Tag Archives: Development

Microsoft Announces Visual Studio Achievements for Windows Azure

In January this year, Microsoft announced Visual Studio Achievements for Developers – a fun way bringing Xbox LIVE-like points to everyday programming tasks. The fascinating program makes sure your hard day’s work doesn’t go unnoticed and after over 80,000 downloads since the initial release, Microsoft has now extended the game to enroll developers working on Windows Azure.

The Visual Studio Achievements Extension has now been updated to include fifteen new achievements, all focused on exercising features of Windows Azure. Using the extension, various achievements are unlocked based on your activity. When you unlock an achievement, Visual Studio lets you know visually with a pop-up. In addition, your Channel 9 profile is updated with any achievements you earn. So, head over to Channel9, sign up for an account and download the plugin.

VisualStudio_badges,There are 15 new Azure achievements, such as publishing to Windows Azure from Visual Studio (Heading into the Cloud), using page blobs (Attack of the Blob), using SQL Azure (Database Darling) and configuring start up tasks (It’s My Party). Two of the achievements – Phone in the Cloud and Game in the Cloud – require use of Windows Azure toolkits.

You might also want to check Visual Studio Achievements for Windows Phone – a Windows Phone app that allows you to view Visual Studio Achievements on the go.

Windows 8: A Fantastic Opportunity for Developers

Windows 8 Start Screen

There has been a lot of discussion about Windows 8, Metro-style apps, Intel vs ARM, etc., from the time Windows 8 Developer Preview was released at //build/ last year. A lot of the discussion and debates have to do with unclear communication and secrecy from the Windows team at Microsoft. For example, what exactly is the deal with Windows on ARM devices? Are they going to be a hard cutoff from today’s Windows and not have a desktop experience at all, or will they have a desktop experience? Will the desktop experience be open for all developers or only certain developers (like Microsoft Office) to provide signed apps for ARM which use a restricted desktop?

(Ed: On February 9, Steven Sinofsky posted details about Windows on ARM on the Building Windows 8 Blog, so some of the secrecy has been taken away. However, the points made here are in fact reinforced by the details revealed in the post.)

Those discussions and speculations aside, I truly believe Windows 8 is a huge opportunity for developers. In this post, I will tell you why I believe so. First of all, some math: According to Canalys, there were 415MM PCs sold in 2011. This is after accounting for a decline in sales per original projections! Even though smartphones have exceeded the number of PCs sold, that PC sales number is still a very large number.

Now, let’s assume that those 415MM PCs are split 60-40 with regard to sales to businesses vs. consumers. Taking a round number of 400MM PCs a year gives us about 160MM PCs sold to consumers a year. I am ignoring business PCs for now because let’s face it – they are not going to Windows 8 for some time, and even if they do, there is a strong likelihood of them turning off Metro via IT policies. Consumers on the other hand, won’t have the ability to turn it off, and all new PCs will ship with Windows 8 (Intel or ARM).

Windows Dev Center for Windows 8 Launched; Download Preview Release Now

Earlier today at the keynote of   BUILD conference, Steven Sinofsky, President, Windows & Windows Live Division at Microsoft announced that developers will be able to download the Windows Developer Preview via the new Windows Dev Center. Microsoft showcased a detailed preview of the next major release of Windows, code-named Windows 8.’ The Windows Developer Preview is a pre-beta version of Windows 8 for developers. Windows Dev Center

The new Windows Dev Center dev.windows.com – has just gone live and promises to make guides, tools, samples, forums, docs and other resources to build on Windows available soon. You can download the Windows Developer Preview right away.

Download Windows 8 Developer Preview

Windows Developer Preview with developer tools English, 64-bit (x64) – DOWNLOAD (4.8 GB)

All of the following come on a disk image file (.iso).

  • 64-bit Windows Developer Preview
  • Windows SDK for Metro style apps
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 11 Express for Windows Developer Preview
  • Microsoft Expression Blend 5 Developer Preview
  • 28 Metro style apps including the BUILD Conference app

Windows Developer Preview English, 64-bit (x64) – DOWNLOAD (3.6 GB)
Includes a disk image file (.iso) to install the Windows Developer Preview and Metro style apps on a 64-bit PC.

Windows Developer Preview English, 32-bit (x86) – DOWNLOAD (2.8 GB)
Includes a disk image file (.iso) to install the Windows Developer Preview and Metro style apps on a 32-bit PC.

System Requirements

Windows Developer Preview works great on the same hardware that powers Windows Vista and Windows 7:

  • 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
  • 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
  • Taking advantage of touch input requires a screen that supports multi-touch

Note that you can’t uninstall the Windows Developer Preview. Also, the preview is available as-is, and is unsupported by Microsoft. The Windows Developer Preview is delivered as an .iso image that must be converted into installation media stored on a DVD or a USB flash drive.

Sinofsky mentioned that this developer preview will be followed by one beta version, and a release candidate before the final release. With Windows 7, a similar process took about a year to go from developer preview to final release. Microsoft hasn’t specified if and when a preview version of ARM-based version of Windows 8 will be made available.

Prior to this, all the developer information, downloads, and documentation was hosted at Microsoft’s developer portal MSDN. This included development for Windows client, and other Microsoft’s web and server technologies. With the launch of Windows Phone 7, Microsoft created App Hub, a developer portal for Windows Phone 7 app and games developers and Xbox LIVE game developers. Unless some integration or merger happens in the future around the release of Windows 8, this could create factions between developers on same technologies but on different portals.

Build Smart Gadgets Quick and Easy with .NET Gadgeteer

Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer is an open-source toolkit for building small electronic devices using the .NET Micro Framework and Visual Studio or Visual C# Express. This allows embedded and handheld devices to be built and programmed quickly and easily. .NET Gadgeteer was devised by the Sensors and Devices group at Microsoft Research Cambridge. Now, the open-source project is maintained by Microsoft and is intended to enable hardware designers to build and release .NET Gadgeteer-compatible products.

gadgeteer

A .NET Gadgeteer system is composed of a mainboard containing an embedded processor and an array of modules which connect to the mainboard through a simple plug-and-play interface. There are lots of .NET Gadgeteer modules available today: display, camera, networking, storage, input controls, and more. A variety of hardware vendors are building components for .NET Gadgeteer. The first .NET Gadgeteer hardware – Fez Spider kit by GHI Electronics is also available now.

.NET Gadgeteer devices are programmed in C# using the .NET Micro Framework. .NET Micro Framework is an open source platform that expands the power and versatility of .NET to the world of small embedded applications. This allows developers to use their existing knowledge of .NET programming on the desktop, Web or phone to embedded devices.

With a modular hardware architecture and powerful software, .NET Gadgeteer allows even someone with little or no electronics background to build devices made up of components like sensors, lights, switches, displays, communications, motor controllers, and much more. It is a great tool for hobbyists as well as for educators and researchers to quickly develop prototypes.

Social Gaming Powered By Windows Azure

Microsoft has figured out an interesting way to get into the social games business. The social gaming market continues to grow in terms of number of users and profits. These social applications have the potential to grow from a few users to millions of users in an incredibly short period of time, and therefore, they need a robust, scalable, and dependable platform.

According to the Social Gaming: Marketers Make Their Move report by eMarketer,  the social gaming market will increase to $1.32 billion in revenues by 2012, up from $856 million in 2010. Today, Amazon hosts many online games, including big Facebook games, developed by Zynga and others. Companies like Playdom, the makers of Bola Social Soccer – a Facebook, Sonico, and Orkut game with over 5 million users, are already using Windows Azure as their backend platform.

Microsoft is focusing on building tools to help other game developers ramp up quickly, while they host their games on Windows Azure. Windows Azure is built on the principles of on-demand scalable computing resources, storage, and geographic delivery. These principles mirror the needs of social games. With that premise, the Windows Azure team has launched a preview of the Windows Azure Toolkit for Social Games. The toolkit allows you to quickly get started building new social games with Windows Azure whether you want to build social games as a hobby or you want to reach millions of gamers.

The Windows Azure Toolkit for Social Games allows you to quickly get started building new social games in Windows Azure. The toolkit includes accelerators, libraries, developer tools, and samples that you can use in your own .NET or HTML5 game. It enables unique capabilities that are prerequisites for an average social game, such as storing user profiles, maintaining leader boards, in-app purchasing and so forth.

As a proof-of-concept, the toolkit also includes source code for a game called Tankster, created by Grant Skinner, a popular game developer. The game is also available online to play for free. The game is built with HTML5 and supports a variety of social interactions including messaging, wall posts, and comments while player achievements and game stats are presented on a live leaderboard so gamers can interact with each other.

The toolkit is available for free, and game developers can use the same to build social games and applications in a short period of time.

Freelancer.com Crosses 1 Million Freelance Projects

Freelancer.com, the popular and world’s largest outsourcing marketplace reached its one millionth project over the weekend. The company celebrated the event by hosting 82 meetup parties across the world.

Freelancer.com

The one million projects were developed by employees from over 240 countries, regions and territories worldwide and represented around US $86 million worth of paid work. The company estimates that they saved companies anywhere between half a billion and one billion dollars in spending.

One million projects is a huge landmark for us and shows that online outsourcing has truly gone mainstream,said Matt Barrie, CEO of Freelancer.com. Each one of these projects represents a real job that put money in the pocket of a freelancer and helped a business increase their productivity and lower their costs by getting quality, affordable work done,he continued.

Online Freelancing is a huge market with sites like Freelancer.com, Elance and oDesk, leading the market while providing companies, developers, designers and other freelancers and opportunity to connect with the right people across the world.

Many freelancing projects are usually based on bids, where freelancers can bid on projects and companies can choose the best possible person to get their job done.

According to Freelancer.com, PHP was the top project category followed by Website and Graphic Design. United States was the top outsourcing country followed by UK and India. India was the top freelancing country followed by United States and Pakistan. You will find more interesting numbers from Freelancing.com below.

The top five project categories are:

  1. PHP 8.9%
  2. Website Design 7.4%
  3. Graphic Design 4.5%
  4. Data Entry 3.9%
  5. Copywriting 3.5%

The top five outsourcing countries are as follows:

  1. United States 40.4%
  2. Great Britain 10.4%
  3. India 6.7%
  4. Canada 5.2%
  5. Australia 4.6%

Top five freelancing countries:

  1. India 33.5%
  2. United States 10.9%
  3. Pakistan 8.7%
  4. Bangladesh 5.8%
  5. Philippines 3.8%

The top 10 US outsourcing cities are:

  1. New York
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Miami
  4. Chicago
  5. Houston
  6. Atlanta
  7. San Francisco
  8. San Diego
  9. Dallas
  10. Austin

Nokia Officially Bringing MeeGo To The N900

Despite the hoopla with Nokia and Microsoft partnering and disregarding the previously rumored talks of Nokia slowing development of MeeGo down, it would appear that Nokia has actually decided to dedicate another team to work at officially bringing MeeGo with a Handset UXto the Nokia N900.

Jukka Eklund, who is the Product Manager for MeeGo at Nokia, sent out an e-mail to the MeeGo development mailing list outlining the changes and plans for the near future;

Hi there,

I am thrilled to announce a little thing we started at Nokia. Basically we want to have MeeGo running in N900 device, so that it’s really usable as your daily development device. Basic Handset UX should work, phone calls, SMS, web browsing. So we are concentrating on a few selected features and polish those to be "perfect". It might mean that we leave out some things in MeeGo 1.2 trunk for this edition, but that is not the default intention.

We are doing this fully on the open, and I hope this is an interesting project where we all in the community work towards the same goal: have a great MeeGo edition in the N900. This work is naturally based on the great work done already by N900 adaptation team lead by Harri and Carsten.

The wiki is up here: http://wiki.meego.com/ARM/N900/DeveloperEdition. It will populated with more information as we go, thanks for the patience.

Br,
Jukka
Developer Edition product manager
twitter.com/jukkaeklund
IRC: jukka
http://www.linkedin.com/in/jukkaeklund

The amount of developers and resources being put into the project are not being disclosed and while the existing N900 adaptation team is an integral partof the project, some are celebrating the rebirth and are taking this as a revitalization of Nokia’s MeeGo work while others, more notably, Intel folk are showing their concern in taking such a task seriously. Intel’s Senior Staff Software Engineer, Adriaan van de Ven rebutted with his thoughts;

I would like to urge you to push on this; we’ve been bitten rather badly
in MeeGo in the past in this respect (promising of features as part of
architecture choices, but then never getting those open sourced),
  and I’m sure that you, as the lead of this new project, can fix a
bunch of these; after all it sounds like you’re serious about MeeGo.

The team hopes to bring MeeGo 1.2 to the unwashed masses in form of a Developer Editionwith the functionality of calls, SMS and web browsing. Whether or not this means Nokia plans on healthy development of MeeGo or simply providing minimal resources to keep the project alive is really and truly unknown. Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia, previously stated that Symbian is here to staybut also mentioned MeeGo being a disruptive technologyfor future trends and investments. The future of MeeGo is currently blowing in the proverbial wind.

India Accounts For 30% Of Yahoo’s Global Ventures

Yahoo!’s India base has been expanding big time over the past few months and it now accounts for a major contribution to Yahoo!’s global ventures. Almost 30 per cent of Yahoo!’s intellectual property development around the world now comes from it’s Bangalore research center. This share was a modest 12 per cent few years ago. Among other development centers of Yahoo!, USA accounts for close to 60 per cent and the rest 10 per cent comes from Yahoo!’s other centers across the globe.

According to Mr. Shouvick Mukherjee, chief executive and vice president of Yahoo India R&D Yahoo India’s share of intellectual property grew rapidly as the Bangalore dev center got deeply involved to take end to end responsibility of number of global as well as regional products making Yahoo India R&D the second largest centre globally. Another reason is the fact that more than 50% of Yahoo’s users are outside USA and more focus was required on the growth of theses markets in its research and product development efforts.

Two of Yahoo!’s best products – Predict and Helion have been developed at the Yahoo! India development center. Predict is an advertisement exchange that predicts which ad will get what level of click thus improving the return on investment for advertisers. The second product Helion facilitated the launch of multiple sites in parallel. Yahoo! has rolled out major lifestyle based portals using Helion.

Vodafone To Set Up Global R&D Centre in India

Lot of big companies around the world leverage Indian IT expertise to give their businesses a lead over others. UK-based mobile operator Vodafone is now planning to set up a global applications research and development (R & D) centre in India in order to leverage on the expertise in India.

Mr Marten Pieters, the Managing Director of Vodafone Essar said that Vodafone is already in the process of setting up an application centre in India. India being such a big centre for IT, technology and application development, Vodafone is looking forward to leverage this not only for their Indian operations, but also for the rest of the world.

Opening this R&D Center in India will open new opportunities for development firms and generate more jobs. Also experienced programmers from different avenues will have a good chance to change their service line and do something new.

Nokia Renames Symbian… To Symbian

Along with their quarterly financial report, Nokia also announced that there will be no more Symbian^4. Now don’t jump to a conclusion that Symbian is dead. What Nokia (and I) meant that any improvements and update which the Symbian platform will see will be passed over to all the Symbian^3 devices currently in the market. Symbian

Here is what Nokia exactly said :

You can buy a Nokia smartphone confident that any improvements introduced later to the Symbian platform, such as the user interface, can be made available to download on your device as well. No need to wait for Symbian^4 – the improvements we were planning for Symbian^4 will be introduced as and when they become available. In fact, we will no longer be talking about Symbian^3 or Symbian^4 at all it will be one constantly evolving and constantly improving platform.

So from the above statement it is clear that there will be no more Symbian^3 or Symbian^4. It will just be Symbian from henceforth. According to me, this is a pretty smart move to keep all the present N8 owners happy as well as to lure new customers to the Symbian platform. Along with this, Nokia also announced that they will be streamlining the development for both MeeGo and Symbian by using Qt and only Qt. The Finnish company also announced that they will be adding support for HTML5 web content and applications for both the platforms Symbian and MeeGo and Qt.