Linking to filtered Document Library views in SharePoint

I’ve been doing a lot of work in SharePoint recently – nothing very technical, just Site Administrator stuff customising the basic SharePoint site structure to meet the requirements of my particular project. One of the things that my team wanted to do was to create a diagram with clickable links to views on the document library (it’s taken some time to “educate” them that folders are not a good way to go and that they need to think about searches with appropriate views and filter – think Google, not file share – but in some cases the same document was filed three times in different folders so that it appeared in a logical hierarchy!).

I was playing around with this and noticed that the URL structure for a given filtered view was petty easy to work with. So, for example:

http://servername/sites/site/Document%20Library/Forms/viewname.aspx?FilterField1=columnname&FilterValue1=value

We can even extend it further if required with &FilterField2 and &FilterValue2 (&FilterField3 and &FilterField3, etc.).

Using this we can link directly from documents and external applications/sites to a filtered view on the entire document library, giving the equivalent of a folder view (i.e. just a small group of documents) but generated dynamically and avoiding the creation additional views that need to be maintained.

Defining custom presence states for Office Communicator 2007 R2

Late last year I wrote a blog post about defining custom presence states for Microsoft Office Communicator. Unfortunately, when I updated my client to Office Communicator 2007 R2, the custom presence states stopped appearing.

One of my colleagues told me that by default, Office Communicator 2007 R2 doesn’t support reading the custom presence information from a local file and that it has to come from a secure web server. I tried that without success (using Windows Live SkyDrive to serve the file as HTTPS) but the fix that eventually worked for me was to add another registry key – a DWORD value for EnableSIPHighSecurity (set to 0), in the same location as the CustomStateURL:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Communicator]
@=""
"CustomStateURL"="file:///C:/Users/username/Documents/presence.xml"
"EnableSIPHighSecurityMode"=dword:00000000

Whilst I’m revisiting this topic, it’s probably worth highlighting a couple more resources:

Google Calendar Sync’s Outlook version check means it won’t work with the 2010 technical preview

Yesterday I wrote about how I love Outlook 2010. I still do. Sadly Google Calendar Sync is coded to check for the version of Outlook in use and it doesn’t like version 14.

Error: Google Calendar Sync supports Microsoft Outlook 2003 and 2007 only. Your version is 14.0.0.4006.

Oh well… guess that’s the price I pay for living at the cutting edge of IT!

Windows 7 UK pricing… and what does E Edition really mean for IT Pros?

A few weeks ago, Microsoft announced the pricing for Windows 7 and, much to the disappointment of those looking for a a cheap upgrade like Apple’s $29 OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard”, retail copies of Windows 7 will cost about the same as for Windows Vista (pretty much).

Although the European prices originally looked steeper, for the time being (and at least until the end of 2009), European customers will get a full packaged product at the price originally intended for upgrades. Quoting Bill Veghte, Senior Vice President for Microsoft’s Windows Business in a letter to the Financial Times:

“We typically offer two Windows versions to retail customers: a full version for use on any computer and an upgrade version – at a lower price – that can only be used on computers that are already licensed for Windows. In light of recent changes we made to European versions of Window 7, we will not have an upgrade version available in Europe when we release the new operating system. Therefore, we’ve decided to offer the full version of Windows 7 to all customers at the lower upgrade price. In the future we may have an upgrade offering of Windows 7 available in Europe, and at that time we would revert to differential pricing of the full and upgrade versions, as we have in the rest of the world. This means that we will always have the lower upgrade pricing available for European consumers who are already licensed for Windows.”

For many business, the advertised prices for Windows are of little conseqence as only a small number will buy a full packaged product version – OEM licenses are available for System Builders and Volume Licensing is available to businesses with more than 5 seats. Over in consumer-land things are a bit different though – I understand that Apple is cross-subsiding its operating system with its hardware sales but a multi-PC edition of Windows 7 Home Premium (similar to the 3-install Office 2007 Home and Student Edition) would have been a reasonable thing to expect from Microsoft. It, seems they didn’t think so, regardless of their statements about “economic resets”.

As expected, there is a Windows 7 Upgrade Option Programme that started on 26 June 2009 and ends with Windows 7 general availability on 22 October 2009. It’s important to understand that, even though Microsoft is offering the upgrade free of charge, PC makers may charge a fee to send media to customers.

Windows 7 Home Premium E Edition
Customers also get a limited time opportunity to pre-order Windows 7 with a special price. For volume license customers, Windows 7 will be available from 1 September 2009 with a 15-35% limited time promotional discount based on license volumes and geographic location (as announced by Bill Veghte at the Worldwide Partner Conference keynote). In addition, starting today (15 July 2009), until 9 August 2009 (or while stocks last), UK customers can pre-order Windows 7 Home Premium E Edition for £49.99 or Windows 7 Professional E Edition for £99.99 (there have been similar deals in other countries). The UK retailers for this offer are:

  • Microsoft Store.
  • Argos.
  • Amazon.co.uk.
  • Comet.
  • Currys.
  • Dixons.
  • Ebuyer.com.
  • Play.com.
  • Littlewoods.
  • John Lewis.
  • Micro Anvika.
  • PC World.
  • Staples.
  • Tesco.

Windows 7 Professional E Edition
Note that this is for the E Editions (I’m really annoyed about this whole E Edition nonsense). When they were announced, I wondered how it would affect those of us trying to put together Windows 7 images for deployment in several geographies (will we need one image for Europe and another for the rest of the world?) and, based on the editions available for pre-order, it seems that Microsoft really will only ship E Edition to European Union member countries. Not just an optional N Edition as with XP and Vista (and 7) for No Windows Media Player (or Nobody bought it!) but a compulsory E Edition for Everyone has to fall in line with the EU’s stupid vendetta against Microsoft.

I’m still trying to get some answers from Microsoft about how I can create a build image for global deployment as I’m not 100% certain that creating a global build based on US media will be acceptable from a support or licensing perspective…

Other points for European users to be aware of include that:

  • Because there is no upgrade from Windows Vista to the E edition of Windows 7 you’ll need to back up all of your files and settings, install the operating system, then re-install your files, settings, and programs. And, because the E editions of Windows 7 do not contain a web browser, Microsoft’s advice is:

    “Please get a browser from Microsoft or a third party and have it on a CD/DVD or another device so it’s ready to install after the Windows 7 installation is complete.”

    (Failing that, there’s always a command line FTP client!)

  • I’ve not seen a reference to this anywhere else but CNET is reporting that:

    Unlike the rest of the world, everybody in Europe gets to install 7 E on more than one machine, providing it’s not running on more than one machine at a time, and we don’t have to pay extra for the privilege, unlike our non-European cousins.

    (I’m not convinced about that one…)

Frankly, E Edition is a mess. If the EU thinks that this aids competition then it can only be as a result of all the ensuing chaos and confusion… hopefully Microsoft and the EU can resolve their differences soon.

[Updated @15:17 to acknowledge that there is an N edition for Windows 7]

First impressions of the Office 2010 Technical Preview

Microsoft released the Office 2010 Technical Preview yesterday and as it’s been highlighted as a preview, pre-beta, and not ready for primetime, it sounded like just the sort of software I should run on my everyday notebook PC!

Actually, that PC will almost certainly be rebuilt over the next few weeks to run Windows 7 RTM code, so now is a perfect time to install a 32-bit version of Office 2010 (there is no inplace upgrade from 32-bit Office 2007 to 64-bit Office 2010) and then when I rebuild the operating system I can install the 64-bit version of Office (I do not have any 32-bit plugins to cause me any issues there).

Downloading the Technical Preview was remarkably fast. I don’t know how much bandwidth Microsoft has put in front of Connect (anyone would think they had a major product launch coming up…) and admittedly it was the morning here in the UK (so the United States was still asleep) but I pulled down the images for Office 2010 Professional, Visio and SharePoint Designer. Other options available were SharePoint Workspace (the new name for Groove), InfoPath, Business Contact Manager for Outlook (along with its database tool), the Microsoft Outlook Connector and some language packs.

Running the Office installer, it looks very similar to Office 2007. One difference I spotted was that it required a product key (Office 2007 has a grace period based on the number of times the application is launched) and also there was the option for online product activation (again, not something I remember in previous Office releases, although the technical preview is based on retail media and I tend to use volume license copies so that may account for some of the differences).

Setup gave me the option to upgrade or to customise (I chose upgrade) and it merrily worked its way through the process with no obvious issues.Office 2010 Send a Smile
When it had completed, I was amused to see a popup about a Send a Smile feedback mechanism for communication with Microsoft about product experiences! I completed the setup wizard and rebooted the system, waiting with trepidation to see if my Office productivity applications would still allow me to work!

After logging in again, Office Communicator 2007 R2 autoran as normal and didn’t seem at all perturbed by the presence of newer Office components on the System. I fired up Outlook, it found my profile and worked through my e-mails as it prepared itself for first use. It then told me that Outlook was not currently my default program for e-mail calendar and contacts (presumably the registry was still pointing to the “old” 2007 executable that would have been removed as part of the upgrade) and gave me the option to make it so, and then I got my first taste of Outlook with a ribbon. Maybe it’s because I’m used to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007’s ribbons but it seemed to work logically. I processed a few e-mails and had no difficulty finding any of the options – and now I have a whole load of new productivity tools available to me (Outlook is potentially where I will find the greatest benefit, with QuickSteps and MailTips – as well as improved integration with OCS).

Outlook 2010 first look

Word was next on my list… it looks just like Word 2007, but with a lighter appearance. Similarly for Excel and PowerPoint.

Word 2010 first look
Excel 2010 first look
PowerPoint 2010 first look

I’m not going to review the new features in Office 2010 here – I mentioned a few of them yesterday, it’s still a technical preview, and others will do a better job of reviewing it than me – but my first impressions are extremely positive. Office 2010 (particularly Outlook) feels faster and more responsive then 2007 did on the same system – whether that’s because it’s running on Windows 7, or whether it really has been tuned to run on lesser hardware is yet to be seen. Most importantly, my upgrade appears to have run smoothly, with no negative impact on my existing applications. Furthermore, in just a few minutes of use, I’d found some more great features that weren’t in Microsoft’s demonstrations – like Outlook highlighting split conversations (where two people responds to different messages in the same thread), or applicaions opening an attachment in Protected View and requiring me to explicitly enable edits. I’m sure there I’ll find many more gems like this over the next few weeks!

Ed Bott has reviewed the Office 2010 debut, including screenshots, details of the 5 editions in which it will be sold (Office Home and Student; Office Home and Business; Office Standard; Office Professional; and Office Professional Plus) and highlighting some very important caveats:

  • This is not a public release.
  • This release is a milestone but it’s far from feature complete.
  • It’s not ready for prime time yet.
  • The most interesting pieces aren’t out yet.

If you want to see the Office 2010 webapps (and I do), then you’ll need to wait a bit longer. Right, now I’m off to upgrade the rest of my Office applications (Visio and SharePoint Designer)…

Microsoft takes the wrapper off some more Office 2010 features as the Technical Preview is released

Office productivity applications are pretty dull really. Or at least we like to think so, until a new suite comes along and we get excited about the new features. Three years ago, I wrote about how I was looking forward to the 2007 Microsoft Office System. These days I use Office 2007 every day and I really appreciate some of the new functionality. Even if I do still struggle with the ribbon from time to time, it does make sense – and going back to Office 2003 for a few weeks whilst my work notebook PC was being repaired was not a pleasant experience.

Microsoft gave us a sneak preview of the next version of Office (codenamed Office 14) at PDC 2008. Then they announced that it would be known as Office 2010 and today, at the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in New Orleans, they showed us a few more of the features to expect when the product ships in the first half of next year and announced that the product has reached its Technical Preview milestone.

Today’s keynote only included a short section on Office (Ed Bott has some more information in his blog post about the Office 2010 debut) but Takeshi Yamoto (Corporate Vice President for Office) demonstrated:

  • Outlook: receives the ribbon interface (as do all Office applications, including SharePoint); voicemail in inbox with text to speech preview so it can be read without playing the audio; click on a section of the text in the preview and Outlook will play just that part of the message; contact cards include integration with OCS for click to call, e-mail or send an instant message; a conversation view (familiar to Google Mail) aids dealing with Inbox clutter as it allows a few conversations to be acted on at once – and works across folders; conversations can be ignored (“a Mute button for Outlook”); QuickSteps can be applied to common e-mail tasks – e.g. message archival, forwarding, or the creation of a meeting invite; finally MailTips warns that that someone is out of office before you send them mail, or that mail is being sent outside the organisation, or to a large distribution group. (Some features may require Exchange Server 2010, Office Communications Server 2007 R2, or Office SharePoint Server 2010)
  • Excel: new business intelligence tools for analysis are provided as part of Microsoft’s “democratisation of BI” – putting more useful tools into the hands of more people – including mini-charts in a single cell and slices to drill through data.
  • PowerPoint: new transitions; video becomes a first class citizen – insert footage and edit inside PowerPoint, including recolouring and the application of effects such as border, reflection, etc.; a new backstage view allows organisation of all features and commands for the entire file, including compression, seeing who is editing the file, and allowing integration with line of business applications; more SmartArt (building on Office 2007); slides can be advanced whilst presenting across the web, in browser and on even on a smartphone!
  • Office Web Applications: demonstrating Excel running in a browser – looking the same as the full client (complete with ribbon); multiple users working on a file simultaneously with syncronised updates populated on one another’s views; works in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.
  • SharePoint: More information will be made available at the SharePoint conference in October.

Whilst there are some cool new features here (and there are enhancements to other Office applications, like Word and Visio too), the most significant part of Office 2010 is the web application (webapp) functionality. Microsoft announced that webapps will be available in three ways:

  1. For consumers: free of charge via Windows Live.
  2. For business that require management and control: as a Microsoft Online Service.
  3. For volume license customers: Office webapps running on premise.

With over 400 milion Windows Live customers, plus business customers with software assurance, around half a billion users will have immediate access to office web applications on the day of launch. In short, Microsoft wants to make the 2010 Office System the best productivity experience whatever the device – making the most of the power of a PC, the mobility of a phone and the ubiquity of a web browser.

Microsoft wants to make the 2010 Office System the best productivity experience – for PC, phone and browser

Office web applications are clearly aimed at competing with offerings from Google (and others) but, as a Google Apps user who is collaborating on a pretty simply budget spreadsheet (for some home improvements) with someone else (my wife), I find it Google Spreadsheets very basic and I can’t wait to see what I need to make rich Office functionality work in across browsers with the Microsoft solution.

I’m sure some of the features demonstrated today will be missing from the technology preview (I should find out soon, as should anyone else who is accepted for the technical preview) but, as someone who collaborates with others, working on multiple computers, with multiple operating systems and a plethora of browsers, when Office 2010 finally makes it to my screen I expect to be a very happy chap.

If Microsoft Windows and Office are no longer relevant then why are #wpc09 and Office 2010 two of the top 10 topics on Twitter right now?

Every now and again, I read somebody claiming that Microsoft is no longer relevant in our increasingly online and connected society and how we’re all moving to a world of cloud computing and device independence where Google and other younger and more agile organisations are going to run our lives. Oh yes and it will also be the year of Linux on the desktop!

Then I spend an afternoon listening to a Microsoft conference keynote, like the PDC ones last Autumn/Fall (announcing Windows Azure and the next generation of client computing), or today’s Worldwide Partner Conference and I realise Microsoft does have a vision and that, under Ray Ozzie’s leadership, they do understand the influence of social networks and other web technologies. That’ll be why, as I’m writing this, the number 6 and 7 topics on Twitter are Office 2010 and #wpc09.

Office 2010 and #WPC09 trending on Twitter

Competition is good (I’m looking forward to seeing how the new Ubuntu Google OS works out and will probably run it on at least one of my machines) but I’m really heartened by some of this afternoon’s announcements (which I’ll write up in another blog post).

Meanwhile, for those who say that Windows 7 will be Microsoft’s last desktop operating system, perhaps this excerpt from a BBC interview with Ray Ozzie will be enough to convince them that the concept of an operating system is not dead… it’s just changing shape:

(Credit is due to Michael Pietroforte at 4sysops for highlighting the existence of this video footage.)

Two more of my “How Do I?” videos available on the Microsoft TechNet website

Last month I mentioned that my “how do I” video on backing up a Hyper-V host with SCDPM had made it onto the Microsoft TechNet website and recently I noticed that the follow-up on backing up Hyper-V using the tools within Windows Server (Windows Server Backup) is now live on the site too (as well as one on creating a cluster on Hyper-V, which I freely admit would be more useful if it was about creating a cluster of Hyper-V hosts… for which I didn’t have the hardware available…).

There are a whole bunch of guys working on videos like these and the good news is that Microsoft has commissioned more for 2009/10. So, if you’re looking for step-by-step information on perform some common tasks with Microsoft products, then it might be worth checking out the TechNet How Do I? videos.

Shoot more images = learn and develop new skills = achieve better results

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a keen amateur photographer and, as a result, a fair number of photography-related posts appear around here (generally timed to go live on weekends). In addition, I recently spent a fortnight in northern France and my Flickr photostream is full of new images including one I took of l’ÃŽle Louët, Château Taureau and the surrounding estuary in the morning mist (which I’m particularly pleased with, hence the reason it is currently the header image for this site):

La Phare de l'Île Louët et le Château Taureau dans la brume matinale (2)

I’ve also started to enter some competitions and, whilst I’ve yet to enter one that earns me any money (to pay for the Nikon D700 DSLR I bought a few weeks back when the card slot packed up on my D70), I’m pretty chuffed to have scored some points in my local camera club’s print competition of late. The results are pretty subjective (I think I’ve entered some better shots than these but the judges decision is final!) but, back in February I picked up a second place in the Open category with this image of London’s St Pancras International station:

St Pancras International (2)

I also picked up a 3rd place in April’s Food category for this shot of some artichokes which is part of a set taken courtesy of Matt at Much Ado Catering:

Artichokes

This shot of a steam locomotive cooling down in the evening scored me a second place in the Open category for May (and print of the evening):

80078 at 71B (2)

And this shot of a mother duck and her duckings, scored me a third place for New Life in June:

Follow me...

Then, just to add the icing on the cake, one of the group admins for MK Flickrites saw this wild flower meadow shot, suggested I entered it in the June challenge for Natural Landscapes) and it won (by a very narrow margin – my vote would have gone to Negative Vibes’ Summer Grass entry has I been online to vote at the end of the month):

Wild flower meadow (3)

I’m not the world’s greatest photographer (you should see some of the shots I haven’t showcased here!) but entering competitions like this is making me get out there and shoot more images. And, guess what, the more you shoot, the more you learn (and the better you get). So, if you’re a keen photographer, I recommend entering a few competitions. I’m sure my run of luck will end soon (and it took me a while to get over my bruised ego when some images were sent back from a magazine competition a few years ago with a 5-tickbox comment card that said they “lacked impact”) but I get a real buzz when someone enjoys my work. It’s definitely worth a try!

(The images in this post are ©2009 Mark Wilson, all rights reserved and are therefore excluded from the Creative Commons license used for the rest of this site.)

HP iPrint application for the iPhone and iPod Touch

It’s not very often that I come across an iPhone app that I think is worth blogging about. It’s even less often that I’m impressed by what is basically a printer driver but, a few days back, my manager told me about HP iPrint Photo for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

This application locates HP printers (like the OfficeJet 6310 that the company supplied me with) on a WiFi network (using Apple’s Bonjour technology) and allows me to print images directly from my iPhone. Unfortunately, when iTunes copies images from my computer to the iPhone it “optimises” them to such a low quality that they are pretty poor when printed (even at 10cm x 15cm); however the prints from the iPhone’s camera (from my 3G model – I haven’t tried the new camera in the 3G S) are perfectly acceptable. A demonstration video and screenshots are available on the HP website.

It’s a pity that HP can’t provide a driver to give my 64-bit copy of Windows 7 more than just basic printing features on the same device…