October, 2009

  • DaveDev

    Getting Geeky with Windows 7! My house party and visiting Best Buy on launch day.


    Best Buy Windows 7 Launch

    One of the great things about working at Microsoft is the company has so many customers, regardless of what your role is people understand at least who it is you work for.  I work with developers and designers day to day on our application development stack but my relatives all still consider me the windows guy.  If there is a problem that needs troubleshooting I am the family help desk.  I think a lot of people in our industry can relate and it only gets worse when you work for the company that makes Office and Windows. 

    Windows releases are always big and this was my first chance to see the launch of a new operating system from behind the scenes.  Having been able to present to a technical audience at numerous launch events I was looking forward to getting regular people’s views on Windows 7.  

    Best Buy Windows 7 Launch Day

    On Thursday, October 22nd launch I quickly headed out to my local Best Buy to help answer questions and see what the buzz was like.

    The first thing I wanted to see was what the retail product versioning was like.  In a recent C-Net.com interview Steve Ballmer mentioned that consumers would be seeing simplified versions at retail stores.  The lesson had been learned from Vista and consumers wanted a simplified sku base and also where each upgrade version included the features of its predecessor.  I am happy to report that the team followed through with Steve’s promise.

    Pretty much every laptop and desktop (with the exception of the Netbooks running Starter edition) ran Windows 7 Home Premium.  For customers who needed to upgrade to Professional (ability to join domains) or Ultimate (BitLocker and BitLocker to Go) the Best Buy crew had a process in place to do it right there in the store.  I took a picture of the display explaining the differences between the three versions and the upgrade prices below.

    Windows 7 Upgrades

    This was really great to see!  Customers were getting a complete Windows 7 experience out of the box with Home Premium on almost all the machines and if they required additional features for their workplace they could get it installed right at checkout.

    The next question that came to my mind was what about all those people who had recently purchased PCs and were wondering if they were eligible for a Windows 7 upgrade?  Great news on that front as well.  I can’t imagine my relatives sticking in a Windows 7 upgrade disk that HP or Dell shipped them and then completely migrating their PC over (in fact I’ve been asked to do this already as an early Christmas present).  Great news on that front as well!

    Windows 7 Loaded 

    As long as a customer purchased a PC between June 26th and October 21st they need only bring the PC into Best Buy and for $40 they will upgrade the entire PC to Windows 7.  No waiting for disks to be mailed from the computer manufacturer they simply only need stop by the store and they can get the upgrade. 

    Common Customer Questions

    So what kind of questions did I get asked as The Microsoft Guy in the store that morning.  I think it is interesting to note as much as we get swept up in technology on the Internet to everyday people it is still just a tool.  To my surprise over half of the people I met did not know it was Windows 7 release day at all.  They had just taken the time to go out and buy a new PC that day for various reasons.  That was a bit shocking to me but makes sense if you think about how many people out there are running Windows.

    Other common themes I heard…

    “I need to post pictures and videos to the web.”

    “I want to make my own movies.”

    “I need to watch DVDs on it.” (the only deal breaker I saw for Netbooks people were just not into having to buy an external DVD drive and worry about getting it setup)

    “Does it come with Office?”

    This was an eye opener for me too.  I am so focused on the tools to create applications (Silverlight, Expression Studio and Visual Studio) or how businesses can create better architecture solutions that I missed what the average retailer customer would be using Windows for.

    I can’t begin to tell you how happy the built in Windows DVD Maker made people that day.  Windows Live Movie Maker and Windows Security Essentials were also a big hit and every customer I talked to wanted it already installed on their machine. 

    What features did I demo?  Peak, Shake, the new Taskbar, Jumplists and Homegroups were all well received.  These hit home with a lot of folks who use windows day in and out and now have an easier way to get common tasks done.  Rather then go through each one of them check out this great site that includes 7 second clips of each feature and how people are using them.

     Windows 7 - 7 sec videos

    I also want to give big kudos to the Best Buy team.  Most of them had been up late the night before replacing every PC with the Windows 7 version.  This was a lot of machines!  Every desktop, laptop and netbook I saw (with the exception of one XP netbook) was running Windows 7!

    IMG_4326 IMG_4316

    This included the kiosk demos that run on all the machines when they were idle.  These were great covering a lot of the questions I listed above and going over how to publish pictures/video to the web and make movies.

    Another thing I noticed was that most of the machines when you would go up to them and click the mouse or touch the keyboard would go to an “overview mode”.


    This mode would show an Explore This Computer screen that listed the processor, ram, hard drive space, windows version and included software all in one place.  A very slick way to present answers to some of the most common questions people had.  Once these common questions around tasks and processing power were answered purchasing a new PC became more of a touch and feel experience.  I constantly saw people move from machine to machine until they found one that felt right.  For some that meant a certain sized screen while for others it meant the keys on the keyboard being a certain size or alignment.  It’s good to be a PC.

    House Party

    Yes I geeked out and signed up to be one of the House Party hosts.  It wound up being a great reason though for a lot of the guys in the neighborhood to get together, eat some pepperoni and cheese, and talk shop.

    Win7 House Party_AutoCollage_11_Images

    In fact I was surprised how many IT guys there are in my own neighborhood (thanks to my wife and everybody else's wives for connecting the dots for us).  We had SQL DBA’s, Technology Managers from Pharma companies and Microsoft Partners all represented.

    Due to the nature of the crowd I decided to dig a little deeper into Windows 7 instead of the general features you saw listed above.  I connected one of my HDTV’s to a new HP TouchSmart TX2z tablet I have.  This let me show off Windows 7 multi-touch in all its glory.  I raffled off the signed Windows 7 Ultimate and everybody who did not win left with a poster or goody bag.  Everybody enjoyed themselves and it gave my five year old (that’s her picture in the middle) a chance to show off her party planning and decorating skills.

    Happy Windows 7 launch!


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  • DaveDev

    Coding .NET (including VS2010) on a Netbook


    Why a Netbook?

    Several weeks ago I decided to go out and purchase a Netbook.  A Gateway LT Series Netbook to be exact.  Why you ask? 


    For starters Netbooks are the fastest growing pc market and more customers will be using those netbooks over the coming months.  As a developer I was curious to see what all the latest web technologies would run like on it (Silverlight, Flash, HTML5, AJAX, and jQuery). 

    What would Silverlight run like with a single core 1.2 GHz processor and only 2 gigs ram?  Would I be able to do Fullscreen HD video streaming like on Netflix (the answer is yes).  I was curious too if it would be possible to use it as a development machine.   Wouldn’t it be cool to have a portable two pound dev station with me at all times? 


    Windows 7 Ultimate and will it Blend?

    The first thing I did was throw Windows 7 Ultimate RTM on it and I’m happy to report it runs surprisingly well.  There have been some rumors going around that only the starter edition would be available to install on Netbooks.  That is simply not the case and you can install any version you wish. 

     Blend3 Windows7logo_3

    What about Visual Studio, Expression Blend, Silverlight and WPF? The answer is yes!  At the recent Harrisburg MSDN Mid-Atlantic Roadshow I did the entire show on the Netbook over a tethered 3g connection and Silverlight streaming/deepzoom both ran flawlessly.

    Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 was also announced for download today.  I was curious to see if I could get these new bits working on the Netbook.  I quickly logged onto MSDN and pulled down VS2010 Beta 2 Ultimate.  Thanks to some speedy servers and FIOS I had the bits within 20 minutes.  I then opened up the ISO and copied the files to a local USB Key, the same key I used to install Windows 7 on the Netbook.  The entire process took about 45 minutes.


    A video is worth a thousand pictures

    When talking about performance I think it is better to actually see it than me throw up some benchmarks on my blog.  So I put together a little Screencast for you.  In addition I wanted to record and edit the video itself entirely using just the Netbook.

    To do that I used the Expression Encoder 3 Screen Capture tool and Windows Live Movie Maker.  It definitely stretched the little guy to the limit and you’ll see it bog down a bit when I’m running the screen capture tool and a couple of the dev tools at the same time.  Realistically you wouldn’t be running a screen capture app and the dev tools at the same time but I show you how to get some more performance when doing that as well.

    Here is what you’ll see running on the Netbook in the video:

    • Windows 7 Ultimate
    • Windows Experience Index
    • Visual Studio 2008
    • Visual Studio 2010
    • Expression Blend 3.0
    • Expression Encoder 3.0 Screen Capture Tool


    Watch the video here on Channel9.  Bonus points if you can name the font I used for the overlays in Movie Maker. ;-)


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  • DaveDev

    MSDN Mid-Atlantic Roadshow new dates announced! Arming you with Windows 7 and Silverlight keys to success.


    It was great meeting a lot of you over the past few months and I feel lucky to be part of the communities we have here.  September kicked off my first roadshow and I didn’t know what to expect.  From the open Q&A, hallway conversations, to the number of people who left ready to install Expression Studio 3 the enthusiasm was all around.  Thank you!  I was honored by the great evaluation feedback you gave me and hope to continue deliver top notch content. 

    Developers live in the real world

    Your feedback also confirmed what I had always thought important for these events.  Longer sessions on a single topic, real world examples, and a big picture view on why you would even want to look at the technology.  In a nutshell having speakers who have walked in your shoes and who realize developers don’t work in a bubble.  Understanding we all have to convince the very groups we work with sometimes on the benefits of a new technology before we even click that Install icon.


    I was on the other side of that podium listening to a Microsoft speaker talk about the new shiny stuff mere months ago.  All fired up and then I would go back to my cubicle at work and find myself programming plain old html again.  What is wrong with this picture?  It was a vicious cycle and something I hoped to change for you by providing not just the what’s new but the how do I impress my boss/business and how do I get the technology approved at my company?

    It is a theme I will continue to embrace and bring as we move to the end of the year and then into Visual Studio 2010/.NET 4.0 next year.  You can, and should, expect that same philosophy from the speakers you listen to.  It’s time we all moved beyond “hello world” and into being the IT partner the business has always asked of us.      

    Windows 7 is here but are we ready?

    The Windows 7 Philadelphia and Pittsburgh launches were a great time for me.  Who knew I’d have my name up in lights on the big screen some day?  The Dev tracks were packed with hundreds of people who came to get a glimpse of what was new in 7.  Many of you enjoyed the Multi-Touch demos as well as diving into how to code some of the Windows 7 specific features like trigger start services, jump lists and the new taskbar.  You also asked me if I  would be doing a local recap.  


    I am proud to announce the next MSDN Mid-Atlantic Roadshow kicking off this November!  I will follow the same style I did at the previous roadshow and attempt to bring you all real world examples that go beyond hello-world.  Whether this includes commercial off the shelf software already using the great new Windows 7 features or practical applications of Multi-Touch on the web (think Silverlight for Visually impaired).  I’m hoping to give you a 105 minutes you’ll enjoy and be able to use. 

    Here is how the day will pan out:

    What’s new in Windows 7 for Developers

    Windows 7 has many improvements in both performance and user interface that you can take advantage of in your applications.  This session will give an overview of how to code in those features users will expect such as Libraries, the new Taskbar, and Jump Lists.  We will also look at taking advantage of several performance improvements like Trigger Start services and the new Windows Troubleshooter.  Finally, we will look at adding some of the new interface options available such as Multi-Touch and the Ribbon Menu to your existing applications.

    Level: 200  | Length: 1:45

    My fellow road showers will also being doing the same for Silverlight.  A longer, single session with a focus this time on data and networking.

    Data Access and Network Options in Silverlight

    Wondering about the most effective way of getting data into your Silverlight application? Trying to sort out the different options available? Then this session is for you. We will provide an overview of the different networking and data access techniques available in Silverlight. We’ll show examples of using each of these technologies, and along the way, we’ll also look at the role these technologies can play in other .NET applications, as well as look at the Sample Data feature in Expression Blend 3, and how to transition from Sample Data to production data in your applications.

    Level: 200 | Length: 1:45

    Where to sign up?

    You can sign up using the registration links below and  Each event will from 1pm to 5pm with refreshments being served.

    City Date Register
    Total 5 locations
    Pittsburgh, PA 11/12/2009  Register
    Harrisburg, PA 12/1/2009  Register
    Reston, VA 12/3/2009  Register
    Roanoke, VA 12/8/2009  Register
    Malvern, PA 12/10/2009  Register

    Hope to see you there!

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