• Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Are you teaching Mobile development?


    Which Platform are you teaching?


    Have you spent the time to understand the landscape of device distribution and decide how to prioritize the development of your application training curriculum?

    Are you training or developing your courses to meet specific platform or versions?

    The following pie chart below demonstrates how many different versions of Android are in use. The chart contains information relating to the number of devices and Android version that has accessed Android Market within a 14-day period ending on the data collection date noted below.



    Platform Codename API Level Distribution
    Android 1.5 Cupcake 3 0.9%
    Android 1.6 Donut 4 1.4%
    Android 2.1 Eclair 7 10.7%
    Android 2.2 Froyo 8 40.7%
    Android 2.3 -
    Android 2.3.2
    Gingerbread 9 0.5%
    Android 2.3.3 -
    Android 2.3.7
    10 43.9%
    Android 3.0 Honeycomb 11 0.1%
    Android 3.1 12 0.9%
    Android 3.2 13


    Data collected during a 14-day period ending on November 3, 2011

    So what does all this mean?

    The purpose of this graph is to demonstrate the shear number of versions which you need to support if your developing apps for the Android market, unfortunately from a teaching perspective this casts a number of issues on which version and API to choose.

    With Windows Phone its so much more straight forward

    All Windows Phones must have a particular minimum specification, so these are the very least you can expect to find on a device.

    The Windows Phone specifications ensure that every Windows Phone has a consistent set of features that customers can rely on. This also provides developers with a base set of features they can build rich and creative applications upon.

    • Standard Hardware http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff967549(v=VS.92).aspx
    • A common set of hardware controls and buttons that include the Start, Search, and Back buttons.
    • A large WVGA (800 x 480) format display capable of rendering most web content in full-page width and displaying movies in widescreen.
    • Capacitive 4-point multi-touch screens for quick, simple control of the phone and its features.
    • Support for data connectivity using cellular networks and Wi-Fi.
    • 256 MB (or more) of RAM and 8 GB (or more) of flash storage.
    • A-GPS
    • Accelerometer

    Optional Hardware

    • Compass
    • Gyro
    • Primary Camera
    • Front-facing Camera
    It is quite likely that different phone manufacturers will add their particular “take” on the platform, so you will find devices with more memory, faster processors, hardware keyboards and larger screens.

    A key issue with teaching  Android is that you need to develop your application for the version that is at the very top of the chart, then your application is compatible with 100% of active devices (and all future versions), because all Android APIs are forward compatible. Or, if you develop your application for a version lower on the chart, then it is currently compatible with only a % percentage of devices indicated.

    Again a huge issue is the API Support from each device. The following table specifies the API Level supported by each version of the Android platform.

    Platform Version API Level VERSION_CODE Notes
    Android 4.0 14 ICE_CREAM_SANDWICH Platform Highlights
    Android 3.2 13 HONEYCOMB_MR2
    Android 3.1.x 12 HONEYCOMB_MR1 Platform Highlights
    Android 3.0.x 11 HONEYCOMB Platform Highlights
    Android 2.3.4
    Android 2.3.3
    10 GINGERBREAD_MR1 Platform Highlights
    Android 2.3.2
    Android 2.3.1
    Android 2.3
    Android 2.2.x 8 FROYO Platform Highlights
    Android 2.1.x 7 ECLAIR_MR1 Platform Highlights
    Android 2.0.1 6 ECLAIR_0_1
    Android 2.0 5 ECLAIR
    Android 1.6 4 DONUT Platform Highlights
    Android 1.5 3 CUPCAKE Platform Highlights
    Android 1.1 2 BASE_1_1
    Android 1.0 1 BASE

    Windows Phone application development

    You write Windows Phone applications in exactly the same way as you write other applications for the Windows desktop. You use the Visual Studio IDE (Integrated Development Environment). You can debug a program running in a Windows Phone device just as easily as you can debug a program on your PC desktop. You can also create solutions that share components across the desktop, Windows Phone and even Xbox platforms.

    You can take all your Windows Desktop development skills in Silverlight and your console skills in XNA and use them on the phone. If you learn how to use the Windows Phone you are also learning how to write code for the desktop (Silverlight) or console (XNA).

    This is great news for you as it means that you can write programs for Windows Phone without having to learn a lot of new technologies if you have previously written programs for desktop computers then the move to Windows Phone.

    The Windows Phone Emulator

    The Windows Phone development environment is supplied with an emulator which gives you a Windows Phone you can play with on your PC desktop. If you have a PC system that supports multi-touch input you can even use this with the emulator to test the use of multi-touch gestures with your Windows Phone programs.

    While the emulator is feature complete, in that it behaves exactly like a real phone would in response to the requests from your software, it does not mimic the performance of the actual phone hardware. Programs running on the emulator are using the power of your PC, which may well be much greater than the processor in the phone. This means that although you can test the functionality of your programs using the emulator you only really get a feel for how fast the program runs, and what the user experience feels like, when you run your program on a real device.

    The emulator will allow you to test motion controlled programs by allowing you to tip and turn a “virtual” phone on your PC screen. The inputs to the program will reflect the orientation that you see on your screen. You can also pre-record a set of movements to allow you to perform repeatable tests using particular movements or gestures. There is also provision for location emulation. You can select on a map where you want the emulated phone to “be”. You can also input paths for the phone to follow and then replay these, so that you can create journeys to test location aware applications.


    So if your interested in developing for Windows Phone download the necessary tools from Microsoft DreamSpark

    If your interested in teaching Windows Phone in your curricula see Microsoft Faculty Connection Resources Center for a complete set of resources

    If your interested in porting existing Android applications to Windows Phone take a look Windows Phone Interoperability Bridges site http://windowsphone.interoperabilitybridges.com/

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Dynamics CRM Update Includes Social Networking Features



    A service update for Microsoft Dynamics CRM includes new social networking and cloud features which is great news for Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance members.

    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.

    These updates help position Microsoft in the new world of social networking and for Dynamics Academic Alliance members it will allow you to start bring the new aspects of social networking into your teaching.

    “By bringing together new social-collaboration capabilities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM with familiar collaboration technologies such as Office, SharePoint and Lync, businesses will be able to expand their relationships with customers and gain even deeper insight and understanding,” wrote Brad Wilson, General Manager of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Product Management Group.

    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

    22nd Machine Evaluation Workshop HPC, Windows Azure and Techila moving your workload to the cloud


    hpc2008windowsAzureLogo SQL Azure thumb

    I had the pleasure of attending the 22nd Machine Evaluation Workshop in Liverpool.


    Please find below a copy of the Microsoft presentation


    Additionally please find some technical materials about how the Techila solution. Techila is a middleware plug-in, which enables your applications to securely harness the infinite capacity of the Cloud. The application does not need to be a special HPC application. It can be any regular application like Excel, MATLAB, R, Pearl, Python, Fortan, C/C++ .Net code. When using Techila, you just get access to the results faster.


    Typical use cases for Techila and Microsoft Azure


    More technical documents and some videos including language-specific tutorials can be found on the Techila web site at: http://www.techilatechnology.com/technology/technology-docs/

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    How much will Azure cost?



    Over the past few days I have had lots of question from academic’s in relation to COST the No1 Question being how much will the cloud or more specifically Microsoft Windows Azure cost?

    To try and help others struggling with this question here is a quick summary .

    Microsoft Windows Azure processor core costs are extremely cost effective for short periods of use. The pricing table below gives the list pricing (this drops by 20% under an Azure Enterprise agreement and there are specific pricing for addition of Azure to EES).


    Compute Instance Size



    Instance Storage

    I/O Performance

    Cost Per Hour

    Extra Small

    1.0 GHz

    768 MB

    20 GB




    1.6 GHz

    1.75 GB

    225 GB




    2 x 1.6 GHz

    3.5 GB

    490 GB




    4 x 1.6 GHz

    7 GB

    1,000 GB



    Extra Large

    8 x 1.6 GHz

    14 GB

    2,040 GB




    So if your looking to undertake some workload using  128 cores based on small instances, the hourly cost would be $15.36 which is about £10.  The benefit is huge in that you  can literally just pay for a few hours if that is all you need. So you don’t need to make the huge upfront capex and opex investments in terms of some of the following. The time taken between requirement and installation physical resources such as servers, network hardware, software, storage, additional staffing resources, heating, lighting, cooling and power for your equipment.



    Windows Azure Storage is metered in units of the average daily amount of data stored (in GB) over a monthly period.


    Standard pay-as-you-go pricing for storage

    $0.14 per GB stored per month based on the daily average

    $0.01 per 10,000 storage transactions



    So if you required 10TB you would be looking in the region of £900 per month (before discounts),  which includes making 3 copies of the data for resiliency. It also then becomes readily accessible to supported users. There are also some charges for data transit, but we don’t charge for loading data in, downloads  are $0.15 per GB, so this should stay relatively small unless the whole 10TB is moved about regularly. If your interested in learning more about Windows Azure please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    SharePoint 2010 Windows Phone 7 Toolkit



    I have been asked a few questions recently regarding developing Windows Phone apps which can access Sharepoint 2010 resources.

    The easy answer is… download the following toolkit on CodePlex, the toolkit will help simplify the task of building Windows Phone 7 applications based upon SharePoint 2010 servers running Forms Based Authentication. This toolkit also allows you to use the same libraries to build Silverlight desktop applications.

    This first release requires your SharePoint 2010 installation to support Forms Based authentication but once you do that, building applications is fairly trivial.

    This toolkit will allow you to do the following:

    1. Authenticate against a Forms Based SharePoint 2010 server.
    2. Downloads lists of data from the server.
    3. Create built-in, prepackaged filters to limit the data without writing CAML.

    Once a list item is selected it’s passed to a data-driven page that correctly renders the form based upon the Meta-Data for that List from the server. This includes formatting and validation. The data can even be updated and added back to the server.

    You can download the Toolkit from CodePlex at: http://sharepointwp7.codeplex.com

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    SkyDrive Update & Improvements



    Today we announced a long list of improvements for Microsoft SkyDrive. W

    The improvements are a big step forward especially for the growing number of customers using SkyDrive to share and access Office documents.

    Here’s a video that quickly walks you through the changes to the service.

    For further details of the improvements see the SkyDrive team blog

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Want to programme Kinect, Windows Phone, Gadgeteer & other Microsoft Technologies with C#



    Learn to programme in C# over the course of 24 episodes, our friend Bob Tabor from www.LearnVisualStudio.net will teach you the fundamentals of C# programming.

    Learn the skills and concepts applicable to video games, mobile environments, and client applications.

    The following tutorials and videos walk you through getting the tools, writing code, debugging features, customizations and much more! Each concept is broken into its own video so you can search for and focus on the information you need.

    Download the entire series' source code

    Watch all 24 Episodes

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Researchers are developing games that combine real-world and digital experienc




    Learn how researchers are developing games that combine real-world and digital experiences in their quest for a unified game layer for education that improves academic outcomes and enables new types of educational research.

    In collaboration with Microsoft Research, a research group comprised of university faculty, staff, and students at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) delved into the everyday travails of college life—from academia to social activities—and developed a real-world game, Just Press Play, which helps students earn a digital reward for the ultimate achievement: collegiate success.

    It began with a simple question: “Why can’t students earn digital rewards for being awesome?” A research group comprised of university faculty, staff, and students at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) decided to find out.


    Get Microsoft Silverlight

    To learn more:

    · Read the blog

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Call for Content: Partner Support for ChronoZoom



    Call for Content: Partner Support for ChronoZoom

    ChronoZoom serves as a "master timeline" tying together all kinds of specialized timelines and electronic resources, and aspires to bridge the gap between the humanities and the sciences and to unify all knowledge of the past. We are seeking humanities scholars and scientists from fields like geology, paleontology, evolutionary biology, astronomy, and cosmology to work with us to develop the broadest possible view of the past by providing content to help us build the timelines for the Cosmos, Earth, Life, Pre-Human, and Human histories. If you can support ChronoZoom, please submit relevant content, including videos, images, text, PowerPoint slides, documents, chart data, table data, and Excel data. All content must be available under a Creative Commons license.

    Download ChronoZoom

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    2011 Daresbury Machine Evaluation Workshop HPC, Windows Azure and Techila moving your workload to the cloud



    The forthcoming 2011 Daresbury Machine Evaluation Workshop will be held on 29 and 30 November 2011 at a new venue - the Adelphi Hotel Liverpool.

    This Workshop is now established as a leading national event dedicated to distributed high performance scientific computing. The principle objective is to encourage close contact between the research communities from the Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Materials Programmes of EPSRC and the major vendors of workstations, software and peripherals.

    I will be attending the Daresbury Machine Evaluation Workshop (MEW22) in Liverpool next week with Techila and the Microsoft Azure team. We will be presenting a radical proposal to the high-performance computing users in the workshop. Do you know if you or some of your colleagues are planning to attend the workshop? If you will be in Liverpool, we would like to show how you can do MATLAB in the Cloud without any limitations to the performance.

    So what is Techila? http://blogs.msdn.com/b/uk_faculty_connection/archive/2011/11/20/matlab-and-r-on-windows-azure-via-techila.aspx

    So if your are looking for ways to increase the performance of your existing applications. The Techila middleware is the missing link between applications and the computing capacity. It enables applications to scale and to utilize all available computing capacity efficiently.

    A research presentation, which might be of interest to you is by Dr.Lindroos in Northeastern/ TUT. Dr Lindroos uses FORTRAN code wrapped in MATLAB to model superconducting materials. Before Techila, he was able to use low-accuracy models which took 3,5 hours to compute. The inaccuracy of the results lead him also to some incorrect results. With Techila and Windows Azure, he is now able to get 256 times better results in shorter time.  Another nice example of cases, where Techila has enabled unforeseen research is the cancer research case, Techila with the power of Windows Azure enabled scaling an existing MATLAB application to utilize the combined power of 1200 Windows Azure instances. With this speed, the researcher was able to complete his 15-year data analysis project in 4,5 days. A case study about this project available on the Techila site at:


    We would love to hear more about your projects and the applications, which you would like to speed up. We are working with a number of Universities and researchers, and are always interested in learning new and to hear about innovative new research projects.

    The following article explains how Techila is helping ISVs to utilize cloud capacity easily and securely in their applications. Fennia Life is the first Life Insurance company in the world doing their business-critical simulations on Windows Azure.


    So if your attending the Daresbury Machine Evaluation Workshop in Liverpool on November 29-30 it would be great to start and demonstrate Live in the workshop sessions how the Windows Azure with Techila solution can assist.

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