Microsoft Announces ‘Visual Studio Achievements’ for Developers

Need bragging rights as a developer? Don’t have enough points and badges from Xbox Live? Well, Microsoft has the answer for you, Visual Studio Achievements!

In what seems to be an effort to rile developers up through ‘gamification’, Microsoft has announced a beta campaign called “Visual Studio Achievements”. By installing the Visual Studio Achievements Extension, you can unlock badges and earn points by simply writing code that you were already going to write! Analysis is done in the background each time you compile your project to test it. When you hit a certain objective, you unlock an achievement.

Next comes the leaderboard. All the points and badges you earn are tallied into a score and you’re stuck up onto an online leaderboard with all other registered developers who are taking part in the campaign. You can view challenging developer points, avatars and maybe eventually see what they are working on. It would be a great way to get developers to collaborate on ideas and projects.

If sharing your achievements with alike developers wasn’t enough, you can share badges through Twitter and Facebook. This can help you raise awareness for your application, and get recognition from your peers.

There are over 32 different badges you can unlock, from as easy as loading more extensions into Visual Studio, to as hard as having 50 different projects tied to a single solution.

There are fun badges, like the “Potty Mouth” achievements which rewards you for using 5 different curse words in a project, or the “Time for an Upgrade” badge that is unlocked if your project takes over 10 minutes to compile. It’s a simple way to add a level of fun to programming and give developers a way to show off their skills.

Microsoft and Partners Launch New Ad Campaigns For Holiday Season

With the iPhone 4S set to shatter sales records the competition better have something up their sleeves to compete. For Microsoft the upcoming holiday season is going to be tricky. As Todd Bishop at GeekWire points out, the company has a new range of Windows Phone 7 Mango handsets coming out but besides that they don’t have any other new product for users.

Many enthusiasts have been wondering why Microsoft does not talk about the consumer ecosystem it has created. In the coming days, Microsoft will be changing that. The core premise is Windows enabling families stay connected and have a great time with technology. Microsoft shared two advertisements talking about the concept:

The second ad Dog.ppt is a pretty cool ad but I have my doubts about the first one. (I am not the only one.)

Microsoft is rumored to ┬ábe investing several Million Dollars for OEM partners for advertising their Windows Phone 7 handsets and it looks like HTC is making good use of it. Spotted by WinRumors’ Tom Warren, the HTC WP7 ad aired in the UK is nicely done. Wrapping features around what the phone enables you to do is always a better message than telling us specs and features. Here’s the ad:

Microsoft UK has another HTC WP7 ad that is eye catching. Both ads show promise and in fact as Tom Warren says, Microsoft should have more ads done by the creative agency behind the HTC WP7 ads.

Microsoft Australia had probably one of the coolest launch show for a developer software. Long Zheng wrote about Microsoft Australia putting up a light show using office lights of two building to launch LightSwitch for Visual Studio. Here’s the video of a very un-Microsoft launch:

Touch Me! Microsoft gets ready for BUILD


We were greeted to Windows 95’s launch by The Rolling Stones’ Start Me Up, a reminder of the new, but now iconic Start button in Windows. Maybe for Windows 8, Microsoft should use The Doors’ Touch Me.


We have been waiting anxiously for this day to arrive. Tomorrow, after months of keeping a tight leash (leaks notwithstanding) on the progress of or the details about Windows 8, Microsoft will reveal its newest operating system to the world at BUILD.

BUILD is Microsoft’s new developer-focused conference, a combination of PDC (Professional Developers’ Conference) and WinHEC (Windows Hardware Engineering Conference). It is being held at the Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, CA.

What we know

Ever since Steven Sinofsky and Julie Larson-Green revealed Windows 8 at All Things D’s D9 conference in June this year, the anticipation and expectations have gone up for what Windows 8 will be. Windows 8 sports a brand new Metro style interface with its big tiles. This interface is obviously suited to touch gestures and along with the upcoming Xbox dashboard update, it completes the trifecta of Metro styled interfaces from phones (Windows Phone 7) where it started, to PCs and TVs. Recently, Microsoft started a new blog dubbed Building Windows 8, where they have revealed (or confirmed rumors regarding):

  • Support for ARM architecture
  • System requirements for Windows 8 will be the same or less than Windows 7 requirements which means the hundreds of millions of PC’s being used today can be upgraded to Windows 8 without the need for further investment
  • The teamswithin Windows 8, which in some ways confirmed rumors such as existence of Hyper-V in the Windows 8 client and an App Store for Windows.
  • USB 3.0 support
  • New file copy/move/delete experience in Windows Explorer, along with a new conflict resolution user experience
  • Ribbon-ized Windows Explorer
  • Native support for accessing ISO and VHD files
  • Hyper-V in Windows 8 client
  • Extremely fast boot times in Windows 8

From what is explicitly mentioned in the blog and what was demonstrated at D9, we also know that Windows 8 will have two user interfaces. The first being the Metro style, tile-based, interface and the other being the classicWindows 7-style interface. Both these interfaces, Microsoft claims, are an effort to have no compromise. By no compromise, they are implying that just because an interface has touch-first design, does not mean it will not support keyboard and mouse. Microsoft realizes that a large portion of its user base uses Windows in an enterprise where the tile-based, touch-first interface may not be the most optimum. Hence, instead of ditching the past and starting afresh with the new paradigm, Microsoft is now at a stage where it has to explain how the two interfaces will co-exist. This co-existence leads to many more questions, which brings me to my next topic.