Help shape Microsoft’s Ignite Conference

Ignite - Spark the future

I’ve posted before about how fantastic the Microsoft Project & SharePoint Conferences are, well a couple of months ago Microsoft announced that they were merging those two conferences along with Exchange, Lync, Office 365 and pretty much everything in between into a new conference called Microsoft Ignite.

The Microsoft Ignite team have been hard at it planning what the event will be and it looks to be a cracker, but in a break from usual conferences, the team at Ignite want to hear from the community at large as to what content they want to see in the conference and have put up a survey at http://ignite2015.eventpoint.com/survey/callfortopics to understand the kind of content you want to see.

The team are also holding a series of TweetJams on twitter to engage with the wider audience. If your not sure what a TweetJam is, you can read more here.  But essentially, a TweetJam is a public discussion on twitter where posts are marked with a hashtag to allow the discussion to be tracked. Typically they have a host and a hashtag to follow. You can read more about TweetJam’s  here.

ProjectTweetJam

However I wanted to call out the Project specific TweetJam which is happening on the 9th December, the details of which are below:

Date / Time

Location Local time Time zone UTC offset
Seattle (U.S.A. – Washington) Tuesday, 9 December 2014 at 9:00:00 AM PST UTC-8 hours
London (United Kingdom – England) Tuesday, 9 December 2014 at 5:00:00 PM GMT UTC
Melbourne (Australia – Victoria) Wednesday, 10 December 2014 at 4:00:00 AM AEDT UTC+11 hours
Corresponding UTC (GMT) Tuesday, 9 December 2014 at 17:00:00

The Hashtag to follow is #IgniteJam

The team would like feedback on the following during the TweetJam, so get thinking :)

  1. What’s one thing you’ve loved in a past event that you’d like to see included in Microsoft Ignite?
  2. How can we help showcase your community at Microsoft Ignite?
  3. What is your preferred way to engage with our engineering teams at the event?
  4. What specific sessions do you want to see?
  5. What have you seen done at ANY event you’ve attended, Microsoft or other, that we should consider doing at Microsoft Ignite?
  6. How interested are you in learning about other Microsoft products, such as Azure and Windows 10?
  7. What’s one “can’t miss” thing to do in Chicago?

Finally, if you haven’t already, registration for the Ignite conference is now open, I would recommend you taking a look at this landmark conference and move heaven and earth to get there.

Introducing the365project.net

Welcome to the365project.netWith the introduction of Office 2013 and the arrival of Project Online in Office 365 I thought it would be a good time to try and bring some members of the Project and SharePoint community together to launch a new community site. So it is my great pleasure to introduce the365project.net.

Welcome to the365project.net

What is the365project.net? Well it’s a new tips and tricks site for the  Project, Project Server and SharePoint, covering the existing versions and the new 2013 wave of products. As the name suggests the content will also cover some parts of Office 365, Microsoft cloud based solution that provides SharePoint and the 2013 offering has finally been joined with a dedicated Project Server offering called Project Online.

We have been lucky enough to attract authors from all over the world including SharePoint Masters, Community Contributors, MVPs Microsoft staff and other well respected experts with tips for all audiences including End User, IT Pro, Consultants & Developers. Of course we are always looking for new authors and tips, so if there is a tip you would like to share with the community, please submit it through the submit a tip link and we’ll be in touch.

We hope to be posting 2-3 original posts a week over on the site, so make sure you add it to your favourite RSS aggregator, Twitter account (@365prj) or just plain old favourites.

Project Online’ hidden Gem… Click to Run

Download client softwareFirst let me get this off my chest. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow.  Ok, now to continue.

Over the past couple of days I have been exploring the new capabilities of Project Online, specifically I have been looking into the experience for new users to the service, things like how quickly they can provision the service and then start to use it in anger.

One of the things I was drawn to was the ability for new users to download the relevant client software from the cloud to their local PC. The ability to download client software in Office 365 is not new, the current 2010 based Office 365 has the option for users to download Office Professional Plus and Lync 2010 directly from within the admin site, in the case of Office Professional Plus, clicking on the link will kick off a rather unpleasant 651MB download.

Classic Office 365 download office client

Not any more it seems. With the new Office 365 preview and a significantly upgrading click to run, you can now ‘stream’ your apps down on to your PC in speeds that will make you say wow (several times).

In the case of Project Online, I was interested in streaming Project Professional down, now called Project Pro, but depending on the Office 365 plan you sign up for you can also stream other Office applications.  To kick off the streaming download, choose ‘Install software and connect it to the cloud’.

Office 365 Preview Settings

In my case I had both Office and Project available to download from my Office 365 tenant.

Install and manage software

Click on ‘The latest version of Project’. A small file download will appear which will control the streaming process.

Install C2R bootstrapper

Clicking on run will initiate the streaming process, a simple wizard is displayed outlining some of the configuration options for Office.

CR2 - Welcome to Office

In under 2 minutes, Project Professional is installed and ready to use (wow).

Project Professional - Ready to use in under 2 minutes

As you can see, the application is still streaming down in the background, but clicking on the icon in the start menu will open it. The streaming technology makes some intelligent decisions around the features of Project you may wish to use and prioritises their streaming order.

After approximately 6 minutes, the whole of the Project Pro desktop application is installed and available (wow again).

Project Professional - You're good to go (in 6 mins)

Project Professional - Streamed and running

Checking back in the administration screen, Office 365 tracks the installation and allows the user to see the licence status and deactivate it if necessary.

Project Professional - Deactivate Licence

What is most impressive is that in the preview at least it seems that users get 5 installations of each piece of software per user (I am not sure if this will be the case with the released software and no licencing details have been released as yet), when coupled with the streaming speed, the idea of quickly installing the software on a PC to make a change to a schedule and then deactivating it is not as daft as it sounds.

With the inclusion of this streaming technology, Project Online and the updated Office 365 when it is available, is sure to become a massive market for Microsoft. It allows organisations and spin up Project Server with a simple per user per month basis from the cloud and providing near instantaneous streaming of the desktop apps. This has significant benefits for consumers, such as reducing the cost of ownership, support and maintenance, but also allowing the service to be scaled as required by simply adding or taking away user subscriptions. With the addition of the new click to run streaming, I can see the death of MSI installs on the horizon.

Wow again Microsoft.

SharePoint Saturday Melbourne–4th August 2012–with 2013 content!!

imageWith all the excitement of the Office 2013 announcement this week, its hard to think how it can be topped, well it can. Saturday 4th August, just two weeks away is SharePoint Saturday Melbourne, the first Australian SharePoint Saturday since the Office 2013 preview was announced and therefore the first to include SharePoint 2013 content.

This year in a departure from the norm, I will be taking part in the keynote giving an insight into some of the killer new features and capabilities of the platform. Also stay tuned for a technical deep dive on SharePoint 2013 from Aaron Saikovski at the end of the day and the always fun Ask the Experts panel.

Tickets are still available for SharePoint Saturday Melbourne at http://www.sharepointsaturday.org/melbourne/default.aspx

What’s new in Project Professional 2013?

With the release of Project 2013, Microsoft have made a number of enhancements and improvements to our favourite project scheduling software.

The first thing you will notice are the changes to the look and feel, not as radical as the introduction of the ribbon, but a gentle evolution to provide a flatter, minimalistic look and feel that is common across the rest of the Office 2013 platform. Project 2013 also allows users to sign in, ensuring their preferences and cloud based services such as SkyDrive, Office 365, SharePoint are configured and roam between applications.

 

Project 2013

 

Touch

With the impending release of Windows 8 and the proliferation of touch enabled PC’s and Slates, Office 2013 introduces a number of enhancements to improve the experience for touch users. The most obvious improvement is a new touch mode which can be accessed via the Quick Access Toolbar. When clicked the ribbons will explode out to a larger finger friendly design as can be seen below.

Touch mode off

Touch mode on

This also extends to the data entry screen where if you use a touch input, the screen shows two finger friendly nubs to use for selection.

Gantt Touch Friendly

There are a few other touch improvements, including help selecting objects and ‘Minibars’. Microsoft published a great post outlining some of the touch support changes in Office 2013 over at the Office Next blog which I would encourage you to check out.

Reports

One of the major investment areas in Project 2013 is a new reporting capability that allows rich dashboard style reports to be built quickly and easily. I’ll be digging into the improvements around reporting in a future post, but to give you a quick overview, Project 2013 includes a number of pre-canned dashboard type reports including work and project overview dashboards and an excellent burn-down report. Of course you are not limited to the provided reports, a powerful design capability has been included that allows you to build customised reports for your organisation and theme them in the way you want. These reports also leverage another new capability of Project 2013, the introduction of improved office art.

Project 2013 Reports

 

Presence information

A small but significant inclusion is the addition of presence information to resources in the schedule. Now as a project manager, wherever I see a resource name, I can see at a glance their status and connect to them with one click to ask about the status of a task, or to confirm their actuals. Of course when you use the presence information you won’t get a lovely picture of me Winking smile

Project 2013 - Presence Information

Task path

A new feature that will be of particular use for heavy schedule users is the new Task Path feature. As the name suggests, Task Path enables you to see the path for a specific task you have chosen, the paths you can see include Predecessors, Driving Predecessors, Successors and Driving Successors.

As you can see below, clicking on Task 2 has caused two paths to change colour, the driving predecessors (those that cause the task to be scheduled when it is), turning orange and the driving successors (those that cause the successor task to be scheduled when it is) to turn purple. I will write more on this cool feature in the future.

Project 2013 - Task Path

Apps

One of the most exciting additions to Office 2013 is the inclusion of new app model allowing you to extend certain client and server applications with add-ons that can be either be purchased from a central app store, or from a catalogue of approved corporate apps. Project 2013 is one of those client apps that supports these new apps, allowing new capabilities to be added to Project 2013 via these apps. Again, I will be digging into building Project 2013 apps in some future posts.

Project 2013 - Office apps

 

In addition to the main points I highlighted above, there are a heap of other improvements to Project 2013, ranging from animations & fit and finish through to a number of under the cover changes to improve performance and product capability. I have only started digging into the new client capabilities and will be posting more info as I uncover it myself. In the meantime, I encourage you to give Project 2013 a go yourself by downloading the preview from office.com/preview.*

* Project 2013 will install side by side with Project 2010. Please note that if you are using Project Server 2010, Project 2013 will not connect to Project Server 2010 and you will still need to use Project 2010.

Office 2013 Preview has arrived

OfficelogoOrange_WebThis morning, Microsoft announced the availability of the first public preview of Office 2013 which you can download from office.com/preview.

Office 2013 is a massive release, encompassing nearly every product in the Office suite, including my favourites, Project, Project server and of course SharePoint. Over the next few weeks I will drill into each of the products and highlight some of the new capabilities, changes and favourite features.

The Microsoft team have released an absolute stack of content today to compliment and support the release, including:

and my favourites, Christophe and Jan’s videos in the Project Server TechCenter:

As always, if you have questions, the Project forums at http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/category/project are a great place to start.

I encourage you to go out and try Office 2013 and to spin up an Project Online tenant for Office 365 today and get testing!!