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    Premiere Training on Mango – And it’s free!

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    If you find you aren’t busy on Tuesday, August 23 and Wednesday, August 24, you may be interested in attending free an online training event that will bring you to speed on how to build Mango apps. If you’re new to building apps on the Windows Phone 7 platform or a veteran looking to understand the new and exciting features of Mango you can add to your app, this training event will be worth your while.

    The event, Building Applications for Windows Phone Mango Jump Start, is literally a premier deep dive training event that is yours for the taking.  It’s being run by two of the most renowned Windows Phone 7 developers in the world, Rob Miles and Andy Wigley.  You may know them from the previous course they ran, the 19-Part Windows Phone 7 Jumpstart Training course which is available here on-demand for free.  This new course, however, is more than just a rehash and update of the content found in that first jumpstart.  This event will provide you with net-new material that will teach you how to build start of the art Windows Phone applications and games using the new features found in Windows Phone 7 Codename Mango.  Sounds interesting?  Well, here are the details:

    Day One August 23, 2011 | 8am-4pm PDT | Live online training

    • Building Windows Phone Apps with Visual Studio 2010
    • Silverlight on Windows Phone – Introduction
    • Silverlight on Windows Phone – Advanced
    • Using Expression to Build Windows Phone Interfaces
    • Windows Phone Fast Application Switching
    • Windows Phone Multi-tasking & Background Tasks
    • Using Windows Phone Resources (Bing Maps, Camera, etc.)

    Day Two — August 24, 2011 | 8am-4pm PDT | Live online training

    • Application Data Storage on Windows Phone
    • Using Networks with Windows Phone
    • Windows Azure and Windows Phone
    • Notifications on Windows Phone
    • XNA for Windows Phone
    • Selling a Windows Phone Application

    Despite this new training being free, you do need to register to attend, so be aware and register here.  Also, if you aren’t able to attend the live broadcast, don’t worry because it will be recorded and available on-demand after the fact.  I will create a follow up post when the on-demand content is available.

    So why should I attend this online training (or watch the event on-demand)?

    Well, one of the things that I and my colleagues have heard over and over again is that Windows Phone is the easiest platform to build for.  I can attest from my conversations with the Windows Phone product teams and engineers that that this is not by accident – making the easiest platform to build amazing mobile experience on was a significant goal for the team.  What this means is that you can get up to speed really quickly on building awesome apps and games on the Windows Phone platform and training courses like this one will allow you to leverage the unique features of the platform that you may not have even known existed and implement them in your app or game very quickly.

    Enjoy the training!

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    Free resources and SDK-mania!

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    What do Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Professional Edition and Windows Phone 7 Marketplace registration have in common? They both cost money. Money that you, as a student, don’t have to pay!

    As a reminder, DreamSpark (http://www.dreamspark.com) is your number one stop when it comes to getting great stuff at no cost. Simply verify your student identity through your school email and you’re all set to get free stuff including Windows Phone 7 Marketplace registration fee waiver. And guess what? After your fee is waived, you are free to monetize on the apps that you publish with no restrictions!

    Aside from free stuff that you can get as a student, keep in mind that SDKs for pretty much anything that you want to build are always free!

    The Windows Phone SDK gives the complete toolset required to begin developing for Windows Phone 7. In fact, right now you can also get the BETA SDK to test your Mango apps before the official release of Mango. And the best part, the two SDKs can be installed side by side so that you can continue your development with both streams. For those of you who develop games with XNA, keep in mind that XNA Game Studio is included with the SDK package.

    The Windows Azure SDK will get your development up in the cloud fast! The SDK includes the tools for Visual Studio, Visual Web Developer 2010 if you choose not to use Visual Studio, ASP.NET MVC, and more. Also included in the package is an emulator that can be used to test your cloud app without actually having to deploy it to the cloud.

    WebMatrix

    WebMatrix is a neat little tool that is designed to get your web project going minutes after installation. WebMatrix offers complete support for web development from project creation to deployment. You have quick access to the latest version of your favourite web applications including WordPress, Joomla! and DotNetNuke, Once you are ready to deploy your web project, you can do it directly from WebMatrix. To make the publishing process even easier, a hosting gallery is provided to help you find a hosting provider that is guaranteed to run your site smoothly.

    And there you have it. Great resources and tools designed to accelerate your development. Oh and, don’t bother pulling out your credit card as they are all free!

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    Mango RTMs! Now what?

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    A week and a half ago, we announced that Windows Phone 7 Codenamed “Mango” RTM’ed (RTM = Release to Manufacturing).  This is great news for a number of reasons because Mango represents a very enticing update to Windows Phone 7 that in essence puts it at least on par with our competitors from a phone capability and experience perspective and even exceeds our competitors in a number of areas.

    Some of you may have put Mango on your phone already (if you weren’t aware you could do this, check this link out as it provides some details around this process – just be aware that you need to be registered as a developer on the App Hub before you get an invite to the Beta program).

    Below is a refresher of some of the great end user features that Mango introduces to Windows Phone 7:

    • Multitasking: Even though Windows Phone 7 was always a multitasking OS, we have opened up the capability for third party vendors (that’s you!) to leverage multitasking in their apps
    • Internet Explorer 9: Yup, the browser engine on our phone is basically the same browser engine that sits on your desktop (if you’re using IE9, of course!).  Bring on the HTML 5 goodness!
    • Conversation View:  Have conversations with friends that span multiple services in a single thread.  Start on Facebook, switch to text message and then to something else.  It’s all reflected in a single conversation thread.
    • Office 365 and deeper SkyDrive Integration: Share your documents and photos in the cloud with ease (and securely)
    • Contact Groups: Have a lot of contacts in your address book? You can now group them into buckets (for example, family, co-workers, fantasy football league, etc.) which makes it easier to contact them either as a group or individually
    • Improved Live Tiles: Get even richer notifications from the tiles on your home screen, including the use of agents which can give you timely information based on location, alarms, etc.
    • Deep Linking into Apps: You can now pin an app to your homescreen and have that tile send you to a specific area of your app (for example, a flight status tracker for a flight you’re taking later that day within an airline app).
    • Local Scout: Integrate search results for your app with Bing search.  A great example for this would be a movie app integrating local scout search for finding movie theatres near you and displaying when the next showing of a movie your thinking of seeing starts

    There’s a whole lot more that users will love and that you as a developer can leverage, but you get the idea.

    So what exactly does the Mango RTM mean?

    Basically, the build for Mango has gone gold and has been sent to OEM manufacturers  to test and prepare their phones with the build for general availability to the consumer.  We have also sent this build to our carrier partners around the world so they can certify the build and prepare their infrastructure for Mango so that their Windows Phone 7 customers can download the update when the carrier is ready.  We are working very hard with both our OEM and carrier partners to make sure that Mango is available to consumers quickly and so far everything is very much on schedule so I’m pretty confident that anyone that wants Mango on their phone will be able to get it in a very reasonable timeframe.

    For those of you wondering when Mango will officially launch, there is no one answer as we will be launching Mango via the carriers and each carrier will have its own timeline (and before you ask, I don’t have any info as to when that will be for Rogers, Telus and Bell Smile). The general target we are all looking at globally, however, is later in the 2011 calendar year.

    By the way, any phone that has Windows Phone 7 on it today will be upgradeable to the Mango update.  And the update is free.

    As a developer what can I do?

    If you have apps in our Marketplace today, you may want to take advantage of the new features that Mango introduces to make your apps more attractive to your users.  Mango will be delivered to phones around the world soon, so if you want to take advantage of the new Mango features in your app by the time Mango is available to the average consumer, implementing some new functionality in your apps today would be a good idea.

    If you don’t have an app/game in the Marketplace today or you intend to build another app that takes advantage of Mango in time for launch, then I would suggest start coding your app/game soon! 

    If you are completely new to Windows Phone 7 and want to start from scratch, there are some Windows Phone 7 Developer tutorials listed in a post by my Microsoft colleague in Lebanon that teaches you how to build apps and games on the non-Mango platform.  Please note that these tutorials are still relevant in the Mango world (they just don’t take advantage of the features new to Mango) and are a great place to start!

    If you’re a seasoned veteran in creating Windows Phone 7 apps, then the you may want to take a look at the amazing list of resources that Larry Lieberman, a Senior Product Manager on the Windows Phone teamdocumented to get you started on Mango.  You can check out his post but I’ve also reproduced it here in case you don’t want to leave this site:

    1. Official Windows Phone Developer documentation on the MSDN Library. This is where we publish all of our official documentation. Quite a bit of new content was added here concurrent with our release of the new SDK, including:
      1. What’s new in the Windows Phone SDK
      2. Code Samples for Windows Phone; includes 26 new samples just for Mango
      3. Our ‘How To’ index. This is where we link to all of the specific pages within the documentation that explicitly spell out ‘how to’ implement a specific type of developer scenario. Many of these actually map to and spell out the execution of the sample code in the code samples. Some of the most interesting How To documents for Mango features include:
        1. SL & XNA together: How to: Combine Silverlight and the XNA Framework in a Windows Phone Application
        2. Profiler: How to: Improve the Responsiveness of Your Application Using the Windows Phone Profiler
        3. Fast App Switching: How to: Preserve and Restore Application State
        4. Database: How to: Create a Basic Local Database Application for Windows Phone
        5. Sockets: How to: Create and Use a TCP Socket Client Application for Windows Phone
        6. Sockets: How to: Create and Use a UDP Socket Client Application for Windows Phone
        7. Camera: How to: Create a Base Camera Application for Windows Phone
        8. Camera: How to: Extend the Pictures Hub with App Connect for Windows Phone
        9. Audio: How to: Play Background Audio for Windows Phone
        10. Periodic Agent: How to: Implement Scheduled Tasks for Windows Phone
        11. Motion API: How to: Use the Combined Motion API for Windows Phone
        12. Search Extensibility: How to: Extend Search with App Connect for Windows Phone
        13. Tiles: How to: Create, Delete, and Update Tiles for Windows Phone
    2. Windows Phone Mango Training Course. Now updated for beta 2 of the SDK. The Windows Phone Mango Training course, (like our previous training course for the initial release of Windows Phone 7), provides you step by step guidance, with complete sample code, demonstrating how to leverage the new developer scenarios in Windows Phone Mango to create a variety of real world applications. For the new training course, we decided to have the various labs all revolve around a single, more useful application, a task manager we called ‘Tidy’. You can get a video introduction to the ‘Tidy’ application here on Channel 9.
    3. The Inside Windows Phone Show on Channel 9. This show is our home on Channel 9, where we’ll provide you video walkthroughs of our new developer features, on a periodic basis. So far, we’ve conducted a number on Mango functionality, including the following:
      1. Inside the Mango Camera APIs
      2. Search Extras in Mango
      3. Sockets in Mango
      4. Inside the Mango Documentation
    4. App Hub Game Developer Resources, updated for Mango. This page is where we centralize all of our Windows Phone game developer resources, and we’ve updated it for Mango. Here you’ll find the following items, (among others):
      1. What’s new for games in Windows Phone OS 7.1
      2. Game State Management
      3. Migration Guide: From the Game Class to Silverlight/XNA
      4. Model Viewer Demo

    Finally, if you’re building a Mango app or game right now – I’d love to talk to you!  Give me a shout via the comments area of this post, use our contact page, or send me a note on Twitter!

    -Paul

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    Intern Voice: Mary’s first take on WP7 – Part 2

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    Hey guys!

    It’s been a couple more weeks with my WP7 and I must say that I am LOOOVIN’ it! Not going to lie, I am a bit surprised since I came into this with high expectations with my iPhone 4. :P I don’t want to bore you with the details so here are some highlights:

    What I love about my WP7:

    -Ability to personalize the display of the phone - the icons on my phone is a nice, bright pink! :)

    -Integration of contacts so I can easily see Facebook statuses, phone numbers, emails all in one place! AND I can post on someone’s FB wall with a few quick clicks!

    -Voice command is AMAZINGLY accurate!

    -Onscreen keyboard is as good as the iPhone 4 keyboard

    -Office is actually super handy!

    What took some getting used to:

    -Back button is really useful if you can remember what screen you were at last. I guess this is somewhat similar to the multitask function on iPhone 4, but it’s just a very different use.

    -Panorama displays of apps… you may end up going in circles if you don't pay attention! :P

    What I miss about my iPhone:

    -Cheap/free apps! (Ex. Fruit Ninja is $0.99 on iPhone vs. $3.49 on WP7! :()… but I am sure this is just a matter of time!

    -Retina display – Sorry but the Dell screen doesn’t even come close.

    -Simple, centralized syncing through iTunes (you saw my struggle with loading contacts…)

    -FaceTime (and two way camera) is a much funner way to talk than a voice call. I hope this feature will be possible on future phones! :)

    Bye for now!

    - Mary Lee

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    Intern Voice: Surviving student life with Microsoft's OneNote by Danielle Joseph

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    My name is Danielle Joseph and I’ve been a co-op at Microsoft for a little over 7 months now. This September I’ll be heading into my final 8 months of school, wrapping up 5 years at the University of Waterloo. My life at school can get hectic very quickly as I usually take on a full course load of 5 courses, work 2 part-time jobs, take extracurricular classes like yoga, and try to meet up with all of my friends and family whenever I can. No one seems to believe me when I tell them that my work terms are my most relaxing terms, while my school terms are the busiest. 

    While I’m in school, it seems like every minute of my day is planned and dedicated to something that needs to get done. Working at Microsoft, I also have a lot on the go, and usually have a lot of different projects for different managers that I need to keep track of. To manage everything properly, I thought I’d give OneNote a try. I’d never used the program before my co-op term here, but I had heard great things from other colleagues. It sure didn’t take me very long to fall completely in love with its ability to keep things organized, its simple manageability, its colour-coated tabs and so much more. Being a student at heart, all I could imagine was how great this tool would be not only in a professional environment, but while you’re in school. There are so many great features that allow students to keep their time managed, their projects on track, their photos with friends organized, lecture content uploaded, group projects edited...the list goes on and on.

    As a student using OneNote, you can create a notebook for different aspects of student life. For example, my current OneNote file has a notebook dedicated to each of the following: School, Work, Pictures, Music, Misc. With each of these notebooks, I can create pages. In my “School” notebook, I can create a page for each of the courses I’m studying, and create separate sheets for each lecture I attend. I can also open my notebooks from anywhere with its SkyDrive capabilities! So next time I forget my USB key at home, or lose it entirely (it happens more than I care to admit) and need to access my notebook from the library computers, I can just login to my Windows Live account and open it right up! Another great feature: copying text from picture files and pasting it as text format. My professors often upload PDF files of slides in a lecture, or photographs of pages scanned from the textbook. This is great, but if I want to add my own text to the slides it’s not so easy to change. With OneNote I just paste the picture file onto the page, highlight it, and then copy the text from the image. I can then paste it in my notes and make any changes I want.

    OneNote is honestly the best tool I’ve discovered while working at Microsoft. It’s kept me organized and helped me keep all of my files and ideas in one place. If you haven’t already played around with the program, I highly suggest giving it a try.

    - Danielle Joseph

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