April, 2011 - Microsoft UK Faculty Connection - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

April, 2011


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Overview of MSDNAA and DreamSpark


     So What is...

     Academic Software Initiatives - MSDNAA and DreamSpark
    Microsoft software for students strategy 

    Microsoft MSDNAA - http://www.msdnaa.net

    Microsoft DreamSpark - http://www.dreamspark.com


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Kinect World Wide Telescope MIX 2011 Presentation


    During the keynote at MIX 2011, Microsoft Research’s Jonathan Fay showed something very new, he had the universe in his hands, by demonstrating Kinect for Windows with Microsoft’s WorldWide Telescope.

    Jonathan simply used his hands to control the universe navigating the stars with his hands with out any controllers the following video is absolutely amazing.  


    The keynote included Several other demos including:-

    Jeff Sandquist and Dan Fernandez from Channel 9 demonstrating just how easy it is to make an app that leverages Kinect in Windows.

    For more updates and information on the Kinect for Windows SDK, head on over to the Microsoft Research website. You can sign-up to be notified of the release here.

    The Kinect for Windows SDK is on track to hit later this spring.

    For additional information see Steve Clayton’s blog post here as he was able to see Kinect on the PC in action a few weeks ago at an on-campus event by Microsoft Research called TechFest.

    You can visit the MIX Virtual Pressroom for more on the latest from MIX11.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    University Innovations and Start-up Support – Have you heard of Microsoft BizSpark http://www.bizspark.com



    Over the past few days I have had a lot of questions in relation to what is BizSpark?

    Well to answer this I thought I should share the following

    On Friday, March 25th in Central London, a collaboration between the UK BizSpark Team and the UK ISV Azure ISV incubation Team resulted in BizSparkCamp for Azure, a day focused bringing UK BizSpark companies up to speed on Microsoft Cloud Computing

    The day was designed to offer the following assistance to entrepreneurs within Technology Startups.

    · Learn to build new applications in the Microsoft cloud

    · Get insights and guidance from other startups who have built their applications on Windows Azure

    · Potential Nomination for BizSpark One (an invitation only program) for high potential startups

    · Practical “how-to” tips on how to get started in the Microsoft Cloud.

    The event consisted of a morning of keynotes and presentations from companies who have already built out applications on Azure. 

    Mark Taylor, Senior Director of the Developer and Platform Evangelism Group, and Board Member for Microsoft UK, delivered the keynote to the audience.  He focused on our Vision for Cloud, and his view of the future. 

    Sam Rosenbalm flew in from our Redmond Corporate BizSpark Team to talk about BizSpark Connect, and to provide practical support and guidance to the UK BizSpark companies about how to leverage the BizSpark platform on a global basis. http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/Connect.aspx

    Mark Quirk and Eric Nelson (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ukisvdev/) then spoke around practical hints and tips to help the startups get BizSpark Azure subscription up and running, and advice on how to get started on building their first application.  It’s also worth checking out David Gristwood’s blog around Azure.  (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/david_gristwood/)


    Finally, four companies presented their Azure applications to the other startups to give them an idea of how Azure has impacted their business.  All the presentations were deeply insightful and really provided hard evidence that showcased the value of the Microsoft Cloud platform to their respective businesses.

    1) Exceedra – a BizSpark One company focused on Insight Driven Planning – in the Cloud! -  in the Retail and Consumer Goods sector.   Exceedra were one of the winners of the BizSparkCamp Pitch Contest in 2010, and the presentation focused on what they’ve been able to achieve in just one year since joining the BizSpark Programme.

    2) Xylyx - a BizSpark Company focused on micropayments in the Cloud.   Xylyx were also one of the winners of the BizSparkCamp Pitch Contest in 2010.

    3) mydeo – myDeo has been working with the Emerging Business Team since 2005, so were a great example of a more established company, and why they chose to switch to Azure. They focus on Secure Enterprise Content Delivery for all a company’s media.

    4) AllMyPlans – a BizSpark Company focused on keeping all your finance documentation in one place and up to date.  

    The afternoon consisted of a series of Technical and Business-focused breakout tracks, where Eric Nelson and David Gristwood presented a series of Technical Briefings.  Simon Karn from Microsoft and Andrew O’Conner from InishTech presented a session on understanding the Commercials of the Cloud from a Microsoft Perspective. 

    Exceedra, mydeo and xylyx then followed on to discuss their business models in the cloud, and how it has benefited their businesses. 

    Some great statements were made.  “Azure shortens my sales cycle significantly - it means that I no longer have to sell to IT, I can sell directly to the Business, and close the deal in a significantly shorter timeframe”  “Azure has saved thousands of pounds from my bottom line – it makes complete business sense to us”

    The day finished with a pitch contest, with five great Judges at the helm and seven startups pitching for the grand prize of £10k worth of services from Kynetix.   


    Kynetix was the generous donor of a £10k prize for the winner of the pitch contest, to assist the winner in building out their Azure application.

    Thanks very much to Kynetix for being such a great partner on the day! 

    The pitching companies were:

    1. Certivox -  Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) company, providing on-demand encryption key generation, management and distribution for the cloud. CertiVox solutions work for large enterprises, independent software vendors, and software-as-a-service providers.
    2. Cirrious – developed a product called SysAzure - a monitoring and reporting tool for cloud applications. Azure itself frees SysAdmins from many of their traditional “maintenance” tasks . AppAdmins can instead focus on business level challenges – on improving quality and efficiency at the application level – and this is where SysAzure is targeted.
    3. Immersive Forensics-   aims to be the provider of leading solutions for the forensic and policing sector. Leveraging new technologies such as low cost yet high power mobile phone and tablet platforms they are provide a tool set to bring the forensic expert into the digital age
    4. Lost Property Heaven – a SaaS lost property management system for companies of all sizes to use to look after their customer's property. This system feeds a single central database which is then searchable by the general public allowing them to easily find their lost property and have it returned to them wherever in the world they are.
    5. MetaBasics - BigSociety (big.so/ciety domain) - Website optimised for mobile devices and utilising geolocation. People can post jobs with optional reward (e.g. £0-500) and search available jobs within their immediate radius (e.g. 50 miles).
    6. Scoville - allows the user to remember, share and discover places they love. Scoville let users discover new places through very simple signals such as Foursquare check ins or a simple Like. Their location-based recommendation engine understands places, the user social graph and their geolocation, so they can use the power of the crowd to something that’s unique to everyone.
    7. StockYoyo- an investment website which uses game mechanics and social networking to teach people about investing. Members make simple predictions about stock prices which help StockYoyo generate an investing profile for them and aggregate crowd sourced data about stocks for everyone.


    The winner for best pitch was Certivox, and the overall winner of the pitch contest and the £10k prize from Kynetix was Cirrious!  

    For more information on BizSpark see

    Web http://www.bizspark.com

    Twitter: http://twitter.com/bindik OR http://twitter.com/bizspark

    Facebook:  BizSpark Facebook Page

    Linked In:  BizSpark UK

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Research and the KINECT SDK



    On the 13/04/2011 at the MIX11 developer conference in Las Vegas, three key features of the upcoming Kinect for Windows SDK were revealed: robust skeletal tracking, advanced audio capabilities, and XYZ depth camera. Also announced was the launch of a new website for the SDK, where you can subscribe to a newsfeed and be notified as soon as the SDK is available for download.

    Our hope is that this "starter kit" for application developers will make it easier for the academic research and enthusiast communities to create even richer experiences by using Kinect technology. Here are a few details on each of the SDK's ground-breaking NUI features:

    • Robust skeletal tracking will provide high-performance capabilities for tracking the skeletal image of one or two people moving within the Kinect field of view.
    • Advanced audio will enable great sound capabilities by using a four-element microphone array with sophisticated acoustic noise and echo cancellation. The advanced audio will also include beam formation to identify the sound source and integration with the Windows speech recognition API.
    • XYZ depth camera will provide a standard color camera stream along with depth data indicating the distance of the object from the Kinect camera. This will give developers access to the raw data and enable the creation of novel interfaces by using the unaltered data.

    Learn more here

    Subscribe to alerts and get additional details at: http://research.microsoft.com/kinectsdk

    Press release from MIX: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2011/apr11/04-13MIX2PR.mspx

    Blog: MIXing it up: the Kinect for Windows SDK

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    MIX11 Announcement re Microsoft Kinect SDK


    Kinect for Windows Beta SDK Opens Doors for Enthusiasts and Academics


    Kinect for Xbox 360, recently recognized by Guinness World Records as the fastest-selling consumer device in 60 days, allows users to enjoy games and entertainment with their whole body and voice no controller required.

    Since Kinect launched in November 2010, enthusiasts have been exploring the potential of Kinect in a number of unexpected, nongaming scenarios. Today at MIX, Microsoft detailed some of the features in the Kinect for Windows Beta SDK from Microsoft Research coming in the spring, including the following:

    • Robust Skeletal Tracking for high-performance capabilities that track the skeleton image of one or two persons moving within the Kinect field of view

    • Advanced Audio Capabilities, including four-element microphone array with sophisticated acoustic noise and echo cancellation for great audio; beam formation to identify the current sound source and integration with the Windows speech recognition API also included

    • XYZ depth camera for standard color camera stream access and depth data that indicates the distance of the object from the Kinect camera

    Developers can sign up to be notified of the release at http://research.microsoft.com/kinectsdk.

    Microsoft’s support for Kinect beyond the Xbox platform will increase opportunities for developers to explore new ideas and deliver innovative Kinect applications and experiences.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Announcements from MIX11 Windows Phone 7 next version ‘MANGO’


    New Opportunities and Capabilities for Windows Phone


    At Mix11 today Microsoft provided a in-depth look at the development platform for the next version of Windows Phone, arriving on new and existing handsets later this year.

    The key message for HE is that developers will soon have updated Windows Phone Developer Tools. Improved tools include a performance profiler and sensor simulation, enabling developers to build more integrated and high-performing applications. The new application platform enables developers to take advantage of the following:

    • Application multitasking for background processing, audio and file transfer, and fast application switching

    • Deeper phone integration so apps can, for example, take better advantage of the versatility of Live Tiles

    • Access to the camera and Motion Sensor library so developers can build apps that incorporate device hardware and build augmented reality experiences

    Developers will be able to take advantage of these new capabilities to create even more creative and engaging Windows Phone apps and games.

    The free Windows Phone Developer Tools for the new Windows Phone OS will be available to developers in May. With 38,000 registered developers, more than 13,000 available apps and 1.5 million downloads of the original Windows Phone Developer Tools, developers are the foundation of the fast-growing Windows Phone ecosystem.

    Today, Microsoft also provided an early glimpse of app concepts for the next version of Windows Phone OS with new experiences from Skype, Spotify, Layar, Qantas, Amazon Shopping and Kik Messenger and the announcement that Angry Birds will be available.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Announcement from MIX11 in regards to Expression Studio and Silverlight


    At Mix, today we there has been some exciting announcements:

    • Silverlight 5
    • Mango, the next major version of Windows Phone.


    Expression Blend Preview for Silverlight 5

    Available immediately with the beta of Silverlight 5 is the Blend Preview for Silverlight 5, an early-access preview version that installs side-by-side with Blend 4 and enables you to use Silverlight 5 together with Expression Blend.

    This version of Blend does not explicitly add new authoring features, but several features of Silverlight 5 (such as, for example, new typography options) light up in the property inspector

    Expression Blend for Windows Phone Mango

    At Mix, they also demo a new service pack for Expression Blend with support for Mango. This service pack will be available later this year.

    SketchFlow Templates for Phone Prototyping

    Finally, in response to popular demand, Expression will present a new set of SketchFlow templates for prototyping Windows Phone applications in Silverlight.

    These templates will not enable you to run SketchFlow prototypes on the phone, unfortunately, but they make it a lot easier to prototype phone applications to run in Silverlight:

    Expression will provide screen templates with phone chrome on a project screen (switchable from landscape to portrait), and a wide variety of the specific components known from the phone, such as panorama and pivot, as well as mock-ups of many of the pages of the phone chrome.

    So if your lucky enough to be attending MIX11, attend the Expression presentation on Thursday (“Creating Windows Phone Applications Using Expression Blend”, 1:30pm)

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows HPC and Azure in Academia



    I have some information here that might be helpful for you or your development staff in regard to getting up to speed on HPC and Azure.  I also have some information at the bottom of this email regarding how you can get access to Azure accounts.  There are of course a multitude of links you can find all over the internet regarding these topics,  but these will give you a general idea of the scope of what you can do with HPC and Azure and how it works:

    1. The first thing you’ll need to do is understand the installation of Windows HPC Server 2008 R2:

    Getting Started Guide for Windows HPC Server 2008 R2

    Designer and Deployment Guide for Windows HPC Server 2008 R2

    2. You can watch these videos to learn more about the capabilities of HPC Server and Windows 7 Clients

    MSDN Webcast: Taking Scientific Computing Mainstream with Windows Client & Windows HPC Server 2008 R2

    MSDN Webcast: Migrating Your HPC Applications to the Windows Platform

    Overview of Microsoft Technical Computing and HPC Server 2008 R2

    Channel9 - The HPC Show (many more videos here)

    3. If you are going to be working with Azure and its latest SDK, you will need to install Visual Studio 2010.  Please note that to view the Azure portal, that is just a website and doesn’t require Visual Studio.  However, to develop a Cloud application and deploy it, you do need Visual Studio.  Once you have Visual Studio installed:

    Install the Azure SDK and Tools

    4. Watch these Azure Videos

    MSDN Webcast: Discover the Windows Azure Services Platform

    MSDN Webcast: Windows Azure Boot Camp: Cloud Computing Scenarios

    MSDN Webcast: Windows Azure Boot Camp: Worker Roles

    MSDN Webcast: Diagnostics and Service Management

    5. For lots of other links to whitepapers, articles, tools etc (this is the overwhelming part)


    Getting access to Azure

    Free Pass Options


    For more info on the access check see the following blog http://blogs.msdn.com/b/uk_faculty_connection/archive/2011/04/12/windows-azure-announcements-at-mix11.aspx

    Azure resource for Academia http://www.azurepilot.com/

    Azure Trial Offers


    Looking forward to your thoughts and suggestions

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    TouchStudio the first development tool on your phone for the phone


    TouchStudio allows you to script your phone. TouchStudio is a new programming environment built around a single core idea: the programs are authored and executed on mobile devices. No other computers are needed. http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/projects/touchstudio/

    TouchStudio - TouchStudioApp


    Script your phone! Write code for your phone, on your phone! TouchStudio is radically new software development environment on the Windows Phone, bringing the excitement of the first programmable personal computers to the phone.

    TouchStudio is now available on the Windows Phone Marketplace.


    Watch the Channel 9 video "TouchStudio - Script Your Phone ON Your Phone!"

    What is the idea behind TouchStudio?

    The way in which we interact with computing devices is changing: instead of keyboards, advanced touchscreens become more common; mobile devices are often equipped with more sensors, such as location information and acceleration, and are always connected to the cloud.

    TouchStudio is a new programming environment and language built around this new reality. Its typed, structured programming language is built around the idea of only using a touchscreen as the input device to author code. It has built-in primitives which make it easy to access the rich sensor data available on a mobile device. In our vision, the state of the program is automatically distributed between mobile clients and the cloud, with automatic synchronization of data and execution between clients and cloud, liberating the programmer from worrying (or even having to know) about the details.

    The first beta version of TouchStudio, now available on the Windows Phone 7 marketplace, already realizes a large portion of our vision.


    TouchStudio comes with several sample scripts.


    Each script consists of actions.


    Each action has a structured editor for statements. Execute parameterless actions with the "run" button.


    Edit a statement by tapping on it twice.


    You edit expressions with a calculator-like editor.


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Azure announcements at MIX11



    Microsoft announced several updates to the Windows Azure platform today at MIX11 in Las Vegas. These new capabilities will help developers deploy applications faster, accelerate their application performance and enable access to applications through popular identity providers including Microsoft, Facebook and Google.

    New Services and Functionality

    A myriad of new Windows Azure services and functionality were unveiled today.

    These include:

    • An update to the Windows Azure SDK that includes a Web Deployment Tool to simplify the migration, management and deployment of IIS Web servers, Web applications and Web sites. This new tool integrates with Visual Studio 2010 and the Web Platform Installer.
    • Updates to the Windows Azure AppFabric Access Control service, which provides a single-sign-on experience to Windows Azure applications by integrating with enterprise directories and Web identities.
    • Release of the Windows Azure AppFabric Caching service in the next 30 days, which will accelerate the performance of Windows Azure and SQL Azure applications.
    • A community technology preview (CTP) of Windows Azure Traffic Manager, a new service that allows Windows Azure customers to more easily balance application performance across multiple geographies.
    • A preview of the Windows Azure Content Delivery Network (CDN) for Internet Information Services (IIS) Smooth Streaming capabilities, which allows developers to upload IIS Smooth Streaming-encoded video to a Windows Azure Storage account and deliver that video to Silverlight, iOS and Android Honeycomb clients.

    Windows Azure Platform Offer Changes

    Microsoft also announced several offer changes today, including:


    • The extension of the expiration date and increases to the amount of free storage, storage transactions and data transfers in the Windows Azure Introductory Special offer. This promotional offer now includes 750 hours of extra-small instances and 25 hours of small instances of the Windows Azure service, 20GB of storage, 50K of storage transactions, and 40GB of data transfers provided each month at no charge until September 30, 2011. More information can be found here.
    • An existing customer who signed up for the original Windows Azure Introductory Special offer will get a free upgrade as of today. An existing customer who signed up for a different offer (other than the Windows Azure Introductory Special) would need to sign up for the updated Windows Azure Introductory Special Offer separately.
    • MSDN Ultimate and Premium subscribers will benefit from increased compute, storage and bandwidth benefits for Windows Azure. More information can be found here.
    • The Cloud Essentials Pack for Microsoft partners now includes 750 hours of extra-small instances and 25 hours of small instances of the Windows Azure service, 20GB of storage and 50GB of data transfers provided each month at no charge. In addition, the Cloud Essentials Pack also contains other Microsoft cloud services including SQL Azure, Windows Azure AppFabric, Microsoft Office 365, Windows Intune and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. More information can be found here.

    Please read the press release or visit the MIX11 Virtual Press Room to learn more about today's announcements at MIX11. For more information about the Windows Azure AppFabric announcements, read the blog post, "Announcing the Commercial Release of Windows Azure AppFabric Caching and Access Control" on the Windows Azure AppFabric blog.

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