August, 2012 - Microsoft UK Faculty Connection - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

August, 2012


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 Milestones


    August the 1st marked a important day for academic institutions wishing to use/teach Windows 8 in the next academic session.

    Windows 8 reached Release to Manufacturing, Windows 8 is now being issued to all PC OEM and manufacturing partners.

    More details

    • August 15th: Developers will be able to download the final version of Windows 8 via your MSDN subscriptions and DreamSpark Premium for institutional administrators
    • August 15th: IT professionals testing Windows 8 in organizations will be able to access the final version of Windows 8 through your TechNet subscriptions.
    • August 16th: Education institutions with existing Microsoft Software Assurance for Windows will be able to download Windows 8 Enterprise edition through the Volume License Service Center (VLSC), allowing you to test, pilot and begin adopting Windows 8 Enterprise within your organization.
    • August 16th: Microsoft Partner Network members will have access to Windows 8.
    • August 20th: Microsoft Action Pack Providers (MAPS) receive access to Windows 8.
    • August 25th - 31st: Students will be able to download these via DreamSpark Premium institutional ELMS stores
    • September 1st: Volume License customers without Software Assurance will be able to purchase Windows 8 through Microsoft Volume License Resellers and Academic License Resellers.

    So over the next few days/weeks you will see the availability of exciting new models of PCs loaded with Windows 8 and online availability of Windows 8 on October 26, 2012.

    More details

    Developers can visit the Windows Dev Center to get access to all the tools and resources they need to design, build, and sell apps in the Windows Store. While all apps during the preview phases were free, at RTM developers can begin charging for apps, so those with access to RTM bits will begin to see paid apps appear in the Windows Store.

    Also, Windows Server 2012 has been released to manufacturing.

    On September 4.  That’s when Windows Server 2012 will be generally available for evaluation and download by all customers around the world.  On that day we will also host an online launch event where our executives, engineers, customers and partners will share more about how Windows Server 2012 can help organizations of all sizes realize the benefits of what we call the Cloud OS.  You will be able to learn more about the features and capabilities and connect with experts and peers.  You’ll also be able to collect points along the way for the chance to win some amazing prizes. You don’t want to miss it.  Visit this site to save the date for the launch event.

    More details

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Visual Studio 2012 and Windows on DreamSpark


    Due to the number of comments I have had on this post, I just wanted to confirm what products will be available under DreamSpark for students.

    MSDN Subscriber Downloads: August 15th, 2012

    Visual Studio 2012 and Windows 8 are available as of, August 15th, on MSDN Subscriber Downloads to DreamSpark Subscribers.

    To confirm DreamSpark Premium Subscription Program Administrators may follow these steps to get immediate access to the software:

    1) Visit

    2) Sign in with the Windows Live ID associated with their DreamSpark Subscription

    3) Search for the product of choice and click on “Download”

    4) To acquire product keys the administrator may click on “Product Keys” and “Get Key” for applicable SKUs.

    a. Note: Not all Visual Studio 2012 SKUs require a product key.

    5) The file will be downloaded in .iso format.

    a. Click here for instructions on how to use .iso files. and ELMS WebStore: August 25th, 2012 for student downloads

    Please see the SKU Availability Matrix below for specifics on which products will be available on, and through DreamSprk Premium ELMS Institutional WebStores.  The SKUs highlighted in red will be available starting August 25th, with the remaining releasing in a week thereafter, To confirm, Windows desktop operating systems are only available to students at education institutions which have purchased a DreamSpark premium subscription for STEM based disciplines .

    Note: these SKUs will be available in the following languages on the 25th, English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese-Brazil, Russian, Chinese Simplified, and Chinese Traditional, with rolling releases of additional languages following on a week after:  

    For Visual Studio SKUs a separate Portuguese-Brazil language pack will be required, and will also be available on the 25th.

    Product SKU Availability Matrix

    Subscription Level

    Product SKU


    DreamSpark Premium

    Visual Studio Professional 2012



    Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web



    Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows



    Visual Studio Premium 2012


    Visual Studio Ultimate 2012


    Visual Studio TFS Express 2012



    Visual Studio TFS Server 2012



    Team Explorer for Visual Studio 2012



    Team Explorer Everywhere for TFS




    Windows 8


    Windows 8 Debug/Checked Build


    Windows 8 Enterprise


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Announcing Blend and Sketch Flow for Visual Studio 2012



    We are pleased to announce new versions of Blend + Sketchflow preview for Visual Studio 2012. Bringing Blend and Visual Studio together offers more value. Blend is a great tool offering a wide variety of designers and developers the ability to quickly and easily build great looking and powerful UI.

    These new versions make available capabilities that were previously only available in Expression Blend such as Windows Presentation Foundation, Silverlight and SketchFlow support, unifying the design-centric tools for building Windows Store Apps and Windows desktop apps to Visual Studio users.

    This is for evaluation only and none of the platforms contain a go-live license. Therefore you SHOULD use other released versions of Blend for production work. 

    What is the Blend + Sketchflow Preview for Visual Studio 2012?

    Blend for Visual Studio 2012 can help you design user interfaces for applications with robust tools that solve complex design tasks for building Windows Store apps.

    The Blend + Sketchflow Preview introduces powerful WYSIWYG design capabilities to Visual Studio developers by providing support for WPF and Silverlight.

    What is the difference between Blend + SketchFlow Preview for Visual Studio 2012 and Blend for Visual Studio 2012 RTW? Do I need both?

    Blend for Visual Studio 2012 is a unique, innovative authoring tool with rich visual tools for creating Windows store apps using HTML/CSS and XAML. Blend is installed with most versions of Visual Studio 2012.

    Blend + SketchFlow Preview for Visual Studio 2012 delivers WPF, Silverlight, and SketchFlow support compatible with Visual Studio 2012. You can install this alongside Visual Studio 2012 RTW.

    What is SketchFlow; how does it differ from Storyboarding in Visual Studio 2012?

    SketchFlow provides an informal and quick way to explore, iterate and prototype user interface scenarios. SketchFlow is for building working prototypes of software for developers, while the new storyboarding capability allows PowerPoint to be used for capturing lightweight requirements from stakeholders.




  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    XNA developers and Windows 8





    A large number of the UK’s Universities and colleges have been using XNA since 2004 within gaming course curricula on Windows, XBox and Windows Phone. We have a huge set of Free curricula resources for  XNA  game development at

    XNA over the last 7 years has provide a number of students and indie game developers with an impressive content pipeline, game assets, load functionality, animation, math, sound and user input tracking via gamepad, mouse, keyboard and touch with game logic organized in a straightforward game loop architecture, more recently we have also added curricula for XNA and Kinect.

    Within education XNA has been a huge driver for a number of students and developers who wanted to learn how to create games. XNA along with Visual Studio made it as easy as File –> New –> XNA Game Studio Project and you were off developing.

    Since Windows 8 is built on the strong foundation of Windows 7, any app built for Windows will run in the Windows 8 desktop environment. This includes apps based on XNA, Win32, .NET, WPF, Silverlight, etc. 

    Windows 8 also introduces a new type of app called a Metro Style App for developers that wish to make their app available in the Windows 8 Store, for free or for sale. Using Visual Studio 2012, you have a language choice of C++, XAML with C#, VB or C++, or HTML5/JS to create a Metro Style App.

    Using the XNA Framework is not a choice for building a Metro Style App. Official Microsoft guidance on game development is documented here.

    Windows 8 allows you too build highly immersive games using HTML5/JS, XAML/C#, XAML/VB or C++ and DirectX.

    However a number of you have already stressed too me, that you and your students have been developing with XNA and have an existing code base, or would like to import existing XNA games too Windows 8 your only option it would seem is running as a desktop app.

    This is where MonoGame comes in…


    MonoGame is an Open Source implementation of the Microsoft XNA 4 Framework. The goal is to allow XNA developers on Windows & Windows Phone to port their games to the iOS, Android, Mac OS X, Linux with both PlayStation Suite and Windows 8 support currently under development.

    NOTE : This project is not linked with Microsoft or any of it subsidiaries. It is a non-profit, open source project. MonoGame is licensed under the Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL)

    MonoGame provides a cross platform XNA Framework implementation for XNA developers who want to take their code to non-Microsoft platforms as well as the ability, to target Windows 8.

    MonoGame for Windows 8  you can take your XNA code and with a recompile and some additional features too simply create a Metro Style App for example Armed within the Windows Store uses MonoGame. I have too stress MonoGame is still under development and so any use of it should come with a note of advice to stay on top of that effort.

    In order to provide a complete implementation of XNA on Windows 8, MonoGame leverages SharpDX , an open-source project delivering the full DirectX API for managed code (.NET) and Windows 8 (WinRT). SharpDX is an open-source project, free of charge available under the following MIT License.

    Theoretically by moving your code over into a new Visual Studio Project Solution along with MonoGame, you should de able too recompile a Windows 8 Metro Style game so if your a XNA Developer give it a try and let me know the results.
  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    If your thinking of installing Windows 8 are your labs machine HyperV capable?


    Whether you are a software developer, an IT administrator, many of us need to run multiple operating systems. Windows 8 uses Hyper-V, the machine virtualization technology that has been part of the last 2 releases of Windows Server.

    In brief, Hyper-V lets you run more than one 32-bit or 64-bit x86 operating system at the same time on the same computer. Instead of working directly with the computer’s hardware, the operating systems run inside of a virtual machine (VM).

    Hyper-V enables developers to easily maintain multiple test environments and provides a simple mechanism to quickly switch between these environments without incurring additional hardware costs.

    An introduction to Hyper-V




    Hyper-V requires a 64-bit system that has Second Level Address Translation (SLAT). SLAT is a feature present in the current generation of 64-bit processors by Intel & AMD. You’ll also need a 64-bit version of Windows 8, and at least 4GB of RAM. Hyper-V does support creation of both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems in the VMs.

    Hyper-V’s dynamic memory allows memory needed by the VM to be allocated and de-allocated dynamically (you specify a minimum and maximum) and share unused memory between VMs. You can run 3 or 4 VMs on a machine that has 4GB of RAM but you will need more RAM for 5 or more VMs. On the other end of the spectrum, you can also create large VMs with 32 processors and 512GB RAM.

    In conclusion, by bringing Hyper-V from Windows Server to Windows Client, allows you to provide a robust virtualization technology designed for the scalability, security, reliability, and performance needs of most data centers. With Hyper-V, developers and IT professionals can now build a more efficient and cost-effective environment for using and testing across multiple machines.

    So how do I know if my machine support SLAT (second level address translation). 

    1. Windows 8 HyperV requires support for SLAT (second level address translation). 

    2. So if your thinking of installing Windows 8 in your institutions computer labs you should check your machine BIOS as this feature can be enabled/disabled.

    3. To do this Download CoreInfo from the Windows Sysinternals website, here.

    4. Open a command window with admin rights and type coreinfo –v, if an asterix is displayed next to EPT row then your Intel processor supports SLAT.


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Why start learning to build for Windows 8



    If you have done any reading about Windows 8, one thing all the press is focusing on is Windows 8 offers and unprecedented opportunity to monetize your developer skills.

    Combining the broad reach of Windows which already exists, a new developer platform in the form of Windows Store Apps, best-in-class developer tools Visual Studio 2012 and Team Foundation Server, a reimagined user experience with Windows Store, Metro Style Apps, support for new chipsets Intel and RTM, and a built-in Store with industry-leading business terms, with initial revenue share of 70% revenue for you 30 % for Microsoft and 100% in app purchase revenue to you.

    Windows 8 is the largest developer opportunity, ever!

    So lets look at some of the reasons for developers to consider writing applications for the Windows Store.

    1. The Size of the Windows Opportunity

    There is more than 1.25 billion Windows users globally. The market potential for your selling your application is enormous. Clearly, the market for Windows-based applications far outnumbers anything else. Thinking about academia specifically, potential employers will be wanting to recruit students with the skills, experience and portfolio of existing Windows 8 apps to build their latest software releases.

    2. The Scale of the Windows Opportunity

    Simply put the Windows Store offers a marketplace for your application with a global reach of 200+ markets, 100+ languages, even distribution to enterprise customers. A generous revenue sharing model is in place. Imagine that you keep 70-80% of the revenue share from your application.

    3. So what are we doing to help


    1. Some amazing help is available from Microsoft
    2. I am talking about the Windows 8 Camps
    3. Sign up HERE for the App Excellence Lab Process
    4. You will get a 2 hour, 1-1 session with a technical person to help review your app, pass it (to submit to the store submission process) or give you feedback you can go away and work on.
    5. The sessions can be virtual or physical so you can do it from your location.
    6. The AEL process is about quality so please make sure your app is in good shape so you have the best possible chance of getting the app through the process.
    7. AELs run from now to GA October 26th so there are lots of dates and times so you will be able to find a time that suits you.
    8. Get to grips with Windows 8 have one-on-one sessions with Microsoft staff
    9. They will help review your application for:
      • Performance
      • Adherence to the Windows 8 Design Principles
    10. This process could result in a your app getting early into the Windows Store


    4. So What type of App should I be building?

    What is the Best App Type? - Entertainment apps are the most popular, followed by Books and References, and Games.
    What languages can I develop in? Windows 8, Windows Store apps can leverage a variety of skills you already know (JavaScript, HTML5, CSS, XAML, C#, VB, or C++ ).

    5. The Windows Store Ensures Visibility

    Strong support for search, category browsing, ranking lists, editorial content. The Windows Store features latest, most popular, and fast rising apps.

    6. Enterprise Support
    Don’t limit yourself to consumer apps. Perhaps you have an idea for an Enterprise application. Luckily, the Windows Store will have rich support for deployment and management scenarios.  Compliance and security is built in. There is support for direct control over the deployment of Metro style apps.

    7. How you make money
    Your applications can be time-based and feature-based trials, paid apps, including in-app purchases.  In-app purchases can help you customize the transaction flow with the customer. Sales analytics can also help you increase your reach.

    8. Free Apps - Many choose to offer free applications + an ad model

    I personally think it makes the most sense to get your application out there as a trial. We have learned from the Windows Phone marketplace that trial versions get 70 times more downloads than paid versions. 10% of those convert to the paid version, typically within a few hours.


    1. The Windows Dev Center

    • Developer downloads – This single page gives access to all of the downloads you need to build apps, including Windows 8 RTM, Visual Studio Express 2012, design assets, code samples, and additional SDKs and tools.
    • Design resources – All Windows 8 design resources are located at See case studies, category guidance, and get a new downloadable version of the UX guidelines for Windows 8 apps.
    • Developer content – The ‘Docs’ section of the Windows Dev Center is updated for RTM including more detailed API docs, new How-to articles, a new section for developing apps with C++ and DirectX, and many more samples.
    • Selling content – Find the Windows Store markets, how to price apps, and the latest versions of the Windows Store Agreements including the App Certification Requirements.
    • Community content – Access to developer forums, blogs, Dev Camps, and local event listings

    2. The Windows engineering and Windows Store teams are blogging regularly at the following sites

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Creating a Linux Virtual Machine as a Persistent Windows Azure VM role.




    Over the past few weeks, I have had a few questions around the ability of Windows Azure to run non Windows operating systems. In this post I will explain the process of  installing Linux on Windows Azure.

    Firstly some key facts about Windows Azure support for Linux 

    Creating a virtual machine that is running the Linux operating system is easy when you use the image gallery in the Windows Azure Preview Management Portal. With no prior experience with Windows Azure, you can create a virtual machine running the Linux operating system in the cloud that you can access and customize.

    Images are provided by these trusted members of the Linux community:


    So how to create a virtual machine?



    Here is a step by step walkthrough adapted from Bruno Terkaly Blog   

    1. Open Internet Explorer and browse to enter the Windows Azure portal. Then, log in with your credentials.
    2. In the menu located at the bottom, select New | Virtual Machine | From Gallery to start creating a new virtual machine.


    Working with the gallery
    1. Select "From Gallery" to start creating a new virtual machine.
    2. Gallery will provide a list of available operating systems.

    Select a flavour of Linux

     Selecting a flavour of Linux


    1. Not including your own, you can choose your VM to run the following Systems:
      • Microsoft SQL Server 2012
        • This image contains the full version of SQL Server, including all components except Distributed Replay, Always On, and Clustering capabilities.
      • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
        • Windows Server 2008 R2 is a multi-purpose server designed to increase the reliability and flexibility of your server or private cloud infrastructure.
      • Windows Server 2012
        • Windows Server 2012 incorporates Microsoft's experience building and operating public clouds, resulting in a dynamic, highly available server platform. It offers a scalable, dynamic and multi-tenant-aware infrastructure that helps securely connect across premises.
      • CentOS 6.2
        • This distribution of CentOS version 6.2 is provided by OpenLogic and contains an installation of the Basic Server packages
      • OpenSUSE64-12.1
        • OpenSUSE Linux 64 Bits (IAAS M1 Preview)
        • This is the distribution with Yast2
      • Suse Linux Enterprise Server
        • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is a highly reliable, scalable, and secure server operating system, built to power mission-critical workloads in both physical and virtual environments. It is an affordable, interoperable, and manageable open source foundation
      • Ubuntu Server 12.04
        • Ubuntu Server 12.04 amd64 20120528.1
        • Ubuntu Server 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) amd64 20120528.1 Cloud Image


         Naming the Virtual Machine (Linux)
    1. You will need to provide:
      • Virtual Machine Name
      • User Name
      • Password
      • Size (larger VMs allow up to 14GB of memory)
    2. Some guidelines regarding Administrator account
      1. Rename the Default Administrator Account
      2. When you rename the default Administrator account, it removes the obvious indication that this account has elevated privileges.
      3. Although an attacker still needs the password to use the default Administrator account, a renamed default Administrator account adds an additional layer of protection against elevation of privilege attacks.
      4. Note: Renaming the default administrator account hinders only certain types of attack.
      5. Additionally, tools are available that enumerate group members, and these always list the original administrator account first.
      6. For the best protection against attacks on your built-in administrator account, create a new administration account and then disable the built-in account.


    Specifying Linux VM Details

    1. The DNS name is the name of your Linux OS in the cloud
    2. Specify a storage account or automatically generate one
      • This is so you can store tables, blobs, and queues
    3. Specify region or affinity
      • Affinity is a useful concept.
        • It allows you to group dependant Windows Azure services, and deploy those in one place if possible
          • If your services are dependant on each other it is good if those are co-located, so that transactions between them are executed faster.
            • The best option is if the network hops between your hosted services are minimized as much as possible
          • Lowering your bill - For the most part bandwidth within the data center is free of charge
         Understanding Availability Set
    1. Availability sets means that your VMs will be distributed across different fault domains in the data center.
    2. This means if an entire rack goes down, you will have a running instance available


    Your Virtual Machine Running (Portal)

    1. The Linux OS is up and running after just a few minutes.
    2. We now need to test connectivity
    3. We will use the Putty tool(s)


    Understanding the Dashboard, Endpoints, and Configuration

    1. You have a few choices here:
      • Dashboard
        • Usage Overview
        • Status
        • URL
        • HostName
        • Public Virtual IP Address
        • SSH Details
        • Size
        • Disks
        • Location
        • Deployment ID
        • Subscription Name
        • Subscription ID
      • Endpoints
        • Name
        • Protocol (UDP or TCP)
        • Public Port
        • Private Port
        • Load Balanced
      • Configure
        • Virtual Machine Size
        • Availability Set


      How to open endpoints to your Linux VM

    1. Each VM can have attached a number of disks for storing data, and communicates with other VMs through endpoints
    2. Endpoints are simply TCP or UDP ports that can be configured individually


    Opening a TCP port

    1. Note the:
      • Name
      • Protocol
        • TCP or UDP
      • Public Port (access from outside the data center)
      • Private Port (from within the data center)


    Working with Putty

    1. Now that you have provisioned and configured a Linux Virtual Machine, you will connect by using an SSH client.
    2. Note: You can download Putty, a free SSH client for Windows, here:
    3. Putty offers the following:
      • PuTTY (the Telnet and SSH client itself)
      • PSCP (an SCP client, i.e. command-line secure file copy)
      • PSFTP (an SFTP client, i.e. general file transfer sessions much like FTP)
      • PuTTYtel (a Telnet-only client)
      • Plink (a command-line interface to the PuTTY back ends)
      • Pageant (an SSH authentication agent for PuTTY, PSCP, PSFTP, and Plink)
      • PuTTYgen (an RSA and DSA key generation utility).


      Starting Putty

    1. Login with your credentials
      • User Name and Password (you provided this previously)
    2. You can get the SSH details from the portal


    Your terminal screen to your Linux VM

    1. You will need to login with your previous password.
    2. Once you do that, you are now logged in.

    What if you already have a Linux Sever you simply want to move to the cloud?

    Here is a quick step by step guide for creating and Uploading a Virtual Hard Disk that Contains the Linux Operating System

    You create a virtual machine in Windows Azure by using a virtual hard disk (VHD) file. You can choose to create a virtual machine by using a VHD file that is supplied for you in the Image Gallery, or you can choose to create your own image and upload it to Windows Azure in a VHD file.

    Create a Linux virtual machine using a partner solution

    Choose one of the partners below for help creating Linux virtual machines in Windows Azure:

    Linux partners

    Create a Linux virtual machine with your own image

    Learn how to create your own virtual hard drive (VHD) with a Linux operating system on it, and then upload it and use it to create a Linux virtual machine in Windows Azure.

        CSUpload command-line tool. This tool is a part of the Windows Azure SDK. You use this tool to set the connection to Windows Azure and upload the VHD file. You must use the tools available in Windows Azure SDK - June 2012 or later to upload VHDs to Windows Azure. To download the SDK and the tools, see Windows Azure Downloads.
    • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

      Visual Studio 2012 Available for Download



      Today marked an exciting day, we announced via S. Somasegar’s blog post and Jason Zander’s blog post that MSDN subscribers including DreamSpark premium institutional administrators now have access to Visual Studio 2012. DreamSpark subscribers can download and install Visual Studio 2012 later this month once its made available.

      Additionally we confirmed that we will be having a Virtual Launch Event on September 12, 2012 for Visual Studio 2012 please see further details at

      So from today all versions of Visual Studio 2012, including Visual Studio Professional, Premium, Test Professional, and Ultimate. Additionally, Team Foundation Server, Visual Studio Express for Web, Visual Studio Express for Windows 8, and Team Foundation Server Express are now available.

      So What is new in Visual Studio 2012?

      Visual Studio 2012 includes numerous updates to simplify the development experience, help teams collaborate more effectively, and delight end-users across a variety of devices.  Although there are too many features to highlight here, below are a few key new features:

      · Improved web development tooling with Page Inspector and DOM Explorer

      · Support for Microsoft’s latest platforms including Windows 8.

      · Visual Studio Light Switch and Blend for Visual Studio are included giving developers access to rapid application tools and designer surfaces.

      · Write simplified asynchronous code using the .NET Framework 4.5

      · Take team collaboration to the cloud with Team Foundation Service Preview or on-premise with the latest version of Team Foundation Server.

      · Improved support for SharePoint development

      There have been some changes to the Visual Studio SKUs, what is the current line up?

      We are always focused on providing the right products to meet the needs of our various customers.  For Visual Studio 2012 we have the following SKUs.

      · Visual Studio 2012 Ultimate

      · Visual Studio 2012 Premium

      · Visual Studio 2012 Professional

      · Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012

      · Visual Studio Test Professional 2012

      We have also simplified our Visual Studio Express SKUs so developers can focus on the latest Microsoft platforms.

      · Visual Studio 2012 Express for Web

      · Visual Studio 2012 Express for Windows 8

      · Visual Studio Team Foundation Server Express 2012

      Where do I go to get Visual Studio 2012?

      There are a variety of ways to buy Visual Studio 2012.  MSDN, DreamSpark Premium and DreamSpark subscribers will get it as part of their subscription. .  Enterprise and volume licensing customers can get Visual Studio 2012 through their existing channels. 

      For developers that would like to purchase Visual Studio without going through an MSDN subscription, they can get it through a Microsoft Academic resellers:

      Additional Resources

      · S. Somasegar’s blog post and Jason Zander’s blog post

      · Visual Studio 2012 Launch Event

      · Visual Studio Website

    • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

      Client-side developers do need to embrace the cloud.



      1. Client-side developers do need to embrace the cloud. The increasing popularity of connected devices like tablet computers and smartphones is having a direct effect on the adoption rate of personal cloud services. You can expect both connected devices and cloud services to grow together.
      2. This trend has been accelerating over the past couple of years. Mobile and portable devices have limited internal storage and rely heavily on cloud services.
      3. Mobile Computing Applications are generally Connected apps.
      4. You can pull data to them or you can receive push notifications
        • Mobile Apps are about connecting to the services you need, like Hotmail, Messenger, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Messaging, and People app
      5. Developers will need to think about a central, cloud-based storage location.
        • SkyDrive is one cloud option available to solve this problem especially within academia as all Live@edu and Office365 students get a free skydrive account.
      6. You may create your Mobile Applications that requires a custom cloud-based backend, Maybe you are designing an app to bring together photos from many different sources and to then view and share them. Your photos may need to be aggregated from several locations such as Facebook, Flickr, Skydrive or even local storage.         

      How the cloud can help  

      1. There are some basic features that all Mobile computing developers will need to master.
      2. This is where cloud computing can really make a difference and accelerate your time to market.
      3. Although most applications support their own local storage, you will probably want to leverage the cloud to store important data. Most users will have multiple devices. They will expect that the data is accessible from anywhere. That’s why it is important for developers to know how to leverage Storage Services in the cloud.
      4. All mobile computing devices comes with a rich communications stack. Most developers will leverage http for most of their communications. There are also push notifications that allow applications to retrieve information in the background and without requesting data specifically.


      There are 2 ways your Application can get data 


      1. The cloud provides a way to reach across device platforms and a larger pool of resources from which to get data.
      2. Mobile applications can get data in two ways. The first ways is to simply ask for it by making a web request. This is using a pull approach. The second way applications can get data is to leverage push notifications.
      3. When a device uses a pull approach, it is basically a HTTP-based, request/response. Developers can choose from various frameworks, which include WCF, OData, WebAPI, WebRequest, etc.
      4. Data can be sent in a variety of formats, such as SOAP, JSON, XML, POX, etc.
      5. Push notifications are initiated by the cloud. Before Applications can receive push notifications, applications must register themselves with the push notification service.
      6. Your custom cloud service can communicate with the Windows Notification Service to tell it to send push notifications
        1. The windows notification service is designed to be bandwidth and battery friendly.
        2. It is the push notification mechanism that is used to update live tiles on the Windows 8 desktop and Windows Phone.
        3. The downside to push notifications is that there is no guaranteed delivery of content.
          1. If guarantees are needed for data delivery, then some of the pull techniques previously discussed may be appropriate.
      7. Oftentimes push notifications result in a pull request from a Windows 8 application. This means that once the Windows 8 application gets a push notification, it knows it needs to then request data from the cloud using a pull approach. Of course, it may choose to ignore this, given a user preference.


      Push and Pull – Maybe Both




      Example of a Notification

      1. The Push Notification Service is provided by Microsoft. However, Windows 8 applications must register for this service. Once registered, applications are ready to receive data that is sent by the Windows Push Notification Service.
      2. The Push Notification Service may receive data itself from a Windows Azure cloud application that you create. This cloud based application can aggregate data from other sources if necessary. You can see from the diagram above it may request data from Flickr or Facebook or just about from anywhere.

      Downloads and Setup  - Windows Azure Toolkits for Devices


      Windows Phone -


      Android -



      iOS -


      Windows 8 -




      The Windows Azure Toolkit for Social Games is a set of guidance, samples, and tools that helps developers quickly get started building a casual or social game on Windows Azure.

      Keeping data off the local device and in the cloud


      1. Some powerful capabilities are available here.
      2. To start with, there is the ability to store huge amounts of data.
      3. Tables allow you to stores huge lists of things or huge collections of objects. Tables can partition themselves across many machines, supporting extremely fast query results even if there are billions of rows.
      4. Blobs allow you to store large binary objects like videos, documents, even web pages.
      5. Queues allow you to support asynchronous messaging. That means your applications can send information to a cloud application and not be affected by how busy the cloud application is.
      6. Because Azure supports Infrastructure as a Service Technologies (IaaS), developers have almost an unlimited amount of options for their Data Storage needs
        1. Microsoft supports Linux in the cloud. This means you can install almost any data store that is supported on Linux, meaning that you can use MongoDB, Cassandra, MySQL, or almost any other data platform.


      Managing Identity 


      1. Download the Identity Training kit
      2. Leveraging the Windows Identity Foundation SDK and training kit is probably the best starting point for anyone serious about implementing secure systems.
      3. Security is a big topic.
      4. Applications can leverage claims-based authentication techniques. Typically, this involves a security token service, which creates SAML tokens. Inside these tokens are claims.
      5. Claims-based identity can greatly simplify the authentication process for the user because he or she doesn't have to sign in multiple times to multiple applications.
      6. Single sign in is ideal for some situations, such as to authenticate against multiple applications or websites.
      7. Claims-based identity is a way to achieve single sign in.  It can make the authentication less complex for your apps because those apps don't have to provide ways to create an account or password, etc.
      8. Another great feature of claims-based identity is that it allows your applications to obtain specific user information, without having to ask the user for that information.
      9. SAML tokens make it possible for single sign on scenarios, where your security credentials need to travel through different security gateways.
      10. The Access Control Service allows you to leverage third party identity providers, such as Facebook, Yahoo, Google, and Live.
      11. This frees the developer from having to worry about identity in their application. Identity management is complex and time consuming and takes away from a developer's focus on the application itself.

      Resources for Mobile Application development

      Project Templates, Samples and Libraries Source Code

      Creating a New Windows 8 Cloud Application

      Running the Windows 8 Cloud Application

      Using the Windows 8 Cloud Application Services Application

      Sample Metro App using Windows Azure Service Bus

      Raw Notifications Sample - C# and JavaScript

      Notifications Sample - C# and JavaScript

      Push Notification Worker Sample

      Margie's Travel

      ACS Windows Metro Sample

      How to Deploy Your Services to Windows Azure

      How to Obtain Namespace and Management Keys

      More information and details on Windows 8 Tile Notification Types

      More information and details on Windows 8 Toast Notification Types

      More information and details on Windows 8 Badge Notification Types

      More information and details on Windows 8Geolocation

      More information and details on Windows 8 Notifications

      MSDN Developers Portal -

      Windows 8 Developers -

      Try these NuGet Packages






      Try Windows Azure in Education 150 day Academic Pass and 90 day Student Pass



      • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

        What Makes a Quality Games Programming Graduate?


        Microsoft presents the largest opportunity for game developer students.


        The choice of development languages and tools including  XNA, C++, DirectX, HTML5, JavaScript, .NET, C# VB, and Visual Studio all available for FREE from DreamSpark.

        Our developer resource guidance available from and with FREE app store accounts for students to publish applications and games to the marketplace.

        Our array of platforms Xbox, Windows Phone, Windows 7 and Windows 8 and a huge users base across the Ecosystems.

        I am glad to introduce the following Guest blogger - Mark Hope, Mark works for games industry specialist recruiter – Aardvark Swift. He sources graduates for UK games studios and is also responsible for organising the nationwide Search for a Star programming competition

        Our clients (primarily Game Studios) look for a range of different skills /experiences from graduates when they leave University. However when they are looking to hire talented staff to make the next AAA Console or Mobile Games some things don’t change……

        Studios look for courses with a solid programming and Maths base: Whether this is a traditional Computer Science course or a modern Computer Games Programming course. The traditional language required by studios is C++, so we recommend as many projects and modules using this programming language be completed.

        Any experience of professional programming is seen as invaluable, if students have an industry placement it is fantastic, however as these are few and far between we suggest graduates are as active as possible in extra curricular competitions and development. Taking part and being successful in competitions like Search for a Star, Microsoft Imagine Cup, Game Jams or Dare to be Digital shows that graduates are passionate about the industry and students get to showcase their skills. Go on, get involved!

        ImagineCup clip_image004clip_image006Dare2Be

        Any personal and team games development that lead to a release platforms such as Windows Phone, Windows 8  or Xbox shows skills that industry look for. So if students have titles on App Store / Xbox Live Marketplace it shows graduates are:

        · Skilful

        · Can finish a game

        · Can show polish

        · Don’t have buggy code

        The relative success of the game is not as important, however if it is successful it also shows creativity of the student / team.




        An excellent online and free resource for building an online portfolio is the website We always recommend an online portfolio as the best method of showcasing your games and projects. Make sure you show your best work and make it as easy as possible for Studios to access it.

        We recommend each project on your online portfolio should include:

        · An overview (what did you contribute?) especially in the case of team projects

        · Images of the project in action

        · A Video run through (show as much as you can – Menus, Levels, High score tables etc)

        · Downloadable content or links (studios like to see your code)


        A quality CV is essential. Your CV is one of the most important recruitment tools you have, so spending time getting it right is well worth the effort. It will be initially assessed in a matter of seconds, and if the potential employer doesn’t see what they are looking for almost instantaneously, your details will rapidly hit the “unsuccessful” pile.

        Make sure your CV includes:

        · Overview Section (a mini intro – cover letters will be separated)

        · Skills Section – Outlying any programming languages, tools etc you have used (we find tables are good way to keep organised and neat here)

        · The Education section is the most important section of the CV (unless you have games industry experience) Make sure you highlight your course and the marks you have gained, focus on programming and maths modules. A levels are also well thought of, so highlight grades (key advice throughout, hiding marks doesn’t fool anyone!) Make sure GCSE’s are brief and not listed in full.

        · Work Experience – This should be after education unless you have games industry experience or internships. Make sure you highlight core communication skills gained from other work experience (team work, time management etc) If you do have Games Industry experience, go to town! Give as much details about the skills you have gained and projects you worked on etc.

        · Hobbies and Interest – This section can show your passion for game genre’s and can be tailored to applications. It is also important that you have a life outside of games, so don’t miss these other hobbies and interests out.

        Aim for 2 pages but no more than 3 if possible. For more detailed information about CV and Demo Advice take a look at:

        A huge thanks to Mark and if you would like to get in contact, with Mark to know more about our services or if you have any questions about the games industry you can contact him via  Email: Tel 01709 834 777

        Aardvark Swift delivers the following information to students as part of our “Get in the Game” careers talk where they discuss:

        · The results from our Annual Studio Skills Survey (where we ask studios what they look for in graduates).

        · Helpful advice about what makes a good CV and Portfolio etc.

        · Promote upcoming events and competitions that students can enter to improve their experience

        · Answer questions relaying our industry knowledge.

        · So keep an eye out for Microsoft Graduate Careers and Aardvark Swifts visits to your university.

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