Become a Windows Azure Administrator in Just 15 minutes

Got a few minutes to kill, and want to get to grips with Microsoft’s Windows Azure Platform? Let’s do it in the best possible way – by actually trying it. I’m about to show you just how easy that is and also explain how valuable that knowledge can be.

If you do this in Canada by Dec 31st 2010 and tell Microsoft Canada about it (see below), Microsoft will give CDN$25 to your nominated user group AND send you a $25 gift card too!! Smile

Let’s get a few questions out of the way first…

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Silverlight 5 Feature Announcements During Live Firestarter Event

The following features have just been announced live by Scott Guthrie during the Silverlight Firestarter event.

Media features

  • Video hardware decode – better performance; better on low-power-cpu devices that have a GPU
  • Trickplay – watch video at faster speed while preserving pitch
  • Power management – hold-off screensaver when full screen (until paused)
  • Remote control – for 10ft experience

Also, IIS Media Service 4 was recently shipped (and is free) – live and on-demand smooth streaming to desktop, Windows Phone 7 and iPhone (via live trans-muxing) – enhancements to Expression Media Encoder to support on-demand/live streaming to devices – also now announced is support on Windows Azure

New application features

  • Data binding – breakpoints and inspection in XAML bindings (!!); custom markup extensions (from WPF, great for MVVM); implicit DataTemplates; Ancestor RelativeSource (from WPF); binding and style setters (great for dynamic theme changes); DataContextChanged event
  • Inter-layout Transitions for list change animations
  • Networking – WS-Trust support; low-latency networking; MVVM-friendly data source, end-to-end support for complex types, Windows Azure support
  • Text – clarity; multi-column text; character tracking and leading; full OpenType support; vector PostScript printing.
  • Pivot add-on for SL4 will be part of SL5 – dynamic pivot is awesome
  • 3D Graphics (!!!!) – Immediate-mode graphics API; fluid layout transitions; hardware 3D acceleration of models & textures
  • model
  • more layers
  • Multiple Windows Support – with child windows
  • P/Invoke – can now call Win32 APIs
  • Enterprise Group Policy Support – get full trust out-of-browser features, but in the browser
  • Automated UI Testing – record UI, generate code, re-test – awesome!
  • Improved Profiling – memory, CPU, thread connection
  • Improved startup time
  • Hardware acceleration in IE 9
  • 64-bit version

Release Schedule!!!

Silverlight 5 Beta – Spring 2011

Release – by end of 2011

Get more details from Microsoft:

Scott Guthrie’s blog –

Tim Heuer’s blog –

As a Microsoft MVP for Silverlight, I’m delighted to see the future of Silverlight 5 unfolding quite nicely (and stunningly in the case of 3D hardware acceleration) as well as an emphasis on what great applications can be built today with the existing Silverlight 4 technologies.

Note that there are no preview/beta bits available to download at this time.