Events, Microsoft

Microsoft Build 2015

Today the keynote of Microsoft Build 2015 conference was a wild ride, cool, far reaching, innovative – all words you won’t have associated with Microsoft for a long time. I will capture my take in the following ten highlights in honor of upcoming Windows 10.

One of my favourite Microsoftie “Scott Guthrie” on his signature Red Shirt on stage announced for Azure Platform – Elastic Pool to pool SQL Azure databases resources and manage jobs across databases, Docker support in Azure.

Azure Elastic Pool

Azure Elastic Pool

As a developer at heart, my favourite, launch of Visual Studio Code for Mac OS X, Linux & Windows. Microsoft calls it a Code Optimized Editor to highlight the fact it is not a full fledged development environment like Visual Studio suite in Windows, but a tool that can integrate with all the tools (like npm, yo, kestrel) and online services (like Github) that you will use in your development workflow, all from the command line (or terminal).  VSC supports intellisense, tons of languages out of box including node.js, C# and others. Popular blogger, Microsoftie and formerly a fellow Microsoft Regional Director “Scott Hanselman” demoed the product. You can download it for free from visualstudio.com shortly.

Microsoft Visual Studio Code running in Mac OS X

Microsoft Visual Studio Code running in Mac OS X

Microsoft Office Graph: Out of all the announcements today this will be of immediate interest for enterprises,  it’s the long awaited Unified API that enables enterprise to make sense and access their data from silos inside individual Microsoft office files and locations. Especially organizations using Microsoft SharePoint in Office 365, this opens a whole door of possibilities by offering a JSON/REST protocol to view and manage data. Apart from Office Graph, there was an announcement of one more add-in model to Office apps that this time will roam and work in any device in which Microsoft Office works which today includes Apple iPad, Android, Windows & Web. There was demo of SAP, Pichit.me & Uber working along with Office apps like PowerPoint & Excel across devices.

Office-Graph

Microsoft Office Graph

Next was turn of Windows chief “Terry Myerson” to talk on Windows 10. Talked of carrier payments in many countries for paying in Windows Store, Windows Store for Business who made the big claim of reaching 1 Billion Windows 10 devices in next 2 to 3 years, twice the count of Google Android devices for any single version in the same time frame.

Now you can write Windows 10 apps from existing code from four sources:

1) Web – HTML5 and Javascript. This will light up Windows Platform & Store features when launched inside a Windows Universal App

2) .NET & Windows 32 – These will be available from Windows Store and Win32 Apps like Adobe Photoshop will run isolated in the device using Microsoft AppV technology, most welcome feature!

wait for the last 2 …

3) Android Java & C++ code – These need to be modified / extended a little to take advantage of Windows Platform features, but will run pretty much same in Windows in an Android subsystem

4) Apple iOS Objective C code – Microsoft is going to ship a code convertor that converts existing XCODE projects to a Visual Studio project that runs and takes advantage of Windows Store

Windows 10 - 1 Billion devices - 4 ways to develop apps

Windows 10 – 1 Billion devices – 4 ways to develop apps

Now I understand why Microsoft partnered and didn’t buy Xamarin developer suite.

“Joe Belfiore” demoed new capabilities in latest build of Windows 10, especially how they are promoting Windows Store Apps in many places across the OS to entice developers. Store Apps will be showcased in Start Menu, Lock Screen through Windows Spotlight (why the name deficit for Microsoft to borrow the name from Apple Mac?), Web Browser & Cortana – I lost count beyond that. I liked the improvements to UI, but I am not sure how having Start Menu and Cortana both doing similar tasks will pan out.

Project Spartan, the upcoming new browser from Microsoft has a name now, its Microsoft Edge. Not the most fanciest name but better than not having Microsoft Universal App for Web browsing with Cortana :-). I like what I saw in this browser, especially the note taking, sharing and commenting capabilities.  Microsoft Edge supports running Google Chrome Extensions with very little modifications said JoeB. He continued on demonstrating the Continuum feature, I was impressed with the ability of a Windows Phone connected to a big screen, keyboard and mouse behaving pretty much like a Windows PC. I want that.

Microsoft Edge Browser

Microsoft Edge Browser

Last demo section was the most revolutionary technology from Microsoft for ages – Microsoft Hololens. It was awesome and I can’t wait to get my hands on one, this is the one thing for which I felt I should have been in person in San Francisco this week. I may not want to invest on a 100 inches screen when I can get the same experience with a Hololens for my planned Home theatre. I liked the way Microsoft was able to show us the Hololens experience to us. Developers have a huge advantage of having their same Windows Store Universal apps to be running in Hololens, there is no new App model – a new Microsoft I am seeing here with the entire company rallying behind one single App development model.

Microsoft Hololens showing Human Heart

Microsoft Hololens showing Human Heart

Last demo of having Hololens interact and control an onstage IOT powered Robot was cool.

At the end of the Microsoft Build Keynote, I am quite excited. I feel Google & Apple should move over. The new kid in block Microsoft Hololens has a good chance in making you look as the boring legacy platform.

 

 

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Developer, Microsoft

Visual Studio 2015 installs Google Chrome

As a Microsoft technology enthusiasts for over two decades, I thought I had seen them all. But with the “new” Microsoft under the stewardship of Satya Nadella, they seem to be defying tradition. From Microsoft’s former CEO Steve Ballmer calling “Linux is a cancer” to today Satya’s Microsoft open sourcing .NET Framework and making it available for Linux, it has been a remarkable ride.

Recently when I was installed Visual Studio 2015 CTP 6 from Windows Insider Program, this change hit me in the face, what blew me away was, wait for it, seeing the option in Visual Studio 2015 to install Google Chrome!

Visual Studio 2015 CTP 6 installs Google Chrome

Visual Studio 2015 CTP 6 installs Google Chrome

To be technically correct, Visual Studio installs Google Chrome for supporting Apache Cordova and Node.js. And Visual Studio 2013 was presenting the same option from August 2014.

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Developer, Microsoft

Microsoft Project Spartan Browser

It was in August 1995, that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser got released along with Windows 95 Plus pack, nearly two decades ago. Last time a popular browser brand got introduced was with Google Chrome 6 years ago, even the humble Mozilla Firefox is 12 years old. If you add Apple Safari to the mix, there are good number of choices in the marketplace.

With the upcoming launch of Apple Watch lacking a web browser and popular E-Commerce brands & Facebook focusing their development efforts on Mobile Apps (iOS, Android), Web Development looks relegated.

In this context, does the world need one more web browser?. Microsoft thinks so.

One reason for Microsoft’s decision might be aimed at shedding the negative (false) image of Internet Explorer not being modern and standards compliant, a perception that Google and Apple managed to paint successfully with their WebKit browser rendering engine.

Microsoft has released a new browser codenamed Project Spartan with the latest build of Windows 10 Technical Preview build 10049. I am playing around with the browser today and it appears to be an interesting rethink. On the basics, Project Spartan scores well – it renders the pages I visited correctly and fast, the UI looks clean and minimal. In the current build there are no bookmarks (favourites) and other features. For me the most interesting feature is  “Web Note”, which allows you to circle a portion in the webpage, type comments and send it to OneNote or you can take a screenshot like the one below and share it to others.

Microsoft Project Spartan in Windows 10 Build 10049

Microsoft Project Spartan in Windows 10 Build 10049

Currently Microsoft has announced Project Spartan will be made available in Windows Phone as well, I wish they will extend that and make it available for Non-Microsoft platforms including iOS & Android.

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Microsoft

MS DOS for Mobile

It was last year on the same day (April 1) I recalled about a session I delivered many years back in 2000. It was the announcement of MSDOS.NET. After 15 years the marketing powers in Microsoft have used the idea to release a spoof app for Windows Phone that emulates MS DOS. Seeing the announcement video  it was clearly an April fools joke, which it was, but Microsoft surprised everyone by releasing an actual app in Windows Phone store that works.

MS DOS in Windows Phone

MS DOS in Windows Phone

The screenshots seen here are what I took in a Lumia 630 running Windows 10 build. What was more unexpected was the ability to type “Win” in command prompt and be greeted by a Windows 3.1 Program Manager folder view, tapping on the Internet icon even producing the familiar Modem tone.

Windows 3.1 for Windows Phone

Windows 3.1 for Windows Phone

Win 3.1 Program Manager for Windows Phone

Win 3.1 Program Manager for Windows Phone

Nostalgic!!!

 

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Microsoft

Windows 10 TP in Surface Pro 1

I have been trying to find time to install Windows 10 Technical Preview (Build 9926) in my Surface Pro 1. I want to keep Windows 8.1 to do my work when traveling with Surface Pro. This meant installing Windows 10 TP in Dual Boot mode, so that I can easily switch between the two Operating Systems. Instead of creating a new disk partition for Windows10 I went with VHD option. Probably it was not a wise choice. As Dynamic size VHD requires nearly twice the space, which is premium in a tablet device like Surface Pro. VHD options ends up taking space for the VHD file and when Windows boot it needs to have the space equivalent to the defined partition (in the VHD) free in the base machine. For example, in the physical drive you require 26GB free space – 8GB for the VHD file and 18GB for the VHD to get mounted in runtime.

To install Windows 10 TP in Surface Pro, you need to create a bootable USB drive using the free RUFUS app, the Windows10 ISO image, setup Surface Pro to boot from USB (enter UEFI mode by holding Volume UP while Power ON, then boot from USB by holding Volume DOWN while Power ON), then creating VHD by using DiskPart command. Detailed instructions are in Technet blog and from here. Remember to ensure you have set partition type to FAT32 in Rufus, I kept missing it few times and Surface Pro didn’t recognize the USB for boot a result.

After few trial and error (including VHD_BOOT_HOST_VOLUME_NOT_ENOUGH_SPACE), I got it all working. Windows 10 TP is still work in progress, but I am impressed with progress made so far. Windows boots up and responds fast, UI is flat but pleasing, the biggest advantage is the unification of Desktop UI & Metro UI.

Windows 10 Technical Preview in Surface Pro 1

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