The Little BIG Things: 163 ways to pursue excellence by Tom Peters

I count myself among the many Tom Peters fans out in the business world, and just started his new book “The Little BIG Things”.

I noticed on his blog that Mr. Peters has released a summary PDF version of the book available for free download – I highly recommend it. What you’ll likely find (as I did) is that you’ll end up ordering the book or checking it out at your library to get more detail on the ideas he covers.

And if you want to ask the man himself questions about the book or his work, you’ll find him on Twitter and — if you have something interesting to say — probably very responsive!

Tags: Books, customer satisfaction, twitter, satisfaction, Tom Peters.

Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious Bookmark and Share

Also available via


What’s on your TV: cable, satellite or OTA + the Web?

Someone asked today on a local mailing list for suggestion on local television options: Dish, DirecTV or Comcast (our local MSO).

I noted that it used to be that if you wanted to get reasonable TV service throughout your home, cable offered the best option requiring no additional set top boxes for a good variety of programming. That changed last year when Comcast changed their channel map: as you’ll see here, I am no fan of that move nor Comcast’s practices, as they forced customers to install new set top boxes last year.

Although we wanted to cancel Comcast, we kept the service (as noted here) as WRT the alternative, they offered the best value for television and we remain a customer (full dsclosure: as they offer to many concerned customers, they offered us an excellent deal on free set top boxes and discounted HD-DVRs). However, with Hulu’s new subscription model, Netflix on-demand, good digital TV reception in much of Medina (free, over-the-air channels, including our local affiliates), we are considering dropping cable TV once again. YMMV.

I would like to see AT&T or Verizon apply for a TV franchise and offer a competitive package. Dish and Direct now over some interesting packages worth considering.

If you have a high-speed data service and all you want is basic channels, with local affiliates and some premium programming, try starting with an OTA digital antenna (if your TV is digital ready – if not, invest in an inexpensive converter box as referenced here) and a service such as Hulu. There are some very competitive offerings from Qwest for high-speed data that offer incredible speeds for a lot less than Comcast you may want to consider.

What do you think?

Tags: Comcast, television, DVR, FCC, policy.

Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious    Bookmark and Share

This post is also available via


A few examples of how Microsoft product groups integrate the voice of customers into the development cycle

j0402594A couple of years ago, Steve Ballmer talked about in his email to customers how Microsoft can do a better job of serving its customers. One of the ways we did this was through the creation of the Security Development Lifecycle (aka SDL) in 2004, which helps to improve the security, privacy and reliability of the company’s software. Today I shared with one of our teams today the links to Steve Lipner’s book on The Security Development Lifecycle and an overview of the Microsoft SDL.

In addition to the SDL, I thought that I should also reference a couple of the following available documents on how a couple of our largest product groups integrate the voice of customers at key touch points throughout the software development lifecycle.

Integrating customer feedback during the Windows 7 dev cycle was critical to its success. As you’ll read in this post, the need to include the voice of the customer starts before we’ve written any code, with feedback from our OEM and ODMs, consumer and commercial accounts at all levels. When you have a product like Windows that serves such a large set of customers, we work hard to ensure that the OS release serves the broadest set of needs.

During the Windows 7 development cycle, we featured in this post an overview of the Windows Feedback Program that allow us to bring the voice of the customer into the development process.  And a practical application of how we use CEIP was provided in this post when we considered how to approach and present UAC in Windows 7, by examining customer feedback and telemetry. (You can also find more info here on the CEIP )

Given that we RTM’ed Microsoft Office 2010 has RTM’ed (more on this at let me also shine the light on that team: see Shawn Lipstein’s post on the Office engineering blog gives you such great insight on how our usability labs in the CEIP impacts the drive research and insight into everything we do.



Tags: Microsoft, how to, Windows 7, Office 2010, feedback, customer feedback.

Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious Bookmark and Share

Also available via


Your questions: Windows Essential Business Server 2008 (EBS2008) was discontinued… what are my options?

Windows Essential Business Server 2008

From Daniel… timely in my effort to cover at least one customer and partner challenge or issue per day

“I read the news today… EBS2008 [Windows Essential Business Server] was discontinued… what are my options?”

The news in question is from this post on the Essential Business Server blog

Today, we announced the decision to streamline our server product portfolio and will discontinue future development of EBS, effective June 30th, 2010.

Since the launch of EBS, several changes have occurred that drove our decision to streamline our server product portfolio. First, midsize businesses are rapidly turning to technologies such as management, virtualization and cloud computing as a means to cut costs, improve efficiency, and increase competitiveness. Those capabilities are already available through other offerings, including Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft System Center and the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS).

This information is taken from the EBS 2008 FAQ page

2008 Discontinuation of Future Development

Q. I just bought EBS 2008.  Should I stop deploying it or move to another set of products?

A. There is no reason why you cannot or should not move forward and deploy it. Microsoft will continue to support EBS 2008 through the normal product lifecycle.  EBS 2008 is a suite that includes several individual products, each with different support lifecycles. So support will last through 2017 for some components and through 2018 for others. For more detailed information on the lifecycle for the EBS 2008 suite, customers can go to the Microsoft Support site.  If you acquired EBS 2008 with OEM hardware, contact the manufacturer of your server hardware that came with EBS 2008 for the OEM’s support policies.

Q. If I am an existing EBS 2008 customer, what happens now?

A. Your EBS 2008 product will still receive support through the normal product life cycle.  Because EBS 2008 is a suite that includes several individual products, each with different support lifecycles, support will last through 2017 for some components and through 2018 for others. For more detailed information on the lifecycle for the EBS 2008 suite, customers can go to the Microsoft Support site.  If you acquired EBS with OEM hardware, contact the manufacturer of your server hardware that came with EBS for the OEM’s support policies. 

Next, we recognize that discontinuing EBS could result in additional cost and complexity for customers when they decide to upgrade.  Because of this we are going to provide a one-time limited offer for all EBS 2008 customers.  Beginning on June 30, 2010 until December 31, 2010, current EBS 2008 customers can get most of the individual component software from the suite for free (local taxes, shipping and handling charges may apply).  This means EBS 2008 customers can get copies of Windows Server 2008 Standard, Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Standard and Microsoft System Center Essentials 2007. To learn more about this offer, EBS customers should visit the EBS Promotions and Offers page.

Q. What are you doing for EBS Volume Licensing customers who purchased Software Assurance?

A. EBS customers who purchased Software Assurance will be able to take advantage of the same offer listed above and will also receive next versions of individual software products from the suite.  For EBS 2008 Standard customers, those products include: Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard, Exchange Server 2010 Standard, System Center Essentials Standard 2010 and Forefront Threat Management Gateway 2010.  EBS 2008 Premium customers who have purchased Software Assurance will also be entitled to SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard edition. 

Q. Will I be able to purchase more CALs for EBS 2008?

A. Yes, customers can continue to purchase EBS 2008 CALs from either the Microsoft Volume Licensing program or through Microsoft partners. 

Q. I have been an EBS partner, what should I recommend to my customers now?

A. Windows EBS was based off the Core IO model.  Partners can still implement the Core IO model by implementing standalone products according to the capability maturity model by workload of Core IO.    For more details on Core IO, please visit the Core Infrastructure page of the Partner Sales Resources site.  

More Questions? You can email the team at askEBS.

Added 030510: For additional commentary and views see these posts…

Tags: Microsoft, how to, customer support, Microsoft Product List 2010, feedback, customer service, EBS 2008.

Clubhouse Tags: Clubhouse, how-to, customer service.

Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious Bookmark and Share


Also available via


Your questions: “Will you answer questions on any Microsoft product? How long does Microsoft support their products?”

Diane asks…

"Will you answer questions on any Microsoft product? How long do you [I assume she means Microsoft] support the products?" 

Sure, I’ll try to provide answers and of resources available for the product line. This is not a replacement for our support system for products that are currently supported (aka in mainstream support) — which I might add is really an incredible machine when you consider the breadth. It’s more of an attempts to cover all of our various products and provide information of where you can get support, such as assisted support, updates, hotfixes and more.

Clip Art from Microsoft Office OnlineAs for how long we support our products, that depends on the product.

First there’s "mainstream support." What’s that? Glad you asked.

See Jared’s post on technet

For all products, the Microsoft Support Lifecycle policy begins with the Mainstream Support phase.  In this phase, we are able to provide all of the standard support services that Microsoft offers.  For example, in-the-box support, paid incident support, design change requests, non-security hotfixes, security updates and online self-help support may all be available during the Mainstream Support phase.
Consumer products that are released annually are provided a total of 3 years of Mainstream Support.  Some examples of these are Microsoft Money, Encarta, Streets & Trips, etc.

For the rest of Consumer, Hardware and Business & Developer products, the Mainstream Support phase is provided for a minimum of 5 years or 2 years after the successor product is released, whichever is longer.

At the end of the Mainstream Support phase, support for Consumer products comes to an end.  Business & Developer products, on the other hand, are provided a minimum of another 5 years of support in the Extended Support phase.

When it comes to direct customer support, your options may vary. For example, support for our Windows is available to users directly )phone, email) from Microsoft for the first 90 days at no charge, but your computer OEM (aka Original Equipment Manufacturer) – the likes of Acer, Asus, Dell HP, Gateway, Panasonic and more – may offer a year of free support (or more!) through their support lines. Users of products like Microsoft Office get the first 90 days of support for free, too. YMMV depending on the product.

There are also our free support forums (like Microsoft Answers, metioned yesterday), a community-based support site where you can ask and answer questions, or just browse other’s answers.

Then there’s Extended Support, as Jared discussed in his post on the end of support for Windows 2000 and Extended Support phase transition for Windows Server 2003. (This support extends primarily to business customers that license our software directly.)

If you missed my last post, we recently discussed the upcoming end of support for Windows Vista with no service packs installed and Windows XP SP2. In a similar vein, in this post I want to discuss support transitions that will primarily impact our enterprise customers.

First, let’s discuss the upcoming changes for Windows 2000. All editions of Windows 2000 will reach the end of the Extended Support phase on July 13, 2010. This will be the end of support for Windows 2000.

As you may recall, at the end of the Extended Support phase, Business & Developer products are no longer publicly supported, although Self-Help Online support (such as Microsoft online Knowledge Base articles, FAQs, troubleshooting tools, and other resources) will be available for a minimum of 12 months after the product reaches the end of its support. This means that there is no more paid support, no support assistance and no further security updates. Due to this, customers are highly encouraged to move to a supported product as soon as possible.

After Extended support, Microsoft offers custom support that "may include assisted support and hotfix support, and may extend beyond 10 years from the date a product becomes generally available. Strategic Microsoft partners may also offer support beyond the Extended Support phase. Customers and partners can contact their account team or their local Microsoft representative for more information."

For more on this and the support options, visit the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy FAQ page.


Tags: Microsoft, customer support, feedback, customer service, Microsoft Product List 2010.

Clubhouse Tags: Clubhouse, how-to, customer service

Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious Bookmark and Share

Also available at (030210: corrected link)