Windows 8 is here!


    Today is October 26th, Windows 8 is here! Where in Canada can you go check out Windows 8 software and hardware?

    Out of curiosity I looked up a few Canadian websites today and found the following, this is not an exhaustive list by any means, but simply evidence that Windows 8 is out there!






    Not to mention the Microsoft pop-up holiday stores in Canada which opened today!


    And of course the Yorkdale Microsoft Store opening November 16th, with Wayne Gretzky in attendance for the opening, how much more Canadian can you get?

    Windows 8 is out there! Don’t you want your Windows 8 app out there too?

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    10 Things you may not know about Windows 8


    Look at thisYou probably know that Windows 8 is available October 26th, but what don’t you know?

    1. There are two editions of Windows 8 available: Windows 8  and Windows RT

    Both versions allow people to download apps from the store (so everyone with Windows 8 can download your Windows store apps.) Windows RT runs just the new Windows 8 Store apps, and there are Windows 8 apps for Office. Windows 8 runs the new apps, and also allows you to run all the apps you’ve been running on Windows 7. I like the simple way this blog by Eric Nelson explains the difference. But here’s the official explanation as well.

    2. You won’t miss the Start button

    You can launch an app by hitting the Windows key and typing the name of the app to launch. You can also use Windows+X to bring up the start menu. More great keyboard shortcuts here

    3. The Surface rocks, but there is other great hardware for Windows 8 too

    The Microsoft Surface is getting some great reviews, here’s a review from Wired. But if it’s not what you are looking for, there are a lot of manufacturers releasing awesome Windows 8 and Windows RT devices. Tablet? Hybrid? touch laptops? Find the device that is right for you.

    4. Students can publish Windows Store apps for free

    Just like the Windows Phone store, the Windows Store offers free accounts to students through the DreamSpark program. Instructions on how to create that account are here.

    5. Windows 8 enables Hyper-V

    This means I no longer have to have Windows Server running on a laptop in dual boot so I can use Hyper-V virtual machines to set up different developer environments.

    6. How to print from Windows store apps

    It’s on the charms, under devices.

    7. Windows 8 isn’t just boxes and squares

    When you buy Windows 8 (not Windows RT), you still get the desktop which you know already so the apps you’ve been running on Windows 7 run on Windows 8 as well. So, if you are used to Windows XP or Windows 7, you won’t find it difficult to transition to Windows 8.

    8. Windows 8 is for business too! not just for consumers

    Most of what you’ve heard has been about consumer features like video, Skype, Xbox and Music. But Windows 8 is for business too. There is actually a Windows 8 for business website where you can find out more.

    9. Canadians are already building great Windows 8 apps

    Canada has amazing developers, and already their apps are starting to appear in the Windows store. Tetes a Claques, Tou.tv, games from Sad Cat, WayTwoGood, to name a few. Will yours be next, find out how to get started.

    10. It boots faster than Windows 7

    A lot of people ask me how well Windows 8 will run on their existing laptops. I installed it on my laptop which was my Windows 7 machine. It boots up faster.

    Be a part of Windows 8, build a cool app, get it published, get some help building your app, join us at one of the upcoming WOWZapp events on November 9-11th in Canada, part of a worldwide Windows hackathon! Our main WOWZapp site will be in Vancouver, but there are students organizing WOWZapp events for students across the country. Register today!

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    Canada! Join the worldwide WOWZapp hackathon November 9-11th


    Microsoft has created a worldwide hackathon called WOWZapp, Canada has a number of sites so you can be a part of it!


    You may have already heard about WOWZapp in TechCrunch or on CNBC. This is a worldwide hackathon for developers to get building cool apps for Windows 8. Canada is all in!

    Co-ordinated with sites around the world, this promises to be a great event. We are having our primary WOWZapp in Vancouver (currently listed as Burnaby on the WOWZapp site).

    We are ready to host students from all around Vancouver with an interest in building apps. Seats are limited, and we will invite some developers from industry and start-ups to join us as well, but we are giving students advance notice, so if you are interested, register before October 28th! After October 28th, we will invite User groups and local start-ups to join the fun, so it’s a good idea to reserve a spot before then to guarantee yourself a spot! Our theme for the Vancouver WOWZapp is MC Escher, the artist who created those mind bending drawings like the one on the right. Those interested in taking on the theme, can build apps to challenge our brains! We’ll also find some fun ways to keep your brain challenges over the weekend.

    WOWZapp isn’t just in Vancouver!

    My team will be in Vancouver, but we’ve been working with our Microsoft Student Partners across the country to help them put together some great WOWZapp events as well, complete with munchies, giveaways, and prizes. All WOWZapp events are the weekend of November 9-11th. New sites are still being added! But as of today we already have events in

    • Hamilton
    • Ottawa
    • London
    • Montreal
    • Waterloo
    • more being added this week!

    Just visit the WOWZapp site, and use the interactive map, or the drop down listbox to find an event near you and register!

    If you have never built a Windows 8 app before, this is a great time to get started! You can prepare before you arrive with our Windows 8 Resources.See you at WOWZapp!

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    Last Chance to win a Kinect or Laptop just for staying connected


    Microsoft Get Connected ContestWant to know about student events and promotions in Canada? We’ve made it easy.

    “Gee I wish I’d known about that!” It’s a comment I’ve heard more than once from students in Canada. We try to do some pretty cool stuff during the year for students. The challenge we face is how do we let you know about what’s happening? How can we let you know when we have a blog post that shows you how to get a free Windows 8 store account, or that announces the Imagine Cup, or maybe the worldwide WOWZapp hackathon on November 9-11th? (By the way those are all existing blog posts)

    We appreciate everyone who stops by the blog, but please consider letting us drop you a line once in a while with the big announcements so you don’t miss anything. I want to make sure that you know what’s going on, so you can find the best resources, events & promotions for you. That’s why we have this offer, sign up and win! This is the last week to qualify for a Kinect or a laptop!

    Congratulations to some of the students who have won already:

    • Matthew Saunders
    • Meghan Reid
    • David MacFarqhuar

    Sign up by end of Day Thursday October 25, 2012 and the next winner could be you!

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    Tips and gotchas for Windows 8 apps: Fractal Photographer


    Screen3SmallThis series features interviews with student Windows 8 app developers who share the lessons they learned building Windows 8 applications.

    This week’s interview features Rudi Chen a student from University of Waterloo who built an application called Fractal Photographer

    Could you briefly describe your application/game?

    Fractal Photographer renders the Mandelbrot Set, a infinitely detailed shape with many different patterns hidden along its border. With the right combination of location and color, amazing pictures can be produced and serve very well as wallpapers. Exploring the Mandelbrot to find a good spot is an art in itself and this app is there to make the process as easy and fun as possible.

    Did you use .NET and Silverlight, HTML and Java, or DirectX and C++

    Though the nature of the app is computationally intensive, it does not involve calculations that would benefit unmanaged memory. Therefore, I used C#/XAML since it allows efficient development.

    What was your banging your head against a wall moment?

    The app involve running a number of rendering threads in the background, both to generate the Mandelbrot and the thumbnails to pick color schemes. That means that any event - touching the screen, rotating the display, snapping the app, etc - must require some sort of thread management (they must all be paused when the user navigates, for example). The threading APIs W8 work differently than the traditional C# ones because of asynchronous methods and it took a while to figure out how it behaved.

    Did you ever solve that issue?

    Overall I think I managed to get the package working, though there might still be a bit of jittering at certain points.

    If you had to build this same app again from scratch, what would you do differently?

    I would probably redesign the architecture of this app so that it is more modular and more extensible. If I really had a lot of time, then I would consider looking into the GPGPU capabilities of DirectX and make the app GPU-accelerated and emulate floating-point precision beyond 64-bit double while still retaining speed and the option of having varied color schemes to choose from.

    Any nice surprises?

    The emulator worked surprisingly well considering it contained not just a tablet OS, but a full desktop. It was interesting having two instances of skydrive working on the same machine.

    Did you leverage the mobile platform?

    Not really.

    Did you leverage touch?

    I made sure to make full use of touch by implementing a gesture that does pinch-zoom and rotate all at once which isn't something I've typically seen in other apps. That makes it quite fun to play with on a tablet.

    Did you have a favourite Windows 8 feature?

    The APIs in general come with animations which makes the experience feel very smooth. In particular, Gridview does the work of displaying my color scheme thumbnails very beautifully.

    What is one thing you think you did really well in this application?

    I'm using a set of alternating wallpapers on my computer generated with this app and I always think they look amazing when I look at them - I would expect other people to have similar impressions once they've taken their own "photographs".

    Are you publishing your application/game?

    I've published it as soon as the Store opened its doors and it is available here.

    Where can I learn more about your app/game?

    The app is fairly straightforward and doesn't require documentation, but it is described on my website http://www.digitalfreepen.com/fractal-photographer/. I recommend people interested in the app to watch my tutorial on YouTube (see link): like every art, it takes a bit of training to get right.

    Who developed this application?

    I developed the app as an individual. I'm currently a first-year student at University of Waterloo and one of the Microsoft Student Partners there.


    Don’t forget to create your account in the Windows 8 store, reserve your app name, and get your app out there. For information about how to create your account and resources on how to get coding check out our Windows 8 resources page

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