Saturday, October 23, 2010

In the clouds: Microsoft and the New York City

New York City, perhaps with one of the biggest customer base with over 100,000 city employees certainly catches the eye when its Mayor Bloomberg wants to make an announcement with Microsoft, CEO Steve Ballmer. At City Hall, they both have announced a new five-year deal which will turn up dozens of separate city contracts with Microsoft into one master agreement and is projected to save the city an amount of $50 million. The value of the deal itself is about $100 million, or $20 million a year.

These savings will not only come from different contracts’ consolidation, but also by shifting some of the software needs of the New York City to the Cloud. The first phase of the deal impacts 30,000 city employees, and will include Microsoft Windows 7, Office, SharePoint, Exchange, Live Meetings, Azure, Windows Server, development tools, and database products. (also, when Office 365 becomes available that too could be show up as the part of the agreement).

City workers will fall into one of three buckets: occasional users, basic users, and power users. The city employs a lot of desk-less workers who are out on the streets. Giving them access to Office, email, and collaboration tools in the cloud makes more sense than giving them desktop versions of Office. Power users, on the other hand, will require both desktop and cloud versions. The more software that Microsoft hosts on its own servers, the more the city saves on hardware and IT costs.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Why I hate IE9 (Internet Explorer 9)

I underlined a few Hate Points as a reason for why do I or anyone would hate Internet Explorer 9 and still I'm using it. Can’t you figure this out?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It’s all about: SQL – The SQL Pass Summit 2010

2010 Pass Summit is perhaps the biggest event in the course of SQL history. Make no mistake, this is going to be another exciting event in the line of Microsoft’s continuing strategy. With Microsoft Dynamics AX Technical Conference being held at Redmond on January next year, this is also being noted as another mega event from Microsoft. While MS acquires Dundas Virtualization, and Microsoft + WordPress decisions are making it clear that Microsoft are not going to take anything for granted, it is clear that SQL Pass Summit will bring in something extraordinary too.

Don't miss the world's largest conference for SQL Server and BI technical education and business networking. Meet the top industry experts and authors in the world. Learn about best practices, effective troubleshooting, how to prevent issues, save money, and build a better SQL Server environment for your company or clients. Roll up your sleeves and get hands-on. Get face-to-face answers and advice from Microsoft CSS and SQLCAT experts. All only at PASS Summit 2010.

Check out the 2010 Content line-up or Register now.

Microsoft .NET MSChart support for AX6 client

AX2009 allowed developers to create charts and graphs on their AX forms using a third party charting control. This third party control was based on COM technology which is no longer updated by the vendor themselves. Thus, limiting the ability to introduce support for additional languages, get key bug fixes and essential security changes. Therefore, Microsoft are replacing the COM control with Microsoft .NET MSChart for Dynamics AX.

Among others, some of the key benefits of using the MSChart control:

- Moving from older COM Control to new .NET based Chart control.

- Increased security.

- Instead of support for 6 languages, we’ll be adding support for ALL AX languages.

- Users may now save their charts to disk in 7 different file formats.

- Standardize on Microsoft .NET Charting

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 Documentation Updates

Microsoft has released a list of changes to the Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 Help documentation since the product RTM. Available for download here.

Here is the list of Dynamics AX List of Best Practice Error and Warning messages.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Download Facebook Information

It is here now. Yes you can download your Facebook information.

As Huffington Post releases an update Facebook Event where a new dashboard has been unveiled which will provide Facebook users to download their information. As TechCrunch quotes announcement of Mark Zuckerberg:

“People own and have control over all info they put into Facebook and “Download Your Information” enables people to take stuff with them.”

With Facebook equipped with a couple of bugs and the the Facebook God Mode itself, is this really a good move?

Stay tuned for more information yet to arrive …

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Microsoft acquires Dundas Visualizations

For many years, Dundas Data Visualization, Inc. has been known for producing industry standard data visualization components. They have also been producing for Microsoft technologies since ever. Microsoft acquired the codebase for these components, back in 2007, in order to deliver data visualization directly within products of Microsoft.

Microsoft also enabled Dundas to continue to sell, enhance, update and support the components for a specified duration as a service to their existing customers which was a part of an agreement that will expire on October 31, 2010.

As Dundas communicated this information directly to their customer base, the purpose of this post is to answer any questions related to the components/capabilities that have been released as part of the Microsoft Product Roadmap and how you can get access to them. Here is a FAQ site on SQL Server Reporting Services Team Blog that describes Frequently Asked Questions regarding Dundas Visualizations being acquired by Microsoft.

As Microsoft continues to acquire industry champs in relevant technologies, along with releasing other connectors and migration tools, this certainly can be computed in that sense as well.

Monday, October 4, 2010

X++ code for automated messaging to Microsoft Office Communicator

One of the plus that Microsoft have with Dynamics AX or any other product is its existing product stack. The integration of Microsoft Office Suite aids Microsoft Dynamics AX to be more interactive and integrated in users existing environment.

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 also provides integration with Office Communicator. This enables the presence of a person/contact to be shown as part of the contact information, along with links to contact that person. Where the eBook provides several of the coding tips and tricks, Greg on Dynamics AX describes this in a few easy steps. Follow this article for further implementation details.

Also, you can find link to the list of best practices errors and warning messages in Dynamics AX here.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Things I hate about the App I love: Internet Explorer 9

Software Applications (Apps) are everywhere, from phones, to watches, and from desktops to laptops. Every computing device is running with apps. However, in the race of new updates, software vendors often mistake the very common user fact, and that fact is:

“You don’t need to change the look and feel of app every time to prove you guys are still working!”

With the release of new Windows Live Platform, Microsoft unveils another new version of its great app Internet Explorer 9 Beta. Claiming this to be the reinvention of web browser (along with Microsoft Silverlight), Microsoft adds great new features including my favorite, hardware-acceleration, non-interruptive notifications, separate download manager, along with pin a website to taskbar etc. 

However, while introducing ultimate new features and achieving the reinvention of web browsing experience, IE9 have made some terrible things which I personally don’t like, and as a matter of fact, such things might also help me step using IE for good.


Hate Point 1: Where is the title bar?

Since ever, title bar have been used to put a quick information for what page you are viewing, and in some website (like where title bar kept on updating with the ongoing information helps user see the activity right from the taskbar when the browser itself is minimized. Putting title text on the tab is not a good idea to me, as it’s a really short space to put that kind of information. That was one of the key reason I don’t like Google Chrome.

Hate Point 2: Too short address bar.

With increasing number of tabs, it keep on getting reduced, until a time comes where you can hardly see the query string. I agree that this won’t be any point of concern for a lot of internet user, but for web developers it’s a mess. This could possibly be the foremost reason for me not using IE9.

Hate Point 3: Removal of Status Bar.

Now where is it? The one plus I see in IE8 is that almost everything that has been relocated in this new UX appears to be at a place where it should be, so where is the status bar. The classic IE status bar that use to show me (apart from just the link on mouse-over that pops up on a tooltip in the lower section of the window) all the great stuff like, how much page is loaded, quick links for phishing, network status, popup blocked etc.

Hate Point 4: UX (Firefox + Chrome = IE9)

I am a very strong advocate of the point that if every car has a steering wheel, that does not mean they are stealing it. However, making the Back button bigger than forward does make me think I’m using Firefox. Similarly, why thumbnails of my most viewed websites on a newly opened blank tab reminds me its Google Chrome?

To put in a nut shell, Microsoft have made a great work with the new IE9 when it comes to clean UI, performance and usability. However they have left a few holes that classic IE lover would still love to see them back. IE9 is still in Beta and I’m sure by the time of its final release, Microsoft and the IE team won’t disappoint their fan-club.

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Atif Siddiqui - Technology Evangelist

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