I recently read a great article on flexible working which presented some great ideas on how to maximise employee effectiveness when away from their desks whether in on out of the office. Some of the things they mentioned were:
Eliminating dead time - time when workers are unable to work
Using small business server to connect users securely to company resources from remote locations
Connectivity to Outlook and documents anytime, anywhere with Windows Mobile 5
It got me thinking about some of the new features in Vista that enhance the flexible working experience even further and I thought it would be good to kick off a series of posts about these new tools detailing what they do and also how I use them in my work every day at Microsoft. Part 1 will look at scenarios where I present to an audience using Vista and my laptop computer.
Prior to using Vista, when I made presentations, especially to audiences outside of Microsoft, it would take me five minutes or so to setup everything on my computer ready for the audience. This would include selecting a "suitable" wallpaper for my desktop, disabling my outlook and messenger toast (aka pop-up notifications), and finally configuring, display settings for outputting to a projector.
All in all this experience was a pain, because I would have to open up a variety of apps to configure them and all this whilst entertaining my patiently waiting audience with small talk about the weather or some other witty retorts. Whilst this is a good technique for building rapor with your audience, I would rather be able to do this whilst completely focussed on them and not my laptop.
Now, when I present in Vista I simply use the built-in presentation mode. When I tell Vista I want to make a presentation it quickly applies my global presentation settings which define how I want Windows to behave during my presentation. To reach presentation mode and it's settings I simply search for and open Mobility Center in the start menu and it's right there ready to go.
In the settings I can configure the following:
Turn Presentation mode on/off
Adjust volume of my computer when presenting
Show a specific wallpaper - so I can show the corporate brand instead of my holiday snaps!
Specify which currently connected display device to send the presentation video signal to
Things that happen automatically when I put presentation mode on:
Live Messenger notifications (toast) are suppressed
Outlook email notifications (toast) are suppressed (CHECK THIS again)
Battery notifications suppressed, when batter reaches low, the icon will change to a red overlay that flashes.
Now, using Vista my presentation setup times are greatly reduced (normally abort 5 secs max!) so there are no awkward ad-lib sessions necessary and no increased stress levels whilst I turn off toast (pop-ups) from Outlook and the like.
One of the other cool things I can do is connect to a projector over the network. This requires that the projector is network enabled, but effectively means I can connect wirelessly to the project - meaning that I'm not restricted when choosing where I present from - I'm free to be anywhere in the room.
Things that don't happen when I use presentation mode:
Office Communicator uses its own mechanism for suppressing alerts like:
Running full screen apps like powerpoint set communicator to Do Not Disturb - i.e. No alerts
This can be configured from 1) Actions > Options > Rules > Change my status to Do Not Disturb when I am running a full-screen program and from 2) Actions > Options > Alerts > Suspend alerts when my status is Do Not Disturb.
I have it on good authority that the Vista team have been working closely with the Windows Live team to make this happen, and they are also now talking to the office team to ensure that we see the best use of the presentation mode feature in the Office 2007 System.
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So we can provide our end-users with a consistent experience when using Presentation Settings, make sure your apps suppress any distractions like toast notifications so that your users can make more effective presentations. I'm going to post soon about how to develop with presentation mode in mind - so stay tuned.