Over the past four years I've gone through a pretty dramatic shift in career focus. I started off developing C++ COM assemblies for medical devices, shifted towards web development, launched a Microsoft Dynamics CRM system, and most recently became the business owner for InnovateOn, a site that helps ISVs who are betting on our latest technologies get their solutions to market faster. One of the key goals of InnovateOn is to help our partners navigate the admittedly complex world of Microsoft offerings and provide them with the best possible resources for the task at hand. As part of our upcoming InnovateOn the Web initiative, I got to put on my dusty web developer/designer hat and spend some time digging through various Microsoft web resources. We'll be posting this soon on the InnovateOn the Web site, but here's a sneak peek at a list of what I personally believe to be the ten best Microsoft sites for anyone interested in Microsoft web dev/design.
By the way, please note that these are all Microsoft-sponsored sites. I'm already compiling my favorite non-Microsoft web resources as well, be on the lookout for that list in an upcoming post (and feel free to post suggestions in the comments below).
Apparently Silverlight.com was taken. Anyway, Silverlight.net has a great intro to Silverlight with links to tools, samples and training videos. There are also some nice white papers and a gallery of sample applications (with source code). I tried out the chess game and lost in less than sixty seconds. Ouch. Any technology that can deliver such swift and utter humiliation has got to be good.
Contoso Bicycle Club
I first saw this demo at an internal MS conference last summer and it really blew me away. It's a mashup site showcasing hosted Live services (maps, video, and classifieds). Be sure to click over to the "Rides" section and check out the bike cam feature. Very nice integration of video and live maps. The best part is that the full code base is available for download and reuse.
The Expression Suite is geared towards bridging the gap between the ever-blurring line between developers and designers. Here's the place to download the latest tools for web design, video encoding, media management and more. Free trials are available.
Office Live Small Business
Here's the deal. OLSB is not for hardcore web geeks who want to create a cutting-edge, dynamically-driven AJAX site. However, it's fantastic for small businesses that are looking for a web presence on a shoestring budget. Besides the customer-facing site, OSLB allows small business to get professional Email addresses, share documents, collaborate on projects, and start a web advertising campaign. Anyone who does IT work for small businesses should definitely check this out. Free trials are available.
ASP.Net Starter Kits
If you're a developer who learns better by doing rather than reading, this is the place for you. These starter kits contain fully functional sample applications to help you learn ASP.NET and accomplish common web development scenarios. I wish I had discovered this earlier as this is one of the most practical .NET sample code sites I've ever seen. Free trial web hosting offer is available.
Free hosting for up to 4 GB of streaming Silverlight content. Not much more to say about that.
Visit Mix University
I literally spent hours on this site when I first heard about it during their internal beta launch, and as of October 1 it is officially live for your learning pleasure. The videos and demos are fantastic and the "Dinner Now" scenario is the best example of the power of the all-up Microsoft stack that I've ever seen. If you only have one hour to get up to speed on what Microsoft offers to web developers, this is the place to go.
Snack-sized tutorials to get up to speed on Silverlight. Great for designers looking to pick up a few new tricks. There's not a ton of content yet but what's there is definitely worth checking out.
Visual Studio Express
Arrr, mateys! Still using search terms that end with 'z' to get your dev tools? VS Express offers free lightweight versions of Visual Studio and SQL for immediate download. Visual Studio 2008 beta now available for preview. FYI - LINQ will blow your mind.
Another newly-launched member of the Mix family. This one is a community site geared mainly towards web designers, but there's a lot for developers as well. It's a good place to get inspired when starting a new project. Be sure to browse through the gallery sites to see some great work by some extremely talented designers.