Unfortunately I was unable to make TechEd this year. Today marks the start of a highly eventful week at our yearly conference for IT professionals. Roughly 10,000 attendees will gather at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FLA. This year at TechEd we are launching the new unified Windows Client TechCenter. The new TechCenter is now the official new home to the Springboard Series of online resources (www.microsoft.com/springboard)
. This is a critical component of the Windows Vista deployment and management story. With Windows Vista we built a number of capabilities into the product itself, as well as number of tools to prepare for implementation. The piece that's been missing is structured guidance along adoption path that helps IT Professionals learn how new features and capabilities can assist common tasks and also how to pre-empt and address key challenges upfront... We're aiming to deliver this final piece through the new Windows Client TechCenter, which shares candid best practices from real-world experiences. For instance, check out Springboard Series articles such as Five Windows Vista adoption "Gotchas" and how to get beyond them
. The new site offers a consolidated repository of resources across the adoption lifecycle, new troubleshooting zones and community components.
Exclusive to readers of this blog, I was lucky enough to catch up with our very own Microsoft Technical Fellow, Mark Russinovich
, a widely recognized desktop guru in his own right and a major sponsor of this effort, to understand more.
Chris Flores: Some of us know you from your previous work with Sysinternals and the Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (DaRT) what have you been working on more recently?
I spend a lot of time working with the software engineering team on designs and specifications as we evolve Windows. I also continue to build complementary tools to help IT Pros better manage and troubleshoot Windows environments. We release Sysinternals utilities that aren't necessarily tied to the latest product release or service pack like our recent ShellRunas utility
for launching programs under different accounts. Our focus here is to help IT professionals solve arising technical issues and that has led me to work on the Springboard Series which I see as a key element for connecting with the needs of desktop spe******ts.
Chris Flores: So what is behind recent efforts with the new unified Windows Client TechCenter and the Springboard Series?
Well to set some context,in the past it has been a bit of a tax to be interested in and to adopt our technologies. Not because we did not have a lot of content or tools but because very often when you are adopting something new, you don't know what you don't know and it's hard to find what you need in the context of what you are trying to do or where you are in terms of point-in-time tasks, like planning, deploying and managing an OS.
In the case of implementing a new operating system there are lots of questions and issues along the road to getting broadly deployed into production. The new Windows Client TechCenter and Springboard resources help offer more openness and empathy to these real-world challenges - so that we can more proactively help IT Professionals better understand both what they are up against and what's in it for them personally as they go down the technology adoption path.
Chris Flores: I think you just hit on something that really seems central to this effort - empathy -- can you explain what you mean?
First imagine that you personally are in a position where you have to have the answers, and you have to spend your work day and often your weekend looking for them just to support the needs of your organization. 50% of your time is spent trying to keep the organization up and running another 10% of what you do are fixed tasks (backups and reports) but a good portion of your day goes on random stuff - say 40% on break/fix, helpdesk stuff etc. Well that's what desktop IT Professionals often have to go through and the last thing that you would want is for it to be difficult to get the answers you need or even for your needs not to be acknowledged when you try to search for solutions to your pains.
With that in mind, our goal here was to offer a more straight-forward and practical way of looking at things and give them a managed experience. Whether you are a Windows XP user today deciding whether or not to migrate or already on the path to Windows Vista, we offer one destination where you are able to proactively see recommended Springboard Series resources regardless of what OS your are managing and where you might be on the deployment or management trajectory. The new site also lets you connect with Microsoft and community subject matter experts and get answers and advice more easily on known challenges and the ones that you encounter. In this case, you'll see that we have added new task zones on Application Compatibility - where you can see more dynamic information on the most recent compatible third-party applications as well as tips and tricks and guidance on Performance and Hardware Requirements; Imaging and Security.
Chris Flores: Seems like there are new content assets too, such as the Springboard Virtual Round Table on Windows Vista Adoption where you took on some tough questions. How does that fit in?
It's another way of connecting with the IT Pro community in a real way and to be proactive in addressing their questions and challenges. These are live virtual interactive events, broadcast over the Internet. Think of "Meet the Press for IT Pros". We take live email questions and answer them via an expert panel comprising IT Pro peers in the industry. We try to do these quarterly, the next one we are running is called "Let's talk Windows Vista security" on June 18th.
Chris Flores: Why are you personally so passionate about the community connection?
It's the community feedback, open discussions and connection to the people doing the real work that helps keep me grounded and learn where we can do better in marketing, support, and in the product itself.
Chris Flores: Thanks Mark. Good luck with your sessions at TechEd and thank you for spending the time today.
: Thanks, sorry you weren't able to make it to Tech Ed this year. It's going to be a great event.