Build Day One Recap and Analysis

Day one at Build brought a lot of anticipated announcements with a great mix of surprises and totally awesome demo’s.

The main overall push was the One Microsoft, in essence Microsoft has managed to bring all of their eco-systems into sync, the bottom line developer code can be used and reused across Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and Xbox One. While this may not seem a major thing to happen and to some a question of why it wasn’t like this to start with, either way it means that the entry for corporate customers to deliver Windows and Windows Phone applications is now MUCH lower and I predict the support costs will be much lower as well.


So what were these announcements ?


Windows Phone 8.1

The wait for Windows Phone 8.1 is nearly over (next Wednesday for Developers, carrier dependant for mortals)

Lock Screen – the lock screen has been opened up by a new set of API’s, these API’s are not public yet, but some trusted developers will be producing a first round of non Microsoft lock screen experiences. I have always said that one of the great things Microsoft do, is to open up the platform to allow developers to hook in using rich and well tested API’s and the results of the Lock Screen efforts look well worth while.

Nokia – Nokia announced the 630 and 635 (dual sim and 4G) cost effective devices and the new flagship phone the 930 which I hope at some point soon I will be able to review.

APPX – Windows Phone now supports the AppX format.

Cortana – the singularly most anticipated feature on Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft’s new Personal Assistant. Microsoft have gone above and beyond with Cortana, the expected Natural Language recognition is supplemented with knowledge of past actions and a wealth of data from Bing. Microsoft are allowing developers to provide data to Cortana to provide a seamless cross application assistant. Jen Taylor who voiced Cortana in Halo will be the voice we will all come to know and love. As an interesting side note, Microsoft had planned follow its standard policy of cool code names leading to very dull release names, but after a public petition the code name was kept and i think it will help a lot.

Enterprise – with Cortana being the most anticipated feature, Enterprise grade features are the most needed on the platform and Microsoft have delivered on the Enterprise vision with an easy to manage, easy to engage secure model for Enterprise working. Enterprises now can choose a phone based on features and also allow BYOD, once enrolled into the Enterprise, IT managers can control which applications are used and how they are used with some fine grain control. Enterprises can deploy their own applications out without the need for store ingestion and if the device is removed from the Enterprise, all settings, applications and secure data are wiped from the unit. Other Enterprise features such as VPN round off the offering nicely.

Nice Bits – Windows Phone 8.1 now has the ability to project the screen either by Miracast (630 and 1520 only) or via USB to another display or projector to allow Demonstrations Smile

Windows 8

Windows 8.1 Update 1 (8.1.1 to upset Microsoft Marketing people) is now available for developers and next week for Mortals and I urge you to get it on your machine as soon as possible. Many people were saying this is how Windows 8 should have been launched, I kind of see their point as it is very rounded but I don’t think Microsoft could have ended up directly with 8.1.1 without 8.

The changes are varied but the most noticeable is the support for right mouse click to get context menus, yes they are back. close X on windows store apps is understandable but i think a mistake

The ability to go straight to the desktop again I think is actually a retro step but ….

For enterprises a new Enterprise compatibility mode (IE8 mode to you and me) is now available to help enterprises move forward.

A final nod is that Store applications can now be pinned to the desktop task bar.

Xbox One

The announcements on Xbox One were for the future but were mainly around the final push to synchronise the Microsoft Platforms.

Universal Applications

So this is the big one, updates to Visual Studio 2013 Update 2(RC) allows developers to jointly target Windows Phone and Windows in the same project, with amazing changes to the base controls one app can be built for both or have specific code/Xaml for each platform.

Now that Windows Phone supports AppX we are now able to deliver one application for Phone and Windows ( you might not want to in all cases )


So A great day and a great future for the Windows platform, now looking forward to Day 2 and the joys of Azure and Visual Studio.







Mix 11 delivers a slew of interesting updates across the board

across the two keynotes of the 2011 Microsoft have demonstrated and released a

IE10 Preview is now out, it has a nice set of enhanced features (faster etc). more importantly Microsoft are continuing with dev preview and a sensible cadence of 8-12 weeks, get it here

The ASP.NET MVC 3 Tooling Update which contains lots of new features including Modernizr a JavaScript library that delivers auto down grade browser support get it here 

Silverlight 5 Beta is now out, check out its features here get it here also the CHM is available here remember to Service Pack both Visual Studio 2010 and Expression Web before trying out the new tools.

A new version of expression blend for SL 5 is also available here

On Phone 7 and beyond Mango the next version of Windows Phone 7 was formally announced with a great set of new features. A release of Mango is expected in May in emulation form. Hopefully developers will also get access on real hardware earlier to allow development or so tweets from the team suggest.

The new emulator allows screen shots to be taken. There was some anger at reports that mango would not allow access to the gyroscope, which is quite understandable as Windows Phone 7 does not have a gyroscope, however Mango will allow access to a gyroscope if fitted to the phone (new Mango issue Phones).

New features

  • “Multitasking” (fast app switching and file transfer) and Background Agents
  • Phone Integration . The Live Tiles and libraries.
  • Access to the Compass, Gyro(if mango phone), camera and on phone database.
  • IE9 and Silverlight 4
  • Applications can be both XNA and Silverlight (similar to Silverlight5)
  • Access to contacts and calendar
  • Performance tooling


Bill Clinton@WWPC

WWPC2010 049

It must be said that Microsoft has provided me with some of the most memorable and sometimes surreal opportunities in my life. Today was most certainly one of those occasions. I was privileged to see former President Bill Clinton deliver a powerful and passionate speech about the world in which we live and the work that he is doing to help. His message was one of realism and hope, kindness and practicality, stark warning and insight. A portion of Bill’s speech focused on partnering by encouraging businesses to help people and other business, even though helping other businesses grow might not always make immediate sense to a hard nosed business leader.

The speech hit me quite hard and it made me very feel proud of the social aspect the Black Marble has been treading for many years and our continued support the business, professional and development communities in the UK and Ireland

Rest assured that Black Marble will continue and expand its social commitment to groups such as BizSpark and WebSpark over the following year


The Taste of Coca Cola

I am nearly back up and running after Mix in Vegas, I managed to dislocate my shoulder at the end of the trips (show girls are heavier than they look). During the visit, Lauren and I revisited the Coca Cola shop/bottle on the strip to retry the taste of Coca Cola.

The Winners were:

Inca Cola – Peru

Sunfill Mint – India

Stoney Ginger Beer – Africa

Sunfill Blackcurrent – Mauritius

Nestea Peach – Spain

Kinley Lemon – England ( Laurens taste not mine , more importantly I have never seen Kinley Lemon and I think it is made up for the taste of Coca Cola)

Fanta Kolita – Costa Rica

Smart Apple – China

Lauren also liked Beverly from Italy but hid her delight with fake retching sounds just to keep it to herself.

Remembering that the Casinos are trying to make Vegas a Pepsi town, we remembered to stock up Cherry Coke at Walgreens on the way back.

for more information about Coke around the world look at virtual vender @


The Joy of Access

Well the title says it all, a sentence I thought I would never utter but its true, Access is great, specifically Access Services in SharePoint. We have been deep and dirty with Access Services in SharePoint for sometime, before it was announced getting some demo’s built of our planned release products based on SharePoint 2010.

When Andy and I were at the SharePoint 2009 conference and we had a chat with Ryan McMinn and you can see some of it here on Channel9’s The Access Show.

You will find quite a few of the Black Marble guys blogging on Access services over the next year.


Sharepoint 2010

A contingent of the Black Marble staff will be heading to Las Vegas in less than two weeks to attend the Microsoft SharePoint 2009 Conference. if you are going please look us up, I will be presenting on a subject jet to be announced so keep tuned.



I'll be at SPC09

BizTalk 2009 Performance Webcast

At 9.00pm GMT, Ewan Fairweather will be running a webcast on Performance of BizTalk 2009 both on Hyper-V and Physical Deployments.

Register for the upcoming TechNet Webcast: BizTalk Server 2009 Performance on Hyper-V and Physical Deployments (Level 300)

for those of you who don’t know Ewan he co-authored the successful Professional BizTalk Server 2006 (Wrox,Press 2007) and has written many white papers for Microsoft including the "Microsoft BizTalk Server Performance Optimization Guide and has been the technical editor on other fine Wrox Press books.


AIC 2009

Black Marble was down at AIC yesterday, not only were we proud to sponsor such an event but we also ran some sessions and breakouts.

Thanks to everybody who attended sessions I was involved in.

For those of you who attended the discussion on Architecting Quality, I thought it was a good session with a set of fairly solid outcomes

i) Good reliable tooling is essential, but it should not be the answer to everything

ii) Communication between people is the biggest problem, again tooling has a part to play in making that easier but people skills are key

iii) Don’t just plan to drive quality for a fixed process start to end , make sure that you can revisit and change earlier assumptions and then move forward again.

I was really happy to see so many people attend my Oslo overview session, I offered to add some slides with notes in and that should be up early next week. After the session I managed to chat to quite a few delegates and I realised that I was talking more about the potential of Oslo in the future, rather than what it can do now. I think that this comes from the general point that asking the question ‘what is Oslo’ produces the answer of ‘a framework’ and people aren’t great at understanding a framework without some initial concrete examples. After a few examples people begin to broaden their scope and work out new scenarios themselves. So once I have some videos sorted I have offered to write up usage scenarios for Oslo as well.

As promised in my Oslo Session and my demo, I will be recording the demo, to make the process faster I will be putting up the demo in parts.

Again apologies for the VPC failure during the Quadrant demo, I will have a video up soon of that demo.

I also had the chance to catch up with Charles Young who I hadn’t seen for a while, which was great.

I really enjoyed AIC despite being fairly unwell, but the downside is that I seem to come away with more work than when I started.

And finally a big thanks to Matt Deacon and the AIC crowd for producing a really good day ( with great guacamole :))



I recommend a look at Hatay’s Session on the AIC site, until then check out his video on Channel 9

I maintain a set of up to date list of useful links for Oslo Here

Architect Insight Conference 2009

I will be speaking at the AIC on the 8th of May on Modelling with Oslo for Architects. There are some truly great speakers at the event however I have just head that it is already full.

I hope to see some of you there



Top Architects , Top Conference , Top Speakers

The 4th annual Architect Insight Conference has just been announced and this year I am happy that Black Marble is helping make it happen.

I will be presenting on Microsoft’s Vision of modelling using “M” , I think M has a huge future in architecture and while it is only available in it base level , it is important to understand the potential.

I look forward to seeing everyone down in London.


Microsoft Architect Conference
May 8th, Microsoft Offices Cardinal Place, London