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  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Imagine Cup North East Region



    So if your a academic or student in the North East of England you need to be aware of  the work which Sunderland Software City and Codeworks are undertaking in the establishment of a North East heat of the Microsoft Imagine Cup.

    Imagine Cup North East - Are you up for a challenge? from Codeworks Ltd on Vimeo.

    As part of helping inspire students Sunderland Software City and Codeworks worked to togther to help promote The Microsoft Imagine Cup to North East. As you know from my previous post the Imagine Cup is an exciting opportunity for students to work together in teams to solve some of the worlds toughest problems, learn new skills, make new friends, win prizes.

    So today Ben Nunney from Microsoft will be working with the teams from Sunderland Software City and Codeworks informing Students of the North East what the Imagine Cup is all about then on  Friday 17th and Saturday 18th February particiaptes who except the challenge whisked off to a secret location for a 36 hour non-stop hackathon to work on their Imagine Cup projects

    To find out more check out the Imagine Cup North East website - and follow the Imagine Cup North East on Twitter -

    If you're not a student but would still like to get involved the competition is also looking for Mentors and Sponsors, so get in touch with the Imagine Cup North East team.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Imagine Cup 2012 Inspiring students - Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems!



    One of the key messages I hear when speaking with academics is, how can Microsoft help in inspiring my students? Well if you have students who are interested in technology how about setting them the following challenge!

    Would you like the opportunity to change the world and potentially win a free trip to Sydney, Australia?

    The Microsoft Imagine Cup, is the world's top student technology competition. Ever year Microsoft gives students a fantastic opportunity to envisage, create and deliver a technology solution that addresses the Imagine Cup slogan - "Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems!"

    The Microsoft Imagine Cup is inspired by the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

    If you interested in learning more watch the following video from academic Rob Miles from the University of Hull and also captain of the Imagine Cup Software Design competition. Rob shares his insight and gives you some more information on the Microsoft Imagine Cup opportunity.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Kinect for Windows SDK 1.0



    Kinect for Windows is now Available!

    Version 1.0 of the SDK and runtime are now available for download, and distribution partners in our twelve launch countries are starting to ship Kinect for Windows hardware, enabling companies to start to deploy their solutions.

    Looking for great on content on how to build apps for Kinect?

    Visit Channel 9 where we have updated quick starts and open source projects.

    Get Started Guides and Tutorials 

    Kinect for Windows Quickstart Series

    • Installing and Using the Kinect Sensor
    • Setting up your Development Environment
    • Camera Fundamentals
    • Working with Depth Data
    • Skeletal Tracking Fundamentals
    • Audio Fundamentals

    Write an App! - Sample Code / Open Source Projects

    Kinect Service - A Windows Service so you can see Kinect data on your Windows Phone


    Kinect Paint - Draw with your hands


    Kinect Mouse Cursor - Control Windows with your hands


    Coding4Fun Kinect Toolkit - Developer library for easy programming


    Jellybean - Our famous drivable lounge chair code has been updated to the latest release of Kinect for Windows


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Best of Innovations 2012: Next Generation Microsoft Surface



    Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface (SUR40) is now available for purchase through Samsung channel and reseller partners. The device, manufactured by Samsung, was selected as an International Consumer Electronics Show “Best of Innovations 2012” award winner. For updates, monitor Microsoft Surface.

    The Surface 2 SUR40 is considerably less expensive than the first-generation device. Apart from the lower price, the main improvement is its much reduced size. The Surface 2 is now more like a coffee table with no bulky pedestal.

    A really nice example of Surface + Microsoft technology application is a retail example was produced by Razorfish

    Basically the surface 2 is an amazing device which simply can be used to do anything however you need to develop specific applications for the surface using the Surface 2 SDK see

    As the previous post state the Surface 2 requires custom development. If you do not have these skills in house we would recommend using a Surface 2 application development partner such as:-

    Suite 420 4th Floor,
    Davis House Business Centre,
    Robert Street,
    CR0 1QQ


    Black Marble
    Woodland Park
    Bradford Road
    Chain Bar,
    West Yorkshire,
    BD19 6BW

    The Surface can also be purchased with a selection of custom apps for less than >£7k

    The Microsoft Surface team have a number of You Tube videos see

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Changing the World starts TODAY!


    kinect1st feb

    Kinect for Windows Product Available February 1st

    The Kinect for Windows product group announced the upcoming release of their full commercial product in an official blog post on January 9. The new Kinect for Windows hardware and accompanying software will be available on February 1. It will be supported in 12 countries (United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, and United Kingdom) at a suggested retail price of US$249.

    Academics will still be able to use the Software Development Kit (SDK) with current Kinect for Xbox 360 sensors for non-commercial purposes and existing deployments that are licensed until 2016.

    You now also have a route to write commercial applications. Monitor the Kinect for Windows site for updates.


    • The announcement is here.

    As the Kinect for Windows blog states, many improvements to the SDK and runtime have been made these include:

    • Support for up to four Kinect sensors plugged into the same computer
    • Significantly improved skeletal tracking, including the ability for developers to control which user is being tracked by the sensor
    • Near Mode for the new Kinect for Windows hardware, which enables the depth camera to see objects as close as 40 centimetres in front of the device
    • Robustness improvements including driver stability, runtime, and audio fixes
    • Many API updates and enhancements in the managed and unmanaged runtimes
    • The latest Microsoft Speech components (V11) are now included as part of the SDK and runtime installer
    • Improved “far talk” acoustic model that increases speech recognition accuracy
    • New and updated samples, such as the Kinect Explorer, which enables developers to explore the full capabilities of the sensor and SDK, including audio beam and sound source angles, colour modes, depth modes, skeletal tracking, and motor controls
    • A commercial-ready installer which can be included in an application’s set-up program, making it easy to install the Kinect for Windows runtime and driver components for end-user deployments.

    The Channel 9 folks have some great content that went live today as well.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Educated desktops – Building and maintaining your PC labs

    A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of Andrew Fryer and his colleague Simon May company as we spent most the week on the Microsoft Stand at BETT one of the largest education events in the world. Simon and Andrew, task was to field questions from the attendees which include some of the hardest working IT Professionals in the industry, those supporting the IT in schools, college and Universities.

    As Andrew states in his original blog Agility is essential to cope with the new influx of students every year as well as is the need to deploy every more applications to keep up with the latest standards for the curriculum and the way each subject is taught.

    Some of these examples below are relevant to my previous discussions in regards to System Center 2012, curricula enhancements and training so I am sure you find them of interest in preparation for this years refresh plans.

    The following blog is by Microsoft UK IT Pro Evangelists Andrew Fryer. Originally posted on the UK Technet Blog Insufficient data from Andrew Fryer IT Pro Evangelist

    Teaching the next generation of IT Professionals.

    IT_Academy mva

    There was a lot of coverage in the press last week about teaching coding and development as part of ICT, however I had two separate requests from ICT educators about teaching how to maintain and fix problems on PCs, because that’s what their students had asked for. We discussed setting up virtual machines on Hyper-V and using snapshots to allow a damaged desktop to be fixed and then being reset with the problem for the next lesson. I also think some of the information on clustering and virtual machines on the Microsoft Virtual Academy could be reused in class rooms or certified training via Microsoft IT Academy in the form of MTA.

    Remote Desktop Services & App-V.


    One way to deal with the problem of matching up students and teachers to the applications they need , irrespective of where they are working is to use App-V (application virtualisation) as this deploys a virtual copy of an application to a desktop based on the groups a user belongs to i.e. it won’t show up in programs in control panel and can run side by side alongside earlier versions of the same application which it would normally conflict with.

    Another approach is to use Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and it was no surprise at BETT to see all the hardware vendors sporting their latest thin client devices, and personally I like the LG and Samsung offerings where the thin client was just part of the LCD panel. However not every application likes running as a remote desktop and you can end up creating a lot remote desktops for each type of user. The trick here is to use App-V with RDS so that the applications run virtually inside the remote desktop session and a given user only gets the applications they need even though you only have one or two standard desktops in RDS (the guidance on how to do this is here).

    Another good thing about RDS is that it reduces heat in the classroom if thin client devices are used and also reduces the background noise, although the noise from pupils will still be the same! It is possible to implement RDS without also deploying Citrix or Quest technologies on top, however both of these partners’ offerings add ease of use and manageability to what the raw RDS experience delivers.

    Digital Inclusion


    RDS can be setup so that these personalised remote desktops are available to staff & students working at home or other locations and this means they can use their own devices to interact with a school. Of course laptops are expensive and can be difficult to justify on a limited budget, so to level the playing field there is Get On Line @ Home, which provides affordable reconditioned hardware with Windows 7 + Office 2010 with telephone technical support included.

    Thanks to Andrew for producing this post. For a list of upcoming events which the UK TechNet team are delivering see and for details of your education account managers to discuss this further see

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Cloud based development for Office365


    With the launch of Office 365, which includes Exchange Online, Lync Online and SharePoint Online, there is a now a huge requirement and market for graduates with the skills of how to develop for Office365.  The following blog outlines a number of great resources available for developers to help get you started developing on the platform.

    So what is Office 365

    Office 365 provides a communication and collaboration service in the cloud that you can leverage to build custom solutions for SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online. In this session, you’ll learn about this new cloud service and the breadth of solutions that can be developed using the same skills, tools and SDKs you use today when building on-premises solutions.

    I have Live@edu and not Office365 what is the difference?

    office365 vs Live

    for more details on see -

    So how do you develop for Office365

    First, for Office client-related development, there is a short white paper Guidance for Office Development in Office 365 this paper identifies a number of things which you need to have top-of-mind relating to the Office clients and Office365 SharePoint Online. The most significant callout is managing remote authentication in your Office client add-ins. Since Office365 SharePoint Online is not in your Active Directory domain, you need to be able to pop the credential prompt for Ofiice365 when you need to access data in your add-in for the end-user. This white paper points you to a code sample you can use with the SharePoint Client Object Model and talks you through the pattern for how to implement it in your add-in. Additionally, you should keep a copy of the SharePoint Online Developer Guide handy to use as a reference for all things related to basic SPO development. Or you can access it online as well.

    Some videos available on Channel9 you might want to watch for Office365 information are:

    Dedicated Office365 training resource -

    • Developing in the Cloud with Office 365 Office 365 provides a communication and collaboration service in the cloud that you can leverage to build custom solutions for SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online. In this session, you’ll learn about this new cloud service and the breadth of solutions that can be developed using the same skills, tools and SDKs you use today when building on-premises solutions.
    • Developing for SharePoint Online with Sandbox Solutions Sandboxed Solutions are the development paradigm for SharePoint Online. In this session, you’ll learn about sandboxed solutions including how to develop, debug and deploy solutions. You’ll also learn the breadth of solutions that can be developed in the sandbox and strategies for developing common scenarios that are not enabled in the sandbox.
    • Building Workflow Solutions for SharePoint Online Building Workflow solutions for SharePoint Online allows you to automate collaboration-centric business processes and surface them to your users via SharePoint Online. In this session, you’ll learn the differences between declarative and code-based workflows, design a workflow using Visio 2010, implement that workflow in SharePoint Designer 2010 and customize the workflow using Visual Studio 2010 and custom actions.
    • Developing SharePoint Online Solutions with the Client Object Model The SharePoint Client Object Model provides libraries for programmatically accessing SharePoint Online via Silverlight and JavaScript. In this session, we’ll go deep into the Client Object Model and show you how to develop solutions using both Silverlight and JavaScript.
    • Leveraging Excel and Access Services in SharePoint Online Excel and Access Services provide powerful features for building SharePoint Online solutions. In this session, you’ll get an inside look at both Excel and Access services and how each can be accessed programmatically when building SharePoint Online solutions.
    • SharePoint Online Branding Customizing an intranet site with your company’s identity and branding can help create a more effective collaboration experience. SharePoint Online allows users, designers and developers to customize the look and feel of a site. This can range from simple changes like setting a site logo and Theme to completely changing the user experience with custom styles and Master Pages. In this session, you’ll learn how to make these customizations to brand your SharePoint Online site.
    • Developing Communication Solutions for Lync Online In this session, you learn how to integrate Lync features into your WPF and Silverlight clients much in the same way that Office and SharePoint do, including presence, contact lists and click-to-communicate features. You will also learn how to extend Lync communications to include data and features from your client applications much in the same way that Outlook 2010 does with the "IM" and "Call" features within an email.
    • Developing Messaging Solutions for Exchange Online In this session, you'll learn how to integrate Exchange Online mailbox data such as mail, calendar and task items as well as Exchange Online services such as the free-busy service into your applications using an easy to discover and easy to use managed API.

      Additional Resources

    • SharePoint Online Overview In this video, you'll learn about the customization and solution development opportunities for SharePoint Online.
    • Exchange Online Overview In this video, you'll learn about Exchange Online as a service and how you can build messaging solution in the cloud using the Exchange SDKs.
    • Lync Online Overview In this video, you'll learn about Lync Online and a service and how you can build communication solutions using Lync 2010 and the Lync 2010 SDK.
  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    System Center 2012 - Importance of Private Clouds within the Education



    Last week I had a  number of interesting discussions with Universities in relation to the importance of Private Clouds within the Education and the opportunity which public and private cloud offers institutions IT Services and academics. The opportunities presented are specifically in relation to agility and capability not only from a IT Services perspective but from a curricula adoption perspective, therefore enabling academics and researchers to use modern and appropriate technologies within teaching, learning and research.

    You all have Developers/Researchers/Educators in your institution, who need to complete project which require dedicated resources, to generally enable these projects resources are required. these resources are usually the following as a minimum:-

    • A Domain Controller (user accounts, authorization, security, rights and roles)
    • A Database Server (data storage for the apps be developed, reporting data, inventory, sales, etc)
    • A Mail Server (notifications, collaboration)
    • 1-3 Windows 7 Client machines for testing  20 – 100 Windows 7 in a lab situation

    To implement these generally requires a significant amount of time and resource, additionally there are a number of key milestones, which add delay and additional cost to each of the projects: 

    • Identifying hardware requirements
    • Ordering the hardware
    • Provisioning the hardware
    • Then delivering to the developers.
    • Installing the hardware with necessary software
    • Securing the software and network connectivity
    • Testing the software and hardware

    Therefore the amount of time between the request for resources and delivery of the resources could be weeks or even months. Not to mention that the resources available to undertake this work are limited and that developers are limited on what they can do until the resources arrive. Not very efficient or productive.

    Present Day Private/Public Cloud Opportunity 

    So the same scenario, Developers/Researchers/Educators in your institution have a project that needs dedicated resources

    Same Resources requested for same purpose. Now the IT staff can deliver these resources “on-demand” by selecting capable resources, much of which is virtualized, from a pool or library, and provisioned to those of the needs of the developers. Thus reducing the time between request and delivery to a matter of days or even hours.

    Furthermore, resources can be generalised and stored in a library along with scripts to customise the resources. The library can be securely exposed to requestors through a self-service portal. The requesters can be assigned roles that allow a requestor to search through resources or select a pre built VM environment along with customisation scripts to create the environment they need without direct interaction of the IT staff.

    The key factor being, you can have as much or as little automation as required for your own needs. Deployment and refresh times can be now reduced from months to hours with minimal staff intervention or support.

    The Private/Public Clouds now offer an opportunity to streamline and create agility in IT operations. IT as a Service is now truly available using resources on premise or cloud based hosted resources.. 

    With the current shipping versions of System Center products (and previous), we have always had individual products such as System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3 or System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2. Last week there were some big announcements regarding System Center 2012. Microsoft held a great event called Microsoft Private Cloud Day where changes to System Center 2012 were announced. If you missed the live stream, you can watch it on demand.

    As part of the announcements last week we are simplifying this and now and now offering System Center 2012 as a single product suite.

    There are two editions, System Center 2012 Datacenter and System Center 2012 Standard.


    As you can see from the figure above, both Editions include the same components. Both editions are also licensed per two physical processors. The only difference is the number of Virtual Machines supported per license

    • 2 for Standard
    • Unlimited for Datacenter

    If you have a minimal virtualization footprint, the Standard Edition may be just fine (school, department or a smaller faculty for example); if you have a large virtualization footprint (campus) and are looking for high density of VMs, then definitely go with Datacenter edition.

    Private/Public Hybrid Cloud

    Microsoft is leading the pack in building a global scale public cloud platform (Windows Azure, SQL Azure and Office 365) while also enabling customers to build their own private clouds (using Windows Server and System Center). As customers really start taking advantage of cloud computing methodologies, they have the flexibility of choosing the model that best fits their needs or a combination (Hybrid) and know that the two environments can be managed holistically from one management tool System Center 2012.

    Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President of our Management and Security Division wrote a blog post that really does a good job of stating Microsoft’s strategy for cloud computing and how we see public and private clouds coming together.

    Additionally the on-demand webcast from last weeks event solidifies the Microsoft Private Cloud story using Windows Servers, Hyper-V virtualization, and the System Center 2012 Suite this was presented by Microsoft’s Server & Tools “Transforming IT with Microsoft Private Cloud” 

    You can start working with Microsoft Private Cloud solutions now.


    Download the Release Candidate of the System Center 2012 Suite

    Additional resources for more information on Private Clouds and System Center 2012

    The Official Microsoft Blog - System Center 2012: Where Public and Private Clouds Meet

    System Center 2012 – Product Site 

    System Center 2012 – Licensing Datasheet (PDF)

    System Center 2012 – Licensing FAQ (PDF)

    Enabling & skilling up your IT Support teams – Microsoft Virtual Academy and Microsoft IT Academy

    Providing appropriate software to students and educators -  EES + DreamSpark

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Beta release of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) SDK for Windows Phone


    Win7PhoneNew AWS_LOGO_CMYK

    Microsoft is pleased to announce the beta release of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) SDK for Windows Phone. Built by Microsoft as an open source project, this SDK provides developers quickly connect and integrate Windows Phone applications with AWS (S3, SimpleDB, and SQS Cloud Services)

    For more details please see “Beta of Amazon Web Services SDK for Windows Phone Released

    Getting started with the AWS SDK for Windows Phone:

    Getting started guide

    Getting Started video

    Samples walkthrough videos

    Video walkthrough of the samples provided in the SDK:


    WP7 Porting resources and API mapping:

    Leveraging your iPhone development expertise to build Windows Phone applications

    Leveraging your Android development expertise to build Windows Phone applications

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Hosting your Moodle on Windows Azure



    Moodle hosting in the Cloud via Windows Azure

    There are two projects currently available for hosting Moodle on Windows Azure, both on CodePlex (Microsoft's open source project hosting site, which hosts over 200,000 projects currently): This is a port of Moodle 2.x Course Management System to Azure platform.  Enable Moodle 1.9.9 to run on Windows Azure and SQL Azure

    Both of these projects are on CodePlex, there's a community of support on the site for advice as you start to implement and use them there are a number of other moodle associated codeplex projects and a whole forum on the Moodle community website for Windows users

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