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    How can a student in Canada get Windows 8 RTM and Visual Studio 2012?

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    Windows 8 Start ScreenHow can students in Canada get their hands on Windows 8 RTM and Visual Studio 2012 so they can start building cool apps?

    On August 1st the Windows team announced they had completed the release to manufacturing (RTM) of Windows 8. The blog announced that developers could download the final version on August 15th with an MSDN subscription. But what about students on Dreamspark? Well students at schools who have subscriptions to Dreamspark premium are in luck, as of August 25th they can start downloading Windows 8 as well!

    If you haven’t explored the joys of Dreamspark yet, let me get you started so you can download Windows 8 and more!

    • How do I log into Dreamspark?
    • How do I download the software?
    • What if I don’t have Dreamspark Premium?

    How do I log into Dreamspark?

    If you have Dreamspark premium your school will have some sort of portal where you can login, for example, these are the portals for Concordia and Carleton University.

    Tip: I found these by doing a Bing search for “Dreamspark”,  “MSDN”  and the university names. MSDN AA or MSDN Academic Alliance is the former name of Dreamspark Premium

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    Somewhere on your school portal you will find a link to login or to go to the Software Library. You will be prompted for a username and password. This will be your university email and password. Do not include the domain name in the email (e.g. for SusanIbach@Carleton.ca my username would be SusanIbach.

    How do I download the software?

    After you log in you’ll be redirected to the Dreamspark webstore. Where you will see a list of all the cool software you can download.

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    If you want to develop Windows 8 apps, you will want Microsoft Windows 8 and Microsoft Visual Studio 2012, but go ahead and explore some of the other choices, this is a fun place to explore and try all sorts of great tools like Expression Studio for doing User Interface design, Visio to do your flowcharts and UML diagrams, or SQL Server so you can become a database guru!

    To get up and running with Windows 8, just select Windows 8 and you’ll be brought to a screen where you can choose whether you want the 32-bit or 64-bit versions, you can also choose whether you want the French or English edition.

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    Select Add to Cart for the version of the software you prefer, and then you go to the checkout

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    When you choose Check Out you are brought to the End User license Agreement. Do take time to read the restrictions, you will notice that under the No Commercial Use it does specifically say “You may however submit software programs that you create using the Student Subscription software to Microsoft app stores, including for revenue.” So yes you can use the software you download from Dreamspark to create apps and publish them on the Windows marketplace and you are compliant with the license agreement.

    You will be asked to complete order information including your name and email address, and the option of subscribing to stay up to date on the latest Microsoft events and promotions (not a bad idea, sometimes we have some pretty awesome promotions!)

    Finally you will get a window where you can choose to Start the Download of the software and you will get a product key to activate the software. You will be downloading an .ISO file, so you will need to burn it onto a CD, or find software that opens the .iso.

    Tip: Once you have installed Windows 8 on your laptop, you’ll be able to open .iso and .vhd files directly! One more reason to download and install Windows 8 !

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    What if I don’t have Dreamspark Premium?

    Is your school entitled to Dreamspark Premium?

    If your school does not have Dreamspark Premium and you are part of a technical program like Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or Information Technology, as examples, you should talk to your professor and see about getting your school subscribed to Dreamspark Premium, they can find the information on how to apply here.

    Does your school have Dreamspark Standard?

    If you have Dreamspark Standard, you can download Visual Studio, but you won’t be able to download the software for OS like Windows 8. So your best bet is to download Visual Studio and then download the Windows 8 90 day evaluation.

    I am a student but my school doesn’t have any sort of Dreamspark subscription at all!

    Just about any school can apply for Dreamspark Standard, so ask your teachers to look into applying here. But I realize not every school in Canada has Dreamspark (yet). So, you can email godevmental@microsoft.com and provide us with evidence that you are a student in Canada, and we can provide you with a code to access Dreamspark standard. This will get you lots of great software (like Visual Studio!) to help you get coding, but you won’t be able to download the OS software like Windows 8. That is reserved for Dreamspark Premium members. You can still download a 90 day trial of Windows 8 here.

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    HOW TO MAKE YOUR WINDOWS 8 APP MORE …WELL … MORE WINDOWS 8!

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    planningYou’re building great functionally into your apps but don’t forget to the features that will make it shine on Windows 8.

    Some of windows 8 features are new concepts. As developers we need to become familiar with them and learn when and how to use them. Windows 8 has new features such as contracts, personalization, and different views. Using these features will make your app more metro and will help it shine, some of these concepts require mastery to get published in the store. In this post I’m going to give you a checklist of features you should think about during design and development on the Windows 8 platform.

     

    Windows 8 life cycle

    lifecycleIt's important to understand the life cycle process of windows 8 and handle this in your code. When a user taps on an application to launch it, it is activated and enters Running mode. If the user closes the application it will be terminated. But what if the user user hits the Windows key and launches another application, or simply navigates to another application? In this case, the previous application will go to Suspended mode. In suspended mode, the application does not consume any CPU,but it will lose state, so you may need to add code to remember state when the app enters the suspended state. You will also want to add code in the Activated event handler to reload state when the user returns to the application

     

             

    Contracts

                 
    Search
    Implement search contract
    Let your users quickly search through your app's content from anywhere in the system, including from within other apps. And vice versa. For more info, see Adding search.
    Share Implement Share contract
    Let your users share content from your app with other people through other apps, and receive shareable content from other people and apps, too. For more info, see Adding share.
    play to Implement Play To contract
    Let your users enjoy audio, video, or images streamed from your app to other devices in their home network.For more info, see Streaming media to devices using Play To.
    filepicker File picker and file picker extensions
    Let your users load and save their files from the local file system, connected storage devices, HomeGroup, or even other apps. You can also provide a file picker extension so that other apps can load your app's content.

    For more info, see App contracts and extensions.

    Different views

    Full Full Screen  View - App fills entire screen
    Snip Snap View  - App is snapped to a narrow region of the entire screen
    Fill Fill View - App fills remaining screen area not occupied by the app in the snapped state.
    IC536102 - Copy Landscape View
    IC536102 Portrait View

    For more info, see Supporting multiple views and Choosing a layout.

    Engaging the user

    notifcation Toast notifications
    Let your users know about time-sensitive or personally relevant content through toast notifications and invite them back to your app even when your app is closed.Learn more about tiles, badges, and toast notifications. move to the 3rd app
    livetiles Secondary tiles
    Promote interesting content and deep links from your app on the Start screen, and let your users launch your app directly into a specific page or view.Learn more about secondary tiles.
    metro App tiles
    Provide fresh and relevant updates to entice users back into your app.Learn more about app tiles.
    more up
    animation Animation
    Use our library of animations to make your app feel fast and fluid. Help users understand context changes and tie experiences together with visual transitions. Learn more about animating your UI.

    Personalization

    settings Settings contract
    Let your users create the experience they want by saving app settings. Consolidate all of your settings under one roof, and users can configure your app via a common mechanism that they are already familiar with.Learn more about Adding app settings.
    Roaming Roaming
    Create a continuous experience across devices by roaming data that lets people pick up a task right where they left off, and preserves the UX they care most about, regardless of the device they're using. Make it easy for users to use your app everywhere, from their kitchen family PC to their work PC to their personal tablet, by maintaining settings and states with roaming.Learn more about Managing application data and see Guidelines for roaming application data.
    livetiles User tiles
    Make your app more personal to your users by loading their user tile image, or let the users set content from your app as their personal tile throughout Windows.

    Device capabilities

    touch Touch gestures
    Let your users connect devices, by physically tapping them together, to light up experiences where you expect multiple users to be physically nearby (multiplayer games). Learn more about proximity and tapping.
    camera Cameras and storage devices
    Connect your users to their built-in or plugged-in cameras for chatting and conferencing, recording vlogs, taking profile pics, documenting the world around them, or whatever activity your app is great at. Learn more about Accessing content on removable storage.
    Accelometer Accelerometers and other sensors
    Devices come with a number of sensors nowadays. Your app can dim or brighten the display based on ambient light, or reflow the UI if the user rotates the display, or react to any physical movement. Learn more about sensors.
    geolocation Geolocation
    Use geolocation information from standard web data or from geolocation sensors to help your users get around, find their position on a map, or get notices about nearby people, activities, and destinations.Learn more about geolocation.

    Other

    semantic Semantic zoom if you have more than 4-5 groups.
    Semantic zoom makes scanning and moving around a view fast and fluid, especially when the view is a long panning list.
    offline1 Offline mode
    Users to have better experience using your app, then your app should supports an offline mode where your application will load previous data.
    appbar2 Commands for a particular view/ page are in the App bar
    The app bar contains transient access to commands relevant to a particular view.
    screen sizes Scale to different  screens resolution
    Design an app UI that looks great on devices of various sizes—from a small tablet screen, to a medium laptop screen, and all the way up to a large desktop or all-in-one screen. See Guidelines for scaling to screens.

     

    For more information on what to consider when designing a Windows 8 app refer to the Detailed UX guidelines for Metro style apps. Happy coding!

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    Building a Windows 8 app? Pick your favorite flavour!

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    IMG_3158When building an app for Windows 8, you have three programming models to choose from: .NET, HTML/CSS JavaScript, or C++

    My husband likes cherry ice cream. My son likes chocolate. I like mint chocolate chip. Our favorite ice cream shops sell all three flavours, so we all leave happy!

    When I started coding, I quickly discovered that a big part of development was making choices. I also discovered myself frustrated when working with tools and platforms that did not give me choices and forced me down a specific path.

    When Microsoft first released .NET, I liked having the option to code in VB or C#. Though many hard core programmers scoffed at VB, it was a language familiar to many and supporting it allowed more programmers to move to the .NET platform without having to learn a new programming language. If you were a C programmer you tended to gravitate to C#, if you were a Visual Basic programmer you coded in VB .NET

    If you want to develop for Windows 8, you have no less than three options to choose from. If you are a web developer you can bring your HTML/CSS & JavaScript skills straight to Windows 8. If you are a hard core programmer you can build an app with C++. If you’ve already been building Windows Phone apps, or coded with Silverlight, or ASP.NET apps you can build an app with C # or VB .NET

    HTML/CSS and JavaScript

    Websites have been built with HTML, CSS and JavaScript for years. In the past few years the trend has been towards HTML5. Microsoft started to enter the HTML5 world with Internet Explorer 9. IE9 added a lot of support to HTML5 features, and IE10 took it even further. Windows 8 also continues the trend of supporting HTML5. If you haven’t explored it yet, HTML5 is more than just new markup tags like <video> and <audio> it includes improvements to CSS (like media queries to handle different screen sizes) and updates to JavaScript. HTML5 has been gaining in popularity in the web space because it does not require any plug ins and every year more HTML5 features are being supported by more browsers.

    If you’ve been coding HTML, HTML5, CSS or JavaScript you can use those same programming skills to build a Windows 8 app. Check out the Roadmap for Windows 8 apps using JavaScript to learn more.

    C++

    I admit it, C++ scares me a little bit, but it’s a great programming language. I just haven’t spent much time using it. It’s very popular for gaming, and with DirectX and C++ you can build great games for Windows 8. (You can build great games with HTML5/CSS as well!) If you are a C++ programmer you can build apps for the Windows 8 store using C++. Check out the Roadmap for Windows 8 apps using C++ to learn more.

    C# and Visual Basic .NET

    If you are already familiar with the .NET framework, you may find it easiest to develop your apps in C# or VB .Net. For more information on getting started with Windows 8 apps using .NET check out the Roadmap for Windows 8 apps using C# or Visual Basic. By the way, if you’ve already coded with Java, C# will seem very familiar.

    So which is best?

    What do you think I am going to answer? Yup, you guessed it. The answer is: “It depends.” There are always situations where one programming language presents an advantage over another, sometimes it is just a question of personal preference. What I do want to make clear is that Windows 8 includes an incredible array of built in functionality you can access in your code through APIs which we refer to as Windows Runtime or WinRT. This library which allows you to do cool stuff like capture a picture from a webcam or display a file picker, can be accessed by any of the programming models listed above. Thanks to some clever code behind the scenes, you use C# to call the API from C# code, you use JavaScript to call the API from JavaScript code, and you guessed it, you use C++ to call the API from C++ Code. So regardless of the model you choose, you will have access to the WinRT library and all its functionality.

    Pick the option which will get you up and coding the fastest. Windows 8 is here, and you can publish apps to the Windows 8 store. Download Windows 8 today and find your favorite flavor!

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    Cool cloud stuff for Java programmers

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    The Azure team has been adding new resources and features to make it easier to use put your Java code in the cloud

    It still seems weird to be writing about Java on a Microsoft blog. I guess times have changed. Not only can you write Windows 8 apps with Javascript and HTML, you can also find some great new resources to help you put your Java out in the cloud using Windows Azure. Windows Azure is Microsoft’s cloud offering, and every time I turn around it seems like they’ve added more new features and capabilities.

    If you are a Java programmer and are thinking it’s time to move some of the code to the cloud, either because you want to access it from mobile apps, or because you want to start up a small business but you don’t want to go buy multiple servers to set up redundancy and backups, or maybe like an unnamed student I know, you discovered your internet provider doesn’t take kindly to you hosting from your basement.  There are lots of reasons to have Azure host your code, that’s not the point of this post, I want to show you some of the resources to help Java programmers specifically use Azure.

    Where do I get all the details?

    Your first stop should be the Windows Azure Java Developer Center, you’ll find information about developing and deploying Java apps on Windows Azure. I’ll highlight a couple of the resources in this blog, but there is a lot more at the developer center.

    How do I put a VM running Java in the cloud?

    If that’s what you want to do there are a couple of useful tutorials to help you learn how to do it on Azure. The tutorials will help you set up a VM, configure to run your code and move your code to the cloud. By the way, No, the VM doesn’t have to be Windows Server. Yes, you can use Linux! Check out these tutorials for more info.

    What SDKs are there to help me?

    Take your pick, we have three SDKs you can download here

    • Windows
    • Mac
    • Linux

    There’s also a good blog post on the Windows Azure team blog highlighting some of the new features for Java in Azure including some updates to the plugin for Eclipse and some authentication updates.

    I just typed the words Mac, and Java in a blog on a Microsoft site, weird. Well, as a programmer I have always been a big fan of software that gives me choices and lets me choose how I want to do something, so personally I like this trend. The programming divide just got a little smaller.

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    Imagine Cup 2013 is here – Canada let’s get coding!

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    The categories in Imagine Cup are more flexible than ever! Taking a project course? Building a game? Got a good business idea? Your code could take you to world finals in St. Petersburg Russia!

    They just announced the rules and competitions for Imagine Cup 2013 and this is the year to enter! We’re still sorting out what we are doing in Canada in terms of a local final (we’re doing our best to make sure there is a Canadian team at the worlds again). Whatever happens at the Canadian level the categories for entering are all driven by the world wide Imagine Cup rules and competitions that were announced today. So you can start planning your entry today. I’m really excited about some of the new categories! Let me give you a quick overview.

    Don’t forget we’ll be providing resources and having events to help you get coding on Windows 8, Windows Phone, and Azure, all skills you can use to enter Imagine Cup 2013!

    Games

    I have travelled across Canada and seen so many amazing games built by Canadian students. But last year you could only enter the games category if your game followed the Imagine Cup theme “Change the World”, there were also multiple game categories with different rules. This year it is simple, build an awesome game! Windows 8? Windows Phone? Xbox Indie Games? Kinect? You’ll be judged on whether your game is fun, innovative, the execution, and its business viability.

    Innovation

    Facebook and Microsoft, just two companies that were created by students, yet none of them would have qualified for the Imagine Cup because they weren’t tied to the theme of changing the world. Well with the innovation category we’re looking to see what amazing things you can do with Microsoft technology: Windows 8? Windows Phone? Azure? .NET? Kinect? Xbox Indie Games? You’ll be judged on innovation, impact, and execution. So that idea you’ve had in your head, that project you were planning for senior year? This is the year to enter it in Imagine Cup!

    World Citizenship

    This is similar to the Software Design category of years past. We’ve been blown away year after year by the ideas students have come up with and developed to help others using Microsoft technologies and we want that to continue! So the Citizenship category asks you what can you do to make the world a better place through technology. Entries are judged based on Impact, feasibility, and execution. Use Windows 8, Windows Phone, ASP.NET, Azure, you decide!

    The Challenges…

    Challenges are usually a slightly different sort of competition, but they can still get you to world finals in Russia! If you don’t have time to build a full project with a team, this might be the best way for you to compete.

    Windows 8 Challenge

    Pass the quiz on Windows 8 knowledge, build a Windows 8 app. Apps will be judged based on Topic definition and business viability, Windows Experience and User Design Experience, Windows 8 platform Originality and Innovation. The top 3 entries worldwide will fly to the world finals to show the world what they’ve accomplished!

    Windows Azure Challenge

    Pass the quiz on Windows Azure knowledge, build a cloud based app, and you could find yourself in St. Petersburg! Apps will be judged on Originality and Innovation, Windows Azure Platform Functionality and Solution Detailed Design, and User Experience. The top 3 entries worldwide will attend the world finals.

    Windows Phone Challenge

    Pass the quiz on Windows Phone knowledge, build a Windows phone app. Apps will be judged based on Innovation and feasibility, Solution design architecture and functionality, and utility and delight. The top 3 entries worldwide will fly to the world finals.

    Could you enter?

    Are you a student at least 16 years of age? Undergraduate or graduate student it doesn’t matter. You can have a team of up to 4 students and one faculty member. Find out more at the Imagine Cup website, this is the year to enter Imagine Cup! Find out more then Dream it! Build it! Live it!

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