A Canuck In The Machine

Mark Relph - Senior Director - Startup and VC Team

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    Photo stitch from the New York Windows 7 Launch Event


    Thanks to my colleague Dan for sharing this stitched image from the launch event (made with a Canon 7D and Windows Live Photo Gallery)


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    Amazon announces The Kindle Reader For PC at the launch of Windows 7!



    I had the pleasure of being here in New York with Amazon as we announced the Kindle Reader for PCBrandon over at the windowsteamblog.com has a good overview of the application as well.  It’s a free app that brings the Kindle experience to Windows and it is optimized for Windows 7.  That means not only do you get access to the Amazon Kindle book store and can synch with your other devices using Whispersynch, but you get Jumplists and Touch integration as well. 


    With Kindle for PC, readers can take advantage of the following features:

    • Purchase, download, and read hundreds of thousands of books available in the Kindle Store
    • Access their entire library of previously purchased Kindle books stored on Amazon’s servers for free
    • Choose from over 10 different font sizes and adjust words per line
    • Add and automatically synchronize bookmarks and last page read
    • View notes and highlights marked on Kindle and Kindle DX
    • Zoom in and out of text with a pinch of the fingers (Windows 7 users only)
    • Turn pages with a finger swipe (available in a future release for Windows 7 users)

    The beta will launch in November and the plan is to make the app international.  Check out the video:

    Kindle for PC Demo on Windows 7
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    Posted to the Windowsteamblog.com – Compatibility Center and Upgrade Advisor


    Check out my post on the Windowsteamblog about 2 really important tools for anyone considering upgrading.


    “There is a lot of excitement for the launch of Windows 7 and we know many of you are looking for information as you think about upgrading. To help you, we are announcing the availability of two great tools today – the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor and the Windows 7 Compatibility Center.

    Both these tools are available at www.windows.com/compatibility- your place to go for any Windows 7 compatibility questions you might have. Not only will you find links to the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor and Windows 7 Compatibility Center, you’ll also get compatibility help from experts in the Microsoft Answers Forums and the Windows Help & How-to team.”


    Windows 7 Compatibility Center Results

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    The Canadian Crew Shows Off Cool Windows 7 Hardware…..


    Joey and the crew showing off to the press as we get ready for Windows 7… [From Global Nerdy]

    Joey devilla, standing beside a "Windows 7: Welcome!" sign

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    Compatibility & Ecosystem Momentum For Windows 7


    [This post also appears on WindowsTeamBlog.com]

    Hi, it’s Mark Relph again from the Windows Ecosystem Team here at Microsoft. Over the summer, our team posted a series of updates on our progress overall and with hardware and software vendors. In advance of the launch of Windows 7, I wanted to provide an update on our progress to ready the ecosystem of hardware and software products that work with Windows. While Windows 7 is designed to be compatible with the most popular hardware and software products you use every day. Compatibility is critical and we’ve continued our focus on making sure our hardware and software partners have all the resources they need to test and build on Windows 7. We have spent a lot of time with these partners in the last few months, including hosting more than 60 application compatibility labs, 6 logo fests, and outreach to partners in more than 93 different countries. In the Windows Ecosystem Readiness Program alone we now have over 50,000 developers from 17,000 companies using our technical resources to ready their products for Windows 7. This is translating into great momentum and real results:

    • We have been hard at work partnering with vendors to confirm the compatibility of thousands of products to work with Windows 7. 
    • As seen in our Windows 7 Logo Program update, while many products just work, we have thousands of partners meeting a higher quality bar by receiving the Compatible with Windows 7 Logo more than 6,000 hardware and software products. For example, we have more applications with the Windows 7 software logo today than we had at launch for any previous release of Windows.
    • On the hardware side, 9 out of 10 beta testers and early adopters of Windows 7 have the drivers available for all hardware devices in and connected to their PCs.
    • Here are examples of two partners, Sansa and Roxio who are ready for Windows 7 as part of the Ready.Set.7 program:



    All of this activity by partners and Microsoft goes to ensuring that customers continue to have a breadth of choice of great products available on Windows 7. To help customers find compatible products, we will unveil a new Windows Compatibility Center Website for the launch of Windows 7. We will have more on this as we get closer to launch, but thousands of products are being populated into the Compatibility Center right now based on confirmed statements of support from partners. If you are a customer, you can be confident that we are working with our partners to ensure you find the compatibility status, downloads, and helpful resources for the products you use every day.


    If you are a hardware or software partner, please help Microsoft to tell our customers about your products. If you have not yet submitted your status - now is the time. Ensuring your product status is listed on the Compatibility Center so customers know your Windows 7 readiness status. You can visit the Product submission page to get started. If you are an ISV, there are some additional resources as a part of our Green Light program at www.isvappcompat.com.

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    The Windows Logo Program……


    I’ve recently started blogging over on the Windowsteamblog.com… it is great to be blogging again and I’ll be starting posting back to my personal work blog soon as well…. for now – check out the post here


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    Announcing New Tools for IT Professionals & Developers Transitioning to Windows 7


    (as posted by Brandon on the Windows Team Blog)

    Today I am pleased to announce some new technologies to help developers and IT professionals make the transition to Windows 7.

    For developers, we are announcing the public beta for the Platform Update for Windows Vista. The Platform Update for Windows Vista is a set of runtime libraries that makes it easy for developers to target both Windows 7 and Windows Vista. The Platform Update for Windows Vista includes:

    • Windows Ribbon and Animation Manager Library: contains the Windows Ribbon API, a command framework that enables developers to quickly and easily create rich ribbon experiences in their applications, and the Windows Animation Manager API, an animation framework for managing the scheduling and execution of user interface element animations.
    • Windows Graphics, Imaging, and XPS Library: components for developers to leverage the latest advancements in modern graphics technologies for gaming, multimedia, imaging and printing applications.   It includes updates to DirectX to support hardware acceleration for 2D, 3D and text based scenarios; DirectCompute for hardware accelerated parallel computing scenarios; and XPS Library for document printing scenarios.
    • Windows Automation API: allows accessibility tools and test automations to access Windows user interface in a consistent way across operating system versions.
    • Windows Portable Devices Platform: supplies the infrastructure to standardize data transfers between an application and a portable device, such as a mobile phone, digital camera, or portable media player.

    Please note that the Windows Automation API will also be made available as a separate download for PCs running Windows XP.

    The Platform Update for Windows Vista will be available to all Windows Vista customers through Windows Update, so developers leveraging these libraries in their applications can feel confident knowing it is broadly deployed. Third-party applications that require the Platform Update for Windows Vista can have Windows Update detect whether or not it is installed; if not, Windows Update will download and install it silently in the background. The ability for PCs to download this update can be managed by IT professionals Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) and other third-party desktop management tools. To participate in the public beta for the Platform Update for Windows Vista, click here.

    For IT Professionals, we are also announcing the upcoming release of the Remote Desktop Connection 7.0 (RDC7) client for Windows XP and Windows Vista. RDC7 will allow users who connect to machines running Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 from Windows XP or Windows Vista to take advantage of features such as Windows Media Player redirection and true multi-monitor support.  For more information on RDC7, see this blog post on the Remote Desktop Services Team Blog.

    The release candidate for the Windows Management Framework is also available. This is a collection of tools to help IT Professionals manage a mixed environment of Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP PCs and includes:

    • Windows PowerShell 2.0
    • Windows Remote Management 2.0
    • Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS 4.0)

    For specific details or to download the release candidate, click here.

    We believe these tools and collection of libraries will be extremely useful to IT Professionals and Developers transitioning their organizations and applications to Windows 7. We expect to have the final versions of the RDC7 client, the Windows Management Framework, and the Platform Update available sometime in Q4 2009.

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    Windows 7 Ecosystem Updated From My New Boss, Mike Nash


    Hello from the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference.  In my new role as Sr. Director of the Windows Ecosystem Team in Redmond it has been great to be here to see all the amazing work our hardware and software partners are doing, especially with Windows 7.

    My new boss, the great Mike Nash – CVP Windows Platform Strategy (yes, I am a few weeks into the job and I am still sucking up to him), has done a great post on the Windows Team Blog about the work we have done to get the ecosystem ready for Windows 7.

    The entire post is here, but I wanted to cross-post the entire entry.

    An Ecosystem Update for Windows 7 – post by Mike Nash July 15, 2009

    Hi, Mike Nash here from the Windows Platform Strategy Team.

    Earlier this week, I was in New Orleans at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC). It was amazing to see the strength and scale of the Windows ecosystem at this event, particularly as we get closer to the launch of Windows 7.

    As I return to Redmond, I’d like to give an update on our approach to partner outreach and enabling the Windows ecosystem.

    Driving early engagement

    Our partners have been clear from the outset that they needed access to stable Windows 7 builds as early as possible. So we started our ecosystem readiness journey by delivering an API complete pre-release developer build of Windows 7 in October at the PDC, a year before our scheduled General Availability (GA). We followed that with Windows 7 Beta at CES in January, and Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) in May.

    This access has enabled partners to be in a great position to complete final testing of their products and services when Windows 7 is released to manufacturing (RTM) later this month.

    Focusing on application and device compatibility

    When we designed Windows 7, we worked to minimize changes in the way applications and devices interact with Windows. As a result, the work done by 3rd party software and hardware developers to make their products work on Windows Vista generally carries forward for Windows 7. In most cases, the same software and hardware that works on Windows Vista will also work on Windows 7 today.

    Some software that is written to very low levels of the operating system, like antivirus and disk imaging software, may require some updates. We have been able to engage closely with those partners and have addressed compatibility issues earlier in the process. As a result, today 10 antivirus companies offer beta versions of their flagship products that are compatible with Windows 7 RC.

    New content and programs for partners

    Millions of developers and partners have been able to get detailed technical guidance, white papers, tools and code samples from the Windows Developer Center, so they can plan, build and test on Windows 7 sooner. Moreover, thousands of partners are participating in the Windows Ecosystem Readiness Program, which has reached nearly 45,000 software and hardware developers. And over 6 million people have checked out the content at Ready. Set. 7 about how many of our partners are preparing for and innovating on Windows 7.

    How customers can get ready for Windows 7

    We’ve also been working to ensure customers can take advantage of all of this great work by the Windows ecosystem.

    We have created the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, an end-user tool designed to help customers assess their ability to upgrade their Windows XP or Windows Vista-based PCs to Windows 7. A Beta version of the can be downloaded here.

    We also have the Windows 7 Logo Program, to help customers know what is compatible with Windows 7. While many products will work with Windows 7, products that carry the “Compatible with Windows 7” logo have passed testing for compatibility with Windows 7 – and because 64-bit support is a logo requirement, logo’d devices will work with both 32 and 64 bit!

    Compatible with Windows 7

    Business customers can also use the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, but they need more information on compatibility for enterprise applications. So we’ve also put together a comprehensive list of the most widely used enterprise applications, which we have continuously tested on Windows 7 throughout the product cycle. In addition, there is the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) to help customers assess compatibility of software.

    For internally developed line-of-business (LOB) applications, Windows 7 provides a number of in-box compatibility tools. For example, if an application fails to install because of a hard-coded version check (some software installers check the version of Windows you’re running), the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter can troubleshoot the problem by using a version number expected by the installer and running the installer again, with user consent.

    How developers can get ready for Windows 7

    If you’re a developer and you haven’t yet started testing for Windows 7, I recommend you do 5 key things:

    1. Go download the Windows 7 Release Candidate and try it out.
    2. Get compatible and test your products.  You can visit www.readyset7.com to learn more about getting ready for Windows 7.
    3. Test for the Logo Requirements with our Windows Logo Kit for software and hardware.
    4. Tell the world!  Make a statement of support on the Windows Compatibility Center.
    5. Unlock your creativity and innovation with the new features in Windows 7. Get started by taking advantage of new opportunities in Windows 7 by evaluating the Windows 7 Developer Guide and Windows Hardware Developer Central.

    Being at WPC is a good reminder of all the work it takes across tens of thousands of companies and millions of developers and IT professionals to get ready for a new Windows release. So let me conclude by saying THANK YOU to all of our partners from around the world for your engagement, testing, innovation and feedback – all which will help make Windows 7 a great release for our mutual customers.


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    Want My Job?


    Recently I announced my move to join the Windows business group in Redmond.  Well, now it is time for me to hand over the reigns of the DPE Canada Organization to someone else.

    So, if you want my job – read on.  It’s an amazing gig, leading an world-class team, with a tremendous mission.


    Director – Developer & Platform Evangelism (DPE)


    The Challenge:

    As a member of the Canadian Leadership Team at Microsoft Canada, The Director of the DPE is an exciting and dynamic role that offers both the opportunity to be “chief technology evangelist” for Microsoft Canada and the exciting business challenge of owning an end-to-end business. This role has national and industry wide impact. Outside of Microsoft, this role helps to support and grow Canada’s technology economy. The role provides a chance to build a strong public profile which includes press, public speaking and key thought leadership opportunities; to meet with customers and partners across the country; to experience sales and strategic business development; and to ensure the success of an exciting and diverse set of marketing programs.


    About The Organization:

    The Developer & Platform Evangelism Group (DPE) mission is to “Secure the Future of the Microsoft Platform” by ensuring that students, startups, developers, IT Pros, and ISVs choose Microsoft platforms. To achieve this goal, DPE works across 3 key engagement areas – Technical Audiences Marketing & Evangelism, Customer Engagement & Tools Sales and Partner Engagement. This group’s mission is critical to the long term success of Microsoft. It is a unique group that combines product marketing, audience marketing, sales, business development and technology evangelism. DPE offers an exciting people environment - it prides itself on an agile business philosophy and a dedication to personal development.

    The impact of DPE spans 3 key pillars:

    1. Supporting Canada’s Technical Professionals by connecting with them and responding to their needs with outstanding programs, activities, interactions and content. We also engage with students in sciences, technology, engineering, math and design to ensure we are supporting the next generation of Technology Professionals.
    2. Driving strategic platform & technology adoption by helping our customers and our partners do amazing things with our software.  DPE aims to help them maximize the impact of the software they already have and helping them be ready for the technology of the future. This also includes a variety of initiatives including improving our position as a web platform provider, driving new industry standards.
    3. Inspire, Support & Foster Canadian Innovation. DPE works to grow Canada’s “software economy”. This includes engaging with startups, building relationships with Academic institutions, building industry partnerships and working with government.

    Specific DPE activities include:

    • Connecting the Developer, Architect and IT Pro audiences through an integrated approach to evangelism, communities and intelligent audience marketing.
    • Engaging Independent Software Vendors through depth and breadth technical evangelism activities
    • Driving highly visible reference wins on strategic technologies in enterprise accounts that lead to compelling customer reference
    • Product Management of the Development Tools products and key platform technologies such as .NET and Silverlight.
    • Sales of Microsoft Developer Tools and Platform
    • Engaging technical students and faculty in universities, colleges and high schools


    The Role:

    As Director of the Developer & Platform Evangelism Group this role leads a team of 30 people help secure the future of the Microsoft Platform. This role is also a key member of the Canadian Leadership Team, helping to ensure the success of the Canadian subsidiary as a whole.

    This role is the overall business leader of DPE, as well as being accountable for key strategic initiatives within the subsidiary. The Director of DPE Canada will have the following priorities during the fiscal year:

    • Ensure Windows 7 compatibility and lighthouse applications
    • Grow Internet Explorer share and lighthouse applications
    • Drive Web Platform Share
    • Technical Audiences (Developers, IT Pros, Students, Startups)
    • Own the Developer Tools business in Canada – Win Share, Grow Licenses, and exceed Revenue targets
    • Lead the overall ISV Strategy for Canada
    • Lead the overall S+S Strategy for Canada
    • Build a strong culture of competing within DPE Canada

    Key responsibilities of this role (with support of the entire DPE team) include:


    • Build an innovative set of marketing programs to connect with Canada’s Technology Professionals
    • Build a strong yearly product and platform marketing plan
    • Execution of our product and platform campaigns, promotions and activities
    • Work in conjunction with our marketing and communications team in the development and execution of our campaigns and agency management

    Technology Adoption:

    • Win share in the marketplace of our development platforms (such as .NET), key infrastructure technologies (such as virtualization) and development tools (such as Visual Studio)
    • Drive adoption of our technologies with customers, with a focus on building key wins that can be used as evidence / reference to build momentum in the Canadian marketplace.
    • Ensure compatibility with and use of key client and web technologies (such as Windows 7 and IE8)
    • Drive the business development around key strategic wins that highlight our technology
    • Be a thought leader for key technology focus areas such as Software+Services and Microsoft’s Web Platform


    • Drive the overall ISV strategy for Canada
    • Build a powerful ecosystem of partners around our technology
    • Build readiness programs to help prepare partnership for our future technology programs


    • Maintain the overall Tools Forecast. Accurate and timely sales pipeline forecasting and participation in the subsidiary forecasting process, including integration into the Server & Tools business processes.
    • Achievement of our Tools sales goals across all customer segments. Maintain an accurate and effective sales forecast
    • Tools Growth Models and Yearly budget creation. Develop and implement analytics on the health of the business and the market opportunity.


    • Build a strong team that can be agile in achieving the business goals
    • Ensure that an outstanding focus people development is maintain
    • Strive for exception employee satisfaction results

    Success will be measured across the sales, evangelism and marketing aspects of the role and achieving a “green” business scorecard.


    The Fit:

    • A strong business leader with a track record of success
    • Affinity for public speaking & PR
    • A passion for technology
    • The ability to scale across sales and marketing
    • Ability to drive execution and innovation
    • A solid people manager who can grow, inspire and support the people on the team
    • Experience selling and/or marketing a highly technical product
    • An outstanding ability to execute and orchestrate across teams
    • Ability to fit into a dynamic, high performance team and have fun!

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    Microsoft Canada Is Hiring – Senior Product Manager, Windows 7 & IE8


    Here is another GREAT role open at Microsoft Canada.  This one is with the Windows Consumer Team.  With the launch of Windows 7 in the near future, this is a great position to consider if you are an amazing marketing talent!




    Purpose: This is an exciting time to be on the Windows business as the brand prepares for the upcoming launch of Windows 7, re-establishes itself as a leading consumer brand, and re-defines the value proposition of its core applications, Windows Media Centre and Internet Explorer. Overall, the purpose of this role is to profitably drive category growth and achieve Windows and Internet Explorer market share objectives by 1) building new growth engines in the consumer channel, 2) driving ecosystem excitement around Windows 7, Windows Live and IE8 with key partners (OEM, Telcos, On line destinations etc.), 3) improving the value proposition of Windows and IE through new relevant content and add-ons, and 4) pro-actively identifying new market growth opportunities through a deep understanding of the PC and browser market.
    Key Responsibilities:
    1. Build new growth engines in the consumer channel
    Partner with the Communications Sector Team to drive business development opportunities in the Telco channel
    Drive category growth via netbooks in the consumer channel
    Partner with OEM and Telco to deliver a premium PC experience across all form factors
    2. Drive ecosystem excitement around Windows 7, Windows Live and IE8 with key partners
    Partner with the OEM team to identify opportunities and execute breakthrough holistic marketing across Windows 7
    Lead category thinking across consumer PC usage scenarios across OEM, Telco and retail
    Identify key growth drivers for IE and identify the right partners to light up the browser experience and distribute the browser
    3. Improve the value proposition of Windows by lighting up its applications
    Make Media Centre a `Must Have’ feature by pro-actively identifying and securing the right content partners
    Maximize the impact of IE8 by identifying the right webslices and accelerators to differentiate the browser vs. competition
    Build a marketing plan that drives awareness and trial of Media Centre and IE
    4. Pro-actively identify new market growth opportunities in the PC and browser market.
    Become the PC and Browser consumer expert for the Canadian subsidiary
    Pro-actively identify category growth drivers via deep category and consumer understanding
    Recommended Qualifcations:
    Degree or Diploma from a recognized post secondary institution required; A Masters in Business Administration preferred as well as:
    3-5 years experience in consumer marketing from a top tier company
    Strong strategic thinker with strong analytical skills leading to actionable strategies
    Strong ability to partner and work with others (internally and externally)
    Excellent presentation skills and proven track record to influence others
    Strong consumer understanding (target and branding understanding) with a proven track record of results
    Experience working with OEM and/ or Telco channel is preferred

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    Microsoft Canada Is Hiring – Partner Marketing Manager, ISVs


    Partner Marketing Manager - ISVs


    Want a chance to help shape Microsoft Canada’s partner strategy for Independent Software Vendors?  This is a critical part of our partner marketing group.  ISVs are vital Microsoft’s long term success, so we are looking for someone to fill this important role.

    Come and join the Microsoft Canada team!!

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    Announcing – The Muchmusic Video Awards & Silverlight


    The team has been hard at work to get this surprise ready and now we can let it out of the bag!

    We are happy to announce that MuchMusic will broadcast the MuchMusic Video Awards online in High Definition powered by Silverlight and SmoothHD technology!!!

    This is one of the biggest shows in Canada (Jonas Brothers, Lady Gaga, and a ton of other stars that teenagers go crazy for).  It’s also the 20th anniversary of the MMVAs – so it’s an extra special event.  Muchmusic will be broadcasting 6 live Silverlight streams online (5 Standard Definition from various backstage cameras and 1 full SmoothHD broadcast).  Interestingly, this will be the first North American execution of Live SmoothHD.

    What is SmoothHD?  SmoothHD is a solution that combines the amazing cross-platform video experience of Silverlight, the streaming features of Windows Server and the power of the cloud.  In this case, MuchMusic captures the show live, pushes the bits in realtime up to Windows Servers in Akamai’s datacenters.  This solution creates a full Live HD experience (up to full 720p). The value is that users get the best picture, should see almost no buffer time and the video stream will automatically throttle itself according to the available bandwidth the user has.  (You can see an example in action here http://hdbeta.ctv.ca).

    There are lots of other cool digital aspects to the show….. I went down to the set of the MMVAs earlier this week and met up with Ryan Trotman who is the Director Of Digital for Muchmusic/MTV.  We recorded a little video and talked about the web / digital side of the event.

    You can read more about this in an interview we did for InformationExec located here.

    Here is the copy of our official press release:

    MuchMusic 2009 Video Awards Rocks a Canadian First with Real-Time Streaming in High-Definition Using Silverlight

    Backstage Live to offer computer users a unique, multi-camera online experience

    June 19, 2009 - Mississauga, ON - Microsoft Canada Co. announced today that MuchMusic, a division of CTV Limited, has selected Microsoft® SilverlightTM browser plug-in to give people across Canada one of the best seats in the house for this Sunday's 2009 Much Music Video Awards (MMVAs) in Toronto.

    This year, anyone watching the MMVAs on a computer running Microsoft Silverlight will have access to Backstage Live, a unique, online video experience based on Silverlight that will stream the event live in high-definition - a Canadian first. Backstage Live lets viewers select from six different views powered by 21 cameras located throughout the event venue, so they can enjoy planned live on-stage performances from the Jonas Brothers, Lady Gaga and Black Eyed Peas, take part in exclusive behind-the-scenes celebrity interviews, peek into the VIP and press rooms, or join in the action from backstage or in the crowd.

    As well, viewers can take advantage of the Alt Show cams to enjoy a "second screen" experience, letting viewers access TV footage framed in an alternate shot with different cameras. People using Backstage Live can also chat with friends live via Facebook and Twitter.

    "The MMVAs are all about the fans, and Backstage Live gives them an entirely new way to experience the show," said Brad Schwartz, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Much MTV Group, CTV Inc. "Microsoft Silverlight technology is helping us make one of biggest shows of the year even more exciting by providing an interactive, online experience that re-defines what it means to broadcast on the Web."

    "Web presence is about more than just a Web site - it's about extending the online experience into the everyday lives of consumers," said Mark Relph, Vice President, Developer and Platform, Microsoft Canada. "The MMVAs and Backstage Live are a great example of this, and we're proud that Silverlight is helping to bring Canadians closer to one of the biggest entertainment events of 2009."

    The cameras start rolling June 21, at 9pm ET. To experience Backstage Live, visit http://mmva.muchmusic.com/category/pepsi-backstage/

    For more information on Silverlight Smooth Streaming visit http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/smoothstreaming/

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    Mark Relph Bio Pic - PhotoJunkie - May 2008I love my job.  I really do.  Not everyone gets to say that with as much passion as I can, so it’s a special privilege to be in this position (particularly in this economy).

    I believe that my role here at Microsoft Ca nada is one of the best in all of Microsoft.  The mission of the job is amazing – connect with Canada’s Technology Professionals, build Canadian momentum for key strategic technologies and help support Canadian technology innovation.  For the last 3 years as VP/Director, and 3 years before that as a member of the Canadian Developer & Platform Evangelism (DPE) Team it has been a pleasure to pursue that mission across Canada’s IT industry.

    I have a truly amazing team – the finest group of people I’ve had a chance to work with so far in my career.  In 5+ years, DPE Canada has accomplished a lot as a group.  The list is so long that I cannot possibly capture it all, but a few things jump to mind.  We’ve fundamentally changed how we go to market and redesigned our approach to engaging Canada’s technology professionals – Techdays, EnergizeIT, Ignite Your Career all come to mind.  We embraced social media in order to maintain a two-way dialogue with the tech audience.  We’ve been a part of some of the largest product launches including Visual Studio, SQL Server, Windows Server & Windows Vista.  The Visual Studio business has grown significantly in the last 3 years, despite the recent economic downturn.  We have helped .NET grow to almost 80% marketshare in Canada and we are now working to help drive momentum around new elements of our platform like Silverlight.  There are countless customers that we have helped to do amazing things with our technology – The Weather Network, CTV, Bank Of Montreal just to name a few.  Helping Canadian software vendors has always been a focus for us and I know we have directly helped hundreds of companies over the years.  We’ve become a first class citizen in the technology community – participating in events like MESH and StartupEmpire.  I’m proud of the partnerships we have forged across Canada with academic institutions like Waterloo & OCAD and with industry associations like CATA, ACCC and CIPS.  As I look to the near future there are even more great things to come for DPE Canada – including the launch of Windows 7 in Canada.

    With all that background I can say that it is with very mixed emotions that share some news with you.  As the saying goes ‘the only constant is change’ and the time has come for me to take on my next challenge. 

    After 11 years at Microsoft Canada, I have accepted a role in Redmond as the Senior Director of the Windows Ecosystem Team, reporting to Mike Nash, Corporate Vice President, Windows Product Management

    This is a very exciting opportunity for me.  I have always said that I would move to Redmond for the right job.  One that has incredible strategic impact – something that could help shape the future of the company.  This role definitely fits the bill.  It’s a big, exciting, daunting, awesome, scary, amazing challenge.  I think it is a great fit for my skills and my passion for our technology.  Starting in July, I will be responsible for driving the overall Windows Ecosystem strategy that will ensure world class compatibility, drive innovation on the platform and deliver a clear message to developers on why their long term bet for their business is the Windows platform.  Windows is at the heart of the Microsoft – it’s our flagship product.  It’s an area where we’ve been working hard to do better - Windows 7 is evidence of that hard work.  It is critical to ensure that Windows benefits from a healthy partner ecosystem and a big part of my new job is to help show that hardware and software innovation is a differentiating asset of the Windows franchise.

    Looking ahead, I am not only excited about the business challenge but also about everything I will experience in the new job.  Redmond is a totally different place compared to the field and I know I have lots of learn.  As great as my current team is, I am very excited to meet my new team and learn more about the great things they are doing.  Bottom line – I have a chance to help a new team succeed and to make a difference in Redmond.  It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and it’s incredibly exciting (and a little scary as well!)

    Anyone who knows me knows that I am an incredibly proud Canadian.  I believe in Canada - our people, our technology industry and our potential for innovation.  I’ve been dedicated to helping Canada’s technology community for a long time, so moving away is hard – both personally (our friends and life are in Toronto and we will dearly miss being here) as well as professionally.  I like to think of it this way – if a little Canadian talent and innovation can help make Windows even better, than it is a worthwhile export investment.  I’ll always be Canadian and a Torontonian at heart.  I will commit publically today to remain connected to Canada is a variety of ways and I hope to be invited back often to participate in the technology community.  You haven’t seen the last of me, that is for sure.

    I would like to thank Phil Sorgen, the President of Microsoft Canada and the rest of the Microsoft Canada Leadership Team for all their support over the last 3 years.  They are a great group of people and I think Microsoft Canada benefits tremendously from their great leadership.

    Finally, to everyone across Canada I have had the pleasure of working with – our customers, partners, the developer & IT Professional community, academic institutions and industry group – I want to say thank you. 

    I will begin transitioning to my new role during July and August.  The search for my successor will begin right away.  Whoever that person is, I know that will share my passion for Canada’s potential and will help DPE Canada to continue to make an impact and to evolve.

    Again, thanks to my team, my peers, the community, our customers & partners for making 11 years in Canada a blast.  I will dearly miss everyone, but I leave really excited about the future.

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    Students, get out there and get noticed…!


    As the school year comes to an end and summer begins, I was thinking a lot about all the students out there trying to discover the first step in their career.  Last year we surveyed 200 Canadian IT professionals, looking at their hiring and technology needs. More than 60 per cent of respondents agreed that students leave school with the skills needed to land a job. But only 40 per cent felt that students arrive at the workplace prepared for “real world requirements.”

    In other words, they’re bright and eager. But they lack experience.

    Students have always struggled to overcome the “no experience” hurdle. And given the current job market, it’s become even more difficult. The good news is that today’s grads – and especially those interested in a career in IT - have tools at their disposal that can help raise their profile in the community.

    It starts with the social media basics: make sure you tell the world what you do through a regularly updated blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, and LinkedIn profile. But to make a personal brand strong, you also have to get out there and get your hands dirty. It’s important, and it’s why we invest so much into giving students with a passion for technology a chance to shine.

    The foundation of our support to students thinking about a career in technology is Dreamspark, a program that provides free developer tools and server software to students.  Simply verify that you are a student online and presto! you have access.  The great thing about Dreamspark is that it ensures that students have the professional grade tools at the fingertips to help them not only learn, but innovate as well.

    Then there is the Microsoft Throwdown contest, which we announced last month. It’s battle between professional and student developers and a chance to show off interesting PHP applications on the Windows platform. It’s also a great way for a student to showcase their skills and raise the profile. And the $10,000 in total prize money isn’t bad either.

    And there’s never a shortage of creativity on display at the Imagine Cup.  More than 300,000 students from 100 countries – including Canada - are registered, with the finals set for Cairo in July. This year’s contest challenges students to use their technology skills and imagination to address the world’s toughest problems — ranging from halving extreme poverty and halting the spread of HIV/AIDS to providing universal primary education.

    Finally, we believe that helping students and graduates needs to be an industry-wide effort.  We’ve teamed up with IT industry associations and academia to help give students as many opportunities to shine as possible.  For example, we have partnered with organizations like The Association Of Canadian Community Colleges, launched an initiative with the Ontario College Of Art & Design and teamed up with CIPS.

    Clearly, skills and enthusiasm are important. But it’s just as important to get out there and get involved. The result may not quite be the same as on-the-job experience, but building personal connections and putting skills to work can quickly pay off.

  • A Canuck In The Machine

    Just a typical planning day at MSFT…


    Thanks to Joey (@accordionguy) for taking this picture at our all-hands planning brainstorming session… (with a few alterations, of course)




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    Tremblant, Startups, Canadian Innovation and the Year Ahead


    It’s been a busy week. Planning season has arrived at Microsoft Canada, a [crazy] time when we step back, take a look ahead at the rest of 2009 and into 2010 and make some decisions as a company on our top priorities. One of them will undoubtedly be to continue to support software innovators across Canada, like the companies that were nominated for the Blue Sky and Ignite IT awards. It’s one of the most important and rewarding things we do.

    The reason is simple. In some ways our economic troubles, like plant closures, are easy to see. Harder to grasp are the opportunities lost before they ever had a chance to be realized - the businesses that couldn’t be launched, and jobs that were never created. This is what’s at stake, and it’s why I firmly believe that technology should be a pillar of Canada’s economic recovery.

    According to ITAC, our information and technology industry contributes $140 billion annually to Canada’s GDP, or about 5.5 per cent. But it carries out an incredible 40 per cent of total business R&D in Canada. That’s a testament to the power of ideas and innovation.

    It’s also a timely issue, and one I underscored last week during my presentation and panel discussion at the Tremblant Venture Forum.  I had the chance to speak to Canada’s Venture Capital Community.  I tried to underscore how critical it is for us to foster innovation and what some of the challenges we are facing in Canada.


    Here is the problem – Canada lacks a truly vibrant ecosystem needed to transform those ideas into bankable IT ventures, especially when compared to the activity we see south of the border. There are people out there right now with great ideas. Some will eventually grow into small but vibrant businesses. Others could be game changers – perhaps even the next disruptor. All they need is an environment that makes it as easy as possible to bring those ideas into the light of day.

    Sometimes a time of crisis is exactly the time when we should be investing in innovation.  Recently, Steve Ballmer, our CEO, spoke about the opportunities for startups and the need for technology innovation to drive the economy at Stanford University.  You can see the transcript here.

    Steve made this key point:

    image“In our business you've got to be inventing new things, because software doesn't wear out. It doesn't break, or at least if it breaks it was broken when you finished it, it doesn't break over time the way physical goods do. So the opportunity and need to invent, just like any other startup, or entrepreneurial activity remains strong.

    So we're investing. Venture capitalists, there's going to be less venture capital this year than last year. There is still probably in my opinion more venture capital than there are really good ideas to absorb the venture capital. So whether you're going to join a startup, whether you want to start a business yourself, whether you want to join a company like ours, I think there's just incredible opportunities.

    We want to be kind of a partner and friend to people who are starting these businesses. We've made our tools now free for students, for startup companies, qualified startup companies. We've made our software free so we can bootstrap entrepreneurs who want to come with us, and help pioneer and really pursue the future, the future for students, for consumers, for businesses, for the whole range of things.”


    Well, if the opportunity is out there, David Crow expresses another dimension of this issue in a different way in his post here.  Basically outline the frustration of trying to build a startup ecosystem in Toronto:

    I’ve had a fascination with startups since the mid-1990s. I’ve worked for a few software startups of various sizes. I hope that I’ll be able to work for a successful software startup in Toronto. I read Paul Graham’s commentary about startups, startup hubs, Silicon Valley, and why creating a strong startup hub in Toronto is going to be very difficult. I read this and I also think that Paul is focused on bringing startups to his Silicon Valley (Y Combinator is headquartered in Mountain View [April 29, 2009]) and this may influence his results. However, his logic is really good. Joey has written extensively about “Ideas to steal from Silicon Valley & Seattle”. I don’t want to rehash the basic logistics of what parts we can repurpose locally.

    To make this kind of ecosystem happen, we need to develop new approaches to the incubation of people, ideas and technology. One of the many ways Microsoft is doing this is through BizSpark, a unique program designed to accelerate startup success by providing fast, affordable access to current, full-featured Microsoft tools and technologies, plus production licensing for hosted solutions. It also provides visibility to an audience of potential investors, clients and partners.

    Canada needs technology innovation to drive our productivity and our overall economic prosperity – especially as the fundamentals of our economy change during these tough times.  At Microsoft, we’ll be doing more in the months ahead to help, because there’s no time to waste. We need true investments in technology innovation and we need to ensure that Canada grows the infrastructure to be the best place to grow new ideas.  The time to act is now.

  • A Canuck In The Machine

    Steve Ballmer @ Stanford - The Future of Microsoft, The Future of Technology


    From - http://ecorner.stanford.edu/authorMaterialInfo.html?mid=2242

    “Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, shares his optimism for emerging innovation in the midst of economic turmoil, and the story of his own entrepreneurial path. He also speaks of his company's continued investment in Internet-ready hardware and software that seeks progress in healthcare, education, and science.”


    There is a podcast available at the link above as well.

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    Recognizing Canadian Innovation – The Blue Sky Award


    clip_image002Last year we launched the first ever Blue Sky Award.  It’s targeted at highlighting Canadian software innovation – great up-and-coming software companies doing great work.  SiteMasher, our winner last year is a great example of one of those Canadian innovators.  I love it because we get a chance to meet and celebrate what Canadians are doing.  (It is also a great way to see how companies are using our technologies in new a creative ways!!)

    Hopefully the attention generated by the Award helps those companies be seen on a broader scale and that the support we provides helps them to accelerate their business plans.

    Interested?  Or know someone you should be - www.microsoft.com/canada/bluesky

    What is the Blue Sky Award?

    The Blue Sky Award represents an exceptional opportunity for you to showcase your great idea. If you think your application is the next big thing, and have the business plan to prove it, this is your chance to demonstrate your solution to a panel of Microsoft and other industry experts.

    If you're using Microsoft technology to build your application we encourage you to apply for the Blue Sky Award and take advantage of this unique opportunity to drive your innovation forward.

    The judging panel will consist of a team of Microsoft experts including Robert Dutt, Editor of CRN Canada.
    Each submission will be judged based on the quality of responses around 3 key focus areas:

    1. How innovative is the idea
    2. How unique is the architecture and the use of Microsoft technologies
    3. How viable is the market opportunity

    Software Development resources may include:

    • Access to our premier support staff
    • Software license and subscriptions
    • Access to new technologies, and/or
    • Access to Microsoft Technology Centers for software testing and architecture guidance
    Business Development resources may include:
    • Presence on the Microsoft Startup Zone website
    • Inclusion in Microsoft collateral, advertising or public relations
    • A published case study
    • Blogging opportunities with Emerging Business Team Portfolio Managers
    • Event opportunities, and/or
    • Introductions to investors, as needed
    Microsoft resources may include:
    • Introductions to internal product groups as appropriate
    • Visibility in front of key executives
    • Early stage product feedback to internal development teams, and/or
    • Active collaboration on emerging trends and technologies


    Good luck to everyone who applies – I can’t wait to see what innovations this year’s batch of entries brings!

  • A Canuck In The Machine

    More OCAD/MSFT Press (Video) – This time TVO.org


  • A Canuck In The Machine

    More On OCAD & MSFT Canada – itbusiness.ca article


    This appeared in the press today -

    Touching donation - Ontario college gets Microsoft Surface unit

    Microsoft is donating its much-publicized Surface hardware to the Ontario School of Art & Design so students can develop innovative software for the device.
    4/15/2009 4:00:00 AM By: Brian Jackson

    read the article here.

  • A Canuck In The Machine

    Great Canadian User Experiences From MIX09


    I was on the road when we held our local MIX09 media event for media on March 17th, so I couldn’t be there. But the good news is that we captured all the highlights on video.

    Video: Great examples of Canadian UX in action

    Don’t have time to watch? Here’s the 30-second version:

    • We had CTV on hand to announce its CTV HD Beta Player, which streams primetime TV in HD online – a Canadian first - delivered via Silverlight.
    • Innovapost showed off an impressive touch screen POS app currently being rolled out to thousands of Canada Post retail employees across Canada. It takes advantage of Windows Presentation Foundation and Expression Blend, and has been nominated for an Ignite IT award.
    • Finally there was Workopolis with an app that I think pretty much everyone in Canada who ever looked for a job has seen. Great Microsoft platform story, which now includes an IE8 Web Slice that instantly updates personalized job postings on the browser.

    The past 12 months has been a real coming out period Software + Services vision and demos like these show where the rubber really hits the road. 

    At MIX09 Scott Guthrie, Bill Buxton and others showed just how important the user experience is in delivering both software and online services.  This couldn’t be more important. Today the desktop and online experience is the customer experience. That means it’s developers and designers who are now on the front lines of driving real business results.

    This opens up a whole new world of possibilities, some of which we saw at MIX09. But it’s just the beginning – stay tuned.

  • A Canuck In The Machine

    DigiTweet - ‘cause I really love but hate Tweetdeck


    Last week I was at the Mesh Conference here in Toronto.  In addition to being a great event, it was probably the centre of the Canadian Twitter universe for 2 days.  Everyone was using Twitter.  I mean everyone – and not just to connect, but to ask questions, challenge speakers and to promote key thoughts and issues.  It made for a very dynamic conference environment (something I wish we could replicate at some of our own events)

    Now, I love Twitter.  Like many users I have moved away from the website to a client application.  (Powerful software, combined with the cloud – sound familiar?)  It was clear from Mesh that the tool of choice for the Twitter power user is Tweetdeck.  It was loaded on every screen on every PC, Mac or Ubuntu powered laptop. 

    (Photo Credit – photojunkie)


    Now, there is a lot to like about the application.  Follower management, search, groups, Twitpic, URL shortening – it has it all.  This is why I use Tweetdeck everyday.  The developers have done a really great job – period.  There are other applications (Twhirl, DestroyTwitter, Digsby, Twitterrific, Witty, etc….)  but none of them have gained the same traction as Tweetdeck.

    With my Microsoft Developer hat on for a moment, there are a few things that bug me about Tweetdeck.Adobe AIR

    • It runs in AIR.  I know, this makes it cross-platform.  I know, it’s a light-weight application.  It bugs me that the amazing .NET community can’t write something this good.  (I know they can)
    • It doesn’t take advantage of the Windows universe as well as it could (due to it’s cross-platform nature).  This is especially true of Windows 7.
    • Nothing against the fine products from our friends at Adobe, but I would love to see an application like this written in WPF or Silverlight.

    Now, the only way any of these three things will get solved is if the developer community wants it to.  This brings us to digiTweet.  You may have seen this out in the wild already.  What you may not know is that digiTweet is an Open Source project, sponsored initially by my team at Microsoft Canada in conjunction with our friends at Digiflare


    DigiTweet is obviously a desktop application for Twitter.  It is built completely using .NET technologies and takes particular advantage of the power of WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) which is the part of .NET that enables developers to build powerful user experiences on Windows.  Additionally, DigiTweet will be implementing several Windows 7 specific features in the coming weeks.

    Why did we do this?  We wanted to spark our developer community in hopes of building a better mousetrap.  I think that a WPF powered application, combined with the power of Windows can provide Twitter users with an amazing experience.  This is why it was important for us to expose this publically by making it Codeplex project.  We want as many innovative developers as possible to contribute to making this the best Twitter client for Windows as possible.  (and hopefully showcase what WPF can do along the way)

    So, give digiTweet a try.  More importantly, download the code a try make it better.  Let us know how it goes.  You can also follow digiTweet’s progress on Twitter @digi_tweet

  • A Canuck In The Machine

    Joey deVilla (@Accordionguy) showing off at Mesh


    Hey, ever wonder if our team enjoys their jobs?  Check out Joey at the Mesh Conference

  • A Canuck In The Machine

    More Laptop Hunters……

  • A Canuck In The Machine

    Microsoft Canada & OCAD – Igniting the next generation of software design & user experience


    Did you know that Toronto has the third-largest design workforce in North America, behind only New York and Boston?

    That’s good news for the GTA, especially given the current economy. Design is a growing, dynamic and increasingly important industry. As we heard at MIX09, the future of software and device innovation will depend on truly outstanding user experiences, and we need to do what we can to inspire people with the skills and passion needed to build personal connections between people and technology.

    That’s why I’m excited by the announcement I made yesterday at MESH (Canada’s leading web gathering) with Sara Diamond, President of the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD).

    You can hear all the details from Sara and I in this video. (See below)

    Microsoft Canada has donated a Microsoft Surface development unit, our developer tools and related services to students and faculty at the university’s Digital Media Research + Innovation Institute – the first phase of which is now under construction, and which will align with the school’s cross-disciplinary Digital Futures Initiative (DFI) program. Among the goals of this new is to initiative establish a research and innovation laboratory for interactive design, art and digital media.

    Microsoft Surface will help OCAD students, faculty and researchers to apply interactive technology to their work in digital media, art and design.  In conjunction with our partner Infusion Development, we will be directly engaged with teaching students how to harness the power of these new technologies.  This is only the start - in the years ahead we’ll be bringing in our technology and design experts to OCAD to help further strengthen this relationship. Our focus will not just be on the Surface technologies - as we move into a world where the interaction with software will depend on new user experiences like touch, speech and other capabilities it is critical that we prepare the next generation of software designers and experience experts.

    Sara Diamond from OCAD called our collaboration a “big step forward” for Ontario’s digital media ecosystem and I look forward to continued work together in the years ahead.

    This collaboration marks another step in our ongoing effort to help bolster the health of the technology sector and Canada’s long-term economic competitiveness by encouraging the next generation of talent, whether in design, software development or technology in general.

    To get more of a taste of what we’re doing in the design space, be sure to check out our UX Connection blog, and this great example of Surface in action – the Bookstore application from our local partners Infusion Development.

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