Infosys Microsoft Alliance and Solutions blog


July 5, 2013

Windows 8.1 Preview Bits - First Impressions

 After a false start, I downloaded the Windows 8.1 Preview bits ISO file. The setup was pretty easy, as mentioned in the page. I had to do double click the ISO file, run the Setup.exe on the virtually mounted drive, provide the product key, select option of keeping my personal files, and that's it. The setup took about 15 min to configure everything and get me upgraded to Windows 8.1. The first login with my hotmail account did seem to take an eternity and I eventually pulled out the network chord hoping that it will cause something to happen. Not sure if this worked, but I eventually logged in. The impressions listed below are based on my experiments on my Toshiba Laptop with attached keyboard and mouse. I did not use touch.

Continue reading "Windows 8.1 Preview Bits - First Impressions" »

May 29, 2013

PC or What?

Natural Selection or Survival of the fittest, are phrases we have when reading basic biology and about human evolution. Survival of the fittest has been used in many places. I think it can very well be applied to the devices world which today comprises of PC/desktops, laptops, ultra books, tablets and smart phones.

Continue reading "PC or What?" »

March 20, 2013

Windows 8 (yet again!)

Since the time Microsoft announced Windows 8 and showed glimpses of it few years back, it has been highly talked about. I have had my fair share of blogs and papers on it.

Now with roughly half a year since Surface RT hit the retail stores and Surface Pro more recently making its presence on the shelves, the discussions around Windows 8 are anything but slowing down and most of the messages that I am hearing are around disappointment of people with it.

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January 25, 2013

Patchy Updates

As I was just reading that Surface RT machines are hit by update issues, I ended up recalling that Windows Phone 7 had some early update issues. The devices had also run into issues in being able to download and update the firmware.

Is there a lesson to be learnt here? Is MS who has tranditionally dealt with PCs and workstations which typically involved over the LAN or CD based updates, not being able to manage over the wire updates? But surprisingly the Windows update service has been running well for many years now.

Let's hope that Phone 8 isn't hit by similar issues.

January 11, 2013

Panasonic 4K Tablet @ CES 2013

Panasonic showcased prototype 4K resolution 20" Tablet at CES 2013. Read about it here, here, here and here. At 20" is that really a tablet? In this era when existing tablet makers are trying to go for smaller screen, does this 20" TV Monitor like screen make sense?

Given the size, it surely isn't portable as well. Also such high resolution will not be of much use as of today as application will appear too tiny on it and impossible to read and operate.

What do you make of it? Would a device like this succeed? Does it even qualify to be called as a tablet? What really is a tablet?

December 18, 2012

Considerations for Building Windows 8 Apps

My paper on key considerations to build apps for Windows 8 is live now. You can access it here. Do share any comments you may have for the same.

December 10, 2012

Should CIOs care for Apps in App Store?

I was reading an article about What Windows 8 Tablets mean for CIOs, and mostly agree to the points there. Security, ability to access existing applications, and BYOD will probably be key decision factors. I however don't agree that CIOs need to be concerned about number of apps in the market place.

CIOs will need to worry about access to the enterprise applications and not really how many apps exist on the market place. That is a factor employees will need to consider when deciding which tablet to buy for themselves. Their choices will mean that CIO will need to worry about supporting disparate devices in the enterprise. What do you say?

Demystifying few terms

In the last few months, I have repeatedly seen people getting confused with some of the new terms that Microsoft has unleashed on the industry with the launch of Windows 8. They bring in new terms, and sometimes later, change some of them as the product launches in the market. In our internal conversations also I see some element of confusion. So thought to explain some of these.

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November 28, 2012

Windows 8 - Will it Succeed?

Forrester suggests that Windows 8 has had limited sale and organizations aren't yet inclined to move to Windows 8. The expected push seemingly will come from consumers via BYOD options. [Update] Microsoft reports a sale of 40 million licenses since its retail launch last month.

What is your take? Do you think it would have been good had Microsoft kept the modern UI restricted to Windows Surface (tablet) and the current desktop UI as is for desktops and laptops?

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November 6, 2012

Getting Started with Phone 8

Microsoft had announced the much awaited Phone 8.0 SDK release and Phone launch during their recently concluded Build 2012 conference. You can get access to Phone 8.0 SDK here or if you have MSDN Subscription, then from here. Note that this SDK is 64 bits only, and runs on Windows 8, so you need to have Windows 8 to be able to develop for Phone 8.0 for now. The Phone 8.0 Emulator requires a SLAT PC and Hardware Virtualization enabled in the BIOS as well.

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November 5, 2012

Windows 8 App Store App Install Path

Are you an existing Windows 7 user and planning to migrate to Windows 8 or already migrated? There is one seemingly minor issue that you need to keep in mind. While it is seemingly minor, it can create a bit of problem in the long run.

Continue reading "Windows 8 App Store App Install Path" »

November 1, 2012

Windows Phone 8 Live Apps

Heard of old wine in new bottle? That's what the Phone 8 Live Apps are all about. While there is nothing new in this, there is still this new name to worry about. Microsoft keeps coming up with different jargon with every release and it just makes our lives all the more challenging.

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October 22, 2012

Windows 8 User Interface

Windows 8 launch is later this week and we keep reading about mixed emotions from people who have tried it out. The latest I read is this blog which includes an interesting video as well. Microsoft surely has touched lot of nerves with their blod steps with the Modern UI.

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October 10, 2012

100K Apps in 90 days. Is it Possible?

Two weeks and two days for the retail launch of Windows 8 and the Surface tablet. The Windows Store is already open and about 3000 apps have been published. Microsoft is doing all it can to get the store to fill up quickly, but the plan for having 100K apps in next 90 days seems a bit too much to me.

With the existing about 3000 apps, we are talking of about 97000 apps in next 90 days. Simple maths shows that this means about 1078 apps a day, i.e. about 45 apps an hour, or just about 1 app published every min in the Store. Needless to say the application has to be implementation complete, test complete and Windows Store certification complete to reach the published status.

To me, this is extremely difficult if not impossible to achieve. What do you think? Will there be 100K apps in Windows Store in next 90 days?


September 28, 2012

Windows 8: Waiting...

I have had a chance to work on Windows from its Windows 3.11 for workgroups, back in 1995, all the way to the current Windows 7 and the upcoming Windows 8 as well. In my experience no previous Windows version was this eagerly awaited and extensively discussed as is happening for Windows 8.

There have been hitches in between like the Windows Millennium edition and Windows Vista, and the versions succeeding them did get good attention, but those are still easily eclipsed in front of news Windows 8 is making. Industry and media is abuzz with speculation on success or failure of Windows 8 and is the RTM version really ready for worldwide launch or not.

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September 3, 2012

Games on Windows 8

While people do texting, emails, watching movies, reading and some business apps, games also play an important role in what people do with their tablets and smart phones. Having a rich app store is a key driving factor in this space.

No wonder then that MS is making all attempts to have a good set of applications in the Windows 8 Store by the time the Windows 8 Tablet launches on 26th Oct 2012. Here's a list of initial games that will be available on Windows 8 and it includes some of my favorite ones - Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Fruit Ninja, Minesweeper etc.

Windows 8, Phone 8.. Dates

We have known for a while now that the retail availability of Windows 8 will be on 26th Oct. So it should not be a surprise to have a big launch event on 25 Oct by MS to make the formal annoucement.

MS had also showcased Phone 8 in Phone summit, but what was not known so far was the launch date for the same. Some of the dates are now being made known. Read here. Even if Phone 8 doesn't launch on 29 Oct, given that the BUILD 2012 Conference starts the next day, we can expect Phone 8 to definitely get showcased there.

August 10, 2012

Metro / Surface: What's in the name?

There is a lot in the name as it is identity of something. It is the way we know and talk about that something. With Windows 8 Microsoft seems to be on a name breaking spree. Earlier they rebranded Surface as the new Windows 8 Tablet and renaming the earlier MS Surface as PixelSense. Now it is the Metro UI being renamed as Windows 8 UI.

We are used to code names for products and then switching to their final names so this will also settle down. But while in transit, conversations are becoming longer as I have to talk something like this - "We can do so and so on PixelSense, earlier known as MS Surface" OR "MS introduced the new user experience paradigm called Windows 8 UI, earlier known as Metro UI" 

July 20, 2012

Windows 8, Phone 8, Phone 7.8

Microsoft has annouced about general availability of Windows 8 on 26 Oct 2012. I have been playing around with dev preview, then consumer preview and now release preview and look forward to the final release. I do intend to update my home PC with Windows 8.

While there is no specific annoucement on Phone 8 or the update for existing consumers to Phone 7.8, I would guess that Phone 8 should release around the same time as Windows 8. The upgrade from 7.5 to 7.8 will probably happen after that, in an attempt to push some of the existing consumers to Phone 8.

[Edited 20 July] Updates on dates of Phone 8, Office 2013 etc

June 19, 2012

Microsoft Surface Tablet

Microsoft unveiled the Windows 8 Surface Tablet yesterday. One interesting feature along with it being on Windows 8 is the built in paper thin keyboard on the cover. However since it is so thin, it seems to have the same problem like the screen/virtual keyboards and i.e. of no tactile feedback. Probably they should look to integerate with this

Continue reading "Microsoft Surface Tablet" »

June 11, 2012

Desktop Apps for Windows 8 on App Store

Some weeks back we had read about side loading of enterprise applications and that the app store was mainly for uploading and sharing metro apps. There is an update to that now whereby we can list desktop apps on app store as well. Do note there is only listing support. Desktop apps will not be deployed via app store.

An Individual user can probably use this and then get to the desktop app's main website to download and install it. An enterprise user will mostly still rely on side loading as it is unlikely that enterprises will allow direct access to app store to install either Metro apps or search desktop apps.

May 31, 2012

Metro or not Metro

Since the time we started working on Phone 7 and Windows 8, anything Metro catches our eye. So I ended up reading this article Windows 8: Does Metro actually work? I think while some points have merit, overall I don't agree. Here's why?

Continue reading "Metro or not Metro" »

April 17, 2012

Metro App, Metro UI, What's all this?

Microsoft had introduced Phone 7 in early 2010 and released the first version in market by late 2010. The key point that MS highlighted was that Phone 7 a completely new, ground up, operating system and another immediately noticeable thing about it was the tiled based UI. While on first look the tiles looked like desktop icons, they were in fact much more than that. They were live and hence could provide updates from the application right on the home screen, so a person need not go into an application just to check basic updates.

Continue reading "Metro App, Metro UI, What's all this?" »

April 10, 2012

Desktops / Laptops / Tablets / Smartphones

At the turn of the century (year 2000) desktops and laptops were still going strong and mobile phones had just started to appear. I had put my hands on my very first mobile phone in year 2001 as getting a landline took few weeks and the mobile phone was activated within a day or two. I had moved to a new place and hence getting connectivity was critical. The mobile phone allowed me to stay connected while on the go, and in those days, I had to pay to receive calls as well. I had not thought of how the phone would evolve into today's smart phone with significant processing power, with ability to capture and view high resolution photos and HDMI videos, with ability to let me be connected with friends over facebook and twitter all the time and with ability to download and install thousands of applications from its very own marketplace. My family is hooked onto Angry Birds :-).

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February 20, 2012

Windows 8 App Store

While the official name seems to be Windows Store, it is a no brainer that the initial set of applications will be targeted to Windows 8 only and will be Metro apps. Though very similar in concept with the existing Phone 7 Store, it is a different store as the apps built for one aren't automatically available on another due to different programming platforms as of now. With Apollo some of this stands to change.

Details of the new store have started to make appearance on the new Windows Store blog. Prior to the store's launch, MS is attracting people to build initial set of applications that can be deployed on the store. The first round of contests is already over and list of winners is awaited.

Continue reading "Windows 8 App Store" »

February 8, 2012

Phone 7, Mango, Windows 8, Windows 8 on ARM, Apollo (Phone 8)... phew!

It is hardly two years since Microsoft had showcased Windows Phone 7. The SDK came out in September 2010. In Asia the availability of Phone 7 has just completed an year and we have already had a version upgrade to Mango (7.5).

On desktop/tablet side, Windows 8 developer preview was first made widely available in Build Conference in September 2011. The beta is expected anytime soon and then later this year the final release of this product.

Continue reading "Phone 7, Mango, Windows 8, Windows 8 on ARM, Apollo (Phone 8)... phew! " »

February 3, 2012

Database access in Windows 8 Metro Application

Even though what we have is still the initial developer preview, creating Metro applications seems to be gaining popularity in developer communities. Although we can create interesting applications using HTML5 and WinJS or XAML and C# or VB.NET, on top of WinRT, there are some unanswered questions like working with databases.

Any enterprise applications typically will work with some database at the backend. As of now, however, WinRT does not have any API for database connectivity.

Continue reading "Database access in Windows 8 Metro Application" »

January 25, 2012

What it means to develop Metro Applications for Windows 8

I have been coming across a lot of confusion regarding development of Windows 8 Metro style application. Will try to clear out some of the confusion in the air.

What is Metro about it?

Metro Applications follow the design principles of Metro like content before chrome, focus on typography, fast and fluid, alive in motion etc. Focus of metro application is on the content that needs to be displayed .Hence all menus, taskbar and other unnecessary controls have moved to the app bar or charms . Charms can be considered to be a system level menu that is used to perform common applications like Search\Share etc. across Metro Applications. There is a lot of emphasis on fonts, scale and weight in the Metro design. Microsoft has come up with Seago UI font for developing Metro applications. Metro UI relies on usage of tiles that are alive with notifications and animations. New controls provided with XAML and WinJS are already designed according to the Metro design principles. Hence when you use Expression Blend\Visual Studio 2011 etc. and use the controls as per the technologies selected(XAML\HTML), your application gets a Metro look automatically.

Continue reading "What it means to develop Metro Applications for Windows 8 " »

January 24, 2012

Windows 8 convertible laptops: Who will get it right?

Further to the Windows 8 blogs by my colleagues Atul and Mani, I would like to look at a rather different subject - the interesting shift Windows 8 is bringing in personal computing devices. With the new Metro-style interface, Windows 8 is uniquely poised to cater to both touch devices like tablets and devices with keyboard input like desktops and laptops. In fact, we are today witnessing an upheaval of laptop design to accommodate a tablet mode, which is bound to become an indispensible feature of Windows 8 laptops. Consumers are now demanding the best of both worlds - a laptop that can be dually used as a tablet (also called convertible laptops/tablets or as some people call it - "laplets"). There have been a few designs of this type earlier, but Windows 8 seems to have set this market alight.

Continue reading "Windows 8 convertible laptops: Who will get it right?" »

January 10, 2012

Windows 8 Blogs

We have been working on Windows 8 for few months now and understanding the new programming paradigm for Metro apps along with understanding of HTML5, WinJS, WinRT, XAML Apps etc.

We will be sharing our learning here. Keep checking back for updates. For starters, my colleague, Mani, has written her first blog here.

January 9, 2012

Understanding lifecycle of Windows 8 apps

One major differentiating factor for Metro applications on Windows 8 is that the application lifetime would be managed by the OS. To the end user, this would mean that they would be unable to close applications using a close button. This has also been discussed here .

Let us now understand how the OS handles the application lifetime and what are the implying considerations for Windows 8 development. An application can be in one of the 3 states - Running, Suspended and Terminated. When an application is brought in the foreground, it becomes a running application. If second application is launched, the first one moves to the suspended state after a short delay. Again, if a third application is launched, both first and second applications move to the suspended state. This repeats until the system becomes low on memory. When the system becomes low on memory, the applications consuming maximum memory is terminated. Applications can also get terminated due to system shutdown, application crash or if the user terminates it from the task manager.

Continue reading "Understanding lifecycle of Windows 8 apps" »

December 27, 2011

Windows 8: Shutdown

We have been working on Windows 8 developer preview build for sometime now. Will be discussing some of our experiences in the upcoming blogs. There is a viewpoint paper titled 'Metrofying' Desktop Applications -- the Windows 8 Way, that we published recently that be accessed via the newsletter here.

Continue reading "Windows 8: Shutdown" »

December 26, 2011

Immersive Experiences with Microsoft Technologies

In Immersive Technologies Track we are working on some exciting technologies related to data visualization, touch, gesture and augmented reality. The main products on our radar are Phone 7, Surface and Kinect. We recently published a technology roundtable newletter sharing some insights of our work. You can get to the newsletter from here.

Comments are welcome.

November 14, 2011

Silverlight 5

I had talked about Silverlight 5 earlier here and here. Though Silverlight is still used to build RIA apps for the web and is the platform of choice for Phone 7/7.5 development, Microsoft has not been very forthcoming on its future.

According to Mary-Jo Microsoft is about to release Silverlight 5. This is good, but it is also clear that Silverlight no longer retains the status of platform for cross device compatibility. That has been taken over by HTML 5.

Continue reading "Silverlight 5" »

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