Tag Archives: build

Cosmos DB or SQL Server? Do you need Kubernetes? VM or App Service? A guide to Azure worth checking out

One of the best features of Microsoft Build, possibly the best, is the exhibition. Microsoft sets up stands for each of its product teams, and the staff there generally include the people who actually build that product, making this a great way to interact with them and get authoritative answers to questions.

I interviewed several executives at Build and asked a couple of times, how can your customers work out which Azure service is the best fit for what they need? It is not a trivial question, now that there are so many different services which overlapping functionality.

It is critically important. You can waste a large amount of money and cause unnecessary frustration by selecting the wrong services.

None of these executives mentioned that Microsoft has a rather good guide for exactly this question. It is called the Azure Architecture Center and I discovered it on the show floor.

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The stand was called Azure Clinic and I told the guy his costume reminded me of Dr GUI. He was too young to remember this MSDN character of old but another guy on the stand overheard and said it brought back bad memories!

You can find the Azure Architecture Center here. It does not make any assumptions about the depth of knowledge you have, which seems right to me since it is aimed at developers who are not sure exactly what they need. There is a ton of useful material, like this decision tree for the compute services (click to enlarge):

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Recommended.

Microsoft Build: Azure-powered Drones, another go with Kinect, and other key announcements

Microsoft Build is kicking off today in Seattle, and the company has made a ton of announcements.

See here for some background on Build and what is happening with Microsoft’s platform.

The most eye-catching announcement is a partnership with drone manufacturer DJI which says it will make Azure its preferred cloud provider. Microsoft has announced an SDK. There is much obvious value in drones from a business perspective, for example examining pipes for damage. Sectors such as construction, agriculture and public safety are obvious candidates.

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Microsoft’s Kinect sensor was originally launched as a gaming accessory for Xbox 360 and then Xbox One. It has been a flop in gaming, but the technology has plenty of potential. Coming in 2019 is Project Kinect for Azure, a new device with upgraded sensors for connecting “AI to the edge”, in Microsoft’s words. More here.

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The Azure IoT Edge runtime is going open source. More cognitive services will now run directly on the runtime, in other words without depending on internet connectivity, including Custom Vision for image recognition (handy for drones, perhaps). A partnership with Qualcomm will support camera-powered cognitive services.

AI for Accessibility is a new initiative to use AI to empower people via assistive technology, building on previous work such as the use of Cognitive Services to help a visually impaired person “see” the world around them.

Project Brainwave is a new project to accelerate AI by running calculations on an FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) in partnership with Intel.

On the Windows front, a new application called Microsoft Layout uses Mixed Reality to let customers design spaces in context, using 3D models.

Windows Timeline, new in the April 2018 Windows 10 update, is coming to iOS and Android. On Android it is a separate application, while on iOS it is incorporated into the Edge browser.

Amazon Alexa and Microsoft Cortana are getting integration (in limited preview) such that you can call up Cortana using an Amazon Echo, or summon Alexa within Cortana on Windows.

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There is more to come, including AI updates to Visual Studio (not IntelliSense but IntelliCode), Visual Studio Live Share collaboration in preview, and a partnership with GitHub to integrate with App Center (DevOps for apps for mobile devices).

And big .NET news at Build: .NET Core 3.0 in 2019 will run Windows desktop applications, via frameworks including Windows Forms, Windows Presentation Framework (WPF), and UWP XAML.

As Microsoft Build 2018 begins, what is happening to Microsoft’s developer platform?

Microsoft’s Build developer conference starts today in Seattle.

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Ahead of Build though, it is worth noting that this Build is different in feel than previous events. The first Build was in 2011 and it was focused on Windows 8, released there in preview.Historically it has always been a Windows-focused event, though of course with some sessions on Microsoft’s wider platform.

Microsoft is changing, and the key document for those interested in the company’s direction is this one from 29th March 2018 – the most significant strategic move since the June 2015 “aligning engineering to strategy” announcement that dismantled the investment in Windows Phone.

In the March announcement CEO Satya Nadella explains that the Windows and Devices Group (WDG) has become the Experiences and Devices Group – no longer just Windows. Former WDG chief Terry Myerson is leaving Microsoft, while Rajesh Jha steps up to run the new team.

I regard this new announcement as a logical next step following the departure of Steven Sinofsky in November 2012 (the beginning of the end for Windows 8) and the end of Windows Phone announced in June 2015. Sinofsky’s vision was for Windows to be reinvented for a new era of computing devices based on touch and mobile. This strategy failed, for numerous reasons which this is not the place to re-iterate. Windows 10, by contrast, is about keeping the operating system up to date as a business workhorse and desktop operating system, a market that will slowly decline as other devices take over things that we used to do with PCs, but which will also remain important for the foreseeable future.

Windows, let me emphasise, is neither dead nor dying. We still need PCs to do our work. The always-enthusiastic Joe Belfiore is now in charge of Windows and we will continue to see a stream of new features added to the operating system, though increasingly they will work in tandem with new software for iOS and Android. However, Windows can no longer be an engine of growth at Microsoft.

Microsoft has positioned itself to succeed despite the decline of the PC, primarily through cloud services. It has made huge investments in cloud infrastructure – that is, datacenters and connectivity – as well as in the software to make that infrastructure useful, from low-level server and network virtualisation to a large range of high level services (which is where the biggest profits can be made).

The company’s biggest cloud success is not Azure as such, but rather Office 365, now running a substantial proportion of the world’s business email, and building on that base with a growing range of collaboration and storage services. It is a perfect upsell opportunity, which is why the company is now talking up “Microsoft 365”, composed of Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS).

Nadella’s new mantra is “the intelligent cloud and the intelligent edge”, where the intelligent cloud is all things Office 365 and Azure, and the intelligent edge is all the computing devices that connect to it, whether as small as a Raspberry Pi running Azure IoT Edge (a small cross-platform runtime that connects to Azure services), or as large as Azure Stack (an on-premises cloud in a box that uses the Azure computing model).

We need an “intelligent edge” because it makes no sense at all to pump all of the vast and increasing amounts of data that we collect, from sensors and other inputs, directly into the cloud. That is madly inefficient. Instead, you process it locally and send to the cloud only what is interesting. Getting the right balance between cloud and edge is challenging and something which the industry is still working out. Nothing new there, you might think, as the trade-off between centralised and distributed computing has been a topic of endless debate for as long as I can remember.

Coming back to Build, what does the above mean for developers? From Microsoft’s perspective, it is more strategic to have developers building for its cloud platform than for Windows itself; and if that means coding for Linux, iOS or Android, it matters little.

At the same time, Belfiore and his team are keen to keep Windows competitive against the competition (Mac, Linux, Chromebook). Even more important from the company’s point of view is to get users off Windows 7 and onto Windows 10, which is more strategic in every way.

Just because Microsoft wants you to do something does not make it in your best interests. That said, if you accept that a cloud-centric approach is right for most businesses, Windows 10 does make sense in lots of ways. It is more secure and, increasingly, easier to manage. Small businesses can log in directly with Azure Active Directory, and larger organisations get benefits like autopilot, now beginning to roll out as the PC OEMs ready the hardware.

The future of UWP (Universal Windows Platform) is less clear. Microsoft has invested heavily in UWP and made it an integral part of new Windows features like HoloLens and Mixed Reality. Developers on the other hand still largely prefer to work with older frameworks like Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), and the value of UWP has been undermined by the death of Windows Phone. In addition, you can now get Store access and the install/uninstall benefits of UWP via another route, the Desktop Bridge – which is why key consumer applications like Spotify and Apple iTunes have turned up in the Store.

Finally, Build did not sell out this year; however I have heard that it has doubled in size, so these things are relative. Nevertheless, this is perhaps an indication that Microsoft still has work to do with its repositioning in the developer community. The challenge for the company is to keep its traditional Windows-focused developers on board, while also attracting new developers more familiar with non-Microsoft technologies. Anecdotally, I would say there are more signs of the former than the latter.

Should you go to Microsoft Build?

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In the beginning there was the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) – the first was in 1992. They were fantastic events, with deep dives into the innards of Windows and how to develop applications on Microsoft’s platform. Much of the technology presented was in early preview and often did not work quite right; some things that were presented never made it to production, famous examples including “Hailstorm” also known as .NET My Services, and the WinFS file system originally slated for Windows Vista.

These events seemed to be a critical part of Microsoft’s development cycle. Internally teams would ready their latest stuff for a PDC session, which was then adapted and re-presented at other events around the world.

Then PDC kind-of morphed into Microsoft Build, the first of which took place in September 2011. Unlike PDC, Build was specifically focused on Windows, and was originally associated with Windows 8 and its new app platform, WinRT. Part of the vision behind Windows 8 was that it would have a strong app ecosystem and Build was about enthusing and informing developers about the possibilities.

As it turned out, the Windows 8 app ecosystem was a bit of a disaster for various reasons. Microsoft had another go with UWP (Universal Windows Platform) in Windows 10. Build in April 2015 was an amazing event, where the company appeared to be going all-out to make UWP on both desktop and mobile a success. Not only was the platform itself being enhanced, but we also got Project Centennial (deliver desktop applications via the Store), Project Astoria (compile Android apps to UWP) and Project Islandwood (compile iOS code for UWP).

Just a few months later the company made a huge about-turn. CEO Satya Nadella’s Aligning Engineering to Strategy memo signalled the beginning of the end for Windows Phone, and the departure of Stephen Elop and the dismantling of the Nokia devices acquisition. That was the end of the universal part of UWP.

Project Astoria was scrapped. The Windows Bridge for iOS (Project Islandwood) still just about exists, but its core rationale (get iOS apps to Windows Phone) is now irrelevant.

Nadella steered the company instead towards “the intelligent cloud” and to date that strategy has been successful, with impressive growth for Office 365 and Microsoft Azure.

Microsoft has announced Build 2018, in early May, I find it intriguing, given the history of Build, that Windows is not currently mentioned on the event’s home page. In the page description metadata it says:

Microsoft Build 2018, Seattle, WA May 7-9, 2018. Microsoft’s ultimate developer conference focused on cloud, artificial intelligence, mixed reality, and more.

In the main text of the page, about the only specific topics mentioned are these:

Take in keynotes by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and other visionaries behind the Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge

That sounds like a focus on Azure and AI/ML/IoT/Big Data cloud services, and on mobile and IoT devices. It is a long way removed from the original concept of Build as all about Windows and its application platform.

Windows remains important to Microsoft, and to all of us who use it day to day. Still, if you think about cutting-edge software development today, Windows desktop applications are probably not the first thing to come to mind, nor UWP for that matter.

This being the case, it does make sense for the company to focus on its cloud services at Build, and on diverse mobile platforms through what is now an amazing range of cross-platform tools in Visual Studio.

Of course there will in fact also be Windows stuff at Build, including Windows and HoloLens Mixed Reality, Cortana skills and UWP improvements.

Still, if you can only get to one big Microsoft event in the year, Ignite in September is now a bigger deal and closer to the heart of the new (or current) Microsoft.

Let me add that these Microsoft events, whether Build or PDC, have on occasion seen some stunning announcements. Examples include the unveiling of C# and the .NET Framework, the 2003 Longhorn reveal (yes it all turned to dust), Windows 7 in 2008, and Windows 8 in 2011.

I would like to think that the company still has the capacity to surprise and amaze us; but it must be admitted that the current Build pitch is rather unexciting. Google I/O, incidentally, is on at the same time.

Visual Studio Code: an official Microsoft IDE for Mac, Windows, Linux

Microsoft has announced Visual Studio Code, a cross-platform, code-oriented IDE for Windows, Mac and Linux, at its Build developer conference here in San Francisco.

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Visual Studio Code is partly based on the open source projects Omnisharp. It supports Intellisense code completion, GIT source code management, and debugging with break points and call stack.

I have been in San Francisco for the last few days and the dominance of the Mac is obvious. Sitting in a cafe in the Mission district I could see 10 Macs and no PCs other than my own Surface Pro. Some folk were coding too.

It follows that if Microsoft wants to make a go of cross-platform C#, and development of ASP.NET MVC web applications beyond the Windows developer community, then tooling for the Mac is important.

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Visual Studio Code is free and is available for download here.

The IDE will lack the rich features and templates of the full Visual Studio, but if it is fast and clean, some Visual Studio developers may be keen to give it a try as well.

Microsoft Build Sessions published: Windows Phone XAML and HTML/JS apps, new Azure APIs and more

Developing for Windows Phone is now closer to developing for the Windows 8 runtime, according to information from Microsoft’s Build sessions, just published.

Build is Microsoft’s developer conference which opens tomorrow in San Francisco.

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Building a Converged Phone and PC App using HTML and JavaScript states that “An exciting part of Windows Phone 8.1 is that you can now start building applications natively in HTML and JavaScript.”

Other sessions refer to the Common XAML UI Framework, which seems to refer to a shared UI framework for Windows Phone and WIndows 8, but using XAML rather than HTML and JavaScript.

This is in addition to Silverlight, not instead, judging by this session:

We’ve been doing a lot of work with new converged XAML app support on Windows Phone 8.1, but what about legacy Windows Phone Silverlight XAML based apps?  Come learn about all the new features we’ve enabled with Silverlight 8.1.

Microsoft has also come up with new APIs for applications that integrate with its Azure cloud platform and with Office 365. The Authentication library for Azure Active Directory lets you build both Windows and mobile applications that authenticate against Azure Active Directory, used by every Office 365 deployment. There is also talk of using Azure for Connected Devices, meaning “Internet of Things” devices using Azure services.

Some other sessions which caught my eye:

Connected Productivity Apps: building apps for the SharePoint and Office 365 platform.

What’s new in WinJS: the road ahead. XAML vs HTML/JS is a big decision for Windows developers.

Anders Hejlsberg on TypeScript

Automating Azure: “The Azure Management Libraries and Azure PowerShell Cmdlets allow this type of automation by providing convenient client wrappers around the Azure management REST API”

Authentication library for Azure Active Directory: The Active Directory Authentication Library (ADAL)

Panel discussion on desktop development: is there a future for WPF? Maybe some clues here.

Miguel de Icaza gets a session on going mobile with C# and Xamarin. I recall when de Icaza ran sessions on Mono, the open source implementation of the .NET Framework which he initiated shortly after Microsoft announced .NET itself, in nearby hotels at Microsoft events; now he is inside.

Learning from the mistakes of Azure: Mark Russinovich on what can go wrong in the cloud.

Looks like both cloud and apps for Windows Phone/Windows 8 are big themes at Build this year.

What next for Windows as Microsoft announces Build 2014?

Microsoft has announced Build 2014, its premier developer conference for Windows, April 2-4 in San Francisco.

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In his blog post on the subject, developer evangelist Steve Guggenheimer mentions the Windows 8 app platform and Xbox One, and promises that Microsoft will talk about “what’s next for Windows, Windows Phone, Windows Azure, Windows Server, Visual Studio and much more.”

How is the buzz around Microsoft right now? Here are a few things that are not so good:

  • The Windows 8 app platform continues to struggle, despite picking up slightly from its dismal launch. Most of the conversation I hear around Windows 8 looks back to Windows 7 rather than forward to the new tablet platform: will the Start menu return?
  • The decline of the PC remains in full flow, while the non-Windows mobile platforms iOS and Android continue to grow
  • Xbox One, with its focus on Kinect and family entertainment, is falling behind Sony’s PlayStation 4 in terms of which console is most desired. Sony’s cheaper price and higher resolution on games like Call of Duty Ghosts make it a better for buy for gamers who can live without Kinect

On the other hand, a few positives:

  • Microsoft’s cloud platforms Office 365 and Windows Azure are growing fast, as far as I can tell
  • Server 2012 R2 is a solid upgrade to an already strong server product, and Hyper-V is making progress versus VMWare in virtualisation
  • Windows Phone 8 is making some progress in market share, though whether it will cross the point at which it becomes important enough for companies with apps to feel they have to support it remains an open question (currently they mostly do not)

What does that mean for Build? We may of course just see more of the same: improvements to Windows 8.x, further convergence with Windows Phone and Xbox platforms, new features for Windows Server and Azure, early previews of the next Visual Studio to support the new stuff.

I wonder though whether we may also see some new directions. Microsoft is supporting Xamarin for cross-platform mobile development and it would not surprise me to see more being made of this, or possibly some new approaches, to promote the use of Microsoft’s cloud services behind apps that run on iOS and Android.

Microsoft still intends for Windows 8/Windows Phone to be a major mobile platform alongside iOS and Android but its progress in reaching that point is slow. The task of building its cloud platform seems to be going better, despite competition from the likes of Amazon and Google, and in this context deep integration with the Windows client could be as much a liability as an advantage.

It may seem perverse; but it could pay Microsoft to focus on improving how well its server offerings (and Office) work with iOS and Android, rather than pushing for Windows everywhere as it has done in the past.

Microsoft Build 2013: Love the platform?

The paradox of Microsoft: record revenue and profits, but yes, Windows 8 has been a disaster so far, and the company has lost developer and consumer mind share.

That might explain why there was no lack of availability for tickets to Build in San Francisco. With a smart PR move, Microsoft “sold out” of a limited first allocation, then made more available, and you could register right up to the day before. Attendance estimates are around 4,500.

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The atmosphere was good though, and someone remarked to me that it felt a bit like an early Mix event, Microsoft’s web and design conference back in Silverlight days.

Blue was the colour; and for me Build 2013 was a Windows 8.1 event, though attention was also given to Windows Azure and Windows Phone.

Microsoft has two goals with Windows 8.1.

One is to placate users who essentially want Windows 7.1 and have been wary, confused, or worse, in their reaction to the Windows 8 Modern (or Metro, or Windows Store) user interface.

The other is to establish a new tablet platform, something which has yet to happen despite significant numbers of Windows 8 installations out there since the launch.

There was solid progress on both these fronts at Build, though whether it was enough is of course open to debate. Windows 8.1 is a nicer experience, especially for desktop users, and the user interface feels more elegant and refined than Windows 8.0.

No matter what you may have read elsewhere though, Microsoft is not backtracking. The focus at Build was on the new app platform and its improvements. Developers I spoke to were generally happy with these. “It’s caught up with Silverlight”, one told me.

At Build 2011 and 2012 there was some disappointment among developers, that Microsoft seemed to be pushing HTML and JavaScript above C# and .NET, for its new app platform. There was a perception at Build 2013 that this is no longer the case, though C# architect Anders Hejlsberg spoke on TypeScript (which compiles to JavaScript) rather than C# at his session; and a Microsoft engineer I spoke to denied that there had been any change of direction internally; the official line is that this is developer choice.

In practice, the developer choice tends to be C#, which dominated the session examples, and there was no more gossip about Microsoft abandoning .NET.

Windows seems to be on a one-year refresh cycle now. No date has been announced, but the signs are that Windows 8.1 will follow one year after Windows 8.0, which means RTM (the release build) no later than August and machines on sale in time for the winter season.

Much was already known about Windows 8.1, so were there any surprises? The main one was the evolution of Bing. The key phrase is “Bing as a platform”.

Bing is much more than just a search engine. We’re always a platform company. As we’ve been building this great search experience, we’ve actually been building this rich platform.

said Program Manager David Robinson in this session. Bing services are not just search, but also speech recognition (as seen on Xbox) so that developers can create “natural user interfaces” with voice control, text to speech, and 2D and 3D mapping with driving directions.

The other twist on this is the new search app in Windows 8.1. The way search works in Windows 8.1 has changed quite a bit. Search within an app should no longer rely on the Charms menu, and developers are expected to put a search box into their user interface. Search in the Charms menu is a system search, that integrates local and web results. Thus, if I search for Build, I get the Build apps, local documents mentioning Build, my own photos, web results relating to the building industry, word definitions, and so on. If I search for “Event viewer”, I get the control panel applet, a Wikipedia entry, a couple of Microsoft support articles, and then a general web search with infinite scrolling to the right. If I search for a celebrity, I get a rich multimedia view.

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The search engine here is not pluggable; only Bing will work. This is smart strategic thinking, since it is at once a compelling app, an easy way to navigate Windows, and a way of building search share for Bing.

There are some details of search yet to be revealed. In particular, I asked how an app can integrate its own content into an “Everywhere” search, and was told it has yet to be announced (even though Windows 8.0 has a search contract that you would have thought would fit perfectly here).

My own experience of Windows 8.1 is positive, though since I have little difficulty with Windows 8.0 I am not a good test case as to whether it will win over those sticking with Windows 7. The Start button is mostly cosmetic, but I suspect I will find myself right-clicking it frequently to bring up the Win-X menu, now complete with Shutdown option.

Surface RT is greatly improved by the update. There is some performance gain, and the addition of Outlook to the RT desktop makes it twice as useful for businesses using Exchange or Office 365. Windows 8.1 also comes with Internet Explorer 11 with WebGL and some user interface improvements.

Microsoft does feel somewhat diminished these days, thanks to the decline of the PC and its smaller area of dominance, despite its continuing healthy financials. Can the company recover any of that ground? To do so it has to drive adoption of the tablet personality in Windows 8. Microsoft has made a poor start, but it may yet come together.

At a sparsely attended session on The Story of Bringing Nokia Music from Windows Phone to Windows 8 the Nokia Design Principles caught my attention:

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The speakers conveyed real enthusiasm for the last of these, “Love the platform”, which is something I have not often encountered in the context of Windows 8.0, especially as the first release felt rough and not-quite-ready from a developer perspective. There is no doubting its potential though, and if Microsoft can win a bit more developer love with the 8.1 release, then we may see growth. 

Microsoft Build: Windows 8.1 for developers, Visual Studio 2013, Xamarin for cross-platform

Microsoft’s Build developer conference is getting under way in San Francisco.

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Today Microsoft is expected to announce the public preview of Windows 8.1 together with technical details of what is in the latest Windows update. Sessions include What’s new in the Windows Runtime (the tablet platform in Windows 8), and what’s new in XAML (the interface design language for Windows 8) and WinJS (the interop library for apps written in HTML and JavaScript).

Gartner’s Hype Cycle for new technologies runs from the Peak of Inflated Expectations through the Trough of Disillusionment, eventually settling at the Plateau of Productivity. Inflated expectations for Windows 8 – the iPad killer – expired many months back and we are well down in the trough, with little momentum behind the Windows 8 tablet platform, OEM partners still searching for the right way to package Windows 8 and coming up with unsatisfactory and expensive hybrid creations, and iPad and Android tablets ascendant.

At this point, Microsoft needs to win over its core market, much of which is determined to stick with Windows 7, as well as injecting some life into the tablet side of Windows 8. The platform has promise, but it is fair to say that the launch has been difficult.

The advantage now is that Microsoft is in a period of incremental improvement rather than reimagining Windows, and incremental improvements are easier to pull off. More reports soon.

The schedule also includes news of Visual Studio 2013 and there is likely to be a new preview for this as well. A smoothly integrated development platform across Windows client, Windows Phone, and the Windows Azure cloud, with a dash of XBox One for game developers? Microsoft has all the ingredients but with questions about whether it is able to deliver, as it is currently losing the battle for the client (PC and devices).

One answer for C# developers hedging their bets, or just trying to take advantage of the huge iOS and Android market, is the Xamarin toolset which lets code in C# and .NET and share non-GUI code across all the most popular platforms. Xamarin hosted a large party for Microsoft-platform developers last night in San Francisco. Xamarin’s approach is winning significant support, since it ensures a native GUI on each platform while still sharing a large proportion of your code.  Mono and Xamarin founder Miguel de Icaza was there to evangelise the Xamarin tools.

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There was also a giant Jenga-like game. Here’s hoping that neither Xamarin’s nor Microsoft’s development stack looks like this.

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Microsoft’s growth areas: Azure, Server with Hyper-V, Office 365, Windows Phone

Microsoft has left slip a few figures in posts from PR VP Frank Shaw and platform evangelist Steve Guggenheimer.

Observers have tended to focus on Windows “Blue” and what is happening with Microsoft’s core client operating system, but what caught my eye was a few figures on progress in other areas.

  • Windows Azure compute usage doubled in six months
  • Windows Azure revenue growing 3X
  • Office 365 paid seats tripled year on year last quarter
  • Server 2012 Datacenter edition licenses grown 80%

A notable feature of these figures is that they are relative, not absolute. Office 365 is a relatively new product, and Windows Azure (from what I can tell, since Microsoft did not release numbers) performed rather badly until its renaissance in early 2011 under Satya Nadella, Scott Guthrie and others – see here for more about this). It is easy to post big multiples if you are starting from a small base.

This is real progress though and my guess is that growth will continue to be strong. I base this not on Microsoft’s PR statements, but on my opinion of Office 365 and Windows Azure, both of which make a lot of sense for Microsoft-platforms organisations migrating to the cloud.

Why the growth in Server 2012 Datacenter? This one is easy. Datacenter comes with unlimited licenses for Windows Server running in Hyper-V virtual machines on that server, so it is the best value if you want to the freedom to run a lot of VMs, especially if some of those VMs are lightly used and you can afford to overcommit the processors (you need a new license for every two physical processors you install).

Here’s another figure that Shaw puts out:

Windows Phone has reached 10 percent market share in a number of countries, and according to IDC’s latest report, has shipped more than Blackberry in 26 markets and more than iPhone in seven.

Spin, of course. This February report from IDC gives Windows Phone just a 2.6% market share in the 4th quarter of 2012. Still, it did grow by 150% year on year, thanks no doubt to Nokia’s entry into the market.

My personal view is that Windows Phone will also continue to grow. I base this on several things:

  • I see more Windows Phones on the high street and in people’s hands, than was the case a year ago.
  • Windows Phone 8 is decent and the user interface is more logical and coherent than Android, which mitigates a lack of apps.
  • Nokia is bringing down the price for Windows Phone devices so they compare well with Android in the mid-market below Apple and the premium Android devices.
  • There is some momentum in Windows Phone apps, more so than for Windows 8. Guggenheimer notes that downloads from the Phone Store now exceed 1 billion.

The context of the above is not so good for Microsoft. It is coming from behind in both cloud and mobile and the interesting question would what kind of market share it is likely to have in a few years time: bigger than today, perhaps, but still small relative to Amazon in cloud and Apple and Android in mobile.

There is also the Windows 8 problem. Many prefer Windows 7, and those who use Windows 8, use it like Windows 7, mostly ignoring the tablet features and new Windows Runtime personality.

How will Microsoft fix that? Along with leaked builds of Windows Blue, Microsoft has announced the next Build conference, which will be in San Francisco June 26-28, 2013 (I am glad this will not be on the Microsoft campus again, since this venue has not worked well). There is a lot to do.

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