We know a lot of you will have thought about Windows 8, maybe downloaded the Consumer Preview from here, and few of you will have taken on the idea of writing an app for Windows 8. We love you all BUT if you are one of the people who want to write an app for Windows 8 we would love to hear from you.
You can email us on email@example.com so we can discuss your idea, help you get started and get you involved in our programme for people who are writing apps before the product is released. If you’d rather just get started then Mike Taulty’s blog article here gives you a simple step by step guide.
Hi, I’m Manoj Nathwani. This time last summer, I was working in a boring Job, like the typical 17 year old (you all know what that’s like) where I was asked to compare the prices of the company’s products with several of their competitors. It took me over four LONG days to complete this mammoth task and in thinking I was done, soon realised that all the data and work I had been doing from day one was now out of date! Something needed to change.
I started to realise that this job was almost too repetitive for any person to do and it became one of those robotic tasks that I knew needed to be carried out by a computer. So that’s where the ideas started. I imagined a system that could automate the mundane job of fetching prices off websites and then businesses could take advantage of being up-to-date on their competitors pricing and change theirs accordingly. I already saw this working in the company I was working for, as there were already instances where their products were not competitive enough - and even examples where they were far too cheap. Clearly they needed my help!
I talked to the manager of the company about making a competitor price monitoring system for them - in return for advice on what businesses would want. I then decided to carry out some market research and phoned a number of companies that have an ecommerce website. After speaking to them I realised there was a huge potential for my service so I decided to spend all my time working on it. My Dad helped with setting up the business and finding customers (thanks Dad), which allowed me to spend all my time dedicated to building our service, Price Trakker.
I spent day and night working inside Visual Studio to develop my solution and move forward with my vision. Once I started my course at university I met other students who had skills which I knew I would need, such as building a website for example, which allowed me to get friends involved. Through splitting the workload, it allowed me to spend more time developing our main service and ultimately grow the business.
Whilst studying Computer Science at Brunel University, I discovered it was hard to run a business from inside halls! However, using the right technology, such as Skype, I was easily able to keep in touch with the team. Truthfully though, it was definitely tough balancing university work alongside developing Price Trakker, but I always made sure I was still performing to the best of my ability at university. I needed to learn from my lectures and apply that knowledge to my work to Price Trakker! The hardest thing was probably waking up at a decent time every morning to check my emails…. definitely not the typical life for your regular student!
In February I attended a Microsoft Windows Phone Camp at Brunel, delivered by Ben Nunney, and got given a DreamSpark code that enabled me to get top of the range developer software for free! I was even able to get hold of Visual Studio Professional which helped out with developing my software even further. Free software… what more could you want!?
I found the university phone camp very beneficial and practical as it allowed students to jump straight into designing and developing apps. It also allowed different types of developers or designers to do what they do best; HTML, C# and Visual Basic and combine them to make interesting applications for Windows 8 or Windows Phone. Moreover, attending the events gave me a good connection with the Microsoft Academic team in the UK.
Through keeping in touch with the Microsoft UK Academic Team, I got a chance to speak to Phil Cross about my company and how useful I was finding the developer software provided through DreamSpark. Phil then took it that step further and introduced me to BizSpark, who literally throw all the free software you could ever want to play with (a true developers dream!)
BizSpark is an amazing resource if you are starting your own company; I signed up and two days later we went from several machines to using three servers with Microsoft's new Server 2012 operating system, which I got free from BizSpark. This allowed us to save money on computer power as well as going green by using less machines to run our services.
I still can't believe how easy it was to sign up to BizSpark, we signed up on Friday night and by Monday afternoon we had access to all the latest Microsoft software for free as well as access to events and the ability to network with other technology companies- a resource that is truly invaluable to any budding businesses out there.
I am looking forward to working with Microsoft and the BizSpark team to help me take Price Trakker to the next level! Already I’ve seen it helping to take the stress off the software licensing and allowed us to take care of what matters - our business and technology.
Over the past couple of months Price Trakker has grown beyond our wildest dreams. Literally every business that we approach has shown an interest in Price Trakker and we now have a team of six sales people. We also have interest from several large corporate companies who require high volumes of price monitoring. Thanks to Microsoft and their BizSpark program, deploying large systems is no longer a problem. Not a bad start for a 17 year old boy with a vision, and the right contacts to make it all happen!
If you’d like a look then you can sign-up for a free 14 day Competitor Price Watch service and see how you can save time and make more money. If you have an ecommerce website then you need Price Trakker, and you can see some sample reports here.
Use code : HTMLJMP for a free exam credit, the exam will normally cost £99.
After passing 70-480, you will be given a certification for Microsoft Specialist and this is one of the three exams which will ultimately certify you as MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solution Developer).
MCSD is one tier above MCSA (Associate) and is a respectable title in the field of web development.
Exam registration: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/exam.aspx?id=70-480 Link for free online training: https://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/tracks/developing-html5-apps-jump-start?o=1943 Link to MCSD page: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/mcsd.aspx
This offer is available for a limited time only until March 2013 and is open to IT Academy members also so all students undertaking a course can sit a free exam at any prometric testing centre.
One of our UK startups www.lockir.com has stared a new social network for students. It’s a social & study platform aimed at students, it was launched few days ago and created by a University of Manchester graduate. Below is his guest post. I’d be really interested in any comments – constructive are best, as I am not a student any more
Lockir (the name is inspired by the idea of college lockers) bridges the gap between social networks such as Facebook, and study platforms such as Blackboard. The likes of Facebook are about sharing your life with friends and family and keeping in touch with them and so don't have a much relevance to students, it has no target audience and is there for everyone and anyone to use with an average age being 41.
Lockir is different, it has been made for students with features tailored for student life. If you look at the main characteristics of students you will realise they are very social, they like to meet new people, they like to listen to music and they like to study (not all!), Lockir has made this possible by putting these aspects into its platform making it fun and exciting.
The study features of Lockir include; peer to peer help through questions and answers for different degrees, sharing documents such as lecture notes and past exam papers, writing notes and sharing them with your group for collaboration. Users that sign up with a university email will get a verified student icon.
The social features of Lockir include; listening to and sharing music, sharing photos, meeting new people, discover what people are sharing, chatting with friends, chatting with Facebook friends directly from Lockir, chat transliterate option allows foreign students to write in their native language (Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Urdu and more).
Lockir is made by Jehad Amlesh, a 27 year old British graduate from University of Manchester with BSc in computer science and MSc from Manchester business school in Business IT, and is now looking to apply to do a PhD. Lockir is self funded. Jehad has had an offer for investment but declined the term sheet as he believed it was too early to allow investors in which could influence his visions for Lockir. The support of free software from Microsoft was enough for Jehad to start Lockir.
In his own words….
"when people hear the words student social network, the first thing that comes to mind is Facebook, but how relevant is Facebook for students? not very, even in its early days it did not have any features which were made for students, it was just a MySpace for .edu and ac.uk emails.
I made Lockir for students, I spent most of my time programming it in the university library whilst engaging with students. Lockirs aim is to create a fun and exciting community for students around the world to connect online ".
We, Microsoft are not endorsing this, just interested in your comments or feedback
Stacey Watkins is a BSc Information and Communications Technology (ICT) student at Birmingham City University. Stacey is a great evangelist for females in technology and below gives insight into her views on females in computing, and her desire to change the preconception that coding is an activity only for males.
In Stacey’s words:
“Birmingham City University Campus is largely dominated by males, having over 80% male students, although my course has about 1/3 females which was a much higher percentage than I was expecting when I first started! I personally do not view coding or development as a ‘male thing to do’, but I think it is still sadly stereotypically viewed this way. I think women can shy away from coding because of how the field/subject is filled mostly by males, and it can be seen as unimaginative and boring. I really disagree with how coding is given a bad name, you can build your own games/applications which is highly creative and really good fun when you see it working.
“As a little girl I was always fascinated by computers and often wondered what they actually did. I loved playing video games from an early age, which really made aware of computing as I grew up. My uncle gave me his old PC which was running Windows 98, I loved making pictures in paint and creating PowerPoint presentations about my favourite cartoons (with the over-use of animations and sounds!). I soon taught myself how to work the PC on my own, the PC was better than playing with Barbie dolls, but I wanted to do more and know how things work. School alone was not enough for me in terms of the knowledge I wanted on computing, I used to buy extra books and read more about computers - I didn’t ever think I’d ever be good enough to write my own code! It wasn’t until college/university that I finally got to write code and build my own programs, my first program I build was a web browser.
“In terms of influences into coding, Ava Lovelace was a major female influence for me – a huge inspiration for women interested in science, technology, engineering and maths. Without her I don’t think we’d be able to program today (she didn’t even need a computer when she wrote the world’s first algorithm used by a machine!) I think women and men need to think twice when they think of coding to be a male thing, Ava was the world’s first programmer and we all have a lot to thank her for!
“Now, I’m even more determined to carry on coding, and get more females to code too. I’ve learnt more languages and for my dissertation/Final Year Project at university I am building a Windows 8 app to support teachers with the new computing curriculum at schools. This will hopefully make coding fun so that more children (especially girls) want to create their own programs. One of the reasons I stood for the Women’s Officer Position at Birmingham City University’s Student Union was because of the low number of women choosing to study computing courses and pursuing careers in IT. I hope one day girls can look up to me as an inspirational influence in their journey in becoming a programming goddess!”
A couple of weeks ago I took the jump into Windows Phone development and I was pleasantly surprised by the experience. Using DreamSpark the tools were easy to set up and registering on the marketplace as easy.
Then there is learning the code. I was already competent in VB coding so this helped me but there were still some changes which I need to learn, this is where the resources available really came into their own. Windows Phone is already an extremely nice platform to program for but the tools available to everyone made life and switching to Windows Phone programming even easier. The tutorials can show you everything from starting on your very first program to moving to the Windows Phone platform, the new tools and how it works.
For me the best thing was using a platform which flows wells and gives you so much in the way of starting code. Every application you create is based on some sort of skeleton code meaning less work for you in design and more time for you to work on your code and get the best application possible.
There is also a great community on Windows Phone, on both the official forums and other forums such as XDA-Developers. The people there will help you with any code problems you help and endeavour to get you what you need to build the best app. These people are there because they love the platform, they love the development process (and why wouldn’t they?) and because they love to see new people joining them.
So where did I start? Design. The first thing you need to do is design your app so you know what you need to code and what goes where inside the app. Once this stage is done we can get started on the code.
Windows Phone is so simple to code. I started and within 6 hours my app was finished. The trick is to use the tools available on both the app hub and other online resources. Skeleton code can be your best friend if you utilise it well.
Then there is the app submission. I don’t think this process could have been easier. Upload your app, fill in a few details, upload some screenshots from the emulator and your logos with this you can submit your app for verification.
This is where the waiting game begins; fortunately this is a quick process and tends to take 1-3 days. Once this is done your app is in the marketplace and ready to go.
So I came from a background with previous experience in coding so what about someone who hasn’t? On Friday Microsoft came down to Bournemouth University to run a Windows Phone Camp. This went down very well with the students many of whom had never touched the tools before and some who had only just started coding. With their help and the tutorials online in the space of 3 days a novice had written and app and started private testing, with the hope of publishing his app by the end of the week.
That’s how easy it is to write your apps for this platform.
Another attendee who was previously a “I hate Microsoft” person and hardcore Linux user had a play with the devices, the tools and saw how simple and nice it was to code for the platform and made the switch. He is now going to start using Window Phone as his primary device and move from webOS coding to Windows Phone coding.
So as you can see there is something for everyone with Windows Phone, user or developer it’s the nicest experience you can have.
OK – the 7 who have replied are coming but I guess I should give the others some breathing space as they could be on holiday…
As part of your Windows Phone Incentive (now closed, finished, ended) we offered a trip to our Technology Centre here in Reading to meet some of our experts and to get some advice, guidance and tips on Windows Phone and Windows 8 development (all the details are below) and I have just emailed the lucky (?) winners.
It was great to see all the Apps and get them judged by our Microsoft Student Partners – I hope a lot of them will go on to develop Windows 8 apps – whether versions of their existing Windows Phone Apps or completely new ones. In order to get started we did publish a long list of resources for budding Windows 8 developers here but one of the challenges, or at least I think it is a challenge, is the idea!
Where do you get ideas from? What do you do to stimulate creativity? Are we able to help in some way? Let us know if there is something we can do to help you come up with ground breaking ideas. I’d love the first Windows 8 App millionaire to be a UK Student…..
Maybe it will be one of the 10 coming to the MTC….
The fine print od the competition for TOP Apps
THE TOP APPLICATIONS SELECTION & PRIZES:All Valid Entries published in Marketplace during the Competition Period will be entered into the Top Applications Selection process. The selection process consists of two stages:
Stage One: All Valid Entries from all three Periods of the competition will be screened by a panel of Microsoft Student Partners (MSPs) or Microsoft Student Interns (MSIs). Each Application will be screened by at least two MSPs or MSIs who will rate the Application based on the following four criteria:
Using these criteria each Application will be scored on a scale from one (1) to ten (10) on each criterion with a maximum score of forty (40). Competitors will be ranked based on their highest-scoring Application. The top twenty (20) competitors, and ties for 20th place, will go through to the second stage.
Stage Two: The Competitors’ Applications will be reviewed by four members of the Microsoft UK Academic team and one independent Windows Phone expert from a Microsoft Partner company who will judge them based on the same criteria and select up to ten (10) Top Applications Prize Winners.
There will be up to ten (10) Top Applications Prize Winners at the sole discretion of the judges. Top Applications Prize Winners will be announced no later than Tuesday 26th June 2012. Each will win the Top Applications Prizes as described below:
The Top Applications Prizes:
Students – we want you to work with us at our UK headquarters in August. How’s that for a headline?
We know that one of the things that makes students so awesome are the amazing ideas you all seem to have. Not only that – but you’re all brilliant when it comes to doing something about them. We’re working hard at Microsoft to make awesome things happen – so why not help you all do the same?
We’ve talked about Windows 8 before. It’s new, exciting, and a great opportunity for student developers to showcase their skills and build applications on a huge platform. We’re giving those great ideas of yours a stage.
We want you to join us, both in person and virtually, during August to create amazing app experiences for people using Windows 8. There’ll be some workshops, some training, some tools and resources for you to make use of – and you’ll all get to publish your app(s) by the end of the month into the Windows Store.
Take advantage of some of your time off of studying – make something amazing happen and get a chance to work with us at our headquarters. Besides, it’ll probably only rain anyway.
So in a nutshell
What do I need?
How do I sign up?
Click here to register!
Registering does not guarantee you a place on this workshop. You will receive an email saying whether you have a place OR not once your application has been looked at.
The registration form will ask you the following key pieces of information:
If you would like to participate BUT cannot make the 6th - 8th August email be sure say no to the ‘I will join you in TVP’ option and we’ll see what other opportunities there are down the line.
We look forward to working with you in August!
Terms and Conditions...
If we accept you onto this programme:
Hi everyone! My name is Natasha Joseph and I have just joined the Academic Team at Microsoft. Although I have only been here just over a week, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere different for this year, and am really excited to get going. In writing this blog, I want to give you an insight into what it’s like at Microsoft and give all those young students out there, a few helpful hints on how you could successfully get yourself an internship here, just like me.
For the past two years I have been studying at Exeter University doing Business Management, with the dream of one day becoming a successful manager in marketing. Some may be questioning, ‘what is a girl who is doing business, with no particular technical experience, doing at Microsoft!?’
This is where I want to begin…
When first visiting the offices, I was guilty of those typical Microsoft misconceptions; I was expecting a load of tech geeks in suits, however my whole perception of the place that day changed and I fell in love. The place is relaxed and full of colour, the technology available is far beyond my previous comprehension, the offices are slick and fashionable and the whole lifestyle here is just so forwards moving. I remember leaving that day thinking, ‘WHEN CAN I START!?’ It was perfect and everything I wanted in a workplace. Best of all, I could genuinely imagine myself fitting into the Microsoft community. And that is just what Microsoft is like… a tight knit community and family, a quality that most big corporates lack.
I won’t lie and say that anyone can get a job at Microsoft, but it is justifiable to say that an employee can come from anywhere. The diverse ranges of people within these buildings are just amazing, and I can honestly say that everyone here truly fits in. Whether you are a lover of consulting, a great communicator and networker or a person who prefers a role helping to develop the most innovative of technologies, there is a place for you here. Not only that, but all the work done here is truly meaningful, with every employees making a real difference. That is a quality that really attracted me, as I really wanted a lot of responsibility, and a chance to own my own projects, and that is just what I have been given.
However, the process to get this internship and any job here is not for the faint hearted, as there are a lot of stages in order to get to the final few. These include; application forms, online tests, telephone interviews and assessment centres. I would say to anyone who wishes to apply, that firstly make sure this is the place for you, check it is the culture you want in a workplace, and that there is a role or department you are really interested in (although the HR team here is really good at figuring out how well and where you could fit.) Secondly, at all stages of the application process, BE YOURSELF AND BE HONEST! There is nothing worse than someone who pretends to be a certain way, and then comes to a place which they may not really enjoy. Lastly, I would recommend to really do your research, as you want to love the place you are working in. As I started delving more and more into the world of Microsoft and the sheer range of AMAZING products and services they have to offer, it soon became hard not to love.
If I could leave everyone with one message, it would be to encourage people to apply for jobs here. If you are in the same position as I was just a few months ago, and are looking at companies to work for, this is truly an opportunity of a lifetime and I feel really lucky to have been offered it. I couldn’t speak more highly of the benefits and rewards you can get from working at Microsoft. It is an incredible place to work and I am now a real MICRO-LOVER!
Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @Tashjoseph66, and anyone who has any questions can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep in touch!
I spent the whole day (7am to 8.15pm) at the European BizSpark Summit with 200 entrepreneurs, VCs and some simply amazing people. I get a real buzz for the ideas, creativity and sheer enthusiasm of events like this.
Some of the content can be seen here http://new.livestream.com/microsoft/BizSparkSummit
Here’s one example, Bob Dorf, that got a lot of comment on the day.
More and more students are thinking of starting their own business and if its tech based then our offering is BizSpark. In a nutshell its
If this is of interest then let us know!