Tag Archive | "Tablet"

Understanding the Microsoft Surface…

Just wanted to “repost” a really good blog post I found that tries to explain the new Microsoft Surface tablets.

This is a review of the Microsoft Surface, though it won’t be like most other reviews you read.  I’m going to focus my effort on positioning the Surface in today’s so-called “post-PC” era.  You want unboxing, descriptions of buttons and connectors, spec comparisons, etc. then this isn’t the review for you.  You want real world insights, then stay tuned.

I found this really useful and maybe it can help others see the Surface and the form factors chosen in a different light…

Read the complete post here: http://hal2020.com/2012/10/28/understanding-the-microsoft-surface-a-sort-of-review/

Thanks to @ckindel for sharing!

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My first app out in Microsoft Windows Store

In the beginning of September 2012 I was called up to come “rescue” a port of a Windows Phone 7 application to a Windows 8 RT NewUI (Metro) application. The project owner was under staffed and in a hurry… This app had to be done in time for the launch of Windows 8 in Stockholm on October 26th. (Later moved to the 25th). The final client was on of the large (if not the largest) retail store chains in Norway ICA/Rimi and their Rimi Pluss service.

Our first deadline was October 1. so there was a lot of work that had to be done before in a very short time. Rimi Pluss already have apps for Iphone, Android and Windows Phone 7 and all the clients is centered around helping you create shopping lists based on dinner recipes and their complete product line. The shopping lists can then be shared between friends and family members.

Luckily most of the planning work had been done in terms of UX and design and because just porting a mobile app to a tablet app is a bad idea, the new Windows app would be more centered around the recipes and as a planning tool for dinner suggestions. We also had some really skilled people from Fullsix in Portugal that came and gave us their insight when it came to UX and design, and what to

We also had a lot of code… that is Windows Phone 7 code that was created in a loose MVVM observable pattern design and the first thing i tried was to copy all the code into my Win 8 app. Not a very good approach :) So what we ended up doing was to copy single methods and logic from the Windows Phone 7 app into the app and porting/upgrading it.

All in all this was  a fun job to do and it brought back the fun in desktop development :) But as always, doing development on early platforms can be some pain…. and this one is no different…..  One thing that surprised me was how fast I realized that Expression Blend is your friend, typing XAML is something I have never enjoyed much :) I still find XAML to be a bit messy but I guess that is somewhat my own fault, I am not (yet) a XAML ninja, but I’ll revisit my Dojo and become master of it :)

Another “puzzle” was the complete and utter lack of built-in support for databases…. Our first thought was ????? nothing??? what now?? Luckily we found that there acutally was a SQLite library available for Windows Store apps (the project template in Visual Studio 2012 is called Windows Store App, not Windows 8 RT) and through nuget we found sqlite-net. Very helpful and with that we had a code first ORM database responding to LINQ queries.

For the coding itself it was not as much porting as it is rewriting… The ViewModels of the WP7 app was heavily chained with event triggers, sometimes it was almost impossible to follow them all :)  Rewriting all of it into async  methods that was awaitable was just sheer pleasure. One of the ViewModel classes from the Windows Phone 7 application had 1800 lines of code in it – it was rewritten down to about 400 in the windows 8 application. I felt I had done a real good job that day :)

We also had help from Microsoft in Norway that advised us on the tiny bits… were we following the guidelines for font sizes, types, etc… The overall feeling in the project team was that the app reviewers for the Windows Store was really picky on this kind of stuff.

On October 1. we submitted our app but it got rejected…… not for bad code but for not having “enough” information in the app. We were missing a FAQ and privacy policy information in the settings charm on every screen. We also “forgot” to add a link to an online privacy policy text that was clearly marked as “Optional”….  But luckily we were told that we were allowed another 15 days of development before the app had to be submitted again so now we could get all the missing bits into the app, and we also implemented search contracts, a bit of customization for snapped, full and filled view.

One thing that I didn’t like about the current stat of Windows Store Apps is that there is limitations to what you can do with your UI controls, things that should be there but looks like it just didn’t make it in time… one of these things is the ability to sort and group data in gridview and listviews. You have to “physically” do that in your data source. – but the new networking api’s more or less make up for it in abundance – working with networked applications in Windows 8 is pure joy :)

Next week I am hired to begin development of my first Windows Phone 8 app. hopefully (Haven’t done any research yet) the whole awaitable async pattern is available there too…. I’ve also decided do do a few more Windows Store Apps on my own, since it is such a new platform and there is a whole range of apps that still hasn’t been created yet and  is up for the taking :)

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Evolution of the Windows Phone

A day later, after Microsoft introduced the Windows Surface tablet in Hollywood they invited to another event in San Francisco to talk about the next version of Windows Phone. You can watch the Windows Phone Summit presentation at Channel9.

There’s a ton of new features coming for Windows Phone 8 and one of the more visual changes will be the new and enhanced start screen. Live tiles can now be resized to fit your needs!

Seeing the video, and reading the list of features put into the Windows Phone 8 on both hardware and for developers, not to mention the reach out for businesses and professional users I truly believe that 2013 can become the year Microsoft reinvented themselves as the innovators of user-friendly technology!

Check out this promo video for the new live tile features you can expect to find in Windows Phone 8.

Here is some info from Joe Belfiore (@joebelfiore) and the official Windows Phone blog:

With Windows Phone 8, the similarity (with Windows 8 – ed. note) is more than skin deep. We’ve based the next release of Windows Phone on the rock-solid technology core of Windows 8. It means Windows Phone and its bigger sibling will share common networking, security, media and web browser technology, and a common file system. That translates into better performance, more features, and new opportunities for app developers and hardware makers to innovate faster.

This new shared core—along with all the extra work they have done on top of it—opens up a new world of capabilities, which you don’t have to be a techie to appreciate. Here’s a taste:

  • Multi-core processor support: As reviewers have noted, Windows Phone runs buttery smooth on phones with a single processor. But piggybacking on the Windows core provides support for multiple cores—so we’re ready for whatever hardware makers dream up.
  • Bigger, sharper screens: Windows Phone 8 supports two new screen resolutions—1280×768 and 1280×720, opening the door to amazing new handsets with high-definition 720p displays.
  • More flexible storage: Windows Phone 8 supports removable MicroSD cards, so you can stuff your phone with extra photos, music, and whatever else is important to you, and then easily move it all onto your PC.
  • NFC wireless sharing: If you haven’t heard the term “NFC” yet, I’m betting you soon will. This emerging wireless technology lets phones share things over short distances. In Windows Phone 8, it helps make sharing photos, Office docs, and contact info easier—just tap your phone another NFC-equipped device. How cool is that?
  • Internet Explorer 10: The next version of Windows Phone comes with the same web browsing engine that’s headed for Window 8 PCs and tablets. IE10 is faster and more secure, with advanced anti-phishing features like SmartScreen Filter to block dangerous websites and malware.
  • Wallet: Windows Phone 8’s new digital Wallet feature does two great things. It can keep debit and credit cards, coupons, boarding passes, and other important info right at your fingertips. And when paired with a secure SIM from your carrier, you can also pay for things with a tap of your phone at compatible checkout counters.
  • Better maps and directions: Windows Phone 8 builds in Nokia mapping as part of the platform. Our partnership will provide more detailed maps and turn-by-turn directions in many countries, plus the ability to store maps offline on your phone so you can work with maps without a data connection.
  • Cooler apps and games: Basing Windows Phone 8 on the Windows core will unleash a new wave of amazing apps and especially games, for reasons I’ll touch on in a moment.

Talking about apps..  Developers can expect some exciting changes that include:

  • Native code support: Windows Phone 8 has full C and C++ support, making it easier to write apps for multiple platforms more quickly. It also means Windows Phone 8 supports popular gaming middleware such as Havok Vision Engine, Autodesk Scaleform, Audiokinetic Wwise, and Firelight FMOD, as well as native DirectX-based game development.
  • In-app payments: In Windows Phone 8 we make it possible for app makers to sell virtual and digital goods within their apps.
  • Integrated Internet calling: In Windows Phone 8, developers can create VoIP apps that plug into our existing calling feature so Internet calls can be answered like traditional phone calls, using the same calling interface.
  • Multitasking enhancements. Windows Phone 8 now allows location-based apps like exercise trackers or navigation aids to run in the background, so they keep working even when you’re doing other things on your phone.

As Windows is at the core of many businesses Windows Phone 8 will also  get capabilities to suit businesses and the professional user.

More from Joe Belfiore:

In Windows Phone 8, we’re also moving into the workplace in a big way, introducing a number of features and capabilities that companies and their IT departments demand. This is just one more benefit of sharing a common core with Windows 8. Some of the new business-friendly features include:

  • Device encryption: To help keep everything from documents to passwords safe, Windows Phone 8 includes built-in technology to encrypt the entire device, including the operating system and data files.
  • Better security: Windows Phone 8 supports the United Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) secure boot protocol and features improved app “sandboxing,” so the phone is better protected from malware with multiple layers of security.
  • Remote management: With Windows Phone 8, IT departments can manage apps and phones remotely, with tools similar to ones they now employ for Windows PCs.
  • Company Hub and apps: Companies can create their own Windows Phone 8 Hub for custom employee apps and other critical business info.
One “sad” announcement was that Windows Phone 8 will not become available to existing Windows Phone 7.5 handsets. The Windows Phone 7.5 handsets will get an update that gives them the new live tile start screen in an update that will be called Windows Phone 7.8.
Belfiore explains why:

The new Start screen is so useful and emblematic of what Windows Phone is about that we want everybody to enjoy it. So we’ll be delivering it to existing phones as a software update sometime after Window Phone 8 is released. Let me repeat: If you currently own a Windows Phone 7.5 handset, Microsoft is planning to release an update with the new Windows Phone 8 Start screen. We’re calling it “Windows Phone 7.8.”

Some of you have wondered, “Will we also get Windows Phone 8 as an update?” The answer, unfortunately, is no.

Windows Phone 8 is a generation shift in technology, which means that it will not run on existing hardware. BUT we care deeply about our existing customers and want to keep their phones fresh, so we’re providing the new Start screen in this new update.

Read the complete blog post at the Windows Phone blog.

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And the big announcement was…….

The event started with Steve Ballmer getting onto the stage started to talk about the Cloud, then moved onto talking about Windows and that “Windows is the heart and soul of Microsoft”.

Then talking about the hardware and showing everything from the first mouse from 1884, The keyboard from 1994 the Surface in 2007 and kinect for Xbox 360 in 2010……

Steve comes back and the screen behind him shows the old 1984 mouse.

“we wanted to give Windows 8 its own hardware innovation. It’s something new, something different, it’s a whole new family of computing devices from MS.”

And the announcement is…. A Surface based tablet from Microsoft!

That is potentially really really cool!

You can read more about the device here at Microsoft.

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