• Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Installing Windows Phone 7.1 SDK via .ISO using .MSI and Group Policy

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    Win7PhoneNew

    Normally, if were installing the Windows Phone SDK 7.1 onto a single machine you do it through the web installer located here:

    https://www.dreamspark.com/Product/Product.aspx?productid=26

    or via Microsoft Download centre at http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?displaylang=en&id=27570

    However, if you need to install it on a disconnected machine (VM image) or deploy the SDK to a number of machines within a lab or cluster  it’s helpful to have an .iso of the installation media to install from.

    Microsoft also provides a download for the .iso as well. You can get it from here http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=226694

    Installing the Windows Phone SDK via ISO

    Phone SDK consists of many packages/products and all these are installed on User’s machine as part of Phone SDK installation. Some of these packages are Emulator, XNA, Blend, Visual Studio Add-in for VS Ultimate, etc. Each individual package has got it’s own MSI.

    When you extract the ISO (let’s say in dvd folder), you will find Setup.exe at the base level (dvd folder). This is a chainer and invokes all the MSIs one-after-another, the same way you mentioned below. Anyone who wants to install through ISO, should double-click Setup.exe and installation will start. It also gives you the option of Silent install same as MSI (option /q) and thus can be used through automation scripts as well.

    WCU\WindowsPhone

    This is an important folder which contains most of the package MSIs but they should not be invoked separately. The complete installation is dependent on the sequence in which these MSIs are installed.

    Uninstall:

    After Uninstall, only Expression Blend entries are left back and this is known. Blend is a separately installed product and many Universities may  therefore have this previously installed, as such we decided not to uninstall Blend in case a licensed version is present on the machine and our uninstall causes any problems with previously installed products.

    Summary:

    In short, consider Setup.exe as your master MSI and use it in your scripts, everything should work.

    Creating an bundled MSI file (This may be requirement for some institutional desktop images)

    The creation of MSI is primary used for legacy applications that were written prior to msi technology, and may be unreliable as the "snapshot" technique does not take into account existing software dependencies.

    Windows does not natively contain the necessary tools for you to create your own MSI files. Instead, you will have to rely on a third party MSI creation tool. There are several good tools available for free. Two of the more popular choices are MAKEMSI (http://dennisbareis.com/makemsi.htm) and WinInstall LE 2003 (http://www.ondemandsoftware.com/freele.asp).

    The reason why .MSI files are the preferred installer package for Windows is because of the file format’s capabilities. When you install or uninstall an MSI file on a machine running Windows 7, Windows creates a system restore point. Furthermore, MSI files allow the application to be “self healing”. I’ll talk more about this later on, but basically this means that if part of the application is damaged or removed, then Windows has enough information to replace the damaged or missing parts. Finally, MSI files allow the system to automatically perform a rollback to its previous state if an installation should fail.

    With MSI files having so many capabilities, it should come as no surprise that MSI files tend to be a bit complex. MSI files are actually database files with information pertaining to every file and setting that the application installs or modifies. Because of this complexity, most of the MSI file creation utilities require you to do at least some scripting when you create an MSI file.

    WinInstall LE requires you to have a machine with a clean Windows installation and network connectivity. The software then takes a snapshot of this machine and saves the configuration image. You would then install the application that you want to create the MSI file for and take another snap shot. WinInstall would then compare the snapshots and use the differences between the two images to create an MSI file and the corresponding installation package.

    This method is a little time consuming, but is far less tedious than writing scripts. Another advantage to using this method is that it is possible to install multiple applications on to the clean machine prior to taking the second snap shot. This means that you can create a single MSI file and installation package that deploys multiple applications.

    Publishing and Assigning Applications

    Now that you know how to create an MSI file, there is one last concept that I need to talk about before I show you how to deploy an application thorough the Active Directory.

    As you may already know, in an Active Directory environment, group policies are the main component of network security. Group policy objects can be applied either to users or to computers. Deploying applications through the Active Directory is also done through the use of group policies, and therefore applications are deployed either on a per user basis or on a per computer basis.

    There are two different ways that you can deploy an application through the Active Directory. You can either publish the application or you can assign the application. You can only publish applications to users, but you can assign applications to either users or to computers. The application is deployed in a different manner depending on which of these methods you use.

    Publishing an application doesn’t actually install the application, but rather makes it available to users. For example, suppose that you were to publish the Windows Phone SDK tools. Publishing is a group policy setting, so it would not take effect until the next time that the user logs in. When the user does log in though, they will not initially notice anything different. However, if the user were to open the Control Panel and click on the Add / Remove Programs option, they will find that Microsoft Windows SDK is now on the list. A user can then choose to install Microsoft Windows SDK on their machine.

    Assigning an application to a user works differently than publishing an application. Again, assigning an application is a group policy action, so the assignment won’t take effect until the next time that the user logs in. When the user does log in, they will see that the new application has been added to the Start menu and / or to the desktop.

    Although a menu option or an icon for the application exists, the software hasn’t actually been installed though. To avoid overwhelming the server containing the installation package, the software is not actually installed until the user attempts to use it for the first time.

    This is also where the self healing feature comes in. When ever a user attempts to use the application, Windows always does a quick check to make sure that the application hasn’t been damaged. If files or registry settings are missing, they are automatically replaced.

    Assigning an application to a computer works similarly to assigning an application to a user. The main difference is that the assignment is linked to the computer rather than to the user, so it takes effect the next time that the computer is rebooted. Assigning an application to a computer also differs from user assignments in that the deployment process actually installs the application rather than just the application’s icon.

    Deploying Applications

    Setting up the actual deployment is simple. The biggest thing that you must remember is that the MSI file and the corresponding package must exist within a network share, and everyone must have read permissions for that share.

    To perform the deployment, open the Group Policy Editor. To publish or assign an application to a user, navigate through the group policy console to User Configuration | Software Settings | Software Installation. Now, right click on the Software Installation container and select the New | Package commands from the shortcut menu. Select the appropriate MSI file and click Open. You are now asked whether you want to publish or assign the application. Make your selection and click OK.

    The process for assigning an application to a computer is almost identical. The only real difference is that you would use the Software Settings | Software Installation container beneath the Computer Configuration container rather than beneath the User Configuration container.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    We need your feedback on Microsoft DreamSpark

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    DreamSpark-2_bL_t

    We want to your feedback on the DreamSpark service within the UK

    What is DreamSpark

    We know a lot of you use DreamSpark but we’d like to know a little more about its value to you. So we are running in conjunction with c3education to get a more detailed understanding.

    We would like to see if it is helping raise attainment levels for educators and students and get general feedback on the programme. We need this so that we have evidence to share with the public and with journalists interested in the story. The ideal situation would be to establish a baseline for the beginning of the programme and to record impact perhaps twice a year, to check whether we are on track.

    From today 21st of February 2012,we have a launched two surveys one for students and one for academics.

    Below are the links to each of the questionnaires.

    DreamSpark – Academics/Educator Survey https://nerp241b2.questionpro.com

    DreamSpark –Student Survey https://nerp241b1.questionpro.com c3education who are operating the survey on our behalf will offer an Xbox 360 and a Kinect sensor to one lucky winner who completes the survey by 29th Feb 2012 and gives us their contact details at the end of the survey. You have to be a UK student. The winner will be drawn at random from all completions who fill in their details in the survey.

     

    Your feedback and assistance, in completing these would be greatly appreciated, We will also share top level results through this blog and our Linkedin group.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Research PhD Scholarship 2012– Results

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    Microsoft Research PhD Scholarship 2012

    We are pleased to announce the final results of this year’s PhD Scholarship Programme. 

    In September 2011, Microsoft Research received 110 PhD applications which were reviewed by 148 internal and external reviewers between October and December 2011. Microsoft Research  have now selected 16 applications that will be funded through Microsoft Research Connections starting in the academic year 2012/13.

    Four proposals relate to the new Joint Initiative in Informatics with Edinburgh University.

    The selected applications are listed below.

    Applicants have already been informed of the decision.

    Selected applications

    Development of an Executable Model Encapsulating Blood Cell Development from Pluripotent Embryonic Stem Cells
    Supervisor: Berthold Gottgens, University of Cambridge
    MSR Supervisor: Jasmin Fisher

    Incremental and Adaptive Symbolic Execution
    Supervisor: Cristian Cadar, Imperial College London
    MSR Supervisor: Miguel Castro

    Supporting a 'Sense of Home' in Care Homes: an Exploration of Digital Design with People Living with Dementia
    Supervisor: Jayne Wallace, Northumbria University
    MSR Supervisors: Tim Regan, Siân Lindley

    Efficient Approximations for Fast Simulations: Application to Building Designs
    Supervisor: Leo Liberti, Ecole Polytechnique
    MSR Supervisor: Youssef Hamadi

    Inferring From Integrity Constraints Through JavaScript Analysis
    Supervisor: Michael Benedikt, University of Oxford
    MSR Supervisor: Matt Parkinson

    Virtualization and High-Productivity for Many-Cores
    Supervisor: Mikel Lujan, University of Manchester
    MSR Supervisor: Tim Harris

    Automated Design of Revenue-Maximizing Ad Auctions
    Supervisor: Mingyu Guo, University of Liverpool
    MSR Supervisors: Yoram Bachrach, Peter Key 

    LumiConSense
    Supervisor: Oliver Bimber, Johannes Kepler University
    MSR Supervisors: Shahram Izadi, Otmar Hilliges

    Content-based Relevance Estimation on the Web

    Supervisor: Oren Kurland, Technion
    MSR Supervisors: Filip Radlinski, Milad Shokouhi

    Developing Novel Computational Methods to Describe and Predict Human Behaviour in Earth System Models

    Supervisor: Paul Palmer, University of Edinburgh
    MSR Supervisor: Drew Purves

    Dynamic Modelling of HIV Recognition by the Immune System

    Supervisor: Peter Coveney, University College London
    MSR Supervisor: Neil Dalchau

    Systematic Assessment of Uncertainty in Couples Carbon-Nitrogen Cycle Models and their Climate Feedbacks

    Supervisor: Sönke Zaehle, MPI for Biogeochemistry
    MSR Supervisor: Matthew Smith

    Joint Initiative in Informatics with Edinburgh University

    Machine Learning Markets
    Supervisor: Amos Storkey, University of Edinburgh
    MSR Supervisors: Peter Key, Thore Graepel

    Statistical Language Processing for Programming Language Text
    Supervisor: Charles Sutton, University of Edinburgh
    MSR Supervisors: Andy Gordon, Thore Graepel

    Machine Learning Methods for Formal Dynamical Systems: a Systems Biology Case Study
    Supervisor: Jane Hillston/Guido Sanguinetti, University of Edinburgh
    MSR Supervisors: Luca Cardelli, Andrew Phillips

    Holistic Evaluation in LINQ
    Supervisor: Stratis Viglas, University of Edinburgh
    MSR Supervisor: Gavin Bierman

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Azure resources for Researchers

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    Azure_thumbnail

    Researchers

    The Windows Azure Research Engagement project aims to boost scholarly and scientific research by extending computing to the cloud. We provide a cloud computing platform and work with researchers on projects that push the frontiers of client and cloud computing.

    Resources

    Related Links
    Quick 3 minute overview videos
    Hands on Labs, Demos, and Presentations
    Contact Us
    Articles
    Events and Workshops

    For more details see http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/community/education/program/overview/

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Student Access to Microsoft Azure 90 day pass

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    Azure_thumbnail

    Students

    Need access to Windows Azure outside the classroom? Working on a project on cloud computing? Or maybe your master thesis? As a student you can take advantage of the free Windows Azure trial offer and run a Small Windows Azure instance with a 1GB SQL Azure database for 90 days*

    Here is what you get (monthly allocations):

    • Compute: 750 hours of a Small Compute Instance
    • Storage: 20GB with 50k Storage transactions
    • Data Transfers: 20GB out / Unlimited inbound data transfer
    • Relational Database: 1GB Web Edition SQL Azure database
    • Access Control: 100,000 transactions
    • Service Bus: 2 connections
    • Caching: 128MB cache

    Get the free trial

    *A Windows Live ID and credit card are required for proof of identity. There is no obligation to purchase at the end of the free trial.

    Learning Resources:

    Short and interactive learning presentations that provide foundational learning
    Windows Azure - Step by Step Book

    Ideal for those with fundamental programming skills, this tutorial provides practical, learn-by-doing exercises for mastering the entire Windows Azure platform.

    Order Now

    For more details see http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/community/education/program/overview/

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Azure Offer for Academics 5 Month Pass

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    Azure_thumbnail

    Educators

    Microsoft provides grants for educators wanting to use Windows Azure platform in their curricula. These grants are facilitated through Windows Azure academic passes, which provide the following resources for a period of 5 months from the date of redemption:

    Windows Azure
    • 2 small compute instances
    • 3GB of storage
    • 250,000 storage transactions
    • 100,000 Access Control transactions
    • 2 Service Bus connections
    SQL Azure
    • Two 1GB Web Edition database
    Data Transfers

    (Per Region)

    • 3 GB in
    • 3 GB out

    Apply for a grant

    Grant applications are designated for faculty who are teaching Windows Azure in their curricula as well as faculty preparing to integrate Windows Azure into their curricula. Educator Grant awards are subject to demand and availability.

    To apply for an Educator Grant please contact AzureU@Microsoft.com and provide us with:

    • Your name
    • Your email contact
    • Institution/University name
    • Course name
    • Course description
    • Number of students in your course
    • Number of Windows Azure platform academic passes needed
    • Date when passes will be used


    Apply Today!

    Windows Azure Educator Grants FAQs

    Q: What are the Windows Azure Educator grants?

    A: The Windows Azure Education Grants are focused on enabling educators to easily leverage the benefits of the Windows Azure platform for curriculum development and teaching. Through these grants, educators can obtain easy access, with no Credit Card required, to the Windows Azure platform for an extended period of time at no cost for themselves and their students. Access to the Windows Azure platform is made possible through 5 month Windows Azure platform academic passes. Educator Grants may be available up to the number of students within the course, dependent on the volume of requests, pass availability, and the needs of the course.

    Q: What resources are available through the Windows Azure platform academic pass?

    A: Each 5 month Windows Azure platform academic pass provides the following resources:

    Windows Azure
    2 small compute instances
    3GB of storage
    250,000 storage transactions

    SQL Azure
    Two 1GB Web Edition database

    AppFabric
    100,000 Access Control transactions
    2 Service Bus connections
    Data Transfers (per region)
    3 GB in
    3 GB out

    1 Hosted Service

    Q: What is the Gifting Letter and who needs to sign this?

    A: If you are granted a Windows Azure Educator Grant, we require that you sign a “Gifting Letter” in order to ensure compliance with all applicable government gift and ethics rules, which restrict/prohibit government employees. Your ethics officer, (or designated executive/office responsible for your organization’s gifts/ethics policy), or responsible attorney should review and sign this letter.

    Q: How do the Windows Azure platform academic passes get redeemed?

    A: Each Windows Azure platform academic pass is redeemable through http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/community/education/program/educators/ If you receive an Educator Grant we will send you a PowerPoint deck which will guide you and your students through the easy process of redeeming these passes.

    Q: Why is Microsoft offering this?

    A: A large percentage of the academic community has developed curricula materials leveraging the Windows Azure platform for teaching Cloud-centric courses. We are experiencing an increase in demand from the academic community for access to the Windows Azure platform. Windows Azure Educator Grants allows us to enable even more members of the academic community to leverage the Windows Azure platform within their courses.

    Q: Are Windows Azure Educator Grants available globally?

    A: Windows Azure Educator Grants are available worldwide.

    Q: Is there an available education discount program for the Windows Azure platform?

    A: At this time, we do not offer education discount pricing for the Windows Azure platform.

    Q: Who can apply for a Windows Azure platform Educator Grant?

    A: Educators at accredited academic institutions can apply for the Windows Azure Educator Grants.

    Q: How do I apply for a Windows Azure platform Educator Grant?

    A: Applying for a Windows Azure platform academic pass is easy. Simply go to http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/community/education/program/educators/

    We will ask you for the following information:

    · Your name
    · Your email contact
    · Country
    · Institution/University name
    · Course name
    · Course description
    · Number of students in your course
    · Number of Windows Azure platform academic passes needed
    · Date when Windows Azure platform academic passes will be used

    Q: What factors will Microsoft consider when determining who will receive a Windows Azure Educator Grant?

    A: Windows Azure Educator Grants will be awarded based on factors such as purpose of use, number of passes required, and timing requirements for usage of the passes.

    Q: I am a student. Can I apply for a pass?

    A: Windows Azure Educator Grants are only valid for valid faculty. If your faculty has been awarded a Windows Azure Educator Grant, you will be able to get a pass through him/her for you coursework. If you are interested in learning more about the Windows Azure platform, we encourage you to share these Educator Grants with your faculty or leverage the FREE 90-day trial offer at http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/free-trial/

    Q: Does my Windows Azure platform academic pass expire?

    A: Yes. The Windows Azure platform academic pass will expire 150 days after it has been activated. You will be receiving email notifications when the expiration date is close, and you will have the opportunity to migrate your data to a paid Windows Azure platform subscription, if you want to continue on using the Windows Azure platform.

    Q: What happens to my data application when my pass expires?

    A: Shortly prior to the expiration date you will have the opportunity to migrate your data to a paid Windows Azure platform subscription. All of your data will be erased when your pass expires. If you choose to not migrate your Windows Azure account to a paid account, please be sure to back up your data.

    Q: Do I have to use a credit card to redeem my pass?

    A: No. You do not need to use a credit card to redeem your pass activate your Windows Azure account.

    Learning Resources:

    Curricula Resources
    Short and interactive learning presentations that provide foundational learning
    Windows Azure - Step by Step Book

    Ideal for those with fundamental programming skills, this tutorial provides practical, learn-by-doing exercises for mastering the entire Windows Azure platform.

    For more details see http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/community/education/program/overview/

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Imagine Cup 10th Anniversary Sweepstakes

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    IC2012

    The Imagine Cup 10th Anniversary Sweepstakes has launched! 

    To be eligible, students must simply register and sign-up for a competition by using referral code #10. They could win a free Kinect (6 winners per week) and a trip to the Imagine Cup 2012 Worldwide Finals in Sydney! Additionally, if these students convert to competitors, they could also be eligible to receive a free Sony PC.

    Simply enter the sweepstake here http://www.imaginecup.com/CompetitionsContent/promotions/tenth-anniversary-sweepstakes.aspx

    The Sweepstakes campaign will end on 13 March. Students who have previously registered are not eligible for this promotion.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    The “.NET Gadgeteer Stirs Excitement in British Schools”

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    gadgetGadgeteer

    “Youngsters love gadgets. So wouldn’t it be great if they could build their own, and at school? This is exactly what more than 70 British students, ages 13 to 16, are doing by using .NET Gadgeteer. On January 30, they gathered at the Microsoft Research Cambridge Lab to present their final projects and celebrate the end of the first .NET Gadgeteer school pilot project in the United Kingdom (UK).”

    The .NET Gadgeteer pilot project aligns with the UK’s commitment to prioritize computer science education in schools, as spelled out by the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, in his speech at the BETT Show (see School ICT to be replaced by computer science programme).

    We look forward to more schools, colleges, and universities utilizing .NET Gadgeteer to unleash their students’ creativity and enthusiasm in technology in the UK, and beyond.

    Scarlet Schwiderski-Grosche, Program Manager, Microsoft Research Connections EMEA, and Steve Hodges, Principal Hardware Engineer, Microsoft Research Cambridge

    Read more…

    Learn More

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Gadgeteer stimulates the kids.. at Hack to the Future

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    hacktothefuturegadgetGadgeteer 

    Last weekend I went along to Hack to the Future, the idea of Alan O’Donohoe, Teknoteacher on Twitter. Alan is a Secondary School  ITC teacher in Preston. However Alan really wants to make a difference for the next generation. Alan decided to setup up a unconference to support the development of Computer Science to young people in the form of a day of informal learning entitled – Hack to the Future or #h2df.

    A direct quote from Alan

    It is an un-conference that aims to provide young digital creators aged 11 – 18 with positive experiences of computing science and other closely related fields, ensuring that the digital creators of today engage with the digital creators of tomorrow.

    We plan to offer a day that will inspire, engage and encourage young digital creator

    I’m proud to say that Microsoft fully supports events such as so we involved Microsoft Research, MS Press and a number of other key partners to help support the event. Myself and Steven Johnston from Southampton University, who is also working with Microsoft Research as a Gadgeteer outreach manager developed a plan and we set off for Preston.
     
    The event was all about the young people and it was amazing to see over 350+ young people plus around 100 teachers and parents attending the various talks, workshops and sessions at H2df. I have to stress the workshops and sessions at H2df were all hands on, and code based and Steven and myself spent the day at Hack to the future #h2df getting attendees hands on with the Microsoft .NET Gadgeter and had a great day.

    We ran 7 sessions each with 10 laptops/kits and were packed out each session. (each kit with 3/4 students, we had to turn some students away due to the demand so apologies if you did not attend). Below is a copy of the sessions which we completed.

    I have to state on the day we far more hands on with Visual Studio 2010 and C# and astounded by the skills of some of the younger developer (Hacklings, as Alan calls them)

     

    During the session the attendees built the camera and those that completed early - built a cardboard case and mounted the components to create a a digital camera. Thanks to @coletteweston for these great pic of her daughter at the event who as you can see was very successful.

     coletteweston1coletteweston2

    Overall the event was inspiring with children using Visual Studio 2010, some without any prior experience and writing C# and getting to play with the GHI Fez Spider Gadgeteer kits to build a fully working digital camera in around 30 mins – 45 mins. Hack to the Future was  an amazing day and really well done to Alan and the team of Our Ladies High School.

    To end the day, Alan put on some indoor fireworks and did his his famous #h2df rap. Well done to Alan and all the other volunteers at Hack to the Future and a great start to inspiring computer scientist of the future.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Tech.Days 2012 IT Pro Camps

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    techdays_logo

    Hands on training for I.T. Professionals

    This year, Tech.Days events for IT implementers and professionals is changing.

    The Microsoft UK TechNet team are bringing information, ideas and inspiration to your doorstep with a series of IT camp workshops across the country the first sessions are in Leeds, Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Newcastle and London.

    The camps are designed to deliver more freestyle learning with our evangelist hosts across a range of topics about the latest developments in hosted services and what Microsoft are doing in this field.

    Across the next few months we'll cover how to Virtualise Servers, Build a Private cloud, Migrate from Windows Server 2003 and Manage consumer IT products on your networks.

    Along with the hands on training there will be the usual Q&A, networking and a few other surprises thrown in…

    Register for an event near you.

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