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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Apps, Microsoft

Microsoft Outlook for iOS, Android

Few years back, no one in Microsoft ecosystem would have dreamed these will happen. I for one, certainly didn’t see it coming. In the last one year under CEO Satya Nadella there has been in waves of change at Microsoft. I am loving these!

Last week, Microsoft released an unified mail app for iOS and Android. The apps allows you to connect your Microsoft Exchange Server, Office 365 subscription, Hotmail (Outlook.com) accounts. Apart from those the mail app supports Google Gmail, Yahoo mail and Apple iCloud. There is great Calendar, Contacts (People), Files (Onedrive.com & Dropbox) integration as well. I was pleasantly surprised to see the calendar and contacts integration working for Google Calendar & Google Contacts as well, something which even Google doesn’t do well outside Google Chrome & Android platforms.

From the minute I installed the iPad app I know it will be a huge hit. I love the clean, simple design and especially the crisp font-face is awesome. Two reviews in iTunes app store caught my attention – one said “Wow i can’t believe Microsoft is out-cooling apple…” and other “No mail app on iOS has come close to the new Outlook App”. WOW!

Microsoft Outlook app in iPad

Microsoft Outlook app in iPad

Onedrive file support in Outlook iPad app

Onedrive file support with built-in preview of MS Office files

I tried the Android version of Microsoft Outlook, while it’s not as polished as the iOS version, it is much better than earlier released Outlook.com (Hotmail) and the default Gmail app in Android (which doesn’t have unified view of multiple accounts).

Microsoft Outlook app for Android

Microsoft Outlook app for Android

Reading “The Register” article I came to know the App (Microsoft Outlook for iOS and Android) is a re-branded of Acompli app which has been there for sometime. I had missed the news of Microsoft buying Acompli late last year. I don’t care whether Microsoft bought the app or built it, I simply love it!

 

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