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  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows 8 USB To Go Support USB Sticks


    One of the questions I received at BETT was related to Windows To Go and what USB Stick should I purchase?

    So What is Windows To Go?

    Windows To Go is a fully manageable corporate Windows 8 OS image provisioned on a certified bootable USB drive that allows faculty and staff to work from anywhere. To use Windows To Go, you simply insert the provisioned USB drive into a compatible PC and boot into your personalized Windows 8 image, all while maintaining access to key security and management features of the operating system, as well as other key programs included within the corporate image, such as: Group Policy, BitLocker, BranchCache, App-V, UE-V and DirectAccess.

    What are the Benefits? 

    Windows To Go users are able to have their personalized Windows environment on their certified USB with or without network connectivity, which means they may be fully productive from any location they choose to work.

    What USB Stick should I use?

    At present there are five vendors whom meet th eWindows To Go certification tests and requirements. Each of the manufacturers listed below have rigorously tested their products, and have worked with Microsoft to create high quality Windows To Go optimized drives.

    • Imation is a global scalable storage and data security company whose portfolio includes tiered storage and security offerings for businesses and consumers. Imation offers the IronKey™ Workspace certified for Windows To Go, available in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB sizes.
    • Kingston is a global provider of memory, solid-state drives, USB drives, and flash memory products. The Kingston Windows To Go certified drive, known as the DataTraveler Workspace, is available in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB versions.
    • SPYRUS, Inc. develops, manufactures, and markets hardware-based encryption, authentication, and digital content security products. SPYRUS offers two Windows To Go certified drives: the SPYRUS unencrypted Portable Workplace and the hardware encrypted Secure Portable Workplace, which is designed to be compliant with FIPS 140-2. Each drive is offered in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB sizes.
    • Super Talent designs and manufactures Flash-based storage solutions for Enterprise Servers, Workstations, Personal Computers and Consumer Electronics. Currently, Super Talent offers the RC8, in a variety of sizes, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB.
    • WD, a subsidiary of Western Digital Technologies, Inc., is a global storage industry leader, providing internal and external storage solutions for consumers and businesses. The WD My Passport Enterprise is a 500 GB external hard drive designed and certified specifically for use with Windows To Go.

    Want to know more about Windows To Go

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows 8 TouchDevelop Appathon and BETT Show 2013


    Before Christmas a number of UK Academics took part in 3 virtual university sessions on TouchDevelop with Peli de Halleux from Microsoft Research in USA. 3 UK academics were selected from the 50 or so educators from around Europe who took part, to go to London for a final 24 hour appathon is an exciting new platform which allows you to create apps on any HTML5 enabled browser and therefore you can develop on pretty much any platform, including mobile devices such as tablets or even phones. The apps you create can also be tested in the browser, so this platform provides the opportunity for students to create apps on mobile devices for mobile devices and on pretty much any device they have and see it running on that device. The final apps can be published as Windows 8 RT apps or Win7/8 phone apps on the Windows marketplace.

    So the three academics travelled to London (courtesy of Microsoft Corp) David Renton (FE Academic) Ray Chambers (School Teacher) and Jimmy Edwards (School Teacher).

    They began the event on Monday in CP. What’s interesting about David Renton, Jimmy Edwards and Ray Chambers is that are members of the UK Microsoft Partners in Learning network and are part the K Team academic evangelism programs helping UK Academic’s use MS technology in the classroom.

    The appathon kicked off properly at 11am with Ben Nunney and MS Research staff to provide technical support, guidance and direction. The key goal of the appathon was to develop educational app ideas into reality using TouchDevelop. With the academics using Windows 8 and Windows Phone devices, the academic got down to creating Win 8 and Windows Phone apps and getting their hands on RT Slates, surfaces and Windows 8 laptops.



    Appathon kicks off

    The competition went on late into the early hours and David was last to leave at around 4am.

    I arrived at CP early on the day judging day to be involved in the final judging at 1pm the teams started to present their apps to the judging panel and to our fellow educators.


    David Presenting Math Mage at the Appathon

    What was interesting about David games was he got his students involved and one Michael Philp a Scottish art student created the amazing original art work for Math Mage and a really interesting concept of involving students into activities such as this.


    Math Mage for Windows Phone

    However at the judging it was clear the Ukraine teachers were amazing! They built an amazing app which lets you construct and test electric circuits on your Windows 8  mobile phone or Windows 8 device.

    The winner received a brand new Surface RT Tablet courtesy of Microsoft.

    Despite the UK not winning I was really impressed with the apps that David and Ray Chambers produced unfortunately Jimmy had to be rushed to hospital with a kidney stone on the Tuesday evening he is now recovering. Both David and Ray are now in the process of publishing them both + more to the Windows 8 and Windows Marketplace.


    Winning App from the Ukraine

    On Wednesday the BETT Show at the ExCeL Convention Centre started where Vince Cable and Microsoft VP Anthony Salcito opened the show in the new Microsoft Arena in the middle of the massive ExCel conference centre.


    Anthony Salcito Microsoft VP



    Windows 8 Surface Pod


    Microsoft Stand


    Yes it was really busy!


    Microsoft Stand and Theatre

    Apart from Windows 8 everywhere, The overall theme running through the show was BYOD, Bring Your Own Device and the idea that in future students of all ages from Primary through to FE and HE should be allowed to take the amazing technology sitting in their bags out and use it in the classroom.


    BETT Show 2013

    On the Thursday I had a presentation slot on Surface in Education and apps being the centre of the new learner experience, Before I presented, I went to the NAACE stand for the launch of the Kodu Kup in conjunction with Microsoft and UKIE.

    On the NAACE stand Stuart Ball from Microsoft Partners in Learning along with Nicki Maddams from the Microsoft Partners in Learning K-Team launched the exciting new competition for all school kids aged 7 to 14, where they are challenged to work together in teams of 3 to produce a game which will be judged by Microsoft, with the top ten teams from around the country winning a trip to Microsoft HQ in July, where the top teams will be rewarded with XBOX360s and Kinects.

    After this we rushed over to Learn Live D Theatre where we were presented on Kodu, Kinect, xGames and TouchDevelop and the Imagine Cup, DreamSpark using Microsoft Development tools and how they are being used to the classroom to engage and excite learners. We had some famous faces in the audience such as the team from LionHead the game developers behind the Fable game series and a number of educational titles.

    The presentation from the K team went very well and it seemed to be well received by everybody, as David and Ray simply presented their experiences of using technology in the classroom.



    On the Friday Ray and David had initally planned to take it easy and just take in the show and had planned to go see Professor Brian Cox presenting, but I managed to gently persuade them both to take part in another Appathon, this time it was the Stone Hackathon which was being judged by Pearson education, stone computers and Johnny Ball of 80s kids tv fame.


    Ray made a French and Maths version of his Spelling Bee app and David made an English version of my Math Mage called Word Mage which tests kids knowledge of Nouns, Verbs, Adverbs and Adjectives.  

    Ray completed his Spelling Bee App and won a portable printer for his efforts. So it was a great day for Windows 8 with Apps both being for our platform built using different technologies.


    David and Ray with Jonny

    David has also gratefully agreed to produce teaching materials for Microsoft Faculty Connection Resources on using TouchDevelop for games development and programming. The materials will cover basic programming concepts and how to use TouchDevelop to create classic arcade games like Pong, Breakout, Space Invaders.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Global Game Jam Hull




    Waiting for the theme….. lots of excited students

    The Global Game Jam Hull, took place at Hull College, the event started with a couple of excellent videos which are available at setting the scene (and reminding everyone about the power of deodorant) and then we got the theme. No pictures, no words. Just the sound of a human heartbeat. Genius.

    The hack was, then was underway, teams began to form, some students were already in teams some started to develop teams of designer, artists and developers. As you can see we had a number of professional film crews throughout the event (who turned out to be Grimsby College Media Students studying digial media production) they were using the event to develop portfolios and undertook a number of interviews, etc throughout the event and this content will be available once edited.

    I took along six Windows 8 slates which the teams could use to debug their windows 8 apps and a lot of students had Windows Phone devices and we had a selection of prizes for the winners of the event.

    We announced the differenators and the academic’s in attendance from each of the events stressed the importance of not wasting this opportunity to begin building a real portfolio of apps.

    A total of 20 teams then found suitable location, rooms within the college which was a fantastic location

    The results

    Judging was a really frenzied effort. We spit into teams of judges, 10 teams per group, each group of judges had a video crew to create videos for use at the final presentation at the end of the day.

    Each of the judging teams were chaperoned by a film crew. If you want to take a look at the amazing games here is a video on YouTube here.

    These are teams who have excelled in specific competition categories.


    “Heart Attack Team” with their Social Media award their app Heart Attack was built for Windows 8 and fully functional and was uploaded to store yesterday I had email today saying the WP8 version will be in store before the end of the week. This was built with XNA and ported using MonoGame


    “3 Old Robots and an Englishman” with their Diversifier award they built a game in 48k


    “50 Shades of Simon Grey” with their Art award an awesome Unity Game with amazing visuals


    “Blimbu” with their Project Management award Awesome game by Grimsby Students built using GameMaker they are in the process of porting this to Windows 8


    Lifeline team with their Collaboration Award as students were from Teesside Uni, Grimsby and Hull Uni

    Now it was time for the top three teams.


    “Across the Border” came third with a lovely heart powered jetpack game. This was a fully functional Windows Phone app and demonstrated on a device and will be available in store.

    In second place we had the “Heart Attack” team with a single finger controlled sideways scroller that has the player boosting their heart and avoiding circular saws, boost batteries and slow me down pills.


    The winners were “50 Shades of Simon Grey”, who designed, built and then textured an entire haunted mansion for their terrifying game where a ghostly presence stalks multiple players as they search the rooms to try and exorcise the evil that lurks there. The game uses 3D sound to play the hearbeat of the avenging ghost as he comes up behind you for the kill. Great, and very atmospheric, stuff. For this to be produced in 48 hours was amazing and it really shows the power of Unity! Once we have the Unity plug-in available Windows 8 will have some amazing games.

    Finally we highlighted the Windows 8 Competition and simply stressed this was an amazing opportunity of students to get some incentives and most importantly visit MS and meet some of the staff and get feedback on their games.

    Overall Superb event and awesome support from the academic’s involved and venue to help this really be a huge success. Additionally made great introduction to the teams at and introduced them as a BizSpark Network Partner.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    .NET Gadgeteer in Education


    Design and build your own electronic devices

    NET Gadgeteer is a platform for creating your own electronic devices using a wide variety of hardware modules and a powerful programming environment. Students with little or no electronics background can design and build devices that sense and react to their environments using components such as switches, displays, buzzers, sensors and more. Using cables these various modules are plugged into a mainboard which is programmed to make everything work together. Devices can be programmed using Visual Basic or Visual C#.


    How to learn .NET Gadgeteer

    .NET Gadgeteer can be incorporated into the teaching of programming at GCSE and A-Level, or introduced in extra-curricular clubs at KS3. Teaching materials for .NET Gadgeteer are available at

    These are structured around key programming principles including selection, iteration, arrays and file handling, so that students can learn all the key concepts they need whilst having fun!

    What to buy

    .NET Gadgeteer is open source hardware that is available from a number of manufacturers. For our Visual Basic teaching materials one suggestion is to buy a Fez Hydra kit, and also a small display, SD Card module and button. However other mainboards can be used just as well. Gadgeteer components are available from the following manufacturers/suppliers: GHI Electronics, Love Electronics, SyTech, Proto-Pic, Cool Components and Mouser Electronics, amongst others. Students can work in groups of four to build a Gadgeteer project.

    How students benefit

    .NET Gadgeteer is a motivating environment for teaching programming and is ideal for collaborative projects, where students share out tasks and work together to build a device of their own invention. Crucially, it also gives them a better understanding of how the devices and technology all around them work, as well as the skills to create their own.

    Heading to BETT

    NET Gadgeteer can offer exciting possibilities for teaching computer programming, electronics and computer-aided design. Once the device is built and programmed, a housing can be built for the device to enable ease of use, which also helps students to learn about human-computer interaction.

    If your attending BETT See .NET Gadgeteer in action at the AQA stand and for more information contact: Dr Sue Sentance, Schools outreach for .NET Gadgeteer, E-mail:,

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Rapid2D C++ DirectX 11.1 Educational Gaming engine for Windows 8



    Rapid2D is the only game engine that is specifically designed to produce Windows 8

    The following Tutorials are available

    There will be 9 templates each with a basic description released at:

    There is an editor and a scripting manual on the download page of rapid2d:  


    Rapid2D  will be doing lots more tutorials in both worksheet and video form in the near future and have released an amazing competition where you can WIN £10,000!

    The Rapid2D £10,000 Competition is now open. To find out more click here, and to enter click here.

    If you have already entered, you can login to your team area here.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Try F# enables users to learn F# through new tutorials that focus on solving real-world problems



    This week I had a interesting email from an academic interested in exploring F# for functional programming. F# for those who aren't aware has a number of opportunities in academic teaching, learning and research including analytical programming  the sort that are encountered in finance and data science.


    Microsoft Research have recently announced a web based IDE entitled Try F#. Try F# is much more than a set of tutorials its actually a web based IDE which lets users write code in the browser and share it with others on the web to help grow a community of F# developers.


    Very similar to Microsoft Touchdevelop at this latest release of Try F# is an evolution that keeps the tool in synch with the new experiences and information-rich programming features that are available in F# 3.0, the latest version of the language. The tutorials incorporate many domains, and help users understand F#’s new powerful “type providers” for data and service programming in the browser-based experience.

    The following video includes some recent work by University College London.

    Give it a try today!

    Try F# now includes “create and share” experiences that help you write simple code to solve complex problems and then easily share snippets or sample packs with others.

    F# communities make it easy to get involved:

    Why F# in Education

    Simple Code for Complex Problems - F# is expressive and concise, which allows developers to implement their algorithms more directly. This means less code to read and maintain.

    Rapid Prototyping- Using F# Interactive, code can be executed immediately without first compiling, which enables fluid problem exploration. Developers can use F# Interactive to iteratively refine algorithms to production quality.

    Fewer Bugs-  Case studies and user reports consistently show that F#'s strong type system reduces software bugs. Units of Measure further increase these benefits by preventing code from accidentally combining such elements as inches and centimeters, dollars and euros, or any custom units.

    Seamless Interoperability  - F# interoperates seamlessly with C#, and F# can be used with HTML5, JavaScript and other web standards. F# type providers can be used to integrate data sources and thousands of statistical libraries from packages such as R. The NuGet package environment provides over 8,000 new packages. Enterprises can use F# effectively without having to use different libraries and frameworks, and can leverage their existing assets and domain knowledge.

    Efficient Execution- F# features modern, high-performance just-in-time (JIT) compilation to native code. F# code runs unchanged on both 32-bit and 64-bit systems by using the instructions available on the target architecture. The resulting code runs at the speeds much faster than languages such as Python, JavaScript or R, and in some cases significantly faster than C#.

    Reduced Complexity- F# makes it easier to write functional programs, which eliminates complex time and state dependencies. This helps prevent bugs, makes unit testing more straightforward, simplifies refactoring, and promotes code reuse.


    If your interested in learning more about F# in academia please contact Kenji Takeda at Microsoft Research Connections

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    FallFury is an open source C++/DirectX 11.1 2D game for Windows 8.


    Coding4Fun FallFury

    The Awesome team of

    From have released FallFury open sourced C++/DX 2D Game for Windows 8

    You are playing as a bear that falls down from the sky, collecting buttons, avoiding obstacles and fighting monsters.

    This project demonstrates the capabilities of Windows Store hybrid applications, leveraging both the power of DirectX and XAML. It also supports an extensible level model, where developers can adjust the character behavior and the item sets by modifying specially designed XML files.

    Download Source -


    So if your interested in building a C++/DX game then here a 12 step tutorial of FallFury

    1. Introduction
    2. Shaders
    3. Basic Rendering and Movement
    4. XAML Interop
    5. Creating Levels
    6. Rendering Level Elements
    7. Animations
    8. Element Interactions
    9. Particle System
    10. Charms
    11. Hardware Testing & Debugging
    12. Conclusions
  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Educators TouchDevelop Hackathon 28th and 29th of Jan 2013




    Microsoft Partners in Learning have brought together some of the most inspirational teachers for a dedicated TouchDevelop hackathon.

    The educators who are all part of the Microsoft Partners in Learning Network recently took part in 3 Virtual Universities course based around the TouchDevelop platform and had to submit a mock-up of a TouchDevelop App.

    21 outstanding Educators will now participate in the Partners in Learning Appathon taking place in London on January 28th and 29th, 2013.

    The Apps are based on TouchDevelop so will support Windows 8 as well as Windows Phone. After an extensive review process, we selected 21 educators to Microsoft London Office on January 28th and 29th, 2013 (as part of the  BETT Show). The purpose of the Appathon is for the academics to build their app further with the help of experts who will be there to support the group. The selection was based on the innovation of the idea and the feasibility of the idea coming to life.

    One of the academics attending is David Renton, David recently produced a guest blog see

    Following the 24 hours, each educator will be expected to present their app on January 29th. I am thrilled to be part of the final Judging/evaluation committee and via a voting process we will select the winner.

    A huge congratulation to all the UK Academics who are taking part in the Partners in Learning network and we appreciate the time you took to participate in the Virtual Universities, complete homework and submit mock ups. We admire your initiative, drive and are excited to be a part of your journey in creating an environment of innovation in education using information and communications technology.

    Can’t wait to see the lucky 21 in London at the finals!

    Interested in learning more about TouchDevelop 

    You can play directly with TouchDevelop on your Windows Phone FREE APP or more appealing to schools you simply go to and run the IDE in the browser you can also build Windows 8 Store app from TouchDevelop on any platform.

    We have a some really inspirational educators in the UK using TouchDevelop in the curricula and for after school clubs. With the release of a browser version of TouchDevelop we have lots of interest from schools as they can effectively use any device with a web browser. So Windows Surface, iPads and Andriod devices are all fully supported.

    Microsoft has also produced and released a full FREE curricula for teaching TouchDevelop which is available at

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Phone NFC training from Nokia Developer Programme



    Near Field Communication (NFC) is an emerging short-range radio technology that is poised to revolutionise how we use mobile phones in everyday interactions.

    Nokia are hosting a great webinar. Where they will introduce the basics of NFC and how the technology is implemented in Nokia Lumia phones.

    They will also demonstrate how you can use NFC via Microsoft Windows Phone 8’s Proximity API in your applications to share content, read data from and write data to NFC tags, and create your own application launch tags.

    You will need to install the Microsoft Windows Phone SDK 8.0 in advance to get the most out of this training lab. You’ll learn more if you have the SDK installed and can begin using the API as soon as you complete the training. Also, it will be helpful to have a Nokia Lumia phone built on Windows Phone 8 available for testing.


    Lumia App Lab: Develop NFC apps in Windows Phone 8

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013 8:00:00 AM GMT - 8:45:00 AM GMT

    Learn about NFC technology and how to use Microsoft Windows Phone 8’s Proximity API in your apps for Nokia Lumia phones to share content, read data from and write data to NFC tags, and create your own application launch tags.

    Click Here to Register


    Lumia App Lab: Develop NFC apps in Windows Phone 8

    Thursday, January 31, 2013 4:00:00 PM GMT - 4:45:00 PM GMT

    Learn about NFC technology and how to use Microsoft Windows Phone 8’s Proximity API in your apps for Nokia Lumia phones to share content, read data from and write data to NFC tags, and create your own application launch tags.

    Click Here to Register




  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection C++/DX Game Framework Launches £10,000 Windows 8 Game Dev Competition!


    Rapid2DLogo Win8_logo C++/DirectX 11.1 Game Engine launches an awesome competition for students, startups and indie developers with a grand prize of £10,000

    But that’s not all; there will also be runners up prizes of Xbox 360 consoles and bundles taking the total prize fund way beyond £10,000

    Rapid2D, the Game Engine launched at the Evolve Conference, designed specifically for developing on Windows 8, has teamed up with industry sponsor Microsoft Corp. to launch an app competition with a first prize of £10,000.

    Aimed at start-ups and student studios, while being open to anyone to enter, teams will be required to submit apps to the Windows Store. The judging will be based on overall app quality submitted by a studio/team.

    Myra Smallman, of Rapid2D, also announced, “To create a level playing field for those who are just starting out in the industry, Rapid2D has produced a range of templates for use with our exciting new engine, all available for free to competition entrants.”

    Anand Krishnan, Senior Director, Developer and Platform Group, Microsoft UK, added, “We are proud to support and sponsor this amazing initiative. It offers opportunities for hobby builders, students and startups to bring their ideas to life. We are excited to see what the next generation of developers, designers, artists and coders can do with the Rapid2D game engine.”

    The competition will launch at 15.00pm (UK) on Wednesday 23rd January 2013 via the Rapid2D web site. The first of the 10 templates will also be made available at the same time as will the latest version of the Rapid2D engine, Rapid2D V1.2.

    Registration via the Rapid2D website also opens 23rd January. The closing date for the collections of apps being published is 2nd April 2013. All Apps which are to be considered for the competition must be submitted to the Windows Store for approval by 12 midnight on 2nd April 2013.

    Rapid2d can be downloaded

    Please Note 

    It is not a prerequisite of entry to use the Rapid2D engine – entrants can develop a Windows 8 game with any language or middleware platform, whilst we recommend the Rapid 2D engine to utilize the templates and accelerate the game app development.
    Individuals can enter, but obviously teams can share the demanding workload
    Full terms and conditions available via however entry is restricted to the UK.

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