News

Skype Lite Launches In India

Paul Ballard

22 Feb , 2017  

Microsoft is debuting a lightweight version of Skype made for locations where internet connectivity is spotty, and India is its first test market.

Announced Wednesday at Microsoft’s Future Decoded event in Mumbai, the Skype Lite Android app weighs in at 13 MB, is optimized for 2G networks and supports eight languages. It also includes chatbots for services like Expedia and Skyscanner and is available on Google Play now.

In other nods to market conditions in India, Microsoft says the app will perform well on older Android devices and offers a reduced data usage mode for customers who want to make video calls while conserving data. Users can also send SMS messages from the app.

For business calls and other communication when security is important, the app will be integrated with India’s national identification system, Aadhaar, by June 2017. Users will be able to log in to the system to verify their identities, and the information will be wiped from the app once the call completes.

India is one of the fastest-growing markets for technology worldwide. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella referred to “how India is reshaping technology” in introducing Skype Lite, according to ZDNet.… Read more

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News

Build 2017 Conference Is Now Open for Registration

Paul Ballard

14 Feb , 2017  

Tickets went on sale for Microsoft’s yearly Build developer conference Tuesday, and the registration website was immediately flooded with takers–so much so, that users trying to sign up experienced technical problems throughout the morning.

Though many devs reported on Twitter that they had successfully registered, some posted complaints that they experienced long waits or needed to refresh the page repeatedly.

By midday, however, the problems seemed to be abating. So if you want to attend Microsoft’s biggest developer event, don’t delay: Build 2016 sold out the same day tickets were released.

Priced at $2,195, the conference will take place May 10-12 in Seattle. Along with technical trainings and hackathons, past conferences have included major announcements about new Microsoft projects and products.

A Microsoft blog post promises Build 2017 will cover the following topics:

  • Mixed-reality experiences

  • Cutting edge, intelligent cloud apps

  • Simplified end-to-end dev ops experiences

  • Mobile experiences for nearly any device

  • Apps that make your customers more productive

  • AI-powered apps we have yet to imagine

 … Read more

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News

Microsoft’s Privacy Suit Against Department of Justice Will Go Forward

Paul Ballard

10 Feb , 2017  

A federal judge ruled Thursday that a lawsuit Microsoft filed against the U.S. Department of Justice to protect customer privacy can continue.

At issue are so-called ‘gag orders’ that DOJ sometimes imposes on tech companies who have provided customer emails and other data to the department as part of an investigation. Microsoft says its customers have a right to know if their communications are being monitored under a search warrant, while the department maintains the secrecy is necessary to protect national security.

In the lawsuit filed last April, Microsoft had challenged the gag orders on two grounds: that they violated customers’ Fourth Amendment privacy rights and Microsoft’s First Amendment free speech rights. Judge James Robart from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington said he will allow the First Amendment claims to go forward, but struck down the Fourth Amendment argument.

The Justice Department filed a motion to dismiss the case last July. Other tech companies, including Google and Apple, have weighed in with court briefs in support of Microsoft’s arguments.

The issue of consumer privacy has taken on new dimensions as more and more people are moving personal information to the cloud. When it announced the lawsuit, Microsoft said it had received a whopping 2,500-plus requests for customer information from the government in an 18-month period.… Read more

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News

Visual Studio 2017 Will Be Released March 7

Paul Ballard

9 Feb , 2017  

It’s always an event when a new version of Visual Studio comes out, and the general release of Visual Studio 2017 marks 20 years of Microsoft’s groundbreaking integrated development environment.

Visual Studio 2017 will be available for download March 7, and Microsoft is celebrating the occasion with a two-day training for developers who want to experience all the bells and whistles in the new version.

The live, online event kicks off at 8:00 am March 7, with Microsoft leaders sharing news about Visual Studio, Xamarin, .NET and Azure in a keynote address and demos. That’s followed by a day of interactive trainings on March 8.

Available in preview since early last year, Visual Studio 2017 (formerly known as Visual Studio 15) promises better code navigation and debugging, a faster overall IDE, a light install option and increased support for mobile, cross-platform development, among other new features.

Click here to register for the online event. Microsoft is also encouraging developers to share their experiences with Visual Studio on social media using the hashtag #MyVSstory.

 

 … Read more

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News

Microsoft to Host Windows 10 Creators Update Webcast for Developers

Paul Ballard

27 Jan , 2017  

Want to learn a bit more about what’s coming in the Windows 10 Creators Update? Microsoft is hosting a free, live web event for developers February 8.

The four-event will include several substantive sessions on new developer tools and APIs, followed by a Q&A with Microsoft VP of Windows Developer Platform Kevin Gallo and others from the Windows 10 engineering team.

Here’s what to expect, from the event announcement:

  • See what’s new with Windows developer tooling: UWP tooling, Bash, Developer mode, and more.

  • Learn about the latest XAML advancements and how UWP helps you build Windows apps that are more personal and productive.

  • Hear the developer story behind the recent announcements of Cortana skills and the new Windows mixed-reality headsets.

There’s also a session on everyone’s favorite topic: how to make your app successful in the Windows Store.

RSVP here to register for the event and receive updates as the day draws near.… Read more

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News

SUSE Linux Can Now Run on Windows 10

Paul Ballard

19 Jan , 2017  

Last year, Microsoft gave a boon to Linux fans everywhere when it announced the Windows Subsystem for Linux. The system allows developers to run Linux command lines natively on Windows 10, accessing all their Windows files, and was originally offered in partnership with Ubuntu.

Now, the range of available Linux versions is increasing, with SUSE modifying the system to work with SUSE Linux as well.

“Running Linux binaries natively on Windows … that sounds awesome indeed. However, it’s quite unfortunate that Microsoft enabled the wrong Linux (that’s my personal opinion) by default within the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) and it is time to change it to the real stuff,” SUSE’s Hannes Kühnemund wrote in a blog post January 12. He provided instructions for the setup, which can be done using either openSUSE Leap 42.2 or SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 SP2.

While Microsoft is not officially supporting this version of Linux, it’s not likely to complain, as developers like choice, and making Windows 10 more developer-friendly was the whole point of adding the Linux option.

In other Linux news, Microsoft is officially supporting Clear Linux OS for Intel Architecture on Azure. It joins other Linux distributions already available including Red Hat, Ubuntu and SUSE.… Read more

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News

New Webinar: An Introduction to Azure DocumentDB

Josh Lane

16 Jan , 2017   Video

In the last several years NoSQL database stores have emerged as viable and useful alternatives to traditional relational databases. While relational technologies like SQL Server will likely always have a place in the enterprise, the means to store data as documents or connected graphs vs. classic “rows and columns” is powerful and should occupy a first-class position in any modern enterprise developer’s toolbox.

Azure DocumentDB is true NoSQL-as-a-service; it provides a fast document-oriented data store that scales globally on the Azure cloud and provides familiar JavaScript and SQL-style query syntax. It has SDK integration with .NET, Node.js, and other developer platforms, and even offers protocol compatibility with MongoDB. Attend this one hour, demo-filled webinar to see DocDB in action and learn how you can start using it today!

Click on the video above to view, and post your feedback in the comments.… Read more

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News

Microsoft Launches Platform for Connected Cars

Paul Ballard

9 Jan , 2017  

Microsoft has created a new platform for building connected cars, and Nissan is its first partner.

Announced at CES on Thursday, the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform will draw on the Microsoft Azure cloud and will bring services like Office 365, Cortana and Skype into the car.

In Nissan’s keynote address, company execs demonstrated how Cortana could help a driver reroute when a meeting location is changed, make breakfast plans and schedule oil changes, all while en route. Car owners could even use remote car monitoring to track where family members are in their journey.

While Microsoft and the Nissan/Renault Alliance already announced their plans to collaborate on connected vehicles last year, the presentation more clearly illustrated what such a partnership could look like.

It’s one of a number of car-tech partnerships visible at CES this past week, as companies vie to see who will lead development of the smart vehicles of the future. Ford and Toyota are launching a new consortium to help developers build apps for connected cars. The SmartDeviceLink consortium will open-source its code on GitHub, allowing developers to potentially build one app that could work on all SDL-enabled cars.

Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant will start showing up in Ford vehicles this summer, and the automaker is already rolling out the ability for owners of hybrid and electric cars to track them from home.… Read more

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News

Free Xamarin Training for Your New Year’s Weekend

Paul Ballard

30 Dec , 2016  

New Year’s Eve weekend is a time to party, but for the geeks among us, it may also be a good opportunity to curl up with some dev training videos.

Enter Microsoft/Xamarin with their on-demand recordings of Xamarin Dev Days sessions. The mobile development training event takes place periodically in cities around the world, and as of this month, you can also participate virtually via Xamarin Dev Days Live on Microsoft’s Channel 9. (Hat tip to Petri’s Paul Thurrott for first pointing this out.)

The five-episode track, which first aired Dec. 14, kicks off with Introduction to Xamarin,  Cross-Platform UI with Xamarin.Forms and Cloud First Apps with Azure. The “afternoon” sessions are more hands-on; you can follow along as the instructors walk through building an app.

Log on and get to brainstorming about what you’ll build in 2017.

 … Read more

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News

Teach Cortana New Tricks (and Reach Her Users) With the Cortana Skills Kit

Paul Ballard

14 Dec , 2016  

Microsoft announced Tuesday that it’s introducing a Cortana Skills Kit, allowing developers to add new capabilities to the virtual assistant.

Developers using the kit will be able to turn their web services, bots created with the Microsoft bot framework, and existing Alexa skills into new skills for Cortana. Currently in private preview, the kit will be more widely available in 2017.

Microsoft partners already using the kit include Expedia, which trained Cortana to book hotels using its bot, and CapitalOne, which programmed Cortana to have hands-free, natural language conversations with users about their money.

Developers can sign up here to be notified when the kit is available.

The Cortana Skills Kit was part of a small flurry of AI-related announcements Microsoft made this past week, as the company continues its push to “democratize AI” (and make Cortana more competitive with Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa).

Microsoft is partnering with manufacturers on a range of Cortana-enabled IoT devices, with and without screens. The Cortana Devices SDK will allow manufacturers to integrate Cortana across devices and platforms, and Harmon Kardon has already released a sneak preview of what appears to be an Echo-like audio system, set to debut next year, that combines Cortana with its speakers.… Read more

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