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

November, 2012


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Inter Uni Game Jam 2012


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    As you are all aware, last weekend was Uni Jam 2012, at Nottingham Trent University.

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    Presentation from the welcome keynote and announcement of the theme.



    Setting up at Inter Uni Game Jam

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    Students from the following universities attended the event:

    Nottingham Trent University

    University of Nottingham

    Kingston University

    City University London

    University of Derby

    University of York

    University of Warwick

    Anglia Ruskin University

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    It is clear from the video footage taken during the event that the general atmosphere was great. The attendees were upbeat and enthused about the opportunity with everyone smiling even in the middle of the night people. Even in cases where development was being halted by bugs and other issues, all the students managed to stay positive and enjoy themselves.

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    Another highlight was when a member of the team from Warwick University offered to help the 2 man team (from Kingston and London City University) with a maths problem. This goes a long way to showing that although it was a competition, the spirit of the event was friendly and students from different universities were able to work together to create brilliant games.


    A quote from the DevSoc Facebook page following the event was "I came to Uni in October, hoping to be able to learn how to make games, and with DevSoc, I successfully made one after a month. Can't argue with that!!!" This is what the vision for the game jam was all about, so feedback like this has made all the work worthwhile.

    Full videos of the event and interviews with the teams can be found at



    Inter Uni Game Jam 2012 Winners

    Prizes were awarded by the judges as follows:

    Accessibility - NTU DevSoc (Patrick Merritt, Paul White, Eamonn Hayden, Charlotte Ash) Windows Phone 7/8, XNA MonoGame

    Game Play - NTU DevSoc (Luke Shires, Alex Roberts, Nick Powell, Charlotte Neill, Russell Claxton) Windows 8 XNA MonoGame

    Graphics - University of York (Samuel Twidale, Joe Williamson, Tom Rosling) Flash

    Innovation - Anglia Ruskin University (Ed Horsey, James Roberts, Kieran Linnie, Owen Westfield Bell) Unity

    Windows 8/Windows Phone - NTU DevSoc (Luke Shires, Alex Roberts, Nick Powell, Charlotte Neill, Russell Claxton) Windows 8

    People’s Choice - NTU DevSoc (Luke Shires, Alex Roberts, Nick Powell, Charlotte Neill, Russell Claxton) Windows 8

    Random Prize Draw for a Windows Nokia Lumia Phone - NTU DevSoc (Eamonn Hayden)



    This event would not have been a success without all the support we have received from third parties. Our thanks go to:

    Nottingham Trent University – Dev Soc’s Alex Close and his excellent organisation,  huge thanks to the Computer Science Department for providing on going support through the planning and running of the event and providing us with an excellent venue.

    Stewards and Nottingham Trent DevSoc team – For volunteering their time to help run the jam. Some stayed awake for the whole 24 hours to make sure they could help if they were needed.


    Microsoft - For sponsoring the Windows 8/Windows Phone category, Peoples choice category and random prize draw.

    Pocketeers - For sponsoring for the Innovation prize category.

    Marmalade - For sponsoring the Game Play prize category.

    Desura + Indie Royale - For sponsoring the Innovation prize category.

    Pololu – For sponsoring the Accessibility prize category.

    Rebellion + 2000AD - For sponsoring the Graphics prize category.

    Insane Dev (Steven Batchelor-Manning) - For sponsoring the Accessibility prize category and coming down to the venue to show support.

    Dynamite Jack – For sponsoring the Graphics, Innovation, Accessibility and Game Play prize categories.

    Wiseman Designs - For providing treats for all competitors in the form of Haribo and Freddos.

    Fellow judges

    Mode7 Games (Paul Taylor) - For judging the competition and providing a Frozen Synapse key to everyone who participated in the event.

    David Smith - For judging the competition and providing ongoing support throughout the competition.

    So get publishing apps and creating a portfolios here are some useful takeaways

    Games are the #1 download and #1 money making app category so get developing!

    Pick your niche, grow from there have a look at the excellent things have achieved.

    XNA and MonoGame provides a solution to get your existing XNA assets and games running as a Windows 8 Store App

    MonoGame provides a cross platform solution so that you can leverage your existing XNA development effort, across multiple marketplaces to develop a portfolio of games across platforms

    Follow the certification guidelines (WACK) to make your app Windows 8 Store ready and use your Free windows phone and Windows 8 developer accounts to publish your titles to store.

    Enter as many competitions and Game Jams to grow your experiences also enter competitions such as for teams and for individuals.

    Useful Resources and links Building Windows 8 Games Windows 8 UK Camps and Training Events Windows 8 Samples Windows 8 developer resources Windows Phone 8 developer resources  MonoGame MonoGame Installer for Windows Git Resource

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Developing a Windows 8 Application prototype



    I have a had a number of questions last week, from some of the UK’s University Gaming Students and Academics re Windows 8.

    Over the past few weeks as part of my UK  tour with Aardvark Swift recruitment, I have been highlighting the opportunity of students building portfolio’s and publishing apps on Windows 8 Store to demonstrate their abilities to help them gain employment see the PowerPoint deck below.


    For more resources on Windows 8 development see

    If your interested in attending a free Windows 8 developer camp see

    Game/App prototyping

    One of the questions, I was asked last week was how can student use tools to develop prototypes and proof of concepts for academic activities, I wanted to share with you the following templates for PowerPoint. Using these templates, you can quickly put together a Windows 8 app layout and iterate on it. All elements in the set are based upon regular PowerPoint vector shapes, and are fully editable and customizable.

    As anyone who has seen one of my presentations, PowerPoint is a really great rapid prototyping tool its slide-by-slide approach allows you to present a flow and tell a story with your designs. You can even create basic clickable prototypes by adding hyperlinks between slides. Furthermore, PowerPoint is available on almost every computer, including the new Windows Surface devices that run Windows RT, and is fairly simple to get started with.

    Download the Templates For Free!

    The wireframing set is available as a .pptx file (for PowerPoint 2007 or newer) that you can download using the link below:

    It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.  You can therefore use it any way you want, private or commercial, just as long as you distribute the resulting work under the same license and give proper credit to the original creators:

    What’s Included?

    Example grid page
    Example grid page displaying item previews arranged in groups.

    Example page displaying details
    Example page displaying details for a single group with previews for each item in the group.

    Example page displaying
    Example page displaying one item in detail.

    Example page displaying a list
    Example page displaying a list of items and the details for the selected item.

    Example of a Metro app
    Example of a Metro app in snapped view state.

    Example of an app
    Example of an app in fill view state.

    Collection of common UI controls
    Collection of common UI controls (part 1): button, text box, list box, check box, radio button, toggle switch, etc.

    Collection of common UI controls
    Collection of common UI controls (part 2): search box, date/time picker, slider, progress bar, scrollbar, etc.

    Grid view
    Grid view (with groups).

    List view
    List view and charms bar.

    App header
    App header, app bar, and toast.

    Message dialog
    Message dialog.

    Text styles
    Text styles.

    240 app icons
    240 app icons (part 1).

    240 app icons
    240 app icons (part 2).

    Touch gestures
    Touch gestures.

    What about using tools such as PowerMockup

    While you can build great prototypes with FREE tools and PowerPoint, you may find yourself wanting the templates to be in a format that is easier to search through.

    In this case, I can highly recommend taking a look at PowerMockup, an add-on for PowerPoint.

    PowerMockup provides a searchable library of wireframe elements that can easily be dragged and dropped onto a slide. Best of all, the tool allows you to add your own creations to the library and share them with others.

    Andreas Wulf, has created these FREE additions

    After downloading the files, switch to the “PowerMockup” tab in the PowerPoint Ribbon bar, click on “Import Files”, and select the downloaded .pmst files. Here is a screenshot of how it will look like after you have imported the templates:


    All elements, including the icons, are properly named and tagged, making them easily searchable.


    I hope you enjoy the set!


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Phone 8 SDK requirements



    What are the system requirements for the SDK?

    Here are the system requirements for the Windows Phone 8 SDK

    • Supported operating systems: Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows 8 64-bit (x64) client versions
    • Hardware: 4 GB of free hard disk space, 4 GB RAM, 64-bit (x64) CPU
    • Windows Phone 8 Emulator: Windows 8 Pro edition or greater, a processor that supports Second Level Address Translation (SLAT)

    If you have already been developing for Windows Phone 7 note the new requirements

    1. You need to be running a 64 bit Windows 8 OS to install the Windows Phone 8 SDK.

    2. If you don’t meet the requirements for the Windows Phone 8 Emulator, the Windows Phone SDK 8.0 will install and run but the Windows Phone 8 Emulator will not function and you will not be able to deploy or test apps on the Emulator. see for details on SLAT

    The emulator uses Hyper-V under SLAT so if you try to run a project in the emulator and Hyper-V is not enabled, you will be prompted to turn on Hyper-V. Turning on Hyper-V will require you to restart your computer.

    What new APIs and features can I leverage?

    If you visit the Windows Phone Dev Center you’ll find all documentation and samples for the Windows Phone 8 SDK.

    Here are a couple of new features here just to whet your appetite

    If your teaching or building app/games with the Windows Phone 7 SDK do I have to restart it?

    No. Apps built for Windows Phone 7.5 still run on Windows Phone 8, so finish and publish the apps using your free developer account from via

    If you want to leverage some of the new Windows 8 features, you can do that in your next release.

    Additional Resources

    Check out the following videos from Build 2012 on Windows Phone 8 Development

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Cocos2D-X Support for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8


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    We pleased to confirm that  cocos2d-x for Windows Phone 8 is also now available.


    Coco2d-x is one of the most popular and open source 2D game engine worldwide, and used by 570+ game apps crossing iOS/Android/Windows8. A

    With cocos2d-x for Windows Phone 8, game developers can quickly develop new game apps, and easily migrate the existing game apps from iOS/Android and Windows 8 to Windows Phone 8. You can download the latest version at here, and please share its broadly to your game partners.

    Announcing in Build keynotes: see the keynote includes some lovely demos of the frameworks if your interested in this is 1hour 30 mins in.


    Announcing in cocos2d-x community website:


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Building Windows 8 Store games with Unity



    Microsoft is currently planning a number of events for Building Windows Store games using 3rd Party game frameworks

    Microsoft has a planned Unity Event which will be Live Streamed so you watch the live stream at details of the event will be posted at

    You do not have to register for the live stream, just point your browser to Channel 9

    Join Unity and Microsoft for this free, all-day training designed to jumpstart your Windows Store game app development with the Unity engine.

    You will learn from Unity and Microsoft experts in a low-key, interactive way and then get hands-on time to apply what you’ve learned.

    Proposed Agenda 


    · Overview and Introduction to the Windows 8 platform and the Windows Store

    · Introduction to the Unity engine

    · Unity + Windows 8 global business opportunities

    · End-to-end walkthrough of building a Windows Store game with Unity 4 

    · Learn how to tweak an existing Unity game to target the Windows Store

    · Learn to optimize and deploy your Unity project for Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows Phone 8.

    · Learn about features to differentiate your games with Windows 8 integration, such as tiles and contracts

    · Tips & tricks for designing, reusing, and sharing code between Windows Phone and Windows 8

    · Case studies and Shared examples from Unity, Microsoft, and expert 3rd party developers

    · Discussions and Q&A from Microsoft and Unity engineering and product specialists

    Day 2

    · Bring your hardware and software and immerse yourself and your team into a full day of Windows Store game development using Unity platforms in a casual environment.

    · Meet other Unity Windows 8 developers, share experiences, and grow your development capabilities.

    · Meet members of the Unity and Windows evangelism team and get great advice on developing great Windows Store games.

    Live Stream

    If you can’t attend in person, watch the live stream of the event at You do not have to register for the live stream; just point your browser to Channel 9 or to our registration site on the day of the event.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows 8 “Power Up” Game Apps Competition & Imagine Cup



    This competition is aimed at the growing number of indy game developers in the UK.

    The prize structure has been developed around the strategy of supporting the indie game space in the UK and fostering a vibrant and successful industry by giving developers and their titles the best chance of success through profile and discoverability.  If your a winner you will get support and assistance in the form of a PR campaign, mentoring with industry leaders & a professionally produced video games trailer. 

    There will be first and second prizes as detailed below.  All ten game app finalists will be invited to an Awards Ceremony hosted at Dolby’s London HQ in January 2013.  In addition to the awards ceremony itself; there will be a chance to discover the latest audio technologies and listen to a guest speaker discussing the challenges involved in delivering a great audio experience. 

    The prize(s) will be as follows:

    1st Prize

    • One month’s free PR campaign for the developer and game from Train2Game (equivalent to 15 hours of PR support in the month).  Full details on the website
    • Commercial game app trailer created and produced by The Trailer Farm up to the value of £4,000
    • Up to 3 hours of mentoring sessions with Andy Payne (Mastertronic, AppyNation, Ukie Chairman) and Ian Livingstone (Eidos, Ukie Vice Chairman)
    • Nokia Lumia 920 Windows 8 Smartphone
    • £500 Visa Gift card courtesy of YoYo Games
    • Mentoring session of two hours with Jason Kingsley, Chairman of TIGA & CEO of Rebellion Studios

    2nd Prize

    • Nokia Lumia 920 Windows 8 Smartphone
    • £250 Visa Gift card courtesy of YoYo Games
    • Mentoring session of two hours with Philip Oliver, TIGA Board Member & CEO of Blitz Games Studios

    Timing:  Monday November 5th competition opens and closes on December 14th

    Power Up Competition

    To be in with the chance of winning one of our fantastic prizes, after successfully submitting your app to the store, follow the steps below to enter the competition.

    Send the following details to

    • Your name
    • Studio Name
    • Email Address and Phone Number
    • Name of the Game App
    • Include a copy of your Store Certification email for the App you are submitting.

    There is no limit to the number of entries, all entries need to be received by 11.59PM GMT 14th December 2012.

    Please see below for all Terms and Conditions and further details at 



    Don't forget if your a Student game developer then enter your Games in the Imagine Cup


    Games return to Imagine Cup, bigger than ever!

    Games are an important part of Imagine Cup. But this year we’re increasing the prizes dramatically and holding Games Local Finals in many countries. Games teams can even be chosen as the National Team for their countries and win a free trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, to compete for the top prizes!

    So do you have an idea for a gaming experience that could transform how we play? Imagine Cup is where students can make it happen and share it with the world!

    Create a game on your favourite gaming platform: Windows (PC or touchscreen), Windows Phone, Xbox Indie Games, or Kinect SDK. Embrace your love of gaming and show us what you can do.

    Be fearless: Use the Microsoft platform to change up an existing genre, make something crazy and new, or deliver a killer new visual style. Let your skills in game design, art direction, and storytelling run wild. Take the first step and you never know what could happen. The future of gaming is in your hands!

    Win Bigger with the Windows 8 Boost! If you're one of the three Games Competition winners at the Worldwide Finals in St. Petersburg, and your project includes a Windows 8 Store App, your team will win an extra US$1,000 thanks to the Windows 8 Boost! Please see the official rules for details.

    Are you ready?

    Register now and Get Started! Then join us on Facebook and Twitter to get the latest scoop on our contests and even more ways to win.

    Official Rules

    2013 Official Rules

    Worldwide Finals Prizes

    1st Place: $50,000 (USD)

    2nd Place: $10,000 (USD)

    3rd Place: $5,000 (USD)

    And a free trip to St. Petersburg for all finalist teams & mentors!


    August 30, 2012
    Competition begins!

    March 15, 2013
    Deadline to register your team

    April 15, 2013

    Good Luck!

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Phone 8 JumpStart Training November 28-29, 2012 - Register Now



    Microsoft Learning is thrilled to announce a new Jump Start for developers focused on building apps for Windows Phone 8.

    This special live online course is scheduled for two full days of fast-paced, demo-rich sessions led by my colleague and fellow Microsoft Technical Evangelist, Andy Wigley, and Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Strategist, Rob Tiffany. Andy and Rob are two of the most respected experts in mobile app development and are excited to help C#/XAML developers get the most out of the Windows 8 platform.



    What: Building Apps for Windows Phone 8 Jump Start
    Date: November 28-29, 2012
    Time: 7:00am – 5:00pm PST
    Cost: FREE!
    Target audience: Application Developers who want a fast-paced, real-world understanding of how to leverage C# and XAML to build apps for Windows Phone 8

    ** REGISTER NOW **

    Help us spread the word with a blog post or a tweet like this one:
    Building Apps for #WindowsPhone 8 #MSJumpStart w/ @andy_wigley & @robtiffany 11/28! #wpdev @MSLearning

    What’s a “Jump Start” Course?
    Training specifically designed for experienced technologists whose jobs demand they know how to best leverage new, emerging Microsoft technologies. These advanced courses assume a certain level of expertise and domain knowledge, so they move quickly and cover topics in a fashion that enables teams to effectively map new skills to real-world situations.

    Cannot spare the two day on the 28th and 28th

    The first UK in person -  Windows Phone 8 DevCamps will be help in London on Friday 14th December and Saturday 15th December.

    Booking details here:

    14th December, Modern Jago
    Event ID: 1032536241


    Phone: 0870 166 6670 ref – 6241

    15th December, Modern Jago
    Event ID: 1032536242


    Phone: 0870 166 6670 ref – 6242

    The Windows Phone 8 Camps have been designed to show you how to build a Windows Phone 8 app. You can tailor the day to make it as personally productive and rewarding as possible. You can work on your own projects with assistance from Windows Phone 8 experts, network with others and also have the option of attending short tutorial sessions on Windows Phone 8 related topics.

    The Windows Phone 8 Camps will cover an introductory overview session as well as a range of short tutorial sessions. Short tutorial sessions will include topics such as the Windows Phone 8 application lifecycle, new Windows Phone 8 controls such as the LongListPicker, a high level view of the platform – i.e. how .NET and the Windows Phone Runtime APIs work together and the choice around implementation technology, new Windows Phone 8 features such as the Speech API, app to app communication with file and protocol associations, lock screen notifications and in-app purchase, how to make the most of the new Tile templates, and how to make best use of the tooling – the role of Visual Studio and Expression Blend. We’ll also cover how to share code between a Windows Phone 8 app and a Windows 8 app.

    In addition, you will learn how you can publish your Windows Phone 8 app into the Windows Phone Store.

    The Windows Phone 8 Camp will kick off at 9am and officially finish at 6pm or 9pm for the hardcore attendees.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    University College London (UCL), transforms its Computer Science teaching by introducing students to app-building tasks



    University College London (UCL), transforms its Computer Science teaching by introducing students to app-building tasks which address real life problems for business, public services and charities.

    In order to achieve this, students and staff deploy a full range of Microsoft technologies, including Windows 8, supported by Microsoft’s developers and researchers. By doing so, the University is able to further to enhance the motivation and employment prospects of its students, confirm its role as an international force in the development of computing and set out a model that has far-reaching implications for teaching and learning in higher education.

    Something exciting happening in London

    The Department of Computer Science at University College London (UCL) has a global reputation. As the Department’s web page says,

    ‘In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, 80% of our work was rated world-leading or internationally excellent.’

    At the same time, higher education is changing. Students no longer want to just sit in lectures and produce assignments seen and marked only by their teachers. They’d prefer to do things that matter, and change the world.

    Nowhere is that challenge more evident than in Computer Science. Here particularly, explains Dr Dean Mohamedally, Senior Teaching Fellow in Software Systems Engineering, tradition has been unceremoniously set aside, in this case by the arrival of apps – ‘micro software engineering’ packages that are closely targeted to real-world end users who have specific requirements and problems to solve.

    ‘Students can now take what was previously given as a coursework exercise, harness it, and put it in a wrap up package and most importantly, ship it to do something useful.’

    At UCL the response has been decisive and quick. In September 2011, a number of syllabus updates were put into motion. Starting with first years and Masters courses, there was a radical rewrite of courses that would put the building of apps at the core of learning to program, on all taught degrees. UCL treats apps development as a core computer science skill, where each and every CS student gets to solve real-world problems through deployment.

    ‘Deployment��� is a key word and concept for the problem solving approach, says Dean Mohamedally. It is a word that has previously been mistreated in Computer Science – how do we get the final reach to users?

    ‘That magic word is going to define the future of computer science for all our year groups. Their student CVs will show a wealth of harnessed knowledge in Computer Science, released to the domain that would use them best.’

    As a result, during 2011/2012, first year students were resourced and guided as they built android apps right from their first major Object Oriented Programming course. These eventually included the building and deployment to the field of some very well-received data-gathering tools for charities working in the developing world

    ‘These two charities, Restless Beings and Health Partnership Nepal, asked if we could help with their data collection methods,’ says Dean. ‘They had healthcare workers in Asia and Africa collecting information on children who are in harm’s way and they were setting up the necessary administration to get health supplies out there. In regions where surgeons need to audit further and gather data on necessary medicines, data reporting is critical to their success given limited access available for resources.’

    Unsurprisingly, the effect on student motivation of this kind of engagement is dramatic, and many students go far beyond the immediate demands of their coursework to help. As a result of this evident success, UCL Computer Science courses at all levels are increasingly focused on writing applications that address real problems and requirements. Here, the University’s carefully fostered relationships with businesses and other organisations in healthcare, finance and the charity sector pay special dividends, and there’ll be no shortage of real problems for students to solve.

    Engaging with Microsoft

    By September 2012, with Windows 8, and Windows apps well on the way, the Department of Computer Science has built on their world-leading experience across their fields, in Software Systems Engineering, Networking, Machine Learning, Programming Principles, Logic and Verification, Virtual Environments and many more. Through all of these subject arenas, they have turned increasingly to Microsoft technologies, services and especially Microsoft people highly entwined – all of the named groups above have ties directly with Microsoft Research.

    As Dean puts it regarding the teaching arena -

    ‘We’ve made a huge push for Microsoft technology. Its what the world uses to solve problems and our students should be at the forefront of solving. We have found that many of our courses can open new opportunities by using the Microsoft development tools.’


    There’s a specific approach, he says.

    ‘Our teaching steers them with the theory and depth of each Computer Science knowledge domain. We teach them to identify the needs of the client to define the problem, to talk through and learn to communicate properly their cases both as individuals and as teams, to analyse and to test with strategies and to ensure logical design through formal proofing methods. Microsoft’s well published specifications, APIs and technology access in education enables students to explore how to make full use of the subtleties of the technology platforms available, merging with the domains of Computer Science.’ For example, the use of F# in algorithm design and the new features of HTML5 + JavaScript to construct user interfaces for apps.

    Already, over the Summer of 2012, two major projects were tackled by UCL MSc Software Systems Engineering students, in co-operation with Microsoft and using Microsoft development tools.

    One project, ‘Powersource’ , is a Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 plug-in for tracking the progress of ‘Agile’ software development teams in both the academic and business environments. Applied to a school or college for example, it could provide a teacher with continuous feedback on the work of teams of computer science students, detecting errors and bugs in their work before they reveal themselves at the end of the process. ‘Powersource’ was built with development tools including Visual Studio 2012 Team Foundation Server 2012 and Windows Presentation Foundation. It will be released globally on ‘CodePlex’, Microsoft’s Open Source Project Hosting website.

    Another MSc project, ‘Pasteur’, also exploited the features in Visual Studio and using .NET ‘Gadgeteer’. It demonstrated a platform for consultant surgeons in a cloud solution, hosted on Windows Azure, to measure the physical dexterity of trainee paediatric surgeons with a range of sensor types. The Gadgeteer platform from the Devices and Sensors group at Microsoft Research is a cutting edge platform for learning about sensor control as well as providing a vast array of componentized device types. This enables developers to simulate the prototyping of brand new categories of devices.

    Both these applications were highly praised, eagerly received and fully supported by their client groups.

    ‘Those advanced projects, given their appropriate use of the state of the art and that they apply to a highly significant user base, is entirely inspirational for younger students who have a serious drive to explore,’ says Dean.


    ‘DreamSpark’ and Windows 8

    UCL Computer science students use a range of technologies – ‘Technology agnostic’ is how Dean describes the approach. At the same time there’s no doubt that Microsoft’s development tools, supported in action by Microsoft developers and researchers, are increasingly becoming key drivers of learning and creativity in the Department.

    Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server, for example, are in constant use and they, together with a wide range of other development tools are available to students within the Microsoft online education resource ‘DreamSpark’.

    ‘DreamSpark is very important for us,’ says Dean Mohamedally. ‘It gives students all the development tools that they need for their learning – full versions, the latest databases and servers, at no cost.’

    DreamSpark Premium also now includes Windows 8 and from November 2012 student app developers will be working in Windows 8. There is, for example, an MSc course where students will design and build apps for Windows 8 devices, for Kinect for Windows, Windows 8 Phones and Tablets, using programming tools in Visual Studio.

    ‘They’ll be full-bodied apps with real world users in their design,’ says Dean Mohamedally. ‘Their marking criteria are set specifically to encourage them to reach the standard to approve that their work will go in the Windows Store. There is visibility and a measure of success in the feedback of end users downloading your own technology.’

    Second year Systems Engineering undergraduates, in teams of four or five, are also developing projects using Windows 8. One group is creating a learning environment for a local secondary school that emphasizes student collaboration and creativity. The solution uses the Microsoft PixelSense, Kinect for Windows along with Windows Azure Cloud access for collaborating with students on devices along with touch and motion gestures. One group is working with the University College Hospital (UCLH) to creating a mobile data monitoring service to help collate nutrition data, via a Windows 8 app, in post-operative heart patients. This system will make use of touch screens and especially digital inking, a great business-case feature that has been available in Windows for several years growing in accuracy. Another of the groups is working on a networked vehicle system to be fitted in a taxi or delivery service. In this project, the students are going all out with gadgeteer sensors, pico projectors and use of the Windows Azure Storage Services REST API for providing a service layer of communication to all related vehicles.

    Dean is excited by the way the students are treating access to new technologies. ‘Its no longer relevant to industry, to just say a student knows a language like Java and therefore they are a programmer. What about robust coding, variety of languages, exposure to bug fixing, and the nuances of adopting underlying protocols to form a solution? What about clarity in test suites, securing your deployed code and the ability to function in a team – both when requirements are fully defined, and when the need to prototype and build something totally new is needed?’

    ‘The Kinect hacks that students did with betas from Microsoft before the Kinect SDK was made available were the tip of the iceberg – they want to play, find applications of use and show what else can be realized with new technologies. They are absorbing techniques and methods at an incredible rate.’

    He has added possibilities for his students’ work offered by Windows 8 –making use of multi-monitor and touch-screen capabilities, for example, to enhance the rich interaction and information visualization features that are important in many of the new industry applications being developed. Even he himself uses Windows 8 in teaching with a great new paradigm of presenting – hosting three screens in a lecture simultaneously, with one for Powerpoint presentation, one for compiling code in Visual Studio or designing classes in Visio, and the final screen for either Skype, output to devices, debug output or other information.

    ‘We have a new ability to add a skype screen to the lecture – we can literally add an external guest, an industry partner or even an examiner to join the class and answer questions like a window through the wall, whilst showing Powerpoint and the code output in Visual Studio – this is done using regular HD cameras and large monitor screens via Windows 8’


    Most important, though, for the students, is the prospect of writing projects which will run on all major hardware platforms; PCs, Windows Phone and Windows surface tablets. The underlying architecture of windows 8 is common to all of those devices. To facilitate this realization, they built a special purpose apps lab that all devices could be used for testing software developed by students.


    ‘In the global marketplace you know that’s good economics,’ says Dean.

    Even before Windows 8 was available, software under development at UCL was being built with an eye to Windows 8 features, with the co-operation of Microsoft developers,

    ‘Microsoft gave us sessions where they explained what Windows 8 could do, and we did some forward thinking,’ says Dean.

    ‘So we knew what was coming and it was a case of how far you could take what we were doing as close to Windows 8 features as possible. It would only need small team then to make it ready to deploy on Windows 8.’

    In touch with the future

    This short study makes it clear that Microsoft is doing much more than simply supplying software and hardware for Computer Science courses at UCL. As Dean puts it, it’s about Microsoft developers and researchers helping academics and students to make the most of the technology.

    The Department of Computer Science recently hosted a Windows 8 developer day alongside Microsoft UK, of which all student years were kindly invited. In testament to the value that students placed, over 220 students from across the Computer Science year groups attended. At this event it was announced that UCL would be hosting the UK finals for the Imagine Cup – the largest student competition for Microsoft. This event will take place in March and April on UCL’s main quad campus.

    For details on the Imagine Cup see

    Student Guide


    Faculty Guide


    Mentors Guide


    In order for this new way of teaching to succeed, it is of the highest value to UCL that the Department of Computer Science works as a family in forming its relationship with Microsoft. Its Admin and Finance team, the Technical Support Group team, the world class Research groups and of course the Teaching teams, all identify the areas that Microsoft technologies best integrate into their aspects and respective responsibilities that ultimately lead to the new highly problem-based learning curriculum.

    The one lasting message that comes from UCL, with Microsoft’s support is the following.

    ‘Students must become visible. They must demonstrate skills that show that they are strategic. They must be fearless with new technology and ideas, and above all – they must publish to make change.’

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    FREE Online training at with Pluralsight


    All student now get Pluralsight, simply go to and then go to download software.  At the bottom of the screen, all by itself is Pluralsight, with a bunch of training modules. 

    There are modules available on C++ programming. HTML5 ,XAML and many more .


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Azure Camps in Manchester 10th Dec




    In conjunction with Salford Software we are holding an exclusive,  IT Professional Azure Camp

    Monday 10th December, 2012

    Location – Media City, UK Plot B4, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 2HE

    This event is a technical hands on introduction to some of the IaaS Cloud Services that Microsoft is now offering to Academic organisations.

    The camp will be led by an Azure specialist and is aimed at the IT Professional. On it you will build and deploy an entire SharePoint infrastructure with a dual-machine server-farm, Active Directory Domain Controller and SQL Server. On the road to that infrastructure you will create a dual-server, load-balanced IIS website, a WIndows Azure Virtual Network in to which you will deploy the Active Directory Domain plus all the member servers (SQL and SharePoint) and you’ll also learn how to generalise your images and add them to your library of images to make future deployment simpler.

    All running in the Cloud!

    You will walk away with a complete – Cloud based – service that you will be able to continue to use, further develop and show colleagues following the camp.

    Please register at the site below:

    Windows Azure IT Pro Camp



    09:00 – 09:30


    09:30 – 10:00

    The Windows Azure Platform

    10:00 – 10:30

    Windows Azure Virtual Machines

    10:30 – 10:45


    10:45 – 11:15

    Lab: Windows Azure Virtual Machines

    11:15 – 11:45

    Windows Azure Virtual Networks

    11:45 – 12:15

    Lab: Windows Azure Virtual Networks

    12:15 – 12:45


    12:45 – 13:15

    Active Directory in the Cloud: Windows Azure Active Directory, Running a DC in Windows Azure


    Lab: Running an Active Directory Domain Controller in Windows Azure

    14:15 – 15:00

    SQL Server and Sharepoint in the Cloud

    15:00 – 15:15


    15:15 – 16:45

    Lab: Running a complete infrastructure in the cloud (Sharepoint, SQL Server, Active Directory)


    Wrap-up and Review

    Note: Because you can leave your Windows Azure service deployed and you will have all the configuration and projects etc. on your laptop when you leave the camp, any unfinished labs can be completed at home/in the office.

    You will need to bring a laptop and complete some pre-requisites to participate in the camp. Please see details below:

    You will need a working Windows Azure subscription and you need to have applied for and successfully been granted access to:

    Windows Azure Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks – for the IT Pro camp.

    There is a video that describes how to apply for these features here.

    Any working subscription is suitable; paid or free.

    You can get a free trial subscription. This grants you access to certain resources free for 90 days. You will need a Windows Live ID and a Credit Card to register. The spending limit on the free trial account is set at £0.00. When the free trial period of 90 days has passed you will be asked if you’d like to remove the spending limit and from that point on treat it as a standard paid subscription.

    If you use more than the free allocation of resources in a month, you will also be asked if you’d like to remove the spending limit. There is no perpetually free subscription available for Windows Azure.

    Details of the free trial accounts are here:

    To get a free trial subscription go to . To register for this offer, you need a credit card to activate it, but the spending limit on the subscription is set to £0.00 so you won’t be charged.

    To add Windows Azure benefits to your existing MSDN subscription, go to

    To add Windows Azure benefits if you are a BizSpark customer, go to

    To add Windows Azure benefits if you are an MPN member go to

    There are also free trial subscriptions available to certain MSDN subscribers. Or if your at teaching academic you can apply for a Azure Educator account which offer a 12 month FREE subscription at

    IT Pro camp pre-requisites

    As an IT Pro who uses a laptop, you’ll almost certainly have the required software already installed. You will need:

    A working Windows Azure subscription – see details above. You need to have successfully applied and been granted access to the Windows Azure Virtual Machines preview.

    A wireless-enabled 64-bit laptop with Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 8 RTM. The camp is written with Windows Vista/Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 R2 users in mind. If you are using Windows 8 there will be variations in the way the UI is described.

    Bring the power supply: you will be using the laptop all day.

    A basic knowledge of the Windows infrastructure stack (Windows, Windows Server, Active Directory, Web, Security, SQL Server etc) to the level required by an IT Pro.

    Perform the following software setup:

    1. Log in to an account that has full administrative privileges on the 64-bit machine. This is the account you will do the machine setup from and also the lab-work. It’s essential to ensure you use the same administrative account for both setup and lab-work to avoid permissions problems. By far the biggest problems on this bootcamp are to do with permission problems on machine setup.

    2. Install the Windows Azure Powershell Cmdlets by following the instructions on this page:

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How much do I need to know about Windows Azure to attend this Camp?

    You don’t need any prior experience or knowledge about Windows Azure to attend this Camp. The purpose of the event is to provide you with the basic skills and knowledge to get started with learning about Windows Azure.

    Who can attend the Camps?

    Students, developers, technologists, IT Pros, architects, hobbyist, technology enthusiasts. Everyone is welcome! All we ask is that you are ready and keen to learn about Windows Azure.

    How much does it cost to attend this Camp?

    Your luck’s in – it’s free.

    What do I need to prepare in advance to make the most of the Camp?

    There are a basic set of things you should prepare before attending the Camp, listed above. Please make sure you are prepared so you can make the most of your day at the Camp.

    What if I have registered already and cannot make it on the day?

    Please let us know as soon as you can if you can’t make the camp as there’ll be plenty of people who are keen to take your spot. Please respect the trainers and your fellow delegates by turning up if you have registered and committed. Thanks!

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