The goal of this site is to put relevant and applicable tools and information at the fingertips
With this blog we want to inform you on our latest initiatives.
Enjoy reading and stay tuned!
Windows Azure provides researchers, educators, and students with the power and scalability of cloud computing for collaboration, computation, and data-intensive processing.
Windows Azure is an open and flexible global cloud platform that supports languages, tools, and frameworks, such as Linux, Python, Java, Hadoop, and the Microsoft .NET Framework.
Watch our webinar series and learn how cloud computing can help researchers resolve the issue of big data and focus on accelerating breakthroughs and insights. Learn more…
If your interested in teaching Windows Azure in your undergraduate course see www.windowsazure.com/education
NEW WINDOWS AZURE FOR RESEARCH TECHNICAL PAPERS PUBLISHED
We are pleased to announce that we have published three new technical papers to help researchers quickly start working with Windows Azure.
The latest papers provide instructions on working with Windows Azure Cloud Services
1. Scaling a Windows Azure Cloud Service
2. Installing the Windows Azure BLAST Example
3.Building Scalable Services in Windows Azure with Python.
These papers are appropriate for those who have received Windows Azure for Research training, awardees of the RFP program, or researchers who are simply curious about Windows Azure; however, they do assume some prior technical computer programming skills. Read more…
Microsoft Research’s Windows Azure for Research program, which features a continuing series of Windows Azure cloud training events and a program of Windows Azure research grants, has been going strong since its launch in September 2013
Selecting the winning proposals was extremely difficult, as we can fund only a fraction of the submissions. Nonetheless, we persevered and winnowed the proposals down to the grant recipients listed, by lead author and project title.
You can review abstracts for these proposals at Windows Azure for Research.
The Grant approved for the United Kingdom are
•Blesson Varghese, University of St Andrews, United Kingdom - Real-time Catastrophe Risk Management on Windows Azure •Julio Hernandez-Castro, David Barnes, University of Kent, United Kingdom - ChessWitan: Mining chess data to distinguish human from computer play •Nadarajen Veerapen, University of Stirling, United Kingdom - Automated Bug Fixing •Vassilis Glenis, Newcastle University, United Kingdom - Modelling Flood Risk in Urban Areas
Read the full blog here …
· Windows Azure for Research website
· Windows Azure for Education
· Windows Azure for Research Award winners (blog)
· Windows Azure for Research Training
· Windows Azure for Research Proposal FAQ
· Cloud Research Projects
· Windows Azure
· Windows Azure for Research LinkedIn community
· Windows Azure for Research on Twitter (use #azureresearch)
TechEd Europe is Microsoft’s premier technology conference for IT Professionals and Enterprise Developers, providing the technical education, product evaluation, and community resources to plan, architect, deploy, manage and secure a connected enterprise.
We are excited to announce that TechEd Europe will be held 27-31 October at Fira Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain.
Registration will open in the spring of 2014 at http://europe.msteched.com/
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One of the biggest requests gamers have for a titles is to save their game in the cloud.
Gamers simply want the ability to save their progress so that, for example, if the upgrade to a new phone, they wouldn't have to start again.
If your a develop and your game? Is all of of the game progress is being stored on players' handsets? Whatcif something happens to that handset (e.g. they lose it, had to restore it etc.) they would lose progress!
Well here is the easy way of ensuring you can save game progress to the cloud.
· Azure Mobile services – supports storage (and therefore synchronisation), notifications, authentication.
The above supports
Windows Store Windows Phone iOS Android HTML Xamarin.iOS Xamarin.Android Sencha
· For simple W8 device game state synchronisation you can use roaming data storage option:
· There are also a number of third party providers .
At Microsoft we have an amazing set of tools to inspire future developers
Here a list of developer tools to help inspire tomorrow developers (Figures in bracket are guidelines for ages that it is appropriate) For FREE additional curricula materials see http://www.microsoft.com/faculty
· Kodu (5-11)
Kodu is a new visual programming language made specifically for creating games. It is designed to be accessible for children and enjoyable for anyone. The programming environment runs on the Xbox, allowing rapid design iteration using only a game controller for input. The core of the Kodu project is the programming user interface. The language is simple and entirely icon-based. Programs are composed of pages, which are broken down into rules, which are further divided into conditions and actions. Conditions are evaluated simultaneously. The Kodu language is designed specifically for game development and provides specialized primitives derived from gaming scenarios. Programs are expressed in physical terms, using concepts like vision, hearing, and time to control character behaviour. While not as general-purpose as classical programming languages, Kodu can express advanced game design concepts in a simple, direct, and intuitive manner. See http://www.kodugamelab.com/about
· The Kodu Cup (7-14)
The Kodu Kup is a game creation competition for UK school-children aged between 7 and 14. The Kodu Kup is open to any child enrolled as attending a UK school and who is aged between seven to fourteen years of age at the date of entry. Children are entered by their appropriate school teacher as a team of three. For more information the flyer can be downloaded from here: http://bit.ly/KoduKupFlyer
· Small Basic (5-11)
Small Basic is a project that is focused at making programming accessible and easy for beginners. The Language draws its inspiration from an early variant of BASIC but is based on the modern .Net Framework Platform. The Environment is simple but rich in features, offering beginners several of the benefits that professional programmers have come to expect of a worthy IDE. A rich set of Libraries help beginners learn by writing compelling and interesting programs. Small Basic is intended for beginners that want to learn programming. In our internal trials we've had success with kids between the ages of 10 and 16. However, it's not limited to just kids; even adults that had an inclination to programming have found Small Basic very helpful in taking that first step. See http://www.smallbasic.com
· .NET Gadgeteer (6-24)
Are you ready to create something awesome? Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer is an open-source toolkit for building small electronic devices using the .NET Micro Framework and Visual Studio/Visual C# Express. Build all manner of electronic gadgets quickly and easily with .NET Gadgeteer! LEARN HOW TO GET STARTED
· TouchDevlop (8-24)
TouchDevelop makes learning programming exciting! You can write code directly on any device and you can directly use sensors and media via high-level APIs. It's easy to create games and apps, publish them or tweak those published by others. You write code in our touch-friendly editor where you compose programs by tapping on your screen, yet concepts you learn transfer to traditional languages such as Java or C#. TouchDevelop embraces the "Bring Your Own Device" revolution by providing a unified programming environment everywhere. http://www.touchdevelop.com
· Project Spark (8-24)
Project Spark is a digital canvas which can be used to make games, movies and other experiences. A player can download other user-generated content, remix that content or create content of their own. A player can use the Xbox controller, keyboard and mouse, touch-devices and Kinect to build experiences. Kinect can be used to animate models and record audio. The created environments can contain mountains, rivers, and towns. http://www.projectspark.com
· Web Application Template (11+)
The Web Application Template is an Open Source Visual Studio 2013 template that lets developers create Windows 8.1 apps based on existing web content. Used in the right way, Web Application Template can facilitate the creation of compelling extensions to your web content for Windows users.
· Windows Phone AppStudio (8-24)
Windows Phone App Studio lets you swiftly build apps for immediate publishing, testing, and sharing with clients, co-workers, and focus groups. Windows Phone App Studio generates your source code - a feature no other app-builder tool provides so you can learn the basic and make enhancements with Visual Studio. http://apps.windowsstore.com/
· Project Siena (8-24)
Microsoft Project Siena (code name) is the beta release of a new technology for those interested in building an app without any programming experience, you can create powerful apps for the device-first and cloud-connected world, with the potential to transform today’s business processes.
Here are some examples of what people have already been building:
Apps for auditing and inspecting a manufacturing facility through photos, videos, and pen and voice notes, all tied to an asset database see http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/projectsiena/default.aspx
· DreamSpark (6+)
DreamSpark is a Microsoft Program that supports technical education by providing access to Microsoft software for learning, teaching and research purposes.
DreamSpark is simple: it's all about giving students Microsoft professional-level developer and designer tools at no cost so that students can chase their dreams and create the next big breakthrough in technology - or just get a head start on their career.
DreamSpark helps educators teach the latest technologies and experiment in research. Microsoft knows that to make learning more motivating, relevant, and engaging for today's students requires a diverse set of resources. DreamSpark gives educators the resources to ensure their classrooms always have the latest technologies to challenges, motivate, and keep students engaged in new ways.
DreamSpark is also a subscription for Academic Institutions: it provides a cost-effective way to put Microsoft developer tools, platforms and servers in labs and classrooms, and on their students’ and faculty’s computers for learning and research purposes. It reduces lab costs and teaching budgets.
How do I get DreamSpark Software?
As a Student: simply create an account, verify your student status and download software through this website at no cost. If your school/university has a subscription, you can also get access to more software titles.
As an Educator: you can get access through your institution’s subscription. Talk to your school administration to get a DreamSpark subscription and order today!
As an Academic Institution: order the subscription type that is right for you. DreamSpark Standard is for all types of institutions from primary to tertiary educations. DreamSpark Premium has a wider software catalog of over 500 products and is for qualifying technical departments only.
· DreamSpark FREE Store Developer Account for Windows 8 and Windows Phone (16+)
Develop applications for Microsoft software that showcase your talent, your skill and your development creativity. If you can imagine it, you can create it, and you may even just change the world with it. https://www.dreamspark.com/Student/App-Development.aspx
· Xbox For Education (6+)
The Xbox for Education offer includes a 3-Year DreamSpark Standard subscription for the institution. To take advantage of this offer from Monday 27th January, schools and colleges should visit: www.Xboxforeducation.co.uk
Xbox for Education and the associated resources available at DreamSpark http://www.dreamspark.com and Microsoft Faculty Connection Resources http://www.microsoft.com/faculty provides teachers with resources from first principles to advanced techniques.
These resources will shows you how to use the C# language to solve problems and how C# is used within the Microsoft XNA Framework to create games. The games that you write using the resources available can run on a Microsoft Windows, an Xbox 360, or a Windows Phone.
Or simply use packages such as Kinect Sports and Adventures, Mind Craft, Kodu and Project Spark in the classroom.
· The Imagine Cup (16+) There are lots of ways to participate in Imagine Cup. Find the competition that's right for you and your team. Fans of gaming? Check out the Games Competition. Want to change the world? Take a look at the World Citizenship Competition. Click on any competition's name to learn more about it, read up on the rules, and learn how to sign your team up. http://www.imaginecup.com
Whether you are new to computing or have some experience, Digital Literacy will help you develop a fundamental understanding of computers. The courses help you learn the essential skills to begin computing with confidence, be more productive at home and at work, stay safe online, use technology to complement your lifestyle, and consider careers where you can put your skills to work.and click “go”, and you will be taken to the appropriate page.
Choose your language English (UK) & Welsh both available
The Microsoft Digital Literacy curriculum has three levels.
The Basic curriculum features a course called A First Course Toward Digital Literacy. This course teaches the value of computers in society and introduces you to using a mouse and the keyboard.
The Standard curriculum features five courses that cover computer basics; using the internet and productivity programs; security and privacy; and digital lifestyles. These five courses are available in four versions that use examples and screenshots from different versions of Windows and Microsoft Office. Please read the details below.
Computer Basics: Learn the fundamentals of computing, the components of a computer, operating system basics, and how to use a mouse and a keyboard.
Launch “Computer Basics” course
The Internet, Cloud Services, and World Wide Web: Learn how to connect to people, information, and resources around the world, using Web sites, search engines, and e-mail programs.
Launch “Internet, Cloud Services, and WWW” course
Productivity Programs: Games, demos, and interactive guides help you quickly learn the basics of word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and databases.
Launch “Productivity Programs” course
Computer Security and Privacy: Identify and protect your computer and data from threats, and learn the ethical and legal issues related to Internet usage.
Launch “Computer Security and Privacy” course
Digital Lifestyles: Learn how new digital technologies like smart phones and digital cameras are creating new career opportunities and shaping the world we live in.
Launch “Digital Lifestyles” course
The Standard curriculum is available in four versions.
Version 4 uses examples and simulations from Windows 8 and Microsoft Office 2013.
Version 3 uses examples and simulations from Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010.
Version 2 uses examples and simulations from Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007.
Version 1 uses examples and simulations from Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2003 The Advanced curriculum features five courses that cover building your first app, creating an e-mail account, creating a great resume, searching for content on the World Wide Web and social networking.
“Build Your First App” – a free two-hour eCourse – launched today at www.microsoft.com/digitalliteracy this is the newest addition to the Microsoft Digital Literacy Curriculum.
The course is a collaboration among Microsoft Learning experiences, Microsoft Research, and Microsoft YouthSpark. Students start on a path to learning computer science and are inspired to use Microsoft tools and platforms as they build their first apps
If your interested in the Touchdevelop course see at http://aka.ms/buildyourfirstapp
· Learn the layout and elements of the TouchDevelop programming environment, and create your own account.
· Learn programming principles that apply across all target devices – including lines of code, loops, variables, and conditional statements.
· Create physics-based games that include sprites, touch input, and use of a device’s accelerometer.
About this course
The course is immediately available online at www.microsoft.com/digitalliteracy and soon will be released on MLX so IT Academy teachers can assign it to students and track student progress.
Presenter Steven Edouard guides learners through the course. Steven is a Software Development Engineer in Test for Microsoft Visual Studio, where he works on infrastructure and validation tools for the .NET runtime.
Author Peli de Halleux is a Senior Research Software Development Engineer in Microsoft Research, where he works on TouchDevelop, Moles, rise4fun, and Code Digger.
Both Steven and Peli teach Computer Science at Rainier Beach High School in Seattle as part of the TEALS program and have facilitated several live TouchDevelop workshops. They were featured in the New York Times for their work with TEALS: “Fostering Tech Talent in Schools”
This course is a great resource to attract students to computer science by leveraging their interest in apps. The students will learn how to become a creator of technology using a Microsoft environment … even if they are running an iPad! -- Peli de Halleux
Developing your game on Windows Phone 8 here are some top tips from my colleague Simon Michael @simon_mich
Developing your game
1. Visit the Windows dev centre for documentation, tools and samples for Windows Store Apps Development.
2. Register for a store developer account and reserve your app name/s as soon as possible. if you a student you can get a FREE Windows Store account from www.DreamSpark.com
3. Make use of some key support resources such as Getting Started Guide, Windows app Builder blog, Windows developer forum and the many useful code samples that you can download and build.
4. Ensure that you are aware of the key Windows 8.1 features that can really benefit your game. These include:
More information on these features and more can be found at ‘Games for Windows’
5. Ensure that your apps tile and splash screen images all look good and comply with Windows Store design guidelines. Check that the tile text is not truncated at any size. We strongly recommend that you support all four tile sizes for your app.
6. Your app must support keyboard/mouse. You are advised to also support for touch. If your app does not support touch then you need to state this within the games description meta data field in the store listing (see #6.13.4 of the store cert requirements). If game design permits then adding other forms of supported user interaction such as pen and external game controllers can also benefit playability and is encouraged.
7. Your game needs to be designed to work well across a number of different screen widths, screen resolutions and optionally in different orientations. In addition to testing on physical devices, take advantage of the powerful features in the “Visual Studio simulator for Windows Apps” to test your game in all screen resolutions and orientations.
9. Your game should ideally target both Intel and ARM based devices. This will help to maximise the potential user-base for your game.
10. If you have a premium (paid) game then we highly recommend that you consider adding either a time-based or feature-based trial option to your game. This is achieved by using the same game package – you do not need to create a separate trial game package.
There is also a useful code sample.
11. Create a continuous experience across devices by roaming game state and settings so that a user can pick up a game right where it was left off, regardless of the device they're using. Make it easy for users to use your game everywhere, across all of their devices, by maintaining settings and states with roaming. See also Guidelines for roaming app data.
12. If your game uses In-app-purchases (IAP) then Windows 8.1 offers full support of both consumable and durable IAP. There is a useful code sample. You can simulate the IAP locally using CurrentAppSimulator but ensure that this is replaced with CurrentApp prior to submission to store cert.
13. Ensure that you have the correct age/game ratings for your games. Some countries and regions require that you also rate your app through a specific ratings board and so please check the list of countries and ensure that these are in place. In addition, see #6.2 of the store cert requirements. If your app provides a user with uncontrolled: (i) access to online social networks, or (ii) sharing of personal information with third parties, including other gamers or online acquaintances, then you must assign it a Windows Store rating of at least 12+. If you're having trouble deciding between two age ratings for your app, choose the higher one- apps never fail certification for having too high a rating.
15. Try to ensure that loading time of the game appears linear and fast. Consider adding progress animations/indicators to provide feedback to the user that the game is still responsive. Try to avoid situations where the same splash screen is displayed for 10+ seconds without movement.
16. Ensure that your game suspends and resumes as required.
Testing your Windows 8 game
1. Ensure that you fully understand the Windows Store Cert Technical requirements and that your application complies with them. Also see the useful article on tips on resolving cert issues.
2. The store certification phase consists of both a manual/user driven and an automated test phase. The Windows App Certification Kit (WACK) is the automated phase and Microsoft provide this to you. You should always ensure that your app passes the WACK 100% prior to submitting it to store certification.
3. Read the ‘Testing Apps on Windows 8’ guide to understand what to focus on when testing your game for store cert.
4. Try to test your game with a variety of physical devices (both Intel and ARM based) utilising keyboard/mouse and touchscreens (if relevant to your game). For ARM devices, the Nokia 2520 and Microsoft Surface/Surface 2 as examples of a few of the devices in the market.
5. Also use the “Visual Studio simulator for Windows Apps” to test your game – including testing across all screen resolutions and orientations.
6. When you submit your app to store, use the app submission checklist to ensure that you have everything covered.
Building Games with Unity
1. For Unity-based games:
For OpenGL-based games:
For DirectX 9/10- based games:
Using Cloud Services:
1. Visit the Windows Phone dev centre for documentation, tools and samples for Windows Phone Apps Development.
2. Register for a store developer account and reserve your app name/s as soon as possible. Also register your phone for development.
If your a Student you receive a FREE windows phone store account at www.dreamspark.com
3. Make use of some key support resources such as Getting Started Guide, Windows Phone Developer Blog, Windows Phone Developer forum and the many useful code samples that you can download and build.
4. Ensure that you are aware of the key Windows Phone 8 features that can really benefit your game.
5. Ensure that your apps tile and splash screen images all look good and comply with Windows Phone Store design guidelines. Check that the tile text is not truncated at any size. We strongly recommend that you support all three tile sizes (small, medium, large) for your app.
6. Your game needs to be designed and work well across all supported phone screen resolutions. Look to take advantage of the additional real-estate offered by the large screen phones.
In addition to testing on physical devices, take advantage of the powerful features in the “Windows phone Emulator” to test your game in all screen resolutions and orientations.
8. You should ensure that your game runs on both lower-end WP8 devices (these have 512MB RAM) and high-end WP8 devices (1GB Ram or more). This will help to maximise the potential user-base for your game. Examples of low-end devices include the Nokia 520 and Nokia 620 phones. Examples of high-end devices include Nokia 920, 925, 1020 and 1520. The game should run as expected within the smaller memory foot-print, should load within the required timescales and should have same performance as when running on the high-end devices. View the Nokia Phone specifications.
9. Ensure that your game handles the devices hard back button as expected in #5.2.4 of the technical certification requirements.
10. If you have a premium (paid) game then we highly recommend that you consider adding either a time-based or feature-based trial option to your game. This is achieved by using the same game package – you do not need to create a separate trial game package. There is also a useful code sample.
11. If your game uses In-app-purchases (IAP) then Windows 8.1 offers full support of both consumable and durable IAP. Also see the guide to options for testing your IAP functionality.
12. Ensure that you have the correct age/game ratings for your games. Some countries and regions require that you also rate your app through a specific ratings board and so please check the list of countries and ensure that these are in place.
13. Your game must include the app name, version information, and technical support contact information that are easily discoverable. See #5.6.1 in the technical certification requirements.
14. Ensure that loading time and responsiveness of the game complies with #5.1 and #5.2 of the technical requirements. See the information on app lifecycle management.
Testing your Game
1. Ensure that you fully understand the Windows Phone Cert Technical requirements and that your application complies with them. Read the top certification failures and how to avoid them
2. Read the ‘Testing Apps on Windows Phone 8’ guide to understand what to focus on when testing your game for store cert.
3. Read the beta testing your app and IAP guide.
4. Try to test your game on both a low spec and high spec Windows phone 8 device.
5. Also use the Windows phone Emulator to test your game – including testing across all screen resolutions and orientations.
Building Games for Windows Phone 8 using Unity or Angle
2. Read the detailed porting guides which provides advice on bringing iOS, Android and other platforms to Windows Phone 8.
3. Consider using the ANGLE project to reuse existing OpenGL ES 2.0 code, and to apply their current skills to building apps and games for Windows devices.
The goal of ANGLE is to allow Windows users to seamlessly run WebGL and other OpenGL ES 2.0 content by translating OpenGL ES 2.0 API calls to DirectX 9 or DirectX 11 API calls. See: http://code.google.com/p/angleproject/
Using API information/References:
Windows Azure cloud services – IAAS and PAAS – virtual machines and fully scalable and on-demand compute and storage.
Windows Azure Mobile Services – supports iOS, Android and Windows
Using 3rd Party Services
You can use the partner services directory to filter by platform and service type in order to find providers for such services as middleware, advertising, analytics, social plug-ins etc.
Microsoft Patterns & Practice team have released Twenty four design patterns Each pattern is provided in a common format that describes the context, solution, considerations for applying the pattern, and an example based on Windows Azure.
Two primers and eight guidance topics Basic knowledge and descriptions of good practice techniques for developing cloud-hosted applications.
Ten sample applications Usage of the design patterns described in this guide. You can use and adapt the source code to suit your own specific requirements.
The Microsoft Patterns & Practices team is responsible for delivering applied engineering guidance that helps software architects, developers, and their teams take full advantage of Microsoft’s platform technologies in their application development project.
Their goal is to help software development teams be more successful with the Microsoft application platform. We do this by delivering guidance that:
─ Helps to simplify the Microsoft application platform.
─ Provides solution guidance to common problems.
─ Helps development teams grow their skills and learn.
For more information: http://www.microsoft.com/practices
You can view the documentation at http://aka.ms/cloud-design-patterns .
The sample code is available for download at http://aka.ms/cloud-design-patterns-sample. A poster, book, and PDF is coming soon.