The Killer Threshold Devices/Experiences of Build 2015

aka what MS must do to stay and go beyond relevant in the gadgets, devices and platform space for consumers, enterprise and developers.

Note – there is no insider or NDA information in this post.

Build 2014 was devoid of devices for which one could build.  Next year should be entirely different…  All of this is possible.  However, cue dreamy wibble effect…

The tablet that is a desktop…

Announcing Surface One running Windows 9 Touch.  Surface One is a device with an 8.9" 1620×1080 display with active digitizer and pen for experiences like the Surface Pro 3.  It’s the ultimate mobile device featuring Wifi, Wifi Direct, BT 4 LE, LTE & Wireless charging, but of course also a USB 3.0 port.  Battery life is 12 hours.  It runs WinRT apps including WinRT Office (aka Gemini).  It also runs Office RT.  But you don’t have to compromise.  Place the device on a previously unregistered NFC charging pad and it provides the opportunity to connect to and remember a bluetooth keyboard, bluetooth mouse and HD wireless display.  On that display you get the full Windows desktop running full Win32 apps powered by Azure with RemoteApp.  It’s available starting at $249.

Announcing the Surface Wireless Charger, a wireless charger and stand with an NFC tag to wake up your desktop experience.  It’s available for $49.

Announcing the Surface Wireless Battery, a wireless charger and battery (that is wirelessly/USB-charged) and stand with an NFC tag to wake up your desktop experience.  It’s available for $99.

Announcing the Surface 3 Dock, with physical docking which adds 2 USB 3.0 ports, gigabit ethernet, power and displayport for connecting to up to 2 external HD monitors with DisplayPort.  Available soon for $149.

The phone that is a desktop… The PocketPC (to risk ressurection of another Microsoft brand)…
I can’t stress how huge I think this would be.  It could spark the beginning of an era of ubiquitous public docking stations including cameras for walk-up video conference calling.

Announcing Lumia One (also) running Windows 9 Touch.  Lumia One is a phone device with a 5" HD display. Just like the Surface One, you can place the Lumia 9000 on a wireless charging pad and get the full desktop experience courtesty of Microsoft Azure!!!  It’s available starting at $199 on 2-year plans or $399 unlocked.

Announcing the Lumia One Wireless Charger, a wireless charger with an NFC tag to wake up your desktop experience.  It’s available for $49.

Announcing the Lumia One Shell, a device with a 13.3" 2160×1440 touch display, keyboard, trackpad, Wifi, Wifi Direct and bluetooth.  It’s a mere 0.4"/100mm thick with 20 hours of battery life.  It’s the laptop experience for your Lumia One.  Available later in 2015 for $249.

Announcing Windows 9 Standard and Enterprise – for desktop Windows on tablets, laptops and desktops.  Enterprise is a whole other story, but there needs to be consistent friction-free enterprise WinRT apps stores and deployment.

Gadgets… Yes I’m going there because Microsoft must seed the Internet of Things and capture the next generation of developers…

Announcing Xbox Gadgets – a series of sensors, devices, services and kits designed to bring your home and imagination alive:
Xbox Gadgets Relay – devices that connect low power bluetooth devices to your network
Xbox Gadgets Sensor Pack – ambient multi-sensor array in a single package
Xbox Gadgets Contact – physical contact sensors
Xbox Gadgets Camera
Xbox Gadgets I/O – analog/digital signal I/O
Xbox Gadgets Power – power control
Xbox Life Service – logs, automates, reports on and provides remote access/control of, your network in real-time from Windows devices and browsers on other devices.
Xbox Gadgets Lab – two boards (NETMF and Intel) and modular components that you can program via a WinRT app running on your Windows device or Xbox, or more fully using Visual Studio
Xbox Gadgets Factory – turn your lab experiments into prototypes with optimised boards with 3D-printed cases

And yes, this is not a money-maker.  It’s a relevancy-defender.  Microsoft can’t afford to let its consumer and youth developer mindshare slip further.

Announcing XWatch [example brand] – the watch with the unique 3" landscape and thin form-factor that runs specially targeted C#/XAML WinRT apps.  Announcement only.  Ties into the Xbox Life Service.

Announcing Microsoft (or some partner OEM potentially with existing products) Health Pack – glucose, pulse, blood pressure and other bio-measurement devices.  Ties into the Xbox Life Service.

Announcing Xbox Vision [example brand aka fortaleza] – Smartglass app and augmented gaming experiences on glasses with Xbox.  $299, holiday 2015.

In its second 2016 iteration – it becomes a second display for your Lumia One and for public augmented reality.

Announcing the new unified Windows Store.

And finally, announcing building and open publishing of XAML/C# + WinJS apps for Xbox One to the unified store.  Demos only.  Developer-enable your Xbox One and create apps by summer 2015.  Store opens holiday 2015.

Now that’s a platform story on a huge array of devices that are all cloud-connected.

Windows Azure – a Cost-Effective Platform for ISVs

  • Use of a Windows Azure application server instance is now just USD$15 a month. 
  • A SQL database starts at just $5 a month.
  • Data transfer is $0.12 per GB (inbound is free)
  • There’s a free trial offer with lots built-in, and other discount packages available.

This is now at a price-point that is very competitive with discount hosting providers, but even better when you consider the Platform as a Service capabilities, SLA and scalability offered when you start putting things together…

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Built on Silverlight & Azure: A Solution to Plan, Deploy & Track Your Workforce

During a trip to Redmond this year, I got to meet the Gu.  If you don’t know who that is, then never mind, but keep reading.  Anyway, another guy from Canada got to present alongside Scott (still don’t know who I’m talking about?) last November during the keynote for the Silverlight Firestarter event (when Silverlight 5 features were first publically announced).  That guy was David Ossip, CEO of Dayforce, demonstrating their latest Dayforce Workforce Management solution.

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I’d seen the Firestarter demo, but I recently learnt about another aspect of this solution.  It would be reason enough to mention Dayforce because they use Silverlight for a rich client-powered experience.  Another reason to mention it, is that it also uses Windows Azure, a technology for which I have created and delivered training at Microsoft’s request.  The Windows Azure Platform is both an awesome platform and service for high availability and scalability and easy provisioning in the cloud or in a hybrid combination with on-premise system.

Dayforce epitomizes the kind of offering that is well suited to the platform.  They wanted to provide solutions that demanded zero IT maintenance for their customers and a scalable path as their customer base grew – they now have around 40 customers with some 150,000+ users.  Using Azure, adding more customers or users now involves merely deploying more Windows Azure instances with a few mouse clicks, rather than buying/licensing, racking/provisioning and adminstering servers.  Hosting the application on Windows Azure hosted services means running the services in an IIS environment that is great for hosting WCF-based services to which their rich Silverlight client can connect.  It’s a SaaS solution with a rich-client plus! 

This kind of Silverlight-Azure combo is the kind of thing I expect to see in droves with other successful offerings in the future.  Since Scott Guthrie is moving over to be a VP for the Azure platform, this awesome-sauce (hi John!) combination will no doubt get even better.

 

Want to know more about Dayforce?

About Dayforce – Dayforce offers a complete workforce management solution with functionality that includes time and attendance, labor scheduling, labor forecasting, labor budgeting, task management and employee self-service. The company has made waves in workforce management with a vastly superior user experience, a much faster application, and significantly greater business value.
In addition to being named one of Deloitte’s Companies-to-Watch, Dayforce has been named the winner of the Top HR Product of the Year by Human Resource Executive® magazine, the winner of the Microsoft BlueSky Award for Innovation Excellence, and one of the CIX Top 20 Innovative Companies. For more information, please visit www.dayforce.com.

Get Free training With Great WP7, Silverlight & Azure Sessions at Microsoft Mix11

 

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This year’s Microsoft Mix 11 conference is taking place from April 12th to 14th in Las Vegas.

I have 4 sessions proposals that have been selected for voting by the Mix panel, and with your help, I can present them at the conference for you to see in person or for free on-demand shortly afterwards.

As well as from commercial projects and published articles/shows, these sessions are based on my expertise as a Microsoft MVP for Silveright, a workshop trainer for Microsoft on the Windows Azure Platform & the developer of the first WP7 training bootcamp delivered across North America.

To vote for sessions by Feb 4th…

For each of the web links below, click on each one and then vote by first clicking on all of the animal pictures of the indicated type (usually cats awww) and then clicking “vote for this session”.  Repeat for each of the 4 links.  The picture clicking thing is to make sure you are human and not a cheating robot of course.  If you select the wrong animation by mistake, you can click it again to unselect it.

Thank you for your interest and support!

 

0 to Phone App in 60 Minutes (based on a popular TechDays session)

Windows Phone 7 devices are out there. Will you have an application in the marketplace this year? The tools are free to download but it helps to get a jump-start to get moving. Do you understand the MVVM design pattern and how it applies to Windows Phone? Would you like to see how it’s done from scratch? Come along and see Microsoft MVP for Silverlight and leading WP7 trainer, Colin Melia, show you how to build an application step-by-step and answer questions along the way.

 

Getting to grips with MVVM on Windows Phone

You’ve downloaded the phone tools and created your first project. Now you’re venturing into the other project templates and have found all kinds of extra xaml files, bindings and classes. You’re in the world of MVVM architecture and you feel like you’ve fallen down the rabbit whole. The MVVM patterns in the templates are there to leveraged, but you need to know how to work with it. In this session Microsoft MVP for Silverlight and leading WP7 trainer, Colin Melia, will cover the MVVM concepts, the templates and go beyond viewing data to using commands and explaining key choices.

 

Windows Azure Platform as the backend for Windows Phone experiences

The launch of Windows Phone has been a source of much interest and developer enthusiam. There are 1,000s of appplications in the Windows Phone Marketplace. However, not many of those applications interact with a service created by the same developer. In this session, Microsoft MVP for Silverlight and leading WP7 trainer, Colin Melia, will show you how the Windows Azure Platform is a natural backend for Windows Phone experiences and how to use the various components.

 

On-Premise Data to Cloud to Phone – Connecting with Odata

You have corporate data to disseminate into the field, or service records that need to be updated in the field. How can you quickly make that data accessible from your on-premise system to Windows Phone users? Come take a look at OData with Microsoft MVP for Silverlight and leading WP7 trainer, Colin Melia, and see how you can expose data and services into the cloud and quickly connect to it from the phone, from scratch

 

These are 4 of just 14 sessions by Canadian-based developers highlighted by Microsoft Canada.  You can vote for all to 10 in total.

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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Get Ahead With In-Depth Developer Training & Early Device Access for Windows Phone 7

The current Windows Phone 7 rumour-mill currently has:

  • Sept 2010Oct 2010 Confirmed by Microsoft – Mobile Marketplace opens for Windows Phone 7 application submissions
  • Sep 16th 2010 Confirmed by Microsoft – Tools RTM
  • Oct 2010 – Windows Phone 7 devices retail in Europe
  • Nov 2010 – Windows Phone 7 devices retail in North America

Are you ready to ride this huge opportunity?

To be at the front of the line you’ll need these key things:

  • WP7 Developer Knowledge and beyond

    The developer tools for basic WP7 application are free and easy to start with.  That’s a great story for your fart application, but not for building fully cloud-integrated applications where you have to build cloud services and/or understand the cloud space, especially if you want to use notification services.  You’ll need in-depth knowledge for this and expertise extending all the way to developing for 3-screen & the cloud in some cases.  Plus, do you really have weeks to spend researching all this stuff?

  • Access to Windows Phone 7 devices to test your application(s)

    The developer tools for WP7 include an emulator which provides a great experience, far more useful that its predecessor for Windows Mobile 6.x, and even more graphically powerful that Virtual PC since it integrates with the host’s graphical hardware acceleration and multi-touch (if available).

    However, the tools will not allow you to get a good sense of performance, test under real network conditions, or get real data from built-in devices like the accelerometer, GPS, compass, and multi-touch (this last one would require a multi-touch capable developer machine).  If you are building a game (with XNA) for WP7, you definitely want to get your hands on some real hardware.

    Do you have access to a device before retail availability?

  • Assistance with getting your application into the marketplace and potential promotion

You can get help with these things by attending the Windows Phone 7 Boot Camp that I’m running Smile

Boot Camp participants get:

2 solid in-depth workshop days covering major topics in depth, samples, exercises and expertise in Microsoft technologies at Microsoft offices – see agenda below

50+ Demos/examples

40+ Samples

Priority invite to Microsoft Canada’s deployment clinics, for invaluable application testing on a real device.  Unless you have a relationship with Microsoft, this may be your only opportunity before retail device availability!!!

FREE go-to-marketplace support from Microsoft – you’ll be connected with a Microsoft evangelist to help you with getting your application(s) into the marketplace with potential for promotional assistance

Due to a shortage with devices, Microsoft Canada has withdrawn the loaner program (substituting the deployment clinics) and a device cannot be present in all bootcamp cities.

Want More?  How about, all this for less?  Use the promo code WP7BOOTCAMP to get $100 off.

 

A whole new market is approaching…  Register today.

If the package, location, timing or content does not suit you and/or you want a tailored training experience, go ahead and contact me.

Current Agenda

Day 1 Day 2

Getting Started

Tools

Hardware

Emulator

Architecture

Application Types

Services

 

Visual Basics

XAML

Controls

Layout

Drawing, Brushes, Styles, Resources, Media

 

Applications

Stack

Model

Projects

Navigation

Threading

 

Builds & Deployment

Debug

XAP Files

Deployment

Localisation

Porting, Compatibility & Re-use

 

Application Layouts

Orientation

Transforms

Hubs, Panorama & Pivot

 

Data Binding

Essentials, Hierarchies, Lists

Converters

LINQ

 

Data Services

Service Proxy

WebClient

HttpWebRequest

OData

Design

Guide

Theming

Blend

MVVM

Control Templates

 

Platform Integration

Launchers

Choosers

Application Bar

Settings

 

Device I/O

SIP

Touch

Accelerometer

Location Services

Network

Maps

 

Storage

Isolated Storage

Perst

Cloud

Syncing

 

Application Lifecycle

In-depth

 

Notification Services

In-depth

 

Performance

 

Web Integration

Browser Control

Integration

 

XNA

Basics

 

Marketplace

Registration

Requirements

Process

Quick-Start Primer Video to Windows Phone 7 Tools, Data Access and Notification Services

I recently did a 1-hour screencast interview with Carl Franklin for Dot Net Rocks TV.

It’s a good primer for a few areas of Windows Phone 7 developer.

20100720 video

If you are looking for in-depth rapid training on developing for Windows Phone 7 then you should consider registering for this first major boot camp running across Canada.

Windows Phone 7 Boot Camp

The recording was done using the April refresh of the tools.  I’ll be following up with another one soon using the Beta tools to explain things like themes and application life cycle in more detail.

We covered the tools…

20100720 tools

The emulator…

20100720 emulator

Project types…

20100720 project types

 

Visual Studio Tools…

20100720 vstools

Mapping Applications…

20100720 mapapp

Data Binding/Access… to a service exposed through Windows Azure AppFabric Service Bus

20100720 dataaccess

Notification Services which is essential to building applications that receive information from the cloud.

 

20100720 notification

Hopefully the video gives you a good sense of what is possible, and if you want this speed of knowledge transfer or faster… go for the bootcamp.

Windows Phone 7 Boot Camp

Windows Azure Loves Open Source at Make Web Not War Conference

Microsoft held it’s Make Web Not War conference in Montreal on May 27th 2010.

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I was asked to present on the Windows Azure Platform for a CodeFest audience consistly largely of open source developers.

Here’s the Windows stack using Azure across from the LAMP stack.

20100606 cross-plat

I discussed how to mix and match a these things, so here’s a summary of some of the interoperability points and resources mentioned at the event.

Windows Azure Storage accessible from .NET and PHP

Windows Azure storage is a hugely scalable storage system with a REST-based interface accessible to systems that can talk XML over TCP.

As well as client libraries for .NET applications, there’s also the Windows Azure SDK for PHP (CTP on CodePlex – BSD License).

Windows Azure Hosting & Tools for ASP.NET apps built with Visual Studio and PHP apps bulit with either Eclipse or the Command Line

Windows Azure provides for scalable hosted applications running within the IIS platform (including FastCGI-enabled interpreters like PHP) as well as native Win32 applications (which could include your open server application listening on TCP ports).

Of course there’s a set of Visual Studio tools for developing ASP.NET applications on IIS.  There’s also Windows Azure Tools for Eclipse (windowsazure4e.org) for developing your PHP application in Eclipse to run under IIS FastCGI on Windows Azure.

And if you don’t want to use an IDE there’s also Windows Azure Command-line Tools for PHP (CTP on CodePlex – BSD License).

SQL Azure accessible from .NET and PHP applications

SQL Azure (talking just minutes – seriously like 3 minutes -  to set up a database in the cloud) provides reliable database storage in the cloud.

You can access this from ADO.NET and ODBC clients using the TDS+SSL protocol.  You can also use the SQL Server Driver for PHP 1.1 (or the 2.0 CTP) to access your cloud database from a PHP application.

MySQL hosted on Windows Azure

Yep, there’s a solution for that too – see the Solution Accelerator for MySQL & PHP on Azure

Navigating Bus Stops with Open Data and Windows Phone 7

In a recent post I talked about Bringing Azure+OData+Silverlight Goodness to Open Data Apps in Ottawa.  To do this, I imported standardized transportation data (that I found for the city of Ottawa) into a SQL database and exposed it as OData using WCF Data Services on an Entity Framework model.  I subsequently published a sample database to Windows Azure to demonstrate use of the data in an adapted Silverlight application that uses the Open Data Application Framework.

The OData information is accessible through a RESTful interface.  Here are the root entities displayed in IE.

20100606 odata

Last Thursday evening, I did a presentation on building Silverlight applications for Windows Phone 7.  Given that there’s an OData client library CTP available for Windows Phone 7, I knocked up a Bus Stop ulity application to demonstrate to my audience.  To get started with Silverlight applications on WP7 you can download the free developer tools (vs. the designer tools which are extensions for Blend 4 RC currently) currently the April CTP version.  The developer tools also include the XNA Game Studio for creating XNA-based games.

Here’s are the two main features I set up…

20100606 menu

Do create my menu I went with the list-based project template and then replaced the listbox content with manual entries with tag values.  These tags are then used as the names of the XAML files to load.  Quick and dirty, but it works…

20100606 listcode

Selecting the first option brings up a screen that allows the user to enter a bus stop (by its number as displayed on bus stop signs in Ottawa) and then lookup the trip heading and time of the the next 10 buses stopping at that stop.

When declaring the text box to enter the number, the attribute settings InputScope="Number" is used to default the standard input panel to the number entry mode.  The "TelephoneNumber" value may have also been acceptable (to bring up the phone keypad keyboard with bigger numbers) since many people request this kind of information using their telephone and its keypad.

20100606 entry

The application then uses a proxy class derived from DataServiceContext (and created using the DataSvcUtil command line tool since the WP7 add-in for VS2010 Pro does not currently provide an Add Service Reference option on a project) to query the OData service (running locally or on Azure).

The results come back and use the very flexible ListViewItem control (with its Metro styling) to display the results, making use of Layout="TextAndDetails".

20100606 times

If the user had gone to the other main menu option, they’d be presented with this screen.

20100606 nearby

This shows their ‘current’ location and the bus stops nearby.  Again this calls the OData service using filter parameters to bring back only bus stops that are within a 1km block of the location.  The map shown is the Bing Maps Silverlight control set to Road mode – the same one as used for desktop Silverlight apps – and the bus stop icons are added as children to the map control with attached properties specifying their locations.  The navigation controls where turned off to maximise space, so I added two Windows Phone 7 Applicaiton Bar to allow the user to zoom in and out.  The user can pan around with their finger of course.  The bus stop icons could easily be made actionable in some way. 

Since the WP7 emulator has no GPS, the location was hard coded in.  One of the samples in the WP7 SDK shows how to use Reactive Extensions to simulate location information in a way that is easily switched later to real device data. 

While this kind of application needs fairly accurate location data, others don’t.  Perhaps just knowing the city would be enough if one had just landed in that city and wanted general information.  The location APIs for WP7 allow the developer to easily make a choice between slow and accurate (while the device GPS locks on to satellites) or quick and less accurate (by using available Wifi and mobile network information in conjunction with Microsoft’s cloud-based location services).

Once WP7 devices are released, and the city officially publishes this data set I’d expect a fleshed out and polished application of this kind to be quickly available ;-).