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Azure Blobs is a great, inexpensive, and scalable cloud storage service that you can use to host any static file. In particular, I find it extremely useful for hosting progressive download videos (e.g. .mp4 files). Note: if you need the uber-solution (encoding, adaptive streaming, …etc) check out Windows Azure Media Services which offers a full range of services to deliver high quality video to a range of different platforms.

While Azure Blobs is very easy to setup and manage, there’s one essential configuration setting you will want to change before serving progressive download video that isn’t so obvious: byte-range support.

Let’s start with the problem. Out of the box, if you throw a .mp4 file on your Azure Blobs container and point your video player at the video, you’ll see the video play and buffer just fine. But, what happens, when you try to seek to an unbuffered portion of the content?

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Result: Buffering, waiting, annoyance, time for a coffee break?

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The reason is simple: by default, Azure Blobs does not enable support for byte range requests. Described with less jargon: in order to jump to a portion of the video that hasn’t downloaded yet you can either:

1) wait until the download (buffer) catches up to the new position of playback (results seen above) or

2) the solution: tell the server to skip all the data yet to be buffered prior to the new position (identified below in red) and instead start buffering from the new position.

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Under the hood, this is supported automatically by most modern video players AS LONG AS the server serving the video supports returning byte ranges and returns the response header: “Accept-Ranges: bytes”

The good news is, Azure Blobs does support this, you just need to enable it by setting the default version of the service to a newer one.

The bad new is, this setting is not exposed in the Azure Portal nor most tools I’ve used (e.g. CloudBerry).

So how do it change it? Send a Set Blob Service Properties REST API request.

Seriously? Isn’t there an easier way? Well, there are free tools out there to do this for you. For example: Plasma AzureBlobUtility.

BlobUtility.exe -k AccessKey -a AccountName -c ContainerName --setDefaultServiceVersion 2012-02-12

Or, if you’re paranoid like me and don’t like to give the key to your house to a stranger (no offense Plasma). Here are the steps and code to do it yourself in VS2012 in <1 minute:

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Create a new C# project. (I chose a WPF application which is probably not the best choice but I’m just going to throw this away when I‘m done).

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Add a NuGet package for Azure Storage by right clicking on your project and choosing Manage NuGet Packages.

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Search for “azure storage” and install the “Windows Azure Storage” NuGet Package by Microsoft.

Finally, add the following code to your app, replace the account name and secret key for your Azure Blobs account and run it…

public MainWindow()
{
    InitializeComponent();

    var credentials = new StorageCredentials("myaccountname", "mysecretkey");
    var account = new CloudStorageAccount(credentials, true);
    var client = account.CreateCloudBlobClient();
    var properties = client.GetServiceProperties();
    properties.DefaultServiceVersion = "2012-02-12";
    client.SetServiceProperties(properties);
}

Notice that we didn’t need to specify the container. This change will apply to all containers for that account.

DONE! Now all videos served from your Azure Blobs account will support seeking into the unbuffered area of the video without significant delay.

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A few months ago I was speaking with a reporter and was asked which development model the industry was gravitating toward for Windows 8 apps. My impression was that Xaml + C# appeared to be strongest out of the gate but only time would tell if JavaScript+HTML would slowly close the gap.

So far, this hasn’t happened. C# (and VB) + Xaml development has held its ground as by far the most popular development model for Windows 8 Metro Store apps. In fact, preference is now over 3 to 1 over JavaScript + HTML.

Since early April, I’ve been taking random snapshots of the number of posts on the MSDN Windows 8 development forums and here are the results…

UPDATE for Oct 28: C#/VB gains even more ground…

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Raw data:

Model 9-Apr 14-Jun 31-Jul 22-Aug 28-Oct
JavaScript 3645 5926 7831 8573
10631

C++ 2779 4494 5647 6263
7914

C#/VB 10030 16337 21921 24798
34562

What is the trend? If anything C# is gaining share…

imageimage

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I have numerous opinions about why this is the way it is, but I’ll leave this speculation for another day. Why do you think C# and Xaml are more popular for Windows 8 development? Or is counting forum post a poor way to measure?

In case you missed the news, Microsoft just hit a major milestone on its road to shipping Windows 8 with the public launch of the Release Preview version. With this new version comes new features and as expected: a number of trivial, yet importing changes that will affect app developers and their apps.

Meanwhile, here at Vertigo we’ve been toiling day (and sometimes night) to help developers and clients prepare for this update so they can hit the ground running and create some of the first apps to ship on the new platform.

One such effort that we were proud to release alongside the launch of Windows 8 Release Preview is the update to the Microsoft Media Platform Player Framework (an open source video player component for Windows 8 metro style apps).

win8_pf.jpg

While Windows 8 includes some essential and great components to help building top notch media apps (namely the MediaElement for Xaml developers and the Video tag for JavaScript/HTML developers), the purpose of these components is primarily aimed at providing the fundamentals and low level support for playing audio and video. We here at Vertigo Software know video and we know that there is still a mountain to climb before you can ship a great media app. In a joint effort with Microsoft, we’ve worked hard to fill this gap by building a media player framework to make it simple and straightforward to accomplish the vast majority of your media app needs in Windows 8.

The Microsoft Media Platform Player Framework ships with a JavaScript and Xaml version of the framework that offers out of the box features to build great video apps without the fuss and months of development required to build your own media player. Besides support for the Windows 8 Release Preview, our latest update also includes support for major features such as player DVR controls (scrubbing, FF, RW, play/pause, …etc), player styling and branding, closed captioning, and just released today: video advertising!

Video advertising is very different from traditional banner advertising – which is already included with the Microsoft Advertising SDK. Video advertising allows you to seamlessly connect to video ad servers and stitch together commercials, overlays, and companion ads with your own content.

Advertising is an extremely important monetization strategy for many media companies and an equally significant undertaking to build from scratch. With the latest version of the player framework, you can simply add the new advertising plugin, schedule when ads should play and point your app at a VAST standards compliant ad server to play ads with your content. Ad scheduling, downloading, playback, and tracking is all handled for you by the player framework using IAB recommended standards such as VAST and VPAID.

Download everything you need today to start (or finish) your media app for Windows 8:

Microsoft Media Platform Player Framework

Windows 8 Release Preview

Visual Studio 2012 RC

Smooth Streaming SDK

PlayReady DRM SDK

 

Enjoy!

Need to build an app that plays video? This week we released a new version of the MMP: Player Framework (formerly the Silverlight Media Framework) made for Windows 8 Metro style applications.

With guidance the Windows 8 and IIS teams, we (Microsoft Media Platform team & Vertigo Software) created an open source media player framework that you can use for both HTML-based and XAML-based Metro style applications.

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Support for HTML and XAML

The player framework supports both HTML/JavaScript and XAML/C#/VB based Metro style applications. Technically, there are two different components (one for HTML and one for XAML based apps), but they share very similar APIs, feature sets, and in some cases even share the same source code. Under the hood, the XAML version is built on top of the MediaElement that ships with .NET and similarly, the HTML version is built on top of the HTML5 <video> tag.

Our primary goal was to ensure both flavors felt natural and familiar to both HTML and XAML developers. If you are an HTML/JavaScript developer, using the JavaScript version will be very similar to using the other JavaScript controls that ship with Windows 8 as well as those already familiar with the HTML5 <video> tag. If you are a XAML/managed code developer, you can expect the XAML version to adhere to the practices and patterns of .NET & Silverlight controls.

Extensibility

The framework: We refer to the player framework as a framework as opposed to a control or component because it is intended to be a mini-platform in it’s own right. While these details will be hidden to the majority of developers using it as is out of the box media player, the player framework is built on a plugin style architecture that enables the feature set to be expanded and evolve after the fact without touching the core code base. In fact, many of the features currently in the framework are implemented as plugins. For example: the main control bar that the user interacts with is technically a plugin that could be swapped in our out for a radically different implementation.

Styling: One of the most common requirements in building a media player is to be able to skin the UI to match your brand. By default, the player framework ships with a Metro style skin, but you can easily modify the look and feel of the player from CSS or XAML without having to build a custom player.

Open source: the player frameworks ships with full source code under the liberal Ms-Pl license. Crack it open and see how it ticks or make changes to suite your needs.

How similar is it to the existing HTML5 or Silverlight versions of the player framework?

You may already be familiar with the existing HTML5 for the web or Silverlight for the web/desktop and phone versions of the player framework. The Windows 8 version of the framework should feel familiar and is in fact based on much of the same code. However, you should not expect full compatibility. We wanted to make sure the player framework felt like it was made for Windows 8 Metro style apps and it’s respective development model (HTML vs. XAML). We also wanted to meld the two versions and their APIs when it made sense. Lastly, we used this opportunities to make architectural improvements that would better position the framework for a long and bright future.

Features

You’ll find that the player framework has an extensive API chocked full of many useful hooks and features. From 30,000 feet, here is a sampling of features you will find in v1 of the player framework.

  • VOD
  • Progressive video
  • Smooth streaming
  • Rich DVR (Play, pause, stop, fast forward, rewind, skip next & back, seek-able timeline, volume, slow motion, instant replay)
  • Full screen
  • Closed captions (plain text for Xaml and WebVTT for js)
  • Styling support
  • Buffering and error/retry visual states.
  • Poster image
  • Click-to-play UI to let the user choose to start watching.
  • All features already included with the MediaElement and <Video/>
  • Playlist
  • Chapters
  • Timeline markers
  • Support for localization
  • Compact UI for snapped view
  • Support for DRM (e.g. PlayReady)

What’s next?

The fun doesn’t stop here. We’re already hard at work on more features. Here are some prominent ones in the cards.

  • Adaptive streaming APIs
  • Advertising
  • Audio player
  • TTML closed captions
  • Audio track selection (multi-language audio)
  • Live video

Got feedback?

We’d love to hear your feedback and make sure the player framework offers the features and functionality you need in your apps. We encourage developers to check out the player framework on CodePlex and post feedback on the CodePlex forum.

Hope you enjoy!

In my earlier post I created a high level breakdown of the APIs shared by both Silverlight and WinRT…

image

Here I’m providing a complete reference of all 6,585 public types and 15,248 members included in Silverlight 5 and/or WinRT and where they overlap.

My hope is that this will serve as a reference to Silverlight developers trying to get up to speed with WinRT.

Click here to see the WinRT Genome Project results.

image

 

Note: Please let me know if you see an errors or have requests. I’ve only begun to comb over these results myself and will be looking for ways to improve it going forward. Enjoy!

What is the hardest part about learning a new programming language? I’ve often argued that learning a new language is easy, it’s learning a new framework is can be time consuming.

In case you’ve been living under a rock lately, you probably already know that Windows 8 Metro style apps can be built with Xaml & C#. This means that .NET & Silverlight developers can leverage their existing skillset to easily build Win8 Metro Xaml style apps. But just how similar is Silverlight to WinRT?

In an effort to get some real numbers, I created a program to iterate over all the default assemblies included WinRT and compare with those found in Silverlight 5. Here’s what I found:

image

 

Of those 1,582 matching types, here is a look at the members (properties, method, & events) they have in common:

image

 

Comparison details for those interested:

  • I included all Silverlight 5 assemblies installed as part of the SDK. Other assemblies such as RIA services and the Silverlight Toolkit were not included.
  • The public Silverlight 5 RC was used. IMO it is highly unlikely any numbers will change once the final version is released.
  • Differences in namespaces, type accessibility, and base classes were still counted as a match. For example, I ignored differences such as a type being sealed or implementing ISerializable.
  • Similar liberties were taken with members.
  • Property get & set methods and event add & remove methods were not counted as unique members.

My key takeaways:

  • WinRT includes a ton of new types. Some of these are certainly for new features such as the marketplace, accelerometer support, …etc. Time to start learning!
  • Approximately 1/4 of the types in Silverlight are not present in WinRT. Some of these are no longer relevant like the types associated with the DOM bridge or Out of Browser support.
  • When comparing just the shared types, SL5 starts to look very close to an actual subset of WinRT. This is good news for Silverlight developers because it means most of your existing code should easily port.

Coming soon: I also have a side-by-side comparison of the entire WinRT and SL5 API so you can explore each and every difference in their respective APIs. Check back soon.

Update: Detail now available, here’s a complete comparison of every single public API in WinRT and Silverlight 5 and where they match.

BUILD

Today concludes the last day of the Microsoft Build conference (//build/) and after four days of sessions, keynotes, developing on the Win8 tablet, and countless conversations with other developers I have formed a number of opinions (both good and bad) about the new Windows 8 development stack and what it means to the world outside of Microsoft.

Disclaimer: If anyone tells you they’re objective, they’re not being objective. I’m biased in all kinds of ways and this is a summary of my personal thoughts and opinions. Whether you agree or disagree, hopefully this will invoke a few ideas and get you thinking about the changes we witnessed this week.

//build/targets…

 

/businesses

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/brand_visibility

What do Best Buy, the Daily Show, and Hershey’s Chocolate have in common? They all have apps in the iPhone app store. But why wouldn’t these companies just build or improve their mobile websites? Would an app somehow be a better experience than a mobile website? Doubtful. OK, maybe Best Buy can use native phone APIs to help you find a store based on your current location and maybe you can build more touch-friendly features with Objective C, but the real reason is to show up to the party. Get listed in the app store or your customers may not be able to find you. But the app store is much more than the iOS yellow pages. Users actively go look for apps they think might be useful. This is very different from how consumers use the web. How many users open their shiny new iPhone and go browse the web for sites to add to their favorites list? None. Compare that with how many users instantly go look for cool apps to install. Like it or not, Windows 8 will be used on a daily basis by millions of users. Apple has already taught the world that there is an “app for everything” and users will be stoked to find one on their shiny new PC. Whether building a metro app for the new Windows 8 marketplace is justified as an opportunity or simply a precaution, most businesses can’t afford to stay home and miss the party.

/app_marketing

Ask any developer who’s built an awesome program that never made them rich what the hardest part about building successful software is. Answer: marketing. We developers have loads of ideas and talent but usually don’t know much about marketing or like learning how to do it right. At the same time, there are many profitable apps in the iOS app store by these same kinds of developer. Enough of them have been able to rake in the cash and barely lifted a finger to market their apps. The app store is a magical jolly fat man leaving presents for those who were simply good. Go to download.com and check out the thousands of non-mobile apps out there. I’d venture to say that very few have ever made a dime regardless of their popularity; now is their chance!

/cross_platform

There’s one huge story that Microsoft didn’t exactly mention but I believe they are willing to and perhaps even subtly encouraging people be misguided about. Yes, web developers can use their skills to build first class Windows 8 apps. Yes, web developers can build those apps faster if they have an existing app or website to port, but can you really share a common code base between a website and a Win8 app? Fat chance. Besides being inappropriate to design a metro app and a website identical to one another, the code just won’t port if you do it right… especially, if you use the all new and powerful Blend designer tool to build it. Blend is built for creating Win8 apps and although it generates HTML5 compliant HTML & CSS, it also uses Win8 specific controls and references js files that rely on the WinRT. Furthermore, it is highly doubtful that its output has ever been tested on anything but IE10. The bottom line: HTML and js may save you time, but mostly because of the skills of your developers, not the reusability of the code for other platforms.

 

/consumers

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/tablets

Tablets are the real story with Win8. Will Win8 be better than Win7 for the non-touchscreen desktop or laptop? Probably. But is that difference compelling? Probably not. Tablets are clearly the primary target for Win8 and there are some good reasons to think Win8 could own the majority of the tablet market in due time. Here’s the difference between a Win8 tablet and the competition as of today: while iPads and Android tablets are hardly toys, they certainly aren’t workstations. Every single time I’ve traveled in the last year, I came packing both an iPad and my laptop. And each and every time I desperately tried to part with one or the other. While away for pleasure, I couldn’t part with my laptop in fear that I might need it to do something important. While away on business, taking the laptop was a given but I ultimately couldn’t part with my iPad so I could get my fix of Angry Birds on the airplane. Win8 tablets will be different. Once I load up my new Win8 tablet and learn to trust what the OS can do, I’m almost certain the only devices I’ll be traveling with will be my phone and tablet. Thank baby Jesus! OK, maybe this isn’t such a horrible burden to have: bringing 3 devices with you on vacation. But it demonstrates the problem pretty well. If I can travel with just a Win8 tablet, my mother-in-law can live with just a Win8 tablet. Bottom line: Microsoft is going to seriously raised the bar for the next generation of tablets.

/netbooks+laptops

While iPads may cannibalize netbooks and laptops today, Win8 tablets will bleed into the market and all devices will simply become portable PCs. Because Microsoft relies on others to build hardware, we can expect to see tablets of all different sizes and performance abilities. Some will have built in keyboards oozing with glutinous power and others will be wafer thin, glorified phones. Keeping with tradition, Microsoft will look to the plethora of hardware makers to innovate and fill every little nook and cranny of possible use-cases humans could have for portable computers. Netbooks and laptops won’t be cannibalized, they’ll be absorbed.

/desktop

I have my own ideas on the future of the desktop PC but it has much more to do with the Kinect than it does Win8; I’ll save those ideas for another blog post. For now, I don’t see any profound impact Win8 will have on the desktop PC J

/web

The web browser is dead. OK, I intentionally over-sensationalized that statement, but let’s be honest, apps and websites more and more are serving the same function. Because of the invention of the app store, apps are gaining popularity over websites for the widening areas where they overlap. Imagine you needed a stop watch on your iPad. Would you search the web or search the app store? I’ve actually asked this question to a number of iPad-owning friends and every one of them said without hesitation that they’d search the app store. The web browser is no longer the go-to tool to extend the features of your phone or tablet and soon the same will be true for your PC. Not long ago, it was inconceivable that a business would launch an app before building a website unless their only product was the app itself. Today, I can only assume that there are companies who have already built apps and will eventually get around to making a website. Is the web dead? Absolutely not. Apps need the web. Is the web browser dead? Hardly, the web browser will remain the go-to tool for content for a long time, but the role of the web browser is diminished and this is just the beginning.

/security

The other week, my colleague Justin Angel called out the Windows Phone AVG fake anti-virus app… how can you build an anti-virus app for a platform that doesn’t support viruses? Metro apps on Windows 8 won’t be as locked down as apps on the Windows Phone but a similar principal will be at work. Windows 8 requires all apps submitted to the app store to 1) run in a security sandbox, 2) be certified (and therefore subject to being pulled and publicly reviewed) and 3) be required to declare the various limited abilities they are allowed to perform at runtime. The user can therefore be guaranteed that when they install an app, it will do no more (in terms of security) than the app claims to do and they will have ample warning before installing that app. Unless users continue the soon-to-be antiquated practice of downloading and running exes from the internet instead of installing apps from the marketplace, they will be instantly granted incredible protections that only platforms like Win8 metro can provide.

/user_experience

While Windows 8 will still support Win32 apps, metro apps are where it’s at! Metro is a new design style that is beautiful, fluid and friendly to all forms of input devices including your fingers. Everyone I’ve talked to seems to love the new metro design paradigm, but even those that want overlapping windows with lots of chrome will be able to use the desktop/classic (Win7-like) mode if they prefer. In my opinion, Windows 8 metro is a leap forward in user experience and clearly sets a new bar for usability for apps and operating systems alike.

 

/developers

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/silverlight+wpf

I’ve been asked this question more than any other at the conference: “What do you think the future of Silverlight is?” In case you’ve been living under a rock, this is the one question Microsoft promised to answer at the Build conference and unfortunately is one of the few questions they still refuse to address. I was expecting Steven Sinofsky himself to issue a very frank and straightforward statement about the future of Silverlight on day one… even if it risked boos from the crowd; we are owed that much. Unfortunately, Build is over and all we are left with is our own speculation. You might think that Silverlight has a bright future. After all, Silverlight 5 was released as a public RC only a week or so before the conference and for legions of Microsoft developers it is still the preferred choice for building web apps. So, what is “up” with Silverlight? As a Silverlight developer I have to grit my teeth a little when I profess my honest opinion that “Silverlight for the web is dead”. Ouch, that still stings a little.

The good news: managed code and Xaml is NOT dead. And managed code and Xaml of course is after all Silverlight or WPF without a name from the marketing department. In fact, although it remains to be seen, I think managed code could even become the predominant paradigm (over C++ and javascript) for building the next generation of Windows 8 apps. At the very least it will be a very popular choice. This is great news for Silverlight and WPF developers who want to build top-shelf metro apps for Windows 8. Additionally, Silverlight in browser and out-of-browser apps will continue to work as is for Windows classic/desktop mode.

The bad news: the build conference was NOT about the web browser or Win8 desktop mode. For all the IE pumping we’ve heard in the last year, I was left a bit surprised we didn’t hear more about IE. ‘The Gu’ gave us a quick peek at some new ASP.NET features and VS 2011 near the end of the 2nd day keynote but the content felt so out of place it was almost as if the respected ‘Gu’ was only there to appease the hordes of Microsoft developers (including myself) who he helped inspire during his tenure in the developer division at Microsoft. But it makes sense: Windows 8 and the future of the Microsoft dev stack are about metro and about metro apps.

The ugly news: Silverlight does not run in the metro browser and the metro browser will most likely be the main browser from now on in Windows. This makes some sense since Silverlight would need to be refactored to use the new WinRT controls and APIs under the hood in order to correctly support input and display the way a metro app should. Microsoft wants the metro experience to be pure and consistent across the board. This means that all apps that run in the metro environment must be using WinRT to do the heavy lifting – including web pages running through the metro browser. HTML & js based web pages can do this because IE10 uses WinRT under the hood to do all the rendering. Silverlight versions 1-5 do not. Could a special version of Silverlight for IE metro be rebuilt to use WinRT? Anything is possible. Will it be done? I wouldn’t hold your breath. At the same time, Silverlight out of browser apps are in a similar boat. Silverlight OoB apps won’t run in metro and are confined to the desktop/classic mode only.

OK, back to my “Silverlight is dead” comment: managed code and Xaml running in a web browser simply does not appear to be part of Microsoft’s long-term strategy. What caused this? While I’d love to speculate, I won’t in this post. Microsoft will continue to keep its foot in the door for web development using ASP.NET but in the end, Microsoft sells a little product called Windows and everything it does in some way needs be traced back to benefiting Windows. Web development in general is only important to Microsoft for two reasons: First, the traditional reason: Users use the web and want an awesome web browser. IE is a feature of Windows and Microsoft wants developers to be able to easily build web pages that work well in it. Second (and more importantly now than 1 week ago): Microsoft wants a great selection of apps in the Windows marketplace and they want the legions of web developers to help write those apps. It is a too large and talented pool of programmers to ignore any longer. .NET developers and HTML+js developers can now all partake. Silverlight for the web isn’t going anywhere but Silverlight will continue to lose reach as Windows 8 metro will now be added to the list of platforms that won’t support it. Sorry fellow Silverlight developers, we don’t have a choice; for the long term I suggest for you to start writing Windows apps or switch to HTML & js.

/C++

C++ developers must be peeing their pants from happiness. Finally, C++ lovers are first class citizens in the Windows world by being able to take advantage of many of the modern advances in programming that has transpired since the advent of .NET. Just like VB6 paved the way to NET, .NET paved the way to WinRT. Finally C++ programmers will be able to use Xaml and a rich object oriented runtime to build apps. It must feel good.

/winforms

If C++ programmers are peeing their pants from happiness, Winforms programmers are peeing their pants from agony. Buck up Winformers, you should have switched to WPF years ago and then at least you’d have the skillset to make the metro switch.

/html+js+css+svg

These developers are the real winners. Even if you don’t plan to write a sigle Win8 app, be happy knowing you could. 🙂 HTML5, CSS3, js & SVG are all first class citizens now with native access to the WinRT and killer performance of IE10 as your rendering engine.

/azure

The Build conference pretended to include Windows Azure but like ASP.NET, content was relegated to the hind quarter of the day 2 keynote and sessions were limited. For the most part, Windows 8 doesn’t really affect the story of the back-end; not significantly anyway. There are some new roaming features in Windows 8 which Azure will be well positioned to help out with and without a built in namespace for local database access from WinRT, connecting apps to the cloud will be more important than ever. However, at the same time, Microsoft is courting the web developers who are comfortable with non-Microsoft platforms. Microsoft wouldn’t dare make them use Windows Server or Windows Azure to easily build a Win8 app and therefore, for the time being, Azure takes a back seat in order to avoid polluting the message.

/asp.net

Build was clearly all about Windows on the client and by virtue of having an app store, starts to pave the way for reduced importance of applications hosted from within the web browser. ASP.NET came up near the end of the day 2 keynote and while there were some nice improvements to debugging and website optimization, there was very little content overall and almost zero sessions. HTML based Win8 apps have nothing to do with ASP.NET. They must ship as local, pre-made html & js packages and use AJAX if communication with the web is necessary. ASP.NET, Razor, MVC, and Webforms have no place in this world aside from providing one of many possible options for implementing web services.

/wp7

Windows Phone is very much part of Microsoft’s strategy. Yet it also played virtually no roll in the Build conference. Some have speculated that Windows Phone as we know it is merely a stop gap until Windows 8 (or 9) can be made to run on those devices. Windows 8 will only support the new Metro style apps on ARM based architecture and it is easy to see how it could be a good fit for running on even smaller form factors than the tablet in the near future. Windows Phone developers should expect someday to have the same paradigm choice for building apps that the Win8 platform now enjoys.

/xna

Surprise! There’s no XNA support in Windows 8 and no way to control DirectX from managed code. While I don’t have a shred of evidence to back this next statement up, I have a strong feeling this won’t be the last we hear of XNA. There are too many awesome games built on it and it is too useful to abandon. It would be a shame if Microsoft didn’t offer an XNA option or something similar soon. For now we’ll have to hold our breaths.

 

/competition

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/apple

Apple has made a distinct choice that a tablet is more like a phone than a personal computer. Consumers have been more than willing to live with this difference because they haven’t known any different. Will consumers continue to accept this decision after seeing a Windows 8 tablet that offers the versatility of a laptop? I expect not but it remains to be seen. I believe it is inevitable that Apple will either make OSX more like iOS or will try to follow the Win8 lead and build a radical new hybrid OS. It will be interesting to see how the world’s favorite innovator reacts long-term to the innovations seen this week.

/google

Google should have serious reason for concern! While Android is rocking the Casbah, Google pays the bills with its advertising business. Windows Phone shows us just how irrelevant Google can be if the platform has it’s own built in search feature and provides its own simple advertising component for apps to use. Google needs to get used to it and should start fearing the worst in the long term. In fact, it probably already has. Android was probably not invented because Google has a passion for building a better OS, Android was a very smart and pro-active action on Google’s part to make sure their advertising and search platforms will continued to be used. I wouldn’t count Google out of the race by any means but their profitability clearly depends on Androids ability to out compete Windows.

/mozilla

Yikes, Firefox for Windows (Chrome, Opera, & Safari as well) had better hope Windows 8 metro is a failure. Even if they build a Windows 8 metro app, they will ultimately be building a layer on top of WinRT to render web pages instead of being part of WinRT like IE10 is. This would the equivalent of building a web browser to run inside a web browser. Performance will never be as good and they will always be 2nd in class compared to IE10 for mainstream users and geeks alike.

 

Special thanks to all the awesome people I met at Build for the 4 day collective learning session and great conversations. This blog post comes from your brains more than my own.