• Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    WebGL to Windows 8


    WebGL offers new very interesting opportunities for the gaming industry.

    You can now develop a game for the web running cross-platforms and take the very same code to build a Windows Store App and add some platforms specifics & monetization.

    Pre-requisites: validate your game in IE11 which now supports WebGL

    Step 1. Validate your code against Internet Explorer 11.

    To test against IE11, the best experience is to install any version of Windows 8.1 on a development machine. IE11 is also now available on Windows 7.

    You can also test it as a first experience via Virtual Machines or via BrowserStack or bootcamp, parallels on Mac.

    If you dont have access to MSDN or a copy of Windows 8 You can find free VMs to download on our Modern.IE website: http://www.modern.ie/en-us as well as a 3-months trial for BrowserStack.

    Of course, especially for a game, you will have to test at the end on real device to tune the performance and the gameplay.

    Step 2. Be sure that your game runs in every WebGL-enabled browser/platform.

    Doing these two tasks will save you some time in the future and maximize your reach.

    So what is new with IE11

    IE11 embeds the JS & rendering engines being used to execute Windows Store Apps. So, when you’re writing HTML5 Windows 8.1 Store Apps, you’re more or less targeting IE11.

    Using a WebGL engine

    I would strongly suggest using a WebGl engine rather than writing yourself your code against the low-level API of WebGL.

    Any WebGL engine working fine in Internet Explorer 11 but here a two excellent opensource options.


    Three.JS: http://threejs.org/ created & mainly maintained by Mr Doob.

    There are lots of resources available to learn ThreeJS


    Open-source WebGL engine specifically designed for creating games.

    Developed by

    3D engine: David CATUHE (@deltakosh)
    Scenes: Michel ROUSSEAU (@rousseau_michel)
    Game FX: Pierre LAGARDE (@pierlag)
    Game FX: David ROUSSET (@davrous)

     Babylon.JS is scene oriented and has a great Blender exporter.

    Using Web Application Template

    For Games with WebGL. A nice way to get these to WP8 and W8 is the web app template. http://wat-docs.azurewebsites.net/

    You can also relatively easily add xbox controller, sound etc.. using Xinput control feature of Windows 8

    Please watch the videos below demonstrating the use of the Web Application Template (WAT) being used to build a Windows 8 HTML5/JS game.

    The game can also be built as a native Windows 8 game the advantage this had over the WAT was the game could work offline.

    Here is a recording of the endeavours and this 10 minute video shows how you would technically go about porting a game like this using both the WAT approach and the native approach.


    The native implementation 6:40 seconds in : http://youtu.be/T51tgL3qzi8?t=6m40s

    If you just want to see the app running then check out 5.42 minutes in http://youtu.be/T51tgL3qzi8?t=5m24s

    For more details of the Web Application Template see msft.it/60119JW9

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Azure in UK Education


    Learn more about Microsoft Azure could help your institution discover the modern cloud by viewing/download our new infographic below:

    Resources available

    Microsoft Azure for education, teaching students all about cloud http://www.windowsazure.com/education

    Microsoft Azure for Research – Power your research with cloud http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/projects/azure/default.aspx

    Microsoft Azure in Education from Microsoft Education UK

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Summary of Microsoft Azure Build Announcement


    At the Build 2014 conference, we introduced the new Microsoft Azure Preview portal and the new Basic tier of compute instances. We also announced the general availability of the Web Sites Basic tier along with enhancements to the Web Sites Standard tier, Active Directory Premium, Scheduler, RA-GRS, Dynamic Routing Gateways and Point-to-Site, AutoScale, and Visual Studio Online. In addition, Azure Automation public preview was announced and Azure Backup pricing was reduced.

    Azure Portal 

    The web browser portal brings together portions of both Azure and Visual Studio Online—Microsoft Azure Web Sites and SQL Database—plus, eventually, more and more add-on tools across the app lifecycle from both Microsoft and partners.

    Try the portal at http://Portal.azure.com, you can sign in, work, and browse, and also move back-and-forth between the Preview portal and the current Microsoft Azure management portal.

    Basic tier of compute instances

    A new Basic tier of compute instances offers similar CPU and memory configurations as the Standard tier of instances, but these instances cost up to 26.6% less.
    The Basic tier doesn’t provide load-balancing and automatic scaling features, as the Standard tier does. Instances in the Basic tier are best suited for applications such as single-instance production workloads, development workloads, test servers, and batch processing, where those features might not be required.

    For more information, visit the Virtual Machines website. To get a comprehensive look at pricing, visit the Virtual Machines Pricing Details website.

    Windows Azure Web Sites

    Azure Web Sites Basic tier now generally available (GA), and Web Sites Standard tier customers to receive more value Web Sites Basic tier, a new entry-level tier, provides support for small, medium, and large virtual machine (VM) sizes and enables you to scale up to three VM instances. The Basic tier includes 10 GB of storage and supports custom domains. SSL is available at standard rates. Advanced features like AutoScale, Backup, web jobs, and staging slots require customers to subscribe to the Standard tier.  Web Sites customers using the Standard tier will now receive even more value. At no additional cost, customers can now upload and use five SNI and one IP SSL certificates with 50 GB of storage. Plus, Standard tier customers will now receive all the new advanced capabilities, including live debugging, Backup, and site slots. Standard tier instances support up to 500 websites; scale up to 10 VM instances; and offer AutoScale, which dynamically adds or removes VM instances based on actual customer traffic.

    These are perfect for student projects For more information, visit the Web Apps website. To get a comprehensive look at pricing, visit the Web Sites Pricing Details website.

    Azure Active Directory Premium now generally available

    Azure Active Directory Premium, the Microsoft identity and access management solution for the cloud, provides synchronization with on-premises directories, single sign-on to hundreds of SaaS applications, machine learning–based security and usage reports, alerting, and Multi-Factor Authentication. Azure Active Directory Premium also empowers end users with self-service password reset, delegated group management, and a customizable environment for launching enterprise and consumer applications.

    Azure Active Directory Premium includes entitlement to Forefront Identity Manager Server and Client Access Licenses. Azure Active Directory Premium will be available for purchase through the Microsoft Enterprise Agreement volume licensing program for academic institutions.

    For more information, visit the Azure Identity and Access Management website.

    Scheduler now generally available

    Using Scheduler, you can invoke actions—such as calling HTTP/S endpoints or posting a message to a storage queue—on any schedule. With Scheduler, you create jobs in the cloud that reliably call services both inside and outside of Azure, and then run those jobs on demand, on a regularly recurring schedule, or on a designated future date. Scheduler is backed by a 99.9 percent SLA.

    For more information, visit the Scheduler website. To get a comprehensive look at pricing, visit the Scheduler Pricing Details website.

    Read-Access Geographically Redundant Storage now generally available

    The new read-access service is now available as another option for geographically replicated storage accounts. As with other options, the stored content is replicated to a secondary location, but now you can have read access to the secondary location in case of a major disaster in the primary location. The secondary location is in the same region but is hundreds of miles from the primary location.

    This is perfect for Universities who now have campus location in other countries.

    Virtual Network Dynamic Routing Gateway and Point-to-Site now generally available

    Last year, we announced a feature called Dynamic Routing Gateway and Point-to-Site VPN, which supports route-based VPNs and allows you to connect individual computers to a virtual network in Azure. That feature is now generally available.  The Dynamic Routing VPN Gateway in a virtual network will now have the same SLA as the Static Routing VPN Gateway. The Dynamic Routing VPN Gateway will continue to be free until May 1, 2014. Starting May 2, 2014, it will be charged at the general availability price.

    For more information about the service, visit the Virtual Network website. For a comprehensive look at pricing, visit the Virtual Network Pricing Details website.

    AutoScale now generally available

    In Azure, you can configure your application to automatically scale up or down to accommodate current demand, and use auto-scaling rules to minimize costs. AutoScale is now generally available for Virtual Machines, Cloud Services, Web Sites, and Mobile Services.
    For more information about how to use AutoScale, visit How to scale an application and How to scale web sites.

    Visual Studio Online now generally available

    Visual Studio Online, the cloud solution that enables development teams to plan, build, and ship software across a variety of platforms is now available with a financially backed SLA.

    Try Visual Studio Online for your next development project. It will guide you through setting up an environment for you or your team that includes everything from hosted Git repositories and project-tracking tools, to continuous integration and deployment to Azure—all without having to install or configure a single server.

    For more information, visit the Visual Studio Online website. To get a comprehensive look at pricing, visit Visual Studio Online Pricing Details website.
    If you choose not to continue to use the Visual Studio Online service at the new prices, you can disable Visual Studio Online for your account by using the Azure Management Portal.

    Azure Automation public preview now available

    Azure Automation allows you to automate processes for your infrastructure and application lifecycle by enabling integration, orchestration, and automation of tasks using Runbooks built on Windows PowerShell Workflow. With Automation, you can author Windows PowerShell Runbooks that integrate into other Azure services, as well as external systems you use to deliver your end to end tasks that simplify cloud management.

    For more information on Azure Automation, visit the Automation webpage. To get started with Automation, go to the Automation: Getting Started guide.

    Azure Backup price reduction

    Effective April 1, 2014, customers will see lower prices for Backup. Backup helps you protect important server data off-site with automated backup to Azure. Now you can benefit from simple, reliable off-site data protection at a lower cost.

    For more information, visit the Azure Backup website. To get a comprehensive look at pricing, visit the Azure Backup Pricing Details website.

    For more details on the Microsoft Azure Announcement at Build see the following sessions

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    So what is the best FREE Hackathon tool - Windows App Studio


    At Build last week we launched a new tool  Windows App Studio Beta.

    With Windows App Studio you can build universal Windows app projects that results in an app for Windows Phone and Windows, all in a single session.

    This is the perfect tools of Student Hackathons combined with a  FREE DreamSpark Subscription which includes a FREE developer accounts for both Windows Phone and Windows 8.

    You can build and publish apps directly to the Windows 8 and Windows Phone Store in the shortest possible period of time.

    Getting Started and Creating your first app with Windows App Studio

    Windows App Studio give you the ability to switch/toggle between Windows Phone and a Windows, this automatically updates your app view to see how the changes will be reflected on-screen, based on the device type. You can even make changes to your dynamic App Studio content hosted in the cloud and push to both Windows Phone and Windows users when they launch your app. And all from within the Windows App Studio Beta website. So no IDE or software is required to be installed on your PC or MAC 


    When you generate your app, you’ll notice that you can still download the app directly to your Windows device, you can download packages to publish, or you can download the original source code for Windows Phone 8.0, Windows Phone 8.1, and Windows 8.1 apps and make modification in Visual Studio IDE which off course is FREE via www.dreamspark.com


    Creating an app from an existing web page  

    You can still start your project from scratch, called an “Empty App”, or start with one of dozens of templates. New in this release, we’ve added the ability to build a template that allows you to create a Windows 8 or Windows Phone app from an existing website.

    What is really cool about this is you can and add native controls we call this type of app a WebApp. and this enhancement is developed from our Open Source Project Web Application Template which allows you take any existing responsive web site into a Windows 8 or Windows Phone app see http://wat.codeplex.com 

    But with Windows App Studio we make this really simple for all users by simply entering the URL of the mobile website, you can create a Web App Template (WAT) for Windows Phone directly within Windows AppStudio without having to use Visual Studio. .


    If you have already used App Studio to create an existing App you can easily update the App to support both Windows 8 and Windows Phone.

    If you have already created a Windows Phone app using App Studio, it’s easy to also create a Windows app.

    Publishing your Apps to Store

    If you are planning to publish to the Store, you’ll first need to register for a Dev Center account ($19 USD annual registration fee or FREE for students via DreamSpark).

    To Setup your FREE developer account Get your FREE Registration Code

    You will need to reserve a name for your app—just go to Dev Center to reserve the App Name, and then place the App Identity, App Display Name, Publisher ID, and Publisher Name (as it appears in Dev Center) in your App Studio project. This places the necessary data in your app manifest, which is needed for app submission. We have added support for this directly on the Publish Info page in App Studio.

    Be sure to invest time to create an app title, app description, and image for your app tile that will capture the attention of your target audience. Then, you’re ready to publish in the Store.


    So if your looking at building a portfolio of apps or have a hackathon download Windows App Studio Beta.

    You will be amazed at  just how easy it is to get started creating apps for Windows and Windows Phone. 

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Universal Apps, new Nokia Devices, Developer SDKs and Windows SensorCore


    This week was packed with news from the BUILD conference for Windows and Windows Phone developers. If you didn't have a chance to join us in San Francisco don't worry, we share the highlights here and you can catch one of the sessions at http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Build/2014

    Windows Phone 8.1 and the One Windows platform

    Windows Phone shipments are growing at 156% annually, shipping more phones than iPhone in 24 markets, and capturing second place of operating systems in 14 markets (source: IDC). This surge in device shipments is also translating to demand in Windows Store, with more than 4 billion cumulative app downloads, 12 million store transactions per day, and a 390% increase in monthly paid app revenue since the launch of Windows Phone 8.

    At Build this week Microsoft announced a converged platform for developers with the announcement of Universal apps.

    The new Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1 share more than 80 per cent of their APIs and empower you to deliver better experiences through the cloud. What’s more, the converged platform elevates developers' reach to over 100M active app purchasing users to date, with growth rate of 250% annually.

    Here are just a few of the Windows Phone 8.1 enhancements designed to help you create unique app experiences:

    1. Windows Phone Store learns the types of apps users like and provides personal recommendations based on what they’ve downloaded or what their Facebook friends have liked.
    2. Blue Enterprise Feature Pack makes existing Windows Phone devices even more secure phones for businesses.
    3. Camera Burst mode enables capture of multiple shots with one press of the camera button (even capturing shots that occur before the button is pressed).

    New Devices

    Nokia Also announced three new phones which continue the momentum of Nokia Lumia and the converged Windows platform.

    Nokia Lumia 930 is an iconic, beautifully-crafted and engineered device that takes full advantage of the new Windows Phone 8.1 platform. The phone includes a 5-inch FullHD ClearBlack AMOLED display, quadcore processing, and comes with PureView 20-megapixel imaging and SensorCore.

    Nokia Lumia 630 and Nokia Lumia 635 bring Windows Phone and Lumia innovations to more affordable prices while delivering an uncompromised Windows Phone 8.1 experience. The Nokia Lumia 630 is available in several configurations, including smart dual-SIM 3G and blazing fast internet experience in the Lumia 635 LTE version – unique value and experience in their pricepoints.

    Enhancement for developers

    Nokia Announced enhancements to its Nokia Lumia SDK and the ability to extend your Windows Apps with Nokia SDKs The Nokia Imaging SDK has been used by developers like you to build more than 1,500 imaging apps. The latest release, Nokia Imaging SDK 1.2 Beta:

    Windows Phone 8.1 support allows your single code base to support the newly-announced Windows Phone 8.1 plus Windows Phone 8.0, Windows 8.1 and 8.1 RT.

    New features include

    1. Animated GIF support lets you create animated apps to excite and wow users.
    2. Image Alignment API helps you stabilise photo sequences.
    3. Local Blending API , lets your apps combine and position images of different sizes on top of each other. This is great for adding badges or stickers to images, or combining front and back camera photos for the perfect group shot.

    Low Power and Energy usage coming to Windows with SensorCore technology

    The Nokia Lumia phones announced this week are the first phones to incorporate low-power SensorCore technology that makes apps context aware and empowers consumers to get more relevant health data and track their progress towards everyday fitness goals. At Build, we announced an update to Bing Health & Fitness that uses the new SensorCore technology to allow consumers to track and make progress on their fitness and lifestyle goals like never before by taking advantage of pedometer and motion data.

    The SensorCore SDK is currently available as a private beta and we’re working to get this technology out to public soon.

    Nokia Lumia App Labs Webinar

    To learn more, register now for the Lumia App Lab webinar covering Nokia Imaging SDK 1.2 beta 

    Register for 10 April 4 pm. London

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Win a Microsoft Research Internship


    The Microsoft Research -  Bright Minds Competition http://research.microsoft.com/undergrad


    A Bright Minds Internship is your opportunity to work on real-world projects alongside some of the brightest minds in computer science at Microsoft Research

    Successful candidates will embark on an eight week internship programme starting 30 June 2014 and will benefit from a competitive salary, subsidised accommodation, free bike rental, assistance with travel costs, discounts on Microsoft hardware and software, onsite gym membership and free beverages.
    image To be eligible to enter, you must:

    • Be in your penultimate year of undergraduate studies
    • Be studying engineering, computer science, mathematics, physics, design, social sciences or computational sciences
    • Have strong analytical abilities and interest in research
    • Have programming skills
    • Have the right to work in the UK

    Closing date for applications is 18 April 2014.

    Visit the Bright Minds web page to find out how to apply. http://research.microsoft.com/undergrad

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    A run down of the Build 2014 keynote announcements



    Microsoft’s Build conference began yesterday with a series of fast-paced announcements and presentations by several key personnel demonstrating the company’s shift to open Windows to the entire platform.

    What follows is a summary of major announcements made on Day 1 and Day2. 

    Day 1 Keynote
    Joe Belfiore, CVP Operating Systems Group, started the keynote by talking about Windows Phone 8.1.  This update brings several usability enhancements to the phone’s OS, including more personalization and customization for the lock and start screens.  The biggest addition is the arrival of Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to a device personal assistant.

    Brief overview of the new features of Windows Phone 8.1:
    • Action center  (pull down from the top)
    • Battery life
    • Can use dual SIM cards
    • Quick settings – wifi / Bluetooth / airplane mode / etc
    • Internet Sharing

    Personalize lock & Start screens
    •New APIs to customize lock screen
    •Customize number /size amount of icons
    •Customize wallpaper that the tiles display on

    •Presence as a Live tile
    •Cortana can be extended with 3rd party apps
    •Supports creating speech enabled 3rd party apps
    •Cortana’s stores user personalization information in the notebook, which allows users to customize what items Cortana knows about.

    Wi-Fi Sense
    •Simplify connecting to Wi-fi networks ◦Allows auto-accepting Terms of Use when required
    ◦Can provided name/email/ phone number when required, also can be edited
    •Can automatically share Wi-fi passwords with approved contacts ( Outlook.com / Skype contacts / Facebook friends).  Shared transparently between machines, but the user never actually sees the password.

    Enhancements for the enterprise
    The enhancements to Windows Phone 8.1 are not limited to the end user.  Nick Hedderman, Senior Product Manager demonstrated several new phone management features for corporate phone administrators:

    Windows Phone 8.1 for Business
    •Enroll device into a corporate role (even if the one previously was setup for personal-use only)
    •Support Enterprise VPN
    •S/MIME◦Signed and encrypt emails
    •Can disable local downloading of files.
    •Can deny apps from running on a phone, even existing installed apps already on the phone
    •When a user leaves the corporation or switches devices, the corporate management is completely removed.  App permissions are restored, VPN removed, etc

    Windows 8.1 Updates
    Moving beyond the updates for Windows Phone 8.1, the keynote then moved to the forthcoming Update for Windows 8.1.  This Update will be made available for free to all Windows 8.X users on April 8. 

    Windows 8.1 Update 1
    •Cortana on the phone and Bing on desktop share user details (when you are logged in to Bing).
    •Windows Task bar can have apps pinned to it
    •This includes displaying their live tiles on the Start menu
    •Switch between apps whether they are Modern of Win32 desktop apps
    •Doesn’t affect the changes / operation for touch based operations
    •New PC Settings Tile◦Provides natural/familiar home for PC settings
    •Power button and search button display on Start screen by default
    •Right-click context menu to resize / pin to taskbar
    •Control click to select multiple tiles and move them around en masse
    •Improving Windows Store update to mouse & keyboard friendly
    •New apps are highlighted in the All Apps list when they are added so they are not as easy to overlook when added

    Moving into OpenSource
    WinJS is now open source (under the Apache license) and going cross-platform.  Joining this announcement is the availability of Windows 8.1 Update on MSDN and DreamSpark.  VS2013 Update 2 RC is publicly available for all versions (paid and express) of Visual Studio.  Windows Phone 8.1 will be available for developers later this month.

    Nokia and devices
    Stephen Elop, EVP of Nokia presented several new phone types, including the new flagship device, the Nokia Lumia 930.  This will be made available in June.  The Lumia 630 and Lumia 635 will target the lower end of the market, but still include a 1.2GHz quadcore SnapDragon processor.  The 630 will be available in a dual-SIM card model.  Prices range from $159 to approximately $189.

    What's did the new CEO say
    New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella concluded the keynote by addressing some prerecorded user questions.  The main theme of his comments was that he wants Microsoft to operate as a challenger to the current market. 

    The day 2 keynote opened with Microsoft’s Scott Guthre

    Azure adoption
    •Currently Azure is hosting 250K active websites and over a million SQL databases.

    What impact is the cloud having - Cloud Gaming a new era
    •Titanfall used a pool of 100,000 virtual machines on day 1. In order to ensure a consistent experience they are literally allocating a VM from the pool for each game. Project Azure Thunderhead

    Virtual Machines
    •Visual Studio Integration: you can now create, destroy, and manage VMs from within Visual Studio. You can even enable remote debugging in a virtual machine directly from the IDE.
    •VM images can now capture storage devices, reducing the amount of effort needed to setup a cloned instanced.

    Remote Server Management
    •Management tool Puppet now is deeply integrated into Azure.
    •Growing and shrinking services on demand
    •Auto-scaling virtual machines has also reached general availability.
    •Auto-scaling works with Azure Websites as well, allowing web servers to be dynamically added or removed as the load changes.

    Azure Website Service
    •Build with the skills you have Azure now supports NET, PHP, Python, Node.js and Java support for the Azure Website Service.

    Security of Azure Web Sites
    •Every Azure Website instance will now include a free SSL certificate.

    Managing queues and workloads
    •WebJobs can be run in the context of the Azure Website. In the past background tasks had to be run on a separate VM, which can significantly increase costs if the tasks are usually idle.

    A new opportunity DevOps
    •PowerShell for Visual Studio and Azure
    •When new ASP.NET projects are created you can provision Azure VMs at the same time. If you do so, PowerShell based deployment scripts are created at the same time.
    •PowerShell editing is now supported by Visual Studio.

    New Azure Portal
    •A new portal for Azure has been created. The primary selling point is easier to understand billing metrics. Directly from the home page you can see how much Azure is costing you on a service by service basis.
    •AppInsights is being integrated into the Azure portal. This product is used to collect data about how an application is being used in terms of features, duration, etc. It also includes performance and error metrics.

    Web developers
    •Live Editing HTML and CSS using Browser Link
    •Most browsers allow you to edit CSS and HTML directly in the browser.

    Visual Studio 2013 enhancement
    •Ability to hook your browser (IE, Chrome, etc.) to the IDE using Browser Link.
    •Make HTML or CSS in the browser and have those changes automatically reflected in the source code. Essentially the browser becomes your code editor.
    •Static Analysis for JavaScript
    •JSHint is now integrated into Visual Studio.

    Azure for Mobile
    •Azure’s Mobile Services now support Active Directory using OAuth tokens.
    •These tokens can then be used to access Office 365 APIs in addition to the application’s custom backend. So Azure Mobile Services now supports the enterprise.

    Cross Platform support
    •Xamarin and Visual Studio  illustrate iOS and Android support using .net and C# for building cross platform

    Databases - Azure SQL
    •Azure Databases can now grow to 500GB with a 99.95% a SLA. This is enterprise support!

    Backup and Restore
    •The ability of now having self-service backups are available for up to 31 days on all accounts. Administrators can choose to rollback to any point in time within that window.
    •Active Geo Replication keeps replicated servers hot so that you can fail over in the event of an outage.

    BigData- Data Scientist the NEW ROCK & ROLL
    •YARN and Hive Query are now supported in HDInsight.

    OpenSource Commitment
    •Roslyn – The .NET Compile Platform
    •The new language services will be available in the next version of Visual Studio.
    •The entire Roslyn project is being open sourced, including the VB and C# compilers.

    Development languages
    •C# 6.0 - Static using statements are supported so you no longer have to prefix static functions such as Max with the class name. This is feature already seen in Visual Basic and Java.
    •Xamarin -Xamarin has started supporting Roslyn with the option to choose alternate compilers in their IDE. Currently Roslyn is only active during compilation but they intend to add syntax highlighting and other features.
    •.NET Foundation -The .NET Foundation is a new organization for governing the various open source offerings for .NET from Microsoft, Xamarin, and others.
    •Visual studio online - Visual Studio Online has reached general availability.

    Source code and team working
    •Team Foundation Server enhancements for source control including 3rd IDE and source control including GIT.

    Migrating VB 6 and .NET Applications Forward to modern apps
    Announcement of WebMap2. This product takes legacy WinForms applications and converts it into an HTML based application. It does this by splitting the .NET code into views and controllers. It then converts the views into HTML while the bulk of the code lives in server-side controllers.
    •Mobilize.NET also has a product for converting legacy VB 6 applications into WinForms application. This can be used as-is or as a stepping stone into web-based technologies.

    Internet of things
    •.NET Micro Framework -The .NET Micro Framework is now being updated to support generics and modern versions of Visual Studio.

    App building tools
    •AppStudio: Concert Websites into Mobile Applications
    •The new AppStudio tool can convert websites into mobile applications. By default this is just a wrapper around the website using the Web Application Template. Wat.codeplex.com but you can enable caching for off-line use by modifying a configuration file. This is available for “both windows and non-windows” devices including Android.

    Universal Apps and Xamarin
    •Windows Universal app recompiled with Xamarin which supports Android and iOS.


    Overall a really exciting keynote which firmly places Microsoft as a supporter of developers now matter what your platform of choice.

    You can watch the keynotes a conference sessions at http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Build/2014

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Reach millions of players. Just like that.. with Unity3D


    It's so easy to bring your existing Unity titles to Windows Store and Windows Phone. Use the resources on this page to port your content quickly and efficiently to a whole new global audience.

    Start with the basics

    Our Getting Started guides cover everything you need to know: configurations, SDKs, general considerations and first steps

    Windows Store

    Getting started on Windows Phone (663 KB)

    Windows Phone

    Getting started on Windows Store (720 KB)

    Then get the porting tips

    Once you get the basics, read our porting tips that pinpoint what to consider when adjusting your code to target Windows Store and Windows Phone

    Windows Store

    Porting tips for Windows Phone (819 KB)

    Windows Phone

    Porting tips for Windows Store (813 KB)

    Port your Unity3d games to Microsoft Windows 8 and Windows Phone in a day!

    Nokia, Microsoft and Unity are hosting a series of Unity porting days across the UK and we would love to see you there! Attend and receive a token for FREE registration to the Microsoft App Store!

    There will be hands-on advice and Unity experts to help you port your existing or new mobile games. Don’t delay… there are just 100 places per venue on a first come, first served basis.

    Attend one of the UK Unity3d Porting Events

    Places still available at Birmingham, Manchester and London

    Unity Porting Days

    Power Up: The Beautiful Game competition

    The competition is open to all UK games developers who port and publish their games titles to Microsoft Windows 8 and/or Windows Phone Stores. Each game entered will receive points based on a wide range of game experiences and the number of downloads in the Stores. The top 20 games will win great prizes (prize fund in excess of $50,000!) and all entrants have an opportunity for their games to be discovered and downloaded by 100,000s to millions of players.

    Power Up - The Beautiful Game

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Using Cloud Services to make a Leaderboard for a Unity Game


    As part of the #UnityportingUK http://www.unityportinguk.com one of the most common question we get is how can I take advantage of Azure Cloud Services

    Setting up Azure and Mobile Services

    If you do not have an Azure account, then you should sign up for one.


    The Azure Mobile Services have a free tier that includes up to 500 devices as well as 500k API calls and you can also use the free tier for up to 10 services.  This means that you can test out a few things without having to pay for it.

    Azure Mobile Services

    Azure Mobile Services is a part of Azure that allows access to a database and has connection and sample code to talk to any mobile system that is out there.  This will provide you with the code or library to do the connection to Android, iOS, Windows 8, Windows Phone, HTML5/JavaScript, or even the Xamarin libraries. To get started, if you do not have any Mobile Services defined yet you can click on the Mobile Services tab on the left and then the Create a New Mobile Service link next to it.  You can also click on the New option on the bottom the of the screen and select Compute -> Mobile Service -> Create.



    From here, you will get a popup to fill in to finish up the creation.  The first field is the name of the Mobile Service.  This name will also be the address for the service.  It must be unique. For this example, I named mine “unityleaderboard”.  The next field is the database to use as a back end for the service.  You can choice from “Use an existing SQL database“, “Create a free 20 MB SQL database“, or “Create a new SQL database instance“. 


    The database will now need to be configured.  You need to setup the username and password and also the region for making the database.



    Now For Some Data

    So up to now we have the Mobile Service setup, but there is no data yet.  Go into your new Mobile Service and then click on the Data link at the top.  You can now add a new Table to the database that was setup earlier.



    The next step is to add the data fields to the new leaderboard table.  This will allow us to save the data for the UserName and the Score that is saved.  This is going to be a basic sample and not an optimized database, so I will be adding the UserName as just a string field to the table.  If this was a bigger system supporting multiple games, I would probably make a Player table with all of the players info there and then a leaderboard table that cross referenced that player table.  Since this is just a quick and simple leaderboard for a single game, keeping the raw text in the table is not that bad.  The Score field is going to be added as a Number so that we do not have to change the numbers of the score into a text field back and forth.  After clicking on the table name, you will see and can click on the Columns link to get to add new columns.  To add a new column, use the Add Column link at the bottom of the page.



    At this point the new leaderboard service is up and running.

    Unity GameDev

    Unity Plugin for Azure by BitRave provides a Mobile Services plugin for Unity 3D. Their GitHub repo includes cross-platform APIs (currently supporting Windows Store and Windows Phone) and example code. 


    Plugin Instructions

    Before You Start

    The Azure Mobile Services plugin for Unity 3D is available open source at github.  That’s the place to go if you want to contribute or look at the source.  It’s on github here: https://github.com/bitrave/azure-mobile-services-for-unity3d .  However, if you don’t care about the source, and just use it, head to github as there is an example project with built binaries in it so you can just grab it and use it.

    The below is a guide to using the Azure Mobile Services plugin for Unity 3D.


    A suite of Azure Mobile Services plugins for Unity3D, cross platform with common interfaces, with examples.

    The goal is simple. “Just hit build”. That means 1 API, no platform dependent code. The plugin should hide platform intracacies, not surface them.

    Runs across:

    • UnityEditor – Lightweight support in Unity so you don’t need to build to test your app. No more stubbing data locally.
    • Windows 8 Store – Uses the underlying native DLL for consistent and robust integration
    • Windows Phone 8 – Uses the underlying native DLL for consistent and robust integration

    Coming soon:

    • iOS
    • Android
    5 Second Guide

    Put the plugin binaries in your Assets/Plugins folder.  These get built into an Output folder in the root of the solution in the right folder structure.  And it’s as simple as…

    var data = new LevelSaveData() { SaveData = “some data here“, Id = 1 };

    var azure = new AzureMobileServices(_azureEndPoint, _applicationKey);



    var azure = new AzureMobileServices(_azureEndPoint, _applicationKey);

    azure.Lookup<LevelSaveData>(1, azureResponse =>


    if (azureResponse.Status == AzureResponseStatus.Success)


    var ourObject = azureReponse.ResponseData;



    Data comes back via callbacks and response objects.  Unity doesn’t support await/async, but when it does it will move to that model.


    Initialisation is just as simple as you’d expect.

    var service = new AzureMobileServices(“url”, “token”);


    Insert an item into your Azure database in a single line of code from Unity.



    Update items in the Azure databsae with just one line of code from Unity.



    Remove items from the Azure database in 1 line of code from Unity.



    Query items in your Azure Mobile Services from Unity.

    service.Where<ToDoItem>(p => p.Category == “Exercise”, azureResponse =>


    List<ToDoItem> exerciseItems = azureRepsonse.ResponseData;

    NOTE: await / async will be available when supported by Unity.  Until then we are using callbacks.


    Lookup items in your Azure Mobile Services from Unity.

    service.Lookup<ToDoItem>(myItem, azureResponse =>


    ToDoItem myToDoItem = azureResponse.ResponseData;

    NOTE: await / async will be available when supported by Unity.  Until then we are using callbacks.


    On supported platforms, LoginAsync can be called for authenticated services.

    azure.LoginAsync(AuthenticationProvider.Facebook, loginResponse =>


    var token = loginResponse.ResponseData.MobileServiceAuthenticationToken;


    NOTE: await / async will be available when supported by Unity.  Until then we are using callbacks.

    Visual Studio Solution
    The Projects

    There are multiple projects in the solution.

    • Bitrave.Azure.Editor – This provides Azure support directly from within the Unity Editor, it’s not currently fully featured, but offers a way to test against real data in the cloud rather than stubbed local data.
    • Bitrave.Azure.Stub – This is a stub class for assisting with building projects out of Unity.  It assists with hiding complex dependencies that cause issues with Unity.
    • Bitrave.Azure.Windows8 – The Windows 8 Azure Mobile Services plugin for Unity 3D.
    • Bitrave.Azure.Windows8.TestApp – A test app to help debug the plugin behaviours since the plugins can’t be debugged in Unity 3D.
    • Bitrave.Azure.WindowsPhone8 - The Windows 8 Azure Mobile Services plugin for Unity 3D.
    • Bitrave.Azure.WindowsPhone8.TestApp - A test app to help debug the plugin behaviours since the plugins can’t be debugged in Unity 3D.
    • RestSharp.Stub - This is a stub class that assists with building out of Unity for the specific platforms.

    Make sure you have the latest version of Nuget, then get the dependencies such as RestSharp, JSON.NET, and Azure Mobile Services.  You will need to also add a reference to the UnityEngine.dll for the respective platform.  If you can’t find these UnityEngine DLLs, just build out of Unity a blank WP8 project or a blank W8 project, and the respective DLLs will end up in the generated project.  If you want to use the PM command line for Azure, here it is:

    Install-Package WindowsAzure.MobileServices

    Once you have the DLLs all configured, hit build.

    Once built your solution directory should have an output folder.  Within this is a Plugins folder structure with DLLs that you copy directly into your Unity project’s Assets folder.  It should look something like this:




    When you build for a specific platform, the plugins from the root Plugins folder get replaced by DLLs with identical names in the platform folder.  This is why the RestSharp.Stub gets copied into WP8 and Metro since it’s only used for the Unity editor.  Metro and WP8 leverage the Azure Mobile Services SDK DLLs for their specific platform.

    The Windows8 DLL gets copied into the Plugins/Metro folder since Windows 8 projects build nicely out of Unity.

    The WindowsPhone8 DLL does not get copied into Plugins/WP8.  The Bitrave.Azure.Stub DLL gets copied due to dependency issues when building.  WP8 builds are still in early beta so this need may go away.

    Next step, make sure you copy the right versions of Newtonsoft.Json DLL into the Plugins, Plugins\Metro, and Plugins\WP8 folders.  Also copy RestSharp into the Plugins folder.   It should look something like this:


    And that’s how you get everything into Unity, and you should be good to start using it.  How to build for each platform is below.

    Building For Platforms
    Windows 8 Store Apps
    1. From Unity
    2. Select File->Build Settings (Ctrl-Shift-B)
    3. Select “Windows Store Apps”
    4. Select “Build”
    5. Pick a folder to build into
    6. Wait for it to build
    7. Open the generated solution in Visual Studio
    8. Check the references to the project, we’ll need to update some references.
    9. Remove RestSharp from the references
    10. Remove Boo.Lang.dll if it is there, it won’t pass WACK
    11. Make sure that Newtonsoft.Json.dll is the right version for Windows 8
    12. Open up Package.appxmanifest.  Ensure Capabilities->Internet Client is enabled
    13. Manage Nuget packages for the project, add the Windows Azure Mobile Services SDK
    14. You should be good to go!
    15. Build and Run
    Windows Phone 8 Apps
    1. From Unity
    2. Select File->Build Settings (Ctrl-Shift-B)
    3. Select “Windows Phone 8″
    4. Select “Build”
    5. Pick a folder to build into
    6. Wait for it to build
    7. Open the generated solution in Visual Studio
    8. Check the references to the project, we’ll need to update some references
    9. Remove Bitrave.Azure and add a reference to the Bitrave.Azure.WindowsPhone8 project’s Bitrave.Azure.dll in it’s bin/Release folder.
    10. Remove RestSharp.dll, it’s not needed
    11. Manage Nuget packages for the project, add the Windows Azure Mobile Services SDK
    12. You should be good to go!
    13. Build and Run
    14. PS – You need to deploy to a WP8 phone

    Creating a simply 2D Unity Game

    When Unity is launched, a dialog pops up with two tabs Open Project and Create New Project.  Select the Create New Project tab and enter in a name for the project.  In the bottom left of the dialog, there is a dropdown for selecting 3D or 2D for the project.  Select 2D and then hit the Create button to make the project.



    In the project pane, there is a folder names Assets. Create three folders, Plugins, Scenes, and Scripts.  This creates these folders under the Asset folder in the project’s folder.


    Saving the Scene

    One thing that helps at this point is to manually save the scene.  Select the File -> Save Scene menu option and then select the Scenes folder and save the scene, for this tutorial I named it MainScene.  This will create a MainScene.unity file in the Scenes folder.


    Adding the Plugin

    Next, let’s take the plugin from the GitHub repro and take all of the files from the Asset folder in the AzureMobileServicesUniversalPlugin project and save them into the same folder as our scene. 


    From here we will follow the second instruction line and drag the AzureUI script file onto the Main Camera object to attach the script.  From here we are going to be making some changes to this script to remove the Facebook login and to point it at the new leaderboard service that we made earlier.  At this point the project will not compile or run because we are missing the Newtonsoft Json.Net DLL.

    JSON Library

    As I said above, the plugin from Bit Rave suggests getting a Json library from the asset store. 

    Leaderboard Class

    The sample from BitRave is great but it just ties to the standard sample ToDo list that mobile services will make for you to test with.

    I would suggest the following to make a more robust leaderboard, the suggestion is have a leaderboard table getting called and used.  In the Scripts folder, you will see a ToDoItem.cs script file with the following class defined.
    In the Scripts folder, right click and go to Create -> C# Script and name it LeaderBoard.  This will create a new class that is derived from MonoBehavior.  This is the default for any script that is added.  What we can do here is to delete the class and actually just make one for our leaderboard table that is in our Mobile Service.  Originally in Mobile Services the tables had an Id field of an int.  The current system makes the Id field a string instead.  To fit into the sample from BitRave, I am also going to create a ToString method for the class to use for displaying. So creating a class for our leaderboard will give us a class that looks like this.  Please keep in mind that the name of the class should match the name of your table.



    This is the file that is doing all of the GUI in this sample game and also calling the leaderboard service.

    So what is the experience?

    The free version of Azure mobile Services can get you going on a simple service.  It is limited to the number of devices and number of transactions per month, but when you hit those limited you should be able to move the service up to the next level for more resources and abilities. Another option is using a dedicated third party gaming services such as http://www.gamesparks.com/ who offer a free services for FREE services for  upto 10,000 user per month


    Other Resources

    Stacey Mulcahy, making a leaderboard using Azure Mobile Services.  She showed how to add the leaderboard to your HTML5/JS game.   

    Steve Maier Azure Mobile Services to make a Leaderboard for a Unity Game Steve shows how to create a leaderboard in Unity  

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    What programmes/competitions does Microsoft UK have live at the moment?


    Join the game

    Here are the details of the various programmes/competitions we have live at the moment so you can have a look around them. 

    If your a new Start-up doing any technology then  BizSpark should be of interest to you, you can find more details at www.microsoft.com/bizspark.

    If your a start-up then funding is one of your biggest challenges you should take a look at  AppCampus. Appcampus is  great way of getting your app live and getting some funding to take the development forward, you can visit their website at www.appcampus.fi

    Here are a few more activities and events taking place  

    GameDev Related

    Port your Unity3d games to Microsoft Windows 8 and Windows Phone in a day!

    Nokia, Microsoft and Unity are hosting a series of Unity porting days across the UK and we would love to see you there! Attend and receive a token for FREE registration to the Microsoft App Store!

    There will be hands-on advice and Unity experts to help you port your existing or new mobile games. Don’t delay… there are just 100 places per venue on a first come, first served basis.

    Unity Porting Days

    Power Up: The Beautiful Game competition

    The competition is open to all UK games developers who port and publish their games titles to Microsoft Windows 8 and/or Windows Phone Stores. Each game entered will receive points based on a wide range of game experiences and the number of downloads in the Stores. The top 20 games will win great prizes (prize fund in excess of $50,000!) and all entrants have an opportunity for their games to be discovered and downloaded by 100,000s to millions of players.

    Power Up - The Beautiful Game

    Global Unity Games Program

    Microsoft is supporting the creation and launch of the best made-with-Unity games and apps on Windows Phone/Windows Store. The new offer helps to clear the way for talented and committed Unity developers to reach millions of new players and users.

    Global Unity

    Unity & Nokia

    Apps and Competitions for both developers and consumers


    The UK AppChallenge is designed to support and uncover great UK developer talent, by showcasing hidden gems and brand new apps to Windows & Windows Phone super fans! All you have to do is whack a line of code in your app that connects it to the UK AppChallenge app. You’ll immediately start rising through the Windows Store rankings. Plus, UK AppChallenge users will be able to see your app promoted in other apps. Which means even more hits. Finally, you could even be selected as a featured app – then the downloads really start flooding in.


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