Microsoft Datacentres in the UK

Microsoft announced last month that it had opened three UK data centres, that will host Azure and Office 365. They spoke about this at the UK Partner Summit which I attended.


You may not be able to see clearly from my picture but the UK is the largest cloud market in Europe and over the next four years the market is due to expand to over $9.2bn. It’s important to have local data centres to keep latency as low as possible and for legal reasons surrounding data residency.


The new facilities in Cardiff, Durham and London will host Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform and Office 365. Dynamics CRM Online will be added in the first half of 2017.

Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts – The ultimate guide

If your current shortcut vocabulary only stretches to Ctrl + C or Ctrl + V. You’re missing out on tons of time saving shortcut keys that can save you vital seconds and turn you into a Windows Ninja…


Keyboard shortcut Action
Windows key Open or close Start Menu.
Windows key + A Open Action center.
Windows key + C Open Cortana in listening mode.
Windows key + D Display and hide the desktop.
Windows key + E Open File Explorer.
Windows key + G Open Game bar when a game is open.
Windows key + H Open the Share charm.
Windows key + I Open Settings.
Windows key + K Open the Connect quick action.
Windows key + L Lock your PC or switch accounts.
Windows key + M Minimize all windows.
Windows key + R Open Run dialog box.
Windows key + S Open Search.
Windows key + U Open Ease of Access Center.
Windows key + X Open Quick Link menu.
Windows key + Number Open the app pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number.
Windows key + Left arrow key Snap app windows left.
Windows key + Right arrow key Snap app windows right.
Windows key + Up arrow key Maximize app windows.
Windows key + Down arrow key Minimize app windows.
Windows key + Comma Temporarily peek at the desktop.
Windows key + Ctrl +D Add a virtual desktop.
Windows key + Ctrl + Left or Right arrow Switch between virtual desktops.
Windows key + Ctrl + F4 Close current virtual desktop.
Windows key + Enter Open Narrator.
Windows key + Home Minimize all but the active desktop window (restores all windows on second stroke).
Windows key + PrtScn Capture a screenshot and save in Screenshots folder.
Windows key + Shift + Up arrow Stretch the desktop window to the top and bottom of the screen.
Windows key + Tab Open Task view.
Windows key + “+” key Zoom in using the magnifier.
Windows key + “-” key Zoom out using the magnifier.
Ctrl + Shift + Esc Open Task Manager.
Alt + Tab Switch between open apps.
Alt + Left arrow key Go back.
Alt + Right arrow key Go foward.
Alt + Page Up Move up one screen.
Alt + Page down Move down one screen.
Ctrl + Alt +Tab View open apps
Ctrl + C Copy selected items to clipboard.
Ctrl + X Cut selected items.
Ctrl + V Paste content from clipboard.
Ctrl + A Select all content.
Ctrl + Z Undo an action.
Ctrl + Y Redo an action.
Ctrl + D Delete the selected item and move it to the Recycle Bin.
Ctrl + Esc Open the Start Menu.
Ctrl + Shift Switch the keyboard layout.
Ctrl + Shift + Esc Open Task Manager.
Ctrl + F4 Close the active window.

Hands off: Surface Studio



I’ve read a couple of Hands On articles about the new the Surface Studio. So I thought it was about time someone wrote a hands off article. I don’t actually know where I would have to go to get some time with a Surface Studio. Since I’m in Cambridge UK, I could break wander into the Microsoft Research offices near the train station, I bet they’ve got a couple. Otherwise I would probably have to hop on a train to London to try and find one.


Anyway, onto the actual product. It looks great and it’s expensive …okay that is pretty much the meat of this Sunday roast. I think it’s going to sell really well, especially as Apple isn’t going to release a new iMac or Mac Pro for a while I can see quite a few users that would normally buy an iMac being tempted, especially as the iMac doesn’t have a touch screen.

The Surface Dial seems like quite a nice innovation and the fact the screen can tilt to become something that resembles a tablet makes the device handy for a wide range of uses. The hardware design is simple and functional. It feels a lot like something that Andrew Kim would have helped design – maybe check out his blog if you haven’t seen it yet.

Microsoft rebrand SkyDrive to OneDrive

Microsoft have updated their SkyDrive personal cloud storage to OneDrive. This will temporarily avoid the confusion 365 users have with their SkyDrive Pro personal cloud storage (also sometimes abbreviated to SkyDrive). But the reason for the change is due to them losing the name in a law suit against Sky. Read more here



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Windows 8/8.1 Useful Shortcuts


In an attempt to make using Windows 8 & 8.1 a little easier, especially for those who use shortcuts, we have put together a reference list for you to use.

  • Windows key + D = Desktop (A quick way to get back to the desktop)
  • Windows key + X = Will bring up a useful menu allowing quick access to features and options such as ‘Control Panel’ and ‘Shut down or sign out’. Pressing the underlined letter will take you straight to that feature. E.g. Windows key + X followed by ‘A’ will open a command prompt with administrative rights.

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Getting the most out of your Windows Phone

Microsoft have 2 very good sites on how to get the most out of your Windows Phone. Whether it’s an original Windows Phone 7 (Lumia 800, 900, 610 etc…) or a new Windows Phone 8 (Lumia 720, 820, 920, 925). Check them out below.

Windows Phone 7 Site:


Windows Phone 8 Site:



Veeam v6.5 (database issue)

Today I came across a problem with Veeam v6.5. I had recently upgraded it from either v6.0 or v6.1 and since the upgrade all of the jobs had failed with the error message “cannot complete login due to an incorrect username or password”.


I knew that the username and password hadn’t changed recently but just to be certain I re-entered them into Veeam and removed and re-added the VM to the backup job but both of these efforts proved fruitless. After a quick Google I discovered that this was a common problem when upgrading to v6.5, for some reason the SQL database that Veeam uses get duplicated in the hosts.db table. I found this website and followed the numbered points, and with a bit of trial and error managed to get Veeam working again. Here is what I did…


    1. Backup Veeam database.
    2. Stop Veeam services.
    3. In SQL Management Studio try to delete the duplicates that you think are causing the problem.

Screen shot of the original table…


  1. I originally deleted all rows apart from 3, 5, 8 & 10.
  2. Restarted SQL instance & started Veeam services.
  3. Then re-tried one of the backup jobs, but got this error…image
  4. So I stopped Veeam services, and restored database from the backup made in stage 1.
  5. Re-deleted the rows but this time kept the row with the fe66f766… host ID too…image
  6. Restarted SQL instance & started Veeam services .
  7. Then re-tried one of the backup jobs, but got this error…image
  8. So stopped Veeam services, and restored database from the backup made in stage 1.
  9. Re-deleted the rows but this time kept the row with the 831d14e8… host ID (and 545b0af0… because that looked very similar too).
  10. Restarted SQL instance & started Veeam services.
  11. Then re-tried one of the backup jobs, and it worked!!


Screen shot of hosts.db table afterwards…


Microsoft Release Windows 8

Windows 8 has been out for a couple of weeks now, so what is it like and is it worth upgrading?

Windows 8
Image courtesy of Microsoft

We’ve actually been using Windows 8 since the release previews and our general consensus is that, once you’ve got over the fact that the Start menu is now a Start screen and you’ve pinned all your main programs to the task bar, it’s pretty much the same as Windows 7. Except it feels even faster than Windows 7 with the same hardware.

If you don’t have a touch screen, the Start screen experience is ok, but you only get the full experience with a touch screen. However you could get one of the new types of touch mouse as a half way house. Microsoft Touch Mouse

Microsoft Touch Mouse
Image courtesy of Microsoft

Also most new laptops, will have touchpads with gesture support, so you can still utilise pinch zooming etc… But we’ve found once everything is pinned, you rarely go to the Start screen, except maybe to search for something that you haven’t pinned. Searching for programs on the start screen is crazy fast, just hit the windows key and start typing, you get Programs/Apps by default, but you’re just a click away from searching settings or files, or within another program.

With the Windows 8 Pro upgrade costing only £24.99, it’s a tempting offer: Windows 8 Pro Upgrade, if you’re getting new hardware then getting Windows 8 makes sense, especially if you can choose something with a touch screen.

Microsoft Lync Deployed at Sixth Form College

Read the Microsoft Lync case study from our sister company 1plex to see how we helped a Cambridge Sixth-Form College embrace new technology and reduce costs by deploying Microsoft Lync 2010.

If you would like more information or would like to discuss your project please contact us or visit the 1plex website.

Microsoft Surface Tablet – First Impressions

Microsoft Surface – First impressions

Photo courtesy of Microsoft

My 32gb Surface turned up today so here are my initial impressions. My hope for the product is that I can use it on a daily basis instead of a laptop, although most people seem to think this is a fanciful wish and I’ll end up lugging both around as I’ve done with my Ipad and laptop for the last couple of years. I’ve been using Windows 8 on a touch enabled laptop for the last couple of months so have grown used to Metro (not allowed to call it that anymore but I will anyway) and have, contrary to my initial impressions, really grown to like it.

I ordered the 32gb device with a cyan touch keyboard, the packaging was very well presented. I really like the way the keyboard snaps to the tablet, no messing around or fiddling to make sure it is lined up just put it together and it snaps into place – very nice.

Usual Windows 8 setup screens which took a couple of minutes to complete without any problems, these included joining my wifi network and setting the login account to my Windows Live (also Office 365) account. So after just a few minutes the new look desktop appears. Skydrive immediately pops up with settings transferred from my Win 8 laptop and touching the email Icon brings up the accounts which I’ve used on the Windows 8 laptop, all I have to do is re-enter my password and I’m up and running with messaging.

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