In a few days the February issue of MSDN Magazine should be hitting mailboxes and Web browsers alike. In other words, it's time for an MSDN Magazine issue preview. Here's what's cooking for the shortest month of the year.

Our lead feature in February is "Asynchronous Programming with C++ Using PPL," by Artur Laksberg. This feature looks at the powerful asynchronous talents of C++ and how they can be used to create more efficient and scalable applications. And as Laksberg points out, moving to asynchronous development is a great idea for anyone looking to take advantage of the unique capabilities of Windows Runtime and Windows 8. This piece is also a nice complement to the trio of features we published on asynchrony in C# back in October.

February sees a continuation of a couple ongoing feature series, including the next installment of our Building HTML5 Apps series. John Dyer steps in for Brandon Satrom to pen "Practical Cross-Browser HTML5 Audio and Video," which explores the powerful media handling capabilities of HTML5. In addition to recommending useful libraries, Dyer shows how to work around issues like uneven browser support for HTML5 tags and media types. Also this month we see the latest in our Windows Phone feature series. Cheryl Simmons offers useful guidance in her feature, "Get Your Windows Phone Applications in the Marketplace Faster." The piece shows how to properly optimize Windows Phone apps so they will pass muster in Microsoft's Marketplace assessment process. Finally, we close out the three-part NuGet series, with Clark Sell's feature "Creating a NuGet Gallery."

The February issue touches on a number of strategic Microsoft platforms. In addition to the Windows Phone coverage noted above, this issue includes the feature "Building a Massively Scalable Platform for Consumer Devices on Windows Azure," by Bruno Terkaly and Ricardo Villalobos. The piece demonstrates the scalability and interoperability of Microsoft's cloud platform, showing how to use Windows Azure-hosted RESTful Web services to stream video to a large number of diverse mobile clients. ASP.NET MVC developers also earn a nod, with Jess Chadwick's "Features and Foibles of ASP.NET MVC Model Binding." As Chadwick writes, the features "will take you deep into the heart of the ASP.NET MVC model binding subsystem, showing each layer of the model binding framework and the various ways you can extend the model binding logic to meet your application’s needs."

Finally, our February feature selection includes "What’s New in Windows Workflow 4.5," by Leon Welicki, an overview of the many changes and improvements in the latest version of WF in .NET Framework 4.5.

The big news in our column lineup this month is the return of John Papa, who until 2009 wrote our popular Data Points column. He returns this month to write the new Client Insight column, which focuses on technologies and issues related to client-side development. HTML5, JavaScript, WPF, Silverlight... if it's relevant to client app development, it's relevant to his column. Given Papa's background in both data and client development, it's fitting that his inaugural column looks at the unique data binding talents of the Knockout JavaScript library. You can also read more about Papa’s return in this months Editor’s Note column.

Speaking of data, Julie Lerman's Data Points column dwells on Entity Framework 4.2 DbContext class, which she describes as a "wrapper around ObjectContext that exposes the most commonly used features of ObjectContext." It also streamlines many frequent-but-complex tasks when coding directly with ObjectContext. Joseph Fultz offers a look at Windows Azure Deployment Domains in his Forecast: Cloudy column this month, while Ted Neward's column The Working Programmer explores Tropo, a free, cloud-hosted, voice-and-SMS solution.

As ever, James McCaffrey is exploring the hard edges of programming in his Test Run column. This month he dives into an "Ant Colony Optimization," an algorithm that uses artificial intelligence techniques based on the pheromone-laying behavior of ants. Seriously. It's the latest in McCaffrey's fascinating explorations of, as he puts it, "optimization algorithms based on the behavior of natural systems."

In our January issue, Charles Petzold's long-running UI Frontiers column appeared under its new name, Touch and Go. The change reflects Petzold's ongoing focus on Windows Phone, mobile and touch-based application development. This month, Petzold shows how to play music files in the background from a Windows Phone 7.5 application and highlights some interesting quirks in the implementation of background audio.

As ever, MSDN Magazine closes with David Platt and his Don’t Get Me Started column. Look for his musings on smartphones and the odd way in which they both pull people together and push them apart.

Got a topic, issue or technology you’d like to see addressed in MSDN Magazine? Please let me know! Leave a comment here or email me at mmeditor@microsoft.com.