Friday, June 29, 2012

Overland Park Microsoft Store Grand Opening

Oak Park Mall Microsoft Store Coming Soon!
I had a chance to stop by the new Microsoft Store in Overland Park at the Oak Park Mall yesterday morning, and it was busy!

I'm sure some of the interest was really for Blake Shelton, but plenty of people stuck around and shopped too.

For those of you who haven't visited a Microsoft Store before its a lot like Apple stores.  They have Microsoft products like software, hardware and whatnot.  They also have lots of products from Microsoft OEM partners like Samsung and HP.

When I arrived I was met by a couple 'softies I know from the Overland Park Microsoft office.  As a Microsoft Partner I was pointed to a separate table set up for just Partners.  I was greeted again and handed a nice portable folding backpack-chair before I headed in to the store proper.

Microsoft Store Entrance
At the entrance there was a long line of people waiting to take the Windows Phone Challenge.  They give you a list of actions to perform on a Windows 7 Phone and if you can beat it with a non-Microsoft phone you had a chance at a $1,000 (or $100?) gift card.

I bypassed the line (can't waste work hours playing games, right?) and went on in to the store.  The store itself is brightly lit and inviting.  There are rows of LCD monitors down both walls, looking almost like a single long monitor.  There were rows of neatly arranged desks in the front of the store with a service counter / cashier in the middle toward the back.  In the rear of the store was a "theater."  I think that's stretching the term a bit, it's really just a medium-sized room behind the counter, separated by a glass panel.  There were seats and tables and what might have been a presentation area.  Apparently you can reserve it for events.  It is also used for Summer Camps for kids ages 8-13.

There are a series of events planned at the store already.  You can check the store website at to sign up for events and camps and get information about the store and services they offer.  Among the events are an Overland Park Chamber of Commerce breakfast reception today, a dance competition on the Xbox, and a few training classes on Microsoft Office applications (Word and Publisher so far).

Continuing through the store, I found areas with different focuses.  There was an area near the entrance with Windows 7 Phones.  Moving back in to the store on the left side were business solutions and Microsoft hardware/software areas.

There was a good selection of various different vendor solutions that ran Microsoft products as well as the Microsoft products themselves.  You can purchase most of what is on display right within the store itself.  It's also a hardware repair and software troubleshooting depot.  They service many major manufacturer's equipment either in-store or through mail-in service.  They offer hardware and software installation services for products purchased in-store as well.

There was an area set up toward the back on the left side where they had an Xbox and Kinect set up.  I saw kids busy back there for the whole time I was in the store.  They're smart to put out stuff to keep kids busy while the parents shop.  Although... to me, the whole store is a toy store... who needs the Xbox?  There were PC games and hardware accessories back in that same area as well.

Along the right side of the store I didn't see much in the "Cloud Services" area except more computers and some tablet PCs (no Surface yet!) on display.  Hopefully that will change and they'll get some good Office 365, InTune and Azure messaging and demos going!

Speaking of tablets, you can't see very well in the picture but they had several there including a Samsung that was loaded with a preview Windows 8 Pro version.  I got a demo of the device and it was impressive.  I'm interested in replacing my aging Acer Iconia a500 with something on which I can actually do some work.  I think a Windows 8 Pro tablet might be the answer... I'll definitely have a look at the Microsoft Surface when it comes out.

The kids that weren't playing or in line for the Xbox were all hanging out on the other side of the store... where the Xbox games were.  They had a pretty good selection of Xbox games and accessories out although I didn't look too closely... I don't have an Xbox.  Maybe I'll grab a 360 S when the Surface comes out and use SmartGlass on my new Surface.  By then my aging Wii will probably need replacing...  I'm sure my kids would approve!
I'm excited to have a new place to hang out in the mall.  Before, it was either Gamestop or Brookstone. Now I have twice as many gadgets to look at while my wife shops!  Is it an Apple Store?  No.  It's not quite like anything else I've seen.  Will it be successful?  Considering that the store's purpose is really to build brand awareness and identity I think it's right where it should be.

Enjoy the new store... I will!

Microsoft Store
Microsoft Store Logo
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Linux, Linux! Wherefore Art Thou Linux?

Tux, the Linux penguin
I continue to hear geeks (like me) talk about Linux and how it's going to eventually rule the Operating System (O/S) space eventually.  They say, "Look at Android!" and I say, "Look at Chromebook!"

I agree Linux is a great operating system and has come far from the early days when you had to deal with complicated and inaccessible command lines and customer configurations.  On the other hand though, the thing that continues to hamper Linux both at home and in business is applications.

Yes, you can get some Microsoft Office look-alike programs that do 50-80% of what Microsoft's versions do, but you don't get support for those (community support aside) without paying extra.  You're not going to run a business on something with no support.  When you add support in, it still costs less than Microsoft's Office, but its not nearly such a good deal any more.

Office isn't the only app at issue either... can you run Quickbooks on Linux? (I honestly haven't checked lately, but I'm guessing not.)  Can you run your company's tightly-integrated Windows-based ERP system on Linux?  The number of top-tier software companies that support Linux is expanding, but it's just not there yet.

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Until you have good solutions for the app problem, Linux will remain the red-headed stepchild in the O/S space.  Cloud has the potential to even the playing field somewhat, but look at Google Chromebooks... the technology is there but they fell flat on their face with the marketing.  They have the same app problem Linux does too... there's only so much available for the Chromebook and there aren't enough cloud-based services to satisfy people (at least not yet).

Image representing Android as depicted in Crun...
Android is the stand out in the lineup.  And why has Android succeeded while Linux has not?  Because of apps.  Initially, nobody besides geeks (like me again) bought the devices, but as the number of apps exploded so did the platform.  It doesn't matter how good your O/S is, if you can't DO anything with it, nobody will buy.

So, until Linux (and Google's Chromebooks) proves to people (especially businesses) that they are ready for the enterprise they'll remain what they are... cool toys for geeks like us.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, June 25, 2012

Troubleshooting Office 365 Multiple Prompts for Credentials

If you've ever connected a workstation to Office 365 and then been constantly prompted for your credentials you know how frustrating it can be.  Have you ever checked that box in Outlook to "Remember Password" and then screamed in frustration as yet another logon prompt came up?

We're with you... lots of us!  I've had a look around at the various resources for troubleshooting these issues and brought them together.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, just some links that I've found useful.  If you have suggestions to add I'm all ears.  I hope the list helps!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Kansas City's Quiet Partner - Microsoft

English: Picture taken from the Liberty Memori...
Image via Wikipedia
Recent Kansas City tech events have been on fire with Google Fiber this and Google Apps that, but there's another technology leader in town that has been a solid partner, if a little more quiet, to Kansas City for much longer than Google... Microsoft.

First, a little history and information - Microsoft was founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, does nearly $70 billion in revenue world wide, and employs 90,000+ workers.  They produce hundreds of products across many markets and their Windows desktop operating systems and Office productivity suites and have become the de facto standard for business operations as well as for consumers.

What many of you may not know is that Microsoft has an office right here in the Kansas City areaAccording to LinkedIn, there are over 100 local Microsoft employees based in the KC metro.  Along with other offices in the Midwest the local office supports Microsoft's North Central District which includes Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska.

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

Back to the story... Microsoft has a history of partnering with Kansas City.  They are a member of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Circle - a group that works on behalf of Kansas City in Washington D.C., Jefferson City and Topeka.  Together, members support efforts to enhance quality education, encourage regional cooperation, develop Downtown and encourage growth in the life sciences industry among other issues.  Recently, they sponsored the Gigabit Challenge in collaboration with Think Big Partners and a virtual who's who of Kansas City companies.

Microsoft has either directly delivered or provided guest speakers for literally hundreds of local events over the last 10 years.  They've hosted huge release events for Windows and Office in Bartle Hall.  They've presented to user groups and corporate boards.  And they regularly host partner companies in their own offices for a great variety of events.

Microsoft has engaged with Kansas City.  Their local office is an invaluable resource for the hundreds of area technology companies that depend on Microsoft for their technology and partnering support expertise and resources demanded by the ever-changing and accelerating Information Technology race.

According to Microsoft's career website there are 35 open positions that mention the Kansas City area.  There appear to be 107 open Microsoft-related positions in Kansas City according to a job search on LinkedIn.  If you search on for "Microsoft" it appears there are 2,180 open Microsoft-software related positions in the Kansas City area.  That's a lot of high-tech computer, business and sales jobs that depend on Microsoft software and their partner ecosystem!

Recently, Microsoft announced the opening of a new Microsoft Retail Store at Oak Park Mall. The grand opening event is scheduled for June 28.  See the announcement from May 17th.

So, remember as your company considers new technologies like "cloud services" that you have a partner - actually 84 Microsoft Partners according to Microsoft's Pinpoint and seven for Cloud Computing alone - in Kansas City.  No matter which industry you fall within - manufacturing & distribution, financial, local / state / federal government, legal, professional services, education, healthcare, etc - there is a Microsoft Partner match for you that specializes in providing technology services specifically to customers that look like you.  The hundreds of Information Technology workers across those 84 Microsoft Partners can provide the expertise and personal attention you expect from a top service organization like Microsoft - backed by Microsoft itself with all the resources and know how of the premier business computer technology company in the world.

PS. Scott Cameron is not an agent of nor does he represent Microsoft directly in any way.  This article was not reviewed nor approved by Microsoft.  All information is publicly available.
Enhanced by Zemanta
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...