TechEd 2006 Day 3

Smooth ride on the bus again this morning. New driver though. The bus drivers went on strike, so managers are driving for now. I heard later in the day that there were some issues with strikers blocking a bus from entering the convention center. They had to bring the police in to get things moving again.

Five more sessions today:

  • CLI317 Windows Vista: Remote Deployments
  • MSG328 Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Outlook Web Access
  • MSG330 Beyond DirectPush: Mobile Device Access in Microsoft Exchange Server 2007
  • SVR219R Ten Reasons to Prepare for Windows Server Code named “Longhorn”
  • MSG335 Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Calendar Concierge Services

CLI317: Even though the title says the session is about Vista Remote Deployment, it is really about WDS. We find out right at the beginning that WDS will ship as a hotfix for Windows 2003, and we can run in a couple different modes. There will be legacy, mixed, and native modes. Running in mixed mode lets you keep using RIS while also being able to use WDS. Basically, everything has moved to use of WinPE. Big question I have is how we should transition from our custom OsChooser screens to a WinPE solution. We use the custom screens to collect information, such as the PC user’s name, department, whether they are faculty or staff, etc. This information is used to customize our generic unattend.txt file as well as drive certain scripts that run as part of the setup process. The speaker wasn’t sure off the top of his head, so he asked for my business card and said he would be back in touch.

MSG328: Where do I even begin? There is so much new in OWA 2007, that I can’t even begin to summarize all the cool stuff we’re going to get, but I’ll try. I can’t wait for OWA 2007!

  • Pop-up dialogs replaced with in-line content!
  • Automatic screen refresh!
  • UNC and Sharepoint shares even when connecting from the Internet!
  • Light mode for non-IE browsers that people can actually use!
  • Set preferred language! (Great for using kiosks overseas!)
  • Autocomplete of addresses as you type them!
  • Easy UI to open another mailbox! Nor more long URLs to type!
  • Access to full message headers!
  • And more!

MSG330: Some nice improvements coming down the road. Some features will require new version of Windows Mobile. Will be interesting to see whether the current crop of Windows mobile 5 phones will be upgraded by the vendors. Some notable additions are:

  • HTML message body
  • Message flags
  • OOF (set and retrieve)
  • UNC and Sharepoint link access
  • Full calendar capability for working with meetings
  • Mailbox search (searching online mailbox, not just what is on device)
  • easy setup. user just needs to know email address. (Since we use an alias at a domain level above our own, I expect users will have to enter their local address on our system rather than the email address they use.)_

I’ve been happy with the Outlook experience on my WM5 phone, but now that I know what is coming, I’m starting to wish I had these features now.

SVR219R: General overview of some of the more compelling features coming in Longhorn Server (LHS). I’m not going to repeat them here since I’ve had bullet lists for two sessions in this post and don’t really want anymore. Couple interesting notes though:

LHS and Vista shared a common code base until beta 2. At that point, they forked with Vista starting down the road to RTM while LHS continues on to Beta 3. Any post-RTM hotfixes for Vista will be incorporated into the LHS code. The code will re-converge at Vista SP1 and LHS RTM.

At one point we came close to finding out the probable release name. The speaker started off by saying “Windows Server…” and then caught himself saying he almost said something he shouldn’t. Then he joked, saying we can be assured the name will be the same format as they’ve used before. The joke being that Microsoft product names are changed around constantly.

He also demonstrated Server Core, a stripped down server that runs only directory services (DS), file, DNS, and DHCP. No GUI, no nothing. When you login all you get are two command windows. The system can be managed remotely using the usual tools, but the server itself is very compact without any extra code. The OS is ~500 MB. Why two command windows? They found that if you only have one and the user closes the window, you have no way of opening another. I expect they’ll add some key combination to address this. But for know, you get two windows, don’t close both of them!

MSG335: Last session of the day, sparse turnout, but we’re diehards! The new Calendar Concierge service is going to be welcomed by everyone in my organization who schedules meetings. The system actually works how people want to work with their calendar. You don’t have to conform your way of thinking to match the software. I’m especially glad to see that free/busy information is coming directly from user calendars. No more public folders and all the issues that came with that.

The date picker is helpful as well. Instead of trying to find the perfect match for your meeting request as the feature works now, it actually presents different options and ranks them, letting you quickly zero in the right time. Meeting request and update will also have less clutter now. Every organization has someone who sends out three or four meeting change requests all in a row. Instead of seeing all of the requests and updates in their mailbox, people will only see the most recent.

After the sessions I ended, I walked over to the Quincy Market area and wound up eating at a place by the Union Oyster House. The wait was way too long at the Oyster House, so this place was nearby and was uncrowded. Had a lobster roll. Wasn’t bad, but prefer more mayo, but any sandwich with lobster in it is good. Afterwards, caught the T back by my hotel, grabbed a shake at Cold Stone Creamery for dessert, and headed back to the room for the night.