Archives / 2012 / October
  • BUILD 2012 day 2 Keynote recap

    Day 2 keynote of the BUILD conference was more focused on developer-oriented technologies. Great speakers such as Scott Guthrie, Scott Hanselman, Josh Twist and Jason Zander did multiple demos with live coding, showing the latest features of the Windows Azure Platform as it is now a solid complementary offering for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 apps.

    • Windows Azure Web Sites now supports .NET Framework 4.5 and Python. 
    • Release of the Azure Store preview, a catalog of Azure-based third-party add-ons.
    • Windows Azure Mobile Services now supports Windows Phone 8 (in addition to Windows 8 and iOS), a demo showed how to quickly setup this cloud-based data services, add authentication using multiple providers, push notifications to both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. 
    • Windows Azure Media Services to easily upload, encode, publish and stream video to Win8, WP8, Xbox, iOS, Mac or Android...
    • More enterprise oriented services on Azure: extending Office (SharePoint as a back-end), service bus, identities (federation).

    Learn more on:


    Notable announcement of day 2:
    • Team Foundation Service is now available! (The new url for what used to be TFSPreview is now Pricing will be announced in 2013, but we already know that a free option is offered:

    Watch the entire keynote online:

    Read the full transcript:

  • BUILD 2012 day 1 Keynote recap

    On October 30, 2012 Steve Ballmer kicked off the first BUILD conference keynote.

    Steve shared some insights around Windows 8:

    • 4 million customers upgraded to Windows 8 over the weekend since the October 26 release (so in 3 days only!).
    • Focus on sharing code between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.
    • Syncing everything through SkyDrive
    • Xbox Music free streaming and Xbox Smart Glass.

    He did all the demos himself, showing off great “Windows 8 generation” devices already available (including an 82-inch Windows 8 “slate” by Perceptive Pixel).

    Steve Guggenheimer (Microsoft's Corporate Vice President DPE) talked about The Business Opportunity with Windows 8.


    Notable announcements of day 1:

    • The Windows Phone 8 SDK is now available at (includes SDK, free version of VS2012, Blend 5, and emulators).
    • Release of the .NET Framework for Windows Phone 8: Ability to use C# 5 or Visual Basic 11 features in your code (async programming mode, ...), share code between WP8 and Windows Store apps.
    • Windows Phone 8 individual developer registration is reduced to $8 for the next 8 days! (hurry up…)

    Note: strange absence of Steven Sinofsky on stage…


    Watch the entire keynote online:

    Read the full transcript:

  • Hello Windows Phone 8!

    The latest version of Microsoft mobile OS, Windows Phone 8 was unveiled today.

    It really offers tons of new features and improvements!!

    I noticed:

    • Custom Start & Lock Screen
    • Kid’s Corner
    • Data Sense
    • People Hub / Rooms
    • Integrated Skype Calling
    • NFC Tap + Send
    • Xbox Music and Video
    • Microsoft Wallet
    • Cloud-based Backup
    • Screenshots
    • … and so much more!!

    Joe Belfiore, Corporate VP of Windows Phone summarizes it all in this great video:

  • Windows Media Center for Windows 8

    Fact: Windows Media Center doesn’t come built-in with Windows 8.

    News: For a limited time (until January 31, 2013), you can get it for free ($9.99 value) if you own a Windows 8 Pro license.

    1. Request your free product key from Microsoft's Web site.
    2. Hit "Win+W" keys, then type "add features." Select "Add features to Windows 8."
    3. Click on "I already have a product key," then enter your product key. Click Next to continue.
    4. Agree to the licensing agreement, then click "Add features."

    Note: if you don’t have the Pro version you will need to purchase the Windows 8 Pro Pack (70$ in Canada) in order to get Media

  • UX Design Principles Pluralsight course review

    I've just finished the "Creating User Experiences: Fundamental Design Principles" course on Pluralsight, I am glad I took it, and here is why you should.

    The course is held by Billy Hollis, an internationally known author and speaker focused on user experience design. It was published in May 2012, so it is quite fresh (You’ll hear some reference to XAML, even if the content is not focused on any particular technology).

    I think what I liked the most about this course is the fact that Billy is not just imposing design ideas and pushing them in your throat (which would be too confronting for us developers, even if he was right), he spends a fair share amount of time explaining each topics, and illustrate them with great metaphors. If you are a minimum open minded you should get great value out of this course. Billy makes you think outside the box, he encourages you to use your right side brain, and understand design principles by simply looking at what’s around us (physical objects, nature, …). During the course he refers several time to "don't make me think" a book on UX design, which is about giving confidence to users, by making it easier for them to achieve their goals when using your app. Billy thinks that every developer can participate in elaborating good design when building software, not only designers should be involved. Get away of the easy path "let's build functional stuff for now and we will hire a designer later if we have time and budget". The course is also live and interactive as the author suggests that you do some live exercises during each module.

    He actually makes you realize and understand by yourself the need for change. We’re in a new era of software and devices, where grids and menus aren't enough. You can’t remain satisfied by just making things possible, you need to make them easier for your users. Understanding some fundamental design principles will help. This course can definitely be followed by any developers who wants to improve user experience of software they are working on, and I definitely recommend it.

  • Sample Browser for Visual Studio 2012!

    Remember the "All-In-One Code Framework", a set of cool code samples available on CodePlex ?

    Well, the same team along with MSDN just released a Sample Browser Visual Studio Extension for Visual Studio 2012 and Visual Studio 2010.

    The Sample Browser Visual Studio Extension allows developers to search and download 3500+ code samples from within Visual Studio 2012 and Visual Studio 2010.

    If you are into Windows 8 dev like me, you’ll be happy to know that it already offers samples for WinRT with XAML and C#.


  • Free Webinar week by Telerik

    Telerik offers a series of free Webinars to discuss the latest innovations for Windows 8, Visual Studio 2012, Data Visualization and their Leading Product Portfolio.

    These “What's New Webinar” will have live demos that highlight the hot features from their latest release (Telerik DevCraft Q3).

    Webinar week will take place on October 22 – 26, 2012.

    For more information and to register:

    Bonus note: all participants will have a chance to win a free DevCraft Ultimate license (worth $1999!)

  • Windows Store is open for business!

    In case you didn’t know, you don’t have to wait for the launch of Windows 8 on October 26 to start building and deploying your apps. Developers from 120 markets (including Canada) can publish Windows Store apps right now!

    How to start ?

    • Anyone with an MSDN Subscription, Dreamspark account (students) or BizSpark account (startups) get a 1-year Windows Store membership for FREE!!
    • If you don’t have such account, an annual membership is only CAD $49 and lasts a full year. Just go to the Windows Store Dashboard on the Windows Dev Center and sign up.
    • The dev tools are free and the SDK is ready.
  • Getting started with Microsoft design language (ex Metro)

    The Microsoft design language (formerly known as Metro) is the touch-and-tile UX language that Microsoft designed to create an interface focused on content, information, and movement. It is designed to embrace those principles: clean, light, fast, open aesthetics; dynamic, moving transitions and interactions; embrace the beauty of typography; content-focused interface; and authentically digital design. This new tiles interface is now on Windows 8, Windows Phone and XBOX.

    Microsoft has finally realized its 3-screen strategy and this is a game changer; if you plan to work on creating software for the Microsoft platform, you need to become familiar with those UX principles. Find below some links that will be helpful:


    MSDN: UX guidelines for Windows Store apps


    MSDN: Windows Phone General Design Principles

    And as soon as you become serious about building your first app (for you or a customer), you NEED to read this document if you want your app to get certified with less trouble:

    Windows 8 UX Guidelines for Windows Store apps
    (316 pages of detailed user experience guidelines!!!)


    The touch guidance and links on my previous post are still valid:

  • Windows 8: new name for Metro apps and associated design language

    Due to some reason, what we referred as “Metro” in Windows 8 is not to be used anymore. Those last few months have left us in the dark, so here is some clarification:

    Metro style apps = Windows Store apps (note lowercase on apps)
    Metro design principles = Microsoft design style principles
    Metro design language = Microsoft design language

    Not sure yet for the first one, but the last two could also be applied to Windows Phone, XBOX, …
    There have been several reference to “Modern UI” this summer but it was just temporary.

    You can find references to these new names in this MSDN article: Make great Windows Store apps