Mar 08

Microsoft releases Visual Studio 2017

Microsoft has announced the General Availability of Visual Studio 2017. Key features include streamlined cloud development, built-in tools providing integration with .NET Core, Azure applications, microservices and Docker containers. The inclusion of Xamarin facilitates the creation of mobile apps for Android, iOS and Windows using improved debugging and profiling tools

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Feb 23

Microsoft releases Network Performance Monitor

Microsoft has announced the general availability of Network Performance Monitor (NPM), a cloud-aware network monitoring solution in Operations Management Suite Insight & Analytics, that monitors networks for performance degradation and outages. The solution continuously tests for accessibility between various points on the network across public clouds, datacentres and user locations. It enables application administrators to identify specific network segments or devices that may be causing the problem.

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Aug 19

Microsoft announces open sourcing of PowerShell

Microsoft has announced that PowerShell is open sourced and available on Linux. PowerShell is a task-based command-line shell and scripting language built on the .NET Framework to help IT professionals control and automate the administration of the Windows, and now Linux, operating systems and the applications that run on them. The initial release is an “alpha” and is community supported. Microsoft plans to release an official version based on open source to anyone running a supported version of Windows or Unix.

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Jun 24

Microsoft introduces open-source cross-platform OPC UA support for the Internet of Things

Microsoft has announced enhanced OPC UA support for Windows, iOS, Linux and Android. The company plans to contribute a .NET Standard reference stack to the OPC Foundation GitHub open-source. The stack works on most common software platforms and allows the creation of OPC UA clients, servers and as well as “OPC Publishers” (for sending telemetry data to the cloud) on Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10, iOS, Linux and Android platforms. In addition, OPC clients and servers can run directly on Azure using this stack.

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Aug 03

View on Microsoft’s July activities

Microsoft has announced partnerships with Actiance and Globanet. This partnership allows Microsoft to extend its Office 365 archiving to cover a range of third-party data sources. These include Twitter, Facebook, Yammer, LinkedIn, Yahoo Messenger, GoogleTalk, Cisco Jabber, Box, DropBox, SalesForce Chatter, Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg, BlackBerry and MobileGuard.

The first Surface 3 (4G LTE) devices went on sale to business customers in Japan,Germany and the United Kingdom. France and Spain will be added in the future. Operators include Deutsche Telekom in Germany, Orange Business Services in France, O2 in the United Kingdom and Movistar in Spain.

Microsoft and the BBC will be providing UK students with micro:bit personal computing devices, which are less than half the size of a credit card. Microsoft will offer web-based programming tools, the Azure-based hosting service and teacher training materials.

Developed by Microsoft researchers, WearDrive extends battery life of wearable gadgets such as fitness trackers and smart watches.

The Power BI business analytics service (Power BI 2.0) and Power BI Desktop, (previously known as Power BI Designer) have been released after a period of preview versions.

Microsoft plans to expand its channel for selling and servicing Surface from a few hundred partners to a few thousand globally over the next few months.

Microsoft will no longer provide security updates for Windows XP and has also stopped providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP. In addition, the Malicious Software Removal Tool and updates to Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows XP ended during July.

Finally, Microsoft has released Windows 10 and the phased rollout has begun. The company claimed that more than 14 million devices were running Windows 10 within the first 24 hours after release.

On a personal note, I migrated three machines from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 as well as doing a clean install on another. The migration process was very good – even offered to copy my old installation of Windows to another disk on a PC that did not have enough space on the C drive. The release seems robust from a reliability perspective and everything works as intended.

My Surface Pro 2 needed tweaking to avoid unsolicited waking from sleep, which was draining the battery – a problem a number of other users have reported. Advice is to disable “Allow wake timers” and “Hey Cortana” voice activation. It is worth disabling “Allow wake timers” on all machines to avoid unsolicited machine starts.

If you migrated from Windows 8, you will need to spend some time reorganising your Apps on the Start menu – the migration does not maintain your previous groupings.

The new Settings app is a good idea, but until all the Control Panel items have been migrated, it can be somewhat confusing to find things. Hopefully this and other rough edges will be resolved over the coming months through the automated Windows Update system.

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Jul 01

View on Microsoft’s June activities

July brings the end of support for Windows Server 2003 and news that the US Navy is to pay Microsoft around $9m to continue to provide security fixes for Windows XP, Office 2003, Exchange 2003 and Windows Server 2003.

Microsoft has been notifying customers of changes to its Services Agreement and Privacy Statement. The Services Agreement will now cover most of Microsoft’s consumer services, including Bing, Cortana, Microsoft account, OneDrive, Outlook.com, Skype and Xbox Live. The privacy statement is being updated to reflect Microsoft’s commitments for protecting individual privacy with these services, and will also cover new technologies like the forthcoming Windows 10.

Skype activity continues with the release of Skype 5.13 for iPhone that includes preview links in chat. Skype Translator adds French and German to the line-up of spoken languages and now supports 50 instant messaging languages. Microsoft also plans to introduce Skype Translator preview technology to the Skype for Windows desktop app towards the end of summer 2015.

Microsoft has announced a significant Xbox One update due this autumn, which sees the start of the Windows 10 influence, and includes Cortana, speed improvements and a revised home screen.

Microsoft plans to deliver Windows 10 developer tools for Visual Studio 2015 with the release of Windows 10. Designed for developers to build Universal Windows Platform apps and submit them to the Windows Store. July will see a range of release previews of the Windows 10 SDK as well as releases of a matching version of the Windows 10 Mobile emulator.

In preparation for the release of Windows 10, Microsoft has announced the availability of A Developer’s Guide to Windows 10, an on-demand Virtual Academy training course.

NASA and Microsoft are developing Sidekick, a new project using Microsoft HoloLens, to help astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

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Jun 30

Microsoft announces Visual Studio 2015 release date

Microsoft has revealed that the final releases of Visual Studio 2015, Team Foundation Server 2015 and .NET Framework 4.6 will be available for download on 20 July. This release opens up Visual Studio to developers targeting cross-platform mobile development for iOS, Android and Windows and game development targeting Unity, Unreal and Cocos. The release includes enhancements to developer productivity with proactive diagnostics tooling and Roslyn language services for C# and VB.

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Dec 01

View on Microsoft’s November activities

Microsoft’s TechExpo show included a Linux booth to expound the company’s Linux strategy – how times have changed. Talking of shows, registration is now open for Microsoft’s Convergence event to be held in Atlanta during March 2015. Keynote speakers will include Kirill Tatarinov, executive vice president of the Microsoft Business Solutions Group.

Retailers can no longer order Windows 8, Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, and Ultimate. Windows 7 mainstream supports ends in January, although Windows 7 Professional can still be purchased and Microsoft has committed to providing a year’s notice of the end of sale date. Even as Microsoft focuses on Windows 10, we may yet see an extension of Windows 7 support.

Amazon WorkSpaces, the virtual desktop computing environment, now offers an Office 2013 option.

Microsoft has announced that OneDrive for Business will begin rolling out to existing Office 365 ProPlus users before the end of 2014, with all Office 365 ProPlus customers having access to OneDrive for Business by the end of January 2015. ProPlus subscribers will initially get 1 TB of storage per user on OneDrive for Business, and will be updated to unlimited storage as it rolls out to Office 365 commercial subscribers.

Microsoft plans to integrate Skype and Lync with a rebranded Skype for Business seeing the end of the Lync name. This signals the potential for an improved and extended non-Microsoft platform support as well as incorporating many of Skype’s consumer features and capabilities.

Updates to the Windows 10 preview have continued and, as at the last build, seems to have reached the “feature complete” stage. Microsoft appears to be on target for a mid-2015 release.

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