The goal of this site is to put relevant and applicable tools and information at the fingertips
With this blog we want to inform you on our latest initiatives.
Enjoy reading and stay tuned!
Announcing the Windows Azure for Research LinkedIn discussion group!
The group will serve as an opportunity to connect and engage with researchers and domain experts to drive awareness of Microsoft Research and Windows Azure for Research. We’d like for you to be part of the community and discussions.
What is the Windows Azure for Research initiative?
This is a program designed to help the research community use cloud computing to handle the challenges of data-intensive science. The culmination of more than three years of experimentation with using Windows Azure for scientific research, the Windows Azure for Research Initiative will help scientists accelerate the speed and dissemination of scientific discoveries.
The initiative has four components.
1. The Windows Azure for Research Awards program will award up to 100 sizable grants of Windows Azure resources annually. The grants will be for individual projects or for community efforts to host scientific data and services.
2. The Windows Azure for Research Training program is a series of worldwide training events for scientific researchers. Specially trained Windows Azure experts present these free, two-day classes, which are designed specifically to give researchers the skills to use cloud computing in their current and future investigations. The classes kicked off in September 2013.
3. The initiative offers a collection of technical and curricular resources, comprised of online self-study materials as well as programs for classroom use.
4. Research community engagements will include our sponsorship of an annual Windows Azure for Research workshop as well as our participation in existing scientific gatherings.
Interested in finding out more?
· Visit and join the Windows Azure for Research LinkedIn group page.
Join the group to stay informed and join the conversation. Windows Azure for Research wants to hear from scientists and scientific researchers interested in using cloud computing for research. We will be regularly posting discussions and content for you to engage with and contribute to. This is an excellent forum to connect with researchers and cloud computing industry leaders to help build awareness of the benefits of using Windows Azure for Research.
Please also take a moment to follow us on Twitter @Azure4Research and use #azureresearch.
The results from these early efforts many of which are described on our website have been outstanding.
These pioneering projects have cut across disciplines, from bioinformatics to ecology, social network analysis, civil engineering, mobile computing, natural language processing, and more.
· Windows Azure for Research
· Windows Azure for Research Training
· Windows Azure Research Award Program
· Windows Azure Homepage
· Windows Azure Education Resources
· Windows Azure Marketplace
HDInsight Services for Windows Azure is a service that deploys and provisions Apache™ Hadoop™ clusters in the cloud, providing a software framework designed to manage, analyze and report on big data.
Data is described as "big data" to indicate that it is being collected in ever escalating volumes, at increasingly high velocities, and for a widening variety of unstructured formats and variable semantic contexts.
Big data collection does not provide value to an enterprise on its own. For big data to provide value in the form of actionable intelligence or insight, it must be accessible, cleaned, analyzed, and then presented in a useful way, often in combination with data from various other sources.
Apache Hadoop is a software framework that facilitates big data management and analysis. Apache Hadoop core provides reliable data storage with the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS), and a simple MapReduce programming model to process and analyze in parallel the data stored in this distributed system. HDFS uses data replication to address hardware failure issues that arise when deploying such highly distributed systems.
To simplify the complexities of analyzing unstructured data from various sources, the MapReduce programming model provides a core abstraction that provides closure for map and reduce operations. The MapReduce programming model views all of its jobs as computations over key-value pair datasets. So both input and output files must contain such key-value pair datasets.
Other Hadoop-related projects such as Pig and Hive are built on top of HDFS and the MapReduce framework, providing higher abstraction levels such as data flow control and querying, as well as additional functionality such as warehousing and mining, required to integrate big data analysis and end-to-end management.
HDInsight Services for Windows Azure makes Apache Hadoop avaliable as a service in the cloud. It makes the HDFS/MapReduce software framework and related projects available in a simpler, more scalable, and cost efficient environment.
The main scenarios for using Hadoop on Windows Azure
Volume The Hadoop big data solution is a response to two divergent trends. On the one hand, because the capacity of hard drives has continued to increase dramatically over the last 20 years, vast amounts of new data generated by web sites and by new device and instrumentation generations connected to the Internet, can be stored. In addition, there is automated tracking of everyone's online behavior. On the other hand, data access speeds on these larger capacity drives have not kept pace, so reading from and writing to very large disks is too slow.
The solution for this network bandwidth bottleneck has two principal features. First, HDFS provides a type of distributed architecture that stores data on multiple disks with enabled parallel disk reading. Second, move any data processing computational requirements to the data-storing node, enabling access to the data as local as possible. The enhanced MapReduce performance depends on this design principle known as data locality. The idea saves bandwidth by moving programs to the data, rather than data to programs, resulting in the MapReduce programming model scaling linearly with the data set size. For an increase in the cluster size proportionately with the data processed volume, the job executes in more or less the same amount of time.
Velocity The rate at which data is becoming available to organizations has followed a trend very similar to the previously described escalating volume of data, and is being driven by increased ecommerce clickstream consumer behavior logging and by data associated social networking such as Facebook and Twitter. Smartphones and tablets device proliferation has dramatically increased the online data generation rate. Online gaming ,scientific health instrumentation are also generating streams of data at velocities with which traditional RDBMS are not able to cope. Insuring a competitive advantage in commercial and gaming activities requires quick responses as well as quick data analysis results. These high velocity data streams with tight feedback loops require a NoSQL approach like Hadoop's optimized for fast storage and retrieval.
Variety Most generated data is messy. Diverse data sources do not provide a static structure enabling traditional RDBMS timely management. Social networking data, for example, is typically text-based taking a wide variety of forms that may not remain fixed over time. Data from images and sensors feeds present similar challenges. This sort of unstructured data requires a flexible NoSQL system like Hadoop that enables providing sufficient structure to incoming data, storing it without requiring an exact schema. Cleaning up unstructured data is a significant processing part required to prepare unstructured data for use in an application. To make clean high-quality data more readily available, data marketplaces are competing and specializing in providing this service.
Variability Larger issues in the interpretation of big data can also arise. The term variability when applied to big data tends to refer specifically to the wide possible variance in meaning that can be encountered. Finding the most appropriate semantic context within which to interpret unstructured data can introduce significant complexities into the analysis.
So what is HDInsight?
HDInsight is a service from Microsoft that brings an Apache Hadoop-based solution to the cloud. HDInsight is a cloud-based data platform that manages data whether structured or unstructured, and of any size, HDInsight makes it possible for you to gain the full value of big data. HDInsight offers the following benefits:
• Insights with familiar tools: Through deep integration with Microsoft BI tools such as PowerPivot and Power View, HDInsight enables you to easily analyze data for insights. Seamlessly combine data from several sources, including HDInsight, with Microsoft Power Query for Excel. Easily map your data with new Power Map, a three-dimensional mapping Excel 2013 add-in.
• Enterprise-ready capabilities: HDInsight offers enterprise-class security, scalability, and manageability. Thanks to a dedicated secure node, HDInsight helps you secure your cluster. You can also take full advantage of the elastic scalability of Windows Azure. In addition, we simplify manageability of your cluster through extensive support for Windows PowerShell scripting.
• Rich developer experience: HDInsight offers powerful programming capabilities with a choice of technologies including Microsoft .NET, Java and other languages. .NET developers can exploit the full power of Language-Integrated Query with LINQ to Hive. And database developers can use existing skills to query and transform data through Hive.
To get started with HDInsight:
1. Visit the Windows Azure Management Portal.
2. In the bottom left, click New.
3. Under Data Services, click HDInsight.
4. Click Quick Create, and then follow the quick-start steps.
HDInsight pricing consists of two components: a head node and one or more compute nodes. Head node – The head node is available in the Extra Large instance size and will continue to be billed at the preview price of £0.2037 per hour per cluster through November 30, 2013. On December 1, 2013, the new price will be £0.4073 per hour per cluster.
Compute node – Compute nodes are available in the Large instance size and will continue to be billed at the preview price of £0.1019 per hour per instance deployed through November 30, 2013. On December 1, 2013, the new price will be £0.2037 per hour per instance deployed.
For additional pricing information, please see the HDInsight Pricing Details webpage. For more information about the service, visit the HDInsight Service webpage.
Last week I had the pleasure of speaking to a few hundred people at Apps World on a session entitled Cross Platform Panel: Exploring Methodologies & Tools.
This is a fascinating area as today’s modern app developers are now ultimately having to become more agile in their abilities and use the best tools available to develop an app for as many platforms as possible within a shortest period of time to maximise the revenue their app or game can achieve.
However having to develop an application or game for a diverse range of mobile platforms iOS, Android, Windows Phone etc.. has a number of constraints which need to be taken into consideration for example each have their own ‘native’ development languages, UI/UX, developer tools and environments.
But for the modern developer there is an ever growing list of cross-platform frameworks that allow you to minimise the cost and effort of developing mobile apps, but which to choose?
Here is a list of some of the most common cross platform frameworks available for today’s mobile app builders.
Enyo is a free and open source (Apache 2.0 license) cross-platform and cross-browser application development framework that enables developers to create HTML5 applications and deploy them to many modern desktop browsers and mobile devices.
Enyo is built around the philosophy of fully-encapsulated components, which allow a developer to reuse component pieces (or even an entire application) in new or existing projects. It is possible to embed full Enyo applications in the DOM elements of existing Web pages.
Enyo has a dependency mechanism (package.js) to enable a basic modular approach to building applications. If you look at most Enyo projects, you will see references to a $lib directory in one or more package.js files, usually to include optional modules such as Layout (lists and responsive components) and Onyx (a widget library).
Intel App Framework is a framework for building cross-platform mobile application using HTML5 technologies. The framework started life as jqMobi, a mobile optimised version of jQuery, which was created by the team behind appMobi. Intel acquired the jqMobi tools and staff in February 2013.
Intel App Framework is free and open sourced under an MIT licence. Intel also offer XDK, which is a a full suite of tools built around the App Framework. XDK adds an IDE, build tools and an emulator.
jQTouch is a Zepto/jQuery plugin which provides a framework for developing iOS and Android applications. It is both open source and free to use.
jQTouch provides a structure on which to base the HTML, the majority of the application styling, page transition animations and touch based event handling; however, it’s not a fully featured application development solution.
iOS version uses the out-of-the-box jQuery Mobile styles
Windows Phone uses the jquery-metro-theme extensions to support the Windows UI style together with Windows Phone specific features such as the app-bar.
Kendo provide a suite of web development frameworks, all of which are built on top of the ‘core’ Kendo UI MVVM framework. The Kendo UI Mobile framework adds a set of UI widgets for the creation of mobile interfaces. The mobile framework has a look and feel that mimics the native Apple, Android and Windows Phone themes.
Lungo is a framework for developing cross-platform applications in HTML5. Lungo applications are run in the browser, similar to other HTML-based frameworks such as jQuery Mobile. Lungo provides 2 main workflows:
Lungo provides a rich set of classes to help decorate basic HTML5 markup. The markup is then given behaviour and interaction based on the structure by Lungo, without any developer code being required. Lungo’s philosophy is that you should be able to create a prototype of your application to show basic interaction and page flow without having to write any JS yourself.
Lungo also provides a JS API to interact and enhance the prototype. The Lungo API is similar to the common functionality you’d see in other mobile frameworks, such as DOM manipulation (through Quo.js), page routing and navigation, storage etc.
mgwt is an open source mobile widget framework build using GWT. mgwt provides a number of UI widgets, CSS styles and a PhoneGap API which make it easier to develop native-like applications using GWT.
PhoneJS is a commercial HTML5 framework for cross platform mobile application development from DevExpress. PhoneJS is free for non-commercial use.
PhoneJS uses the Knockout MVVM framework for structuring the application, with the PhoneJS CSS providing a native-styled UI for the various phone platforms. PhoneJS applications use PhoneGap for packaging.
DevExpress also offers a more integrated solution based on PhoneJS, called DXTREME Mobile, which adds Visual Studio tooling.
Titanium APIs provide an abstraction layer for the Android and iOS UI elements, allowing you to write your view code against the Titanium abstraction. Although, there are some view concepts which have not been abstracted, meaning that developers have to write platform specific view code
Xamarin have two commercial products, Xamarin.iOS for iOS development and Xamarin.Android. The Xamarin frameworks allow you to write applications using C# and the .NET framework. For each platform Xamarin provide bindings to the native platform APIs. As a result Xamarin applications make use of the native UI for each mobile platform. Xamarin do not provide a Windows Phone product because the C# and .NET code used for Android and iOS development is directly portable to Windows Phone.
What resources are available to help evaluate which is the best solution?
To help solve this problem PropertyCross presents a non-trivial application, for searching UK property listings, developed using a range of cross-platform technologies and frameworks. Property Cross has a simple aim is to provide developers with a practical insight into the strengths and weaknesses of each framework so this is a definite resource you should check out if your interested in cross platform development.
I would love to hear your experiences of developing apps and games for cross platform support and which tool you find the most useful?
We have three primary competitions: Games, Innovation, and World Citizenship.
General information on these competitions can be found on our website at http://www.imaginecup.com
Here a quick summary of the 2014 competitions.
World Citizenship: This category is most similar to past Imagine Cup contests which emphasized solving global problems in areas such as health, the environment, and human rights. Projects in this category are primarily judged based on the problem they’re addressing and the likely impact the project will have. This category tells the Imagine Cup social-good story.
Innovation: This category is not based on global problems at all. Instead we are looking for projects with a strong consumer appeal and a gee-whiz quality that will surprise and delight a broad audience. Projects in this category are primarily judged based on the creative innovation they offer. Projects in the Innovation category that attempt to address global problems do not receive any points for doing so; those projects really belong in World Citizenship and will probably not be competitive in Innovation. The Innovation category tells the Imagine Cup cutting-edge tech story.
Games: The global videogame market is now estimated at $66 billion dollars, that the number of schools with game programs or degrees has increased rapidly The Games competition was the most popular Imagine Cup contest last year according to both student registrations and number of projects submitted to our Online Finals. Students are highly motivated to make games and with your help and support, they will do so on Microsoft platforms.
Every year Imagine Cup offers a variety of global online challenges.
This year’s three challenges are designed to teach students about the software development lifecycle and get them started early on their projects for our three main competitions. Each challenge includes Games, Innovation, and World Citizenship categories and the top team in each category will win $3,000.
These challenges are completely optional for students. A team can do one, skip one, do them all, skip them all, whatever. The challenges have no impact on the three core competitions. However, we expect that teams who participate in the challenges will end up with stronger projects for their chosen competition than teams who skip the challenges.
Pitch Video Challenge: Student teams create a five-minute video explaining their project.
Launch: September 13, 2013 - End: October 25, 2013
Project Blueprint Challenge: Student teams create a ten-page document presenting their project in detail.
Launch: October 29, 2013 - End: December 17, 2013
User Experience Challenge: Student teams create a set of user flows, wireframes, and a visual target for how their project will look, feel, and flow.
Launch: January 3, 2014 - End: February 21, 2014
Best of luck to UK Entries full terms and conditions are available at http://www.imaginecup.com
Visual Studio 2013, .NET 4.5.1, and Team Foundation Server 2013 are now available for download! DreamSpark subscribers can download Visual Studio FREE of Charge from either their Institutional DreamSpark ELMS store or direct from DreamSpark.com.
Visual Studio 2013 is the best tool for developers and teams to build and deliver modern, connected applications on all of Microsoft’s platforms. From Windows Azure and SQL Server to Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8, Visual Studio 2013 supports the breadth of Microsoft’s developer platforms.
As part of the Cloud OS vision, Visual Studio 2013 enables developers to build modern business applications that take advantage of the cloud and target a variety of devices and end-user experiences, all delivered within today’s rapid and dynamic application lifecycles.
Accessing Visual Studio 2013 via DreamSpark.com
When student download and install Visual Studio 2013 from DreamSpark.com, they will receive a static key to complete the installation. The key simply means the students do not have register or reregister the product every 90 days are per the RTM version..
For administrators and IT technicians the DreamSpark institutional ELMS Store contains a copy of Visual Studio 2013 with a Pre-Keyed serial number this version can be used to install on institution teaching and learning lab machines either manually or via a managed desktop image.
Visual Studio and Cloud services
When the student/institutions have installed Visual Studio 2013 on premise, they will get prompted to go an connect online to use online features of Visual Studio a Windows Live ID or Microsoft Account is required. If a student signs in with their WLID this will save there solutions to the cloud.
What are the new features
There are great new features and capabilities in Visual Studio 2013 for every developer, including innovative editor enhancements such as Peek and CodeLens, diagnostics tools for UI responsiveness and energy consumption, major updates for ASP.NET web development, expanded ALM capabilities with Git support and agile portfolio management, and much, much more. Check out what’s new with Visual Studio 2013 for details.
Want to know more about Visual Studio 2013
Visual Studio 2013 launch on November 13th. at the launch event the Visual Studio team will be highlighting the array of new features and capabilities in the Visual Studio 2013 release.
Visual Studio 2013 supports development of great Windows Store applications for Windows 8.1, which is also available for download today FREE of charge for all DreamSpark Premium subscribers.
What is Azure Tracker?
Azure Tracker is a tool designed primarily with faculty and educators of students with Azure Educator grants. The tool allows users to manage and monitor student use to help optimize Windows Azure in their classroom.
What can I do on Azure Tracker?
The various sections of Azure Tracker are designed to help support the use of Windows Azure in the classroom.
· Accounts provides a consolidated view of all accounts in the course, allowing users to track the status of all accounts under their control.
· Sessions are individual sections (i.e., groups and classes) associated with Azure courses under an instructor. Sessions are customizable, so they can be managed in a way to segment students in the manner that best fits the instructors needs.
· Usage allows for tracking and reporting across multiple services, resources, and user groups.
· Feedback is a way for us to connect with you to help optimize the site from a user perspective. Send an email directly, participate in periodic surveys, and submit a case study are all ways we seek your input in order to optimize your and your students Windows Azure experience.
Getting Access to Azure Tracker Portal
You must login using your Microsoft ID (LiveID) which your Academic Passes have been granted against.
Azure Tracker Portal Site is : http://tracker.windowsazurepass.com.
· Having trouble with Microsoft Azure, contact Azure Support at http://www.windowsazure.com/support and sign in
· Need help migrating to a paid subscription, please contact www.windowsazurepass.com/convert/default.aspx
· Have a question related to your Azure Pass subscription or Azure Tracker, please contact Azure Pass Support directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
· Interested in finding more information about Azure Academic Passes see http://www.windowsazure.com/education
· Windows Azure and Cloud Curriculum resources see http://www.microsoft.com/faculty
This week I have done a number of events including Games Marketing Europe where I was asked to present on the 6 Top Tips for Marketing your App for Windows 8 and Windows Phone you can see my deck below
One of the most common question I get is how can I secure funding for my app or game? So I wanted to introduce you all to Microsoft, Nokia And Aalto University AppCampus Programme.
What is AppCampus?
AppCampus is €18M (US$24M) joint investment fund from Microsoft, Nokia, and Aalto University which is to fund and support high potential mobile startups around the world
So what is the Funding Opportunity?
Applicants who are successfully awarded an AppCampus investment receive €20K, €50K or €70K
AppCampus also provides some training and coaching via App Camp a residential accelerator camp based out of Aalto University in additional AppCampus provides Go-to-market support..
What are our asks?
All successful AppCampus awards need to agree to a 90 day exclusivity period and publish to the Windows Phone Store.
So what are we looking for?
• Differentiation: a brand new app that is not available in any mobile app store, OR an existing successful app on iOS/Android with exclusive/differentiated content or features on Windows Phone.
• Mass market appeal: potential to generate a high number of downloads (more than half a million per year) and/or revenue (tens of thousands of dollars per year)
• Experienced mobile developer: has experience building apps on one of the main mobile platforms (iOS/Android/WP) with demonstrated design, technical and business capabilities
• Convincing Overall Proposal: app design, technical solution, business model
• AppCampus 101 & Frequently Asked Questions: http://www.appcampus.fi/faq
• How to do a good AppCampus submission: http://jo.my/example1
• How to do a good AppCampus submission. A case example: http://jo.my/example2
Windows Phone Resources
•Windows Phone Dev Center - Design principles: http://jo.my/principles
•Windows Phone Dev Center - Design process: http://jo.my/process
•Windows Phone Dev Center - Development http://jo.my/develop
•Windows Phone 8 - Training Kit: http://jo.my/wp8tt
•Nokia Developer Center - Windows Phone: http://jo.my/nokiadev
•Microsoft BizSpark: http://www.bizspark.com •Microsoft UK Accelerator – http://aka.ms/ukaccelerator
The Microsoft Ventures Accelerator London is looking for promising early-stage startups who are doing big things in the cloud, internet, mobile and gaming to join an immersive 12-week accelerator programme aimed at compressing time to launch. You’ll get access to 1:1 mentoring, a global alumni community, a cutting edge curriculum and loads of support and assistance to help you grow. There are just 2 weeks left to apply, so if you are a high-potential startup set on fast growth, you’ll want to check out: http://aka.ms/apply and get your application in quickly. #MSFTVenturesUK
Channel 9 have published a great interview with Principal Software Architect Ivan Tashev the content is at Channel 9 videos.
Ivan who works at MS Research has been responsible for a number of MS audio devices from Kinect to Microsoft Round Table.
Ivan talks about the differences between Kinect 1.0 and Kinect 2.0 some fascinating insight into the technology and research behind an amazing product.
For more details on Kinect and Kinect SDK see Kinect for Windows http://www.kinectforwindows.com
Have you ever wondered if there are anywhere you can get data and more importantly real data for apps and services.
Is your One-Stop Shop for Premium Data and Applications with Hundreds of Apps, Thousands of Subscriptions, Trillions of Data Points which you can use in your apps/services.
Windows Azure Marketplace for Data and apps - https://datamarket.azure.com/
Windows Azure MarketPlace Data Market Blog - http://blogs.msdn.com/b/datamarket/
Here are a some of the services but there are 100 and 1000 data resources.
There’s a lot of buzz about the “Internet of Things” (IoT)
One of the key areas I get asked most questions about in regards to students projects is the internet of things.
This is a great topic for student and researchers based at Microsoft we have huge passion for the Internet of Things over the summer I have been working with a number of Universities and here are some of the project themes which activity is being completed on during this academic year..
Using Social Media to Engage with Products
Theme: Internet of Things / Mobile Apps, Equipment:Windows Azure, WP8 device (large screen) + Gadgeteer or RaspPi
Interfacing Physical & Digital Worlds
Theme: Internet of Things / Augmented Reality / Mobile Apps, Equipment: Windows Azure, WP8 device (large screen) + Gadgeteer/RaspPi + various sensors inc.
Connection through passive digital interaction
Theme: Internet of Things, Equipment: Windows Azure. NFC enabled WP8 device + Gadgeteer or RaspPi with NFC sensors + NFC tags
Augmented Energy Monitoring Accommodation
Theme: Mobile Apps / Augmented Reality, Equipment:Windows Azure, WP8 device, Embedded Systems
Feedback and Demand Awareness Theme: Internet of Things / Mobile Apps, Equipment: Windows Azure, WP8, Multiple temperate sensor kits, Embedded Systems
Why are these projects so interesting?
So with now billion devices connected to the Web and an expected 50 Billion by 2020, the Internet of Things is going to get bigger and bigger and impact us in our daily activities. Market research firm IDC in turn estimates that more than 16 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2015
Why has IoT gained momentum?
Simply because there is a real need for such systems and connectivity to the internet from all our devices the following is who we see our products and services.
Where is the opportunity?
The growth of this type of solution by application area has been amazing and the opportunity for developing for these industries is clearly presented below.
What should you do?
If you interested in IoT related activities in your UG studies or PG activities please get in contact.
We are presently looking for as many examples of IoT based projects using Microsoft technologies and services.
As always we are always happy to provide advice guidance, suggestions and comment.
Resources and further information on the Internet of Things
Internet of Things Examples - Postscapes
What are the best examples of the 'Internet of things'?
2013: The year of the Internet of Things | MIT Technology Review
5 Companies Building the "Internet of Things"
Building the Internet of Things
Free developer tools and resources for educators and students
Microsoft Cloud Services for Education
Azure Teaching and Student Packs