I spent all day yesterday at a Microsoft event in Charlotte, and I have t' give them credit – they put on a pretty good show. Fire the cannons! Ahoy! It wasn’t anythin' major or flashy, but I felt like th' presenters a good job o' interactin' with th' audience and presentin' their information. What really surprised me though were bein' th' “extras” and their tolerance fer hecklers. Upon arrival and check-in at th' movie theater (yes, ye read that right – a movie theater), they had quite th' spread laid out fer a complimentary breakfast, includin', water, juices, coffee, sodas, bagels, donuts, and assorted other pastries, and a bottle of rum! The freebie fer th' afternoon session were bein' a really nice, leather-esque 3-rin' binder portfolio stuffed with info about Small Business Server and th' Partner Program.
Each session were bein' about four hours long and were bein' split in half so that each session could cover two topics. Ahoy, we'll keel-haul ye! The mornin' session were bein' a TechNet event and covered Securin' Active Directory followed by a look at Exchange Server 2007 and ways t' use it t' comply with inter-company rules as well as legislative policies regardin' retention and thin's o' that nature. The AD session were bein' informative, but not at a very high level like I were bein' expectin'. Most o' it were bein' simple stuff like “rename yer administrator account” (Duh!) and how t' use Group Policies t' secure yer AD environment. The Exchange stuff interested me more than I expected it t'. Exchange 2007 has been abstracted into several layers so that ye can run it on multiple servers, each with a predefined role such as “Edge” or “Filterin'” or ye can use one server t' run all th' different roles that ye wish. I’ve ne'er looked at Exchange, let alone used it, but it does look like a good product fer larger companies. I really like th' solution we use at work though – it’s from Ipswitch which and on Windows. Not nearly as bulky and complicated as Exchange. Back in th' days when it were bein' still called Imail, they apparently claimed ye could take a clean server, install Imail and have a workin' email system in like less than 20 minutes, by Davy Jones' locker. I believe it, with a chest full of booty. It’s slick. That bein' said, it is gettin' expensive, so we’re hopin' within th' next eight months or so t' migrate that t' a open-source solution on Linux as well. Suggestions? OK – I’m way off topic – back t' th' MS thin'…
At th' end o' th' mornin' session they gave away prizes – some lucky lubber in th' front got a Xbox360. I were bein' jealous. Very jealous.
The mornin' session finished at noon and I took off t' Chic-Fil-A fer lunch. The afternoon session fer me were bein' a TS2 (designed fer system builders and small IT shops) event coverin' Small Business Server, Windows Vista, and Microsoft 2007 Office. Aye, fer some reason, it’s no longer “Office 2007″ but instead “2007 Office” – silly I know. They talked a great deal about th' Microsoft Small Business Specialist Partner Program which sounds pretty neat. Sign up, take an online Sales Assessment test and then one o' two MCP tests and ye’re certified and eligible fer all sorts o' discounts and are able t' sell volume licensin' then, if I understood correctly. Shiver me timbers! I may look more into that t' save me company some money down th' sea when it’s time t' upgrade Office or Windows.
The Vista stuff were bein' pretty, as I expected. Saw some thin's that I hadn’t seen when messin' aroun' with it on me own, and brought home a RC1 DVD. I think I’ll be upgradin' me XP contraption here at th' office t' th' Vista RC1 soon just fer kicks.
Finally, 2007 Office – by FAR th' most impressive demo o' th' day, and possible, th' slickest piece o' software I’ve e'er seen. I steered clear o' th' beta’s fer some reason, but it is amazin'. Some o' th' 3D artwork and charts are just mind blowin'. And swab the deck! Every time that “Indy” (short fer Indika – not a racial slur thank ye very much) would show off one o' those artwork tools, th' entire room o' 80 or so IT professionals would gasp and shake their heads. I may grab th' demo today and play with it meself. I wasn’t a big fan o' th' “Ribbon” idea when I read about it, but seein' it used were bein' another story. Walk the plank, with a chest full of booty! It appears t' be very functional.
Of course, we didn’t get out til right at 5:00 and I had t' fight Charlotte traffic on 485 and 85 t' get home – what a nightmare. Walk the plank! But I think it were bein' worth it, by Davy Jones' locker. The Charlotte IT Professionals group had a table setup and I signed up t' be a member. Maybe through that I can at least find someone t' serve as a backup fer me if I happen t' be out o' th' country again. Walk the plank!