Happy Birthday, Xbox!

Happy Birthday, Xbox!

Today Microsoft´s gaming console, the Xbox, turns 10 in Europe!
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To celebrate this anniversary, Microsoft launched an interactive timeline on their British Internet page.

After you added your birthday (works also without being logged in), you can take a virtual tour through Xbox´s history:

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As you can see above, there are several statistics at the bottom of the page:

  • Total Gamerscore
  • Total Consoles sold
  • Live community size

You can have a look for yourself here: http://www.xbox.com/en-GB/xbox2001-2011

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Spotify is finally heading to Germany

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By the day of tomorrow (03/12/2012) user will be able to use the worldwide known streaming service Spotify here in Germamy.

“We think Germany is a perfect place for Spotify” says founder Daniel Ek to dpa (German news agency). “ There were several hurdles to iron out for a entry on the German market, but now we are in a good position” he said further.

16.000.000 songs

Spotify has the huge amount of 16 million songs to choose from. The music is streamed over the internet and will not be stored locally.

Also BITKOM has welcomed the launch of Spotify in Germany. They are sure that Spotify will set huge changes in the way we consume music.

As I reported last year, the GEMA and BITKOM had finalized  an agreement, which makes it easier to launch services like Spotify.

Pricing

You can use Spotify with ads for free on your desktop. If you want to switch ads of, you will have to pay 4,99 Euro monthly fee. If you also want to use it on your mobile phone, you have to pay 9,99 Euro monthly, but you will also get an higher bitrate (360 KBits instead of 160). The pricing is moderate.

Apps

Surely you want to use on your Windows Phone or your PC. Spotify has official apps as well as third party apps.

So it is good to see another music service, but I am a bit sad  about it. Zune Pass from Microsoft is still not available in Germany, and at the moment it seems that there is no plan to release from part of Microsoft.

Testing of app and service is currently running.

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Microsoft shows what Windows 8 means for developers at CeBIT

Microsoft shows what Windows 8 means for developers at CeBIT

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As I told you in my earlier post from CeBIT, I visited also an event for Developers at CeBIT.

Microsoft Developer Evangelist F. Rieseberg and G. Logemann were talking about some important things while developing for Windows 8.

Components of a modern IT

First Microsoft told us a few words about the new form factors, which both Microsoft and we Developer have to deal with. This was to show us how important it is to use the Grid. The Grid is a huge tool to accomplish our apps to look on all devices the same, regardless of the screen resolution. The told us some areas which we should not use, as the are reserved for gestures or the back button.

Windows RunTime (WinRT) and code languages

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Microsoft explained us how easy it is to develop for the WinRT, using our already existing knowledge of our special languages. It is really easy to understand: Basic of the whole system is the kernel. On top of the kernel you have the WinRT APIs (for example communications, sensors). And with all supported languages you can call these APIs. You can develop Metro styled apps in C/C++, C# or VB (+ XAML), as well as in HTML/CSS or JavaScript.

Microsoft calls the WinRT APIs also the Metro style application APIs. These APIs are easy to understand.

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  • First we have the fundamental APIs: Application Services, Threading/Timers, Memory Management, Authentication, Cryptography and Globalization
  • On top of that are APIs for Media, Devices as well as Communications & Data
  • Finally on top of that all we have the UI

Desktop apps

In two sentences: You can develop apps or programs also for the desktop, but without the advantages of the WinRT. You will have to decide if you want a desktop app or a Metro style app.

Async development!

Only async. full stop. No, seriously, Microsoft declared they only want async apps. The UI has to be “fast and fluid” at every time the user is in the app. This is relatively easy if you are an .NET/C# developer. You know it already. In Windows 8 we have a simple keyword for it: “await”. Example: calling the FilePicker to hand over an image to the photo app, you will call it with the simple word await in front.

Process states

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Similar to Windows Phone, the used memory is controlled by the OS. This means when you app goes to background, you have to save the state of your app. Your apps has 5 seconds to handle all savings while going to suspended mode. While in suspending, your app runs no code.

You can create background tasks, but they need to be handled also for resuming. Imagine a download, you go to another app, return to your app. The background task has to resume while getting the right values from the download.

Another thing similar to Windows Phone: If the system runs to low memory, suspended apps will be terminated without any warning/notification. In this case all unsaved date is lost. It is up to us developers to save all data correctly within the 5 seconds until our app is suspended.

Q & A

At the end of the short event Microsoft took some questions. Two of them were interesting:

  • Q:  Is there a way to share data between a desktop app and a Metro styled app?
  • A:  Not locally. You have to use the cloud to do so.
  • Q: Will some of the features be available also for Windows Phone?
  • A: No comment.

What´s next?

Microsoft gave out feedback questions. Within this feedback questions we were asked whether we plan to develop Metro styled apps. If so, we should describe what app we are planning to. Microsoft will contact us developers before events which are suitable for our app ideas.

I tried to keep this post as short as possible. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to post a comment below.

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The force is with Microsoft at CeBIT 2012

The force is with Microsoft at CeBIT 2012

As I wrote in an earlier post today, Microsoft demoed some Kinect games on CeBIT. Also Darth Vader was there with some storm troopers to support the demo of the game “Kinect Star Wars”. The Force is with Microsoft!

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My colleague is a huge Xbox fan, and loves especially the Kinect games. He could not leave the possibility to play Kinect Star Wars. Thanks to him and his open mind, I am able to share this video on the game with you.

If you are on my Windows Phone app or on a mobile browser, click here to watch the video.

The gameplay is very realistic, and I am sure there will be also gadgets like laser swords in future to give the game an even more realistic character.

The release of the game is in April, you can watch now what you will get if you buy the game.

May the force be with you!

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My CeBIT 2012 review

My CeBIT 2012 review

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Yesterday I was with a colleague at Hannover (Germany), to visit the CeBIT fair of this year. We started there in the morning, looking around what is new and cool.

The first things we looked at where some German ministries, but that was not so interesting. Then we watched a keynote for IPv6 and security, but the speaker was way too boring to stay there longer than the 15 minutes we rested there. We were moving around, having a look what Google does (promoting G+ for pages and a coffee bar), had a look at some German web content provider, but there was nothing really exciting there. Finally, we arrived at hall 4, where Microsoft had its presence.

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As you can see, the stand of Microsoft is big, in fact it is one of the biggest I have seen there.

So what did Microsoft present?

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  • Cloud Computing (Windows Azure, Microsoft CRM Online, Windows Intune and Office)
  • Productivity and Collaboration with Office & Co. (Microsoft Exchange, Lync, Sharepoint, Project, Office and Office 365)
  • ERP and CRM Solutions with Microsoft Dynamics
  • Data Management, Business Intelligence (BI), Integration (SQL Server 2012, BizTalk Server, Sharepoint Server, Silverlight and Visual Studio 2010)
  • Client and Server (Windows Server, System Center, Small Business Server 2011, Forefront)
  • and of course they did a preview of Windows 8

While presenting this things above, of course there was even more to discover:

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Above you can see another view on a part of the Microsoft stand, where you were able to play around with some Ultrabooks and Windows 7. But that was not interesting for me, as I know Windows 7, and the Ultrabooks are nice to look at but more interesting was to get a view on a Windows 8 tablet. Microsoft used the Build Slates to demonstrate. Sadly you could get your hands on only after you made an appointment, and of course they did not have any appointment left before the afternoon/evening. So I decided to go to the Windows Phone part.

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At the Windows Phone part, I had to wait a couple of minutes to get my hands on. First I could not believe what I saw there, but it was true: Nokia Lumia 900. Here are some hands-on shots:

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The device has similar specs to the HTC Titan, it is only slightly smaller in screen size and has the equal good haptic of the  Lumia 800. Paired with the fact that Nokia offers a bunch of very useful apps with its Windows Phones for free, I am really thinking about swapping my Titan into a Lumia 900. With this Nokia device it is really hard to stay on the Titan.

After playing around with the Lumia 900, we recognized that there is also an Xbox part. My colleague (who is originally an Apple fanboy) recently  bought an Xbox and a Kinect, so he could not resist to play Fruit Ninja:

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Microsoft also presented Dance Central 2 and another Kinect game – I will talk about this in another post.

As we finally could tear away from Microsoft´s stand, we were looking into the other halls. Dell, IBM, HP, nothing spectacular than already available products or talking about server racks and vending machines. After a short break it was time for me to turn to hall 8, where Microsoft did a CeBIT special about “Developing for Windows 8”.

My colleague was turning another bit around while I was there. He told me that he was at AVM´s stand, where he had a look to an LTE router, and visited an cellular carrier, where they were  demonstrating LTE.

My conclusion: it was a bit disappointing for me as there was not so much interesting stuff as I hoped (especially from the hardware part), but my experience yesterday confirmed my thought that it is difficult to see something new, because all was presented already on MWC last week and not all vendors and companies are heading to CeBIT afterwards. Microsoft did an excellent job in my eyes by presenting some interesting information about their products, and the did also include developers. So for this part I can only say: all thumbs up!

Note: thanks to @dominiksichling for supporting me yesterday and let me use photo/video where he is shown for my blog post(s).

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Bing Maps SDK on Windows 8 (W8CP)

With the release of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, it was only a matter of time that Microsoft releases some new SDKs to us developers. We are starting with the Bing Maps SDK.

Bing Maps SDK for Windows 8 Metro style apps

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Microsoft´s Bing Maps team released a new SDK for Windows 8. You can use the SDK free and unlimited during the preview period.

The new SDK supports Java by using the AJAX v7 controls, and provides all standard items like map types, pushpins, infoboxes and tile layers. Additionally there is now a venue Maps module. At the moment there are still some missing bits like directions, traffic and overlays. Your maybe previous used REST APIs will still work and help you to use more features. If you want to learn on an example, you can watch this site.

Of course you can also use C#, C++ or Visual Basic to create apps that are using the SDK. The SDK now supports client vendor rendering as well as full hardware acceleration.You can also use Aerial and  Bird´s eye view and traffic overlays  within you app. Some features are in this early stage US only. You can learn on an example on this MSDN page.

Getting started…

OC course, you need to download the SDK to get started overall:  http://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/0c341dfb-4584-4738-949c-daf55b82df58. You can also use the VS11 Extension Manager to download the SDK.

Secondly, you will net a special “Metro style  apps (BETA) key” to use the SDK within you apps. Get your key at www.bingmapsportal.com .

If you want to read a lot more about using Bing Maps within you Metro styled apps, head over to the documentation sites at MSDN.

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Microsoft is telling us how Windows 8 is ready for business

Yesterday at CeBIT in Germany, Kevin Turner (COO of Microsoft), told us how Windows 8 is ready for business use right from the start. He explicitly invited IT pros to test the recently announced Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

CeBIT12_Microsoft Keynote, Kevin Turner

No compromise experience

“Windows 8 will deliver no compromise experiences on a range of devices from tablets and PCs to desktops. It will give people functionality they love and the enterprise-grade capabilities that IT departments demand,” Turner said. “We encourage IT professionals to begin using it to get a firsthand experience of how Windows 8 will give people a beautiful, fast and fluid experience with the mobility and familiarity they need to effortlessly move between what they want to do and what they need to do.”

Microsoft recently often says, that there is no compromise about the user experience. As IT pros like system admins are focusing more on the productivity of the networks and systems they are maintaining, this will get interesting only to be interesting in second place.

Easy integration in existing system structures

This is one of the goals of Microsoft in business use. To reach this goal, Microsoft has focused on a few things.

  • First thing is of course a great user experience. The Metro interface is introduced to be productive on touch based devices as well as with mouse and keyboard.
  • Tablets are the second focus. There are so many things where tablets can be used in daily business, like on presentations, showing a customer a preview of recent products and so on. The big advantage here is that Microsoft was able to integrate the possibility of existing Windows 7 software.
  • Mobility is important: Microsoft solution to this is Windows To Go. A whole Windows installation on a little USB-Device, so users can be equipped with a full, customized Windows copy for working on the go – existing hardware can be reused without being forced to install a new OS.
  • Security is always important, especially in business area. With Trusted Boot and improved BitLocker drive encryption, AppLocker and claim-based access control help protect corporate data across the client device, the network and back-end infrastructure, says Microsoft.
  • Virtualization and management is made easy with Windows 8. Be it the well prepared Windows 8 OS itself, or the additional included Hyper-V technology: Windows 8 will help IT pros to integrate the new Windows devices easily into existing infrastructures.

So this is a short overview of the features coming to businesses. A good amount will also focus on apps/software and their integration as well as their backwards compatibility. The time will tell, how the new concept of Microsoft will be adopted also by IT pros for their daily business.

If you want to read more about this and watch a video about the possibilities, you can read a blog post of Erwin Visser, who has demonstrated some of the above points at the CeBIT.

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Microsoft at CeBIT 2012: “Microsoft Heartbeat – The Power of Design”

This was the motto today on Microsoft´s CeBit opening press conference.

It was all about Metro. Ralph Haupter, General Manager at Microsoft Germany, explained what this means for Microsoft:

”Design also says something about the state of a company. We used to define ourselves by our software’s functionality. Today the question at Microsoft is how we people can get to grips with this wonderful new digital world and enjoy it, whether we want to entrust it with our data and if we can control it. This is a question of integrated design.”

A homogeneous look on Windows Phone, Xbox and Windows 8

All major products of Microsoft are using the Metro look. Be it the experience on Windows Phone, the new Xbox Dashboard or last weeks previewed Windows 8: Metro leads to an homogeneous look and feel. Also the CeBIT trade show stand is shining in the new Metro look.

Microsoft is facing three critical factors here:

  • Esthetics of the experience. For Microsoft, working with technology nowadays should be both appealing and enjoyable.
  • Clarity of the function. IT must stay controllable with a vast number of devices as well as data sources
  • Intelligence of the blueprint.  New the technologies only become flexible and smart, if they are in first place.

The result is shown through the Metro Design. With the consumer preview been downloaded over a million times within the first 24 hours, it is clear the there is a huge interest in the Metro UI. Also for developers the Metro UI has potential:

One of the first German suppliers in the new Windows Store is the Berlin start-up company ”6Wunderkinder”. Their ”Wunderlist” app, a no-frills and easy-to-use Task Manager will soon be available to download. Christian Reber, CEO of the successful company, underlines that an attractive and effective operational concept is key factor for the app’s success. The Metro Design provides the ideal framework here. Plus Windows, which is by far the most popular operating system worldwide. ”We are not only convinced by the Metro Design approach, but also see an enormous potential for our company to reach far more people with our ideas and apps via Windows 8 in the future,” explained Reber.

The new experience will be available in 231 different markets, while using more than 100 languages. This opportunities are only given on Microsoft´s upcoming OS.

Tomorrow there will be a keynote of Kevin Turner, Microsoft´s Chief Operating Officer, at 10 am (EST). He will talk about „What’s Next: IT trends, business opportunity and Windows 8”. You can watch the keynote live at the CeBIT Global Conferences 2012.

Interesting words at the end:

“Windows 8 is also ”Windows reinvented” for a whole new generation of devices. It will be the best operating system for hundreds of millions of PCs, tablets and other devices, and for way more than one billion people across the whole world”, says Ralph Haupter.

I find interesting that Microsoft says “PCs, tablets and other devices”. Maybe this is also another hint of merging the Windows 8 kernel into Windows Phone, or even another Xbox Dashboard upgrade?

If you want to find out more about the CeBIT-News from Microsoft, head over to Microsoft´s official CeBIT site (also fully designed in Metro).

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WPDEV on W8CP: How to install the Windows Phone SDK

Yesterday I was all day playing around with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview (W8CP) as many of us.

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Today I wanted to get a bit more serious and tried to install the Windows Phone SDK.

Once downloaded from App Hub, I clicked “Install”, and waited for the SDK to complete  . Install went trough, and I was waiting for opening my current project.

But then I was shocked by numerous error messages, all of the regarding XNA plugins and updates. So the dream was over. The SDK does not support W8CP.

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I am a very Metro-addicted man, so I was searching for a solution. On Twitter I was tipped by @nikovrdoljak to one part of the solution.

The errors are caused by Games for Windows – LIVE Redistributable

XNA Game Studio installs a version of the Games for Windows – LIVE Redistributable behind the scenes.  Some older versions of the Games for Windows – LIVE Redistributable attempt to install and use a file that is being installed by Windows 8, and the older versions of the redistributable are not compatible with the newer version of the file that is installed by Windows 8.  Newer versions of the Games for Windows – LIVE Redistributable are compatible with Windows 8, and if you pre-install the new redistributable before installing XNA Game Studio, setup will recognize that it is already there and use the new version instead of trying to install the old version.

The reason this issue also impacts the Windows Phone SDK 7.1 is that this SDK installs XNA Game Studio behind the scenes, which in turn installs the Games for Windows – LIVE Redistributable behind the scenes.

So where to download the actual version? Let´s check this later. I followed the steps shown on Aaron Stebner’s WebLog. But that was not all.

I think more WPDev are willing to try, so here is a checklist:

  • uninstall all parts of the Windows Phone SDK – Note: there are some bits left after you use the automatic install, so you have to uninstall remaining parts of the SDK manually
  • do a reboot (that thing you do not want to do once you started playing around with W8CP). Don´t worry, it is faster as on Windows 7 (on my 2 year old ASUS under one minute).
  • go to the Games for Windows download page, which you can find on this page: http://www.xbox.com/de-DE/LIVE/PC/DownloadClient. Replace the “de-DE”-part with your regional language code, for the US p. e. “en-US” to download the correct version of the redistributable.
  • start installation
  • in the middle of the installation, the UAC asks you to allow the installation. Now click on “change, when this message appears” (the original wording might be slightly different, I translated it from German).
  • pull down the switch to set Windows to not ask you anymore (yes, even if this is not recommended)
  • now let the installation of Games for Windows –LIVE Redistributable finish.
  • finally, start installation of the Windows Phone SDK. This time, it takes a little longer than before (probably due to the now working install parts)
  • if you want to, turn the UAC on again (control panel/more settings/users/settings for user access control)

Congrats, you installed the Windows Phone SDK, but…

you still have to deal with some points:

  • the SDK currently works only with Visual Studio 2010
  • the emulator does not work, so you have to debug on device
  • the updated Windows Phone SDK 7.1.1 (which is only to have a look, not the final version), might afford additional steps

For me it only worked with above mentioned steps. If you had another steps to do or additional information, leave a comment to discuss.

happy coding on Windows 8, everyone!

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What´s up for Microsoft in 2012?

What´s up for Microsoft in 2012?

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Today I want to give a sneak preview of what we can expect from Microsoft this year.

Several dates are just fixed:

January 10-13: CES

This will be Microsoft´s last appearance on the Consumer Electronic Show. While this decision started a controversial discussion last year, we will sure see some new features for our Xbox, Windows Phone and probably on Windows 8. Also Nokia is located with a big stand, so I guess there will sure be some Windows Phone news. Maybe we developers will get again some beta of the next Windows Phone version? Or a Windows Phone by Sony (Ericsson)?

February 27 –  March 1: Mobile World Congress

Well, this will be an interesting thing for me from two parts: first as an employee of Telefonicá, which has always something big to tell about their on-going projects like BlueVia, the API-program of them. The world central is also located in Spain, so it is only natural that there will be a huge presence of Telefonicá.  Second part is from my part as Microsoft fan. I expect further details about the next version of Windows Phone, and also some news about the tablet capabilities of Windows 8.

March 9-18: SWSX Interactive

Last year, we all received our fantastic IE9. What happens this year? IE10? Windows 8? Xbox? Well, actually there is nothing concrete, so I have to update this when there will be news.

April: MIX

Well, if you click on that site, there are no news about a conference this year. Maybe it will be mashed up in this years Build. MS itself has no information to share at the moment.

June 5-7: E3 Expo

This is Microsoft´s primary Xbox Stage, and so we will normally see a lot of new Games both for Windows Phone and Xbox (like in 2011). I think there will be also some new apps around there, as the Xbox is now our multimedia centre in our living rooms.

June 11-14: TechEd 2012 

This is for pros and devs and is normally about already announced products. This is primarily for North America.

June 25-29: TechEd Europe 2012

After cancelling last year’s TechEd Europe, Microsoft is set to hold this year´s event.

July 9-13 Worldwide Partner Conference 2012

Microsoft is annually holding this event to thank their partners, show their roadmaps. As the trend for cloud computing continues, I guess there will be a large time of talking about the cloud, the cloud and the cloud.

November 12-15 SharePoint Conference 2012

As until now there is nothing about Office, Office 365 and SharePoint around, I guess this will be the scheduled launch conference for the updated 2012 product line.

So now you have a smart oversight about this years Microsoft events. Surely this list will be updated from time to time, as there are missing some events:

Build 2012

As it seems without a doubt the year of Windows 8 and the next version of Windows Phone, I am sure there will be an event. At this moment there is no information about it, but the missing MIX-conference is another indicator for this event to happen.

As I mentioned above, I will steadily update this post to keep the list up to date.

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