February, 2012

  

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

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

    • 0 Comments

    Win7PhoneNew

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

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

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

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

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

    Installing the Windows Phone SDK via ISO

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

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

    WCU\WindowsPhone

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

    Uninstall:

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

    Summary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Publishing and Assigning Applications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Deploying Applications

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

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

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

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Azure Offer for Academics 5 Month Pass

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    Azure_thumbnail

    Educators

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

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

    (Per Region)

    • 3 GB in
    • 3 GB out

    Apply for a grant

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

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

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


    Apply Today!

    Windows Azure Educator Grants FAQs

    Q: What are the Windows Azure Educator grants?

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

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

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

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

    SQL Azure
    Two 1GB Web Edition database

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

    1 Hosted Service

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

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

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

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

    Q: Why is Microsoft offering this?

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

    Q: Are Windows Azure Educator Grants available globally?

    A: Windows Azure Educator Grants are available worldwide.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    We will ask you for the following information:

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

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

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

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

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

    Q: Does my Windows Azure platform academic pass expire?

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

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

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

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

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

    Learning Resources:

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

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

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

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    A complete list of resources for METRO Windows 8 Developers

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    Win8

    In line with the todays launch of Windows 8 Consumer Preview, I have collected a set of useful resources and links

    Developer downloads

    Content

    URL

    Details

    Windows 8 Consumer Preview Download

    http://preview.windows.com

    Windows 8 Consumer Preview download (web installer or ISO’s), videos, and FAQ’s.

    Developer downloads for Metro style apps

    http://msdn.microsoft.com
    /windows/apps/br229516

    Visual Studio 11 Express and the Windows 8 SDK + all the extra tools and SDK’s for Metro style app development.

    Design assets for Metro style apps

    http://design.windows.com

    100+ Photoshop files with common controls, shell components, tiles, icons, animation clips, color wheel references, and more.

    Metro style app developer content

    Content

    URL

    Details

    Windows Dev Center home

    http://dev.windows.com

    Links to Metro style app, Desktop app, Hardware, and IE development.

    Metro style app development home

    http://msdn.microsoft.com
    /windows/apps

    Links to key resources for designing, developing, and selling Metro style apps.

    Product guide for developers

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/windows/
    apps/hh852650

    Windows 8 Consumer Preview Product Guide for Developers.

    Official documentation

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/

    Comprehensive docs, articles, quickstarts, roadmaps, tutorials, checklists, developer agreements, and whitepapers covering all aspects of app design, development, and selling:

    · Getting started
    · Planning apps
    · Designing UX for apps
    · Developing apps
    · Packaging apps
    · Debugging and testing apps
    · Selling apps
    · API reference
    · Concepts and architecture
    · Language reference
    · End-to-end apps

    Design resources

    http://design.windows.com

    Design principles, UX design patterns, detailed UX guidelines, downloadable design assets, assessing usability.

    Selling apps in the  Windows Store

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/
    windows/apps/br230836

    Windows Store markets, developer agreements, and checklists to prepare.

    Developer downloads for Metro style apps

    http://msdn.microsoft.com
    /windows/apps/br229516

    Visual Studio Express and the Windows 8 SDK + extra tools and SDK’s for Metro style app development.

    Metro style app samples

    http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/
    windowsapps/

    Over 200 official samples from Microsoft are available in multiple programming languages. You can copy code inline, upload new code, rate, and leave comments.

    Developer forums

    http://forums.dev.windows.com

    Developer forums for Metro style apps covering designing, developing, and selling apps.

    Blogs for developers

    Blog Name

    URL

    Details

    Building Windows 8 blog (B8)

    http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/

    An inside look at how, what, and why different features of Windows 8 are being built. This blog is written by Windows President Steven Sinofsky together with members of the Windows engineering team.

    Windows Store blog for developers

    http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsstore

    All about doing business in the Windows Store. Members of the engineering team who’ve built the Windows Store write posts along with Antoine Leblond, Vice President of Windows Web Services.

    Windows 8 app developer blog (D8)

    http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsappdev

    Explores best practices for coding and designing Metro style apps.  It is written by the team of developers who are building Windows 8.

    IE blog

    http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ie/

    Windows Internet Explorer Engineering Team Blog.

    Inside Windows Live blog

    http://windowsteamblog.com/
    windows_live/b/windowslive/

    The engineering being Hotmail, Messenger, SkyDrive, and Windows Live.

    Visual Studio Blog

    http://blogs.msdn.com/b/visualstudio/

    The official source of product insight from the Visual Studio Engineering Team.

    The Windows Blog

    http://windowsteamblog.com/

    Consumer and general interest topics.

    Social channels for developers

    Channel

    URL

    Details

    Facebook (developer)

    http://fb.windows.com/developers

    Developer blog

    Twitter (Building Windows 8)

    http://twitter.com/BuildWindows8

    Developer log

    Twitter (Windows Dev Center)

    https://twitter.com/windevs

    Developer blog

    YouTube

    http://www.youtube.com/user/
    WindowsVideos

    Video

    Channel 9

    http://channel9.msdn.com

    Developer videos

    Consumer Preview Newsletter

    Launching with Consumer Preview

    Tips, offers, and news about Windows 8 including resources for developers and businesses.

    Desktop app developer/partner content

    Content

    URL

    Details

    Desktop app certification requirements

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/windows/desktop/hh749939

    Certification requirements for Windows 8 desktop apps.

    Desktop App Certification Kit

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/desktop/hh852363

    The Windows 8 SDK includes the Windows App Certification Kit to test desktop apps and get them ready for certification.

    Compatibility Cookbook

    http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=242534

    Tips and fixes for common issues with desktop apps for the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and software for Windows Server 8 Beta.

    Compatibility Center

    http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/compatibility/en-US/CompatCenter/Home

    Compatibility of desktop apps and devices with Windows 8. Partners can add products and update compatibility status using this template.

    Hardware developer/partner content

    Content

    URL

    Details

    Hardware Certification Requirements

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/hardware/hh833793.aspx

    Windows 8 Hardware Certification Requirements and Policies

    Hardware tools and certification kit

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/windows/hardware/br259105

    Windows Consumer Preview Kits and Tools for hardware development

    Driver development documentation

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/windows/hardware/ff554651

    Developing, testing, and deploying drivers

    Hardware and driver community resources

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/windows/hardware/gg454517

    Forums, blogs, and newsletters for the hardware and driver developer community.

    Compatibility Center

    http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/compatibility/en-US/CompatCenter/Home

    Compatibility of desktop apps and devices with Windows 8. Partners can add products and update compatibility status using this template.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    DreamSpark and Apphub account creation simplified

    • 5 Comments

    DreamSpark-2_bL_tapphub_logo

    New Updates - What’s new

    AppHub Integration: Linking your DreamSpark Account with a Microsoft Live ID

    I’m very excited to inform you that we’ve completed our “AppHub Integration: Linking DreamSpark Account with Live ID” 

    This will now dramatically improve the experience of those students that were having difficulties with App Hub registration.

    With the update to DreamSpark students and educators create a new DreamSpark account that is not a Windows Live ID. However for students who wish to produce application for Xbox or Windows Phone require a Windows Live ID, to create apphub accounts via http://create.msdn.com.

    We have now enabled the system, to enable educators or students to map their DreamSpark account to new or existing Windows Live ID. 

    Here is the workflow:

    - Student/Educator visits the page https://www.dreamspark.com/Product/Product.aspx?ProductId=26 and sees [Map your Live ID] button enabled and [Register on AppHub] button disabled.

    - Student/Educator Clicks on [Map your Live ID] button.

    - Student/Educator Sign in on DreamSpark site with their Verified account (or get the account verified).

    - Student/Educator then logs in using Windows Live ID account.

    - Student/Educator is shown the message “Are you sure you want your map your DreamSpark login (name@university.com) with your Windows Live ID (myname@hotmail.com) with [Ok] and [Cancel] buttons.

    - Student/Educator clicks on [Ok] button a Accounts will be mapped a User automatically signed out from Live ID account à User will be redirected to the page https://www.dreamspark.com/Product/Product.aspx?ProductId=26 with [Map your Live ID] button disabled and [Register on AppHub] button enabled.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

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

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    hacktothefuturegadgetGadgeteer 

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

    A direct quote from Alan

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

     coletteweston1coletteweston2

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

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

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Student Access to Microsoft Azure 90 day pass

    • 0 Comments

    Azure_thumbnail

    Students

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

    Here is what you get (monthly allocations):

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

    Get the free trial

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

    Learning Resources:

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

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

    Order Now

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

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Has you institution thought about.. Microsoft IT Academy?

    • 1 Comments

    IT_Academy

    So how much does it cost IT Academy Membership (pa)

    Circa £850 ERP if added to you software agreement with your reseller

    £1,100 if bought direct through http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/itacademy/apply-now.aspx at the Advanced level

    FREE Benefits through IT Academy

    300+ Microsoft Elearning Courses This is a ‘living’ library, so new courses are added automatically when available

    1 x Microsoft Certified Trainer Membership (MCT), 25% on additional membership Normal cost is £225 pa

    Lesson Plans inc. Office, Windows, Windows Server and Expression Web 4 which are customizable

    5 x Microsoft Press eReference subscriptions

    Plus more including simple elearning LMS - http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/itacademy/program-benefits/program-benefits-overview.aspx

    Supporting Students IT Employability Through Professional Certification

    Is your institution already an IT Academy?

    Check here http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/itacademy/ita-locator.aspx

    Certification FEE (discounted) through IT Academy

    MTA1  MCP

    Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) exam vouchers.  £48 per voucher vs £99

    Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC), circa £48 for a 5 day course (+50% discount)

    Access to site licenses for MTA and MOS exams

    The additional costs after the initial membership fee would be for printed content and certification, if you wanted to adopt and embed them in to your courses.

    certification

    Below, I have listed some prices for both the MCP and MTA (site licence) exams at various volumes

    MCP could be embedded in to the courses and  funded through students themselves or subsidised through the course fees

    The IET do recognise the MCP certification towards proving the technical skills for IET membership, see here

    MTA – looking at the courses you offer and number of students, I would imagine that the 500 pack could be relatively low risk and you could take advantage of the phone camps and interest in gaming to allow students to certify on these technologies now?

    You can see the objective specifications for the MTA exams here to understand how they could support your programming/mobile and gaming courses here

    MTA exams come with free Student Study Guides and Exam Review Kits to support you

    Certification

    100

    250

    500

    MCP (£48 each)

    £4,800

    £12,000

    £24,000

    MTA

    £1,675 pa

    (16.75 per student)

    £1,825 pa

    (£7.30 per student)

    £2,125 pa

    (£4.25 per student)

    vscertification

    Staff Development & CPD

    I see two other areas where the membership and benefits can be leveraged for additional ROI and benefit for the University

    IT Department – the benefits are open to them too.  They can train and certify on the latest technology and that will support them in deployment of new desktop/server technology on campus.

    University Staff – the MOS training and certification can be used to offer to staff to improve their own ICT skills and productivity and support desktop migrations to the latest Office products

    www.nhsmost.co.uk is an excellent example of how the MOS exam is supporting end user skilling and efficiency

    Free Exams

    Each IT Academy (site) has 20 x MTA and 10 x MOS exam vouchers per year to use for staff development

    This could be a good way for you to get a closer look at the exams themselves and to make assessments for adoption

    You would get access to these (and the ability to do onsite) testing through our partner, Prodigy Learning – would you like me to make an introduction?

    MTA Pathways

    You can see the full list of MTA exams and the objective domains here

    We provide free Student Study Guides and Exam Review Kits for these Link is here

    There is additional printed curriculum (MOAC) through Wiley publishers

    Content, Certification & Currency

    We like to think that we have certifications and a portfolio of content (courseware, elearning etc) available for all major releases of Microsoft products including Cloud services such as Azure

    We also have a strategy to release courseware and exams for key technologies when they are in beta e.g. current System Center 2012 and forthcoming SQL vNext etc

    Moving forward, the plan is to release full exams and content within 1 month of full product release including dedicated MTA Developer certification and a HTML 5 MTA which due for release later this month

    Support for IT Academies & Getting Started

    We have academic support partners that can do some of the handholding for you

    Prodigy Learning – they can help set up the MTA/MOS exams on site with testing facilities at no additional cost

    IT Skills Management Company – they specialize in supporting IT Academies, helping them understand how to make the most of the benefit.

    Prometric – our partner for MCP, like Prodigy they will support and set up the test center on site at no extra charge. You can become a public test site for additional revenue

    We hope this information helps get more professional development for students and staff and it seems a shame that a number of Universities aren’t taking use of the IT Academy to address employability and staff development

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Mastering the Cloud.. with Windows Azure Curricula Resources

    • 1 Comments

    windowsAzureLogo

    A number of Universities have now added Cloud technologies into the curricula and at Microsoft we are assisting with the development of specific cloud computing curricula to support the teaching, learning and research of cloud technologies. As predicted by Analysts such as Gartner, IDC and Forrester cloud computing will take a substantial piece of the market from traditional deployment models.

    Today there are four major cloud computing platforms available Amazon EC2, Windows Azure, Google App Engine and Force.com. There are a number of difference between each of these platforms Amazon and Microsoft have succeeded in building general-purpose cloud environment so meet the needs of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS and Google and SalesForce have specific SaaS offerings based on internal technology and use programming languages like Python and APEX.

    Microsoft has developed curricula and certification to allow you as educators to make aware, train, educate and certify students on the use of cloud technologies. The adoption of the cloud within industry will grow demand for application developers and cloud administrators. Graduates will need these specific skills and experience  for roles such as cloud software engineers. 

    Therefore the opportunity for student graduates with experience and understanding of cloud technologies is a huge.

    What are these skills? 

    In terms of skill sets both Amazon EC2 and Windows Azure can host applications written in different programming languages. However skills in Java and .NET are the most favourable as both are primary development platforms for Amazon EC2 and Windows Azure.

    What is the Required Knowledge?

    Mandatory Skills

    A programmer looking to dive into Windows Azure application development should have a working knowledge of Microsoft .NET technologies. Particular skills are:

      • .NET Framework 4.0

      • ADO.NET Data Services

      • LINQ

      • Windows Communication Foundation (WCF)

      • ASP.NET MVC 3.0

      • Multi-threading

    Developers should be familiar with RDMS concepts and MS SQL 2008. Additionally, a solid understanding of HTTP protocol and REST concept is very desirable as it helps to assess the implications of network topology (load balancers, proxy servers, CDNs) on RESTful web services. Knowledge of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) design principles is essential as cloud applications strongly rely on services. A great starting point is the Microsoft Cloud Curricula resources.

    Cloud Concepts

    The first logical step is to become familiar with cloud-related concepts and to adopt the principles of cloud application development. There is a lot of information on the Microsoft Faculty Connection site.

    Cloud Development Skills

    From a software developer's perspective, cloud can be treated as a way to get on-demand access to two types of scalable resources: compute (CPU) and storage which are available via services provided by the cloud platform. There are also great resources and presentations at Channel9 describing platform infrastructure and application lifecycle which will help you learn how Windows Azure hosting environment works in detail.

    Azure Fundamentals 

    Cloud application runs in a bare Windows 2008 operating system

    Don't assume that Windows Azure hosting environment has any preinstalled software; it's a bare operating system. Any functionality, usually supported by preinstalled software, should be instead implemented within the application hosted on Windows Azure.

    The application instance can be recycled by the platform at any point of time

    Everything stored on a local disk drive memory will be deleted once the instance is recycled. To preserve the data and make it available to other instances, use Windows Azure Storage services.

    Cloud application runs in a concurrent environment

    Services provided by Windows Azure platform are designed to operate in concurrent environments with the use of "try and correct" pattern. The application should follow this pattern and properly handle cases in which access to a service is declined by repeating the operation later. Another aspect to keep in mind in that a web application under Windows Azure always runs behind load balancer.

    Getting Started with Windows Azure Development

    I would recommend looking at the resources and curricula available at the Microsoft Faculty Connection site additionally if your not familiar with Visual Studio 2010 we have a number of resources available.

    Development Environment

    The Windows Azure development environment requires Windows Vista SP2, Windows 7 or Windows 2008 operating system. The following software should be installed via DreamSpark.com

    You can then use the Windows Azure Virtual Lab resources to start you Azure Cloud experience.

    Web, Worker and VM Roles

    There are three types of application roles supported by Windows Azure:

    • Web role

    • Worker role

    • Virtual Machine (VM) role

    Further information on these roles can be found in Introducing the Windows Azure Platform (Whitepaper)

    Storage Services

    There are three types of storage supported by Windows Azure platform:

    • Blob storage

    • Table storage

    • Queue storage

    The services are exposed via REST API and available outside of Windows Azure hosting environment as well, so one can create an application for a mobile device which interacts directly with the storage. Windows Azure SDK comes with a managed library providing access to storage services via an object model. Further information on these types can be found in Introducing the Windows Azure Platform (Whitepaper) and at Steve Planks Blog http://blogs.msdn.com/b/plankytronixx/

    There are several important things to know when working with Azure storage:

    • Storage objects are addressed by URL, so certain restrictions are applied to the object name.

    • There are three types of blobs: single blob, block blob and page blob. Each of them has a minimum and a maximum size.

    • Table storage is not a relational database. There are no relationships, indexes and constraints. It's more like an Excel spreadsheet highly scalable in the number of rows.

    • A table always includes two properties (PartitionKey and RowKey) forming a primary key, the total length of the key can't exceed 1024 symbols. Only 256 symbols of the primary key can be used to address the record.

    • Table always includes Timestamp field used to resolve conflicts

    • Table has limits of 1M per entity (row) and 64K per property (field)

    • Sorting is not supported by Table storage, so it's always done on the client side.

    • Maximum number of records returned by a query against Table is limited to 1,000 entities per request. A continuation token should be used to retrieve subsequent data.

    Azure Storage Performance

    Azure storage performance http://azurescope.cloudapp.net/BenchmarkTestCases/ which gives a good idea of storage throughput under different scenarios.

    Azure SQL

    Azure SQL is a cloud version of regular MS SQL database. It looks like a complete replacement of regular MS SQL database with minor restrictions on T-SQL syntax. However, the fundamental restriction of Azure SQL is size limit of 50Gb per database. Another key advantage is that the Azure SQL databases is available outside of Windows Azure hosting environment. Additionally it is possible to setup access restrictions based on an IP address.

    AppFabric

    Windows Azure AppFabric is a set of middleware services designed to facilitate development of enterprise applications on top of Windows Azure. Learning AppFabric SDK is not required to develop Windows Azure applications, however one service highly demanded by developers to take note of: Cache service which provides fast access to in-memory data storage.

    Deployment

    You have arrived at the stage when your first Windows Azure application is implemented and tested in the development environment. To deploy the application to the Windows Azure environment, you need to sign up for the service. There is a free trial available for 90 days

    Once the account is set, you can create a storage account and a hosted service. Each hosted service supports two environments: staging and production. Deploying the application is quite simple and requires uploading a package and a configuration file. The application in the staging environment is available under a private URL for testing purposes. Once the staging environment is tested, it can be switched to production in a single click.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Team Foundation Server 2010

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    TFSlogo

    Team Foundation Server and what’s is the benefits of using TFS within your teaching labs?

    So what is Team Foundation Server 2010.

    Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2010 provides the code collaboration functionality for your software development students within a single very integrated product.

    These functionality provides

    • Project management.
    • Work item Tracking.
    • Version Control.
    • Test case management.
    • Build automation.
    • Reporting.
    • Virtual lab management.

     
    TFS is separated server product designed specifically for engineering teams with developers, testers, architects, project managers, system analyst and all others who is part of software development life cycle.

    Team Foundation Server on premise consist of two parts can be deployed in single / many machines

    • Application tier which is a set of web services with which the client machines communicate by using a highly optimized web service- based protocol.
    • Data tier which is a SQL server database containing the database logic of TFS application, all data stored in database is used by TFS reporting functionality.

    Team Foundation Server 2010 in the cloud – TFS Preview on Azure


    I specifically want to discuss the latest preview release of Team Foundation Server which is available on windows Azure cloud as a SaaS service, allowing to quickly adopt TFS with the minimal infrastructure and administration burden. When we discuss the cloud the first questions are over security, compliance and concerns of source code and IPR. A typical comments we see is “I cannot host my source code in Microsoft or codeplex environment since the information we have is valuable to the institution”. This is a misconception that is common when it comes to the “cloud”. Especially there are a private and public cloud options. If you don’t want your source code out of your network firewall you could use a private cloud SAAS,  use the following Cloud assessment tool http://www.cloudassessmenttool.com/Assessment.aspx

    To date we are working with a number of UK Universities in relation to this preview release, and have a number of invitation codes available for UK Academics. We have these codes available for you to validate and use a implementation of  Team Foundation Services in the cloud.

    So if your interested in testing this solution please send a request to ukfac@microsoft.com from your academic email. The purpose of this preview and invitation codes are to allow you as academics and teaching institutions to

    1. Understand the new process and allows you some time to evaluate and become aware of the opportunity of the cloud.

    2. It provides a very simply way of proving this new tool to you. So we want to easily demonstrate that TFS Preview offers a solution to many institutions who are looking for a Cloud Hosted TFS or simply even a source code repository for their team working environment.

    3. We hope TFS 2010 will be revolution in all aspects such as (Workflow builds, infrastructure, Lab management, Test manager, work items, SharePoint dashboards, project server integration and student performance monitoring).

    What are the benefits

    Team Foundation Service Preview enables everyone on your team to collaborate more effectively, be more agile, and deliver better quality software.

    • Project management capabilities and improvement in ALM (Agile Project Management).
    • Centralize the security administration.
    • Team explorer improvements.
    • Build improvements.
    • Stakeholder Feedback
    • Code Review Features.
    • Continuous Integration.
    • Version control improvements.

    How to go about using TFS Preview

    • Make sure you are using IE 8 or later.
    • Download and install visual studio 2011 developer preview from here or you can use visual studio 2010 SP1 after installing this hotfix KB2581206.
    • Open this URL (http://tfspreview.com/)
    • Click on create account.

    TFS1 

    • Click on “Click here to register.” or Enter Invitation Code

    TFS2

    TFS3

     

    • Register with you Windows Live ID

    TFS4

    • Now you are in TFS cloud

    TFS5 

    Connecting to TFS in the Cloud from Visual Studio 2010

    Visual_Studio

    • Ensure you have SP1 for Visual Studio 2010 2010 KB2581206
    • Open Visual Studio 2010
    • From the start page select Connects To Team Foundation Server.
    • Add new server; fill the server name (https://[NAME].tfspreivew.com).

    VS1

     

    Visual Studio 2011 Beta

    If your interested in developing for Windows 8 http://dev.windows.com then you will need to use Visual Studio 2011 which includes a full Windows 8 emulator and Windows 8 Metro solution templates.

    You can download and install Visual studio 2011from here

    There has been a number of improvements with Visual Studio 2011, I will quickly walk you through connecting Visual Studio 2011 to TFS Preview.

    • Open visual studio 2011 developer preview.
    • From team explorer connects to Team Foundation Server.
    • Here you are this is the new team explorer.

    VS2

    The first thing I will do is create new team project.

    VS3

    A browser window open to create new team project.

    VS4

    • Fill the name ,description and choose the process template. Currently in this version its not possible to customize process template.
    • Click create project and wait to finish creating team project.
    VS5

    • After finish click Navigate to Project.
    • Back to team explorer in the VS 2011 and select created ‘Demo’ team project.
    • Click to My Work, as you see below you have list of work items assigned to you and you can quickly do action like ( Finish, Suspend your current work item by move it out of your workspace and into a shelve set)

    VS6

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    We need your feedback on Microsoft DreamSpark

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

    What is DreamSpark

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

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

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

    Below are the links to each of the questionnaires.

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

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

     

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

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