July, 2012 - Microsoft UK Faculty Connection - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

July, 2012


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Resources and help to develop a Windows Phone app in 30 days.


    nokia-lumia-800windows phone

    Tools and downloads available for FREE for all students and educators at http://www.dreamspark.com
    Tools Required

    Download the Windows Phone SDK and the latest update now available.
    Silverlight for Windows Phone Toolkit
    Windows Azure toolkit for Windows Phone
    Day 1-Metro Design Principles: Designing your Windows Phone app
    To start, be sure you've downloaded the tools you need from the links above. Ready? Let's think about the design of your application. After you've watched the Development Showcase Video, extend your understanding of Metro-based Windows Phone design principles.
    Day 2-Creating your first Windows Phone user interface
    It's time to think about creating a Windows Phone user interface for your app. XAML is the declarative language used in Silverlight to create your UI, the controls, shapes, text, and other content presented on the screen. Take a look at creating a cool user interface for your application and get started today.
    Day 3-Building your first Silverlight application for Windows Phone
    Now's the time to determine whether you'll be creating a Silverlight application or an XNA Framework application. Think about the type of application you are creating, the type of end user you are targeting, and what your app will do. Then learn more about creating your first Silverlight or XNA framework application.
    Day 4-Creating a splash screen for your Windows Phone application
    Any application that takes more than a few seconds to load should include a splash screen so the user knows the application is launching. Read more about how to create a splash screen for your Windows Phone application.
    Day 5-Adding panorama and pivot controls to your application
    Unlike standard applications that are designed to fit within the confines of the phone screen, panoramic applications offer a unique way to view controls, data, and services by using a long horizontal canvas that extends beyond the confines of the screen. Meanwhile, the Windows Phone pivot control provides a quick way to manage views or pages. It can be used for filtering large data sets, viewing multiple data sets, or switching application views. Learn to implement Panorama and to add Pivot Controls.
    Day 6-Adding an application bar to your application
    The Application Bar is a row of icon buttons along the bottom of the phone's screen that provides users with quick access to an application's most common tasks. Learn how to create an Application Bar in XAML, to create an Application Bar in code, and when you need to change icon buttons and menu items.
    Day 7-Changing the on-screen keyboard input scope in Windows Phone
    Controls like text boxes use the on-screen keyboard. Depending on the type of data the user is entering, the input scope of the default keyboard may not be the best choice. You can make it faster and easier for users to enter data in your Windows Phone applications by changing the on-screen keyboard to one of many built-in options..
    Day 8-Applying theme resources for Windows Phone
    A theme is a set of resources used to personalize the visual elements on a Windows Phone. You can create applications that preserve the look and feel of the native device UI from a stylistic standpoint (e.g., background colors and accent colors). Learn more on how theme resources ensure that controls and UI elements appear consistently across Windows Phone devices to make for a better user experience.
    Day 9-Performing page navigation on Windows Phone
    Pages hold discrete sections of content in your application. The Windows Phone Application Platform provides frame and page classes to facilitate navigation to separate sections of content. You can create as many pages as needed to present the content in your application and then navigate to those pages from the frame. Learn more about how to perform page navigation on Windows Phone.
    Day 10-Working with tiles in Windows Phone
    A tile is a link to an application displayed in Start. There are two types-application tiles and secondary tiles. The application tile is created when a user pins an application to the home screen. Tapping the application tile navigates the user to the application's opening page. A secondary tile is created programmatically by an application based on interaction from the user. Typical uses for a secondary tile include a weather application that pins a tile to Start for each city the user wants a weather report for, or a news application that pins a tile to Start for each type of news that the user would like to see. Note that you can have secondary tiles for an application on Start without having an application tile. Watch a demonstration on how to update an application tile as well as how to create, delete, and update secondary tiles.
    Day 11-Using Photos with your Windows Phone app
    Great images get a lot of attention, and the ability to take and select photos can contribute to app usage. Implementing the camera capture task enables users to take a photo from your application using the built-in camera application. You can also implement the Photo Chooser task to enable users to select an existing photo from the phone.
    Day 12-Storing files and folders with Windows Phone
    Let's look at how to perform the following isolated storage tasks in your application:
    • Obtain a virtual store for an application
    • Create a parent folder
    • Create and add text to an isolated storage file
    • Read the text placed in the storage file
    The objective is to create a single-page application in which you can enter a string of text, write it to a file, and then read the contents of the text file. Read more about storing files and folders.
    Day 13-Using the Isolated Storage Explorer Tool
    Isolated Storage Explorer (ISETool.exe) is a command-line tool that was installed with the Windows Phone SDK. Isolated Storage Explorer is used to list, copy, and replace files and directories in isolated storage. This enables you to verify that files are being saved in the correct location with the correct data.
    Day 14-Downloading data with WebClient on Windows Phone
    Discover how to download and grab data with WebClient by learning to create a basic RSS reader. The guidance and code examples in this topic are based on a code sample called RSS Reader Sample, which can be downloaded from the Code Samples for Windows Phone page. Follow along and learn how to build a

    Day 15-Using Launchers and Choosers with your app

    Launchers and Choosers enable users to perform common tasks and provide an overall consistent user experience. At the same time, by using Launchers and Choosers you can distinguish your applications by providing additional functionality. Examples of Launcher tasks include composing an email, sharing a link on a social network, and opening the browser to a specific Web site. Examples of Chooser tasks include selecting a contact's email address, selecting a photo from the phone, and saving a new ringtone.
    Day 16-Extending the Pictures Hub and Picture Viewer experience
    Your application can extend Windows Phone in three ways:
    • Pictures Hub: Let users launch your photo application from the app's pivot page in the Pictures Hub.
    • Picture Viewer: Let users launch your photo application from the apps link in the picture viewer. From the deep link URL, obtain a token that corresponds to the picture from which your application was launched.
    • Share Picker: Let users launch your application from the share link in the picture viewer and share their photos to a Web service. From the deep link URL, obtain a file ID that corresponds to the picture from which your application was launched. Learn more about how to extend the Pictures Hub and Picture Viewer experience.
    Day 17- Integrating with the Music + Videos Hub for Windows Phone
    The Music + Videos Hub is a focal point for all music, video, and podcast activity on a Windows Phone. Applications in the Music + Videos Hub provide an integrated music and video experience on the phone as their primary function. These applications integrate with the Music + Videos Hub using the MediaHistory and MediaHistoryItem classes to help ensure a consistent end-user experience for media playback. Check out more information on integrating your app with the Music + Videos Hub.
    Day 18-Extending the search experience with App Connect
    You can extend the search experience on Windows Phone by enabling App Connect in your application. Today, learn to create an App Connect-enabled application and test it with various quick cards, including product cards, place cards, and movie cards. The application featured in this topic also extracts parameters from the App Connect deep link URI and displays them on an application page.
    Day 19-Accessing the microphone in a Silverlight application
    Windows Phone provides a robust media platform that allows application developers to stream video and audio, control the FM tuner, and integrate with the Music + Videos Hub. Take time to understand how to get audio input from the Windows Phone microphone in a Silverlight application by using the Microsoft.Xna.Framework.Audio.Microphone class.
    Day 20-Adding push notifications to your app
    Push notifications are a great way to add an engaging feature to your app and get users coming back for more. The Windows Azure toolkit for Windows Phone makes it easy to add support for push notifications from Windows Azure. Download the toolkit and check out the docs and you'll have the libraries you need for both your app and a Web interface you can use to push your messages. Once you've got that mastered, be sure to check out all the other great stuff you can leverage with the toolkit, like Windows Azure storage services, membership services to provide authentication, and authorization for your phone applications.
    Day 21-Accessing the camera image stream
    You can create a camera application using the camera API for capturing pictures. Read up and learn how to display the camera viewfinder, programmatically trigger the shutter, and save a captured image to the media library and isolated storage. Once you understand how to create the base camera application, you will be on your way to implementing flash and focus, changing capture resolution, and using the phone hardware shutter button.
    Day 22- Implementing background agents into your application
    Background agents and Scheduled Tasks perform tasks in the background, even if the foreground application is not running. The different types of Scheduled Tasks are designed for different types of background processing scenarios and therefore have different behaviors and constraints. Learn how to implement an application that uses a Scheduled Task to register a background agent. You'll also gain an understanding of the scheduling, duration, and limitations of scheduled tasks.
    Day 23-Localizing your application
    By following a few simple steps, you can design and develop applications that can be easily localized, or adapted to, a specific local market. This process mostly involves the text strings in your application and the Application Bar if the Application Bar menu items include text. Additionally, you can choose to localize your application title. Learn how to separate localizable resources from code by creating language-specific resource files that Visual Studio then uses to create assemblies that allow your application to support many languages.
    Day 24-Creating trial applications for Windows Phone
    Trial mode gives you the option of allowing users to try your application before buying it. The Windows Phone Application Platform makes it easy for you to create trial applications as well as a full version of your app within a single XAP package. Users wishing to buy an app they are trying can seamlessly access the Marketplace from within the trial app. There are no restrictions around how you design the trial experience. You can determine the extent of functionality that you want to expose, whether the trial mode is of a limited duration, or how you want to encourage your user to buy your application.
    Day 25-Adding ads to your application
    One way to monetize your Windows Phone apps and games is by including ads from Microsoft Advertising. The Microsoft Advertising SDK for Windows Phone enables you to create applications that easily integrate and provide monetization, ad targeting, and seamless reporting. Learn how to implement mobile advertising in your app.
    Day 26-Deploying and testing your app on a Windows Phone device
    You can use both the Windows Phone Emulator and a physical Windows Phone device to develop and test your applications. Although the Windows Phone Emulator addresses many development scenarios, it is important to have the ability to test your application on a physical device as well. To deploy an application to a physical Windows Phone device for development and testing work, there are some steps you must take first. Take a look at this Deploying and Testing on Your Windows Phone article to learn more.
    Day 27-Performance tuning your app
    If you want to create a successful Windows Phone application that users will enjoy, you will need to spend time on performance. Even if you have a great idea for an application, if the application is slow, unresponsive, or periodically crashes, users will stop using it. What to do? Simple-use the Windows Phone Performance Analysis tool, a profiling tool to evaluate and improve the performance of your applications. First you will capture and analyze performance data of your app and use that to understand common performance issues and how to address them.
    Day 28-Creating screenshots for Windows Phone Marketplace submission
    You'll need to create screenshots of your application to be shown in the details page of the Windows Phone Marketplace catalog so potential end users can preview your app. Because there are several certification requirements related to application screenshots, be sure to review all of the information available.
    Day 29-Using the Windows Phone Marketplace Test Kit
    The Windows Phone Marketplace Test Kit provides a suite of automated, monitored, and manual tests to help prepare your application to be accepted in the Marketplace the first time you submit it. The test kit enables you to identify and fix issues before Marketplace submission, which saves time in the submission process.
    Day 30-Windows Phone Marketplace submission walkthrough
    There are four steps to submitting your application to the Windows Phone Marketplace:
    1. Upload your application
    2. Provide the application description
    3. Set the application pricing
    4. Submit your application

    Before beginning your submission, you will want to review the App Hub Application submission walkthrough. This will help prepare you for the application submission process.

    App Hub and getting ready to submit to the Marketplace
    Register for App Hub
    Developer Registration Walkthrough

    Additional Resources

    Design Guidance:
    User Experience Design Guidelines for Windows Phone
    Windows Phone Design Tutorials
    Windows Phone Design Templates

    Windows Phone Interoperability Resources:
    Windows Phone Guide for Android Application Developers
    Android to Windows Phone API Mapping Tool
    Windows Phone Guide for iPhone/iOS Application Developers
    iPhone/iOS to Windows Phone API Mapping Tool

    Week 1 Resources

    Metro-based Windows design principles
    Creating a user interface for your application
    Creating your first Silverlight application
    Creating XNA framework
    Creating a splash screen
    Pivot controls
    Create an application bar in XAML
    Create an application bar in code
    Changing icon buttons
    Changing the on-screen keyboard


    Week 2 Resources

    Applying a theme
    Performing page navigation
    Working with tiles
    Camera capture
    Photo chooser
    Storing files and folders
    Using the Isolated Storage Explorer
    Code samples for Windows Phone
    Build a basic RSS reader

    Week 3 Resources

    Pictures extensibility
    Integrate music and videos
    Extending search
    Accessing the microphone
    Windows Azure toolkit
    Accessing the camera

    Week 4 Resources

    Background agents
    Localizing your app
    Creating a trial application
    Adding ads
    Deploying and testing
    Capture performance data
    Creating screenshots
    Marketplace test kit
    App Hub Application submission walkthrough

    Windows Phone Marketplace resources

    Developing and publishing applications overview
    Application certification requirements for Windows Phone
    Application submission walkthrough
    Windows Phone Performance Analysis
    Windows Phone Marketplace Test Kit
  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    UK Techdays Events Windows 8, Windows Phone, Windows Azure and Windows UX FREE Training in August and Sept 2012



    Wherever you are, whatever your field, Tech.Days bring you more opportunities than ever to explore our latest technologies and engage with the UK and Europe's leading technologists.

    Discover key trends at your own pace and your own place with our online conferences. Get hands-on experience with our immersive one-day bootcamps. Or share insights into the technical topics that matter to you with our programme of sponsored regional events.
    However you choose to connect, Tech.Days provides the perfect environment to grow both your professional skill set and your peer network.

    We welcome you to join our Summer/Autumn edition of Windows 8, Windows Phone and Windows Azure Dev Camps. You will get hands-on learning, assistance and support which will allow you to pick up the skills required to make the most of Microsoft's newest developer offerings.

    We'll be adding new events over the coming months so follow us @uktechdays to keep up to date with new announcements.

    Full dates of FREE training now available across the country in July, August and September see here http://uktechdays.cloudapp.net/upcoming-events.aspx

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Build 2012 Conference



    Announcing BUILD 2012

    • October 30 - November 2, 2012
    • Microsoft Campus, Redmond, Washington
    • Registration opens August 8, 2012 at 8:00 AM PDT

    Download the Windows 8 Release Preview

    Go download the Windows 8 Release Preview now!

    DreamSpark Premium subscribers can go to the subscriptions page for additional downloads and BUILD 2011 attendees can go to the BUILD attendee Connect site for additional downloads.

    For more details see http://www.buildwindows.com/

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Get up to speed on Windows 8 in 6 weeks




    So its now the summer holidays, well its the perfect time to get skilled up for Windows 8, to do this you will need to be fully prepared. To confirm RTM of Windows 8 has been confirmed for August and General Release for Oct 2012.


    So to help you get prepared we have created a 6 week plan for you.The plan is based on a minimum of 10 hours study time per week. The better prepared you are the better you will do with implementing Windows 8 within your curricula or even simply having the discussion with students using Windows 8 next term.

    From a Microsoft perspective we have a massive amount of materials to help you prepare and create a very comprehensive application and we provide you with the suite of Tools and Documentation to help you create their very first Metro 8 App.

    Additionally we have also made available a large array of Samples, Examples and Templates as well as Video tutorials and blogs. If you follow these you will find the path to releasing your first game or application for Windows 8.

    Apps can be written in C#, C++, HTML or even using a new bespoke tool aimed at Designers. The most import thing is to start right now, read and work your way through the plan, install Windows 8 and the Metro SDK and start developing.

    So here is the six week plan for Windows 8 development.

    Week One

    1. Introduction

    a. What is a Windows 8 Metro App, click Here

    b. A great intro Blog for you, click Here

    c. Understand the UX Guidelines click Here

    2. Getting started with Metro style apps, click Here

    a. Installing Windows 8

    b. Download and install SDK & Dev Tools

    3. Get the Developer Licence, Click Here

    a. Install the" Windows 8 camp in a box", click Here

    b. Quickly get an overview of all the presentations

    4. Choose your preferred Development environment/Language

    a. JavaScript and HTML (recommended for Designers & Artists)

    b. Download relevant documentation, click Here

    c. C#, Visual Basic and XAML (recommended for Designers & Artists)

    d Download relevant documentation, click Here

    e. C++ and DirectX (recommended for Programmers or teams with Programmers in)

    f. Download relevant documentation, click Here

    5. Understanding What makes a great Metro app, click Here

    6. Planning your first App, click Here

    a. Planning for Monetisation, click Here

    b. Planning for Quality and Certification, click Here

    c. Planning for different devices, click Here

    d. Plan for a Global Market, click Here

    e. Plan for Usability, click Here and Here

    Week Two

    1. Review available Templates and sample Apps, click Here and Here

    2. Take a look at the Samples and Examples in the Windows 8 Camp in a box

    a. Work through these Examples

    3. Take a look at the Windows 8 Faculty game examples, click Here

    a. Consider how you could use these examples to create your own game

    4. Download Designer PSD’s, click Here

    5. Play, with your chosen development

    a. Set up Visual Studios

    b. Work through a simple “Hello World”, style tutorial

    c. C++, click Here

    d. HTML5/Javascript, click Here

    e. Visual Basic, click Here

    f. C#, click Here

    f. Get your development processed organised and ready to go

    6. Plan and design your first simple app,

    7. Create it

    Week 3

    1. Re-review progress so far, and create second more complicated app

    2. Further reading on what makes a great Metro App, click Here

    3. Looking at ways to speed up your development, click Here

    4. Using Blend, click Here and Here

    5. Continue with your chosen Development training

    a. C++, click Here

    b. HTML5/Javascript, click Here

    c. Visual Basic, click Here

    d. C#, click Here

    Week 4

    1. Continue with your detailed studies and tutorials

    2. Watch as many YouTube Tutorials and App sample videos as you can

    3. Advanced considerations, click Here

    a. Selling apps

    b. Concepts and architecture

    c. API reference

    d. End-to-end apps.

    Week 5

    1. Continue with your detailed studies and tutorials

    2. Planning for the Assessments or Developing Games

    a. Some Great Game building Links, click Here

    b. How to Design a great Metro 8 Game, click Here

    c. More Game / Entertainment considerations, click Here

    Week 6

    1. Continue with your detailed studies and tutorials

    2. Finally, understand about Metro 8 App Publishing, click Here

    a. Market Opportunity

    b. Designed for discovery

    c. Flexible business models

    d. Uber-transparency

    e. Best economics

    Some Great Links

    Microsoft's official Metro 8 App site

    Microsoft's UK Student and Faculty resources 

    A complete list of resources for METRO Windows 8 Developers

    Microsoft's App Publishing – Declaring capabilities

    · Manifest Designer

    · How to specify capabilities in a package manifest.

    Intro to Window 8 & the App store

    One on One style tutorial Webcasts on Metro 8 development

    BUILD Conference Resources  

    Designing for Windows

    UX GuideLines

    Windows User Experience Training

    Windows Camp Resources

    Additional Videos


    Windows 8–Developer Resources

    Developer downloads




    Windows 8 Consumer Preview Download


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

    Developer downloads for Metro style apps


    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


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

    Metro style app developer content




    Windows Dev Center home


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

    Metro style app development home


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

    Product guide for developers


    Windows 8 Consumer Preview Product Guide for Developers.

    Official documentation


    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


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

    Selling apps in the Windows Store


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

    Developer downloads for Metro style apps


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

    Metro style app samples


    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


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

    Blogs for developers

    Blog Name



    Building Windows 8 blog (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


    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)


    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


    Windows Internet Explorer Engineering Team Blog.

    Inside Windows Live blog


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

    Visual Studio Blog


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

    The Windows Blog


    Consumer and general interest topics.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Azure $30 demo saving $127,970


    I recently presented at the Windows Azure User group in Manchester. Also presenting was Alan Smith. I wanted to share my finding from Alan’s presentation which was a demo of a ray tracing render farm hosted in Windows Azure using worker roles and the Azure Storage service.

    At the start of the presentation he deployed an Azure application that uses 256 worker roles to render a 1,500 frame 3D ray-traced animation in one hour at the end of the presentation, when the animation was complete, he simply played the animation and then deleted the Azure deployment.

    What was amazing about this presentation and demo is that it highlights one of the great benefits of cloud computing, you pay for what you use, and if you need massive compute power for a short period of time using Windows Azure can work out very cost effective.

    A fully documented write up of the entire presentation is here http://geekswithblogs.net/asmith/archive/2012/06/25/150043.aspx


    The virtual pin board contains 11,481 pins, with the scene file containing 2,000 scene files will be created via a Microsoft Kinect device.

    The tracing time for the test frame was 4 minutes 27 seconds, which means rendering the 2,000 frames in the animation would take over 148 hours, or a little over 6 days.

    The completed animation can be viewed in 1280x720 resolution


    Cost Savings of the Cloud

    The cost of creating an on-premise render farm to render animations increases in proportion to the number of servers. The table below shows the cost of servers for creating a render farm, assuming a cost of $500 per server.

    Number of Servers









    The Windows Azure compute services provide worker roles, which are ideal for performing processor intensive compute tasks. With the scalability available in Windows Azure a job that takes 256 hours to complete could be perfumed using different numbers of worker roles. The time and cost of using 1, 16 or 256 worker roles is shown below.

    Number of Worker Roles

    Render Time



    256 hours



    16 hours



    1 hour


    Using worker roles in Windows Azure provides the same cost for the 256 hour job, irrespective of the number of worker roles used. Provided the compute task can be broken down into many small units, and the worker role compute power can be used effectively, it makes sense to scale the application so that the task is completed quickly, making the results available in a timely fashion. The task of rendering 2,000 frames in an animation is one that can easily be broken down into 2,000 individual pieces, which can be performed by a number of worker roles.

    Effective Use of Resources

    The monitor statistics the animation took 6 days, 7 hours and 22 minutes CPU to render, this works out at 152 hours of compute time, rounded up to the nearest hour. With the average CPU usage across all instances is 93.27%, with over 99% used when all the instances are up and running. This shows that the worker role resources are being used very effectively.

    Grid Computing Scenarios

    Windows Azure provides a great platform for developing these types of grid computing applications, and can work out very cost effective.

    · Windows Azure can provide massive compute power, on demand, in a matter of minutes.

    · The use of queues to manage the load balancing of jobs between role instances is a simple and effective solution.

    · Using a cloud-computing platform like Windows Azure allows proof-of-concept scenarios to be tested and evaluated on a very low budget.

    · No charges for inbound data transfer makes the uploading of large data sets to Windows Azure Storage services cost effective.

    Tips for using Windows Azure for Grid Computing Scenarios

    Alan suggested the following tips when implementing a grid computing project in Windows Azure.

    · Using an Azure Storage queue to load-balance the units of work across multiple worker roles is simple and very effective. The design I have used in this scenario could easily scale to many thousands of worker role instances.

    · Windows Azure accounts are typically limited to 20 cores. If you need to use more than this, a call to support and a credit card check will be required.

    · Be aware of how the billing model works. You will be charged for worker role instances for the full clock our in which the instance is deployed. Schedule the workload to start just after the clock hour has started.

    · Monitor the utilization of the resources you are provisioning, ensure that you are not paying for worker roles that are idle.

    · If you are deploying third party applications to worker roles, you may well run into licensing issues. Purchasing software licenses on a per-processor basis when using hundreds of processors for a short time period would not be cost effective.

    · Third party software may also require installation onto the worker roles, which can be accomplished using start-up tasks. Bear in mind that adding a startup task and possible re-boot will add to the time required for the worker role instance to start and activate. An alternative may be to use a prepared VM and use VM roles.

    · Consider using the Windows Azure Autoscaling Application Block (WASABi) to autoscale the worker roles in your application. When using a large number of worker roles, the utilization must be carefully monitored, if the scaling algorithms are not optimal it could get very expensive!

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    C++ & Direct X on Windows 8


    Windows 8’s new Metro platform offers developers the possibility to build not only apps, but also new, immersive NUI (natural user interface) gaming experiences.

    In the UK we have over 217 gaming courses, Microsoft is working to make sure that gaming devs have the necessary resources to start creating Metro games tailored to the next version of Windows and allow students to start developing some real portfolio and experience of gaming industry by allowing them to easily and simply upload their completed games to the Windows Store.

    We have a selection of material available to help educators and students get started on the Windows 8 Metro Style Game development with resources such as ‘Building your first Metro style game with C++’ which is available via the Windows Dev Center. The Windows Dev Center offers developers the guidance they need to start coding.   Additionally we have resources at the dev center for XAML/C#, HTML5/JS and it’s important to understand that leveraging C++ implies that the games built will be much more than simple Metro apps or existing XNA windows phone or XNA creator apps.

    Again in terms of curricula change and enhancement, it is important to understand that A Metro style game with C++ is a game developed using native C++ APIs, such as DirectX, that have been made available to the Windows Runtime. This model is more complex than the usual Metro style app, but it provides greater flexibility and greater access to system resources, especially graphics devices. So, it is a good model for the experienced developer.

    Essentially, a Windows 8 Metro DirectX game built with C++ implies delivering a graphics- or multimedia-intensive experience to end users, taking advantage of the graphics hardware.


    The following Channel9 Video http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Windows-Camp/Developing-Windows-8-Metro-style-apps-in-Cpp/Cpp-and-DirectX-for-Metro-Style-Games goes into more detail and there is a whole set of resources for Developing  Windows 8 Metro Style Apps in C++ http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Windows-Camp/Developing-Windows-8-Metro-style-apps-in-Cpp

    In terms of gaming technologies and development skills, I like to break them down into the following categories

    • HTML/JS casual game developer.
    • XNA/.NET developer.
    • C++/DirectX developer.

    In terms of  academic module constructs you ideally need to break them down as follows

    1) Windows 8 Developer Overview – From the UX-to-the-Store see Windows 8 Curricula and resources now at Faculty Connection.

    2) What does a game developer need to think about doing with their game for Windows 8 (e.g. input mechanisms, screen sizes and resolutions, settings, WinRT APIs for storage and settings, suspend/resume APIs). see Windows 8 Metro Style Gaming  

    Resources and Curricula

    Your source for curriculum resources and tools to help with your teaching needs. Visit the Microsoft Faculty Connection Resource Center.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    MSDN Virtual Labs for exploring our latest technologies


    MSDNVirtual Labs

    From my previous post on developing for Windows 8. I just wanted to make you aware of the many great virtual labs for exploring our latest technologies.

    MSDN Virtual Labs enable you to quickly evaluate and test Microsoft's newest products and technologies through a series of guided, hands-on labs that you can complete in 90 minutes or less. There is no complex setup or installation required, and you can use MSDN Virtual Labs online immediately, free. Check here for system requirements.

    Featured Virtual Labs   

    MSDN Windows 8 Developer Virtual Labs

    Other Products and Technologies available as Virtual labs via MSDN
    Development Tools and Languages
    Mobile and Embedded Development
    Cloud Services
    .NET Development
    Office Development
    Windows Client Development
    Servers and Enterprise Development
    Web Development
    Subjects and Series

    From the perspective of schools, college and universities, with highly secure MDE’s ‘managed desktop environments’ these virtual labs and the opportunity of running Windows 8 development and the latest technologies may be a valuable resource.

    The process of the Labs are completed is opening a web page, which then create an interactive remote desktop session with a Windows Server 2003 which then allows you to remotes into a desktop image. Their are full instructions, guidance and set time limit which your allocated to undertake the lab and guide the user through the learning exercise.


    Do to these labs utilising a remote desktop session you may encounter some performance issues, a colleague Eric Nelson has played with a few settings to improve things by changing the remote desktop experience to improve the graphics performance due to bandwidth constraints which may be faced specifically by School networks.


    After you make these changes, disconnect and reconnect to the session to experience the improvements.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    SUR40 Pixel Sense NUIverse Demo



    Jon Roskill and Steve Clayton join one of my colleague Dr Dave Brown at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2012 in Toronto for live a demonstration of the Samsung SUR40 with Microsoft PixelSense featuring Dave's creation NUIverse.

    NUIverse is simply an amazing example of natural user interface and highlights the unique properties of the Samsung SUR40 and PixelSense technology that enables collaborative multitouch experience using objects. Developed by Dave over the past year NUIverse really does show off the power of Pixel Sense and the immersive nature of the SUR40 device for more indepth details of the development process concepts and Dave's patents for Users controls see http://drdave.co.uk/blog

    More information: Samsung SUR40 with Microsoft PixelSense http://www.samsunglfd.com/solution/sur40.do

    I am looking forward to what the researchers and post docs at your institutions can do with these amazing devices.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    .NET Gadgeteer at Animation 12



    The University of ManchesterAnimation12 competition took place on Friday 13th of July 2012. The event have over 300 registered competitors.

    The University of Manchester School of Computer Science launched the UK Schools Computer Animation Competition in 2008 as part of Digital60 - celebrating the 60th Anniversary of "The Baby", the world's first stored-program computer, designed and built at The University of Manchester.

    The UK Schools Computer Animation Competition was launched to introduce UK schoolchildren to the fun side of basic programming whilst animating.

    The Competition is an annual event, to show schoolchildren that computers can be used creatively, and to stimulate them to learn about programming. The Competition's summer Awards Festival is held in Manchester, when winners receive their prizes, and over 300 guests attend talks and spend time in activity rooms exploring the fun side of computing.

    The Competition is open to all UK schoolchildren aged 7-19, and is completely free.

    “Youngsters love gadgets. So wouldn’t it be great if they could build their own, and at school? This is exactly what more than 80 of the competitors, ages 7 to 19, did  using .NET Gadgeteer during a hands on session at the event.


    The .NET Gadgeteer pilot project aligns with the UK’s commitment to prioritize computer science education in schools, as spelled out by the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, in his speech at the BETT Show (see School ICT to be replaced by computer science programme) and will be a key part in the AQA GCSE Computer Science course starting in Sept 2012.

    We look forward to more schools, colleges, and universities utilizing .NET Gadgeteer to unleash their students’ creativity and enthusiasm in technology in the UK, and beyond. Scarlet Schwiderski-Grosche, Program Manager, Microsoft Research Connections EMEA, and Steve Hodges, Principal Hardware Engineer, Microsoft Research Cambridge


    We had over 80 students attend the pre booked Gadgeteer workshop sessions which took place throughout the day in all we ran 4 x 30 min sessions demonstrating hands on how to Build a Digital Camera with .NET Gadgeteer in 30 mins.


    Animation12 Web Site – Learn more about Animation12 and see details of the event.

    Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer is an open-source toolkit for building small electronic devices using the .NET Micro Framework and Visual Studio/Visual C# Express.
    Build all manner of electronic gadgets quickly and easily with .NET Gadgeteer! LEARN HOW TO GET STARTED

    Reading Materials

    getting started

    Getting Started with .NET Gadgeteer by Simon Monk - This book explains .NET Gadgeteer to the novice and to using only the parts available in the Fez Spider Starter Kit. This is the most common starter kit if components for the Gadgeteer.

    Curricula Resources

    Teaching Material for .NET Gadgeteer in School  
    .NET Gadgeteer can be used in schools to help students make gadgets and learn C# programming along the way. These lesson plans give teachers all the material needed to run 8 1-hour sessions using .NET Gadgeteer, including session plans, student handouts and PowerPoint presentations.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Creating your first Windows 8 Metro Style Design Game



    After a great week at the Develop Conference, I wanted to share some great Windows 8 gaming guides and Tutorials from Dave Isbitski @davedev http://blogs.msdn.com/davedev

    The following Tutorials and resources contain the following technologies:

    • HTML5 Canvas
    • HTML5 Audio
    • XAML/C#
    • CSS3 Styling and Web Fonts
    • Implementing a Game Loop with JavaScript
    • Third Party Frameworks
    • Touch
    • Camera Access
    • Accelerometer
    • WinJS Controls

    Available Resources and Toolkits 

    Additional Resources for developing Windows 8 Metro Style Games

    Hands on Labs for XAML/C# using HyperV Windows 8 Virtual Machines, so you don't need to own a machine with Windows 8 Release Preview installed.

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