Microsoft’s WebsiteSpark program has been updated to now include Windows Azure benefits. If you’re a member of this program then you should have or will be receiving an email to update your account.

You will need to login to your WebsiteSpark account and then click to update your account to include the new Windows Azure benefits.

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Here is what is included…

WebsiteSpark members can now get up to $1400 in annual Windows Azure resources to design, develop and deploy their site in the cloud. You will also get to keep at no charge, an Expression Web license upon completion of the 3 year program.

Here is additional information about the WebsiteSpark Azure Offer Details:

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In order to take advantage of these additional program benefits, you will need to do this prior to 12/18/2012.

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Microsoft is set to release two Surface-branded tablets that is will sell as competition to the Apple’s iPad. The Surface-branded tablets will be based on Windows 8 and Windows RT. They will also feature an integrated keyboard cover and a kickstand. See below for a sample screenshot.

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Also notice the new Microsoft logo.

Exploring Windows Azure

June 14, 2012

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If you don’t already know what Windows Azure is, then it’s Microsoft’s public cloud.

Microsoft’s Windows Azure is flexible, open and rock solid. Windows Azure allows you to quickly build, deploy and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters. You can build applications using any OS, Language, Database or Tool and it has a 99.95% monthly SLA.

One of the new features I noticed is FREE Web Sites. It allows you to start for free and scale as you go.

When they say open, they have greatly expanded the development languages, framework and tools available, all of which are open source and available on github. Cool!

There are also changes in what servers you can use. Apart from Windows, you can now also install Linux as well in virtual machines.

Azure is really transforming into a cloud that isn’t just limited to the Microsoft technology stack, not that there is nothing wrong with that. I love Microsoft technologies, but I think Microsoft make a smart decision to open up and allows Linux, mySql and other languages to be used.

Speaking of languages, there is now support for 5 major languages and then some.

Languages

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Developer Features

Data Storage

  • Blob Service
  • Table Service
  • SQL Database
  • SQL Reporting
  • Hadoop

Messaging and Integration

  • Service Bus Queues
  • Service Bus Topics
  • Queue Service
  • Service Bus Relay

Additional Features

  • Caching (AppFabric)
  • Access Control
  • Diagnostics
  • Autoscaling
  • Media Services
  • SendGrid Email Service
  • Twilio

Free Trial

With the free trial you can…

  • Quickly deploy websites to a highly scalable cloud environment
  • Easily deploy and manage virtual machines running Windows Server and Linux
  • Create highly scalable applications in a rich PaaS environment
  • Create, manage and distribute media in the cloud

The free trial contains:

compute 750 small compute hours per month
web sites 10 shared web sites
relational database 1 GB SQL database instance
storage 20 GB with 1,000,000 storage transactions
bandwidth unlimited inbound and 20 GB outbound

There is a lot that can be done with Windows Azure and the only way to know if it’s right for you and your organization is to give it a try and see what you think.

Get started now:

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Flying in Alaska

June 4, 2012

Microsoft will soon release its second expansion, Alaska Wilderness DLC for Microsoft Flight.

Like Hawaii, with its rich history of military aviation, Alaska has also seen its share of airborne hostilities. The difference is that the opponents in Alaska aren’t other pilots: they’re the elements and terrain itself. In a land where the nearest roads might be hundreds of miles away, planes provide the only efficient way to travel and transport cargo over long distances. You’ll face capricious crosswinds over mysterious vistas, unpredictable terrain with isolated and difficult landing strips, and other challenges in this land of fierce and dangerous beauty. Are you ready to take on the Alaskan Wilderness?

Look for this adventure to be available soon. Until then here are some awesome screenshots:

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Alaska Teaser 4

Alaska Teaser 3

“Gears of War: Judgment” (Epic Games, People Can Fly, Microsoft Studios). “Gears of War: Judgment” takes you back before the events of the original “Gears of War” trilogy to the immediate aftermath of Emergence Day — the defining event of the “Gears of War” universe. Follow Kilo Squad, led by Damon Baird and Augustus “The Cole Train” Cole, as they fight to save the city of Halvo Bay from an unstoppable enemy in the most intense “Gears” game yet. “Gears of War: Judgment” introduces a variety of new multiplayer experiences, including OverRun, a thrilling new class-based competitive mode that will pit Locust and COG soldiers in a head-to-head battle unlike anything “Gears” fans have experienced yet. “Gears of War: Judgment” will launch worldwide in early 2013.

I can’t wait to get my hands on this game.

For more coverage of this and other exciting games coming out, checkout http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/Press/2012/Jun12/06-04Xbox360E3PR.aspx

First you will notice that Visual Studio 2012 gets an updated logo. Falls in line with the Metro theme that is being applied to just about every product these days.

VS2012 Logo

Visual Studio 2012 sports a new installer UI. It clearly embraces the Metro style.

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VS2012Installing

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These UI changes are not final. It’s already been posted on the Visual Studio Team Blog that further changes to the Visual Studio themes are coming but just didn’t make the release candidate.

Please see my blog post about these theme changes:
Permalink to Visual Studio 11 Gets a Dark Theme

Yesterday Microsoft delivered the Windows 8 Release Preview, the final pre-release milestone of its next OS. Along with this release came related releases such as Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate (RC) and Visual Studio 2012 RC.

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If you know me, then you know I’m a huge Microsoft fan boy. I have a Zune, a few Xbox 360’s, an original Xbox, a Windows Phone (first the Focus and now the Lumia 900) and I’m a software developer specializing in Microsoft Development technologies (.NET Framework, C#, Visual Studio, SQL Server, Azure, etc).

Anyway I must say I absolutely love what Windows 8 is and the impact it will have on our every day lives. I’m still a little unsure to the lack of the Star button when in Desktop mode…but I’m sure that will grow on me.

I plan on redoing my main laptop from Windows 7 Ultimate to Windows 8. I’ll then install Visual Studio 2012 RC and begin exploring what is possible in Metro-style applications, the Windows Runtime, and fully embrace this change.

The Windows 8 Release Preview is here. Go get it now.
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/release-preview

Here is a wonderful guide to Windows 8 Release Preview from Paul Thurrott’s Supersite for Windows. I highly recommend you take a look at everything he’s documented in his articles and the wonderful screenshots.

Ken Cenerelli

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