CloudTechnology

SkyDrive Gets Updated and a New Logo

The other day there was an automatic update for SkyDrive for Windows, which added performance improvements, reliability and better integration with Windows.

Among the changes are a new logo, an updated white icon for the system tray for Windows 7 and 8, and a new status window.

A New Logo

This update brought us a new SkyDrive logo, which  falls in line with the Metro look and feel that is coming in Windows 8.

New SkyDrive Logo

A New Status Window

Part of this update includes a new status window to see what is going on with SkyDrive and whether everything is up to date. You can see this new status window by clicking on the SkyDrive icon in the system tray. This status windows lets you know if SkyDrive it up to date, provides you the time it last was updated and also information on the size and files being synchronized.

You may also notice the all white system tray icon “Cloud”.

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We also see the new logo in the Windows Explorer:

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Apart from the above, most of what changed in this update is not visible to users. “As with most updates,  "this one improves performance, reliability, and compatibility of SkyDrive," so people depending on the service can rely on the system to automatically sync files.” – Mike Torres, from Microsoft.

If you have SkyDrive for Windows installed, then you should get this update automatically. If you don’t have SkyDrive for Windows…I recommend you go and download it now from the SkyDrive web site.

DesignDevelopmentTechnology

Capturing User Feedback with UserVoice

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Recently I setup a UserVoice Feedback and Help Desktop account for one of my software products. This is a fantastic service that allows your users to submit feedback and improvement suggestions on your product. Your users can then rate the importance of the feedback and you get to interact with them by accepting it, etc.

“Surveys are great, but your audience has ideas and feedback that don’t fit a multiple-choice form. UserVoice Feedback™ makes it easy to collect this feedback – prioritized by votes – from your customers via a simple feedback forum.” 

They have different plans to choose from and also offer a completely free plan that you can get started with in seconds.

They also offer a feedback widget which you can easily add to your website, which allows your users to submit feedback directly from your website without having to leave your site or login to another system.

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Clicking on this widget brings up the feedback UI as shown here:

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Your users can then start submitting feedback and as they type, matching content will be displayed so they can see what’s already submitting and won’t submit something that already exists.

If you’re interested in your users feedback and ideas to improve your products, then you should consider using UserVoice’s Feedback Management Software.

CloudDatabaseDevelopment

WebsiteSpark Members Now Have Access To Windows Azure Benefits

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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MobileTechnology

Microsoft To Release Their Own Surface-Branded Tablet

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.

CloudDatabaseDevelopment

Exploring Windows Azure

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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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AviationGames

Flying in Alaska

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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Games

E3 2012 Coverage – Gears of War: Judgment

“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