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With this blog we want to inform you on our latest initiatives.
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Last week we had a huge Microsoft representation at Eurogamer ranging from Xbox360, XboxOne, Windows Phone and Windows 8 demonstrating our devcies, services and latest titles. During the event I had a lots of interesting discussions with game devs, educators and students, one of the key themes of discussion was what is the best technology to build my games with?
To address this I think you need to look at the industry and some best practices, hands down Unity is now by far the most popular middleware and what we are seeing is right now some real platform and service differentiators.
One of the cool factor about Win 8 is XAML and its support for D3D11. However one of the key debates from existing Windows Silverlight developers is which skills do I need to learn, my simply comment is if we are given a choice I would suggest that you with go with XAML/C# and this where some great open source project come in such as MonoGame which I have spoken a lot about in the past on this blog and SharpDx.
I know for many games devs building for Windows 8 they have spent a lot of time seeing if there was a way to combine D3D11 and XAML. I would simply say stop searching and start focusing on doing XAML with some DirectX immediate mode rendering.
The following is a simply walkthrough of how to do some DirectX immediate mode rendering in your C#/XAML app using the SharpDx library. This isnt a new subject and one the original MSDN Blog was published on exactly this, Combining XAML and DirectX. The blog is an excellent starting point and talks about what is possible with DirectX and XAML.
So what is SharpDx
SharpDx is a very thin library that exposes the DirectX api’s for use in C# WinRT apps. SharpDx exposes the DirectX API’s nearly 1-to-1 with no higher level abstraction (like what XNA is).
SharpDX is FREE
You can simply use the SharpDx library to render DirectX content in your XAML/C# apps via the controls mentioned in Combining XAML and DirectX (SurfaceImageHost & SwapChainBackgroundPanel) nt.
I’ll spend this post walking you through how to get this all setup.
Step 1 : Get SharpDx
Current stable version of SharpDX is 2.5.0.
SharpDX binaries are directly downloadable from this web site or available from nuget packages.
SharpDX is now bundled into 2 separate packages, for all platforms and .NET Framework:
There is also a Visual Studio Extension available with Project Templates for the Toolkit. Search for SharpDX in Extension Manager in VisualStudio 2012 and install it from there
Step 3 : Build SharpDx code
email@example.com:sharpdx/SharpDX.git // use https://github.com/sharpdx/SharpDX.git if you don't have a github account
Step 4 : Using these DirectX-C# libraries to render islands of DirectX in your XAML (SurfaceImageSource)
The SharpDx team have some great samples that show how to use these libraries to render DirectX content in your XAML surface via the SurfaceImageSource element.
The 2 “Rectangle” elements below are “Filled” with the SurfaceImageSource DirectX rendered content.
The d3dRectangle will load the SurfaceImageSource content generated via the Direct3D pipeline
The d2dRectangle will load the SurfaceImageSource content generated via the Direct2D pipeline.
This demo shows both pipelines for rendering content,
This rendered surface is just bitmap content so you can mix XAML all over or under it at your convenience!
Step 5 : Using these DirectX-C# libraries to render full page DirectX under your XAML (SwapChainBackgroundPanel)
This second sample shows how to render a FULL screen DirectX surface underneath XAML using the SwapChainBackgroundPanel.
Without going into too much detail the SwapChainBackgroundPanel lets you render DirectX content underneath your XAML content, because the XAML content sits within the SwapChainBackgroundPanel as a child.
Let me know how you get on and what interesting games or apps you end up building with SharpDx.
Need access to Windows Azure outside the classroom? Working on a project on cloud computing? Or maybe your master thesis? As a student you can take advantage of the free Windows Azure trial offer and run a Small Windows Azure instance with a 1GB SQL Azure database for 90 days*
Get the free trial
*A Windows Live ID and credit card are required for proof of identity. There is no obligation to purchase at the end of the free trial.
Ideal for those with fundamental programming skills, this tutorial provides practical, learn-by-doing exercises for mastering the entire Windows Azure platform.
For more details see http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/community/education/program/overview/
Last weekend I went along to Hack to the Future, the idea of Alan O’Donohoe, Teknoteacher on Twitter. Alan is a Secondary School ITC teacher in Preston. However Alan really wants to make a difference for the next generation. Alan decided to setup up a unconference to support the development of Computer Science to young people in the form of a day of informal learning entitled – Hack to the Future or #h2df.
A direct quote from Alan
It is an un-conference that aims to provide young digital creators aged 11 – 18 with positive experiences of computing science and other closely related fields, ensuring that the digital creators of today engage with the digital creators of tomorrow. We plan to offer a day that will inspire, engage and encourage young digital creator
It is an un-conference that aims to provide young digital creators aged 11 – 18 with positive experiences of computing science and other closely related fields, ensuring that the digital creators of today engage with the digital creators of tomorrow.
We plan to offer a day that will inspire, engage and encourage young digital creator
I’m proud to say that Microsoft fully supports events such as so we involved Microsoft Research, MS Press and a number of other key partners to help support the event. Myself and Steven Johnston from Southampton University, who is also working with Microsoft Research as a Gadgeteer outreach manager developed a plan and we set off for Preston. The event was all about the young people and it was amazing to see over 350+ young people plus around 100 teachers and parents attending the various talks, workshops and sessions at H2df. I have to stress the workshops and sessions at H2df were all hands on, and code based and Steven and myself spent the day at Hack to the future #h2df getting attendees hands on with the Microsoft .NET Gadgeter and had a great day.
We ran 7 sessions each with 10 laptops/kits and were packed out each session. (each kit with 3/4 students, we had to turn some students away due to the demand so apologies if you did not attend). Below is a copy of the sessions which we completed. I have to state on the day we far more hands on with Visual Studio 2010 and C# and astounded by the skills of some of the younger developer (Hacklings, as Alan calls them)
During the session the attendees built the camera and those that completed early - built a cardboard case and mounted the components to create a a digital camera. Thanks to @coletteweston for these great pic of her daughter at the event who as you can see was very successful.
Overall the event was inspiring with children using Visual Studio 2010, some without any prior experience and writing C# and getting to play with the GHI Fez Spider Gadgeteer kits to build a fully working digital camera in around 30 mins – 45 mins. Hack to the Future was an amazing day and really well done to Alan and the team of Our Ladies High School.
To end the day, Alan put on some indoor fireworks and did his his famous #h2df rap. Well done to Alan and all the other volunteers at Hack to the Future and a great start to inspiring computer scientist of the future.
I had a interesting discussion this morning with a business school looking at introducing Mobile App development one of the key things within their assessment is the proof of prototypes and wireframes we got onto discussing the opportunity and advantages of using Microsoft Expression, SketchFlow.
SketchFlow addresses three pain points in software sketching and prototyping:
It makes it easier to experiment with ideas for dynamic user interaction. It facilitates communication of design ideas and intent between designers and other stakeholders. It makes it easier to gather, evaluate and use stakeholder feedback on design ideas.
The mission of the Expression team is to help designers to create great user experiences. We believe that this mission needs to begin with the early exploration phases of design. SketchFlow,
SketchFlow is a set of tools for Expression Blend to create sketches and prototypes of interactive content and applications, giving Blend a new role in pre-production and design phases of the development process.
SketchFlow is informal and quick, enabling you to sketch out plentiful ideas for dynamic interactions in a cost effective manner. SketchFlow also supports the evolution of your rough sketches into living and breathing prototypes that can be as real as you need them to be.
SketchFlow is part of Expression Blend so FREE from www.dreamspark.com
Throughout the software industry, we historically have not spent much effort on the earlier stages of design. This lack of upfront investment in design often leads to increased cost due to a need for expensive rework at a later stage and to products that may not satisfy our customers.
Great design for software needs a great design process, and ways to make the exploration, communication and evaluation of interaction and design fast and effective are an important part of great process.
Sketching, and, at a slightly later stage of the design process, prototyping, are wonderful techniques to explore a multitude of ideas quickly, without excessive investment and emotional attachment. Software interaction is highly dynamic, and over the last years we have consistently have pushed more in the direction of rich, dynamic visuals and interaction methods. Expectations have risen greatly. However, it is far from easy to create meaningful design studies and sketches of dynamic interactivity entirely with traditional tools. There are many reasons for that, including the fact that most design tools have been created as production tools, focused on the creation of final production assets, where precision, quality and finish matter. Another reason is that most tools still treat UI as something that is just a small derivation from an otherwise static comp.
SketchFlow provides a way to showcase your prototype to others using the SketchFlow Player. The SketchFlow Player allows you to explore the prototype from the first moment on, even while it consists of nothing but a few rough sketches. The player lets you navigate your prototype, run animations that illustrate how your prototype might work, or switch into different states of your UI, all without wiring up actual UI elements. This lowers the cost of evaluating ideas in early stages before much expense has been incurred.
But showing a prototype to others is only part of the review process, so the SketchFlow Player provides tools to collect feedback from reviewers. Reviewers can provide feedback either as text, like the comments in the Feedback tab in the screenshot below, or as ink, like the red arrow in the screenshot below. Then you can incorporate this feedback into the prototype using the Feedback panel in Expression Blend, allowing you to iterate on your design using suggestions from your team.
Tutorials on Sketchflow http://www.microsoft.com/design/toolbox/school/tutorials.aspx
For more information, watch a video on Sketchflow
If you have done any reading about Windows 8, one thing all the press is focusing on is Windows 8 offers and unprecedented opportunity to monetize your developer skills.
Combining the broad reach of Windows which already exists, a new developer platform in the form of Windows Store Apps, best-in-class developer tools Visual Studio 2012 and Team Foundation Server, a reimagined user experience with Windows Store, Metro Style Apps, support for new chipsets Intel and RTM, and a built-in Store with industry-leading business terms, with initial revenue share of 70% revenue for you 30 % for Microsoft and 100% in app purchase revenue to you.
Windows 8 is the largest developer opportunity, ever! So lets look at some of the reasons for developers to consider writing applications for the Windows Store.
There is more than 1.25 billion Windows users globally. The market potential for your selling your application is enormous. Clearly, the market for Windows-based applications far outnumbers anything else. Thinking about academia specifically, potential employers will be wanting to recruit students with the skills, experience and portfolio of existing Windows 8 apps to build their latest software releases.
2. The Scale of the Windows Opportunity
Simply put the Windows Store offers a marketplace for your application with a global reach of 200+ markets, 100+ languages, even distribution to enterprise customers. A generous revenue sharing model is in place. Imagine that you keep 70-80% of the revenue share from your application.
3. So what are we doing to help
4. So What type of App should I be building?
5. The Windows Store Ensures Visibility Strong support for search, category browsing, ranking lists, editorial content. The Windows Store features latest, most popular, and fast rising apps.
6. Enterprise Support Don’t limit yourself to consumer apps. Perhaps you have an idea for an Enterprise application. Luckily, the Windows Store will have rich support for deployment and management scenarios. Compliance and security is built in. There is support for direct control over the deployment of Metro style apps.
7. How you make money Your applications can be time-based and feature-based trials, paid apps, including in-app purchases. In-app purchases can help you customize the transaction flow with the customer. Sales analytics can also help you increase your reach.
8. Free Apps - Many choose to offer free applications + an ad model I personally think it makes the most sense to get your application out there as a trial. We have learned from the Windows Phone marketplace that trial versions get 70 times more downloads than paid versions. 10% of those convert to the paid version, typically within a few hours.
1. The Windows Dev Center
2. The Windows engineering and Windows Store teams are blogging regularly at the following sites
· Windows 8 app developer blog: Get coding and design best practices and tips, and updates on events and offers for developers.
· Windows Store for developers blog: Get all the latest news on doing business in the Windows Store.
We have just released a new Training & Certification Guide app into the Windows 8 store
The app is a great tool for student, educators and professionals for evaluating which technical courses and certifications should be completed to gain Microsoft Professional Certifications.
The Training and Certification Guide features an interactive chart of our technical certifications mapped by courseware and exam. Clicking on the ‘subway map’ takes a user to more information on the different portfolios—details about the training, certifications, etc. Clicking further will then take users to /learning. A breakdown of keyword guidance is also included to map keywords to our certifications.
The app also includes a ‘view as PDF’ option should users need to print pages.
Wishing you a happy professional certification journey.
Whether you are a software developer, an IT administrator, many of us need to run multiple operating systems. Windows 8 uses Hyper-V, the machine virtualization technology that has been part of the last 2 releases of Windows Server.
In brief, Hyper-V lets you run more than one 32-bit or 64-bit x86 operating system at the same time on the same computer. Instead of working directly with the computer’s hardware, the operating systems run inside of a virtual machine (VM).
Hyper-V enables developers to easily maintain multiple test environments and provides a simple mechanism to quickly switch between these environments without incurring additional hardware costs.
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Hyper-V requires a 64-bit system that has Second Level Address Translation (SLAT). SLAT is a feature present in the current generation of 64-bit processors by Intel & AMD. You’ll also need a 64-bit version of Windows 8, and at least 4GB of RAM. Hyper-V does support creation of both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems in the VMs.
Hyper-V’s dynamic memory allows memory needed by the VM to be allocated and de-allocated dynamically (you specify a minimum and maximum) and share unused memory between VMs. You can run 3 or 4 VMs on a machine that has 4GB of RAM but you will need more RAM for 5 or more VMs. On the other end of the spectrum, you can also create large VMs with 32 processors and 512GB RAM.
In conclusion, by bringing Hyper-V from Windows Server to Windows Client, allows you to provide a robust virtualization technology designed for the scalability, security, reliability, and performance needs of most data centers. With Hyper-V, developers and IT professionals can now build a more efficient and cost-effective environment for using and testing across multiple machines.
So how do I know if my machine support SLAT (second level address translation).
1. Windows 8 HyperV requires support for SLAT (second level address translation).
2. So if your thinking of installing Windows 8 in your institutions computer labs you should check your machine BIOS as this feature can be enabled/disabled.
3. To do this Download CoreInfo from the Windows Sysinternals website, here.
4. Open a command window with admin rights and type coreinfo –v, if an asterix is displayed next to EPT row then your Intel processor supports SLAT.
Windows Server 2012 Training & Certification Now Available to all Microsoft IT Academy members
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
In addition to this we now have new structure for Microsoft Technical Certifications
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.
2) Windows Server Certification and examination tracks
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
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
•What's New in Remote Access
•New and Improved Networking Technologies
Module 3: Server Virtualization in Windows Server 2012
•What’s New in Networking
•Introducing Hyper-V Replica
•What’s New in Live Migration
•What’s New in Guest Clustering and VM Monitoring
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
Click Here for the FREE E-Book on Windows Server 2012
I’m pleased to announce that the 1st edition of “Building Windows Phone Apps: A Developer’s Guide” is available to download.
This e-book is a community effort to capture useful information and learning about building apps on the Windows Phone platform.
Download Building Windows Phone Apps: A Developer’s Guide
For more details on this publication and its authors see Mike Ormond's Blog, please feel free to use this book with students and your courses also if you have any comments suggestions or ideas for additional chapters or content please post your feedback on Mike’s Blog.
This is the first in a series of Internet of Things (IoT) programs for the creation of connected devices. This program is tailor-made for both makers and Windows developers entering into the IoT space.
The accessibility of Arduino combined with the connectivity of Windows. Quickly iterate and expand on hardware and software designs using existing shields and sketches.
Leverage the Windows platform and its diverse hardware ecosystem. Utilize familiar Win32 programming using best in-class development and debugging tools.
Connect with your fellow developers and share code contributions through GIT. Participate and influence subsequent releases of the SDK.
Learn how you can make great connected things and contribute back to the community.
Set up your Galileo board and get your project rolling.
Find a sensor, look at samples, or check out the project the community is building.
If you're not already a part of the program, sign up here.
Visit the Github repository for our open source implementation of the Arduino API set on Windows.
Post questions and see responses about this Developer Program on Stack Overflow.
Visit Wiring.org to find a description of the elements that constitute the Wiring framework.
Follow the #winbuilder hashtag on Twitter.
Post questions and see responses about the Developer Program on the MSDN forums.
Listen in or contribute to the live community chat.
Review or submit bugs for Microsoft and the community at our Microsoft Connect site.
Watch videos of maker events and community projects.