• Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Learning all about Azure



    So are you up to speed on the Cloud?

    Learning all about Windows Azure - Curriculum Resources

    AzureMarketAppfabric thumbSQL Azure thumbWindows Azure

    Overview of Cloud Computing and the Windows Azure Platform: an Academic Perspective
    This presentation talks about the benefits of Cloud Computing and provides an in-depth look at Windows Azure.

    Windows Azure Platform Virtual Labs
    Click the link above to visit the MSDN site for Azure Platform Virtual Labs or click on any specific lab below. Virtual labs are simple, with no complex setup or installation required.

    Windows Phone 7 and The Cloud
    Exploring Windows Azure Storage
    Debugging Applications in Windows Azure
    Advanced Web and Worker Roles
    Windows Azure Native Code
    Building Windows Azure Services with PHP
    Getting Started with Windows Azure Storage
    Building Windows Azure Services
    Using Windows Azure Tables

    Reference Materials

    Introducing the Windows Azure Platform (Whitepaper)
    Using computers in the cloud can make lots of sense. Rather than buying and maintaining your own machines, why not exploit the acres of internet-accessible servers on offer today? Learn about the Windows Azure Platform in this white paper.

    Introducing Windows Azure (Whitepaper)
    Cloud computing is here. Running applications on machines in an Internet-accessible data center can bring plenty of advantages. Yet wherever they run, applications are built on some kind of platform. For on-premises applications, this platform usually includes an operating system, some way to store data, and perhaps more. Applications running in the cloud need a similar foundation. The goal of Microsoft’s Windows Azure is to provide this. Part of the larger Windows Azure platform, Windows Azure is a platform for running Windows applications and storing data in the cloud.

    Additional Windows Azure Whitepapers
    Follow the link above to see a list of additional whitepapers about Windows Azure.

    Windows Azure Software Resources

    Microsoft Web Platform Installer
    Download the Microsoft Web Platform Installer plus other tools and videos on topics such as SQL Azure Database, PHP on Windows Azure, Web seminars and the Cloud Developer Center on MSDN.

    Windows Azure Platform Training Kit
    The Windows Azure Platform Training Kit includes a comprehensive set of technical content including hands-on labs, presentations, and demos that are designed to help you learn how to use the Windows Azure platform including: Windows Azure, SQL Azure and the Windows Azure AppFabric.

    Windows Azure SDK and Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio (March 2011)
    Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio, which includes the Windows Azure SDK, extends Visual Studio 2010 to enable the creation, configuration, building, debugging, running, packaging and deployment of scalable web applications and services on Windows Azure.

    Learning Journey

    And you can even develop your course curricula as a learning journey for development on Windows Azure.

    Week 1. Controlling Access in the Windows Azure Platform

    Week 2. Handling Blobs in Windows Azure

    Week3. Going NoSQL with Windows Azure Tables

    Week 4. Disconnecting with Windows Azure Queues

    Week 5. Developing Hosted Services for Windows Azure

    Week 6. Digging into Windows Azure Diagnostics

    Week 7. Managing Hosted Services with the Service Management API

    Week 8. Using SQL Azure

    Week 9. Looking at the Windows Azure AppFabric

    Some great resources

    Microsoft Showcase Videos on Windows Azure
    This site contains 300+ videos on Windows Azure.

    Windows Azure Case Studies
    Learn how others are using the Windows Azure platform to cut costs and increase their agility. Follow the link above to see a list of case studies about Windows Azure.

    Azure Research Engagement from Microsoft Research
    The Azure Research Engagement project aims to change the paradigm for scholarly and scientific research by extending the power of the computer into the cloud. We build the components of cloud technology and work with researchers in the field on projects that push the frontier of client and cloud computing.

    Azurescope: Benchmarking and Guidance for Windows Azure
    The purpose of this site is to present the results of regularly running benchmarks on the Windows Azure platform. These benchmarks are intended to assist you in architecting and deploying your research applications and services on Windows Azure. Included in the benchmark suite are tests of data throughput rates, response times, and capacity. Each benchmark is run against a variety of test cases designed to reflect common use scenarios for Windows Azure development.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Who doesn't like to play games? Teach them HTML5



    Recently I have been asked the same question by a number academics..

    how to try to make teaching programming interesting?

    As we all know one of the key things of learning is it has to be interesting, so simply getting students to use notepad to code isn't interesting and students will become quickly disengaged or simply turn off.

    So why not try to make things more interesting and teach them how to program a browser-based game, Key goals are the outcome is cross-platform compatible and also build upon some the skills your students may already have, in terms of web design and may also be really stimulating and of use to them in extra curricula activities so with these factors I am sure they would be really interested in learning more.

    So what about HTML5`s functions and/or JavaScript.

    Using HTML5 & JavaScript with a bit of CSS you can create some awesome browser based games like a dice game, bouncing balls, slingshot, Quiz’s, Memory challenges, Mazes, Card games and some phenomenal HTML5 games at http://www.canvasdemos.com/

    What's great about teaching HTML5

    HTML5 simply follows on from the basics of HTML, CSS and JavaScript but also for people with experience with these programming languages it offers so much more and for those with little or no experience with programming languages its something which is easily picked up and understood.

    In terms of curricula you can teach canvas element, audio and video implementation, event handling, form input validation and the usage of information storing. These are all new functions in HTML5.

    And you can even develop your course curricula as a learning journey.

    Week 1. Starting with the basics of HTML and CSS. follow by JavaScript introductions

    Week 2. Programming these functions followed by drawing the animation using the canvas element.

    Week 3. Using the canvas element,

    Week 4. Create the game logics (including the collision engine)

    Week 5. Using form input validation and adding some AI such as basic artificial gravity.

    Week 6 . You can then progress on basics of JavaScript arrays, CSS and the video elements.

    Week 7. You can use HTML5`s local storage API.

    Week 8. Develop a game uses and which includes the above and have a mini challenge between the students.

    So as a learning exercise you can introduce HTML5, JavaScript , CSS, the canvas element, audio and video implementation, event handling, form input validation, header/footer elements and the usage of information storing.

    Therefore ensuring students grasp the basics of HTML5 page formatting, CSS and a lot of JavaScript including event handling and the storage engine which will be appropriate and interesting and they can then go on and make AWESOME Web site.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Its that time of year when IT Departments are rolling out software updates, how are you fixed for software?


    So its that time of the year when IT Departments around UK institutions are rolling out software across the various PC clusters and teaching labs the question I have is,  do you have the most appropriate software available?

    Many UK Institutions have MSDN Academic Alliance


    So if you do have MSDNAA make sure your using the subscription effectively.  MSDNAA is great facility for providing software to all your labs and clusters. MSDNAA offers your department, school or faculty with Microsoft professional level software and also an amazing value add for your students as MSDNAA allows them to install operating systems such as Windows 7 and development tools Visual Studio Ultimate onto their personal PC’s.

    For all students and specifically Primary and Secondary school we have Microsoft DreamSpark so please make sure you sign up your school for DreamSpark.


    DreamSpark offers so much software and for FREE to all students undertaking studies.

    The image below only shows some of what is available for full details see http://www.dreamspark.com



    We have also updated Microsoft Faculty Connection resources with lots of FREE curriculum resources.

    For example
    XNA for game development
    Expression Studio for web design courses
    Small Basic

    Microsoft offers lots of FREE resources so please do take advantage.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    F# through Game Development and XNA

    Thinking of changing how you teach programming then look no further..


    A great way of introducing students to programming is by doing task which they will enjoy how about game development? Learning to program games for ages is exciting and also interesting, so if your thinking of changing the way you teach your Under Graduates programming or looking for a nice language to introduce students to the Visual Studio IDE what could be better than an interesting way to learn programming than this combination?

    Giuseppe Maggiore has just written to me about his new F# e-book, FRIENDLY F# through Game Development and XNA, where you learn F# through game development with XNA.

    I have just finished coauthoring the first version of a digital-only book about F# applied to gaming and simulations, which has been my topic of research and (very extensive) teaching during the last half decade; in fact, the book gathers the various samples I have used for teaching functional programming to my students.

    The main subject of the book is the F# language and its various constructs, but every single chapter is focused on game-related problem. Each one of the first 5 chapters describes a problem, shows and discusses its solution and then discusses in depth the F# constructs used.

    The 5 problems included in the book are:

    • a bouncing ball
    • the Saturn V rocket
    • an asteroid field
    • a large asteroid field optimized with quad trees
    • a police starship that must fight off a pirate ship attacking a cargo freighter

    In the last two chapters we use XNA to build a 2D and 3D renderer for two of the samples we have seen. The book shows the basics of the SpriteBatch class, the Model class, input management and audio with this powerful framework.

    So from a teaching perspective the book  covers the most important aspects of XNA in a simple and succinct way.

    The samples are all stored at: http://fsharpgamedev.codeplex.com/

    So if your thinking of adapting your curricula F# and game development may be ideal.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Dynamics® Academic Alliance



    What is the Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance?

    The Microsoft Dynamics® Academic Alliance is a program for member universities and colleges who wish to enhance the learning experience by integrating Microsoft Dynamics enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) software in the curriculum.

    Why is the Alliance important?

    Education is often more meaningful when it is made practical. Hands-on learning with software enables students to apply business concepts and processes to real-world scenarios using business tools they are likely to encounter during their career. Students at member colleges and universities have a competitive advantage in the job market after college because they are not only well-educated and highly motivated, but already experienced in using business tools. They also may have taken advantage of opportunities to network with peers and meet business people and Microsoft partners through their affiliation with the alliance. As a result, they receive special insight into internship, career, or business opportunities
    after graduation.

    How does the alliance work?

    Member institutions receive free software, support, and resources from Microsoft. Peer educators within the alliance share ideas for curricula. Events provide opportunities for deepening knowledge and relationships. Microsoft Dynamics partners may participate as guest speakers in the classroom or as expert advisors in a laboratory or seminar setting.

    Why should my Institution become a Alliance member?

    Member universities demonstrate leadership, relevance, and innovation by incorporating Microsoft Dynamics into their curricula, and they can benefit from the loyalty of graduates who were well-prepared for internship, career, and business opportunities. Participating partners have an edge in recruiting highly qualified graduates and mentoring them to become loyal, productive employees who make critical contributions in serving customers and driving business growth.

    Give context to concepts with Microsoft Dynamics software

    Stand apart as leaders and innovators in business and technology education, and attract talented faculty and students as well as business connections. Membership in the Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance distinguishes forward-thinking schools and faculty, which are able to put students in a stronger position to find rewarding employment. Augment students’ understanding of the business world with relevant, realistic, hands-on learning experiences that enhance the effectiveness of your technology and business courses. The alliance provides free Microsoft Dynamics software, encourages connections with local Microsoft Dynamics partners, facilitates the exchange of ideas and experience among peers and Microsoft business technologists, and offers online resources with insight into business and technology trends.

    Valuable, Relevant education

    • Practical insight into business processes, challenges, and solutions through the use of software used in thousands of midsize businesses around the world.
    • Holistic business and process modelling, incorporating cross-functional business activities.
    • Professional growth through exposure to and incorporation of some of the latest ideas and practices from Microsoft and its technology partners.

    Business enablement and insight

    • Broad exposure to business issues and technology solutions for your students.
    • Downloadable, effective materials shared by alliance members.
    • Realistic, context-rich business modelling using data sets provided by Microsoft.
    • Innovative education leadership with contemporary, progressive technology and business curricula.
    • Close connections to the real business world.

    Connected community

    • Synergies among business, technical, and environmental benefits.
    • Idea exchange among peers at special alliance events and with the alliance member network.
    • Vast ecosystem of Microsoft Dynamics partners and technology experts for advice, speaking, and mentoring.

    Resources for Alliance member institutions and faculty

    • Certificate of completion for students passing Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance courses
    • Members-only email signature
    • Web buttons for your institution website to lead to your program information page
    • Best practices guide
    • Copy usage guidelines with ready-to-print descriptions of your alliance membership
    • Datasheets communicating the value of the alliance to your institution
    • Networking, educational, and advisory opportunities
    • Curriculum aids from Microsoft and education peers
    • Newsletter with the latest information about the program and more

    Useful Resources

    For more see www.microsoft.com/education/academic_alliance.mspx

    Read success stories www.microsoft.com/education/dynamicsaa_stories.mspx

    Faculty Connection Resources for Dynamics www.microsoft.com/faculty

    Linkedin Group www.linkedin.com/groups?mostPopular=&gid=3000704

    Email dynaa@microsoft.com

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Introduction and Welcome to Building Windows 8


    Building Windows 8

    The team working on Windows 8, the next operating system for Windows desktops, laptops and slates, have launched a new blog dedicated to the Building of Windows 8 which is an inside look from the Windows engineering team.

    In the first post, Steven Sinofsky, Windows President, states:

    “Windows 8 reimagines Windows for a new generation of computing devices, and will be the very best operating system for hundreds of millions of PCs, new and old, used by well over a billion people globally.

    “Today we want to begin an open dialog with those of you who will be trying out the pre-release version over the coming months. We intend to post regularly throughout the development of Windows 8, and to focus on the engineering of the product. Welcome to “Building Windows 8,” or as we call it, “B8.””

    The new blog is a must read for anyone interested in the development of an OS

    Add ‘Building Windows8′ to your RSS reader now

    Check out the full blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2011/08/15/welcome-to-building-windows-8.aspx

    Follow in Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/BuildWindows8


    And don’t forget to watch the video stream from the Build event Sept 13th – 16th 2011 you will be able to watch keynotes live and the sessions the following day.

    Microsoft will be announcing the developer strategy for Windows 8 at the BUILD Windows conference. BUILD is a new event that shows modern hardware and software developers how to take advantage of the future of Windows. Learn how to work with the all new touch-centric user experience to create fast, fluid, and dynamic applications that leverage the power and flexibility of the core of Windows, used by more than a billion people around the world.  

    BUILD will be the first place to take a dive deep into the future of Windows.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Dare to be Digital Winners announced


    Dare winning teams 2011

    The next generation of computer games stars was unveiled in Dundee last night Sunday 14 August as the three winning teams from Dare to be Digital were announced. Applications from over 70 universities worldwide were whittled down to just 15 teams to compete in Dare to be Digital 2011. Hosted and run by the University of Abertay Dundee, Dare to be Digital brings in games industry professionals to hand-pick and mentor the teams. Many competitors go on to receive job offers from these world-leading companies.

    Were please to announce that Digital Knights, Evolved Ape and Swallowtail will now compete for the exclusive BAFTA ‘Ones to Watch’ award – which only the Dare to be Digital winners are eligible to compete for. The BAFTA winner will be unveiled in a glittering ceremony in London early in 2012.

    The final of Dare the ProtoPlay festival saw record-breaking numbers of visitors with over 9,000 people playing and enjoying games, three times the number who visited the festival in Edinburgh last year.

    Digital Knights team leader Roman Graebsch said: “We never, ever thought we’d be here. The team got together for the fun of it, so it’s just amazing to be nominated for a BAFTA. It’s just such a great feeling to see people enjoying what you’ve created.”

    Digital Knights - Dare 2011 winners
    Digital Knights

    Digital Knights are Agne Gediminskaite, Roman Graebsch, Josep B Martinez and Petr Papez from the IT University of Copenhagen and Amr Din from Abertay University. Their game Joust! is a fun Kinect title where you jump up and down, and use your arm as a lance to joust.

    Evolved Ape team leader Malath Abbas said: “I’m absolutely ecstatic and really proud of the final product and the whole team. All the hard, hard work has paid off, and personally it’s made me realise I have the ability as an artist and as a leader to deliver.”

    Evolved Ape - Dare 2011 winners
    Evolved Ape

    Evolved Ape are Stuart Brown, Joe Hurst, Daniel Scholes and Mat Stevenson from the University of Central Lancashire and Malath Abbas from Liverpool Screen School. Their game Dreamweaver for the PC is a puzzle-platformer which quickly develops into a nightmare – where your friendly animal companion starts to attack you…


    Swallowtail team leader Sophia George said: “We’re so happy to win – the team worked incredibly hard. I came into industry because I wanted to see more women working in games – and in turn creating more games for women. It is such an incredible privilege to win.”

    Swallowtail - Dare 2011 winners

    Swallowtail are Rosie Ball, Kristian Francis and Sophia George from the Norwich University College of the Arts and Mark Bamford and Callum Goold from Abertay University. Their iPad game Tick Tock Toys needs you to clear a toy box to help your clockwork robot reach its goal.

    Judges Comments

    Noirin Carmody, awards judge and Commercial Director at Revolution Software, said: “I am very encouraged by the number of young women involved in the making of games, which undoubtedly will help to create games that appeal to a wider audience.”

    Kieran Connell, awards judge and Development Lead at Microsoft Studios, said: “I’ve been incredibly impressed with the technical achievements of all the teams this year, but particularly those that have managed to get to grips with Kinect – creating natural and enjoyable game mechanics with such a new piece of hardware in such a short space of time is phenomenal.”

    Richard Leinfellner, awards judge and Chief Executive of Babel Media, said: “Once again the quality of entries was very high – and this year the diversity of devices used by the teams was striking. Dare to be Digital is really starting to reflect the wide range of audiences that today’s developers can reach through games.”

    Dr Louis Natanson, who leads computer games education at Abertay University, said: “Dare to be Digital is a life-changing opportunity for aspiring young computer game developers. “The standard of games gets better and better every year, and it’s been a real joy to see thousands of people enjoy playing the games in Dundee this weekend. It is a real vote of confidence in the Dundee industry and in the game developers of the future.” He added: “To have to build a brand new game in just nine weeks is a massive challenge, and every single competitor deserves to be immensely proud of what they have achieved. They arrived at Abertay University nine short weeks ago as promising students – they leave us as very promising young professionals. We will watch their careers with great interest.”

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Building Applications for Windows Phone Mango Jump Start Online Training Course 23 – 24th August 2011



    That's right, Microsoft MVPs Rob Miles from the University of Hull and Andy Wigley are back! Microsoft Learning hosted a Windows Phone 7 Jump Start (plus an update course) last year and it was a huge success.

    What’s a “Jump Start” Course?

    Training specifically designed for experienced developers and 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

    This two-day live virtual class, Building Applications for Windows Phone Mango Jump Start, is specially tailored for developers looking to build cool applications and games for the new Windows Phone Mango Platform so if your thinking of having Windows Phone development in your curricula this is a course you need to be sure to attend.

    Dates: August 23-24, 2011
    Time: 8:00am – 4:00pm PST
    Duration: 8 hours/day, including hour lunch break
    Registration Link:

    Mango is an important leap forward in Microsoft’s overall mobile strategy and the developer community has taken notice. Now is the time to embrace the “tile-and-app” UI and reap the rewards Mango provides your development team and user community.

    Here's an overview of what Rob and Andy will cover:

    Day OneAugust 23, 2011 |  4pm – 1 am BST | Live online training

    • Building Windows Phone Apps with Visual Studio 2010
    • Silverlight on Windows Phone – Introduction
    • Silverlight on Windows Phone – Advanced
    • Using Expression to Build Windows Phone Interfaces
    • Windows Phone Fast Application Switching
    • Windows Phone Multi-tasking & Background Tasks
    • Using Windows Phone Resources (Bing Maps, Camera, etc.)

    Day Two August 24, 2011 | 4pm – 1 am BST | Live online training

    • Application Data Storage on Windows Phone
    • Using Networks with Windows Phone
    • Windows Azure and Windows Phone
    • Notifications on Windows Phone
    • XNA for Windows Phone
    • Selling a Windows Phone Application


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Developers get ready for Mango!


    Windows Phone Developers Test your Apps Now on Mango

    In Windows Phone Mango, Microsoft has made a lot of changes, all based on our prime directive of delivering outstanding end users experiences, and making it easier for  you to deliver outstanding end user experiences.

    Change comes at a cost. As documented on the Windows Phone Team Blog
    , there are some instances in which applications for Windows Phone may exhibit undesirable behaviour in Windows Phone Mango. Please download the latest Windows Phone SDK beta, and test your application, and submit it the MarketPlace Mango ready.

    Add Fast App Switching to your App for Mango

    Windows Phone Mango brings a large set of new features for developers! One of the most exciting is Fast Application Switching, (FAS), which will radically improve the user's experience of your application when using the new task switcher in Windows Phone. In many cases, adding this to your app will be as easy as modifying your Application_Activated event handler to only restore state when coming back from Tombstoning, (as opposed to coming back from the new Dormant state).


    We've published the details of our new execution model in Mango in the
    MSDN Library, and we've also published a useful 10 minute video walk through detailing how to leverage these concepts in your code, here.

    And there's more...

    There's a lot more to Mango for Windows Phone developers. In the coming weeks we'll be publishing a lot more detail online about how to add Mango functionality to your existing applications. We've already started this process, and have a lot of material available for you today. See Larry Lieberman, twitter: @LarryALieberman Windows Phone Team Blog post for detail on all of our available online resources about executing on Mango features today in your Windows Phone applications and games.

    Opportunities to shine

    As we drive towards the launch of Windows Phone Mango, we're looking for apps that showcase the new features of Mango; we'd love to be able to feature your work, both online, and on stage. Feel free to contact us if you are interested in this opportunity.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Azure Platform Training Kit - August Update


    AzureMarket windowsAzureLogo

    The Windows Azure Platform Training Kit includes a comprehensive set of technical content including hands-on labs, presentations, and demos that are designed to help you learn how to use the Windows Azure platform, including: Windows Azure, SQL Azure and the Windows Azure AppFabric.

    August 2011 Update

    The August 2011 update of the training kit includes the following updates:

    • [New Hands-On Lab] Introduction to Windows Azure Marketplace for Applications
    • [Updated] Labs and Demos to leverage the August 2011 release of the Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio 2010
    • [Updated] Windows Azure Deployment to use the latest version of the Azure Management Cmdlets
    • [Updated] Exploring Windows Azure Storage to support deleting snapshots
    • Applied several minor fixes in content

    You can download the updated Windows Azure Platform Training Kit – August 2011 Refresh from download centre or view online now on the Windows Azure Platform Training Course on MSDN.


    The important take away is that in the Hands-On Lab will take an application through the full provisioning process. This is extremely valuable if your looking to publish your applications into the Windows Azure Marketplace.

    Hands-On Lab Details

    There are five exercises in the Hands-On Lab:

    • Exercise 0: Understanding a SaaS Subscription Scenario
    • Exercise 1: Modify your Application to support Windows Azure Marketplace Subscriptions
    • Exercise 2: Register the Application in Windows Azure Marketplace and Test Subscriptions with the Dev Playground
    • Exercise 3: Add Support for Unsubscribe messages
    • Exercise 4: Learn how to Publish in Windows Azure Marketplace, Explore the Finished App

    You can take a look at the SaaS application live in the marketplace: https://datamarket.azure.com/application/AA1EA7A3-E3FE-4EE5-B7B5-CBF4142CB983


    The Windows Azure team are always looking to make improvements to updates and releases so if you encounter any bugs or have any problems, please send us feedback at: azcfeed@microsoft.com. Additionally, if there’s additional content you’d like to see in the training kit, please let us know on the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit Forum – you’re feedback is highly valued.

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