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  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    CRM and ERP resources from Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance




    DynAA is a program for schools that want to enhance their curriculum by incorporating Microsoft Dynamics enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) software. Participating institutions receive Microsoft Dynamics products for classroom use, support, and community-building opportunities, free of charge.

    So if your looking at incorporating ERP or CRM software tools into your technology and business courses please take a moment to look at the following information. 

    Also provided is a guide to help connect with local Microsoft Dynamics partners in order to develop mutually beneficial relationships.


    Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for support at


    Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance 

    Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance Success Stories

    Dynamic Academic Alliance curricula resources on Microsoft Faculty Connection 


    SOCIAL MEDIA:  Find the Dynamics Team on LinkedIn and Facebook!

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Mastering the Cloud.. with Windows Azure Curricula Resources



    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 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

    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

    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 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.


    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.


    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

    Has you institution thought about.. Microsoft 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 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 -

    Supporting Students IT Employability Through Professional Certification

    Is your institution already an IT Academy?

    Check here

    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.


    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





    MCP (£48 each)





    £1,675 pa

    (16.75 per student)

    £1,825 pa

    (£7.30 per student)

    £2,125 pa

    (£4.25 per student)


    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 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

    Faculty Connection Registration - Want to stay informed of the latest technology and educational trends?



    Want to stay informed of the latest technology and educational trends?

    When you become a verified Faculty Connection member, you gain access to benefits such as the latest technology news, faculty only material, and more.

    What is Faculty Connection?

    How do you become a verified member?

    Just send a email from your UK Academic email address, including your Job title and institution to

    We want you to be assured that Faculty Connection is a community of your peers, so that's why we ask all members to complete this initial step we will then send you a Faculty Connection verification code to allow you to register to this resource and community of peers.

    We want you to stay connected to the UK Faculty Connection program and by subscribing to the Faculty Connection resources including the Linkedin Group and dedicated newsletters we can keep up-to-date on the latest information about new curriculum resources, research projects, software tools, workshops, etc.

    If you have not subscribed to the Faculty Connection newsletter simply send us a email to requesting your validation code and then click the Register button at

    It is easy and quick.

    Need to Check your Subscription?

    Not sure if you have already subscribed to the Faculty Connection newsletter? Click the Check Subscription and review your profile.


    1. Sign in with your Windows Live ID
    2. If you see Faculty Connection Newsletter in the Your Subscriptions column then you are all set
    3. If you don’t see the Faculty Connection Newsletter in the Your Subscriptions column select it from the list of Available Communications and click Subscribe
    4. Click Save

    That’s all there is to it!

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Pex4Fun Challenges and Test Driven Development



    So how could you use Pex4Fun (Windows phone app) or PexforFun web app in your curricula?

    The (RiSE) team has created these great tool to exercise your students brains, they help teach and reinforce the bit of code your delivering in lectures and allow them to learn self paced.

    As I have stated in the previous blog you have two ways of using Pex. For the web version simply go to the PexForFun site  or for the mobile version install the Pex4Fun app onto your Windows Phone device.

    So what is available?

    There are puzzles, learning exercises, and duels. Register and you can create your own challenges. The puzzle structure is a great demonstration of Pex. When you start a new puzzle, you have a empty implementation. You can click Ask Pex to get some test results on the hidden successful implementation. Pex then executes those tests on your code.


    Students will learn as they see some failures, and you can fix your code to make the tests pass. Student can click “Ask Pex” to see if a more extensive test suite still passes. Iterating this way not only helps students understand fundamentals but also enables them to write better code and its tested to see if their implementation gets closer to the expected solution. If you are not familiar with Test Driven Development, this is a great tools for teaching the concept.

    All in all, there are several reasons you should consider integrating FREE resource like PexForFun into your curricula or vocational training resources:

    1. It is ideal to get students aware of and practicing Test Driven Development. you start with an empty implementation, and see a few failing tests. Keep making a few pass and you’ll get more tests. After a few iterations you’ll have everything working.
    2. It will give students practice writing tests. Pex generates tests by analysing their code. It determines a number of interesting inputs to code by analysing its structure. You can read an overview here By seeing the inputs it chooses, The outcome is that students get ideas and real understanding of how to write their own tests. By thinking about inputs it chooses to ignore, students can get better at writing useful concise tests instead of simply creating more tests.
    3. Plex helps exercises students brains and refreshes that to principles and concepts. The puzzles range from introductory to rather complicated.
    4. It support multiple languages C#, VB and F#.
  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    So how are you getting your students learning in their free time?


     pex_logo Touchdevelop

    Microsoft Research have come up with the following great tools for Windows Phone.

    The Research in Software Engineering (RiSE) group at Microsoft Research have two great mobile programming apps TouchDevelop & PexforFun.

    TouchDevelop (New name for TouchStudio) is an Windows Phone 7 App that allows the users to script with their phone. By bringing bringing programming to the Windows Phone it not only great fun but productive too, especially from a learning perspective. In the video below Nikolai Tillmann and Michal Moskal from Research in Software Engineering group (RiSE) at Microsoft Research give a demo of TouchStudio

    In the video below Nikolai Tillmann from Research in Software Engineering group (RiSE) at Microsoft Research give a case study of TouchDevelop being used by School children developing an app in 45mins directly on the device

    Get Microsoft Silverlight

    In this video, Grant Bronsdon, a intern at Microsoft Research, gives a quick tutorial on writing scripts in TouchDevelop

    Download the app from here

    Another great tool is Pex4Fun. Pex4fun is another project from Research in Software Engineering (RiSE)PexforFun have a dedicated web site application which allows programming in C#, Visual Basic, and F# from your browser. Now the team has released a Windows Phone mobile app which allows you to do the same in Windows Phone 7 titled Pex4Fun.


    The difference between Touch Studio and Pex4Fun is that Pex4Fun is a learning tool, you can win points by writing code! You earn points when your code computes the right outputs for all inputs. Pex4Fun features a code editor with auto-completion, snippets and background compilation to make programming on the phone a reality. If you are new to programming in general, don’t worry: Pex4fun also features a set of courses to learn the basics and beyond right from your phone.

    Download the app from here.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Imagine Cup North East Region



    So if your a academic or student in the North East of England you need to be aware of  the work which Sunderland Software City and Codeworks are undertaking in the establishment of a North East heat of the Microsoft Imagine Cup.

    Imagine Cup North East - Are you up for a challenge? from Codeworks Ltd on Vimeo.

    As part of helping inspire students Sunderland Software City and Codeworks worked to togther to help promote The Microsoft Imagine Cup to North East. As you know from my previous post the Imagine Cup is an exciting opportunity for students to work together in teams to solve some of the worlds toughest problems, learn new skills, make new friends, win prizes.

    So today Ben Nunney from Microsoft will be working with the teams from Sunderland Software City and Codeworks informing Students of the North East what the Imagine Cup is all about then on  Friday 17th and Saturday 18th February particiaptes who except the challenge whisked off to a secret location for a 36 hour non-stop hackathon to work on their Imagine Cup projects

    To find out more check out the Imagine Cup North East website - and follow the Imagine Cup North East on Twitter -

    If you're not a student but would still like to get involved the competition is also looking for Mentors and Sponsors, so get in touch with the Imagine Cup North East team.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Imagine Cup 2012 Inspiring students - Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems!



    One of the key messages I hear when speaking with academics is, how can Microsoft help in inspiring my students? Well if you have students who are interested in technology how about setting them the following challenge!

    Would you like the opportunity to change the world and potentially win a free trip to Sydney, Australia?

    The Microsoft Imagine Cup, is the world's top student technology competition. Ever year Microsoft gives students a fantastic opportunity to envisage, create and deliver a technology solution that addresses the Imagine Cup slogan - "Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems!"

    The Microsoft Imagine Cup is inspired by the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

    If you interested in learning more watch the following video from academic Rob Miles from the University of Hull and also captain of the Imagine Cup Software Design competition. Rob shares his insight and gives you some more information on the Microsoft Imagine Cup opportunity.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Kinect for Windows SDK 1.0



    Kinect for Windows is now Available!

    Version 1.0 of the SDK and runtime are now available for download, and distribution partners in our twelve launch countries are starting to ship Kinect for Windows hardware, enabling companies to start to deploy their solutions.

    Looking for great on content on how to build apps for Kinect?

    Visit Channel 9 where we have updated quick starts and open source projects.

    Get Started Guides and Tutorials 

    Kinect for Windows Quickstart Series

    • Installing and Using the Kinect Sensor
    • Setting up your Development Environment
    • Camera Fundamentals
    • Working with Depth Data
    • Skeletal Tracking Fundamentals
    • Audio Fundamentals

    Write an App! - Sample Code / Open Source Projects

    Kinect Service - A Windows Service so you can see Kinect data on your Windows Phone


    Kinect Paint - Draw with your hands


    Kinect Mouse Cursor - Control Windows with your hands


    Coding4Fun Kinect Toolkit - Developer library for easy programming


    Jellybean - Our famous drivable lounge chair code has been updated to the latest release of Kinect for Windows


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Best of Innovations 2012: Next Generation Microsoft Surface



    Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface (SUR40) is now available for purchase through Samsung channel and reseller partners. The device, manufactured by Samsung, was selected as an International Consumer Electronics Show “Best of Innovations 2012” award winner. For updates, monitor Microsoft Surface.

    The Surface 2 SUR40 is considerably less expensive than the first-generation device. Apart from the lower price, the main improvement is its much reduced size. The Surface 2 is now more like a coffee table with no bulky pedestal.

    A really nice example of Surface + Microsoft technology application is a retail example was produced by Razorfish

    Basically the surface 2 is an amazing device which simply can be used to do anything however you need to develop specific applications for the surface using the Surface 2 SDK see

    As the previous post state the Surface 2 requires custom development. If you do not have these skills in house we would recommend using a Surface 2 application development partner such as:-

    Suite 420 4th Floor,
    Davis House Business Centre,
    Robert Street,
    CR0 1QQ


    Black Marble
    Woodland Park
    Bradford Road
    Chain Bar,
    West Yorkshire,
    BD19 6BW

    The Surface can also be purchased with a selection of custom apps for less than >£7k

    The Microsoft Surface team have a number of You Tube videos see

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