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Ignite 2015 Recap – Top 3 Sessions to Replay

ignite mainWelcome back from a great Ignite Conference! By now, I hope everyone knows that the conference recordings are posted to channel9, a section of MSDN. Microsoft does a great job of recording and publishing all of this content quickly, its pretty awesome.

One of my biggest challenges at the conference was knowing which session to pick. There were 3-6 sessions at any given time that I wanted to go to. All week it was like that, crazy.

This year, Microsoft added “foundational keynote” sessions. Sadly, most of them were on Monday and over-lapped each other. I went back and downloaded the videos and they are all amazing, filled with product name changes, roadmap discussions, and a very transparent look at Microsoft’s Cloud Strategy. Read the rest of this post »

Top 10 Announcements from Build 2015 Keynote on Day 1

The 2015 BUILD Conference kicked off today, and today’s keynote was packed full of TONS of announcements and new information. Some of these things are going to be released sometime this year, but some of it has also been released to be available today! Even though you can watch the Build 2015 Day 1 Keynote anytime online, I thought I’d compress it down to the points I think are the most significant.

Keep in mind, this isn’t a full list of everything announced. Honestly, you have to watch the keynote to get everything.

Visual Studio Code for OSX / Linux / Windows

Visual Studio Code Announcement
This is exactly what it looks like, a lite version of Visual Studio that runs on ANY operating system you want. As of today, Visual Studio isn’t only on Windows anymore.

Visual Studio Code can be downloaded today, here:

Windows Holographic Platform


The Windows Holographic Platform is the platform behind the hardware that is HoloLens; Microsoft’s Augmented Reality glasses/headset. This is some super innovative technology that has the potential to fundamentally transform the way we use computers. The HoloLens was first announced a few months back, but today Microsoft shed a little more light on the technology surrounding it:

  1. HoloLens applications are built as Universal Windows Apps and distributed through the Windows Store
  2. HoloLens is stand alone and doesn’t require a phone or PC to use
  3. Any Universal Windows App can be placed / overlaid on your wall, refrigerator, or what ever you want within your space

Universal Windows Apps = 1 Platform & 1 Binary


Universal Windows App will allow for developers to build a single application and distribute that application as a single binary that will run on any device that runs Windows 10; including: phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, Xbox, HoloLens and IoT (Internet of Things) devices.

Universal Apps built with Web, .NET, Win32, Java, C++ or Objective-C


This one is a handful of awesome! The tooling for building Universal Windows Apps will support the ability to write Universal Windows Apps with .NET, Win32, C++, Java, Objective-C and web technologies (html/javascript). You’ll be able to share code between Android and/or iOS with your Universal Windows Apps!

Web Apps as Universal Windows Apps

Web apps will be able to be registered in the Windows Store so that they run on Windows 10 as if they are a native Universal Windows App.

Android App Support

Windows 10 will have a Android based sub-system that will allow for Android apps to be packaged up and distributes through the Windows Store. This is to make it extremely simple to take an existing Android app or Android Java code and reuse it to target the Windows 10 Platform.

One thing to note about the Android sub-system is that it will run the apps within a sandboxed environment, so the system can be kept safe and secure.

Windows Store for Business


The Windows Store will be able to be customized by companies and schools who wish to customize the apps listed.

Windows Phone as Desktop Replacement

Functionality was announced with a demo of using a Windows 10 Phone as a desktop computer by connecting an HDMI monitor/tv with Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Universal Windows Apps run on the phone as normal, but when you connect a monitor/keyboard/mouse you can use the apps as if you’re on a desktop computer.

Microsoft Edge Browser


The Microsoft Edge Browser was announced as the official name of the new web browser from Microsoft that was formerly known as Project Spartan. This is a browser that is “built for doing” by integrating built-in note taking and sharing. The Edge browser will also include support for Browser Extensions built with standards based JavaScript and HTML.

New Azure SQL Database Features


There are a few new features being introduced to Azure SQL Databases:


This was a very exciting day to kick start a very exciting week for Microsoft and the Windows platform! There is so much more in the Build 2015 Day 1 Keynote than I could list here. If you’re interested, I encourage you to go watch/listen to the full keynote over on Channel 9.


Image Credits: The images above were taken from screenshots of the keynote video.

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 »