September, 2011 - Microsoft UK Faculty Connection - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

September, 2011


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows HPC with Burst to Windows Azure Training Course


    This Resource Kit contains samples that demonstrate HPC application types and concepts shown in the article "Windows HPC with Burst to Windows Azure Application Models and Data Considerations". This new version of the resource kit includes samples that demonstrate the new features of the HPC Pack 2008 R2 SP2, including using the Message Passing Interface (MPI) on Windows Azure nodes, and the HPC Job Scheduler's representational state transfer (REST) API.

    Download Offline Training Kit

    Target Audience

    This training kit is intended for use by academic whom wish to learn how to use the Azure burst scenario, which is described in the article Windows HPC with Burst to Windows Azure: Application Models and Data Considerations.

    Technical Prerequisites

    Parametric Sweep

    Parametric sweep provides a straightforward development path for solving delightfully parallel problems on a cluster (sometimes referred to as "embarrassingly parallel" problems, which have no data interdependencies or a shared state that would preclude linear scaling through parallelization). One such problem is the calculation of prime numbers over a large range. Parametric sweep applications run multiple instances of the same program on different sets of input data stored in a series of indexed storage items, such as files on a disk or rows in a database table. Each instance of a parametric sweep application runs as a separate task, and many such tasks can execute concurrently, depending on the amount of available cluster resources.


    Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is an architectural style designed for building distributed systems. The SOA actors are services: independent software packages that expose their functionality by receiving data (requests) and returning data (responses). SOA is designed to support the distribution of an application across computers and networks, which makes it a natural candidate for scaling on a cluster. The SOA support provided by Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 is based on Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), a .NET framework for building distributed applications. Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 SP2 improves SOA support by hosting WCF services on Windows Azure nodes in addition to the on-premises nodes.

    Excel Offloading

    The execution of compute-intensive Microsoft Excel workbooks with independent calculations can sometimes be scaled using a cluster. The integration of Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 SP2 with Windows Azure supports User Defined Function (UDF)-offloading. Excel workbook calculations that are based on UDFs defined in an XLL file can be installed on the cluster’s nodes (on-premises and/or Windows Azure). With the XLL installed on the cluster, the user can perform the UDF calls remotely on the cluster instead of locally on the machine on which the Excel workbook is open.

    Message Passing Interface (MPI)

    Message Passing Interface (MPI) is a platform-independent standard for messaging between HPC nodes. Microsoft MPI (MS MPI) is the MPI implementation used for MPI applications executed by Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 SP2. Integration of Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 SP2 with Windows Azure supports running MPI applications on Windows Azure nodes.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Updating your DreamSpark developer phones to Mango



    ‘Mango’ OS Beta: Updating from 7712 to RTM


    All registered DreamSpark Developers can now update their devices to Windows Phone 7.5 without having to fall back to the backup taken at the beginning of the provisioning process.

    This update is being made available to those running build 7712 on a retail device that was updated using the provisioning tool we published to Connect a couple months ago. Read more.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Tech.Days Online Conference Design from a User Perspective, 5 October, 3-5pm BST



    It’s one thing to create an application for Windows Phone. It’s another to *design* an application for Windows Phone that centres on experience of the user and delights them at every turn.

    Join this FREE online conference Microsoft be offering some recommended viewing / reading to help you familiarize yourself with different aspects of designing for Windows Phone (e.g. the philosophy behind Metro, considerations for mobile apps, tools, control palate, design guidelines etc.) and discuss the key principles and try to answer the questions you have related to applying these principles to your own applications.

    This new series will offer you the opportunity to ask questions you would like answered from Microsoft. Register today and start!

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Silicon Valley comes to the UK




    10 LUCKY University Students to win an ALL PAID EXPENSES TRIP TO SILICON VALLEY for creating apps around health, education and environmental data from the Gov’t!

    Silicon Valley comes to the UK (SVc2UK), announces a month long, multi-site competition, dubbed, the SVc2UK Appathon, the competition supports and encourages university students to use government data to "hack" together innovative consumer applications in Healthcare, Education, and the Environment. This competition allows students to unlock the power of government data to make both a positive social impact and enhance its accessibility to peers, parents, and grandparents. This ambitious initiative represents the UK's largest ever mobilisation of students to create apps’. We don't know yet what they will create, but we are hoping for a 'good school's guide’ where you can find out where the good schools are near you, a 'good doctor's guide,’ where you can find a doctor near you, and a 'clean city guide' where you can find the cleanest city near you - or the dirtiest!

    This national ‘coding competition’ helps to address the void that exists in most university curricula, creating a real world opportunity for those developers with the ambition, appetite and aptitude to code and build applications that can have real value to users. With support, not only from their peers, but the wider technology community, and a network of mentors, these students will be able to take control of, and enhance, their own education outside of the classroom and make a difference.

    Continuing the historic success of SVc2UK, approximately 1,500 students from 15 universities across the UK are expected to be drawn “like magnets” to six UK locations including Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, Sheffield, Southampton and London to take part in the Appathons. Full access to the data and details of participating universities and hosts can be found at

    The SVc2UK Appathons will run during early October and are open to university students across the country. The competition has the full support of Downing Street, which will supply their technical guru’s from In addition, pretty much the whole technology industry is lending their support to the effort University students who enter the competition have until 23 October to submit their apps to be judged by leading Global entrepreneurial icons including Reid Hoffman, Joi Ito and more (see

    The winners of the SVc2UK Appathon will attend an awards ceremony in November as part of ‘Silicon Valley comes to the UK’ ( and 9 winners will be invited to take part in a road trip to Silicon Valley followed by the legendary South by Southwest Conference early next year.

    The Appathon will conclude with winning developers, coming to London (UK), for the finale: a show and tell event where the developers will explain and demonstrate their efforts to a selected audience of their peers, politicians, advisers, civil servants, and the press.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Download Building Windows Phone Apps: A Developer’s Guide



    I’m pleased to announce that the 1st edition of “Building Windows Phone Apps: A Developer’s Guide” is available to download.

    This e-book is a community effort to capture useful information and learning about building apps on the Windows Phone platform.

    Download Building Windows Phone Apps: A Developer’s Guide

    For more details on this publication and its authors see Mike Ormond's Blog, please feel free to use this book with students and your courses also if you have any comments suggestions or ideas for additional chapters or content please post your feedback on Mike’s Blog.

    Happy reading!

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    TechDays.Online FREE ONLINE Training in October 2011–REGISTER NOW


    I am pleased to announce a series of free Tech.Days Online Conferences for academic and student developers.

    Tech.Days online conferences simply give you access to hand-picked video content and technology training from our UK team, and the chance to get involved online, listen to speakers and ask our panel questions Live.


    Windows Azure Online Conference / Tuesday 4 October, 3-5pm

    Register for this event here / Click here for more details

    If you are just getting started with cloud computing with Windows Azure, this is the perfect starting point for you This online conference will help you get over any initial stumbling blocks, so you can quickly be productive in this new environment.


    Windows Phone Online Conference / Wednesday 5 October, 3-5pm

    Register for this event here / Click here for more details

    We’ll help you familiarise yourself with different aspects of designing for Windows Phone, including the philosophy behind Metro and Application design. You don’t need any experience of Windows Phone development, you just need an interest in developing phone apps.


    Internet Explorer Online Conference / Thursday 6 October, 3-5pm

    Register for this event here / Click here for more details

    In this conference we’ll discuss the difference between a website and a web application. You’ll also learn about HTML5 features that allow applications to do more than is currently possible with just AJAX and HTML 4. In-depth web development experience isn’t necessary you just need to be keen to build your knowledge of the different aspects of IE9.

    How do you Register?

    1. Register simply click on the link for the Tech.Days Online Conference above.

    2. View content - Once you’ve registered you will be sent an email highlighting the video and white paper content to view and digest before the day of your online conference. This hand-picked content helps you cut through the clutter of information around your area of interest.

    3. Send questions or points in advance -  the live online conference will be used to address all your comments and questions - whether they’re sent in advance or asked live.

    4. Attend your live online conference - Join the conference at the scheduled time using the LiveMeeting platform. This will not simply be a presentation based experience: the first part will be a wrap-up and high level summary of the video content; the second part will be a Q&A session where you can post questions to the panel and interact with peers.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Integrate Core Windows technologies into your teaching curricula


    OS curriculum and Kernel source code

    The Windows Academic Program provides universities with curriculum materials, Windows kernel source code, and a project environment for teaching operating system principles using Windows.

    Windows CRK

    The Curriculum Resource Kit (CRK) is a collection of instructional materials that follows the ACM/IEEE-CS Operating System Body of Knowledge and illustrates operating system (OS) concepts using Windows XP as a case study.

    Who it's for

    The CRK is free and available to any professor or student who accepts the terms of the Microsoft Curriculum License Agreement.

    Learn more

    Additional Windows CRK Information


    Windows Research Kernel

    The Windows Research Kernel (WRK) packages core Windows XP x64/Server 2003 SP1 kernel sources with an environment for building and testing of experiments and projects based on modifying the Windows kernel, enabling advanced teaching and research that promote better understanding of the Windows architecture and implementation.

    Who it's for

    The WRK is free and available to eligible academic faculty members, researchers, and students at accredited universities who accept the terms and conditions of the Microsoft Windows Research Kernel Source Code License - updated.

    Learn more

    Additional Windows Research Kernel Information



    ProjectOZ is an experimental environment that is built on top of the native NT API for universities to use as a platform for operating system projects.

    Who it's for

    ProjectOZ is free and available to any professor or student who accepts the terms of the Microsoft Curriculum License Agreement.

    Learn more

    Additional ProjectOZ Information


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    NAO’s Robotics European Tour



    If your interested in Robotics and using Microsoft Robotics studio in your teaching then your going to be interested in attending the NAO’s European Tour.


    The NAO tour aims to demonstrate how a humanoid robotic platform can be beneficial to teachers and researchers willing to attract students to scientific curriculum.

    On the tour you will be able to take part in short practical workshops exploring computer sciences, mathematics, physics, mechanics, kinematics, and electronics with NAO. So lets make the curriculum exciting with NAO and Microsoft Robotics Studio so attend one of the sessions and learn how NAO is used as a teaching platform from High Schools to University meet teachers and researchers who have adopted NAO and learn from their experience and skills.

    Discover a complete teaching solution that stimulates creativity, problem-solving and team-working. Find out the tutorials for STEM classrooms developed by teachers. Research labs are using NAO to explore areas such as human robot interaction, humanoid motion, localization and mapping, cognition, learn about research projects where scientists benefit from NAO.

    Register now and attend the half day workshop FREE of charge

    Birmingham  Oct 11th 2011

    Manchester Oct 12th 2011

    Edinburgh Oct 13th 2011

    Wrexham Nov 2nd 2011

    London Nov 3rd 2011

    Dublin Oct 20th 2011.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Azure updates and announcements


    Appfabric thumbAzure_thumbnailAzureMarket

    Last week at the Microsoft Windows BUILD event, a number of announcements in relation to Windows Azure were made.These announcements included the following, the release of the Azure toolkit for Windows 8, availability for Bing service APIs (including translation) internationally, a new Azure SDK , updates to Azure management capability and much more.

    Here is a list of some of the key announcements:

    For more details see Windows Azure Marketplace technical details and at the Windows Azure blog here.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Student Developer get stuck into Windows Phone over the summer holidays



    About two months ago the Windows Phone team issued a challenge to student developers over the summer holiday:

    The challenge, to create an awesome Microsoft Expression Sketchflow prototype of a Windows Phone application.

    The reward was to win one of 50 HTC Mazaa developer devices. The competition resulted in over 281 prototypes created and over 203 participants submitting prototypes.

    So if your developing Windows Phone make sure your using Microsoft Expression Sketchflow which can be downloaded for FREE via Microsoft DreamSpark or MSDNAA and here are some useful tips and guidance on your designs.

    • Clarity of Purpose – Easy to understand what the app would do and for whom. There are various ways to do this: use of an “about” screen, using notations throughout the prototype, and the use of another web-page or even a video explanation.
    • Innovative – Does your app do something new or accomplished something in a new way are you using the device features.
    • Use of Metro – Does your application belong on Windows Phone due to the choices made in layout, in the use of controls (e.g. pivots, colours, functions and layout)
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