Microsoft - Can you please explain?

At the start of this year Microsoft has made a change to their Office365 Business package offering. The result being that MS Access and MS Publisher are no longer part of their popular Business Premium subscription offering. Before Jan 2015 this subscription was called Small Business Premium.

I have 3 questions for Microsoft:

  1. So you have changed the Microsoft Office365 offering for Microsoft (Small) Business Premium. As of Jan 2015 you do not offer Microsoft Office365 Small Business Premium anymore and now offers Microsoft Office365 Business Premium. The main difference between the two packages is that Small Business Premium comes with MS Access & MS Publisher and Business Premium does not.  Also if you have Small Business Premium and you upgrade to Office 2016 (forced or not) you will lose MS Access & MS Publisher. But your subscription cost will not be reduced even though you lose 2 products.  

    How does Microsoft justify this?
  2. With MS Access and Publisher being removed from Office365 (Small) Business Premium Subscription, there is no option to have it added as a separate subscription package (like Project or Visio). If the customer requires MS Access or Publisher they will either need to purchase the products from a shop as a standalone product or upgrade to Office365 Enterprise E3 which is close to twice the cost of (Small) Business Premium. 

    Why does Microsoft not offer Access & Publisher as separate products?
  3. According to Office365 support, the reason why MS Access (not sure about Publisher) was removed from (Small) Business Premium is that MS Access is seen as an Enterprise Products. Yes, I had to laugh really hard. MS Access is NOT an enterprise product. It used by many small businesses as a cost effective database/UI solution. An enterprise solution would be a SQL Database and a web or client UI. An Enterprise might use MS Access for prototyping but if they were to use it as an enterprise app they are on a path of failure. 

    So my question is why, if MS Access is an Enterprise Application, is it included in the Office365 Personal service offering, as is MS Publisher?

Quidne IT Ltd.

Highspeed Internet for the Faringdon Town Center


At the start of this year Quidne IT had a discussion with the Faringdon Town Council (FTC) regarding the broadband speed in the center of town and that the center of town is one of the only places in Faringdon where you are not able to get highspeed fibre Internet. This was because of the proximity of the Telephone Exchange (located next to the Police Station on Pulling Close) to the houses and businesses.  The FTC raised this with our MP Ed Vaizey who raised this with BT. This has started as chain reaction with the result that Faringdon Town Center now has highspeed fibre internet.

Official Newsletter from the Faringdon Town Council

As part of the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire program, two fibre-enabled cabinets are now live and ready to take orders in Faringdon. 

This means that 276 residents and businesses in the parish will be able to request an upgrade to fibre-enabled broadband from a range of Internet Service Providers (ISPs). In most cases, this means that residents can select a product offering download speeds above 24Mb/s following infrastructure upgrades made via the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire program.

The aim of the £30.1m program, funded by Oxfordshire County Council, Vale of White Horse District Council, Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and BT, is to provide access to fibre-enabled broadband where this is not commercially viable without public sector investment.

The cabinet in the following location is now sporting a large sticker declaring, ‘Fibre broadband is here.’ This indicates that the cabinet is live and ready to take customer orders.


Faringdon Cabinet 11

Located on Pulling Close, standing opposite Thames Valley Police Station, 18 Marlborough Street, Faringdon SN7 7JP

This cabinet will serve the following 16 SN7 postcodes:
7BN, 7EA, 7EB, 7EZ, 7FQ, 7JA, 7JE, 7JG, 7JL, 7JN, 7JP, 7JQ, 7JR, 7JS, 7JW, 8SL

Faringdon Cabinet 12

Located on Pulling Close, standing opposite 14 Marlborough Street, Faringdon SN7 7JP

This cabinet will serve the following 12 SN7 postcodes:
7AA, 7AE, 7AF, 7AG, 7AJ, 7HD, 7HL, 7HP, 7HU, 7HW, 7JB, 8AD

Please note that improved broadband services are not turned on automatically. To access fibre-enabled broadband, please contact your chosen ISP or use comparison sites to find available packages.

There is a list of ISPs on the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire website

If you contact an ISP, please state that you wish to order ‘fibre-enabled/superfast broadband,’ otherwise they may offer you a slower broadband service.
Your chosen ISP should be able to offer any technical assistance to access fibre-enabled / superfast broadband.

It is also important to note, that not all premises within a postcode area will be necessarily be able to order superfast speeds (above 24Mb/s). Premises will be able to access a range of speeds – some will get superfast broadband and others will be able to get anywhere between 2Mb/s and 24Mb/s, depending on distance from the cabinet. 

RideLondon-Surrey 100

As you might know cycling is a big passion for both Anita and myself and on August 02, 2015 Anita and I will be cycling the RideLondon-Surrey 100.

What is the RideLondon-Surrey 100?

The RideLondon-Surrey 100 was created to celebrate the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 will start in the new Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, then follow a 100-mile route on closed roads through the capital and into Surrey’s stunning countryside. 
With leg-testing climbs and a route made famous by the world’s best cyclists at the London 2012 Olympics, it will be a truly spectacular event for all involved. 
Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 will finish on The Mall in central London, shortly before 150 professional cyclists race in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic on a similar route.

Our start time is 08:42am and we will have 8.5 hours to complete the 100miles (160km). 

Charity – Get Kids Going

Anita will be riding for a charity named Get Kids Going.

Get Kids Going! is a National charity which gives disabled children and young people - up to the age of 26 years - the wonderful opportunity of participating in sport. 
They provide them with specially built sports wheelchairs so they can do: athletics, marathons, tennis, skiing, rugby, sailing, boccia, basketball, sledge hockey, table tennis, fencing, shooting, archery, power-lifting and many many sports.

Get Kids Going! inspires British disabled youngsters to compete in sporting events, from start to Paralympic level, by giving them sports grants to help their; training, physiotherapy, travel, competition fees, design and development of sports wheelchairs etc. 

If you would like to sponsor Anita on this ride please do so via this website:
Quidne IT will match every donation up to the £600 target.

No donation is too small, every little helps.

Thank you.


Modern Times - from 2015 back to 1993

In January 1994 I finished my University theses. As part of the theses I started each chapter with a small extract from a short story written by Michael Schrage in 1993 who was a columnist for the Los Angeles Times.

Michael was years (about 22 years) ahead with this and with Home Automation being the next big thing for 2015, I thought I would share this short story with you. Enjoy.

Modern Times

Tele-Communications Inc., the nation's largest cable television company, is in talks to launch a unique pilot project in conjunction with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Microsoft Corp. to design a "smart home." The home automation industry is expected to triple in size, from $1.7 billion this year to more than $5.1 billion by the year 2000.

November 28, 1995

Moved in at last. Finally, we live in the smartest house in the neighborhood. Everything's networked. The cable TV is connected to our phone, which is connected to my personal computer, which is connected to the power lines, all the appliances and the security system. Everything runs off a universal remote with the friendliest interface I've ever used.
Programming is a snap. I'm, like, totally wired.

November 30

Hot stuff! Programmed my VCR from the office, turned up the thermostat and switched on the lights with the car phone, remotely tweaked the oven a few degrees for my pizza. Everything nice and cozy when I arrived.
Maybe I should get the universal remote surgically attached.

December 3

Yesterday, the kitchen crashed. Freak event. As I opened the refrigerator door, the light bulb blew. Immediately, everything else electrical shut down - lights, microwave, coffee maker - everything.
Carefully unplugged and replugged all the appliances. Nothing. Called the cable company (but not from the kitchen phone). They refer me to the utility. The utility insists the problem was in the software. So the software company runs some remote telediagnostics via my house processor.
Their expert system claims it has to be the utility's fault. I don't care, I just want my kitchen back. More phone calls; more remote diagnostics.
Turns out the problem was "unanticipated failure mode" - the network had never seen a refrigerator bulb failure while the door was open. So the fuzzy logic interpreted the burnout as a power surge and shut down the entire kitchen. But because sensor memory confirmed that there hadn't actually been a power surge, the kitchen's logic sequence was confused so it couldn't do a standard restart.
The utility guy swears this was the first time this has ever happened. Rebooting the kitchen took over an hour.

December 7

The police are not happy. Our house keeps calling them for help. We discover that whenever we play the TV or stereo above 25 decibels, it creates patterns of micro-vibrations that get amplified when they hit the window. When these vibrations mix with a gust of wind, the security sensors are actuated, and the police computer concludes that someone is trying to break in. Go figure.
Another glitch: Whenever the basement is in self-diagnostic mode, the universal remote won't let me change the channels on my TV. That means I actually have to get up off the couch and change the channels by hand. The software and the utility people say this flaw will be fixed in the next upgrade - SmartHouse 2.1. But it's not ready yet.

December 12

This is a nightmare. There's a virus in the house. My personal computer caught it while browsing on the public access network. I come home and the living room is a sauna, the bedroom windows are covered with ice, the refrigerator has defrosted, the washing machine has flooded the basement, the garage door is cycling up and down, and the TV is stuck on the home shopping channel. Throughout the house, lights flicker like stroboscopes until they explode from the strain. Broken glass is everywhere. Of course, the security sensors detect nothing.
I look at a message slowly throbbing on my personal computer screen:
"Welcome to HomeWrecker!!! Now the Fun Begins ... (Be it ever so humble, there's no virus like HomeWrecker ... )" I get out of the house. Fast.

December 18

They think they've digitally disinfected the house, but the place is a shambles. Pipes have burst and we're not completely sure we've got the part of the virus that attacks toilets. Nevertheless, the Exorcists (as the anti-virus SWAT members like to call themselves) are confident the worst is over.
"HomeWrecker is pretty bad," one tells me, "but consider yourself lucky you didn't get PolterGeist. That one is really evil."

December 19

Apparently, our house isn't insured for viruses. "Fires and mudslides, yes," says the claims adjuster. "Viruses, no."
My agreement with the SmartHouse people explicitly states that all claims and warranties are null and void if any appliance or computer in my house networks in any way, shape or form with a noncertified on-line service. Everybody's very, very sorry, but they can't be expected to anticipate every virus that might be created.
We call our lawyer. He laughs. He's excited.

December 21

I get a call from a SmartHouse sales rep. As a special holiday offer, we get the free opportunity to become a beta site for the company's new SmartHouse 2.1 upgrade. He says I'll be able to meet the programmers personally. "Sure," I tell him.

Michael Schrage is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times.
Copyright 1993 The Washington Post