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    Getting started building Windows Phone Games with Unity

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    With the release of Unity 4.2, you can now take your Unity games and quickly port them to Windows Phone 8 and extend your reach to Windows users.

    Getting started building a Windows Phone 8 game with Unity

    To develop, compile and submit a Unity game to the Windows Phone store, you will need:

    Unity 4.2 . Either the Unity free version or Unity Pro will work. The add-ons to publish to Windows and Windows Store are free, even for Unity Pro users.

    Windows Phone SDK 8.0 The WP8 SDK includes a stand-alone version of Visual Studio Express 2012 - if you already have Visual Studio Premium or Ultimate, the SDK will work as an addin and you can continue to use your version-.

    Windows 8.0 or later. If you do not own a Windows 8 license, you can get a 90-day evaluation version. If you are running Mac OS X or will install on Apple hardware, check different options for installing using Boot Camp, VMWare , or Parallels.

    Windows Phone developer account. This is needed to “unlock” your phone so you can side load your game for developing and testing. It will also be needed to submit your game to the Windows Phone store.

    Windows Phone 8 device. In Unity 4.2, deploying and debugging to the Windows Phone emulator is not supported, so you will need a phone. Once you have a phone and your developer account, follow these instructions to register your phone for development.

    Porting your game

    Targeting a new platform always requires a few tweaks, such as using a few platform specific APIs (e.g. in-app purchase or application life cycle) and tailoring the game to the device’s hardware capabilities (e.g. a back button).

    Design-time differences

    To create your game, you will still be using the Unity IDE. This will feel very familiar and keep your productivity high. That said, there is a significant difference that you should keep in mind: When running the game within Unity, it will run using the Mono run-time; however, once you build for Windows Phone platform and deploy to the phone, you will be running in the .NET for Windows Phone run-time.

    Here are a few tips for dealing with this “dual run-time” environment:

    1. If including script files that will run in Unity, use the #if UNITY_WP8 pre-processor directive to refer to code that should not run inside Unity.

    2. For plugins, include Unity plugins to be used in the Unity editor in the Assets/Plugins directory and include the run-time plugins for Windows Phone in the Assets/Plugins/WP8 folder.

    3. Make sure you test your game thoroughly on a device. If you are referencing a Mono API that is not on Windows Phone, it will work fine in the Unity player, and throw an exception on the phone.

    4. Unity uses the Mono compiler to generate phone assemblies, as such you may find that once in a while you will call a Mono API that is not in phone and even the compiler (when you build for phone) will not catch it. These errors will lead to exceptions when running on the phone. A good tool to validate an assembly’s portability to Windows Phone is http://scan.xamarin.com. You should extend this practice of validating your assemblies to compiled plugins. If you purchase a plugin that ships as a binary, validate it to make sure it uses only Windows Phone APIs.

    If you find errors or missing Mono APIs that you are using in your game, you should look at the .NET API for Windows Phone reference site to find alternates.

    User interface

    Windows Phone renders their UI using XAML. This infrastructure can be useful if you want to have UI that is not in your Unity game (such as a splash screen or ads). XAML UI and Unity UI can compose seamlessly. The way this composition works is via the DrawingSurfaceBackgroundGrid control. This control uses Direct3D to render what is effectively the background to the whole screen. Unity renders your game against this surface using hardware accelerated Direct3D. For more details on XAML + Direct3D composition, refer to the XAML and Direct3D apps for Windows Phone 8 write-up on MSDN.

    The graphics composition with via the Unity engine will all be transparent to you. It is where you mix and match that you will need to remember these four details:

    1. Within your app, you can include XAML UI controls and widgets (such as an ad control, buttons, etc.) that compose visually with your game.

    2. If you add XAML UI, this will be in front of your game since your game is rendered as the background of the scene.

    3. To maximize compatibility across screen sizes, XAML content is scaled. XAML content is 480 wide, and then scaled. [So on devices with 1280x768 resolution, Unity will see this resolution and XAML content will be 480x800, scaled 1.6 times. If you are trying to align a pixel-perfect composite of a scene that uses XAML and Unity content, you will need to scale down your Unity content. You can get the scale from the Appication.Current.Host.Content.ScaleFactor property.

    4. XAML UI runs on a different thread than Unity, so you will need to dispatch messages to the right thread in order to access the respective UI components for each technology:

    To tweak XAML UI from a Unity callback, use this:

       1: Dispatcher.BeginInvoke(() => 
       2: { 
       3: //access XAML UI elements here..
       4: });

    To call from within XAML UI thread onto the Unity thread, use:

       1: UnityApp.BeginInvoke(() => 
       2: { 
       3: //access Unity objets here..
       4: });

    Capabilities

    Windows Phone games must declare some of the resources or APIs they will consume.

    This is done via declarations in the application manifest (WMAppManifest.xml). If you are making network requests, accessing sensors, using push notifications, etc. you will need to declare these, else your app with get exceptions or failures with access denied.

    Everything you need to know about capabilities is in the capabilities documentation page. Review that page and double click on the WMAppManifest.xml document in your Visual Studio project to declare the resources you will need; there is no coding required for any of these.

    Process Lifecycle Management

    The Windows Phone application model has one foreground app (the one that is visible) that has access to most of the OS resources (memory, CPU, networking); to enable fast app switching, the OS does keep recently used apps that the user has not explicitly closed in memory. All of this app model is explained to great detail in the “App activation and deactivation for Windows Phone documentation.

    For games where you are saving state as early as possible, the default mappings to Unity events should work well. If you want to optimize further, all these events are in App.xaml.cs and the default Unity generated code is subscribing to them, you can add extra logic in the event handlers on the C# side, and use a plugin to communicate with your game code.

    Hardware details

    Windows Phone 8 has a detailed minimum hardware spec that all devices must meet; you should expect high-degree of consistency across the devices.

    Hardware acceleration with programmable GPU. Windows phone uses Direct3D with feature level set to 9_3. MSDN has a great table of the supported features by level. The two biggest take-aways to notice are shader model level 2 and max texture size of 4096.

    Windows phone 8 devices come in three resolutions: 480x800(WVGA), 768x1280 (WXGA) and 720x1280(720p). To find the resolution of your device, you can query the Screen.width and Screen.height properties within your Unity scripts; you can then scale appropriately within the game. For static assets outside the game (tiles, splash image, etc.) supplying assets for the WXGA resolution often suffices, Windows Phone will scale these.

    Memory comes in multiple configurations: 512 MB of RAM for the WVGA devices, and minimum of 1GB RAM for the 720p devices. The newest phones such as Nokia 1020 are up to 2GB.

    The OS limits how much memory a single application can consume; for lower memory phones this is around 150MB for a single app, and it goes up to around 380MB for higher memory phones. There are capabilities you can declare in your manifest to opt into specific memory behaviours and to opt out of running on low-end devices.

    The default Unity projects opt into the ID_FUNC_EXTENDED_MEM capability, which says your game will run in a lower memory device, getting up to 180 MB. You can opt out of lower memory devices by using the ID_REQ_MEMORY_300 capability; learn more about the limits and the capabilities from the App Memory Limits documentation.

    Accelerometer is available on all phones and directly accessible from Unity APIs.

    Magnetometer and gyroscope are optional on the hardware on the phone. Compass APIs are not implemented in 4.2, but they are in the upcoming 4.3 release.

    Hardware Back button. All Windows Phones have a dedicated back button and there are specific guidelines on what an app should do when the back button is pressed:

    • If you have implemented navigation within your app, pressing the back button should go back to the previous step in your navigation.

    • If you are inside a modal dialog (e.g. settings or achievements, etc.) pressing back button should dismiss the dialog.

    • If you are not in a dialog and you are at the root of the navigation game (or you do not have navigation in your game), pressing the back button should exit the game.

    To handle the back button, use the same mechanism as android: listen for the Escape key.

    Note that proper handling of the back button is a certification requirement. If you do not handle it, you will fail certification. The default code exported from Unity does not handle it, they do the work to suppress it, and expect you to handle Escape key. If you do not want to waste cycles on every update listening for the Escape key you have a game with a single screen and no modal dialogs where the back button would always exit the game, you can comment out the e.Cancel assignment from the

       1: BackKeyPress event handler in MainPage.xaml.cs
       2: private void PhoneApplicationPage_BackKeyPress(object sender,CancelEventArgs e) 
       3: { 
       4: //e.Cancel = UnityApp.BackButtonPressed();
       5: }

    Performance

    As any mobile platform, performance is important and you should test for it. Most of the standard Unity guidance on optimizations for mobile devices applies. Most games should not need platform specific optimizations (outside of tweaking visual features to the GPU capabilities on phone). For those looking to get every drop of performance, interop cost on Windows is a bit higher than on Mono. You need to be smart about crossing the boundaries from your script (C# or UnityScript) to the unity engine (which is written in native code).

    A few APIs are still in progress

    Unity support for Windows Phone is still growing so not all APIs have been ported, there is only a few missing,

    • Compass support is not in Unity 4.2

    • Location services is not in Unity 4.2

    • Webcam support is not in Unity 4.2

    •  Microphone support is not in Unity 4.2.

    • WWW is implemented but multiplayer networking APIs are missing. You can used .NET APIs or third party libraries (e.g. photon) as an alternative.

    • GPU profiling is not available yet.

    • Application.OpenURL is not implemented. You can use the Windows Phone WebBrowserTask for this.

    Adding Windows Phone 8 Features

    Enhancing your game with some of the Windows Phone platform features

    Tiles & push notifications

    The Windows Phone Start screen is a signature and highly praised feature in Windows phone. Tiles are the ‘first impression’ your users will get about your app; when used effectively, tiles can be a differentiator that drives continuous engagement to your game.

    Anyone shipping a game for Windows phone should read the introduction to tiles for Windows Phone and the tile design guidelines for Windows Phone.

    At a minimum, your game should have beautiful tile that meets the design guidelines on all possible sizes – tiles come in 3 sizes: 159x159 (small), 336x336(medium) and 691x336(wide).

    To configure and include the tiles for your app, you must use Visual Studio’s manifest editor and include the images in your VS project.

    Once you have a beautiful static tile, consider how to “invite” your users to come and play often. If you have a turn-based game, you can use the tile to notify the user of their turn; if you have a game that can start at any level, let the user create a secondary tile that lets’ them pin their favorite level and start there every time. If you have any server-side features (high scores from peers, special offers, etc.) use Windows phone push notifications to let the user know about your offers or any other relevant data that invites your user to play a game. You can also do local notifications, and scheduled tiles. There is a lot of different options to keep your start screen alive.

    Unity does not include APIs for tiles and since Unity uses the Mono compiler, you can’t just include a script in your project to access tiles (the compiler won’t be able to resolve this), you must do a plugin and compile it using Visual Studio. For details on the tile APIs for Windows Phone, refer to the ShellTile class.

    Splash Screen Image

    A few seconds will pass between a user tapping to launch your game, and the Unity engine rendering it to the screen. Windows Phone allows you to configure an image that the OS will show between the time the user launches your app and when XAML UI is rendered to the screen. This image is a JPG and you can configure different sizes for the different phone resolutions:

    Resolution

    Image size in pixels

    Filename (you must use)

    WVGA

    480x800

    SplashScreenImage.screen-WVGA.jpg

    WXGA

    768x1280

    SplashScreenImage.screen-WXGA.jpg

    720p

    720x1280

    SplashScreenImage.screen-720p.jpg

    You can also just include a single image called SphashscreenImage.jpg, this is what the default Unity builds do; if you are shipping a single image, make it the WXGA size, the OS will scale appropriately.

    The Unity 4.2 Player Settings dialog does not allow you to override the Splash Image with your own, so you must configure it in Visual Studio. Instructions on where to copy the images to and what resolutions to use are in this How to create a Splash Screen walk-through.

    Having a splash screen is a must-do, but it is usually not enough. Windows Phone only shows the splash image while the app is getting started and once it is ready to show XAML UI, it transitions into this XAML UI. For some games, there are still a couple seconds between that and your Unity UI. To get around this, you can just edit your XAML to display your splash image (or any other UI you want to display) until Unity is ready. For details on how to accomplish this, look at the “Extending your splash image” in the common tasks section below.

    Monetization APIs

    Windows Phone offers different options for monetizing your game.

    Beyond the one-time purchase of your game, Windows Phone offers trials (that you would need to convert to a full purchase), in-app purchase for durables and consumables and advertising.

    To access the in-app purchase APIs you will need to write a Unity plugin. MSDN has a great overview of the in-app purchase APIs, most concepts will feel ‘familiar’ for those who have implemented in-app purchase in other platforms. The only ‘quirk’ you will encounter is that Windows Phone does not have a staging environment to test in app purchase. There is a Mock API library that you can use for your development; if you feel that testing the in-app purchase APIs (not just the mock library) is absolutely required before submitting to the store, then do a beta for your game. This would allow you to test inapp purchase using the real APIs before you submit to production.

    If you prefer to purchase a plugin instead of writing one, here are vendors that have plugins. RobotoWP for Windows Phone , BitRave and Prime31 have Microsoft Store plugin and lots of other useful Windows Phone and Windows store plugins such as Microsoft ads plugin, and an essential plugins that includes a lot of sharing tasks

    Submitting to the store

    To submit to the store, you will need your Windows Phone developer account and a licensed version of Unity. The trial version of Unity, will produce a water mark in the build that says “development build” on the bottom right of your game, and this will not pass certification. The Unity addins for Windows Phone are free for Unity basic and even Unity Pro users, so just contact Unity to get your free license.

    When you are ready to submit to the store, follow these steps.

    1. Check out the App certification requirements for Windows Phone 2. Become familiar with Windows Phone app product submission process.

    3. Run your app through the Windows Phone Store Test Kit. The Windows Phone Store test kit is a suite of automated tests and manual tests for your game. The kit will identify and help you fix issues that Microsoft testers will find during certification; by finding them early, you will save a lot of time. The store kit can be executed from within visual studio (under the project tab), this walkthrough gives you step-by step- instructions and details on running the kit.

    You will be tempted to just run the automated tests and ignore the manual ones; this is a bad idea; you can learn a lot about the platform and about making your game better from looking at what the Microsoft certification folks are testing for; give the manual tests a try and see how your game fares.

    4. We recommend you go through a beta submission. More details at the “Beta testing your app” page , on MSDN

    5. Submit your master configuration. Unity will create a debug, release, and master configuration for your visual Studio project. Make sure you submit the master, not the release one.

    Other useful references

    • Unity’s Windows Phone 8: Getting Started guide is a must read.

    • The getting started with Windows Phone will walk you through downloading the tools, registering your phone for development (aka unlocking the phone) and writing a basic app that walks you through Visual studio project structure.

    • The Windows Phone SDK samples collection has hundreds of coding samples to accomplish specific tasks.

    Debugging a Windows Phone game

    Unity has instructions on debugging with visual studio.

    Profiling in Visual Studio

    Unity has instructions on profiling Windows phone apps

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Academic Search

    • 4 Comments

    The Academic Search beta is a free search engine, developed by Microsoft Research, that helps users quickly find information about academic researchers and their activities. It is also a test-bed for our object-level vertical search research.

    With Academic Search, you can easily find top researchers and their papers, conferences, and journals. You can also find relationships between researchers who co-authored papers. Academic Search will be changing its name with the upcoming release of new and improved features. In the meantime, try Academic Search and explore more than 15 million publications.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Cloud Services SDK for Windows Phone 7 Beta

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    Wp7

    Project Hawaii Releases Cloud Services SDK for Windows Phone 7 Beta

    The MRC Engineering team, in collaboration with the newly formed Microsoft Mobile Computing Research Center (MCRC), has released the fourth and final cloud service for Windows Phone 7 development: Optical Character Recognition (OCR).

    This OCR service is the next step in the evolution of
    Project Hawaii, the Microsoft Research project that is exploring how to take full advantage of the cloud to enhance the use of smartphones.

    With Hawaii OCR, you can use your smartphone's camera to take a picture of an object that contains text (in Roman characters), send the image to the cloud, and in return receive a Unicode string of the text. This text string can be used in a number of interesting scenarios, such as translation of street signs or restaurant menus.

    Download the SDK and start building Windows Phone 7 apps today. For more details, read the Aloha: Text from the Cloud blog.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Hyper-V: List of SLAT-Capable CPUs for Hosts

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    HyperV

    With the announcement that you can run Hyper-V on the Windows 8 client. I have had a lot of  questions regarding this? I did do a post back in August explaining the process of checking your PC estate for SLAT Support see http://blogs.msdn.com/b/uk_faculty_connection/archive/2012/08/31/if-your-thinking-of-installing-windows-8-are-your-labs-machine-capable.aspx

    A number of people have reported simple having problems running Hyper-V on  a Windows 8 client as it requires SLAT to run Hyper-V.

    Running Hyper-V on Windows Server 2012 does *not* require SLAT but most institutions don't want to install a server OS as a desktop operating system.  SLAT is a feature of the CPU. It is called “Rapid Virtualization Indexing (RVI)”, and has been called Extended Page Tables (EPT) by Intel and Nested Page Tables (NPT) by AMD.

    You can use Wikipedia to  look up Intel Nehalem and AMD NPT:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_Nehalem

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMD-V_Nested_Paging

    Processors that support SLAT

    • Intel processors whose names start with 'i', e.g. i3, i5, i7, i9. (There may be exceptions, but I'm not aware of any.)
    • Any Intel CPUs based on Nehalem, Westmere, or Sandybridge micro-architectures. (There may be exceptions, but I'm not aware of any.)

    For AMD machines you can look up the supported models at http://support.amd.com/us/kbarticles/Pages/GPU120AMDRVICPUsHyperVWin8.aspx

    Tools for testing for SLAT

    Microsoft’s Mark Russinovich has also created a really nice utility coreinfo.exe  You can simply run coreinfo.ext and it will  detect EPT and NPT (SLAT) support on your CPU. 

    To test your machine, simply download coreinfo.exe from Microsoft Sysinternals http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/cc835722  and use the coreinfo -v switch to list the features. An asterisk * next to a feature indicates that it is supported. A minus sign - indicates no support for that feature.

    Note: Coreinfo must be executed on a system without a hypervisor running for accurate results and under a administrator account on Windows 8.


    For example here is a screenshot from my Lenovo X200 series tablet

    coreinfo

    “*” means the feature is present   

    “-“ means it is missing

    Alternatively, you can use Windows PowerShell to capture your specific CPU model this could be scripted to report the state of your entire PC labs or cluster estate the PowerShell command is gwmi win32_processor

     

    Powershell

     

    NOTE: Be sure to include the specific family/model/stepping since different processor revisions may have different feature sets.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Surface Windows RT device Now available to pre order

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    Pre Order your Surface with Windows RT

     

    Surface with Windows RT    SurfaceRt Surface_Win_RT_side

     

     

    Who says that pretty can’t be practical?

    It’s time for a tablet that’s more than meets the eye. Powerful processing and beautiful design unite on Surface. Whether you’re working hard or hardly working, Surface’s integrated Kickstand and revolutionary Touch Cover let you work, play, and connect with others like never before. Plug into external displays like projectors and HDTV, and share your world1. Pre-loaded with Windows RT, Microsoft Office 2013 RT2, Xbox apps, and other essentials.

    Price

    64 GB with Black Touch Cover £559.00 incl. VAT

    32 GB with Black Touch Cover £479.00 incl. VAT

    32 GB without Black Touch Cover  £399.00 incl. VAT

    Your order will ship by October 26 and arrive by October 30.

    For more details and to order see http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msuk/en_GB/pdp/productID.257929400?WT.mc_id=FY13WinHH

    Check out the Surface Your tube Channel http://www.youtube.com/user/surface 

    Follow Surface on Twitter @surface

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Scirra Construct2 a tool for students to rapidly develop games for Windows 8

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    Guest blog by Andrew Wilson, Course Director, BSc (Hons) Computer Games Technology, Birmingham City University

    image

    Introducing students to the processes of game development that is designing, prototyping, play testing and refining the original idea has to be fun and engaging. Many students joining game development courses such as ours at Birmingham City University have little exposure to programming and can be frustrated by not being able to develop their game ideas as quickly as they hoped.

    Therefore to complement the teaching of software development tools such as Microsoft XNA Game Studio, MonoGame or Unity3D we need tools where our students can quickly produce fun playable games and which they can learn very quickly.

    As an experiment in 2012 a group of first year students were asked to develop a mobile game based on a brief set by a local independent games studio Distorted Poetry. The students were allowed to use a tool of their choice as long as it was free and that they were comfortable with teaching it to themselves. Teaching other people is one of the best ways of learning and an approach we encourage and cultivate on the BSc Computer Games Technology course a skill that has rewarded several of our students with employment in local games studios.

    scirra-logo-01

    The 2012 teams predominately chose Scirra’s Construct2 as developing games in HTML5 was high on their agenda. Construct2 is a very nice tool to learn game development without the overhead of learning complex coding practises. Once the students mastered the environment they quickly developed game ideas within a few hours.

    Construct2 game Soul survivor developed by first year BCU Computer Games Technology students (2102)

    image

    This year’s first years were given the challenge of developing a Construct2 game for Microsoft’s Imagine Cup 2013. They have just completed their prototypes and are in the process of play-testing their games.

    Their ideas are clever and innovative and demonstrates how easy Construct2 is to learn and what is achievable with it

    image image

    First year Computer Games Technology (2013) prototypes for this year’s Microsoft Imagine Cup

    Deploying to different platforms has also been made incredible easy with the export function and can be published onto the Windows 8 App store which is available to students via dreamspark. A great addition that helps students develop their portfolio of published games which is very important for a career as a games developer.

    image image

    Usman Mohammad, a second year Computer Games Technology student, is working on a Birmingham City University Student Academic Partner Programme.

    image

    This scheme is a unique partnership involving the Students' Union and Birmingham City University. The scheme topped the 2010 Times Higher Education (THE) Awards in the ‘Outstanding Support for Students’ category. Usman is working on developing a workshop using Construct2 which can be used in our University’s outreach and master class programmes, where school and college students can have an introduction to games development and experience studying in our University.

    So well done to Scirra and we hope you keep producing such an excellent teaching tool.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows 8 Metro Style Gaming

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    Next week I will be at the Develop Conference, attending some of the 103 sessions, 5 keynotes, and on the Microsoft stand at the Expo. I’m looking forward to networking with the 1500 developers and 450 companies during the event and discussing the opportunity of developing Windows 8 Metro Style games.

    develop

    On http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh452780.aspx we list options for developing Windows 8 games.

    At present there are over 50 games available in the store using the above technologies, here are some good links to get started

    · Metro style app using JavaScript. You can use the established web technologies: HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript to develop full-screen, chrome-free games.

    Slide2

    http://bit.ly/metroGamesJS

    · Metro style app using C++, C#, or Visual Basic and XAML. You can use managed code languages like C# and Visual Basic to develop 2D (and lightweight 3D) games. If you have developed in Silverlight for Internet Explorer or Windows Phone 7, this model will feel very familiar.

    Slide1

    http://bit.ly/metroGames

    · Metro style C++ with DirectX. You can develop both 2D and 3D games that effectively use the graphics processing horsepower on a range of Windows desktops and 3D-enabled Windows devices, from high powered gaming rigs to low power slates. It requires a strong working knowledge of Windows programming and native C/C++.

    Slide3

    http://bit.ly/metroGamesDX

    Tutorials

    C++/Direct3D

    There are a number of online tutorial around Marble Maze which is a DirectX game written in C++. This leads you to the more basic “Hello World” example over here although while the results of that example are “Hello World” in nature.

    There’s another, more realistic sample over here with a walk-through to build up a Metro style shooting game. It takes the form of a completed code sample and a walk through of what’s going on in that sample.

    It runs to around 40 source files.

    The key learning outcome for starting to build games for Metro are as follows as these would make excellent starting points for curricula development for Developing Metro Style Games.

    1) Understanding how a Metro style app gets on the screen – i.e. the infrastructure around IFrameworkViewSource and IFrameworkView.

    2) Understanding C++/CX which is a bunch of C++ extensions relatively familiar to people like me who’ve come from the C++/CLI world but a bit odd to a regular C++ developer.

    3) Understanding some of the technologies used like the Parallel Patterns Library (PPL) which our default templates throw at you.

    4) Understanding some of the C++ 11 techniques like lambdas which our default templates also throw at you.

    5) Understanding how a Metro style app is meant to work from the point of view of lifecycle management (i.e. suspend/resume/terminate).

    6) Understanding the WinRT APIs available and their main usage and purpose.

    Steps 5 & 6 are common to any Windows 8 Metro style app developer.

    JavaScript

    There is a JavaScript tutorial but the game involved is very, very basic.

    Frameworks

    As we are all aware, there are many game engines /frameworks (middleware) available. Some of these are already supporting development for Win 8 metro games whilst others are planning to support it within the coming months. I have listed the ones which are or have short terms plans to support W8 metro apps. I am sure that there will be more to come…

    Unity

    http://unity3d.com/

    A full games development tool/suite – physics, rendering, scripting, AI etc.

    Windows 8 Metro support:                         coming soon (for GA)

    Dev languages:                                                 (game scripting) C#, Javascript

    MonoGame

    http://monogame.codeplex.com/

    An Open Source, OpenGL implementation of the Microsoft XNA 4 Framework

    Windows 8 Metro support:                         coming soon (‘later this year’)

    Dev languages:                                                 C#/XNA

    SharpDX

    http://sharpdx.org/

    SharpDX is an open-source project delivering the full DirectX API under the .Net platform, allowing the development of high performance game, 2D and 3D graphics rendering as well as realtime sound application.

    Windows 8 Metro support:                         Now

    Dev languages:                                                 C#

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Server 2012 within teaching, learning and research

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    server2012

    Well this week marked another important milestone for Microsoft with the release of Windows Server 2012, on Tuesday 4th of September, Microsoft made the official announcement of Windows Server 2012 you watch all the content at http://www.windows-server-launch.com

    What’s new in Server 2012

    Microsoft has positioned this as a very cloud-friendly OS. So its more important then ever to start ensuring your teaching cloud fundamentals to your students to help with this we have dedicated curriculum at http://www.microsoft.com/faculty

    Here are some of the new features.

    • New file system — Included in Windows Server 2012 is ReFS, a new file system designed to survive failures that would bring down or corrupt the previous NTFS file system (which is still available). Combined with improvements in cluster management and failover, this is a capability that will play across the entire user spectrum.
    • Deploy and manage at scale Windows Server 2012  is designed to make it easy to deploy multiple copies of the OS on geographically distributed systems. Obviously this is a good feature for cloud platform, but is of use to almost any enterprise IT group. Improvements in application development and deployment promise the ability to deploy any Windows Server 2012 application to any location(s) from a centralized deployment server.
    • Vastly improved Hyper-V, virtual networking, and associated tools Windows Server 2012 has many improvements to Hyper-V, including features to improve HA/DR provisioning, enhanced virtual networking, and improvements to the size of individual VMs. Microsoft’s new management solution, Systems Center 2012, offers deep integration with Hyper-V for advanced management.
    • Heavy emphasis on multi-tenancy A fundamental for deploying clouds, either as an internal private cloud or as a service provider offering shared cloud services, the ability to securely and efficiently handle multiple tenants on the cloud is a fundamental requirement. Windows Server 2012 has multiple features to enhance this capability, most of which will also be potentially useful for traditional enterprise IT environments as well. Security across the entire OS is integrated with these enhancements as well.
    • Client and remote office functions Improved management of client devices to allow centralized control of data and enhanced audit and compliance. Improvements in Branch Cache remote file services will allow tighter and more efficient management of data served to remote offices.

    So, what are the press and analyst saying about Windows Server 2012?

    Windows Server 2012 offers a major step in function capabilities aligned with several major strategic trends for both Microsoft and the rest of the industry.

    The team at Forrester posted a blog titled, “Microsoft Announces Windows Server 2012,” Here are just a few quotes.

    On the release of Windows Server 2012 as a whole:

    “Make no mistake, this is a really major restructuring of the OS, and a major step in function capabilities aligned with several major strategic trends for both Microsoft and the rest of the industry. While Microsoft’s high level message is centered on the cloud, and on the Windows Server 2012 features that make it a productive platform upon which both enterprises and service providers can build a cost-effective cloud, its features will be immensely valuable to a wide range of businesses.”

    There is no doubt that this is the most significant jump in OS capabilities since Microsoft first introduced Windows as a server OS.”

    Forrester Says Evaluate Windows Server 2012 NOW:

    “But, and this is critical, you must begin to evaluate and pilot it even if you are still completing your rollout of Windows Server 2008, as many Forrester clients still are. My guess is that WS2012 is the future of Windows OS, and will probably serve as the core of Microsoft’s strategy for the next decade. I doubt their ability to produce a radical upgrade to this in the next four or five years, and even the next version of the OS is likely to look like WS2012. This implies that you need to understand how this new OS will change and enable your strategic IT road map, particularly since the new OS has features and capabilities that, if properly exploited by you (or by your competitors), could generate real competitive differentiation such as the ability to deploy applications more rapidly, manage them more efficiently, etc.”

    What does this mean For IT Students and curricula?

    Firstly if your teaching infrastructure, administration, storage, cloud or virtualisation its critical, that you begin to evaluate and become familiar with Windows Server 2012. As academics you have a number of ways of doing this.

    1. Download a trial version from http://www.windows-server-launch.com

    2. Download and install a full version for FREE for teaching, learning and research in your labs and computer clusters from DreamSpark Premiumhttp://www.dreamspark.com 

    3. Point your students at www.dreamspark.com and get them to install windows server 2012 and get familiar. For further details and FAQ click here

    The key thing is that understand how this new OS will change and enable your strategic curricula roadmap, particularly since the new OS has features and capabilities that, could generate real competitive differentiation for your student employability giving them experience of skills such as the ability to deploy applications more rapidly, manage them more efficiently have experience of the Windows Azure IaaS, PaaS and SaaS options and virtualisation using HyperV.

    Recommendations

    1. You should evaluate this new release.

    2. Make use of FREE training resources for your IT Services and support teams at https://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/

    3. Attend one of our FREE IT Camps to get deeper understanding of Windows Server 2012 http://uktechdays.cloudapp.net/it-camps.aspx

    4. Make use of the curricula and teaching resources at http://www.microsoft.com/faculty

    5. Consider running older OS and software stacks within a VM, particularly given the improvements to the overall Hyper-V environment.

    6. If your contemplating a major new cloud or virtualization project or initiative, Windows Server 2012 should be the platform of choice, simply because of the FREE licensing options for teaching, learning and research as part of DreamSpark premium.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Server 2012 Certification and Training

    • 3 Comments

    Windows Server 2012 Training & Certification Now Available to all Microsoft IT Academy members

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    if your interested in IT Academy please visit http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/itacademy/

     

    1) Certifications and official Microsoft training and certifications are now available for Windows Server 2012, Windows 8, Private Cloud, Windows Store Application

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    In addition to this we now have new structure for Microsoft Technical Certifications

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    With a dedicated number of suitable examinations for the FE/HE education market which adds added value to the student experience and curriculum content aligning your courses with employees requirements.

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    2) Windows Server Certification and examination tracks

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    3) Microsoft Second Shot promotion is active so students (and lecturers) get a FREE retake if they do not pass first time for more info click here

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    4) Courseware available for Windows Server 2012 is now available to all Microsoft IT Academy members   

    Module 1: Managing a Windows Server 2012 Infrastructure

    •What's New in Server Manager

    •Introducing IP Address Management

    •PowerShell and Server Core Enhancements

    •What’s New in Active Directory

    •Introducing Dynamic Access Control

    Module 2: Network, Storage, and Service Access in Windows Server 2012

    •Storage Enhancements

    •What's New in Remote Access

    •New and Improved Networking Technologies

    •Availability Enhancements

    Module 3: Server Virtualization in Windows Server 2012

    •Storage Enhancements

    •What’s New in Networking

    •Introducing Hyper-V Replica

    •What’s New in Live Migration

    •What’s New in Guest Clustering and VM Monitoring

    More Info:

    First Look Clinic Syllabus

    Hands On Lab Syllabus

    5) Microsoft IT Academy now  includes a number of enhanced resources including new online digital content and resources for more information click here

     

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    Click Here for the FREE E-Book on Windows Server 2012

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Installing Visual Studio 2012 and enabling developer licenses for Windows 8 apps

    • 3 Comments

     

    The  RTM versions of Visual Studio 2012 require developer activation to enable the developer to develop a Windows Store application.

    This activation is via a registered LiveID/Microsoft Account, and simply enrols VS2012 for a 90 day development license.

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    I have a had a number of question how do we do this?

    The process you must be undertaken by a local admin on the desktop, you must also have access to Visual Studio and register your LiveID/MicrosoftID against the machines copy of Visual Studio 2012..

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    To enable you to undertake the activation on a large scale deployment such as University or college lab environment here are some tips


    We are in the process of producing necessary documentation and white papers but In the meantime the following FAQ is helpful:

    ·         Does the developer license only have to be acquired/renewed in relation to Windows Store app development?
    Yes. To be precise: You need the developer license to install, develop, test and evaluate new style apps BEFORE you submit them to the Window Store. To be able to submit an app to the Windows Store, you'll need to open a separate Windows Store developer account through the developer website.

    ·         Is the license per user or per machine?
    Per User and machine, see http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh974578.aspx

    ·         It seems that you have to have local administrator privileges to renew the license, is that correct?
    YES

    ·         Is the renewal of the license something that could be automated by an administrator via remotely deployed PowerShell scripts?
    YES, see section "Getting a developer license at a command prompt" at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh974578.aspx

    ·         How can I use a DreamSpark account?
    Here is how to associate your DreamSpark account to a Microsoft account and also get a developer license for Windows Phone/Xbox development
    http://blogs.msdn.com/b/uk_faculty_connection/archive/2012/02/29/dreamspark-and-apphub-account-creation-simplified.aspx

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