Tuesday, 3 March 2009

March News

This month sees a bag full of Silverlight news. Silverlight is Microsoft’s technology for building cross platform “Rich Internet Applications” and is delivered via a small browser plug-in (similar to the way Adobe Flash works). It provides developers with an subset of the .NET Framework that will run in several different web browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari) and several different platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux). Silverlight’s cross platform compatibility and ease of development using the familiar .NET platform makes it a compelling solution for delivering applications to both the enterprise and public internet. There are already some large scale, high profile, implementations. Silverlight powers Photosynth, which I talked about last month.

Microsoft News

·         During a mid-quarter update to investors, Steve Ballmer announced that Office 14 (the next version of the flagship productivity suite) will not be available until next year. He also admitted that the open source “OpenOffice” product had forced Microsoft to lower its world-wide pricing for Office. The release of Office 14 will be accompanied by new versions of SharePoint and Exchange. Ballmer also talked about a low cost version of Windows Server, called “Windows Server Foundation Edition”, which is aimed at OEMs who make cheap hardware. This is most likely to help Microsoft penetrate the hosting and web server environments still dominated by Linux. More information on Windows Server Foundation Edition can be found here.

·         Microsoft held an MSDN Developer Conference in San Francisco during the week beginning 23rd February. One major announcement was that Microsoft will provide full SQL Server capabilities to Azure though there is some confusion on exactly what this entails. Another thing that did come to light was that Surface, Microsoft’s interactive table top display technology also mentioned last month, will be available in Windows 7 in that Windows 7 will have multi-touch technology and the same APIs. Little fan-fare has been made about this news but it is significant – this will take Surface adoption to the mainstream.

·         One new announcement is expected at the MIX09 event in Las Vegas (18-20th March) and that is details of Silverlight 3.0. We already know that Silverlight 3.0 will provide major media enhancements (including H.264 video support, 3D effects and hardware acceleration) in addition to richer data binding and more built-in controls.

·         Tim Sneath (Director, Client Platform Evangelism) counters some PR regarding Adobe’s “Air” product (a direct competitor to Silverlight). A follow-up blog details some large and high profile Silverlight projects including the web client for AOL Mail which prove Silverlight’s suitability for the main stream.

·         Continuing the Silverlight news, Moonlight (the open-source implementation of Silverlight) has had an official Version 1.0 release. Moonlight enables Silverlight on the Linux platform. In addition, Microsoft has provided the licensed media codecs for Silverlight compatible media as a free download for all Linux users. More information on Moonlight can be found in the official FAQ, the official press release and The Register’s take.

·         Silverlight is also compatible with Google’s Chrome browser. Though unofficial at the moment, the smart money says Microsoft will support this eventually. This will give Silverlight compatibility to all browsers that have a notable market share.

·         At the Mobile World Congress 2009 event in Barcelona, Microsoft officially announced Windows Mobile 6.5 and the My Phone and Market Place applications mentioned in last month’s news. My Phone provides a free on-line back-up service for Windows Mobile users. Market Place is a web site which ISV’s can use to sell their Windows Mobile applications, similar to Apple’s AppStore for the iPhone.

·         Even though Windows Mobile 6.5 has only just been announced, news is starting to filter through about the next release, Windows Mobile 7. It is due next year and will see further convergence of technologies in the Windows and Windows Mobile platforms.

·         Microsoft Office Labs takes a look at the future with a video montage of some prototypes floating around at Microsoft.

·         Developers should look at the latest MSDN Flash for details of upcoming web casts, events and new downloads. You can subscribe to the MSDN Flash email.

Community News                                                                                                                                       

·         The ALT.NET community has announced a conference in the north of England.

·         The CodeBetter website now hosts an instance of TeamCity to provide Continuous Integration for open source projects like NHibernate. Unfortunately I can’t find a “build output” location.

Articles & Blogs

·         Scott Hanselman on Moonlight.

·         A look at VS2010 with WPF front end.

·         The ASP.NET MVC tutorials have been updated, this technology has reached Release Candidate.

·         Microsoft have also documented the steps to build a sample ASP.NET MVC application.

·         A complete overview of testing in Visual Studio 2008.

·         Martin Fowler updates his “Technical Debt” article.

Downloads and Tools

·         The Release Candidate for Service Pack 2 for Windows Vista has been released to TechNet and MSDN Subscribers. The final version will be available in Q3 2009.

·         Silverlight 2 GDR1 - http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/resources/install.aspx.

·         Live Framework Jan CTP - http://neuronspark.com/code/live-framework-tools/.

·         Azure Services Training Kit - February Update - http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=413E88F8-5966-4A83-B309-53B7B77EDF78&displaylang=en.

·         JQuery Version 1.3.2 has been released. You can use this for intelli-sense in Visual Studio. There are examples for using JQuery ASP.NET MVC.

·         Rhino Mocks for Silverlight - http://ayende.com/Blog/archive/2009/02/04/rhino-mocks-3.5-ndash-silverlight.aspx.

·         Windows Developer Power Tools - http://www.windevpowertools.com/default.aspx (a list of useful developer tools).

·         Fiddler - http://www.fiddlertool.com/fiddler/ (allows you to inspect HTTP requests/responses on your local machine).

And finally...

·         Google Latitude.

·         At last, a .NET tool converted to Java (rather than JSomething becoming NSomething).

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