, then I can make and receive calls - and due to our adaptive codecs (more info below) it doesn't matter that I am running across an unreliable unmanaged network (aka the Internet).

    The OCS downloads are still not yet available on Technet/MSDN.

    Tuesday, August 7, 2007

    OCS and OC 2007 trial versions available now

    Roger Sleurink from Trends IT writes to tell me that the trial versions of Office Communications Server 2007 and Office Communicator 2007 are now available for download. Thanks for the heads up Roger.

    OCS 2007: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=663e5ef7-2288-46b0-9142-b2135a8fbdb9&DisplayLang=en

    OC 2007: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=7F5AB627-2D34-470D-9393-8B3EDE6FE3C4&displaylang=en

    I have checked the TechNet site, and it doesn't look like OCS has made it to the subscriber downloads yet. It seems that the subscriptions site has had a much needed face-lift though.

    I have been busy migrating my servers to new hardware this weekend, and have a little more work to do, at which point I'll be setting up OCS 2007 to work with Asterisk and sipX.

    Doug Behl from the Malibu Software Group and I have spent the past several weeks working on tightening the integration between Asterisk and Exchange. With the two of us being on opposite ends of the planet it has generally meant we were 'following the sun' with at least one of us working on this at any point in the day. He has also had a head start on the OCS integration and has provided me his configuration details to start with. Thanks for all your help so far Doug!