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Microsoft acquired Sunrise Calendar app

tumblr_inline_n68slp4lPx1qc3ie2Microsoft is continuing its cross-platform productivity applications push. For a long time Microsoft was developing applications only for its own operating system (Windows) with an exception of MacOS/OSX (which was likely due to monopoly accusations) . But recently things are changing in a big way. Microsoft could no longer ignore extremely popular mobile OSes like Android and iOS, or it was risking to lose a market share in productivity applications where it was an undisputed leader for decades. Recently, Microsoft released a number of its popular applications for iOS and Android, including Office, OneDrive, OneNote, etc.

However, sometimes it makes more business sense to buy a best-of-the-breed application and re-release it under its own branding than to build something from scratch in-house.  That was the case with another recent Microsoft’s acquisition – Acompli email app which Microsoft recently re-released as Outlook application.

Sunrise Calendar is a very popular calendar application for iOS and Android. Yesterday Microsoft announced that it’s acquiring Sunrise Calendar for more than $100 millions. Sunrise Calendar is a beautifully designed mobile calendar application which integrates with Exchange, Google and iCloud and also can connect to other third-party applications like SongKick and TripIt!.

My prediction is that Microsoft is going to keep Sunrise Calendar as a separate application (maybe renamed into Microsoft Calendar) and also may integrate it’s technology into mobile Office and Outlook applications (new Microsoft Outlook for iOS/Android also have a calendar view, but it’s not as advanced as Sunrise).

Universal, Touch-Friendly Office Released for Windows 10

Windows 10 maybe not be coming until later this year, but Microsoft is busy at work building application for it, including probably the most important consumer application – Microsoft Office.

Yesterday Microsoft released early preview builds of Universal (meaning that it will run on any flavor of Windows 10 – desktop or mobile) Office applications for Windows 10.

Excel_UI_900x530Applications could be downloaded now from Windows 10 Store:
Word Preview
Excel Preview
PowerPoint Preview

It took Microsoft a while to completely revamp Office application to make them touch-friendly. When Windows 8 was released in 2012 it provided a full touch support and was optimized to run on touch screen computers. The Office 2013 however wasn’t exactly touch friendly. Sure, it’s possible to use finger when working with Windows desktop UI, but this experience is not exactly enjoyable.

Microsoft Surface RT which was a first Microsoft’s foray into computer manufacturing bundled a free copy of Office 2013 which was rebuilt to operate on ARM CPU, but … still didn’t support Modern UI. I guess desktop Office was the only reason for adding desktop mode to Windows RT.

In 2014 Microsoft finally released touch-friendly Office for iPad and then later for iPhone and Android. And now a full-featured Office with Modern UI is coming to Windows 10 as a first class citizen.

Upcoming Webinar: Navigating Digital Transformation in 2015

If you’re a frequent reader of our Microsoft blog, you may have read Rich Woods’ blog post last week, Four Microsoft Platforms and Products for Digital Transformation. And if you didn’t read his post, you might be wondering what we’re doing talking about digital transformation on a blog that focuses on all things Microsoft. Rich explained:

Digital Transformation taken as a whole is about more than just outreach and interaction. It’s about embracing new ways of working—working social, working mobile, powered by the cloud and not inhibited by archaic notions of a firewall—that’s how you enable your own users to move faster, work smarter, and just be more effective versions of themselves. And Microsoft is all about that. 

While the Alimeter Group defines digital transformation as “The realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touch-point in the customer experience lifecycle,” most companies’ goals go beyond improving engagement with customers, to include more effective collaboration internally and improving efficiency overall.Digital-Transformation-Webinar

And this is where the Microsoft stack shines – Azure, Office 365 and Yammer, and Dynamics CRM. Rich also reminds us not to forget Sitecore, Microsoft ISV Partner of the Year for 2014. Sure, it’s not a Microsoft product, but Sitecore’s CMS, DMS and Customer Experience Platform are built on the .NET Framework and run on Microsoft infrastructure.

In the Alimeter report, 88 percent of those surveyed answered “yes” when asked if their company was embarking on a digital transformation initiative in 2014.

If you too are planning your next steps, Perficient is kicking off a webinar series next week, on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 1 p.m. CT, focused on creating a solid foundation for your digital transformation strategy. Throughout 2015, the series will touch on many aspects of your business including cloud, customer experience, eCommerce, integration, CRM, digital marketing, mobile, collaboration, analytics and Big Data solutions.

Sign up today for Digital Transformation in 2015: Laying the Groundwork for Success. Read the rest of this post »

Anglebrackets Conference – Day 2

I have been fortunate to attend this year’s Anglebrackets conference in Las Vegas. (See my coverage of Day 1 here.)

The following are my notes from the Day 2 keynote, The Integration of Technologies with Office 365. The speaker: Rob Leffers, the director of program management for the Office 365 apps team.

– Our vision
– What’s next
– Futures
– Calls to action

– Office
– Visual Studio
– Azure

Connect to Office 365 services
– Users and groups
– Files
– Mail
– Calendar
– Contacts

Build using an open platform
– Azure
– .Net
– Android
– iOS
– Html5
– Xamarin

Robust Office 365 APIs
– designed for openness and flexibility
– Consistent development platform
– Powering a world of devices

Read the rest of this post »

Anglebrackets Conference – Day 1 Keynote

I’m lucky to be able to attend this year’s Anglebrackets conference in Las Vegas and I’ll try to cover the conference in this Perficient blog as much as I can. Today was the opening day of the conference, which actually consisted only of the opening keynote. The speaker was Scott Guthrie, Executive VP of Cloud and Enterprise group at Microsoft. He was wearing his signature red shirt. His keynote was titled, “The Cloud For Modern Business.”

image_dbbecd7b-9298-4dde-993a-acd9d9461515The following are my notes from his keynote:

Mobile first, cloud first.

Why cloud? Cloud enables:

1. Quick and easy deployment.
– No need to wait for provisioning. Demo: database deployed in Azure in few clicks. Sharepoint server farm deployed in few seconds.

2. Elastic capacity.
– no need to buy infrastructure
– unexpected load easily managed
– global coverage with unprecedented scale
Example: XBox One game Titanfall is completely cloud powered. 200,000 VMs were spun off on launch day.

3. Pay only for what you use
– no upfront costs
– no long-term commitment
– no wasted capacity
Example: slide with a typical web site usage pattern (a saw) illustrating unused capacity. Azure allows to avoid that by allowing automatic scaleup and down.

4. Enable new business value
– engage customers with web and mobile
– big data analytics
– machine learning Read the rest of this post »

SPC 2014: SharePoint for Any Screen Size, a Responsive Approach

Eric Overfield (@ericoverfield) and Rita Zhang gave an informative session. It was chock full of examples and example code.  I couldn’t grab the code examples but a lot of the best practices and screenshots from live sites I was able to grab.  They started with the three pillars of Responsive Design:


Fluid Grid

Must use a fluid grid. By keeping the grid approach, users come to expect a common pattern. The grid must be able to resize itself, hence the fluid grid

  • Large would be three columns
  • Tablet would use two
  • Smart phone would use one.

Flexible Media

Be flexible with what images and images sizes you use.  You would also use proportional text

Media Query

Query your media based on the size.  You might use the same image but cropped.

How to Implement

  • Build and code a mobile interface first
    • helps you control some resources.  You start by optimizing the resources for lowest bandwidth, etc.
    • It also forces you to concentrate on the content.  Smaller interface forces the prioritization of that content
    • She gave an example of doing the smart phone viewport wireframe first.   It did help to see it there first because you prioritized what you wanted to appear and where.
  • Note: IE 8 is not mobile first friendly


He showed a demo of CSS  with a setting with the following logic

  • for anything greater than 992 px then
    • display a background image in this location with this width, height, and margin

Navigation in Mobile First

Read the rest of this post »

SharePoint Conference 2014 Keynote: Working With IT Professionals

Micorosft wants to partner with you.  It’s about trust, control, and the cloud onramp.

Platform changes

  • A Microsoft partnership is about trust, control & cloud onrampDeliver rock solid platform whether it’s on-premise or in the cloud
    • Will do a 2015 release of SharePoint and Exchange
    • But Cloud remains a key focus
    • Stats
      • 250K responses per second
      • 400K cores
      • 400 Petabytes of storage
        • 20% growth in one month
  • Deploying new features online every single week around the world
    • Last quarter, did the release process with 99.98% availability
    • Investment in security, privacy, and compliance
      • Will have 1 TB site collections using the storage service (based on Azure)
      • In the tenancy, infinite scale (to lots of applause)
      • Stress that this is your data.  Don’t use it for any other service
      • Working on HIPPA, ISSO, FiSMA, etc.  Want to support these standards so all can move to the cloud as a trusted platform
      • Updated rights management
      • Released multi-factor authentication
      • Increased reporting and compliance portal
      • Cloud first then on premise
      • Demo by Michal Gideoni
        • Compliance
          • New unified compliance center
          • For SharePoint, Exchange, and Lync
          • Let’s you do eDiscovery with custom queries.
            • Setup search
            • Refine it
            • Search it in place
            • Real time results
      • Once found, you can act on docs, etc.
      • Can also see who viewed the items that come up as part of the eDiscovery search
        • For example, see that only HR viewed passport numbers
      • Can configure audit settings
  • Recent update to IT controls
    • Multi-factor authentication
    • Another layer of security
    • Can use admin center via configuration
      • Turn it on for all or selected set of users
      • Works with user in Office 365 and for federated identities

Cloud on ramp

  • Latest Service Pack 1 for on Premise has hybrid cloud options to push to just Yammer or just One Drive
  • New One Drive for Business stand-alone offer
    • Get hybrid configuration if you want
    • Rich document sync
    • Office is built in on Windows, ipad, etc
    • 25G for each user in the organization. Great value

MVC controller actions vs Web API vs SignalR – what to use?

Over the course of a last few years Microsoft unleashed two new web development frameworks: Web API and SignalR, both are suitable for asynchronous communications between web client and web server.  And, of course, we still have MVC controller actions that can be used for asynchronous communications too and can accept and return JSON objects. So, what’s the difference between these three frameworks and what are the best patterns and practices for using these?

communication 1. First, the MVC controller actions. ASP.NET MVC framework is a layer on top of good old ASP.NET and it was originally built support and traditional synchronous web development architecture where controller action is generating HTML as a response to HTTP requests and accepting HTTP form posts when the whole page is reloaded.  However, it’s also possible to call a controller action asynchronously from javascript passing JSON object as a parameter and getting JSON in response.
As MVC is built on top of ASP.NET it inherits ASP.NET paradigms like session support. HTTP protocol is stateless by it’s definition, however ASP.NET is supporting user session state.  Being statefull also means thread affinity.

2. Web API is looking very similar to MVC: there are controllers,  routes and filters. However, Web API is tracing it’s roots from the different source: WCF. Because of that, Web API doesn’t have a dependency from ASP.NET and could potentially be hosted on a web server which is different from IIS or could be self-hosted in application. Web API is stateless, asynchronous (Task<T> could be used as a return type for actions) and there are no thread affinity. Web API is very aware of HTTP verbs (like GET, PUT, DELETE, etc) and so it’s completely restful. In fact, the default routing setup for Web API doesn’t include action into the route.

Read the rest of this post »

New Microsoft CEO and the ripple effects

This morning Microsoft announced that Satya Nadella will be taking over as the new CEO.  Satya Nadella is the former head of the Cloud and Enterprise division at Microsoft.  The last few years Microsoft has been focused on providing a better cloud solution.  They have rapidly iterated on Windows Azure, SharePoint Online, Office 365, Xbox Live and the latest, Visual Studio Online.  All of these services did not exist 3-4 years ago!  This is in addition to former-CEO Steve Ballmer stating that Microsoft was transitioning to a Devices and Services company.  The hiring of a cloud computing expert as the next CEO boldly states where Microsoft is placing its bets.  Even more telling is that Satya Nadella’s tenure as CEO is effective immediately; meaning Steve Ballmer is going into early retirement.  He was not scheduled to step down until August 2014.

New Microsoft CEO and the Ripple EffectsWhat about the consumer?  Building a first class cloud service is great but you need people to use the services provided.  You can argue the enterprise business will provide users.  That is true to an extent.  The enterprise is becoming more ‘Bring your own device (BYOD)’ friendly, meaning Microsoft still needs the consumer to purchase their devices.  They can not flourish on the enterprise alone.   Nadella does not possess a strong portfolio for the consumer space.  He is a cloud expert which puts him on the back-end of product design.  His cloud expertise empowers those devices but does not put them in consumers hands.

Enter Bill Gates.  Bill Gates was asked by Nadella to take a larger role at Microsoft as Technology Adviser.  Gates also stepped down as Chairman of the Microsoft Board Satya Nadella Quoteimmediately in order to submerge himself in the new role.  Some may argue that Gates is also not a product expert.  While that may be true in some respects, his tenure leading Microsoft was anything but a failure.  Gates has also had the unique point of view of sitting idly on the sidelines during times when technology was influencing culture the most.  The rise of the iPod put gigabytes of music in everyone’s pocket.  Microsoft’s attempt at a competitor with the Zune were unsuccessful.  Windows Mobile was once a prominent figure in the mobile computing space; then the iPhone and Android transformed the industry.  Microsoft had to play catch up (and still is) in the fastest growing technology market in history.  Observing the company he founded lose out to its direct competitors will provide ample motivation to recapture consumer excitement.

The partnership of Gates and Nadella is exciting for many reasons.  It brings the future aspirations of the company (Cloud/Nadella) together with the founder who build it up into a global power (Gates).  It will certainly provide a boost for Microsoft and reaffirms it’s goal of becoming a Device and Services company.  Now they have people in place, leading the company, who can be considered experts in each of those facets.

Coin — One card to rule them all?

What is Coin?  Coin is a brilliant new technology that allows users to consolidate all of their cards into a single Coin card.  A Coin card is not your traditional credit card.  It is an electronic device the size of a credit card with a programmable magnetic strip.  Any card with a magnetic strip whether that be a debit/credit card, gift card or preferred customer card, can be put on your Coin card.

The Coin card works over Bluetooth and is paired with your phone.  Using your phone and an adapter supplied by Coin, a user swipes their cards which gets loaded into your Coin account.  When a debit card is neededCoin Credit Card instead of a credit card, make the selection on your phone.  The Coin app will send the information to your card and it will be ready for use with that specific card information.  Loose your phone or your card?  Have your wallet stolen?  That is OK.  Coin has security configurations that will deactivate the card automatically if it loses communication with your phone for too long.  It sounds as if Coin has thought a lot about security, at least from the physical security point of view.  What about digitally?

We live in a world where data breach is common.  A new story about a large company being hacked with customer information stolen seems to happen semi-regularly.  Many times the stolen data is not encrypted and this non-encrypted data contains anything from credit card information to email addresses.  Is it safe to put all of my banking, credit and preferred customer information in a single location?  It is a risky move to digitally putting all your eggs in one basket.  If Coin was hacked and your data was stolen what would happen?  It is essentially the same thing as having your entire wallet stolen.

Coin appears to be prepared for this.  Coin does not state what user data is stored with them but they do state all user data in the cloud, on the mobile app or on the card itself  is encrypted using at least 128-bit encryption.  In addition any information transferred via Bluetooth is also encrypted so personal data could not be used if it were captured during transmission.  This means that if the data is stolen from the cloud, phone or card it is virtually worthless without the decryption key.

Coin has put the right foot forward in their vision of plastic card consolidation.  The strong encryption shows they are serious about data security.  With the configurable lockout and deactivation features they are making every effort to physically secure the device from theft or being lost.  The technology being used is not new but the way it is being used is both new and unique.  If Coin is as secure as they claim and the concept takes off expect the popularity to grow exponentially along with the copy cats.  The card itself is still in pre-order and is set to be released this summer.  You can find out more about Coin here.