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Weekend Reading: Dec. 20th Edition–‘Biggest holiday season yet’ for Windows Phone and Windows Store apps

December 20th, 2013 No comments

In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on the momentum building behind Windows Store and Windows Phone Store app downloads, how Bing broke out of the (search) box in 2013 and a Microsoft researcher who uses data to power his predictions.

Buoyed by new gift cards and other promotions, as well as the “biggest holiday season yet,” app development for the Windows Phone Store and Windows Store is going strong. “We’re already seeing momentum build with the (Windows) Store surpassing 12 million transactions per day and Windows Phone Store surpassing 200,000 apps,” writes Todd Brix on the Windows Phone Developers Blog, who encouraged developers to finish and update apps to meet these demands. “Taking into consideration the Microsoft and partner promotions and consumer purchase of Microsoft and Xbox gift cards in retail locations, we are forecasting over $100 million to be available for consumers to buy apps and games this holiday season across 100 retailers in 41 markets.” Some apps and games we highlighted this week include the NORAD Tracks Santa apps, the Staff App Pick: American Airlines and LiveATC, the Amtrak app, Phriz.be, the Gameloft Games collection, “Girls Like Robots,” “Subway Surfers,” “Nemo’s Reef,” Zinio, “Avengers Alliance,” Viber, “Catan” and “Riptide GP2.” To show that you don’t have to be a professional developer to get in on the action, small business owner Holly Shore created her mobile app within hours with Windows Phone App Studio.

In 2013, Bing broke out of the search box. It evolved to power a wider range of services and devices than ever, from voice search in Xbox One to Siri’s Web search results. In Windows 8.1, you can use the Search Charm to explore your files, Web results and more with a single query. Third-party developers can now benefit from Bing technology, including optical character recognition, translation, maps and voice controls, using the new Bing Developer Center. These are just some of the many ways Bing redefined search in this breakout year. You can also check out this infographic for some surprising 2013 stats.

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Microsoft researcher David Rothschild is legendary for his ability to literally predict the future using a unique and rigorous approach to data analysis. He correctly called the results of the 2012 presidential election in every state but one. He nailed 19 of the 24 Oscar categories this past year. And he’s constantly pushing the boundaries of predictive science through experimental live polling, online prediction games and more. In this interview, David Rothschild tells you what to expect in 2014, breaks down his forecasting philosophy, and explains why you should trust professional gamblers more than cable news pundits.

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On Wednesday, University of Colorado Health (UCHealth), one of the state’s largest healthcare providers, announced its migration to Microsoft Office 365. This decision was made in large part due to Microsoft’s long-standing commitment to data security and privacy and because the company supports HIPAA requirements beyond what other vendors provide. Microsoft was the first major IT cloud provider to offer a comprehensive, peer-reviewed Business Associate Agreement (BAA) for all of its customers. The BAA, and its subsequent updates to reflect new product offerings and changes in the law, has been widely accepted within the industry as a best practice, and has helped Microsoft establish itself as a trusted healthcare data steward.

Consumers found big savings on Xbox 360 games, adds-ons, avatars and more with the “Countdown to 2014” daily deals from the Xbox Game Store that began Tuesday, Dec. 17. In addition to those great deals, we saw the debut of the Xbox Video and Xbox Music apps for in the Windows Phone Store. Windows Phone 8 is the only phone that offers Xbox Video support this holiday season, which means you can buy and download favorite movies and TV shows from the Xbox Video service and watch them wherever you go. Use your Xbox Music Pass to stream from a catalog of tens of millions of songs using the Xbox Music service. Also, you can use the Verizon FiOS TV app now on Xbox One and Snap View to watch two programs at the same time.

This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we helped out last-minute shoppers with eight tech gifts that won’t break the bank and five no-stress downloadable gifts.

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Thanks for stopping by this edition of Weekend Reading. Happy holidays, wherever you are!

Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

Mark your calendars: Announcing Build 2014

December 13th, 2013 No comments

The following is a post from Steve Guggenheimer, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President and Chief Evangelist, Developer & Platform Evangelism.


It seems like we were just gathered in San Francisco for Build 2013 and yet a lot has happened since that time. Windows 8.1 is in the hands of consumers and there is a great selection of new devices at all sizes and price points coming in time for the holidays. Last month, we released Xbox One and sold more than two million units in the first 18 days. And we continue to see the addition of great new apps, with differentiated user experiences, coming to the platform from top names such as Flipboard, Instagram, Waze, Vine and Mint alongside thousands of local apps growing every day.

The momentum just keeps building and that is why I’m so excited to announce our next developer conference, Build 2014, which will take place April 2 to April 4 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Save the date and mark your calendar for registration, which opens at 9 a.m. PT on Jan. 14 at www.buildwindows.com.

As always, Build is a time to bring developers together to talk about our latest products, platform advances, tools and offerings, all of which come together to create unmatched apps and scenarios. With Windows, developers can create new experiences to reach hundreds of millions of devices on peoples’ desks, in their homes, in their pockets and in their living rooms. At this year’s event, we’ll talk about what’s next for Windows, Windows Phone, Windows Azure, Windows Server, Visual Studio and much more.

So pay a visit to www.buildwindows.com, plan to register on Jan. 14, and join us for three days of immersive presentations delivered by the engineers behind our devices and services. Be among the first to see what’s next from Microsoft. We’ll look forward to seeing you at Moscone!

Scenes from Build 2013
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Last June, Microsoft welcomed over 6000 developers to Build 2013 in San Francisco’s Moscone Center.
Microsoft to developers: Welcome to Build!
December 13, 2013
Last June, Microsoft welcomed over 6000 developers to Build 2013 in San Francisco’s Moscone Center.
Image: Web | Print

Categories: apps, Build, developers Tags:

“Vail” Launchpad and Its Extensibility

May 24th, 2010 No comments

Hi there! We are on to our second edition of Vail Engineering blogs, and this time we are talking about Launchpad – what it is, how it can be extended and why developers should care about it. I aso want to point out that we got pretty good response to Vail SDK with some of our MVPs covering it pretty well by now. You can check out some of these very informational posts here:

http://asoftblog.wordpress.com/2010/05/05/developing-an-add-in-for-vail/

http://blog.tentaclesoftware.com/archive/2010/05/07/89.aspx

http://blog.tentaclesoftware.com/archive/2010/05/08/90.aspx

What is Launchpad?

Launchpad is a light weight and extensible client-based user interface that we built for Vail. It was born out of a couple of pain points that our customers experienced from Home Server v1. While Home Server v1 provided the ability for developers to add what we call ‘administrative’ or ‘server management’ tasks to the Admin console, it did not provide any means by which a day-to-day or non-administrative task could be presented to users in a coherent manner that resonates its association with Home Server. As a result we started seeing add-ins for day-to-day consumption of home server capabilities that were deployed to Admin Console, but did not belong there since they were not administrative tasks. We realized that there is a need for providing a coherent and consistent grouping as well as entry point for home server related tasks that everyone in the household can perform from their client PCs. This was the first pain point.

The second one, and perhaps the more significant one of the two, was the limitation around having matching usernames and passwords on the server and the PCs. If you recall, in Home Server v1 we require users to create user accounts on the server that had the same username and password as that of the client PCs so that they can seamlessly access the shared folders on the server as soon as they login to their PCs. This generated lot of confusion with consumers, as was evident from the feedback that we got. With Vail, Launchpad acts as the login UI for signing the user onto the server, thereby granting them access to the Server shares and other platform services exposed via the SDK. We no longer have the requirement to have the user accounts matching on server and client, instead users can use Launchpad to ‘sign-in’ to the server with any user account and password combination that was set up in Dashboard!

    

In short, Launchpad serves the following purposes:

  1. It is the entry point for the day-to-day tasks related to Windows Home Server from the client PCs.
  2. It eiminates the need for matching usernames and passwords setup between server and client, and eliminates the password sync dialogs.
  3. It Provides a logical and centralized location where all home server related tasks are exposed, resulting in much better awareness of home server and its capabilities.
  4. It allows everyone in the household to have visibility to developers’ add-ins, than just home server administrators.

Why should developers care about Launchpad?

So far, home server add-ins or applications were focused on ‘Administrative’ kind of tasks that extended the Admin Console. The audience for such add ins were limited to one person in the house hold, most possibly the head of the house hold who does the ‘Administrative tasks’ on the computers. With Launchpad, we now have the ability to create end-to-end add-ins with user interfaces targeted at everyone in the home who uses a PC joined to home server. A typical example can be an addin providing the ability for everyone in the home to sync a folder on their PC to home server, and then subsequently to the cloud. The launch point for a configuration UI for adding or removing folders included in the auto-sync scenario above (which is specific to the user’s PC) would be Launchpad, and not Dashboard.

As you can see from the example this is an opportunity for developers to create add-ins with multiple facets – one server side component targeting the administrator and one client side component targeting everyone in the home. The result is more people using your add-ins and more word getting spread about your product/addin. With our add-in deployment mechanism, you can package both these components together and we’ll take care of deploying and installing the relevant pieces on the server and client appropriately as well (more on this in a later post). So, as you can see, we have built a powerful SDK for developers to build a truly end-to-end add-in spanning the client, server and the cloud.

 When to extend Launchpad and when not to

Just so that we give a clear guidance on extensibility of Launchpad vs Dashboard, I am going to call this out specifically here.

You extend Launchpad when…

  1. You have a task or resource/UI that you expect everyone in the household to access/ use. Eg: Backup my PC, access shared folders etc…
  2. The task IS NOT related to the management or administration of the Server.
  3. You DO NOT need Administrator privileges on the server to do the task.

You extend Dashboard when…

  1. You have a task or resource/UI that you expect only the head of the household (home Admin – typically the person who sets up Home Server) to access/use. Eg: Add a hard drive, create user account etc..
  2. The task IS related to the management or administration of the Server, and not a day-to-day one.
  3. You DO need Administrator privileges on the server to do the task.

When in doubt, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Extending Launchpad

 Adding entries to Launchpad

You can add entries to Launchpad to point to a client application that makes use of Home Server in one way or the other. Your entries will appear under a category called ‘Addins’ on the main page of Launchpad.

Adding categories to Launchpad

If you want to add multiple entries to the Launchpad UI, we recommend grouping them under categories. Categories can be added upto three levels deep.

Example:

Addins-> (Built-in category)

              Company-> (Your category)

                       Antivirus -> (Your sub category)

                                  System Scan (entry)

                                  Scan Schedule (entry)

                       Online Backup-> (Your sub category)

                                  Backup Now (entry)

                                  Backup Settings (entry)

 

Enhances coming in future builds

In the later builds, we are looking at adding capability for targeting Launchpad tasks to specific users who are part of a User Group on the Server. For example, you can target only users who are part of ‘Remote Access Group’ to see a link to your remote portal hosted in Home Server. We are also making it so that Launchpad automatically authenticates the machine to home server using the username and password stored, if the user choses to do so. So, as soon as the user logs into the local machine, they are authenticated to Home Server so that all the services that require authentication to server work seamlessly. Another enhancement that is coming is the ability to control the alerts that are seen from the tray icon. User would be able to choose from three options – No alerts, network alerts or local & network alerts. On top of that you’ll see a lot more in the look and feel for Launchpad when we ship!

That’s it for today. As always, we welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions!

Introduction to Windows Home Server “Vail” SDK

May 7th, 2010 No comments

Hi everyone! My name is Dileep and I am a Development lead with Windows Home Server team. It has been more than a week since we released the beta builds of the next version of Windows Home Server “Vail”, and we are very encouraged by the download and the feedback pouring in through connect. Thank you for everyone who is participating in the beta program! Alongside that, we thought this is the right time to start discussing some of the features of Vail and its extensibility with the community to get the excitement started for building great, cool and useful add-ins for the next version of Windows Home Server. The SDK is also available to download from Connect and if you already tried it out, you might have noticed that the extensibility options for Vail are pretty broad in comparison with first version of Windows Home Server. There are many ways one can extend Vail – by extending Dashboard (old Admin Console), Launchpad or by building a Provider. You can even build an addin which has both server and client components to it.  Vail SDK contains information about all these plus APIs for many other core features like Alerts framework, Storage (Server Folders & Hard Drives), Computers & Backup, Identity, Remote Access, Media Streaming and much more! The SDK also contains detailed documentation as to how you can build, package and deploy your add-ins to Vail Server and clients. All-in-all, you can see that we’ve tried to put up a much broader and more powerful SDK in place compared to the previous version.


There is a lot of information to digest in Vail and SDK in particular. Hence we are taking this opportunity to do a series of blog posts to talk about the various extensibility points of Vail in a much higher level than the actual SDK documentation. The idea is to give developers an overview of the capabilities of Vail SDK along with providing guidance as to how to go about building addins the right way so that the user experience or performance is not compromised. In the first of such posts, I am discussing the Vail ‘Dashboard’ and its extensibility vis-à-vis Home Server v1 here.


The Administration console in Home Server v1 has been renamed to ‘Dashboard’ to better reflect the information it provides. Just like the Admin console in v1, Dasbhboard still is the main user interface for administrative or management type of tasks on the Server. Dashboard is where you would go to monitor the health of the network, create user accounts, view backups, add shared folders, increase storage capacity, enable or disable media streaming etc. Dashboard is still not the place to put any day-to-day non-administrative tasks. I have posted a document on connect website (link is given below) which talks about the differences in the Dashboard UI compared to Home Server v1 Admin Console. In the document I talk about the new Dashboard layout, the new UI elements introduced, the three different kinds of tabs that one can build as well as plugging into the existing Microsoft tabs and wizards. I also cover the extensibility aspects of Home Server v1 Admin console which are no longer available in Vail.


You can download the complete document here.


(You will have to sign in to Microsoft Connect site.)


I hope I was able to give an adequate overview of the changes and new features in Windows Home Server ‘Vail’ Dashboard in the document, especially when compared to v1. Please remember that this document is meant as a high level overview of the extensibility points, and the low-level details of all of those extensibility APIs, documentation, samples and templates are available in the Vail SDK. We would love to hear your comments and feedback. Moreover we would love to get all of you started on writing cool addins for Vail. Please use Vail SDK Forum for discussing seeking assistance for the SDK. In subsequent posts, we’ll cover other topics such as Launchpad, building Providers, addin deployment, various object models etc. Happy coding!


Download Dashboard overview document


Download “Vail” SDK

Discuss about “Vail” SDK

Windows Home Server Software Development Kit (SDK) adds Japanese Language Support

August 22nd, 2009 No comments

The momentum behind Windows Home Server add-ins continues to grow!  The Windows Home Server team is very pleased to announce the availability of the Japanese Software Development Kit (SDK).  The SDK provides developers with guidance, for example application programming interface (API) information, on how to create programs that integrate with the Windows Home Server Console. 

Japanese developers now have access to the localized version of the SDK on the Windows Home Server section of the MSDN website.

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Coinciding with the release of the Japanese SDK, the Windows Home Server Japanese Evaluation software is now available for download

For users who have not stayed abreast of the Windows Home Server add-ins community, you may want to visit Terry Walsh’s site www.whsplus.com.  You’ll find a pretty comprehensive list of Windows Home Server add-ins, reviews of the latest add-ins, as well as a list of user-ranked top add-ins. 

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– Steven

Categories: community, developers, Evaluation, Platform, SDK Tags:

Windows Home Server – Imaginations are unleashed with the Add-in Idea Challenge

May 22nd, 2009 No comments

Earlier this month, Terry Walsh at We Got Served announced the launch of a new Windows Home Server add-in competition.  Announcing the Windows Home Server Add-In Idea Challenge ‘09!


With an interesting format, this competition should attract the attention of a broad group of Windows Home Server enthusiasts.  As opposed to actually developing the Windows Home Server add-ins, We Got Served is simply looking for the best ideas.


Excerpt from blog post… “You don’t have to be a developer or technically minded to enter. All you need is your creativity and imagination to come up with the best idea for a future Windows Home Server add-in, which will then be coded up and released to the community for all to share.”


There is still some time left to submit your ideas!  The entry period closes on May 31st, and voting will commence in June.  Developer Felix Kollmann (author of Router Control) will turn your idea into reality.


The Windows Home Server team anticipates seeing some terrific ideas from this community-led challenge.  The winners may be featured in stories on the Windows Home Server Community web page.  We showcase some of the most popular add-ins every month on the Windows Home Server add-ins page and your idea for an add-in may join the ranks of over 100 Windows Home Server add-ins available.  For a comprehensive list, visit Home Server plus


Whiist


Pictured: “Hall of Fame” winner of the Code2Fame contest, Andrew Grant’s Whiist.


If you need any added encouragement, here it is!  Microsoft was asked to contribute some prizes for the contest… and believe me, they are awesome!


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– Steven

Categories: add-ins, community, developers, Platform Tags:

Windows Home Server – Visit us at Microsoft Tech-Ed North America

May 7th, 2009 No comments

IT Professionals and Developers will be descending upon the Los Angeles Convention Center next week to learn about a broad set of current and upcoming Microsoft technologies, tools, platforms, and services.

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Photo: Tech-Ed 2008 Photo: HP MediaSmart LX195

Windows Home Server will have a booth presence in the Expo Hall.  This is a chance for Tech-Ed attendees to get a hands-on experience with the latest Windows Home Server software and chat with members of the team.  We’ll be featuring the HP MediaSmart EX487 and, the newest addition to the family, the HP MediaSmart LX195. 

If you know somebody who will be at the event, please send them our way.  If you will be there yourself, please drop by the Windows Home Server booth.

-Steven

Categories: developers, events, Team Tags:

Windows Home Server – Now available on MSDN

March 24th, 2009 No comments

A key benefit of Windows Home Server is the versatility and power it offers as a development platform.  Even when Windows Home Server software was still in the beta stage, we published a software development kit (SDK) so that 3rd party developers could develop interesting add-ins for the product.  See the original post, "Developers, Developers, Developers".

There are currently 100+ add-ins developed for Windows Home Server (up from 70+ in January of this year).  We have a dedicated Windows Home Server Add-ins page  on the Microsoft web site.  There are also a number of other sites dedicated to this topic, such as the Forums on We Got Served and Windows Home Server Add-ins.

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At the Professional Developers Conference last fall, we received a huge amount of interest in Windows Home Server from the developer community (standing room only in information sessions).  MSDN availability will increase awareness of Windows Home Server with a larger community of professional developers and help further grow the ecosystem of software applications built for Windows Home Server.  Effective today, Windows Home Server is available under Operating Systems on the MSDN Subscriptions Download Page.  (Instructions for downloading.)

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Hat’s off to Loren on MediaSmartServer.net Forums and Alex Kuretz for catching us during the MSDN testing phase last week!  Enjoy the real deal.

Categories: add-ins, community, developers, SDK, Team Tags: