# Monday, 30 October 2017
Monday, 30 October 2017 09:21:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, 23 October 2017
Monday, 23 October 2017 11:15:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, 20 December 2016

A friend recently emailed me to say he accepted a job leading the Microsoft practice of a consulting company that doesn’t work much with Microsoft technologies. As part of his job, he is expected to evangelize the practice and technologies. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen someone do this, so I’m sharing my response below.

Congratulations on the new job! It sounds like you are on the right track.

User groups are a great way to connect with the local developer community. They are good for finding customers, but better for recruiting talent. Consider sponsoring. Also, encourage your team to speak at user groups and code camps. This builds credibility and name recognition.

The lunchtime sessions to teach technology sound great. Consider having a long session once a month and inviting the public.

You are smart to focus on Azure. Azure is a big part of Microsoft’s future and, because Azure supports so many open source and competing technologies, it will fit in well with existing projects and existing customers. Key parts of Azure that appeal to non-Microsoft technologists are:

  • Web Apps that support Java, node, Python, and other languages
  • Mobile Apps provide a back-end for Android or iPhone apps
  • Linux VMs on Azure (about a third of all Azure VMs run Linux)
  • HD Insight Big Data Analysis based on Hadoop open source supports any data type (and you can code in Python)
  • Azure Machine Learning supports any data type (and you can code in Python)

There are others, but this is a good start.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016 15:03:23 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Friday, 18 November 2016

This week, Microsoft hosted the keynote event in New York City. Although attendees could travel to New York to attend in person, most who watched the keynote (including me) watched a live stream or recording of the keynote and breakout sessions online.

There were a number of important announcements, including Microsoft joining the Linux Foundation; the upcoming Visual Studio 2017; and Visual Studio on a Mac.

Here are the notes I took during the keynote:

VSCODE
    Support for multiple languages
    Intellisense support for hundreds of npm modules
    Docker extension (constainerize app)
   
Azure App Service now supports running on Linux

DocumentDB
    Cloud-scale document database
    Global replication
        Click on data center in map
    Configure API to be MongoDB API compatible
   
OPEN SOURCE
    Most active contributor on GitHub
    Microsoft joins Linux foundation as a Platinum member
   
XAMARIN / VISUAL STUDIO 2017
    Visual Studio for Mac preview now available
    Free with MSDN
    Community Edition will be free to everyone
    .NET Core Support
    Visual Preview of Xamarin.Forms XAML
   
DOCKER
    Visual Studio integration
        Right-click
            Create container
            Publish (dialog is specfic to containers)
            Debug in container
            Release Management / Continuous Deliver supports Containers

AZURE FUNCTIONS
    Write code that runs in response to events in Azure (or outside Azure)
    Languages PHP, Python, Powershell, C#, etc. supported
    Write Functions in Visual Studio
        1-click publish
        Debug
    Available today
   
SQL SERVER
    Gartner: SQL Server is least vulnerable database (past 6 years)
    In-memory advanced analytics
        R Language support
    SQL Server 2016 SP1 released today
    SQL Server on Linux (public preview available today)
    Advanced security
    Advanced compression
   
AZURE BOT SERVICES
    Conversational app
    Built on Azure Functions
    Integrate with Slack, Facebook, etc.
   
VISUAL STUDIO
    Install, uninstall faster
    Icons in code margin indicate failing tests, passing tests, and uncovered code
    New Exception Helper
    Style Rules enforced in editor
    Indent Guides (dotted vertical lines) match beginning & ending brackets
    Helpers at bottom of dropdowns
        Filters results in list
        CTRL+T search to activate
   
C#
    Tuples: Allow you to return multiple values

WinApp Driver
    UI Testing of Windows apps
    Doesn't care what language app is writtenin
   
.NET Core
    60% of contributions from Community
    .NET Foundation
        Many repositories
        .NET Core on Tizen OS (courtesy of Samsung)

Friday, 18 November 2016 22:58:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Wednesday, 30 March 2016

The Microsoft Build conference opened this morning. Some of the announcements were technologies that had been previously announced, but are now more generally available (such as Hololens); Some were brand new technologies, such as Bash on Windows.

I was most excited about the Microsoft Bot Framework that allows you to build intelligent bots that interact with Cortana to act as a personal assistant within your app; and Cognitive Services, which includes many of the APIs included in Project Oxford.

Below are the raw notes I took during the keynote. Please let me know (politely) if you discover any typos.

Edge: Biometric authentication for supporting web sites

Fingerprint login (USAA web site)

Ink

Sticky notes: Cortana recognizes words like "tomorrow" as date in appointments or reminder

Draw lines on a map: Distance automatically calculated.

Add labels to map: Labels stay in place when map is rotated in 3D space

Low latency: Ink from pen

Virtual ruler on screen to draw straight line

Developer

GPU Effects, e.g., Blur background synchronized with touch movement

<InkCanvas> control

<InkToolbar> control: Allow users to mark up your screen

Over 1000 new APIs and features

Released today: VS 2015, Update 2

Announced: Bash shell is coming to Windows (native Linux binaries)

Gaming

UWP: Achieve 4k at 60 frames/second

Xbox games running on desktop

  • Take advantage of Windows features
  • Consistent input experience

Xbox developer mode

  • Run, test, debug game on Xbox
  • Preview available today

Cortana on Xbox One

Direct X 12

Hololens

First & only Untethered holographic computer

Hololens shipping today

Releasing app and source code

Apps

  • Holographic anatomy: View internal organs &nerves; collaborate with remote partners
  • Destination Mars by NASA: Virtual tour of another planet

Cortana

Works on lockscreen

Add Cortana to your app.

Insights: When Cortana surfaced in app

Users must give permission for Cortana to their data

Windows, Android, Web Sites, and (soon) iOs

Skype

Interaction with Cortana

Bots: Remembers context from conversation

  • Location of events, friends in locations
  • Bots available today

Skype for Hololens

Microservices

Microsoft Bot Framework

https://dev.botframework.com/

Build conversational bots for your application

Rule-based natural language processing

UI to teach bot to understand your jargon/ terms/ slang

Cognitive Services

22 APIs

https://www.microsoft.com/cognitive-services/

Many of them used to in Project Oxford

Custom Recognition Intelligent Service (CRIS):

  • Understand speech and language
  • Customize speech-to-text

Demo

Smart Phone / Smart glasses app for blind people

Facial recognition and analysis

Read menu, including headings

Wednesday, 30 March 2016 19:07:15 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, 06 October 2015

Earlier today, Microsoft held an event in New York city to talk about devices that support Windows 10. Most of these devices (Surface Pro 4, SurfaceBook, new Lumia phones, Microsoft Band v2) will be released in the next few weeks, while the Hololens will likely be out next year.

Personally, I am most excited by the new phones (Continuum is amazing) and by the upcoming SurfaceBook (which I did not know about before today), but there was impressive news in every category.

Below are my notes while watching this event:

  • Keynote
    • 110+ Million devices now running Windows 10
    • Facebook, Audible, Uber building universal apps for Windows 10
    • Upgrading all Xbox Ones to Windows 10
    • Xbox One will play Xbox 360 games
  • Hololens
    • Mixed reality
    • "Project X-Ray" mixed reality game
    • Holograms you can hold: Gauntlet that moves with his arm
    • Robots know where the walls and furniture are
    • Holograms interact with each other and the real environment
    • Spatial sound
    • No wires; no phones; no connection to a PC required
    • Applications accepted today for Hololens dev kit. Starting Q12016. $3000
  • Microsoft Band
    • New version released
    • Comfort: Curved screen; no hard edges
    • New Barometer sensor
    • Estimates VO2 Max: Maximum oxygen intake
    • Golf app
      • Tracks golf strokes
      • Recognizes practice swings
      • Knows which tee you are on
    • Microsoft Health app works across phone, PC, tablet
    • Available 10/30: $249 retail (Pre-order today)
  • Microsoft Lumia (phone)
    • 950 and 950XL available in November
    • 2 antennas
    • LED screen
      • 500 dpi
      • 5.2" and 5.7" display
    • Camera
      • Triple LED RGB Natural flash: better color; no red eye
      • Stabilizer
    • Quick charging: <30 mins = 50% charge
    • Windows "Hello" (biometric ID) now in Beta on phone
    • Continuum
      • Microsoft Display dock
        • HDMI and display port
        • 3 USB ports for accessories
      • Plug in mouse and keyboard
      • USB access
      • Keyboard shortcuts (CTRL+C; CTRL+V; ALT+TAB)
      • Taskbar
        • Displays open apps
        • Highlight current app
        • Task View
      • Full apps (e.g., Word, PowerPoint)
      • Phone experience not interrupted while Continuum is active
  • Surface Pro 4
    • Available 10/26. Pre-order now.
    • Starts at $899
    • 98% of people who use Surface Pro 3 recommend it
    • Faster processor
    • 30% faster than Surface Pro 3
    • 50% faster than Macbook Air
    • Up to 16GB RAM; 1TB storage
    • Thinner than SP3 (8.4 mm)
    • 12.3" diagonal (larger screen but same footprint)
    • Fingerprint reader
    • Screen
      • "PixelSense" technology - pen and touch
      • Cover glass: 400 microns thick gorilla glass
      • 267 ppi screen (5 million pixels) 60% more pixels than SP3
      • G5 chipset
    • Pen
      • 1034 points pressure
      • 1 year battery life
      • Built-in Eraser
      • Magnetic pen storage
      • Hold down pen: Calls Cortana
      • Interchangeable pen tips (fine-line, felt tip, etc.)
    • Surface Pro docking station
      • Works with SP3 and SP4
      • Connects to USB
    • Keyboard
      • Light
      • Works with SP3
      • Backlit
    • Trackpad
      • 40% larger
      • 5-point multi-touch larger track pad
  • SurfaceBook
    • First laptop built by Microsoft
    • 6 million pixels
    • 13.5" diagonal
    • "Pixelsense"
    • Thin gorilla glass
    • Trackpad - 5 touch points
    • 12 hours battery life. Doesn't burn battery while closed.
    • 2x faster than MacBook Pro
    • Works with docking station
    • Starts at $1499
    • Available 10/26. Pre-order now.
    • 1.6 lbs.
    • 7.7 mm thin
    • Detachable screen
    • GPU is in the base
    • Supports pen and touch
    • "Muscle Wire" locks and unlocks screen
Tuesday, 06 October 2015 20:35:53 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Earlier this week, dozens of technologists from the Microsoft DX Team met in San Diego for a team hackathon.

Some brought projects they started back home; some brought hardware with them to control via Bluetooth or USB cable or through the Internet; some brought an idea for a software project; some for a hardware project.

I came with a desire to learn more about Azure Machine Learning. I was inspired by the work that my teammate Jennifer Marsman was doing analyzing EEG data with AML. (link)

I began by walking through a couple tutorials: here and here.

Then I tried it myself. AML provides some sample data sources, so I imported the xxx data. I cleaned the data and applied a Category algorithm.

Machine Learning seems complex and the AML tools are not all intuitive when you first begin working with them; but they are not difficult to master. And the graphical interface of ML Studio lowers the learning curve considerably.

I'll provide more details and instructions about this project in a future blog post.

For now, my message is that building something yourself is the best way to learn any technology. Pick a project, set aside some time, and build it. I know that not every company invests in a day of hacking like mine did, so many of you will need to invest your own time in order to get this benefit. But it’s worth it.

My project wasn't nearly as sexy as some created by my colleagues. But my knowledge of Machine Learning is an order of magnitude greater than it was a week ago.

DXHack
My Machine Learning experiment

Wednesday, 23 September 2015 22:48:13 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, 21 July 2015

TechnologyAndFriends[1] 

Channel9Logo

Technology and Friends began in Sandusky, OH in January 2009. I brought my video camera to Codemash and walked into the speaker room asking people if they wanted to talk on-camera about their favourite technology.

I had an idea that I wanted to publish these interviews on-line but I did not know what form that would take. Eventually, this idea evolved into Technology and Friends and I've been regularly publishing this show for over 6 and a half years. It's rare that a Monday passes without the release of a new episode.

375 episodes later, we are moving. From technologyandfriends.com to Channel 9

This change offers several advantages:

Users can now subscribe to the show

This has been the single biggest request I've received. And it’s built into Channel 9.

Users can download each episode in the resolution of their choosing.

Channel 9 encodes all videos in High, Medium, and Low Quality.  If bandwidth or disc space is tight, you can choose the lower quality. For better viewing, choose the high quality. For lower bandwidth or limited disc space, choose the smaller files.

Users can download the audio

This was another common request from fans of the show. It's now possible to grab just the audio to listen while you're driving, exercising or working around the house.

Reduced cost

I've been paying for this show out of my own pocket and the online fees alone come to almost a thousand dollars a year.

Wider exposure

Channel 9 reaches a very broad audience and this show will be indexed along with their other content, making it easier to find for a number of people.

So far, I have migrated the last 6 months of shows. In the coming weeks, I plan to move more of the older shows to the new site. I hope you enjoy the experience. Let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015 15:58:14 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The Microsoft Build conference kicked off this morning with a keynote that lasted nearly 3 hours and included announcements on Azure, Office 365, Windows 10, and HoloLens.

Personally, I was most excited to hear about Azure SQL database pool and Data Warehouse, the Cortana integration on Windows 10, support for Chrome extensions in Microsoft Edge (formerly "Project Spartan") and the potential of virtual reality apps with HoloLens.

The keynote was recorded and will be available soon (along with all Build sessions) http://www.buildwindows.com/. I encourage you to watch for yourself, determine the topics that most interest you, and watch breakout sessions that dive deeper into those topics.

Below are notes I took during the keynote. This is by no means an official list and I may have misheard some things. But I think it will give you an idea of where Microsoft is headed the next few months.

Azure
    Docker for Windows
        Multi-containers
        Mix and match Windows & Linux containers. Run on any server
        NEW: Ability to debug .NET app in Linux deployed in Docker
    Azure App Service
    Logic Apps
        In Preview Portal
        Uses "Swagger" applications
        Visual workflow? Similar to ITTT?
    Visual Studio Code
        Lightweight IDE
        Version of VS that runs on Mac and LINUX
        free
        Available today
    SQL Azure
        Elastic database pool
            combine multiple "databases" into 1 db pool
            Manage all databases together
                Modify schema of every db
                Update statistics of every db
        SQL Data Warehouse
            Quick and easy to create
            Import data from any data source
                e.g., SQL DB, Hadoop, SAP
                From Azure or on-premises data
            Create reports with Power BI
            Use Azure Machine Learning to analyze data
            Auto-Scale in seconds
            Can independently adjust compute & storage
        Azure Data Lake Service
            store and manage infinite data
            saved in original form
            exposes data using Hadoop HDFS API
Office
    Sway
        Tell a story with Office documents
    Outlook plug-ins
        SAP and Linkedin: Look up info on contact & their companies
        Schedule plug-in from Uber
    Unified Office365 API Endpoint
https://graph.microsoft.com
        Returns data as JSON
        Drill into details of "graph"
    Web SDK for Skype
        Embed Skype into your app
Windows 10
    Easier to discover apps in store
    Windows Store for Business
        For customers or students
        Supports other payment methods (e.g., Purchase Orders)
    Win10 was a free upgrade for 1st year
    Goal: 1 billion Windows 10 device in 2-3 years
    1 binary and 1 code base on multiple platforms (Phones, tablets, PCs, Xbox)
    Web Sites can use Windows 10 tools (e.g., Live Tiles, Toast)
    .NET and Win32 apps in Windows store
    Android apps on Windows Phone
    Objective-C code will compile in Visual Studio on Windows
    Windows Spotlight
        On lock screen
        Learn of new features
    Cortana
        Natural language
    Microsoft Edge
        Windows 10 browser
        Formerly Project Spartan
        Written as a Universal App
        Runs Chrome extensions
    Continuum for Phones
        Any screen can be a PC (e.g., Phone)
    Hololens
        Windows Holographic
            Universal apps in Hololens
            Pin apps to walls in virtual world
        Makers can integrate HoloLens virtual world with real-world devices
Satya Nadella: Our goal is to move users from needing Windows to choosing Windows to loving Windows

Wednesday, 29 April 2015 20:06:29 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Microsoft has scheduled a series of free Web Camps in cities across the country. These 1-day events provide instructions and demos to help attendees learn about web development.

Topics include:

  • ASP.NET
  • Visual Studio tooling
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Web API
  • Single Page Applications
  • SignalR

The events are free and include breakfast and lunch. Microsoft is even giving away a $100 gift card to one random attendee in each city.

Below are the dates and cities that have been scheduled so far. I’ll be handling most of those in the Central Region.

Place Date
Detroit (Southfield) 1/19/2015
Dallas (Irving) 1/22/2015
New York 1/23/2015
Chicago (Downers Grove) 2/3/2015
Pittsburgh 2/10/2015
Denver 2/12/2015
Indianapolis 2/12/2015
Cambridge 2/12/2015
Kansas City (Overland Park) 2/17/2015
Atlanta (Alpharetta) 2/17/2015
Seattle (Bellevue) 2/19/2015
Nashville (Franklin) 2/20/2015
Minneapolis (Edina) 2/25/2015
Miami 3/3/2015
Irvine 3/5/2015
Austin 3/10/2015
Houston 3/12/2015
Los Angeles 3/13/2015
Philadelphia (Malvern) 3/19/2015
Sunnyvale 3/24/2015
Chicago 3/26/2015
St. Louis 3/31/2015
Tampa 3/31/2015
Charlotte 4/2/2015
Seattle (Bellevue) 4/7/2015
Atlanta (Alpharetta) 4/7/2015
Reston 4/10/2015
Columbus 4/14/2015
Cambridge 4/14/2015
San Diego 4/16/2015
New York 4/16/2015
Milwaukee (Waukesha) 4/21/2015
Tempe 4/23/2015

Visit http://aka.ms/msftwebcamps to find more information, including a a link to each city’s event and instructions on registration.

Space is limited so register today!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015 14:01:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Yesterday was my 1-year anniversary at Microsoft.

The year has flown by. I remember being at a customer site in Toledo last summer when the recruiter called and offered me a job pending a background check. I remember standing outside the speaker room at Dev Connections in Las Vegas when my new boss Scott Fuller officially offered me the job. I remember how hard it was to tell my old boss I was leaving. I remember how excited I was to tell my friends the news. I remember feeling giddy that first day as I drove to Southfield for my orientation.

I had been trying to land a job as a Microsoft Technical Evangelist for years - ever since I first met Josh and Jennifer and Brian and Jeff and saw what they did and how smart they are and how how much good they were able to accomplish and how much fun they had doing it. But this job was only available in other parts of the country and family obligations kept me from moving. But last year, both my sons moved out of state and a Jennifer Marsman told me about an opening in Chicago and I jumped at the chance. A few months (and many interviews) later, I was in.

I spent the first week shadowing Jennifer, watching her work and learning as much as I could. I traveled to Chicago the next week and met with my new boss Scott and shadowed Dave Bost and Martin Schray, learning all I could from them.

Many people describe working at Microsoft as "drinking from a fire hose" and that is an excellent metaphor. There is so much to learn and so much to do and often it's not obvious what you should be doing or learning. My time management skills are honed sharper today than they ever have in the past.

I'm really happy in my role as an Evangelist, which consists of a lot of teaching people how to build apps on Azure, Windows 8, and Windows Phone. I love the opportunity to learn and I love the impact I have on a number of different communities. Coming in, I was focused on the developer community, spending time at user groups and code camps. But I've discovered that startups have their own community and they bring their own kind of passion to what they do. And I've spent a lot of time with student groups on campus and gained a new perspective into the American higher education system. I've met so many people who are passionate about what they do, which inspires me to excel at my tasks.

One challenge of this job has been the large amount of travel. Shortly after I joined, I was asked to cover both the Midwest and the Heartland Districts - an area stretching from Wisconsin to Tennessee. I'm proud to say that I scheduled multiple events in each of these 7 states. But it did involve a lot of driving and more than a few nights when I did not get enough sleep. I’m writing this article from a hotel room in Edina, MN. In a few minutes I’ll drive to Madison, WI to speak at a user group before driving down to Chicago tonight where I have 3 events planned for tomorrow.

After a year, I can say that I've learned a lot, I've done some good, I've lost some sleep, I've made some friends, and I've loved it.

Now I have a new boss, new metrics, and a new home (I've moved to Chicago). The future is filled with challenges. But it's very bright. I'm excited for the next 365 days and beyond!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014 16:19:56 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Last month, I wrote about the advantages of the BizSpark program. Here, I will describe how to apply for this program.

There are two ways to sign up: With and without an Enrollment Code. If you don’t have an Enrollment Code, your application goes into a queue and is evaluated by someone at Redmond and you will hear back in a week or two with a message indicating whether or not you were accepted into the program. If you sign up with an Pre-Approved Enrollment Code, you can begin accessing your benefits immediately! I or another BizSpark Champion can provide you with a Pre-Approval Enrollment Codes.

Qualifying startups can contact their local evangelist to receive a Pre-Approval Enrollment Code.

Here is the process for signing up for BizSpark.

1. Navigate to https://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/

BizSpark-01

You may need to log in with a Microsoft account (formerly known as a Live account). If you use Microsoft services, such as OneDrive or Instant Messaging, you already have a Microsoft account; If not, you can get one here.

Click "Join Now".

2. Select Language

The “Language” page displays, as shown below.

BizSpark-02

Scroll down
    Select a Language from the Dropdown
    Click the [Next] button.

3. Enter Startup Information

The “Your Startup” page displays, as shown below.

BizSpark-03

Scroll down (again)
    If you have a Pre-Approved Enrollment code, enter it into the "Enrollment Code (optional)" textbox. If not, leave this box blank. NOTE: Although the Enrollment Code is optional, there is a great advantage to having one: a Pre-Approval code will enroll you immediately, instead of waiting a week; and it will guarantee your acceptance in the program.
    Enter the rest of the form with information about you and your company.
    Click the [Next] button.

4. Agree to Terms

The “Agreement” page displays, as shown below.

BizSpark-04

Scroll down (again)
    Click the Checkbox to indicate acceptance of the End-User License Agreement
    Click the [I Accept] button.

5. Confirmation

The “Thank You” / Confirmation page displays, as shown below.

BizSpark-05

At this point, you should be either enrolled in the BizSpark program or have submitted your application. Those who are enrolled can click “My Benefits” to see how to download software and activate their Azure account and immediately beginning taking advantage of the BizSpark benefits.

It only takes a few minutes to sign up.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014 12:59:38 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Friday, 23 May 2014

Starting a software company involves a lot of risk, including (but not limited to) financial risk, technology risk, market risk, and timing risk. Microsoft is actively trying to remove at least some of the risk for startup companies who are developing a software product or service. Because the first few years of a company tend to have the highest risk, Microsoft is offering the BizSpark program to mitigate that extra risk until a company stabilizes. The BizSpark program is designed to provide free software, free cloud computing hour, and free access to technical resources to qualified startups.

Specific benefits of the BizSpark program are:

  1. Free Microsoft software, including Windows, Visual Studio, SQL Server, Office, and many more. BizSpark members can download many thousands of dollars worth of software for free for 3 years
  2. $150 a month of Microsoft Azure cloud computing hours. If you are not familiar with Azure, check out http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/ to see all the services that are available. There are too many Azure services to describe here, but startups often find Web Sites, Virtual Machines, and Azure Mobile Services useful in promoting or integrating with their products. If your demand increases, beyond this, there is even a chance to increase this to $5000 per month for one year.
  3. Free access to technical resources, such as Microsoft Technical Evangelists. Your local evangelist likely has regular office hours and can help you troubleshoot some of your technical issues.

There is absolutely no obligation or cost to joining the BizSpark program. At the end of the 3 years, you keep the software you have installed. There is no fee for the program and obligation to buy more software or Azure hours (although, we certainly hope that you do.)

To qualify, the company must meet the following criteria

  1. The company must be engaged in building a software product or service
  2. The company must be privately held
  3. The company must be less than 5 years old
  4. Annual revenues must not exceed $1 million.

More details about the BizSpark program are available at http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/.

In the past, a startup was required to apply to the BizSpark program and wait for a response from Microsoft (sometimes for over a week). Now, however, I can provide a code to eligible startups that registers them in the BizSpark program immediately.

If you meet the above criteria and you would like to take advantage of the program, reach out to to your local Technical Evangelist (If you are in Wisconsin, Illinois, or Indiana, that is me) and describe your startup’s product.

Friday, 23 May 2014 03:03:01 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, 11 May 2014

Dev Days 2014 is a free Microsoft coming soon to a city near you (hopefully).

This event will present some of the content from the Build Conference last month.

Here is the agenda:

Time

Session

8:30-8:45 AM

Welcome and logistics

8:45-9:00 AM

Overview of the day

9:00-10:30 AM

What’s new on Windows Phone and Window 8

10:30-10:45 AM

Break

10:45-12:15 PM

What’s new in Windows Azure

12:30-1:00 PM

Lunch

1:00-2:45 PM

What’s new in Visual Studio and Team Foundation

2:45-3:15 PM

Close and raffle

The first of these events was Friday in Chicago, where over 100 people registered. The upcoming schedule and registration links are below:

Event Date

Location City

14-May-14

Southfield, MI

Register

16-May-14

Austin, TX

Register

19-May-14

Irving, TX

Register

23-May-14

Edina, MN

Register

23-May-14

St. Louis, MO

Register

11-Jun-14

Columbus, OH

Register

Meanwhile, there is still one more Enterprise Developer Boot Camp scheduled in Edina, MN. You can register for this free event at this link.

Sunday, 11 May 2014 21:20:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, 22 April 2014

I am involved in a number of first-party events from Microsoft over the next few weeks. Many people have contributed to the content of these events and they should be very educational. All events are free and last a full day. The dates and registration links are below:

Date Event Location Link
April 23 Enterprise Developer Boot Camp Columbus, OH link
April 30 Windows Azure Developer Camp: Make It Happen In The Cloud Chicago, IL link
May 6 Enterprise Developer Boot Camp Southfield, MI link
May 14 Dev Days 2014 Southfield, MI link
June 11 Dev Days 2014 Columbus, OH link

Below are the official descriptions of these events.

Enterprise Developer Camp

Do you have existing .NET client line of business (LOB) applications? Join Microsoft developer experts, and see how to modernize these applications and move them forward. Learn what the Microsoft devices and services strategy is and how existing applications fit in. See demos, and work through hands-on labs to learn how and why to move your LOB applications to Windows Azure, how to use third-party controls to add a modern look and feel, and how to provide your users the ability to use LOB apps on a variety of devices, including Windows 8 and Windows Phone. And do all of this using Visual Studio 2013 and your existing XAML skills!

Agenda Topics:

· Overview

o Get an overview of the Microsoft platform, and discover the main reasons why developers (and businesses) should build on it. Learn what we mean when we talk about devices and services and the opportunities they present.

· Adopt a Services Architecture

o Learn about best practices for building WPF LOB applications that are based on a services architecture. Review the Expenses app that serves as foundation for the session, and explore a number of coding topics.

· Move to the Cloud

o Find out how to cloud-enable the Expenses app so users can access expense data on-premises and off-premises. Walk through the steps, including configuring the WCF service to use SQL Azure, deploying the WCF service to an Azure Web Site, and configuring the Expenses app to use the cloud service.

· Lunch

· Modernize Your App

o Explore new features in Visual Studio 2013 that make XAML development easier. Learn about controls provided by third-party vendors, and see how they can be used to build WPF apps that have a more modern look and feel.

· Build for Multiple Devices

o See how you can take your existing skills and build Windows 8 and Windows Phone apps. Get a basic overview, and then see how to build an Expenses app for both of these platforms to provide users the ability to manage their expenses on additional devices.

Dev Days 2014

Microsoft’s Refactor Your Dev Skills at Dev Days 2014 is a conference where Microsoft shares the latest Operating System, cloud, device, development and developer tools. Much of the material is inspired from the 2014 Build Conference, with exciting announcements expected in all of the categories above. If you didn’t have time to view as many build sessions as you would have liked, and didn’t have time to pull together the key developments, this is the conference for you. These events are meant to distill an overview of the latest developments on Microsoft platforms and highlight some of the best new capabilities coming in each areas below:

Agenda

  • An overview of what was announced at Build
  • What’s new in the cloud platform?
  • What’s new in building web technology native apps?
  • What’s new in .NET Language apps?
  • What’s new in Visual Studio and Application Lifecycle Management?
  • How to get started using new capabilities.

Windows Azure Developer Camp: Make It Happen In The Cloud

Join a Microsoft Azure Developer Camp and leave with code running in the cloud! This is a free, one-day Microsoft Azure Instructor led Workshop where you roll up your sleeves and get hands-on with the latest Microsoft Azure development tools and technologies.
We will start with the basics and build on to more advanced topics, featuring instructor led
hands-on labs for:
-  Learn how to build infrastructure at the speed of code with Virtual Machines in the cloud
-  Build your first cloud native application, and deploy it into an auto-management environment
-  Easily configure single sign-on for your ASP.NET application, and learn how to extend your corporate identity store to apps in the cloud.
Throughout the day, you’ll hear from local Microsoft Azure Partner specialists and Microsoft product team members. We’ll talk about how Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s open and flexible cloud platform, enables you to quickly build, deploy or move existing applications to the cloud. And don't worry, we speak your development language, .NET, node.js, PHP, Python, and all developers are welcome!
Be fully prepared for this hands-on day of coding by bringing your laptop and signing up for the free Microsoft Azure trial

Tuesday, 22 April 2014 18:08:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, 03 April 2014

Like Day 1, there were a number of big announcements from Microsoft during the Day 2 keynote at the Build conference. The most exciting parts were the new features of Windows Azure (now “Microsoft Azure”), as that team continues to push out new features at an impressive rate.

My notes from the Day 2 Keynote are below. Just like yesterday, these are just my raw notes and it’s possible I missed or misheard or mistyped something. So back off, ok? ;)

Azure
    Create, Delete, Manage Azure VMs from within Visual Studio
    Enable Remote .NET Debugging on VM
    Use Puppet to manage Azure VMs
    Intelligent Routing with Traffic Manager
        Route user to closest data center
        Manage failover
    Provision Azure from Visual Studio
    Powershell editor in Visual Studio
        Azure deployment scripts
    Browser Link
        2-way communication between VS and any web browser
    Web Jobs
        Run Background tasks
        Web Jobs SDK
    Free SSL certificate with every web site instance
    Publish code from VS to Azure Mobile Services
    Single Sign on with Active Directory
    Enable Java on Azure
    SQL Azure
        Max SQL Database size 500GB (was 150GB max)
        Automatic backups
        Self-service restore
            roll back db to point in time
            Built-in feature. On by default
        Active geo replication
            Primary DB in read-write mode
            Secondary in Read-only mode
            In case of catastrophe, you can initiate failover
.NET and C#
    Visual Studio suggests refactoring
    Roslyn project is now Open Source
    Xamarin can use Roslyn Compiler
New Azure Portal
    Service Health
        Snapshot of global health of data centers
        Drill down via "blades" - flyout panels
    Visual Studio online integrated into Azure portal
        Team project
        Automated builds
        Source control
        Edit code in browser (syntax highlighting)
        Check in changed code
        Azure Resource Manager

Thursday, 03 April 2014 20:48:32 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)

Day 1 of the Microsoft Build conference is in the books. The keynote included some exciting announcements. The most significant changes were about Windows Phone 8.1, however there were also some interesting upgrades to Windows 8.1 and Microsoft office, along with a look at new phones from Nokia.

Below are the notes I took during the keynote. I learned most of this information at the same time as the rest of the world. If my notes contain any errors or important omissions, it’s because they are just that – raw notes.

Windows Phone 8.1
    Action Center
        Accessible from anywhere
        Show important apps and settings
    Customize lock screen (personalize)
    start screen
        Show more tiles (High-density)
        Background
    Cortana
        Digital assistant
        Powered by bing
        Replaces WP8 Search button
        Quiet hours
        Infers places and interests, but you can override or add to these
        Personal assistant:
            "What's on my calendar for Saturday?" "Wake me up at 7AM" "Put dentist appointment on my calendar for August first at 10AM"
            Lets you know about conflict
            Cortana is currently in BETA!
        "Next time I talk with X, remind me to talk about Y"
            Sets reminder. Reminds during next phone call, chat, or e-mail with X.
    Enterprise VPN on phone
    S-MIME E-mail
        Digitally signed e-mail
    MDM Policy: Workplac settings: workplace apps; restrict apps or saving to phone by role
    Workflow keyboard
        drag finger across letters
        Set Guiness record for fastest phone typing
    IE11
        Reading mode
        In-private browsing
    Availability
        Rolling out to consumers in next few months
        On new phones in late April / Early May
Windows 8.1 Update
    Mouse and Keyboard users
        Minimize Modern app
        User can make taskbar visible
        Switch between Win32 and Modern apps
        Power, Search, and Settings on-screen (top-right)
        Right-click menu on Metro side
        CTRL+Click
        New apps highlighted
    Availability
        April 8

App Dev
    Universal Windows apps
    Same code to produce apps for phone, tablet, and client
    Migrate existing app
        Drag common code to "Shared" node in Project Explorer
        Create custom controls for each platform
    Common app experience across devices
        Shared App Identities
        Customers can buy 1 app and it will work on phone and PC
        In-app purchaces cross platforms (e.g., buy sword)
        Devs can choose different experience if desired
    Submitting app to store now 50x faster

Office
    Optimized for touch
        Larger ribbon icons
    Galleries
    Faster - more responsive
    Unlimited Undo & Redo
    Automatically saving Office docs to OneDrive
    Pinch to zoom
    Same office version runs on PC, Tablet, and Phone
Phone
    Silverlight apps still run on WP8.1
WinJS = cross-platform

Thursday, 03 April 2014 06:38:54 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)