Podcast: Office 365′s key obstacles and approaches

Office 365 for IT leaders might not be an all in decision

Many IT leaders might not be "all in" with the cloud

Microsoft is “all in” with the cloud. Just take a look at their (sometimes awesome) marketing spots as proof. But the reality is, you probably aren’t. Not yet anyway.

In a great new podcast from the guys over at Talking Office 365, Softchoice sat down to discuss a few key considerations and obstacles leading up to Office 365′s launch: [Read more...]

Microsoft updates Core CAL: Lync, Forefront, price increases come to key license

Microsoft Core Cal Changes adding Forefront and Lync

Today, Microsoft announced two product additions to the Core Client Access License (Core CAL), which will impact the pricing and functionality of its popular desktop licensing suite.

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Free Blackberry Enterprise Server for Microsoft BPOS/Office 365

bbry microsoft

Microsoft is in the process of updating pricing for Hosted BlackBerry Service for Exchange Online to make this service available free of charge, according to a new official blog post from them today.

Starting today, BlackBerry mobile e-mail for new Exchange Online customers is now free through our Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS).  For existing customers, we expect to be able to provide more information later this month on how you can take advantage of this change.

Hosted Blackberry service will be free with Office 365, after the new cloud productivity suite launches later this year.

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Rest Assured Part 2: TechNet Direct vs. TechNet Subscription

technet logoTechNet Direct vs. TechNet Subscription – How are they different?

As Microsoft SA Sales Specialists, one of the questions we are most often asked is “What is the difference between TechNet Direct and TechNet Subscription?”  It’s easy to understand why this question is asked so often: both are highly sought after benefits, and they sound almost exactly the same. For this reason, TechNet Plus Direct will simply be referred to as “DIRECT” for the remainder of this post, and TechNet Subscription will simply be referred to “SUBSCRIPTION”.  So, to set the record straight:

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Rest Assured Part 1: Software Assurance 24 X 7

Welcome to the first installment of an on-going series addressing the mysteries, challenges and business value of Microsoft software assurance benefits. We are calling it: “Rest Assured” as we hope it will give our readers peace of mind when it comes to the complex world of SA benefits.

Today we are taking a close look at one of the most powerful SA benefits: 24 X 7 Problem Resolution Support.

What is this benefit? How do you use it to its full potential? What are best practices of using it? How can your organization utilize this benefit to achieve and exceed its corporate IT business objectives?

Getting Started

The first step is benefit activation in the VLSC. You should go into the VLSC and activate this benefit upon starting a new agreement or renewal. Immediate activation is critical because it may prevent a costly delay in support. There can be up to a 48-hour delay from activation to usage. You should also identify your technical contacts who will be using the benefit in the manage contacts section of the benefit detail page.

image of 24 x 7 support page

A screen grab of the 24 X 7 support page - click to enlarge and see notes

Upon activating, a SA Access ID code will appear on the Benefit Details page for 24 X 7 Problem Resolution Support. This ID is critical to getting support under this benefit. Make sure to write your SA Access ID code down on paper – as Murphy’s Law would dictate, you may not be able to access the VLSC if your system crashes, so having the code written down on paper can be a real life saver.

Now that the benefit is activated, let’s explore what exactly it offers you?

Phone Support

When the benefit is activated, the number of Phone Support incidents available to your organization will appear in the SA section of the VLSC, on the Benefit Details page. Any future allotments (which are sometimes granted on anniversary dates) will also appear on this page.

Phone Support is available 24 hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, for ANY Microsoft product (regardless of whether or not it is on the agreement in question). Upon placing a call, you must provide the aforementioned SA Access ID to receive service. The number of contacts that can call for phone support on behalf of your organization is unlimited. The support number is 1-800-936-4900.

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Top 5 tips for a successful Windows 7 migration

The clock is ticking down to April 8, 2014, the day Microsoft ends all support for decade-old Windows XP. That may seem like a long way off but the truth is, between the 12 to 18 months you’ll need for planning and testing, time flies in the fun world of software deployment.

So, if you haven’t already – now’s the time to put on your thinking cap and consider the complexities, challenges and pitfalls of migrating your organization to Windows 7.

Here are just a few practical tips to help guide you through Windows 7 adoption:

1. Ensure you properly define your adoption process from the start:

Keep in mind that migrating to Windows 7 calls for IT innovation all around. Without laying out your adoption process up front, you run the risk of rising costs, more downtime and issues with organizational alignment.

2. Don’t focus entirely on the migration itself:

Think beyond your Windows 7 migration, as far out as 24 to 36 months, and create a project planning structure that includes discovery, resourcing, execution, security, support and optimization.

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