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  • 03/10/15--08:58: MVP Events - March 2015
  •  

    The event will take place at Microsoft offices in São Paulo March 13-14. During the two-day event, attendees will have a varied program of technical and strategic sessions, delivered by experts from Brazil and Microsoft Technology Center, as well such as MVPs. The sessions were selected to serve all segments (Developer, Consumer Experts and IT Pro), and strive for a strong interaction and relationship between MVPs and Microsoft. We want you to make the most and enjoy!

    Hosted by Microsoft, the inaugural US MVP Open Days kicks off March 27th at the Microsoft Office in Malvern, Pennsylvania. The two-day event will be packed with technical sessions, a series of facilitated breakout sessions, opportunities to connect with Microsoft team members and MVPs and—of course—delicious food. We will have sessions which are of interest to all MVPs across the business segments (developer, consumer and IT pro)—presented by Microsoft team members and MVPs. Our goal: help enhance your award year experience with this regional opportunity to learn, network and have fun with the community.  

    Representing 17 countries within Middle East & Africa, MEA MVP Program is the home for 128 MVPs, providing support on 32 different expertise contributing to the Microsoft communities day and night. Additionally to the Global MVP Summit where you can interact with specific product groups focusing on your expertise, we are happy to announce that we have decided to host the “MEA MVP Open day” MVP networking gathering again this year since we had a successful event last year. You will not only have the chance to meet or see again your peers from the region but use this as an opportunity to enjoy great sessions from our guest speakers and fellow MVPs. Once we have more about the event we will share… Please don’t forget to regularly check our site! Looking forward in seeing you in March!

    The French Community Day, called “Journée des Communautés”, is set for the Friday March 20, at the Microsoft France subsidiary. This annual event will gather MVP, MSP and also Regional Director, from France, Belgium and Switzerland. It will also be a great opportunity to meet and connect with Microsoft France employees, especially through a Q/A with the French DX Evangelists team. Discussing, meeting, sharing experience and also having fun are the main goals of this community day!


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    Editor’s note: In partnership with Microsoft Press, MVPs have been contributing to an ongoing guest series on their official team blog. Today’s article is from ASP.Net/IIS MVP Julien Corioland. Thanks, Julien!  This article talks about managing media workflows in the cloud using Microsoft Azure Media Services.

    Introduction

    Today, people want be able to consume videos from any devices and any places: at home on their computers or TV over large bandwidth connections or on the go with their mobile phones over mobile networks.

    The diversity of Internet connection qualities, devices and formats is very hard to assume for OVP (Online Video Providers). They need to provide videos that may be readable on phones, tablets, connected-TVs, games consoles, PCs and so more. This is a big issue for them because they need to create files for each platform. The principal effect is the increase of storage cost.

    For example, there is currently three different formats that are mostly used to do adaptive streaming: HLS for Apple and Android, Smooth Streaming for Microsoft platforms and MPEG-DASH that is emerging as the one that will be the way to do adaptive streaming in the future, and that is supported by modern web browsers, without plugin, using the HTML 5 video tag.

    Media Services is a Microsoft Azure feature that allows to manage media workflows in order to simplify them and reduce the storage costs related to the devices and formats diversity. It can be used in two scenarios: VOD (Video-on-demand) and Live Channels.

    In this article, I will cover the first scenario and show you how to use Microsoft Azure and Media Services to build an online video platform that can stream content to a very large panel of devices (like iPhone, iPads, Windows, Android or modern web browsers). To reduce storage costs, Microsoft propose a feature called Dynamic Packaging that allows to package content on-demand in the format the customer is asking for. In this way, you can do adaptive streaming in HLS, Smooth Streaming or MPEG-DASH using the same asset (mezzanine file) and package it on the fly.

     

     

    Media workflows with Microsoft Azure

    The schema bellow describes the way that Media Services may be used to handle media management workflows with Microsoft Azure:

     

    Media Services uses the Microsoft Azure blob storage to store all media assets. It is possible to split the process in 5 steps:

    1)      Ingest: the source media file is uploaded in the Azure blob storage. In most of the cases, this file is a high definition media asset (a H264 MP4 file, for example).

    2)      The file is processed by a media encoder that may be used to encode the file in other formats or qualities. In our case, we will ask Media Services to generate a multi-bitrate MP4. (A multi-bitrate asset contains multiple MP4 files encoded with different bitrate / quality and a metadata file that describe the different files. It allows the server to switch between qualities to adapt the stream to the bandwidth)

    3)      Once the original asset is processed, all output files are also stored in the Azure blob storage

    4)      To distribute the file, Media Services offers media packagers that may be used to package the media in different formats to do Smooth Streaming, HLS or MPEG-DASH. Media packagers can be used dynamically or statically. In this example, they will be used dynamically.

    5)      The file is streamed in the format the consumer ask for

    In addition to Azure Media Services, Microsoft Azure offers a lot of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) features that you can use to build an online video platform: Azure web jobs and web sites for compute, Azure service bus for distributed messaging and scalability, Azure Active Directory for security and so on…

    To keep the article simple I have chosen to divide all steps of the workflow in small console applications. Some of them will be executed in Azure web Jobs on specific triggers (like new blob in a container or new message in a queue) and others will be executed directly on your machine.

    The code is available on GitHub: https://github.com/jcorioland/techdays2015/. For readability I have not detailed all the code, so do not hesitate to clone the repository and look directly in the code while reading this article.  Continue reading full article here

    Acknowledgements

    Special thanks to the following collaborators who volunteered their time to tech review this article:

    About the author

    Julien is developer, consultant and speaker about Microsoft technologies since 8 years. First, he was developing client applications using Windows Forms, WPF and Silverlight. He also has worked on the first versions of Windows Phone SDKs and wrote a book about it (French) with two coworkers. Since 2012, Julien works mostly with web and cloud technologies, like ASP.NET MVC, Web API and Microsoft Azure even if he continues to look at the client technologies and develop some personal projects. He is Microsoft MVP since 2010, now in the ASP.NET / IIS category and has a technical blog at http://www.juliencorioland.net and often speaks on Microsoft events like Tech Days. He is also active on Twitter @jcorioland, so feel free to contact him.

    About MVP Monday

    The MVP Monday Series is created by Melissa Travers. In this series we work to provide readers with a guest post from an MVP every Monday. Melissa is a Community Program Manager, formerly known as MVP Lead, for Messaging and Collaboration (Exchange, Lync, Office 365 and SharePoint) and Microsoft Dynamics in the US. She began her career at Microsoft as an Exchange Support Engineer and has been working with the technical community in some capacity for almost a decade. In her spare time she enjoys going to the gym, shopping for handbags, watching period and fantasy dramas, and spending time with her children and miniature Dachshund. Melissa lives in North Carolina and works out of the Microsoft Charlotte office.


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    On March 18th & 19th, MVPs will join with Microsoft product team members during the dotnetConf, a free virtual event .  The two-day event co-organized by the .NET community and Microsoft will provide a variety of live sessions designed to answer your questions and inspire your next software project. 

    "Events like DotNetConf are great for the community since they provide great, repeatable content for everyone," said ASP.NET/ MVP Javier Lozano who will welcome attendees alongside Microsoft Principal Program Manager, Scott Hanselman.  "By having the option to tune in during the conference or to watch on demand, it allows both presenters and attendees to have flexibility. Speakers can use the recorded session for their session portofolio and the attendee can chose to watch whenever and on which ever device they want. To me, that's a win-win."

    You don't even need to register, just connect to the live stream on Channel 9. The two-day event we will have more than 16 hours of content on subjects such as ASP.NET 5, .NET Core, C#, F#, Roslyn, debugging with VS2015, learnings from running large scale websites, and more!

    "Watching the Twitter feed, #dotnetconf, is fun since it allows people to participate with the event from the comfort of their home/office/etc," said Lozano.  "The impact the event has on people is pretty awesome and I'm very honored to be a part of it."

    Check out these MVP presenters! 

     


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    Editor’s note: The following post was written by Office 365 MVP Nuno Árias Silva.

    Office 365 with Microsoft Azure Active Directory is an enterprise-level identity and access management cloud solution. Office 365 with Microsoft Azure Active Directory Premium, built on top of the core offering of Azure AD, provides a robust set of capabilities to empower enterprises with more demanding needs on identity and access management. In this article will show the features of the integration of Office 365 with this premium offering with Multi-factor authentication.

     

    Multi-factor authentication increases the security of user logins when sign in for cloud in traditional scenario with just a user and a password. With Multi-Factor Authentication, users are required to acknowledge a phone call, text message, or an app notification on their smartphone after correctly entering their password. Only after this second authentication factor has been satisfied can a user sign in.

     

    The advantages of using Azure Multi-factor authentication are:

    • More security, fewer hoops
    • Real-time monitoring and alerts
    • Deploy it on-premises or in the cloud
    • Works with Office 365, Salesforce and more
    • More protection for Azure administrators
    • Build it into your applications

     

    The main differences between Multi-Factor Authentication for Office 365 compared to Microsoft Azure MFA are:

     

    Multi-Factor Authentication
    for Office 365

    Microsoft Azure Multi-Factor Authentication

    Administrators can Enable/Enforce MFA to end-users

    Yes

    Yes

    Use Mobile app (online and OTP) as second authentication factor

    Yes

    Yes

    Use Phone call as second authentication factor

    Yes

    Yes

    Use SMS as second authentication factor

    Yes

    Yes

    App passwords for non-browser clients (e.g., Outlook, Lync)

    Yes

    Yes

    Default Microsoft greetings during authentication phone calls

    Yes

    Yes

    Remember Me (Public Preview coming in June)

    Yes

    Yes

    IP Whitelist (currently in Public Preview)

     

    Yes

    Custom greetings during authentication phone calls

     

    Yes

    Fraud alert

     

    Yes

    Event Confirmation

     

    Yes

    Security Reports

     

    Yes

    Block/Unblock Users

     

    Yes

    One-Time Bypass

     

    Yes

    Customizable caller ID for authentication phone calls

     

    Yes

    MFA Server – MFA for on-premises applications

     

    Yes

    MFA SDK – MFA for custom apps

     

    Yes

     

    How to configure and enable Azure Multifactor authentication on Office 365

    The first steps to configure are:

     

    1. Sign-up for Azure subscription
      1. The first step is to sign-up for an Azure subscription. If you already have an Azure subscription, skip to the next step.
      2. Create a Multi-Factor Auth Provider
        1. In the Azure Management Portal create a Multi-Factor Auth Provider. https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/azure/dn376346.aspx#create
        2. Enable Multi-Factor Authentication on your users
          1. To enable Multi-Factor Authentication on your Office 365 users see https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/7a9c56cf-72f1-4797-8e86-a9a2d9569ef6#enableuser
          2. Send email to end users to notify them about MFA
            1. For an example email template see https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/7a9c56cf-72f1-4797-8e86-a9a2d9569ef6#emailtemplate
            2. Have a user sign-in and complete the registration process
              1. To sign-in the first time and complete the registration process see https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/azure/dn394276.aspx
              2. Configure app passwords for non-browser apps (such as …Outlook etc.).
                1. To configure app passwords see https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/azure/dn270518.aspx#apppassword

     

    For advanced settings such as fraud alert, one-time bypass, and configuring your own customized voice messages see https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn376348.aspx

     

    After you have configured Multi-Factor Authentication on Azure integrated to Office 365 you can sign-in to Azure Portal and select Manage.

     

     

     

    Here you can see some functions that are available.

     

      

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    After all these steps configured your organization is ready to leverage security with advanced features of Azure Multi-Factor Authentication

     

    Azure Multi-Factor Authentication (Azure MFA) helps reduce organizational risk and enable regulatory compliance by providing an extra layer of authentication in addition to a user’s account credentials. For that purpose, it leverages for additional authentication a convenient form factor that the users already have (and care about): their phone. During sign in, users must also authenticate using the mobile app or by responding to an automated phone call or text message before access is granted. An attacker would need to know the user’s password and have in their possession of the user’s phone to sign in.  As a solution for both cloud-based and on-premises applications.

    Multi-factor authentication is becoming the new standard for securing access and how businesses ensure trust in a multi-device, mobile, cloud world.

    Final Note:

    Microsoft is currently in the process of updating the Office 2013 client applications to support Multi-Factor Authentication through the use of the Active Directory Authentication Library (ADAL). These updates will be coming to various Office 2013 clients over the next serveral months.

    This will mean that once these updates are available, app passwords will no longer be required for Office 2013 clients. However, until these updates are available, app passwords will still be required.

    Currently the following Office 2013 clients no longer require the use of app passwords:

    • Office 2013 for IOS

    • Office 2013 for OS X

     

    Introduction to ADAL based authentication

     

    The ADAL based authentication stack enables the Office 2013 clients to engage in browser-based authentication (also known as passive authentication) where the user is directed to a web page from the identity provider to authenticate.

    For additional information on these updates see: Office 2013 updated authentication enabling Multi-Factor Authentication and SAML identity providers here - http://blogs.office.com/2014/11/12/office-2013-updated-authentication-enabling-multi-factor-authentication-saml-identity-providers

     

    Support Links:

     

    Azure Multi-Factor Authentication

                    http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/multi-factor-authentication

     

    Securing access to cloud services - Information for Administrators

                    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn394289.aspx

     

    Azure Active Directory Editions

                    http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/azure/dn532272.aspx 

     

    About the author

    Nuno is a Manager at Capgemini Portugal - Microsoft Solutions Architect - MVP Office 365 at Capgemini (Microsoft Gold Partner) for Microsoft Office 365, Exchange, Private Cloud, Infrastructure, Active Directory, SQL and Auditing Microsoft Products, support at pre-sales and sales areas.  Specialist in Office 365, with a focus on Exchange, Virtualization, Azure and System Center: With more than 17 years’ experience in Datacenter Architectures, with Master in Information Technologies, Nuno has 30+ certifications (MCSE, MCITP, MCSA and MCTS among others). Experience in enterprise environments: He has worked several industries, including Aerospace, Transportation, Energy, Manufacturing, Financial Services, Government, Health Care, Telecoms and IT Services, Gas-Oil Company in different countries and continents. Assisted Microsoft in the development of workshops and special events and case studies, and as a speaker at several Microsoft events. Contributes with several articles and publications in various blogs and communities.  Follow him on Twitter @nunoariassilva 

    About MVP Monday

    The MVP Monday Series is created by Melissa Travers. In this series we work to provide readers with a guest post from an MVP every Monday. Melissa is a Community Program Manager, formerly known as MVP Lead, for Messaging and Collaboration (Exchange, Lync, Office 365 and SharePoint) and Microsoft Dynamics in the US. She began her career at Microsoft as an Exchange Support Engineer and has been working with the technical community in some capacity for almost a decade. In her spare time she enjoys going to the gym, shopping for handbags, watching period and fantasy dramas, and spending time with her children and miniature Dachshund. Melissa lives in North Carolina and works out of the Microsoft Charlotte office.


     

     

     

     


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    Hosted by Microsoft, the inaugural US MVP Open Days kicks off March 27th at the Microsoft Office in Malvern, Pennsylvania. The two-day event will be packed with technical sessions, a series of facilitated breakout sessions, opportunities to connect with Microsoft team members and MVPs and—of course—delicious food. We will have sessions which are of interest to all MVPs across the business segments (developer, consumer and IT pro)—presented by Microsoft team members and MVPs. Our goal: help enhance your award year experience with this regional opportunity to learn, network and have fun with the community.  

    Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag, #USMVP 

    Check out the agenda for this week's event!


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    Editor’s note: The following post was written by Cluster MVP David Bermingham.  David will do a multi-part series which will go more in-depth on this popular topic

    SQL Server High Availability in the Azure Cloud Part 1: The Basics

    Thinking about deploying SQL Server in Windows Azure IaaS? If so, you will want to make sure you follow this series of articles that will explain everything you need to know about keeping SQL Server up and running in Windows Azure. This first article will introduce you to some basic Azure concepts which provide the framework for high availability. Subsequent articles will dive deeper into the actual implementation of AlwaysOn Availability Groups and Failover Cluster Instances and the requirements to actually get them working in Azure.

    Before we get started, let me make it clear that we will be discussing SQL Server deployed in Azure IaaS. We are not talking about the Azure SQL Database, the database-as-a-service offering in Azure.  Azure IaaS allows you to deploy and manage your own VMs and SQL Server implementations much as if you were deploying them in your own data center. You are responsible for the configuration, maintenance and ongoing management of SQL Server.

    Part of that responsibility is planning for high availability and disaster recovery in your implementation. While you may assume that by simply deploying your SQL Server instances in Azure that you automatically have high availability, you are mistaken. If you read the Azure service level agreement (SLA) you will find this statement.  

     “For Cloud Services, we guarantee that when you deploy two or more role instances in different fault and upgrade domains, your Internet facing roles will have external connectivity at least 99.95% of the time.”

    You probably have a lot of questions after reading that statement. What is a Fault Domain? What is an Upgrade Domain? How can I deploy two instances of SQL Server to take advantage of the 99.95% “external connectivity” guarantee?

    Let’s break it down and tackle each question one at a time.

    (For more information about Azure SLA, see the Microsoft article "Microsoft Azure SLA.")

    Fault Domains

    Essentially a Fault Domain is a section of the Azure platform that shares no common single point of failure with another Fault Domain within the same geographic region of the Azure Cloud. Microsoft defines a Fault Domain as a “rack of computers”.  In order to qualify for the SLA, you need to have at least two VMs running in different Fault Domains.

    With something like web servers or application servers this makes sense. Simply put two VMs up and load balance between the two and you are done. However, with SQL Server instances there is a little more involved. You can’t simply load balance between two instances of SQL Server, you will need to implement AlwaysOn Availability Groups or Failover Cluster Instances with 3rd party replication software to keep the databases in sync and provide failover capability across the two Fault Domains.

    Deploying AlwaysOn in Azure has a few requirements that are unique to Azure. Later in this series we will discuss those requirements in detail including: Failover Cluster limitations, Internal Load Balancers and Client Listeners.

    Upgrade Domains

    While Fault Domains can provide availability for unplanned downtime associated with hardware failures, Upgrade Domains provide the ability to manage planned downtime associated with Microsoft’s maintenance of the Azure platform itself. While most Azure platform maintenance can be done without impacting the availability of a VM, some maintenance will require the rebooting of your VM.

    By placing each of your SQL Server AlwaysOn instances in a different Upgrade Domain you can be sure that if your primary server goes offline during the maintenance period your backup server will assume the role as the active server, minimizing your downtime associated with planned maintenance. We can be sure of this because Microsoft only ever does maintenance of one Upgrade Domain at a time.

    Later in this series we will discuss the specifics of how to put VMs into a Fault Domain and Upgrade Domain, but for now know that in order to facilitate this process you must put both instances of SQL Server  in what is Azure calls an Availability Set.

    (For more information about Fault Domains and Upgrade Domains, see the Microsoft article "Manage the availability of virtual machines.")

    99.95% External Connectivity Guarantee

    What does 99.95% External Connectivity Guarantee mean? In their detailed Service Level Agreement Microsoft basically says that if you have <99.95% availability during a particular monthly billing cycle you are entitled to a 10% credit on your bill if you submit your claim within 2 months of the close of the billing period. If all of your VMs in an Availability Group are unavailable for more than ~21 minutes, you are entitled to a 10% Azure credit. The SLA also states that if you experience <99.9% availability (~43 minutes downtime), you get a 25% Azure credit.

    However, this is just an external connector guarantee, this does not guarantee that SQL Server is up and running. In order to provide true high availability for SQL Server you will need to implement AlwaysOn AG or FCI which detects and recovers application level failures.

    Summary

    While Microsoft gives you the tools and framework to provide high availability within the Azure cloud, it is still incumbent upon the administrator to put the pieces together to ensure availability. Over the next few articles in this series we will take a deeper look at how to put the pieces together to implement a highly available SQL Server implementation within the Azure cloud. Later in this series we will explore hybrid cloud options that allow you to have not only high availability within the Azure cloud, but also a “Plan B” option should Azure itself experience an outage that spans multiple Fault Domains or geographic regions.

    Summary

    Windows Azure IaaS is a powerful platform for deploying business critical applications. All of the tools required to build a highly available infrastructure are in place. Knowing how to leverage those tools, especially in regards to providing High Availability for SQL Server, can take a little research and trial and error. I hope that this article has helped point you in the right direction and has reduced the amount of research and trial and error that you will have to do on your own. As with most Cloud Service, new features become available very rapidly and the guidance in the article may become outdated or even wrong in some cases rather rapidly. For the latest guidance, please refer to my blog Clustering for Mere Mortals where I will attempt to update guidance as things in Azure evolve.

    About the author

     

    David Bermingham is recognized within the technology community as a high availability expert and has been honored by his peers by being elected to be a Microsoft MVP in Clustering since 2010. David’s work as director of Technical Evangelist at SIOS has him focused on evangelizing Microsoft high availability and disaster recovery solutions as well as providing hands on support, training and professional services for cluster implementations. David hold numerous technical certifications and draws from over twenty years of experience IT, including work in the finance, healthcare and education fields, to help organizations design solutions to meet their high availability and disaster recovery needs. David has recently begun speaking on deploying highly available SQL Servers in the Azure Cloud and deploying Azure Hybrid Cloud for disaster recovery.

    About MVP Monday

     

    The MVP Monday Series is created by Melissa Travers. In this series we work to provide readers with a guest post from an MVP every Monday. Melissa is a Community Program Manager, formerly known as MVP Lead, for Messaging and Collaboration (Exchange, Lync, Office 365 and SharePoint) and Microsoft Dynamics in the US. She began her career at Microsoft as an Exchange Support Engineer and has been working with the technical community in some capacity for almost a decade. In her spare time she enjoys going to the gym, shopping for handbags, watching period and fantasy dramas, and spending time with her children and miniature Dachshund. Melissa lives in North Carolina and works out of the Microsoft Charlotte office

     

     


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    Today, 984 exemplary community leaders around the world were notified that they have received the MVP Award! These individuals were chosen because they have demonstrated their deep commitment to helping others make the most of their technology, voluntarily sharing their passion and real-world knowledge of Microsoft products with the community. While there are more than 100 million social and technical community members, only a small portion are selected to be recognized as MVPs. Each year, around 4,000 MVPs are honored. They are nominated by Microsoft, other community individuals, or in some cases themselves. Candidates are rigorously evaluated for their technical expertise, community leadership, and voluntary community contributions for the previous year. They come from more than 90 countries, speak over 40 different languages, and are awarded in more than 90 Microsoft technologies. Together, they answer more than 10 million questions a year! MVPs are recognized each quarter for this annual award, which continues to grow and evolve to reflect the development of Microsoft technologies. Congratulations to the new MVPs, and welcome back to renewed MVPs. We are very excited to recognize your amazing accomplishments!


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    Editor’s note: The following post was written by Windows Expert -Consumer MVP Mike Halsey. This is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of his newly released book“Windows 10 Primer” used with permission.

    NOTE:  This article was based on Windows 10 Technical Preview build 9926 released earlier this year. The screenshots and feature descriptions may vary from the current build and continue to change.  Windows 10 Technical Preview may be substantially modified before it's commercially released. Microsoft makes no warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information provided within.  The Windows 10 Technical Preview may be downloaded here

     New and Improved Features in Windows 10 - Cortana

    Every version of Windows comes with new features: Windows 95 introduced the Start Menu; Windows XP saw the OS move to the much more stable NT kernel as well as introducing major refinements to the user interface; Vista came with some major changes, including a wholesale kernel upgrade, a new hardware driver model, and user account control; Windows 7 introduced aero glass, snap, the new Taskbar, and the Action Center; and Windows 8 introduced the Start Screen, Modern apps, and the addition of ARM processor support.

    Windows 10 is no different, and the list of new and improved features is both long and significant. Indeed, it can safely be said that the list of new features is the greatest that’s been seen in any Windows release thus far, and almost the entire focus is being placed firmly on productivity.

    I’m not going to detail every improved feature and new addition in this chapter, as many of them fall into categories that are much better detailed elsewhere in this book under more specific categories, such as end-user desktop features or business-specific features. There are some major changes and additions, however, that need to be detailed on their own, and in this chapter I’ll look at them in no particular order.

     

    Cortana

     

    Okay, I lied! I’m hugely excited about the inclusion of Cortana in Windows 10, and thus it has to be detailed first. Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri and Google Now, in that it’s a personal digital assistant (originally to be called Judy, so I’m told, though its beta name, taken from the AI computer in the Halo series of Xbox games, was so popular with Windows Phone testers that Microsoft kept it).

    Cortana first appeared in Windows Phone 8.1 in 2014 and has been slowly rolling out to countries worldwide. Cortana does much more than answer basic search queries and provide the latest news and weather updates. Already ahead of Apple’s Siri and Google Now, Cortana can provide recipes and dietary information, automatically follow parcel tracking information you’ve been emailed, and monitor flights and other travel methods. She (I hate calling Cortana “It”) can set and modify reminders and calendar appointments, as well as set reminders based on location, such as when you get home or when you’re next in the city center. She can provide idle chit chat, sing you songs, tell you jokes, and even speak Klingon.

    This is the state of Cortana today, and her functionality is being expanded all the time with new features, some of which (such as being able to bark Klingon at you) aren’t actively promoted but were simply found accidentally by users.

    “So how does all of this help me become more productive on the desktop?” you ask. You might, for example, work in a busy office where talking to your PC is never going to be effective, or your PC might not even have a microphone, or you may just be uncomfortable with the prospect of striking up a conversation with the thing.

    Typing requests and commands into Cortana brings the same functionality as speaking to her, and being able to quickly ask what appointments you have in the coming week, or to have her reschedule your 3 o’clock appointment for 5, or to dictate to her an email for Sue in Accounts can save valuable time.

    Cortana can be found next to the Windows icon on the Windows 10 desktop Taskbar (see Figure 2-1), and will also likely be a Start Screen icon on tablets in the final release.

     

     

    Figure 2-1. Cortana’s icon is a circle and is located next to the Windows button on the Taskbar

     - Note  It’s likely that Cortana will not be available in every country on Windows 10’s launch, and this is certainly the case with the technical preview. If Cortana is not available to you yet, you will instead see a search (magnifying glass) icon next to the Windows icon.

    When you open Cortana you will be presented with information that’s relevant to you (see Figure 2-2). An Ask me anything box at the bottom of her window is where you can type commands, search requests, and more, and next to this is a microphone icon that you can click to enable you to speak to her.

     

     

    Figure 2-2. By default, Cortana will show you information that’s relevant to you

    You will also be able to activate Cortana by simply saying Hey, Cortana while at your computer, though with this feature also reported to be coming to Windows 10 for Phones it remains to be seen how it’ll work should you also have your phone on your desk when you say this.

    I want to deal with search first in Cortana, as the search feature that Cortana brings to Windows is a significant improvement over previous Windows versions. When typing into the Ask me anything box, search results are immediately displayed and will include installed apps and win32 desktop programs, photos, music, video, documents, emails, settings, and websites (see Figure 2-3).

     

     

    Figure 2-3. Search responds immediately when typing into Cortana

    You can click any item in these search results to open it, or, alternatively, clicking Search my stuff (or just pressing the Enter key) will display a more detailed contextual search box (see Figure 2-4).

     

     

     

    Figure 2-4.Search my stuff provides a more detailed, contextual search

    It’s with this contextual search box that the true power of search in Windows 10 is revealed. The box contains a tabbed interface, allowing you to easily and quickly switch your search between documents, apps, settings, photos, videos, music, email, and the Internet.

    This search facility combines those found in File Explorer and the Start Menu and improves on both while greatly simplifying the overall process.

     

    Managing Cortana’s Settings and Privacy

     

    You can manage Cortana’s settings and options very easily by clicking the hamburger icon (so called because it consists of three horizontal lines) in the top left of Cortana’s window. Here you can manage any reminders you have set (see Figure 2-5) and any places you want Cortana to know about (should you be using a laptop or tablet), as well as change overall settings, such as allowing Cortana to call you by your name and even turning the feature off altogether.

     

     

     

    Figure 2-5. Cortana’s options are easy to find and access

    In this age of personal privacy, data protection, and government spying, some of you might be uncomfortable with Cortana having access to all of your emails and other personal information. Cortana is designed to soak up all this information and learn more about you over time to make her more effective.

    One of Microsoft’s three pillars for Windows 10 was putting the user firmly in control of their own data and their own privacy, and Cortana is no exception. The information you choose to share about yourself is managed in Cortana’s Notebook (see Figure 2-6).

     

     

    Figure 2-6. The Notebook is where you manage which information you share

    Here, you can manage all the data that Cortana stores about you, including your news preferences, calendar access, whether Cortana is allowed to read your emails for parcel tracking and flight details, and much more besides.

    The Notebook isn’t just about your privacy, however; adding and refining the information that’s here can help Cortana provide you with more relevant news and information, thus reducing the need to use news and weather apps or websites.

     

    That Syncing Feeling

     

    Those of you who have been using Windows 8.1 with a Microsoft account will likely be used to the OS syncing your settings and preferences between PCs. For example, if you purchase a new tablet and log in using the same Microsoft Account ID that you use on your desktop, you’ll see your Start Screen and apps are just as they are on that first machine.

    Syncing is being extended even further in Windows 10, allowing Cortana on your different PCs, tablets, and phone to share information with one another. This includes your reminders, so you’ll never miss one just because you happen to be away from the PC you set it on, and more besides.

    Syncing between different devices can be managed both from within Cortana herself and from the new All Settings panel, which replaces the Control Panel and PC Settings.

     

    About the author


    Mike Halsey is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) awardee and the author of many books including “Beginning Windows 8 (and 8.1)” and “Beginning Windows 10” from Apress, “Windows 8 (and 8.1): Out of the Box” from O’Reilly, "Troubleshooting Windows 7: Inside Out", "Troubleshoot and Optimize Windows 8: Inside Out" from Microsoft Press, and "Windows 10 Troubleshooting" from Apress.  He is also the author of other Windows Troubleshooting books from Apress.  He gives many talks on Windows subjects from Productivity to Security and makes help, how-to and troubleshooting videos under the banner PC Support.tv.  You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter as PCSupportTV


    About MVP Monday

     

    The MVP Monday Series is created by Melissa Travers. In this series we work to provide readers with a guest post from an MVP every Monday. Melissa is a Community Program Manager, formerly known as MVP Lead, for Messaging and Collaboration (Exchange, Lync, Office 365 and SharePoint) and Microsoft Dynamics in the US. She began her career at Microsoft as an Exchange Support Engineer and has been working with the technical community in some capacity for almost a decade. In her spare time she enjoys going to the gym, shopping for handbags, watching period and fantasy dramas, and spending time with her children and miniature Dachshund. Melissa lives in North Carolina and works out of the Microsoft Charlotte office


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    The 2015 Microsoft BUILD conference is sold out!  Thousands of developers will attend live in San Francisco and hundreds of thousands more will enjoy streaming keynotes and sessions online.If you missed your chance to attend, don't worry.  Microsoft BUILD is taking the deep-dive content and real-world knowledge shared at the event on the road! This week, Corporate Vice President & Chief Evangelist, Developer Experience Steve Guggenheimer announced that 23 events have been scheduled around the globe.  MVPs and technophiles alike will have a chance to join the conversation and discuss the latest technologies with many of the BUILD speakers.  Each of these single-day events will cover the key announcements from the larger Build conference, as well as offering a deeper dive into Windows 10.

    Register now to secure your spot on the #BuildTour

     

     

     


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    Editor’s note: The following post was written by Windows Consumer Apps MVP Alberto Escalona

    Skype for Business: exploring the UI

    This is the first part of a series of articles written about basic functions of Skype for Business’, the new enterprise communications and conference software from Microsoft that is replacing Lync as a brand. This change is due to Microsoft’s strategy for unifying all the IM software in an attractive and popular branding and reaching users of Messenger-Skype fusion, MSN-Bing Apps and Hotmail-Outlook.com.

    BEFORE INSTALLING SKYPE FOR BUSINESS

    If you want to try Skype for Business (SFB), there are some requirements you need in order to install it:

    • Use an enterprise account with Office 365
    • Have the SFB’s installer
    • Use Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 Technical Preview as your operating system

    Now SFB is offered as a Client preview*, so we suggest you to use it for testing purposes, you can download it from this link

    *NOTE: Skype for Business will roll out as an update to Lync on April 14th as part of regular Office monthly updates. More info can be found here

     

     

    SIGNING IN

    If you want sign in, go to your Start screen or Start menu depending on your Windows version or device, then search the “Skype for Business” icon and click on it.

               

     

    After clicking on it, you´ll see the logo and the loading screen:

     

     

    The sign in page is similar to that of Lync. In order to sign in we must provide a company email powered by an Office 365 account with SFB Conference service support, a Microsoft account or non-business Skype account

     

    When we’ve provided our company account, the app will ask for the account’s password to grant us the access.

    You can choose to automatically signing in, letting the app saving the sign in information for avoiding to write it every time you want to access.

    EXPLORING THE UI

    When the app is loaded we can see in the Contacts tab all of our SFB contacts classified by groups, status, relationships and recently added. We can choose how we want to see this section.

         

    In the Conversations tab, we can see the conversations and meetings history classified in All, Lasts and calls:

    In the Meetings tab, we can check which will be our following meetings:

    ADDING CONTACTS

    If you want add contacts, you can use the search bar at the top of the contact list or you also can use the Add Contact icon. You can add contacts from your company or externals who use Office 365 supporting SFB or Skype merged into Microsoft Accounts.

     

    If you decide to use the ’Add Contact’  icon, you would be able to add contacts from your company or externals who use Office 365 supporting SFB or Skype merged into Microsoft Accounts as well.

     

    Dialog for Skype for Business accounts:

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Dialog for Skype Accounts merged into Microsoft Accounts:

     

    SETTING UP

    If you want to check your SFB options, under the status bar you could see the gear icon that will also display the SFB's menus:

     

    But if you want to use the menu, you will choose Tools > Options:

     

     

    The SFB settings screen will display the devices settings, the profile settings, the recording settings and more:

     

    In the next article we will learn about the IM UI.

     

    About the author


    Alberto Escalona is Windows Consumer Apps MVP since 2011, owner of simplementetech.com website which dedicated to talk about Windows and Windows Apps. He is a Systems Engineer who likes Microsoft technologies and loves to write about them. Follow him on Twitter 

    About MVP Monday

     

    The MVP Monday Series is created by Melissa Travers. In this series we work to provide readers with a guest post from an MVP every Monday. Melissa is a Community Program Manager, formerly known as MVP Lead, for Messaging and Collaboration (Exchange, Lync, Office 365 and SharePoint) and Microsoft Dynamics in the US. She began her career at Microsoft as an Exchange Support Engineer and has been working with the technical community in some capacity for almost a decade. In her spare time she enjoys going to the gym, shopping for handbags, watching period and fantasy dramas, and spending time with her children and miniature Dachshund. Melissa lives in North Carolina and works out of the Microsoft Charlotte office

     

     


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  • 04/16/15--11:25: What is MVP V-Conf?
  •  

    (Please visit the site to view this video)

    The MVP Virtual Conference (MVP V-Conf) is a new, virtual, 2-day event that showcases how the best and brightest independent technology experts are using Microsoft technologies today. Tune in and see what the community of power users are saying about the mobile-first, cloud-first world of possibility with Microsoft re-imagined.
     
    These sessions will be presented by Americas’ Region Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs), who are exceptional community leaders who are passionate about sharing their real-world knowledge of Microsoft products with their IT Pro, developer and consumer communities around the world.
     
    The theme of this first conference is “The Power of Community” where we will showcase how the community can help one another learn, thrive and grow, and demonstrate how Microsoft’s MVPs shape these technical communities. 
      
    The MVP V-Conf Keynote address will be delivered by Steven Guggenheimer, Corporate Vice President of the Developer eXperience (DX) group at Microsoft Corp.
     
     
     
    MVP V-Conf will be a live event broadcast on May 14th and May 15th, 2015. Sign up for sessions in English, Spanish or Portuguese tracks that span IT Professional, Developer and Consumer topics.
    • IT Pro Track
    • Developer Track
    • Consumer Track
    • LATAM Track (Spanish)
    • Brazil Track (Portuguese)
     
     
     
    Why MVP V-Conf?
     
    LEARN FROM RISING STARS AND INDUSTRY ICONS
    Come learn from the best and brightest in the tech world today. All of the sessions will all be delivered by the Americas’ Region Microsoft MVPs. These MVPs are experts who present at premiere conferences, independent community events and local user groups all over the globe.
     
    LEARN TECHNICAL CONTENT RELEVANT TO YOU
    This is a technical conference focused on helping attendees to learn and develop skills for everything from everyday technical work to wackier weekend projects.  Whether it is on the IT Pro, Dev or Consumer side of things, you can bet that the content of MVP V-Conf will be cutting edge, exciting and relevant.
     
     
     
    General MVP V-Conf Information
     
    The sessions will be broadcasted live via EventBuilder. Each session will be a 50 minute presentation and have real-time Q&A via live chat.
     
    Click the “Agenda” link to get an overview of the sessions, the “Sessions” link to read detailed descriptions, or the “Speakers” page to view presenters and moderators. The information about IT Professional (IT Pro) Track sessions is highlighted in blue, Developer (Dev) Track sessions in red, Consumer Tracksessions in orange, LATAM Track webcasts in Spanish in green, and the Brazilian Track webcasts in Portuguese in yellow.
     
     
    Event Registration
     
    To attend the event webcast(s) it's necessary to register in advance of the virtual event. You can click on the registration button click here.
     
     
     
    FAQ
     
    Q: Is there a social networking hashtag to use when talking about this event?
    A: Refer to MVP V-Conf in social media by using the hashtag #MVPvConf for the event and #mvpbuzz for the MVP Award Program.
     
    Q: How was MVP V-Conf born?
    A: The first iteration of this event was conceived and originally organized by Brazilian MVPs, under the name MVP Showcast with support from the MVP Award Program. It has now evolved to become the MVP V-Conf, a series of webcasts with speakers from all the Americas region (US, Canada, LATAM, Brazil). In 2011, this initiative started in Brazil as a virtual event that was designed to talk about Microsoft technologies in a series of webcasts. The themes evolved over the years from virtualization (MSVirtualization 2011), to general Infrastructure Technologies in (MVP IT Showcast 2012), to Infrastructure Technologies and Development in the following years (MVP Showcast 2013/2014).
     
    Q: When will the final schedule be available?
    A: Early April 2015.
     
    Q: Who can attend the webcasts?
    A: Any person who registers for MVP V-Conf.
     
    Q: Can I attend sessions in different tracks?
    A: Yes, you can attend any session you like in any track as long as you register for the event.
     
    Q: Can I attend only one session?
    A: Yes. 
     
    Q: Will *.ics files be available per session so I can get reminded about those sessions I plan to attend?
    A: Yes. Pre-registered attendees can download the *.ics files for sessions of interest as a calendar reminder. 
     

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    Editor’s note: The following post was written by Dynamics CRM MVP Donna Edwards


    Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Update 1 offers a significant number of new and exciting features. There are several enhancements related to collaboration. In this article I will share how to get started with OneNote collaboration in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Since OneNote requires SharePoint for document management, you must first enable SharePoint integration.

    For those of you that have been working with CRM for several years, you might recall an article I wrote on SharePoint integration back in 2011. At that time, the list component and several steps were required to integrate SharePoint with Dynamics CRM. The good news is that the list component is no longer required and you can get the entire document management experience of SharePoint combined with OneNote integration setup in less than 30 minutes and all completed through a simple wizard experience.

    In this example, I will connect SharePoint online and OneNote to a CRM Online tenant. It is important to note that SharePoint, OneNote and CRM Online must be in the same Office 365 tenant for the connections to work. We’ll need to begin with the SharePoint connection. We need our SharePoint URL so let’s grab that now. You can copy the URL by logging into Office 365, select the options area in the upper left corner of the browser window and select Sites.


    Select the Team Site, not Public Site since you want the information you store in SharePoint to be available for internal use only.



    Copy the URL for the internal site. It should be something like this https://<name>.sharepoint.com  If you prefer, you can also select the Admin area of Office 365, select SharePoint from the left navigation menu and copy the URL from the available list. Ensure you get the internal URL (Team Site) and not the My Site, Public Site or something different. It is fairly easy to identify the Team Site URL based on the naming convention used for each.



    Copy the URL and save it. We’ll use it in just a few minutes. Next, select the “Enable Now” button for Server-Based SharePoint Integration or go to Settings, System, Document Management and select the Enable SharePoint Integration link.




    A new dialog window will open; select Next



    Select Online and select Next.


    In this step, we will copy the URL we saved and paste it into the URL text box and select Next.


    Now that the wizard has all the information needed to complete the configuration, it will validate the URL you provided and complete the connection. Select the Enable button.


    At this point you can select the option to Open the Document Management Settings wizard by selecting the checkbox and completing the steps required for folder integration or you can choose to do that later by leaving the checkbox unselected.


    In this example I am going to select the checkbox and complete the integration steps. Once I select Finish, a new dialog window opens which allows me to select the entities I want to enable for SharePoint integration. A few default entities are selected.  In this example, I am going to add Case and Competitor to the list, copy my SharePoint URL into the appropriate box and select Next.



    The wizard will validate my SharePoint URL and allow me to either select to create my folder structure on a specific entity (Account or Contact) or accept the default setup. In this example, I am selecting the default setup by leaving the checkbox unselected and selecting Next.



    I receive a notification that the SharePoint library is being setup and that the process might take several minutes.



    Select Ok to accept the message and we’re taken to a page that displays the status of the library creation. At this point you can select Finish and the library creation will complete.



    To check the setup, let’s go to Sales, Accounts and open an Account record.



    Select any available account record from a view and select Documents


    Since this is the first time we are adding a document to the Account record, you should receive a prompt requesting folder setup. Select Confirm to proceed.


    The library is enabled for the Account.


    Now we are ready for OneNote. Let’s go back to Settings, Document Management and select OneNote Integration


    A dialog window opens that allows you to select the entities you would like to enable for integration.


    Before selecting Finish, take a couple of minutes to read and understand how OneNote is accessed. As noted, OneNote is available from all CRM apps and users can access it from the CRM record (form). OneNote does not replace the Notes entity but is added in addition to it. That means that you will not lose notes you’ve already added to the account or the ability to continue to use the ‘standard’ notes entity. Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised if OneNote one day replaces Notes in the application. After selecting Finish the setup is complete. You can confirm that by opening one of the entity records you enabled. You should see the OneNote option available from the Activity Wall.


    Selecting the OneNote option will create a OneNote notebook that you can open and begin adding notes.


    As you can see, by default the notebook is named “Untitled”. You can change that by selecting Documents from the account, select the OneNote notebook that you want to rename and select Properties.
    Select Documents from the Account record where you created the OneNote notebook


    Select the document named “Untitled” from the list and select Edit Properties from the command ribbon


    Give the document a more descriptive file name and title; save your changes.


    You can refresh the Account page to see the updated name.



    You now have full document management with SharePoint and OneNote integration setup and ready to roll-out to your Dynamics CRM end users. Now it’s time to start thinking about how your organization can leverage these capabilities combined with Microsoft Office 365 Groups and Delve.


    Cheers

    About the author

    Donna has been working with Dynamics CRM application beginning with the 1.2 version. She partner with all levels of an organization to develop and deliver flexible, scalable solutions that simultaneously address short-term business requirements and long-term strategic growth objectives. Her skill-set includes: Pre-sales support, solution design/architecture, functional consulting, requirements definition & analysis, business process engineering, process improvement & automation, end user adooption, system administrator and end user training, support and ISV solutions.

    About MVP Monday

    The MVP Monday Series is created by Melissa Travers. In this series we work to provide readers with a guest post from an MVP every Monday. Melissa is a Community Program Manager, formerly known as MVP Lead, for Messaging and Collaboration (Exchange, Lync, Office 365 and SharePoint) and Microsoft Dynamics in the US. She began her career at Microsoft as an Exchange Support Engineer and has been working with the technical community in some capacity for almost a decade. In her spare time she enjoys going to the gym, shopping for handbags, watching period and fantasy dramas, and spending time with her children and miniature Dachshund. Melissa lives in North Carolina and works out of the Microsoft Charlotte office.


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    Editor’s note: In partnership with Microsoft Press, MVPs have been contributing to an ongoing guest series on their official team blog. Today’s article is from Visual C++ MVP Alon Fliess and is the 51st in the series.

    Technology advances in “Buzzwords” steps. At the beginning, there is the basic technology. It slowly evolves, and then after a few years, sometimes even many years, everything becomes connected and the world, not the early bird world, but everybody is ready to embrace that technology. This is where the big buzz begins and everybody predicts that in five to ten years the technology will generate incremental revenue exceeding hundreds of billions. With this buzz, all major companies invest in the technology and we begin seeing TV news reports and economy magazine articles about the technology, telling that the everyday life of every human being on the planet is going to change because of that technology!

    Of course, I am a bit cynical, but this is exactly what is happening now with regards to the IoT – the Internet of things. The basic technology is already here for almost a decade so far. Amazon Web Services (ASW) started in 2006. Microsoft Azure is 5 years old. Devices such as those based on the Amtel AVR  controller are more than 20 years old, and the affordable Arduino family of devices used by IoT hobbyists are 10 years old. It is not (just) the technology that makes IoT what it is, but the concepts, the perception, the commitment and the challenges that the entire industry is dealing with nowadays. IoT is about the machine-to-machine (M2M) communication at scale. Vast numbers of devices using different hardware and software technologies are connected between them and to the cloud. The cloud provides many services, which can handle huge streams of data, analyze and can extract vital information about the current state of the system and can even predict future state.

    So what exactly is IoT?

    In one simple form, IoT is about a device that can monitor a physical character of the environment and transfer this data over the Internet to a cloud service. In a more complex form, IoT is the combination of many smart devices that can “feel” the environment, read the data, and transfer this information to a collector service in the cloud. This service has to deal with large amounts of devices and huge streams of data. Such services take in information and can extract a vital information from a live stream, or run algorithms such as those based on big-data map-reduce patterns. Services can act on historical and new data, or can provide future insight about the collected data. Services like Azure Machine Learning can use the collected data to predict future behaviors. The cloud can send commands to devices. Take for an example a system that starts the water sprinklers according to an algorithm that reads information from a group of soil moisture level sensors. Based on information that it gets from a forecast service that predicts that no rain is coming, it decides to send a command to an actuator that starts the sprinklers.

    Sometimes the end device has the capabilities to communicate directly with the cloud service, and sometimes the device is cheap, weak, and has to conserve power, or has no encryption capabilities. In the latter case, a group of such weak devices is connected to a local gateway – a software that runs on a stronger local device that serves as a mediator between the local device sub-network and the cloud.

    To illustrate, let us take a simple personal and fun project – which I have only recently turned into an IoT projectJ). With this project, I can control my home electrical devices such as lights, shutters, hot water boiler, and the air condition. I can use a web browser, Windows Phone or Windows 8.1 Modern application to send a command or read the current state of a device. I have other services that turn on the garden lights on sunset, or raise the shutters automatically every morning except on weekend days. I even have a service that sets the boiler according to the forecast.  Continue reading full article here

     

    Thanks

    I would like to thank Microsoft Azure MVP Michele Leroux Bustamante for technical reviewing and editing the article. I also would like to thank Aaron Etchin for spending the time discussing with me my ideas and the way to present them and for the patience of reviewing this and previous articles. I would like to thank the MVP team – Melissa Travers, Hande Kayadeniz Torkan and Lina Magdy for encouraging me to write and publish articles and last but not least to my wife Liat and my kids: Yarden, Saar and Adva.

     

    About Alon Fliess

     

    Alon Fliess is the Chief Architect & Founder of CodeValue. CodeValue is the home of software experts. We build software tools, foundations and products for the software industry. We Build OzCode– Your road to magical debugging! We offer mentoring, consulting and project development services.

    About MVP Monday

    The MVP Monday Series is created by Melissa Travers. In this series we work to provide readers with a guest post from an MVP every Monday. Melissa is a Community Program Manager, formerly known as MVP Lead, for Messaging and Collaboration (Exchange, Lync, Office 365 and SharePoint) and Microsoft Dynamics in the US. She began her career at Microsoft as an Exchange Support Engineer and has been working with the technical community in some capacity for almost a decade. In her spare time she enjoys going to the gym, shopping for handbags, watching period and fantasy dramas, and spending time with her children and miniature Dachshund. Melissa lives in North Carolina and works out of the Microsoft Charlotte office.


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    Editor’s note: In partnership with Microsoft Press, MVPs have been contributing to an ongoing guest series on their official team blog. Today’s article is from .NET MVP Punit Ganshaniand is the 52nd in the series.Thanks, Punit!

    Application Design: Going Stateless on Azure

     

    The components of a cloud application are distributed and deployed among multiple cloud resources (virtual machines) to benefit from the elastic demand driven environment.  One of the most important factor in this elastic cloud is the ability to add or remove application components and resources as and when required to fulfil scalability needs. 

    However, while removing the components, this internal state or information may be lost.

    That's when the application needs to segregate their internal state from an in-memory store to a persistent data store so that the scalability and reliability are assured even in case of reduction of components as well as in the case of failures.  In this article, we will understand ‘being stateless’ and will explore strategies like Database-driven State Management, and Cache driven State Management.

     

    Being stateless

     

    Statelessness refers to the fact that no data is preserved in the application memory itself between multiple runs of the strategy (i.e. action).  When same strategy is executed multiple times, no data from a run of strategy is carried over to another.  Statelessness allows our system to execute the first run of the strategy on a resource (say X) in cloud, the second one on another available resource (say Y, or even on X) in cloud and so on.

    This doesn’t mean that applications should not have any state.  It merely means that the actions should be designed to be stateless and should be provided with the necessary context to build up the state. 

    If our application has a series of such actions (say A1, A2, A3…) to be performed, each action (say A1) receives context information (say C1), executes the action and builds up the context (say C2) for next action (say A2).  However, Action A2 should not necessarily depend on Action A1 and should be able to be executed independently using context C2 available to it. 

    How can we make our application stateless?

     

    Continue reading full article here

     

    About Punit Ganshani


    Punit, based out of Singapore, is Microsoft .NET MVP and DZone MVB.  He is the author of 18 technical whitepapers published in DeveloperIQ and a book on C programming.  He has contributed to research published in the journal of American Institute of Physics.  He is an expert at Application Design & Development, Performance Optimization and defining Architecture for hybrid systems involving Microsoft, Open-Source and Messaging Platforms.  He is founder of KonfDB platform and runs a community blogging platform Codetails, organizes .NET sessions in Singapore, and has spoken in various forums in Singapore, India, London, US and Brazil.  He has developed several applications on Windows Phone and maintains his blog at www.ganshani.com  

    About MVP Monday

    The MVP Monday Series is created by Melissa Travers. In this series we work to provide readers with a guest post from an MVP every Monday. Melissa is a Community Program Manager, formerly known as MVP Lead, for Messaging and Collaboration (Exchange, Lync, Office 365 and SharePoint) and Microsoft Dynamics in the US. She began her career at Microsoft as an Exchange Support Engineer and has been working with the technical community in some capacity for almost a decade. In her spare time she enjoys going to the gym, shopping for handbags, watching period and fantasy dramas, and spending time with her children and miniature Dachshund. Melissa lives in North Carolina and works out of the Microsoft Charlotte office.


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    Editor’s note: The following post was written by .Net MVP Dirk Strauss

    What is Microsoft Azure?

    It sometimes surprises me how little some developers know about Microsoft Azure. I would also assume that this has a lot to do with the fact that many developers get to know Microsoft Azure if and when they need to use it as part of a project they’re working on. Let’s face it, many developers abide by the architecture of the application as specified by the system architect or business analyst. So many devs need to learn Azure on their own time.

    This is why I wanted to write a few articles on Microsoft Azure. For this reason, the best place to start is right at the beginning. To get the official word on exactly what Microsoft Azure is, head on over to the Azure website (http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/what-is-azure/). This is the definition of Microsoft Azure:

    “In short, it’s Microsoft’s cloud platform: a growing collection of integrated services—compute, storage, data, networking, and app—that help you move faster, do more, and save money. But that’s just scratching the surface.”

    Obviously the Microsoft Azure website is a great place to start, but I wanted to take you a little further. For this let’s have a look at the Azure Dashboard. What does Azure mean to me as a software developer?

    Microsoft Azure Dashboard

    The dashboard is very easy on the eye and the main functionality of each item is neatly listed down the left side of the page in a tabbed menu. There is so much that Azure offers, that this article will become too long if I had to write something about everything. Therefore I will focus on only a few of the items available.

     

     

     

    Azure Web Apps

    Here you can create web applications and host them on Azure. The first time you access this tab, you will be prompted to create a web app.

     

    When you click on the Create a web app link, you will see this wizard pop up. Enter a unique name for the URL. The rest of the settings are self-explanatory.

     

    After you have created your web app, you can navigate to the URL you specified earlier. You will see the following message:

     

    You can view the documentation on deploying a web app in Azure at the following link: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/web-sites-deploy/

    The newly created web app will then also be listed under the web apps tab.

     

     

    If you click on the arrow next to your web app name, you are able to manage the web app.

     

    For the purposes of this article, I’ll create a web page in Visual Studio and publish that to our web app on Azure.

     

    The web application I created in Visual Studio is nothing complex. It’s just a demo page to illustrate the power of Azure and publishing from Visual Studio. You can create any web app you wish, for example testing some or other functionality you want to use or playing around with a new SDK.

     

    When you are ready to publish, right click on the project and click on the ‘Publish Web Site’ link from the context menu.

     

    You will notice that Microsoft Azure Websites is listed as a publish target.

     

    When I click on this, because I’m already logged in to Azure, Visual Studio shows me that I’m signed in and lists all my existing websites. I can now select the web site I created earlier. You will now be taken through a series of additional steps, including the option to specify your remote connection string to a database. When you click publish, Visual Studio will begin publishing your site on Azure which could take a few minutes depending on the size of your web site.

    After Visual Studio has published your web site to Azure, it will open the web site in Internet Explorer for you to view.

     

    Conclusion

    You can now put your web site through its paces and test to your heart’s content. As you can see, Microsoft Azure provides a solution that is extremely flexible and easy to use. As a software developer, if you need a stable platform to deploy your web sites to, consider Azure.

     

    About the author

    Dirk Strauss is a Software Developer and Microsoft MVP from South Africa. With experience in VB.NET and C#.NET, he currently works for Evolution Software developing responsive web applications.  He loves all things Technology and is slightly addicted to Twitter and Jimi Hendrix. Apart from writing code, he also enjoys writing articles. “I love sharing knowledge and connecting with people from around the world. It’s the diversity that makes life so beautiful.”  Dirk feels very strongly that pizza is simply not complete without Tabasco, that you can never have too much garlic, and that cooking the perfect steak is an art he has yet to master.  Interests include C#, VB.NET, Technology in general & trying to master Hendrix licks on Guitar.  Read more content from Dirk on his blog or follow him on Twitter @DirkStrauss

     

    About MVP Monday

    The MVP Monday Series is created by Melissa Travers. In this series we work to provide readers with a guest post from an MVP every Monday. Melissa is a Community Program Manager, formerly known as MVP Lead, for Messaging and Collaboration (Exchange, Lync, Office 365 and SharePoint) and Microsoft Dynamics in the US. She began her career at Microsoft as an Exchange Support Engineer and has been working with the technical community in some capacity for almost a decade. In her spare time she enjoys going to the gym, shopping for handbags, watching period and fantasy dramas, and spending time with her children and miniature Dachshund. Melissa lives in North Carolina and works out of the Microsoft Charlotte office.

     

     


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    We apologies for the technical difficulties this morning but we are up and running! 

    Below you'll find links to each of the MVP Virtual Conference sessions.  All session content will be recorded and available after the conference in case you miss a session or want to review content.  Thanks again for your patience while we worked out the issues

     

    TRACK

     

    Developer Day 1

     

    Developer Day 2

     

    IT Pro Day 1

     

    IT Pro Day 2

     

    Consumer Day 1

     

    Consumer Day 2

     

    LATAM Day 1

     

    LATAM Day 2

     

    Brazil Day 1

     

    Brazil Day 2

     

     


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    Editor’s note: The following post was written by Windows Server for Small and Medium Business MVP Sharon Bennett

    Five Azure Options for Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs)

    As I speak to MS partners from across the country, a single theme always emerges from the discussions: “how do I make Azure work for my SMB clients?”

    Azure is big and it is not like our traditional on-premise implementations. Back in the day, a typical implementation would consist of a few servers, desktops, switches, etc. We would set up the environment systematically, working through the checklist: install server, promote to DC, configure roles, setup member server with LOB applications, the checklist goes on. For the most part, it was the same basic procedure for each client. Once the client was setup, we would then explain to them how to work within the confines of the software and the implementation. It was a one-box-fits-all type of solution.

    Azure has changed that. Now, instead of squeezing the client into the pre-defined box, we can apply different boxes to the client to give them the best possible solution. Azure provides boxes in several shapes and sizes that can be tailored to each client’s business needs. Here are the five most popular Azure services that work well for the SMB client:

    1. Backup
      1. Azure backup provides an easy and automatic backup for servers (2008 R2 and higher), client machines (Windows 7 and higher), and Azure virtual machines. These backups are encrypted, compressed, and most importantly, off-site. 
      2. Disaster Recovery
        1. Azure Site Recovery, without the requirement for System Center, enables us to make a replica of our on-premise VMs in Azure. It is the perfect DR solution for SMBs, as it is easy to setup, and well within the budgets of SMB clients. 
        2. Enterprise Mobility Suite

    EMS combines three standalone products: Azure Active Directory Premium, Intune, and Azure Rights Management. Combining these 3 services facilitates you to control and manage devices, users, and data.

    Azure Active Directory Premium – from multi-factor authentication, to reporting and single sign on to 2500 SAS apps, and on-premise synchronization, AA is your identity management and control center in and for the cloud.

    Intune – manage the explosion of the BYOD movement in your clients’ environments. Register and manage these devices, including the option for selective wipe of devices, and password resets. Publish apps for your users and manage it all from a single pane of glass.

    Azure Rights Management – keep data safe as we move away from the traditional brick and mortar environment. ARM allows you to control where your data goes and who has access to it.

    1. Virtual Machines
      1. Azure virtual machines enable the SMB clients to expand the datacenter to Azure. VMs can be used in a variety of ways, from production to test/dev. There are several advantages to using Azure VMs over on-premise virtual machines. 

                                                                   i.      Fast – a fully configured SQL server VM can be up and running in about 10 minutes.

                                                                 ii.      Scalable – scale up, or just as important, scale down as your environment changes.

                                                                iii.      Consumption-based – you only pay for the resources you use.

                                                               iv.      When finished with the VM, you can delete it.

                                                                 v.      Licensing, for the most part, is included when you use a VM template. Please check the specific licensing details for non-MS VM templates.

    1. Remote App
      1. Hosting Line of Business applications has never been easier. Using Remote App in Azure, you can offer the LOB applications to clients using the secure and familiar Remote App interface and keep the data secure in Azure or on-premise. 

     

    These are just a few of the services to help you help your clients. Keep in mind that they can be used separately or in combination with each other, depending on what is best for your client. Azure is a great option for SMBs as it provides a flexibility that SMB clients have never had previously. It enables these clients to grow as big as they want to; both they and you are no longer limited by resources, or on the other hand, the lack of. From app development to websites, SQL databases, and content streaming, Azure can be customized for each client. Now that your clients can focus on growing their businesses and not what they run on, their SMBs will be given the opportunity to grow.

     About the author

    Sharon Bennett brings over 20 years of IT experience from a variety of roles, including running her own business as an Small Business IT Consultant. She is a Microsoft Small Business Specialist, MVP, MCT (alumni) and holds several Microsoft certifications. Sharon is an IT Blogger (Biz-Tech’s Top 50 Must read IT Blogs 2013), Best In Biz International judge, author, teacher and active member of her local community. Follow her on Twitter @bennettbusiness 

    About MVP Monday


    The MVP Monday Series is created by Melissa Travers. In this series we work to provide readers with a guest post from an MVP every Monday. Melissa is a Community Program Manager, formerly known as MVP Lead, for Messaging and Collaboration (Exchange, Lync, Office 365 and SharePoint) and Microsoft Dynamics in the US. She began her career at Microsoft as an Exchange Support Engineer and has been working with the technical community in some capacity for almost a decade. In her spare time she enjoys going to the gym, shopping for handbags, watching period and fantasy dramas, and spending time with her children and miniature Dachshund. Melissa lives in North Carolina and works out of the Microsoft Charlotte office.


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    Join us for Windows 10 Developer Readiness – Powered by MVPs!

    From June 8thto 12th, you can gain first-hand guidance on how to leverage the new Windows 10 development model in a series of live global webcasts presented
    and moderated by Microsoft MVPs.

    *** Click here to choose your webcast and REGISTER TODAY***

    These webcasts are a great opportunity for you to not only learn the foundations of universal app development in Windows 10, but also to connect with some of the top experts in your country and/or language.

    Bring your app development questions and have them answered live, by the experts, and learn how to take advantage of the great opportunities ahead in the Universal Windows Platform.

      

    *** Click here to choose your webcast and REGISTER TODAY***

     Share this great opportunity with your developer community: #Win10MVP!

    *There’s no limit to the number of attendees per webcast*

    Here are some Tweets to help:

    • Want to build apps or bring your apps to the new Universal Windows Platform? Register for
    • #Win10MVP at http://aka.ms/Win10MVP
    • Join #Win10MVP at http://aka.ms/Win10MVP to learn about Windows 10 app development from local Microsoft MVPs.
    • Learn how to build Windows 10 apps with some of the top industry experts http://aka.ms/Win10MVP #Win10MVP

    We look forward to connecting with you at this great worldwide event!

     


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    Editor’s note: In partnership with Microsoft Press, MVPs have been contributing to an ongoing guest series on their official team blog. Today’s article is from SharePoint MVP Inderjeet Singh Jaggi and is the 53rd in the series. Thanks, Inderjeet!

    Create a SharePoint Production Farm on Azure

    After the release of my first MVP blog post, “Creating a Lab on Windows Azure,” I wanted to write another article continuing on this topic. I will try to dig more into the day to day requirements of SharePoint server and its implementation. I saw a lot of companies that didn’t move to Azure because of the network security control which they have on premise. This may have been the case sometime back as NSG (Network Security Group) was not yet released on Azure.

    In a normal SharePoint farm scenario, DMZ (Demilitarize Zone) is used to prevent WFE (Web Front End) servers. Now we will understand how we can use NSG to manage our network and create a network similar to DMZ (Demilitarize Zone). Now that we can manage network traffic on Azure, we can create our SharePoint farm on Azure server. Let’s see how we can accomplish this.

    To proceed further you need to understand a topic I discussed in my previous blog post, “Creating a Lab on Windows Azure.” Please make sure you review that post before we begin.

    Topics covered in my older post.

    • Connect to your Azure Subscription using PowerShell.
    • Create a Virtual Network in Azure
    • Create a server on Azure in the Virtual Network
    • Create a new domain
    • Update Domain setting on Virtual Network and bind it to Private IP on DC
    • When creating a new server it should be part of this domain

    Topics we will discuss in this post


     Create SharePoint and SQL VM, add them to existing domain.
    • Configure SharePoint farm
    • Access SharePoint site from Internet and connect server from any machine
    • Create NSG rules to restrict access to access to SharePoint\Database servers
    • Confirm SharePoint\Database server are secure while internet site is working fine

    • Create SharePoint and SQL VM, add them to existing domain.
    Once we have Domain Controller and Azure Network setup, we will create Virtual machines on Azure servers. To do so we will follow below steps.

    Click here to continue reading the full article

    About the author

    Inderjeet Singh has around 10+ years of professional experience in SharePoint administration. He has good knowledge of migration, implementation and design architecture of SharePoint servers. He was amongst the 1st few contributor who hosted a custom App on SharePoint Store which was later removed. He worked on all versions of SharePoint (From 2001 to 2013). I write SharePoint and azure articles on my website.

    About MVP Monday
     

    The MVP Monday Series is created by Melissa Travers. In this series we work to provide readers with a guest post from an MVP every Monday. Melissa is a Community Program Manager, formerly known as MVP Lead, for Messaging and Collaboration (Exchange, Lync, Office 365 and SharePoint) and Microsoft Dynamics in the US. She began her career at Microsoft as an Exchange Support Engineer and has been working with the technical community in some capacity for almost a decade. In her spare time she enjoys going to the gym, shopping for handbags, watching period and fantasy dramas, and spending time with her children and miniature Dachshund. Melissa lives in North Carolina and works out of the Microsoft Charlotte office.

    The MVP Monday Series is
    created by Melissa Travers. In this series we work to provide readers with a
    guest post from an MVP every Monday. Melissa is a Community Program Manager,
    formerly known as MVP Lead, for Messaging and Collaboration (Exchange, Lync,
    Office 365 and SharePoint) and Microsoft Dynamics in the US. She began her
    career at Microsoft as an Exchange Support Engineer and has been working with
    the technical community in some capacity for almost a decade. In her spare time
    she enjoys going to the gym, shopping for handbags, watching period and fantasy
    dramas, and spending time with her children and miniature Dachshund. Melissa
    lives in North Carolina and works out of the Microsoft Charlotte office.

     


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    Sometimes it seems like an idea takes on a life of its own. When the idea is to bring people from around the world together on a single day to work and learn in the cloud, the results can be amazing.

    It all started several MVP Global Summits ago. “People started talking about it, getting interested in it, and then when everyone got together again for MVP Global Summit 2013, you could see the idea was going somewhere,” recalled Microsoft Azure MVP Michael Wood. Microsoft Azure MVPs Maarten Balliauw and Magnus Mårtensson suggested it would be cool if the community could organize a number of boot camps on the same day. The number they were thinking of was 10. The number that happened on April 27, 2013, was 94.

    Now in its fourth year, the Global Azure Bootcamp recently brought together 183 user group events. Attendees—ranging from first-time users to full-time experts—met up on social media to run an enormous shared lab of tens of thousands of virtual machines, enhancing their Microsoft Azure knowledge and participating in a massive compute pool to perform breast cancer research.

    The Global Azure Bootcamp continues to be an event entirely run by the community for community. As Scott Hanselman, Microsoft principal program manager of Azure and Web Tools explained prior to this year’s event on the Global Azure Bootcamp Science Lab page: “The power of the cloud is not just in scalable elastic servers that work together as one, but also the power of people working towards a singular goal. The Global Azure Bootcamp is thousands of folks working and learning together to be better developers, makers, and creators. This year they are also throwing their considerable weight behind the cause of breast cancer and I applaud them for it!”
    The 2015 Global Azure Bootcamp also featured a friendly racing competition between countries. You can see the results here, as well as a video by the game’s creator, Windows Azure MVP Alan Smith.  And you can find a map of the worldwide events, as well as a list of locations and their organizers, here.

    The 2015 Global Azure Bootcamp also featured a friendly racing competition between countries. You can see the results here, as well as a video by the game’s creator, Windows Azure MVP Alan Smith.  And you can find a map of the worldwide events, as well as a list of locations and their organizers, here.


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