Windows 7 Bluetooth drivers download–Toshiba chipset

If you recently bought a Bluetooth dongle, you may have experienced significant frustration with the out of the box Windows 7 Bluetooth driver.  I could not get the A2DP profiles to work and the Windows 7 wouldn’t allow me to setup local PAN connections.

So, I returned my cheap $2 dongle and bought a Kensington Bluetooth dongle with the Toshiba chipset.  This dongle comes with a great set of drivers and an application to setup multiple profiles.  If you have a Toshiba Bluetooth chipset you can download the drivers from here.

Unzip the x32 and x64 files and run setup.exe and enjoy the Bluetooth goodness!

Download Toshiba Bluetooth drivers

Duplicate Entries in ViewLsts.aspx SharePoint

SharePoint allows you to create custom list definitions and deploy them as Features.  Here are a couple of blog entries that talk about the steps you will need to take to create a custom list definition

However when following these instructions, I noticed that my custom lists were appearing twice in the ViewLsts.aspx page



After hours of debugging I found the cause of this issue.  In your list definition file, confirm that you have only one view with the “DEFAULTVIEW=TRUE” attribute set.  If you have multiple views with this attribute set, you will see an entry in the ViewLsts.aspx page for each view that you have specified as the Default.

Removing this attribute and re-activating the feature helped fix this issue

Windows Phone 7 Enterprise Support –5 Reasons to wait

In a previous post, I discussed five reasons to consider Windows Phone 7 for your enterprise mobile communications needs. In this post let us discuss the top five reasons to wait before you take the plunge with Windows Phone 7.

Windows Mobile and Blackberry were the most viable options for the enterprise before the arrival of the iPhone. The iPhone 2G was a great consumer phone and its popularity eventually led to businesses adopting it for their enterprise needs. Unlike consumers, business users need better mobile device management and security, standardized hardware, ability to deploy applications easily to their mobile workforce and better connectivity to enterprise applications. Windows Phone 7 falls short in fulfilling these requirements.

#1: Windows Phone 7 – VPN Support – Non-existent
In my view, this is the single most important reason to stay away from Windows Phone 7 at this time. If you need IPSEC VPN access or use a third party VPN client for your mobile users, Windows Phone 7 is not for you. You may be expecting third party VPN vendors like Cisco, SonicWall to develop VPN applications. However, these types of applications are not possible at this time, since the device does not support a low level access to the network which is required by these VPN clients. This lack of socket support is also the reason why there are no VOIP  applications like Skype on WP7.

#2: Windows Phone 7- Enterprise Security with EAS – Limited

Exchange Active Sync(EAS) allows mobile users to access their mailbox, calendar, tasks etc. from a corporate Exchange 2003, 2007 or 2010 sever. Since mobile devices are prone to theft/loss, EAS allows administrators to enforce policies on the device like a device lock password strength, minimum password length policies, idle time threshold before prompting for password etc. EAS allows administrators to remotely wipe your phones of all sensitive data. The current version of EAS supports about 30-40 policies. However if you invest in Windows Phone 7 you can only use a small subset of these policies. Want to disable the camera for your business phones? Want to block certain applications, and disable SMTP? You are out of luck because only the following policies are supported in the first release.

Password Required – Requires that a password contains numeric and non-numeric characters

Password Expiration – Enables the administrator to configure a length of time after which a Windows Phone password must be changed

Password History– Specifies the number of past passwords that can be stored in a user’s mailbox, and does not allow a user to reuse a stored password

Allow Simple Password – Enables or disables the ability to use a simple password such as 1234

Minimum Password Length – Specifies the minimum password length

Maximum inactivity time lock – Specifies the length of time that a Windows Phone can go without user input before it locks

Maximum failed password attempts – Specifies how many times an incorrect password can be entered before the device wipes all the data

#3: Windows Phone 7- Mobile Device Management –Non Existent

The iPhone currently supports Mobile Device Management through third party MDM servers. These third party servers allow enterprises to push configuration profiles, enforce security policies and provide the peace of mind that only trusted users can access data on your corporate network. The System Center Mobile Device Manager, Microsoft’s MDM server currently does not support Windows Phone 7. This leaves Exchange Active Sync (EAS) as the only available option to manage your devices.

#4: Windows Phone 7 – Application Delivery – Limited

The Windows Phone marketplace is a great location to discover applications that enhance your mobile experience. If you are in the business of creating applications for public consumption, Windows Phone 7 is a great platform to invest in. The development toolset integrated with Visual Studio allows you to create compelling mobile applications quickly. However if you are looking to develop and deploy internal applications, the marketplace becomes a constraint. The current release of Windows Phone does not have application side loading capabilities. So when you create an internal application the only way to deploy this to Windows Phone 7 devices is to publish it to the marketplace. You would have to build authentication into the application to limit unauthorized access. This lack of side loading support is detrimental for the deployment of line of business applications on Windows Phone 7.

#5: Windows Phone 7 -SharePoint and Office 365 Support – Limited

You may have seen some WP7 demos about SharePoint support. True, the support for SharePoint 2010 under the Office hub is the best SharePoint experience on a mobile device. However you will need SharePoint 2010 and ForeFront Gateway configured to access your sites under the Office hub. If you have not upgraded to SharePoint 2010 you are out of luck. If you have migrated to BPOS/Office 365 you are out of luck. Though Email hosted on the cloud is supported through Outlook Mobile, the hosted version of SharePoint called SharePoint Online is not supported yet on Windows Phone devices.

Final Verdict:

In my view WP7 is a great prosumer OS. If you are interested in increasing productivity, Windows Phone 7’s glance and go user interface, Office Integration, SharePoint 2010 integration and Outlook Mobile connected to Exchange provide the best productivity experience on a mobile device. But if you are looking to standardize on a device for your enterprise, look elsewhere. Windows Phone 7 is a great device to use, but not yet there for full enterprise support. However, Microsoft has committed to provide at least two updates this year and you can expect VPN, MDM and other capabilities within the next year or two.

Some helpful Links to get more information regarding WP7 for enterprises

Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility Kit – Microsoft’s datasheet and presentation about Windows Phone 7

EAS policy List for Exchange 2010

Windows Phone 7 – 5 Reasons to Consider it for your Enterprise

The release of the iPhone in 2007 opened the floodgates for smartphone adoption within enterprises.  Though Windows Mobile and Blackberry were significant players before the arrival of the iPhone, Apple’s entry into the market led to the development of an ecosystem around application development and delivery.  Forrester estimates that about 25% of businesses leverage mobile phones for Sales Force Automation, emergency response and field services by building native applications targeted towards platforms like iOS and Android.  The arrival and adoption of the iPhone has significantly dented Microsoft’s dominance in the mobile market.  After three years of development and missteps, Microsoft has decided to completely revamp it’s mobile strategy by releasing a new smartphone platform, Windows Phone 7.   Unlike previous editions of Windows Mobile which unsuccessfully aimed to bring the Windows experience to the mobile device, Windows Phone 7 takes a consumer first approach.  The goal for the platform is to deliver compelling user experiences while providing developers the capability to leverage their existing toolset to build enterprise applications.    Microsoft has publicly stated its commitment to regularly update its mobile offering and the platform is expected to evolve as a top notch competitor to iOS and Android in the near future.

Top 5 Reasons to Consider Windows Phone 7

Hardware Standardization: Microsoft has taken a page or two from Apple’s handbook and has standardized the hardware configuration for Windows Phone devices.  Every Windows Phone device has to conform to specifications around the core hardware, positioning of buttons and camera capabilities.  Gone are the days, where OEMs controlled the device specifications and the user interface.   With Windows Phone 7 you can rest assured that the application experience is going to be similar across multiple phones

Simplified Developer Experience:  Developers proficient in .NET can leverage Visual Studio and SilverLight to build compelling applications for the platform.  Graphic Designers can leverage Expression Blend to develop visual interfaces and seamlessly share their work with developers to build the functionality of your application.  Increased synergies(attained through better development tools) between the creative and functional tasks involved in developing an application can ensure that your end users get a compelling user experience through the mobile application.  The results of this are stunning.  There have been 6000+ applications released in the Windows Phone marketplace in the last three months.  While this is less than the apps available on iPhone and Android, these numbers do speak for the ease of development on the platform

Integration with Enterprise software: Windows Phone 7 integrates out of the box with Exchange for email, SharePoint for document management and collaboration and provides the traditional Office suite for viewing and editing documents.  Of all the mobile devices in the market today,  Windows Phone 7 provides one of the best integrations for Office and SharePoint

One Device for Work & Fun: If you are used to seeing your users carry a BlackBerry and an iPhone those days may be coming to an end.  Windows Phone 7 is a great phone for enterprise needs (email, document management etc.) as well as for personal use.  A contact centric UI integrates with your Social network accounts and provides an unified interface to access your contacts on the device, in your corporate network and the cloud.   With the integration with Xbox Live and the Zune Marketplace(for audio/video entertainment) and Windows Phone marketplace(for apps) you can rest assured that your employees never need to carry a second device just for entertainment

Microsoft is the underdog: The mobile market is projected to explode over the next couple of years and Microsoft is the underdog here.  Android and iOS have been eating Microsoft’s lunch in this space for the last couple of years.  This has led Microsoft to regroup and innovate again and this can only mean regular updates and enhancements to the platform.  This may change if Microsoft becomes the leader in this space because they have been known to go into an innovation lull once they dominate the market(e.g. Internet Explorer, Windows etc.).  But Microsoft has a long way to go to catch up with iOS and Android so you can expect to see a lot of innovation on the platform

Here are a couple of links to catch up on the latest Windows Phone 7 News

Official Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Site

WMPowerUser – a great blog to catch up on the latest Windows Phone 7 News

WPCentral – a great blog that has links to the newest applications released on the Windows Phone 7 platform

In the next post, I will detail five reasons to wait before you decide to take the Windows Phone 7 plunge.

Windows Azure–Simplified! – A quick introduction to Windows Azure

Over the last couple of years, Cloud Computing has risen to prominence as the single most disruptive technology in the enterprise software landscape. Unfortunately the word “Cloud” has become one of the most confused terms in IT terminology. It has been applied to almost any technology/software that is not hosted in your data center. There are also many flavors of Cloud, that it is almost impossible to get a clear idea of what the Cloud means from a platform and application development perspective. In this post lets look at one such Cloud initiative, Microsoft’s Windows Azure.

Microsoft has been promoting Windows Azure, its platform as a service (PaaS) solution for enterprises to move their critical business applications to the cloud. To describe Windows Azure it is necessary to take a step back and analyze the various steps you would take if you are developing a Line of Business application to run on-premise.

Step 1: Choosing the OS

To develop an application you need an Operating System for your application to run on. This OS needs to be scalable, flexible, extensible and secure and enable you to develop and deploy applications that leverage multiple programming platforms like .NET, Java, Python, Ruby etc. Traditionally Windows or Linux had filled this void for on-premise applications. If you decide to move to the Cloud, you still need an Operating system to run your applications. Microsoft’s answer to this is Windows Azure. Azure is the OS that enables you to run and deploy applications on the cloud. When you choose the Windows Azure platform you implicitly choose the Windows Azure OS to run your application. The Azure OS, which is built on Windows Server 2008, is designed for scalability and Microsoft manages this infrastructure so that you never have to worry about patching the OS, scaling it to multiple servers etc.

Step 2: Choosing your Data Storage

Any enterprise application needs to store data of some form. In most cases you have structured data stored in databases (like Oracle and SQL) and some unstructured data like images, videos, files etc. The Azure platform provides you solutions for both these scenarios. To store structured data when your application is running on the cloud you will need a relational database and Microsoft’s answer is SQL Azure. To keep it simple, consider SQL Azure as SQL Server hosted by Microsoft on the cloud.

To store unstructured data on the cloud, Microsoft provides the Windows Azure Content Delivery Network (CDN) and the Windows Azure Storage component. With CDN, files can be stored in one location and Windows Azure automatically caches and stores a copy of the file close to the user’s network. So if you have someone in Europe accessing a website that displays a video, the video is automatically delivered from a location close to the user. Windows Azure Storage allows you to store files on the cloud as well without the benefits of CDN.

Step 3: Data Integration

Almost every business application needs to integrate with external applications. If you ran every application on premise this task is easier. However when you run an application on Microsoft’s servers you need a way to consume external data that may be running on-premise. Microsoft solves this integration problem using its Windows Azure App Fabric solution. The Windows Azure App Fabric allows you to integrate data from anywhere using a service oriented model. With the App Fabric you can consume Cloud data into your on-premise application or consume your on-premise data into your cloud application. The App Fabric uses standards based Web Services model for data integration.

Step 4: The Development Environment

Now you have decided on the OS (Windows Azure), finalized the data storage(SQL Azure) and have identified the integration points(Windows Azure App Fabric) for your application. The next step is to go build the application. Windows Azure’s Cloud SDK integrates with Visual Studio and allows your developers to build solutions using familiar tools. The toolset promotes interoperability and the SDK provides samples for developing solutions even on non .NET languages like Python or Java. The SDK also provides a local environment for users to test their cloud applications.

Step 5: Deployment and Testing

Once your application development is complete, you will need to test and deploy this to the cloud for your end users. Windows Azure provides a one-click deployment option from Visual Studio to deploy your application to the Cloud. There is a separate Staging environment that you can leverage to conduct user acceptance testing before going live with your application.

As you can see, the approach to application development for the Cloud is similar to the steps you would take for application development on premise. The confusion comes from applying the word “Azure” to every component. So here is a short guide

Windows Azure – The OS that you never have to worry about

SQL Azure – SQL Server on the Cloud

App Fabric – The web services/integration component

Azure Storage – the Storage on the cloud for unstructured data

Azure SDK – Your development tools


Governance – A Key Requirement for SharePoint 2010

Imagine an IT organization where there are no rules or policies to control a user’s access to resources. Imagine users storing unlimited personal data on their corporate Storage Area Networks (SANs). Imagine searching for a HR policy and retrieving five different documents describing the same policy. Now, imagine your collaboration software platform is SharePoint and that you are responsible for leading the IT organization. What would be the first thing you do? How about setting policies and procedures? If you do, you have begun the journey towards successful SharePoint Governance.

Typically, there are several myths associated with SharePoint Governance, among them being:

· Myth#1 – Governance is only for the largest organizations

· Myth#2 – Governance is a waste of time and is just a user’s manual

· Myth#3 – Our users are not going to figure out these complex functionalities; hence we don’t need Governance or policies

· Myth#4 – Governance will restrict our users and hinder user adoption

All of the myths listed above are far from the truth. The idea that Governance is suited only for large organizations probably arose from a traditional view of IT Governance where there was minimal end-user content generation and large monolithic software systems. With SharePoint 2010, end-users can create and manage content without significant IT involvement. Therefore, Governance is a key requirement – even for medium-sized implementations. A well-governed SharePoint implementation provides an operational framework for the portal and increases user adoption by removing inconsistencies and environment barriers. Governance plans are developed collaboratively with IT & business stakeholders. These plans describe operational policies and procedures and are not just user manuals. A good Governance plan enables the organization to achieve its short-term and long-term objectives with SharePoint.

In this whitepaper, we will explore the various reasons for the emergence of Governance as a critical requirement for organizations implementing SharePoint 2010. We will also identify the key business and IT challenges around SharePoint Governance and analyze the new features in 2010 that will impact an organization’s Governance plan.

Click here to download this whitepaper

Business Continuity Planning Whitepaper

If you had asked people to name some business buzzwords, Business Continuity Planning (BCP) would have rated as high as synergy, empowerment and paradigm shift on September 10th, 2001. The attack on the Twin towers and the subsequent destruction elevated Business Continuity Planning from a business buzzword to a pressing necessity overnight. TowerGroup, a research and advisory firm estimated the cost to replace technology after the September 11 attacks at $3.2 billion which included hardware, software and services1. Due to such high costs of recovery after a disaster, about one in five organizations never recover from a disaster and go out of business. Most businesses consider only natural disasters and terrorism as threats and dismiss them as highly improbable. On the contrary, surveys conducted by Forrester2 indicated that power failures, IT hardware failures and network failures account for 42%, 31% and 21% of business disruptions respectively. Terrorism was responsible only for 4% of disruptions and tornadoes and earthquakes came much lower on the list at 2% and 1% respectively.

Almost all businesses maintain some form of documentation in file systems, on network shares or on in a document management repository like SharePoint. SharePoint’s strengths in document management and collaboration make it an ideal platform for sharing disaster recovery documents, emergency procedures and disseminating critical information throughout the organization. With an increasing number of users depending on SharePoint for performing their day to day jobs, business continuity planning for SharePoint becomes critical.

In this whitepaper, we will explore the challenges and the steps to plan for business continuity for SharePoint. We will also explore some software solutions available from Microsoft that will help recover your SharePoint environment in case of a disaster.

Click here to download this whitepaper

SharePoint Capacity Planning Whitepaper

Recent Forrester research studies have indicated that 61%of all organizations are considering or are currently implementing Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) for their enterprise portal needs. Coupled with the fact that almost 40% of IT projects fail for one reason or another, a strong foundation for your portal initiative is important to ensure a successful implementation.

In most organizations, SharePoint is a mission critical application responsible for driving business productivity; therefore, it is important to make certain that the operating environment can scale with the business while matching user expectations. A successful SharePoint implementation will need to answer the following questions:

  • What is the minimum amount of hardware needed to deploy SharePoint?
  • Will my SharePoint environment scale to support the business requirements?
  • What is the optimum server topology to support my user base?
  • What are the licensing options?
  • What are the usage metrics that will require the business to add additional hardware?

Capacity Planning targeted to your specific environment provides answers to these questions and helps in determining the environment needed for your SharePoint implementation. In this white paper, we will explore the various considerations for performing a Capacity Planning exercise and identify the components needed to determine your optimal infrastructure.

Click here to download the whitepaper

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