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Cloud + Device: Combine the power of Windows Azure, IE 9, and Windows Phone 7

Cloud + Device: Combine the power of Windows Azure, IE 9, and Windows Phone 7

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Earlier this week, we released two important products: Internet Explorer 9 Beta and Windows Phone 7 Developer Tools RTM. At first glance, these products have nothing to do with Windows Azure. But if you remember the 5 dimensions of the cloud, you'll recognize these products represent the advancements in "smarter" devices.

  1. The cloud creates opportunities and responsibilities
  2. The cloud learns and helps you learn, decide and take action
  3. The cloud enhances your social and professional interactions
  4. The cloud wants smarter devices
  5. The cloud drives server advances that drive the cloud

IE 9 unleashes the power of Windows PC

IE 9 is a browser for Windows PC, which is a powerful device. The power of modern PCs mainly come from 2 components: CPU and GPU. Browsers (and thus HTML web applications) have been utilizing as much as CPU powers as possible for many years. But in the past, GPU was always treated as a second class citizen.

When it comes to graphic computation, GPU is much more powerful than CPU. For example, GPU allows you to work on ALL pixels in parallel, while CPU only allows you to work on 4 pixels at the same time, if you have a quad-core CPU. If GPU is not used when working with graphics, you're only utilizing about 10% of modern PC's processing power.

IE 9 wakes up your GPU. It uses Direct2D and DirectWrite under the hook, which in turn is built upon Direct3D 10. As you probably know, Direct3D is powering most of the 3D commercial games available today. It is a very powerful graphics processing API. Powered by Direct2D and DirectWrite, IE 9 increases the performance of graphic intensive web applications tremendously, without you having to rewrite a single line of code!

IE 9 also supports the latest industrial standard, like HTML 5, CSS 3, and SVG. And of course, Plug-ins like Silverlight continue to work fine.

We Azure technical forum support team wrote a test app about canvas on The next post will describe how it was created. For now, simply run it in IE 9 and another browser that does not support hardware acceleration, and compare the speed of the animation.

Silverlight and XNA unleashes the power of Windows Phone 7

A modern phone, while not as powerful as PC, is also considered as a smart device. The phone is a mini computer. It allows you to do your daily tasks almost everywhere in the world. You can use a phone to surf the web, read news, listen to music, watch movie, chat with your friends, edit office documents...

A Windows Phone also comes with a powerful GPU. No matter if your application is using Silverlight or XNA, you're always taking advantage of hardware acceleration.

Windows Azure connects the applications and the world

The devices are powerful. But the usage is limited if the devices are isolated. We need a cloud to connect the devices, and the world.

Let's take a look at how we develop a typical cloud solution in this modern world. The development process involves 3 main step (I won't talk about customer requirements, architecture, design, etc. in this post):

  1. Host services in the cloud.
  2. Distribute client applications to smart devices from the cloud.
  3. Connect the client applications to the cloud services.

First, we build one or more services and host them in the cloud. The services can be accessed almost everywhere in the world, as long as you have internet connection. (Of course you can protect the services by adopting authentication or federation.)

Second, we distribute applications from the cloud to the devices. Those applications can be HTML applications that run in a browser like IE, rich internet applications like Silverlight, or applications that must be installed on the client machine (like a native Windows application). The applications can use simple UI (such as most business applications). Or they can leverage the power of targeting devices and create a rich user experience.

Finally, we connect the client applications to the cloud services. You can think a lot of use cases. For example, you create a multi-player game using XNA, and you store the game data in the cloud.


The cloud wants smarter devices, such as Windows 7 PCs and Windows Phone 7. To exploit the full power of those modern devices, you need a modern API, and create modern applications. IE 9/Silverlight/XNA speeds up the build of modern applications.

The next post will demonstrate a graphic rich web application powered by HTML 5 canvas. In a future post we will walk through a simple but typical cloud solution, which demonstrates IE 9's support for SVG, Silverlight on Windows Phone, as well as how to connect those client applications to the cloud. 


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  • Hi,

    First a disclaimer: I'm an open-source fanboy, nothing to do with MSFT tools technologies, just keeping up-to-date with the "other side".


    " The cloud creates opportunities and responsibilities

     The cloud learns and helps you learn, decide and take action

     The cloud enhances your social and professional interactions

     The cloud wants smarter devices

     The cloud drives server advances that drive the cloud"

    Is this for real?? Had I been developing with MSFT tools I would have gone: WTF? Maybe it's time to bail. Is Microsoft been run by marketing MBAs?

    Again, no offense, I have no interest in this, just a friendly advice :-)

    [BTW, Google's appengine is light-years ahead of Azure, i predict you'll just end-up implementing appengine with dot net. Routing anyone???]

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