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Windows Azure becoming an unbeatable offering on the cloud computing market

Almost a year ago, when –among others– the Windows Azure Mobile Services Preview came out, it became evident that Microsoft has a quite old heritage in cloud computing as it is the case that The cloud experience vision of .NET by Microsoft 12 years ago and its delivery now with Windows Azure, Windows 8/RT, Windows Phone, iOS and Android among others [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Sept 16-20, 2012]. Next, with Windows Azure Media Services, an interesting question came up: Windows Azure Media Services OR Intel & Microsoft going together in the consumer space (again)? [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Feb 13, 2013]. Then  just in the beginning of this month it was possible to conclude that “Cloud first” from Microsoft is ready to change enterprise computing in all of its facets [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, June 4, 2013]. The understanding of importance of the cloud for the company was further enhanced by finding a few days later that Windows Embedded is an enterprise business now, like the whole Windows business, with Handheld and Compact versions to lead in the overall Internet of Things market as well [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, June 8, 2013]. Finally we had a quite vivid example of the fact that Windows Azure is a huge ecosystem effort as well with: Proper Oracle Java, Database and WebLogic support in Windows Azure including pay-per-use licensing via Microsoft + the same Oracle software supported on Microsoft Hyper-V as well [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, June 20, 2013].

Now we have general availability of Windows Azure Mobile Services, Windows Azure Web Sites, as well as previews of improved auto-scaling, alerting and notifications, and tooling support for Windows Azure through Visual Studio. This made me conclude that Windows Azure is becoming an unbeatable offering on the cloud computing market.

Let’s see now the details which I will base not only on the Microsoft materials but on the first media reactions (also in order to have consistency with my post of yesterday on Windows 8.1: Mind boggling opportunities, finally some appreciation by the media [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, June 27, 2013]) as well:

Media reactions in the first 15 hours:

Specific reactions:

Windows Azure Mobile Services, Windows Azure Web Sites – general availability:

Using Azure Mobile Services and Web Sites for a Mobile Contest pt. 1 [windowsazure YouTube channel, June 27, 2013]

This 2-part video is a walk-through of a Mobile Contest project. It demonstrates how to Azure Mobile Services and Web Sites can be used to create a consistent set of services used as a back-end for an iOS mobile app and a .NET web admin portal. Part 1 covers: Using multiple authentication providers, Reading/Writing data with tables and Interacting with Azure storage for BLOBs

Using Azure Mobile Services and Web Sites for a Mobile Contest pt. 2 [windowsazure YouTube channel, June 27, 2013]

Part 2 covers: Using Azure Web Sites for the admin portal, Integrating with Custom API with cross-platform Push notifications and using Scheduler with 3rd Party add-ons for scripting admin tasks.

Partner support:

Xamarin with Craig Dunn [windowsazure YouTube channel, June 27, 2013]

Xamarin provides a frameword that lets developers buildiOS and Android applicatinos in C#. With Windows Azure Mobile Services, developers can connect those mobile apps by hosting the backend in Window Azure. Mobile Services provides a turnkey way to store data in the cloud, authenticate users and send push notifications. Get started at http://www.windowsazure.com/mobile

Building a Comprehensive Enterprise Cloud Ecosystem [Windows Azure blog, June 20, 2013]

Over the past two decades, Microsoft has worked with OEMs, Systems Integrators, ISVs, CSVs, Distributors and VARs to build one of the largest enterprise partner ecosystems in the world.  We’ve done this because customers – and the industry – need solutions that just work together.  With our partners we built the most comprehensive enterprise technology ecosystem – and, now, we’re focused on the enterprise cloud.
That’s why you’ve seen us work with Amazon, to bring Windows Server, SQL Server and the entire Microsoft stack to Amazon Web Services, and with EMC who owns VMware and Pivotal – key competitors in their respective areas.  We also work with innovative companies like Emotive, with Systems Integrators like Accenture and Capgemini and a host of other partners – large, small and non-commercial – around the world and across the industry.
The need for diverse technologies and companies to work together is clear – and that means competitors are often partners.  To many in the industry that is a given – and it really should be.  The need for technologies to work together is particularly clear in cloud computing – where platforms and services are so incredibly connected they must work together to deliver cloud computing benefits when and how customers want it.
So, it should not be a surprise when we partner with technology leaders who are also competitors.  We partner with these companies (and plan to partner with more) to bring our products & services to as many customers as possible.  We will continue to work across the industry to ensure our products & services work with the many platforms, business apps, services and clouds our customers use.
As you may have heard me say, it’s been an exciting year for Windows Azure – and we are just 6 months in.  Stay tuned – there’s more to come!
Steven Martin
General Manager
Windows Azure

All other:

Overall reactions:

Windows Azure Now Stores 8.5 Trillion Data Objects, Manages 900K Transactions Per Second [TechCrunch, June 27, 2013]

Microsoft announced at the Build conference today that Windows Azure now has 8.5 trillion objects stored on its infrastructure.

The company also announced the following:

  • Customers do 900,000 storage transactions per second.
  • The service is doubling its compute and storage every six months.
  • 3.2 million organizations have Active Directory accounts with 68 million users.
  • More than 50 percent of the world’s Fortune 500 companies are using Windows Azure.

In comparison, Amazon Web Services said at its AWS Summit in New York earlier this year that its S3 storage service now holds more than 2 trillion objects. According to a post by Frederic Lardinois, that’s up from 1 trillion last June and 1.3 trillion in November, when the company last updated these numbers at its re:Invent conference.

So what accounts for the differene between Azure and AWS? It all has to do with how each company counts the objects it stores. With that in consideration, it’s likely Azure’s numbers are far different if the same metrics were used as AWS.

Nevertheless, the news highlights the importance of Windows Azure for Microsoft, especially as the enterprise moves its infrastructure, shedding data centers to consolidate and reduce their costs.

Build 2013 Keynote Day 2 Highlights [InfoQ, June 27, 2013]

Server & Tools Business President Satya Nadella opened the keynote this morning with some statistics about Windows Azure and the major Microsoft cloud services.
Windows Azure
    – 50% of Fortune 500 companies are using Windows Azure
    – 3.2 Million organizations with active directory accounts
    – 2 X compute + storage every 6 months
    – 100+ major service releases since Build 2012 to Windows Azure
      Major Microsoft Cloud Services
        – XBox Live 48 million subscribers
        – Skype 299 Million connected users
        – Outlook.com 1 million users gained in 24 hours
        – Office 365 Nearly 50 million Office web apps users
        – SkyDriver 250 million accounts
        – Bing 1 billion mobile notifications a month
        – XBox Live 1.5 Billion games of Halo
          Nadella noted the wide variety of first party cloud services that Microsoft supports, and says it is important that they support them as well as provides good learning experience.  In his words, “We build for the first party and make available for the third party.”
          Scott Hanselman arrived on stage to discuss the latest for ASP.NET on VS2013.  A big change is the simplification of starting an ASP.NET application in VS2013.  The project types have been reduced to one, “ASP.NET”, and from there the new project wizard lets developers customize their project based on what they would like to create: web forms, MVC, etc.
          VS2013 will ship with Twitter’s open source project Bootstrap, and it will be Microsoft supported just like jQuery is now.
          An important debugging achievement was demonstrated where browsers can be associated with Visual Studio, allowing for real-time debugging and developing.  Edit code in VS2013, and the browser(s) will reflect the updates.  In this case the demo showed Hanselman editing cshtml, and via SignalR the updates were shown on the his selected web browsers of IE and Chorme.
          In another example, Hanselman went to www.bootswatch.com to obtain a new CSS template which he used to overwrite his current file.  Pressing CTRL-ENTER, the browsers reflected this update.
          Then Hansleman opened a CSS file to show some new editor tricks.  Hovering over CSS statements, VS has a hover window appear that indicates which browser a particular statement applies to.  Another ability allows VS to trace and view live streaming trace logs from Azure.
          Then Hanselman demonstrated his sample website producing a QR Code of a deep link.  He then scanned this on his phone which allowed him to jump into his existing authenticated session, moving from his desktop session to the same screen on his phone.
          Satya returned to the stage to announce the general availability of Windows Azure Web Sites, which habe been in preview since Build 2012.  Now it is available with full SLA and enterprise support.
          Josh Twist from Microsoft’s Mobile Services came on stage to demonstrate using a Mac to add Azure support to an iOS app.  Twist noted that developers looking to explore Azure can now create a free 20 meg SQL database which in addition to the 10 free web services allowed.
          In Twist’s demo, Azure was used to create a custom XCode project that was preloaded with the appropriate Azure URLs for the project being worked on.  This simplifies getting up to speed with Azure development on Mac.  Related to this convenience, Windows Azure Mobile Services now enables git source control so that you do not need to edit code on the web portal.  So if you would rather develop with a locally (VS, Sublime, etc) you can do by pulling the files down from Azure and the push them back when edits are complete.  Twist demonstrated this functionality using Sublime to edit a JavaScript file, and then using a Git push back into Azure.
          VS2013 has a new Server Explorer, which is used to browse all of the Mobile Services on Windows Azure for your site/installation.  A new wizard has been added which simplifies adding Push Notification for Windows Store based applications.
          Satya Returns to Introduce Scott Guthrie.
          The big news is the new auto-scaling on Windows Azure for billing.  Developers can manage the instance count, target CPU, VMs, No billing when a machine is stopped (only pay when the machine is working.)
          Per minute billing has been added, for greater granularity.  Preview of Windows Azure AutoScale is now live
          Windows Azure
            – Active Directory for the Cloud
            – Integrate with on-premises Active Directory
            – Enable single sign-on within your cloud Apps
            – Supports SAML, WS-Fed, and OAuth 2.0
              Applications tab shows all apps registered with the current Active directory.  Manage Application to integrate (external) app with Active Directory.  For example, developers can Use Windows Azure AD to enable user access to Amazon Web Services.
              Satya describes Office 365 as “…a programmable surface area”
              Jay Schmelzer to demonstrated the changes being made to allow/promote Office 365 as a platform.
                – Rich Office Model
                – Use Web APIs to access
                – Extend with Azure
                – First class tools support in VS2013
                – Office 365 Apps + Windows Azure
                  Increasing promotion of Windows Azure, MSDN subscribers receive greater discounts and incentives to use the Azure platform.
                    1. Use your MSDN Dev/Test licenses on Windows Azure
                    2. Reduced rates for Dev/test licenses up to 97% discounts
                    3. No Credit card required for MSDN members

                    Microsoft showcases developer opportunity on Windows Azure, Windows devices [press release, June 27, 2013]

                    Increasing importance of cloud services
                    Developers today are building multidevice, multiscreen, cloud-connected experiences. Windows Azure spans infrastructure and platform capabilities to provide them with a comprehensive set of services to easily and quickly build modern applications, using the tools and languages familiar to them.
                    “Developers are increasingly demanding a flexible, comprehensive platform that helps them build and manage apps in a cloud- and mobile-driven world,” [Satya] Nadella [, president, Server and Tools Business] said. “To meet these demands, Microsoft has been doubling down on Windows Azure. Nearly 1,000 new businesses are betting on Windows Azure daily, and as momentum for Azure grows, so too does the developer opportunity to build applications that power modern businesses.”
                    Delivering on its commitment to provide developers with the most comprehensive cloud platform, Microsoft announced the general availability of Windows Azure Mobile Services. Mobile Services enables developers building Windows, Windows Phone, iOS and Android apps to store data in the cloud, authenticate users and send push notifications. TalkTalk Business, a leading business telecommunications provider in the United Kingdom, chose Windows Azure Mobile Services to create new ways to engage with its customers and serve demand for mobile access.
                    Microsoft also announced the general availability of Windows Azure Web Sites, which allows developers to create websites on a flexible, secure and scalable platform to reach new customers. With the investments Microsoft has made in ASP.NET and Web tools, Web developers can now create scalable experiences easier than ever. Dutch brewer Heineken is using Windows Azure to power a social pinball game for the UEFA Champions League Road to the Final campaign, with the expectations of millions of interactions scaled on Windows Azure. Heineken exceeded its usage metrics by a wide margin yet experienced no scalability issues with Windows Azure.
                    [Scott] Guthrie[, Corporate Vice President, Windows Azure] also highlighted Microsoft’s continued enterprise cloud momentum by demonstrating several platform advancements, including previews of improved auto-scaling, alerting and notifications, and tooling support for Windows Azure through Visual Studio. In addition, he previewed how Windows Azure Active Directory provides organizations and ISVs, such as Box, with a single sign-on experience to access cloud-based applications.
                    Developers can go to the Windows Azure site today for a free trial:http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/free-trial/?WT.mc_id=AE37323DE.

                    Windows Azure: General Availability of Web Sites + Mobile Services, New AutoScale + Alerts Support, No Credit Card Needed for MSDN [ScottGu’s Blog, June 27, 2013 at 10:41 AM]

                    This morning we released a major set of updates to Windows Azure.  These updates included:

                    • Web Sites: General Availability Release of Windows Azure Web Sites with SLA
                    • Mobile Services: General Availability Release of Windows Azure Mobile Services with SLA
                    • Auto-Scale: New automatic scaling support for Web Sites, Cloud Services and Virtual Machines
                    • Alerts/Notifications: New email alerting support for all Compute Services (Web Sites, Mobile Services, Cloud Services, and Virtual Machines)
                    • MSDN: No more credit card requirement for sign-up

                    All of these improvements are now available to use immediately (note: some are still in preview).  Below are more details about them.

                    Windows Azure: Major Updates for Mobile Backend Development [ScottGu’s Blog, June 14, 2013]

                    This week we released some great updates to Windows Azure that make it significantly easier to develop mobile applications that use the cloud. These new capabilities include:
                    Mobile Services: Custom API support
                    Mobile Services: Git Source Control support
                    Mobile Services: Node.js NPM Module support
                    Mobile Services: A .NET API via NuGet
                    Mobile Services and Web Sites: Free 20MB SQL Database Option for Mobile Services and Web Sites
                    Mobile Notification Hubs: Android Broadcast Push Notification Support
                      All of these improvements are now available to use immediately (note: some are still in preview).  Below are more details about them.

                      Windows Azure: Announcing New Dev/Test Offering, BizTalk Services, SSL Support with Web Sites, AD Improvements, Per Minute Billing [ScottGu’s Blog, June 3, 2013]

                      This morning we released some fantastic enhancements to Windows Azure:

                      • Dev/Test in the Cloud: MSDN Use Rights, Unbeatable MSDN Discount Rates, MSDN Monetary Credits
                      • BizTalk Services: Great new service for Windows Azure that enables EDI and EAI integration in the cloud
                      • Per-Minute Billing and No Charge for Stopped VMs: Now only get charged for the exact minutes of compute you use, no compute charges for stopped VMs
                      • SSL Support with Web Sites: Support for both IP Address and SNI based SSL bindings on custom web-site domains
                      • Active Directory: Updated directory sync utility, ability to manage Office 365 directory tenants from Windows Azure Management Portal
                      • Free Trial: More flexible Free Trial offer

                      There are so many improvements that I’m going to have to write multiple blog posts to cover all of them!  Below is a quick summary of today’s updates at a high-level:

                      From Announcing LightSwitch in Visual Studio 2013 Preview [Visual Studio LightSwitch Team Blog, June 27, 2013]

                      Sneak Peek into the Future

                      At this point, I’d like to shift focus and provide a glimpse of a key part of our future roadmap. During this morning’s Build 2013 Day 2 keynote in San Francisco, an early preview was provided into how Visual Studio will enable the next generation of line-of-business applications in the cloud (you can check out the recording via Channel 9). A sample app was built during the keynote that highlighted some of the capabilities of what it means to be a modern business application; applications that run in the cloud, that are available to a myriad of devices, that aggregate data and services from in and out of an enterprise, that integrate user identities and social graphs, that are powered by a breadth of collaboration capabilities, and that continuously integrate with operations.

                      Folks familiar with LightSwitch will quickly notice that the demo was deeply anchored in LightSwitch’s unique RAD experience and took advantage of the rich platform capabilities exposed by Windows Azure and Office 365. We believe this platform+tools combination will take productivity to a whole new level and will best help developers meet the rising challenges and expectations for building and managing modern business applications. If you’re using LightSwitch today, you will be well positioned to take advantage of these future enhancements and leverage your existing skills to quickly create the next generation of business applications across Office 365 and Windows Azure. You can read more about this on Soma’s blog.

                      Additional information:
                      Announcing the General Availability of Windows Azure Mobile Services, Web Sites and continued Service innovation [Windows Azure blog, June 27, 2013]
                      50 Percent of Fortune 500 Using Windows Azure [Windows Azure blog, June 14, 2013]
                      Azure WebSites is now Generally Available [Enabling Digital Society blog of Microsoft, June 27, 2013]
                      New features for Windows Azure Mobile Services [Enabling Digital Society blog of Microsoft, June 14, 2013]
                      Lots of Azure Goodness Revealed [Enabling Digital Society blog of Microsoft, June 3, 2013]
                      BizTalk Services is LIVE! [To BizTalk and Beyond! blog of Microsoft, June 3, 2013]
                      Hello Windows Azure BizTalk Services! [BizTalk Server Team Blog, June 4, 2013]
                      Windows Azure BizTalk Services – Preview [The Enterprise Integration Space blog of Microsoft, June 4, 2013]
                      Business Apps, Cloud Apps, and More at Build 2013 [Somasegar’s blog, June 27, 2013]

                      Day 2 Keynote [Channel 9 video, June 27, 2013] Windows Azure related part up to [01:31:12], click on the link or the image to watch the video

                      image

                      Speech transcript: Satya Nadella and Scott Guthrie: Build 2013 Keynote

                      Remarks by Satya Nadella, President, Server & Tools Business; and Scott Guthrie, Corporate Vice President, Windows Azure; San Francisco, Calif., June 27, 2013

                      ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome President, Server and Tools Business, Satya Nadella. (Applause.)

                      SATYA NADELLA: Good morning. Good morning, and welcome back to day two of Build. Hope all of you had a fantastic time yesterday. From what I gather, there were half a trillion megabytes of downloads as far as the show goes in terms of show net, so we really saturated the show net with all the downloads of Windows 8.1. So that’s just tremendous to see that all of you took Steve’s guidance and said, “Let’s just download it now and play with it.” Hopefully you had fun with it, also had a chance to get Visual Studio and maybe hack some of those Bing controls last night after the party.

                      But welcome back today, and we have some fantastic stuff to show. There’s going to be a lot more code onscreen as part of this keynote.

                      Yesterday, we talked about our devices, and we’re going to switch gears this morning to talk about the backend.

                      The context for the backend is the apps, the technology, as well as the devices, experiences that all of us collectively are building. We’re for sure well and truly into the world of devices and services. There is not an embedded system, not a sensor, not a device experience that’s not connected back to our cloud service. And that’s what we’re going to talk about.

                      And we see this momentum today in how we are seeing the backend evolve. If you look at Windows Azure, we have over 50 percent of the Fortune 500 companies already using Windows Azure. We have over 250,000 customers. We’re adding 1,000 customers a day.

                      We have 3.2 million distinct organizations inside of Azure AD representing something like 65 million users active. That’s a fantastic opportunity, and we’ll come back to that a couple of different times during this keynote.

                      Our storage and compute resources are doubling every six months. Our storage, in fact, is 8.5 trillion storage objects today, doing around 900K transactions per second. Something like 2 trillion transactions a month.

                      The last point, which is around the hypervisor growth, where we’re seeing tremendous hypervisor share growth is interesting. Because we are unique in that we not only are building an at-scale public cloud service, but we’re also taking all of the software technology that is underneath our public cloud service and making it available as part of our server products for service providers and enterprises to stand up their own cloud. That’s something pretty unique to us.

                      Given that, we’re seeing tremendous growth for the high-end servers that people are buying and the high-end server software people are buying from us to deploy their own cloud infrastructure in support of the applications that you all are building.

                      Now, of course at the end of the day, all that momentum has to be backed up by some product. And in that case, Steve talked a lot about our cadence and increased cadence across our devices. But when it comes to Windows Azure and our public cloud service, that cadence takes on a different hyper drive, if you will, because we are every day, every week, every month doing major updates. We’ve done over 100-plus major updates to our services from the last Build to now.

                      In fact, this is even translating into a much faster cadence for our server. We now have the R2 updates to our 2012 that were made available yesterday. So all around, when it comes to server technology and cloud technology, we have some of the fastest cadences, but very targeted on the new scenarios and applications and technologies that you’re building to run these cloud services.

                      Now, one of the other things that drives us and is at play for us on a daily basis is the feedback cycle of our first-party workloads. We have perhaps the most diverse set of first-party workloads at Microsoft. You know, these are SaaS applications that we run ourselves.

                      image

                      Now, these applications keep us honest, especially if you’re in the infrastructure business, you’ve got to live this live site availability day in and day out. And the diversity also keeps us honest because you build out your storage compute network, the application containers, to meet the needs of the diversity these applications represent.

                      Take Xbox. When they started Xbox Live in 2002, they had around 500 servers. Now, they use something like 300,000 servers, which are all part of our public cloud to be able to really drive their experiences. Halo itself has had over a billion games played, and something like 270 million hours of gameplay. And Halo uses the cloud in very interesting ways for pre-production, rendering support, gameplay, post-production analytics, the amount of real-time analytics that’s driving the continuous programming of Halo is pretty stunning.

                      Take SkyDrive. We have over 250 million accounts. You combine SkyDrive with the usage of Office Web Apps, where we have more than 50 million users of Office Web Apps, you can see a very different set of things that are happening with storage, collaboration, productivity.

                      Skype is re-architecting their core architecture to take advantage of the cloud for their 190-plus million users.

                      Bing apps that you saw many of them yesterday as part of Windows 8.1 are using the Azure backend to do a lot of things like notifications, which is one of the core scenarios for any mobile apps. And it’s going to send something like a billion notifications a month.

                      So all of these diverse needs that we have been building infrastructure for, we have this one simple mantra where “first party equals third party.” That means we build for our first party and make all of that available for our third party. And that feedback cycle is a fantastic cycle for us.

                      Now, when you put it all together, you put what we’re building, what you’re building, we see the activity on Azure, we listen to our customers, and you sort of distill it and say, “What are the key patterns of the modern business for cloud? What are the applications people are building?”

                      Three things emerge: People are building Web-centric applications. People are building mobile-centric applications. And what we call cloud-scale and enterprise-grade applications. So the rest of the presentation is all about getting into the depth of each of these patterns.

                      Now, in support of these applications, we’re building a very robust Windows Azure app model. Now, of course, at the bottom of the app model is our infrastructure. We run 18-plus datacenters on our own, 100-plus co-locations. We have an edge network. And so that is the physical plant. But the key thing is it’s the fabric, the operating system that we build to manage all of those resources.

                      At the compute-storage-network level, at the datacenter scale and multi-datacenter scale. And that really is the operating system that is Windows at the backend, at this point, which in fact shipped even in Windows Server for a different scale unit.

                      But that infrastructure management or resource management is one part of the operating system.

                      Then about that, you have all the application containers. And we’re unique in providing a complete IaaS plus PaaS, which is infrastructure as a service and platform as a service capability when it comes to application containers. Everything from virtual machines with full persistence to websites to mobile to media services to cloud services. So that capability is what allows you to build these rich applications and very capable applications.

                      Now, beyond that, we also believe that we can completely change the economics of what complex applications have needed in the past. We can take both productivity around development and continuous deployment and cycling through your code of any complex application and reduce it by orders of magnitude.

                      image

                      Take identity. We are going to change the nature of how people set up your applications to be able to accept multiple identities, have strong authentication and authorization, how to have a directory with rich people schema underneath it that you can use for authorization.

                      Integration, take all of the complex business-to-business or EI type of project that you have to write a lot of setup before you even write the core logic; we want to change the very nature of how you go about that with our integration services.

                      And when it comes to data, there is not a single application now that doesn’t have a diverse set of needs when it comes to the data from everything from SQL to NoSQL, all types of processing from transactional to streaming to interactive BI to MapReduce. And we have a full portfolio of storage technologies all provided as platform services so that your application development can be that much richer and that much easier.

                      Now, obviously, the story will not be complete without great tooling and great programming model. What we are doing with Visual Studio, we will see a lot of it throughout the demos. .NET, as well as our support for some of the cloud services around continuous development — everything from source code control, project management, build, monitoring — all of that technology pulled together, really take everything underneath it to a next level from an application development perspective.

                      But also supporting all the other frameworks. In fact, just this week we announced with Oracle that we will have even more first-class support for Java on Windows Azure. And so we have support for node, we have support for PHP and so on. So we have a fantastic set of language bindings to all of our platform support and a first-class support for Visual Studio .NET, as well as TFS with Git when it comes to application development.

                      So that’s really the app model. And the rest of the presentation is really for us to see a lot of this in action.

                      Let me just start with our IaaS and PaaS and virtual machines. We launched our IaaS service just in April. In fact, we have tremendous momentum. Something like 20 percent of all of Azure compute already is IaaS capacity. So that’s tremendous growth.

                      The gallery of images is constantly improving and increasing in size, in depth, breadth, and variety. In fact, if you want to spin up Windows Server 2012 R2, I would encourage you to go off to the Azure gallery and spin it up because it’s available as of yesterday there, and so that will be a fantastic use of the Azure IaaS, and test that out.

                      imageSo what I want to talk about is websites. We’ve made a lot of investments in websites. And when we say “websites” we mean enterprise-grade Web infrastructure for your most mission-critical applications. Because if you think about it, your website is your front door to your business. It could be a SaaS business, it could be an enterprise business, but it’s the front door to your business. And you want the most robust enterprise-scale infrastructure for it. And we’ve invested to build the best Web stack with the best performance, load balancing built in, elasticity built in, and from a development perspective, integrated all the way into Visual Studio.

                      So we think that what we have in our website technology is the best-in-class Web for the enterprise-grade applications you want to build.

                      Now, you can also start up for free, and you can scale up. So maybe even the starting process with our Web, very, very easy.

                      imageNow, of course having Web technology is one, but it’s also very important for us to have a lot of framework support. And we have a lot of frameworks. But the one framework that we hold close and dear to our heart is ASP.NET. This is something that we have continued to innovate in significant ways. One of the things that we’ve done with the new version of ASP.NET, which is in preview as part of .NET 4.5.1. is the one ASP.NET. Which means that you can have one project where you can bring all of the technologies from Web forms to MVCs to Web APIs to signal all together.

                      We also improved our tooling from a scaffolding perspective across all of these frameworks.

                      You’re all building even these rich Web applications. So these single-page Web applications. And for that, you need new frameworks. We have Bootstrap. You also want to be able to call into the server side, we made that easy with OLAP support, we made it easy with Web APIs. So this makes it much easier for you now to be able to build these rich Web apps.

                      And Entity Framework. We’ve now plumbed async all the way back into the server. So now, you can imagine if you’re building one of those social media applications with lots of operations on the client, as well as needing the same async capabilities on the backend, you now have async end to end.

                      So a lot of this innovation is, I think, in combination with our Web is going to completely change how you could go about building your Web applications and your Web technologies.

                      To show you some of this in action, I wanted to invite up onstage Scott Hanselman from our Web team. Scott? (Applause.)

                      SCOTT HANSELMAN: Hello, friends. I’m going to show you some of the great, new stuff that we’ve got in ASP.NET and Visual Studio 2013.
                      I’m going to go here and hit file, new, project. And you’ll notice right off the bat that we’ve got just one ASP.NET Web application choice. This is delivering on that promise of one ASP.NET. (Applause.)
                      Awesome, I’m glad you dig that. And this is not the final dialog, but there is no MVC project or Web forms project anymore. I can go and say I want MVC with Web API or I want Web forms plus MVC. But there is, at its core, just one ASP.NET.
                      We’ve got an all-new authentication system. I can go in here and pick organizational accounts, use Active Directory or Azure Active Directory, do Windows auth.
                      For this application, I’m going to use an individual user account. I’m going to make a geek trivia app. So I’ll hit create project.
                      Now, of course when you’re targeting for the Web, it’s not realistic to target just one browser. We’re not going to use just Internet Explorer; we’re going to use every browser and try to make this have as much reach as possible.
                      So up here, I’m going to click “browse with” and then pick both Internet Explorer and Google Chrome and set them both as the default browser. (Applause.)
                      Now, we’ll go ahead and run our application. And I’ll snap Visual Studio off to the side here. You notice Visual Studio just launched IE and Chrome.
                      You can see that we’re using Twitter Bootstrap. We’re shipping Bootstrap with ASP.NET; you get a nice, responsive template. We’ve got the great icons, grid system, works on mobile. And that’s going to ship just like we shipped jQuery, as a fully supported item within ASP.NET, even though it’s open source.
                      I’m going to open up my index.cs HTML over here. You can see we’ve got ASP.NET as my H1. Notice next to multiple browsers, we’ve got a new present for you. You see this button right here? We’re running SignalR in process inside of Visual Studio, and there’s now a real-time connection between Visual Studio and any number of browsers that are running.
                      So now I can type in the new geek quiz application and hit this button. And using Web standards and Web sockets, we’ve just talked to any number of browsers. (Applause.)
                      Now, this is just scratching the surface of what we’re going to be able to do. What’s important isn’t the live reload example I’ve just shown you, but rather the idea that there’s a fundamental two-directional link now between any browser, including mobile browsers or browser simulators and Visual Studio.
                      Now, this is using the Bootstrap default template, which is kind of default. So I’m going to go up to Bootswatch, which is a great website that saves us from the tyranny of the default template.
                      And I’m going to pick — this looks appropriately garish. I’m going to pick this one here. And I’m going to just right click and say “save target as” and then download a different CSS, and I’m going to save that right over the top of the one that came with ASP.NET.
                      And then I’ll come back over here and use the hotkey control/alt/enter and update the linked browsers. And you’ll see that right there, the hotdog theme is back today, and this is the kind of high-quality design and attention to — I can’t do that with a straight face — attention to detail and design that you’ve come to expect from us at Microsoft. That’s beautiful, isn’t it? You’ve got to feel good about that, everybody.
                      I’m going to head over into Azure. And I’m going to say “new website.” You know, creating websites is really, really easy from within the portal. I’ll say geek quiz. Blah, blah, blah, and I’m going to make a new website.
                      And this is going to fire up in the cloud right now. You can see it’s going and creating that. And that’s going to be ready and waiting to go when it’s time for me to publish from Visual Studio.
                      Now, I’m going to fast forward in time here and close down this application and then do a little Julia Child action and switch into an application that’s a little bit farther along.
                      So we’re going to write a geek quiz or a geek trivia app. And it’s going to have Model View Controller and Web API on the server. And it’s going to send JSON across the wire over to the client side. This trivia controller, which is ASP.NET, Web API is going to be feeding that.
                      This is code that I’m not really familiar with. I can spend a lot of time scrolling around, or I could right click on the scroll bar, hit scroll bar options, and some of you fans may remember this guy. It’s back. And now you’ve got map mode inside of the scroll bar. I can move around, find my code really, really easily. Here is the GET method. Notice that this GET method is going to return the trivia questions into my application here. And it’s marked as async. We’ve got async and await all the way through. So this asynchronous Web API method is then going to call this service call, next question async.
                      Now, I could right click and say “go to definition.” But I could also say “peek definition.” And without actually opening the source code, see what’s going on in that file. (Applause.)
                      I could promote that if I wanted to. You notice, of course, I’m using Entity Framework 6, I’ve got async and await from clients to servers to services all the way down into the database non-blocking I/O, async and await all the way down. I just hit escape to drop out of there. So it makes it really, really easy to move around my code.
                      So this is going to serve the trivial questions. I’m just going to hit control comma, go get my index.cs HTML.
                      Now, in this HTML editor that’s been completely rewritten in Visual Studio 2013, you notice that I’ve got a couple of things you may not have seen before in an ASP.NET app. I’ve got Handlebars, which is a templating engine, and I’ve got Ember. So we’ve got model view controller on the server and model view controller on the client. So we can start making those rich, single-page applications.
                      Now, this Ember application here has some JavaScript. And on the client, we’ve got a next question method. This is going to go and get that next question, and I’ve got that Web API call. So this is how the trivia app is going to get its information. And then when I answer the question, I’m going to go and send that and post that same RESTful service. So you’ve got really nice experience for front-end Web developers. That’s the Ember stuff.
                      Here, I’ve got the Handlebars. This is a client-side template. You can see right off the bat that I’ve got syntax highlighting for my Handlebars or my Moustache templating. And I’m going to go ahead and fire this up, and I’ll put IE off to the side there, and I’ll put VS over here.
                      And I’m going to log into my geek quiz app. See if I can type my own name a few times here, friends. There we go. And this is going to go and fetch a trivia question. See, it said, “loading question.” And then it says, “How many Scotts work on the Azure team?” Which is a lot, believe me.
                      You’ll see that that’s coming from this bound question tile. So we’ve got client-side data binding right there.
                      Now, I need to figure out what the buttons are going to look like. I’ve got the question, but I don’t have the buttons. I could start typing the HTML; that’s kind of boring. But I could use Visual Studio Web Essentials, which takes the extensibility points in Visual Studio and extends them even further.
                      And I could say something like hash fu dot bar and hit tab. And now I’ve got Zen Coding, also known as Emmet, built in with Web Essentials.
                      So that means I could go and say, you know, I need a button. And button has a button trivia class, but I need four of those buttons.
                      And then, again, I hit — you like that, kids? (Applause.) Then I hit refresh, and you’ll notice that my browser is updating as I’m going.
                      But that’s not really good. I need more information. I really want the text there that says “answer,” and I want to have answer one, answer two, answer three. So I’ll go like that. And then hit refresh, and then we’re seeing it automatically update.
                      So that looks like what I want it to look like. But I want to do that client-side data binding. So I’m going to take this here, and I’m going to spin through that JSON that came across the wire. So I’m going to go open Moustache, and I’m going to say for each, and again, syntax highlighting, great experience for the client-side developer.
                      I’m going to say for each option, and then we’ll close up each here. And answer one, just like question title is going to be bound. So I’m going to open that up, and I’m going to say option.title. And then when a user clicks on that button, we’re going to have an Ember action. I’m going to say the action is call that send answer passing in the question and then passing in the option that the user chose.
                      I just did an update with the hotkey, how many Scotts work on Azure? 42. How old is Guthrie? He is zero XFF because he’s quite old. What color is his favorite polo? Goldenrod, in fact, is my — no? I’m sorry, Goldenrod is the next version of Windows, Windows Goldenrod. So my mistake there.
                      That’s a pretty nice flip animation. Let’s take a look at that. I’m going to go ahead and hit control comma again and type in “flip.” Go right into the flip CSS. You’ll see that that animation actually used no JavaScript at all. That, in fact, was done entirely in CSS, which can sometimes be hard to figure out, but with Web Essentials, I can actually hover over a rule, and it’ll tell me which version of which browser which vendor prefix supports. (Applause.)
                      So that’s pretty hot. I’m going to go ahead and right click and hit publish. And because I’ve got the Azure SDK installed, I can do my publish directly from Visual Studio. We’re going to go and load our Azure website. Hit OK. It brings the publish settings right down into Visual Studio. And I can go and publish directly from here.
                      So now I’m doing a live publish out to Azure directly from Visual Studio. It goes and launches the browser for me.
                      And I can click over here on the Server Explorer, and Windows Azure actually appears on the side now. I can start and stop virtual machines, start and stop websites; they’re all integrated inside of the Server Explorer.
                      That’s my website. I can double click on it, and again, while I can go to the management portal, I can change my settings, my .NET version and my application logging without having to enter the portal.
                      So back over into my app, when I sign in, I know that people are going to be pushing buttons and answering questions backstage. I want to see that. I put in some tracing. So what I’m going to do is right click and say view streaming logs in the output window.
                      This is the Visual Studio output window. And I’m just going to pin that off to the side. And then as I’m answering questions, and it looks like someone backstage is answering questions as well. I’m getting live streaming trace logs from Azure fed directly into Visual Studio. (Applause.)
                      Now, you know that we’ve also rewritten the entire authentication infrastructure and made it based on OWIN, which is the Open Web Interface for .NET. It’s an open source framework that lets you have pluggable middleware. So identity and authorization has been rewritten in a really, really clean way. And it allows us to do stuff that we really couldn’t do before and extend it in a pretty funny way.
                      And I think that every good sample involves a QR code, right? Don’t you think? This will bring the number of times that you’ve seen a QR code scanned in public to three. (Laughter.)
                      So what I want to do is I want to install this QR sample because I know people are going and checking out these trivia stats. And I’ve got SVG and SignalR giving me real-time updates as people are answering trivia questions.
                      I’m logged in right now as CHanselman. I want to take this session and I want to deep link into an authenticated session on a phone and then view these samples and take them with me.
                      So I’ve gone and used NuGet to bring in the QR sample. And now I’m going to go and publish that again to the same site. This is an incremental publish now. So this is going to go and send that new stuff up to Azure.
                      And then I’ll bring up my phone here. I’ve got my phone. And my camera guy, he follows me around. And I’m going to click on trivia stats. And here are the real-time trivia stats.
                      And then I’m going to click on transfer to mobile up here in the auth area. And we’re going to do is we’re going to generate a QR code. I’m going to then scan that code, and we get a deep link that pops up generated by ASP.NET that’s then going to bring me in IE, and now I’ve got SingnalR, SVG, and Flot all running inside of my browser and I’ve jumped into my authenticated session using OWIN, ASP.NET, and HTML5. It’s pretty fabulous stuff. (Applause.)
                      So we’ve got the promise of one ASP.NET; we’ve got browser link, bringing all of those browsers together with Web standards using SignalR. You saw Web Essentials as our playground that we’re adding new features to Visual Studio 2013. We can make Azure websites easily in the portal, publish directly from VS, logging, SignalR everywhere. Thanks very much, I hope you guys have fun. (Applause.)

                      SATYA NADELLA: So I hope you got a great feel for how we’re going to completely change or revolutionize Web development by innovation in tools, in the framework, and in the Web server in Windows Azure. And round-tripping across all three such that you can really do unimaginable things in a much more productive way.

                      We have over 130,000 active websites or Web applications today using Azure websites. Some big-name brands — Heineken, 3M, Toyota, Trek Bicycle — doing some very, very cool stuff using some of this technology.

                      I’m very, very pleased that we’re using all of that feedback to announce the general availability of Windows Azure Websites. This has been in preview now since last Build, and we’ve had some tremendous amount of feedback from all of the customers who have been using it. Many of them, obviously, in production. But now you can start using it for full SLA and enterprise support from us. So we’re really, really pleased to reach this milestone. Hope you get a chance to start using it as well. (Applause.)

                      I’m also pleased to announce the preview of Visual Studio 2013. You got to see it yesterday, today, and you’ll see a lot more of it. It’s just pretty stunning improvements in the tool itself. And combined with the .NET 4.5.1 framework update, you now have the previews of both the framework and the tools, and we really encourage you to give us feedback like you did the last time in your app development, and we’ll be watching for that.

                      imageSo now I want to switch to mobile. Now, when you think about mobile-centric application development, the key consideration perhaps more than anything else is how do you build these mobile apps fast? And since there’s not a single mobile experience or application you’re building which doesn’t have a cloud backend, then the natural question is: What can we do to really speed up the building of these cloud backends?

                      And that’s exactly what Azure Mobile Services does, which is we provide a very easy way for you to build out a backend for your mobile experiences and applications. We provide a rich set of services from identity to data to push notification, as well as background scripting.

                      imageAnd then, of course, we support all of the platforms, Windows, Windows Phone, Android, IOS, as well as HTML5.

                      To show you this in action, I wanted to invite up onstage Josh Twist from our Windows Azure Mobile Services team. Josh? (Applause, music.)

                      JOSH TWIST: Thanks. We launched Windows Azure Mobile Services into preview in August last year. And in case you weren’t familiar, mobile services makes it incredibly easy to add the power of Windows Azure to your Windows Store, Windows Phone, IOS, Android, and even Web and HTML applications.
                      To prove this to you, I’m going to give you a demo now of how easy it is to add the cloud services you need to an IOS application using this map.
                      Here we are in the gorgeous Azure portal, and creating a new mobile service couldn’t be easier. I click, new, compute, mobile service, create. I enter the name of my mobile service, and then I choose a database option.
                      And I want to point out, look at this new option we have here. You can now create a free 20-megabyte SQL database. Which means it’s now completely free for developers to work against Mobile Services with the 10 free services and that free 20-megabyte SQL database.
                      Now, I’ve already created a service we have here today that we’re going to use called My Lists. If I click on the name, I’m greeted by our quick start, which is a short tutorial that shows me how to build a to-do list application.
                      Now, I selected IOS, but this same mobile service could simultaneously power all of these platforms.
                      We’re going to create a new IOS application. And since it’s a to-do list app, I need a table to hold my to-do list items.
                      And then I’m going to download a personalized starter project. So here it comes. That’s a little zip file. And inside that zip file I’m downloading from the portal is an Xcode project. So if I double click this, it’ll open up in Xcode, and then we’re going to take a look at the source. Because what we’ve done is we’ve pre-bootstrapped the application to be ready to talk to Mobile Services. You’ll see it already contains the URL for my new mobile service.
                      So what I’m going to do is launch this in the simulator. And what we’ll see here is a little to-do list application that inserts, updates, and reads data from Windows Azure with each operation being a single line of code, even in Objective-C.
                      So I’m going to create a little to-do list item here to add to my tasks. Let’s just save that. So now that’s saved in Windows Azure. To prove that to you, I’m going to switch over to the portal. We take a look at the data tabs, and you’ll see I can drill into the table, view all of my data right here, and there’s the item I just added saved safely into a SQL database in Windows Azure.
                      Now, we have so many cool features in Mobile Services. Here’s another one. I can actually add a script that executes securely on the server and intercepts those CRUD operations.
                      So what I’m going to do here, just to give you a quick example, is I’m going to add a time stamp to items that are being inserted. So I simply say item dot created equals new date. I’m going to save that. And right here from the portal, that’s going to go live into Windows Azure and be updated in just a few seconds. So it’s done.
                      Switch back to the app. Let’s insert a new item. That’s now saved. So if I switch back to browse, we’ll see that data again, but notice how we’ve automatically created a new column, and we’ve got that extra piece of data in there that executed on the server.
                      Now, we have this amazing script editing experience here in the browser, but not everybody wants to edit code in the portal. And so we’ve added a new feature to Windows Azure Mobile Services that allows you to manage all of your source assets using Git Source Control.
                      So I’m going to show you how to enable that. We go to the dashboard. Just down here under quick glance, we’ll get an option to set up source controls. So I’m going to click on that and kick it off.
                      Now, this can take a minute or two. So while that’s running, I’m going to give you a tour of some of the other new features we’ve added to Mobile Services recently.
                      One of our most-requested features was the ability to have service scripts for execute on the server but not in conjunction with HTTP CRUD operations where I can create an arbitrary REST API.
                      We’ve added that feature, and it’s called Custom API. So I can now create a completely arbitrary REST API in a matter of minutes with Mobile Services.
                      We also have a scheduler that allows me to execute scripts on a scheduled basis. So I can execute these every 15 minutes, every night at 2 a.m., whatever I prefer. And we also make it incredibly easy for you to authenticate your users with Microsoft Accounts, Facebook, Twitter, and Google. It’s just a single line of code in your applications.
                      Now, our source control’s still running here. So what I’m going to do actually is switch to another service, not make you guys wait.
                      So we have one here where I pre-configured Git. So if we go to the configure tab, you’ll see what we have here is a Git URL. So I’m going to copy this to the clipboard and then switch the terminal. And we’re now going to pull all of the source files down from the server repo onto my local machine.
                      That’s going to take just a few seconds. It’s going to pull those files down so I can now work on them locally with my favorite tools.
                      So I’m going to just drive into this directory here and show you what the tree looks like. So you can see we can see all of the API files, the scheduler files, and my table files including that insert script that we just edited in the portal.
                      Let’s take a look at that in Sublime. And you can see there’s that change. Now, we can make more changes here. I’m just going to comment this out and save it. And then I’m going to do a Git push to push that back up. So let’s commit it to the tree. And then Git push, and in a matter of seconds, that change will go live into Windows Azure.
                      So enough with the Mac. Let’s talk about what’s happened since preview. We’re now supporting tens of thousands of services in production on Mobile Services to all kinds of scenarios from games to business applications and consumer engagement applications.
                      I want to talk to you today about one of my favorite applications that we have in the store. And it’s from a company called TalkTalk Business. TalkTalk Business are one of the U.K.’s leading telephony providers for businesses. And these guys have a serious focus on customer service. So they’ve created a Windows Phone app and a Windows Store app.
                      Let me show you the phone application now. So here’s the app on my Start screen. If we launch it, you’ll see we get an instant at-a-glance view of my billing activity, my account balance. I can see all of the services I can use with TalkTalk Business, and I get real-time delivery of up-to-the-minute service alerts.
                      Now, it should come as no surprise that best-in-class applications like this need best-in-class services. And this is actually built using Mobile Services and is live in the U.K. stores today.
                      Now, they also have a Windows Store application. And I actually have a replica of that project here on my Windows machine.
                      And you can see the project’s open in the next version of Visual Studio 2013. One of the capabilities this app has is it lets me manage my user profile.
                      Now, let me show you some of the code that does that. So over here in this file, you can see where we upload the user profile when we make a save. Notice how that’s just a single line of code to write that data all the way through to my database.
                      And here we load a user profile into the UI, again, with a single line of code.
                      Now, these guys also have tables and scripts. And I want to show you those, but instead of switching out to the portal, let’s do it using the new Server Explorer in Visual Studio 2013.
                      So I can open up the Server Explorer here, dive into Windows Azure, notice the new Mobile Services tab, expand that, and we’ll see enumerated all of our Mobile Services.
                      There’s my TalkTalk service. And if we open this, we’ll see all of the tables that are backing that service, including my user profiles table down here.
                      If we look in that, we’ll be able to see all of my scripts. The best thing is I can now edit them here in Visual Studio.
                      So I launched the script editor. I can make a change. And then when I hit save, this is going to deploy live to Windows Azure directly from Visual Studio in a matter of seconds. It’s done. (Applause.)
                      So the next thing I want to do is app push notifications for this application.
                      Now, setting up push traditionally is quite a few steps. I have to register my application with the Windows Store. I have to configure Mobile Services with my credentials to call Windows Notification Services. I have to require a channel URI on my client and upload that to Mobile Services so it’s ready to send the push.
                      Let me show you just how easy we’ve made this in the next version of Visual Studio.
                      I simply right click, add push notification, and this wizard is going to guide me through all of the steps necessary. So I’m just entering my credentials there for the Windows Store. And then it’s going to ask me to choose which application I want to associate. So I’m going to choose this one.
                      The next step, I’ll be asked to choose which mobile service I want to configure. I’m going to choose TalkTalk, and we’re done.
                      What’s going to happen now is this is going to make some changes to my mobile service and to my client application. In fact, it’s going to prewire a test notification so I can be superbly confident that everything is wired correctly and going to work. And to try that out, all I have to do is launch the application.
                      Let’s try that now. It’s going to take a second to deploy. And then what we should see is a push notification arrive in the top-right corner. And there we go. So that’s how easy we’ve made it now to add a push notification to your application with Mobile Services and Visual Studio 2013. (Applause.)
                      The next thing I want to do is create an ability for the administrators at TalkTalk Business to actually send these service alerts. And these guys use a Web portal. So let’s switch over to their Web project.
                      So here it is in Visual Studio. And you’ll see we have an index HTML file. Let’s open that up.
                      Now, notice how we pre-configured this with the Mobile Services JavaScript SDK that we added recently. It now means it’s super easy to add Mobile Services to your Web and HTML hybrid applications.
                      We’ve already added the client. So all I need to do now is add the code to invoke the service API that sends those messages. So let’s try that. So I start client dot invoke API. I need the name of the API I’m calling, which is send alert, in this case. And then since I’m doing a post, I need to specify the body. Body is service alert. And we’re done.
                      So I’m going to save that and launch it in the local browser. Now, since we’ve already pre-configured the client to receive push notifications, we can actually test this whole scenario end to end right here on this machine.
                      So what I’m going to do is send out a service alert for email in the midlands and western region that says SMTP upgrade complete. And when I hit send notification I should get a push notification in the top-right corner that was initiated from a website. And there we go. (Applause.) Thank you.
                      You can see just how easy it is to add some incredible capabilities to your apps using Windows Azure Mobile Services. I really can’t wait to see what you guys do with this. I’ll see you at 2:00. (Applause.)

                      SATYA NADELLA: Thanks, Josh.

                      As Josh was saying, we’ve been in preview, and we’ve got some tremendous feedback. We’ve had over 20,000 active apps on Azure Mobile Services to date, and TalkTalk Business is something that Josh showed. There’s a cool app written by Aviva, which is an application that collects telematic data from a mobile app and gives you a real-time quote based on your driving habits for your car insurance, which is a fascinating application, and there are many, many applications like that, which are getting written on top of Azure Mobile Services.

                      So I’m really, really pleased to announce the general availability of Azure Mobile Services today. We think that this is going to really help in your mobile development efforts across all devices, and we look forward to seeing what kind of applications you go build.

                      So now to take you to the next section, which is all around cloud scale and enterprise grade, let me invite up onstage Scott Guthrie. Scott? (Applause.)

                      SCOTT GUTHRIE: Well, this morning we looked at how you can use Windows Azure to build Web and mobile applications and host them in the cloud.

                      I’m now going to walk through how we’re making it even easier to scale these apps, as well as integrate them within enterprise environments.

                      Let’s start by talking about scale. Specifically, I’m going to use a real-world example, which is Skype.

                      Now, Skype is one of the largest Internet services in the world. And over the last year, they’ve been working to migrate that service to run on top of Windows Azure.

                      One of the benefits they get from moving to Windows Azure is that they can avoid having to buy and provision their own servers, and instead leverage a dynamic cloud environment.

                      Like most apps, Skype sees fluctuations in terms of load throughout the day, the week, even different parts of the year. And in a traditional datacenter environment, they need to deploy a thick set of servers in order to handle their peak load.

                      image

                      The downside with this, though, is that you end up having a lot of expensive, unused compute capacity during non-peak times.

                      Moving to a cloud environment like Windows Azure allows them to, instead, dynamically scale their compute capacity based on just what their service needs at any given point in time. And this can yield enormous cost savings to both small and especially to very large services.

                      Now, with Windows Azure, you’ve always been able to dynamically scale up and scale down your apps, but you had to typically write custom scripts or use other tools in order to enable that. What we’re excited to announce today is that we’re going to make this a lot easier by baking in auto-scale capability directly into Windows Azure. And this is going to make it easy for anyone to start taking advantage of these kind of dynamic scale environments and yield the same cost savings.

                      I’d like to invite Charles Lemanna onstage to show it off in action. (Applause.)

                      CHARLES LEMANNA: I’ll be giving a quick demo of the brand-new autoscale feature that supports Windows Azure Compute Services.
                      First, I’ll cover the website autoscale, then the cloud services, and then the virtual machine.
                      So if I navigate to the website you saw earlier from Scott Hanselman’s demo, the geek quiz website, we see all the normal metric information that Windows Azure is collecting for his deployment. In this case, CPU time, response time, and network traffic.
                      But now there’s a new prompt to configure autoscale for this particular website. In the past, when the website would get lots of traffic, people would come in and take the quiz. Scott would have to go in and manually drag the slider to increase his capacity so his response time is not impacted.
                      However with autoscale, I’m able to now configure a basic set of rules that will manage the capacity from my website automatically.
                      I can configure an instance count range with a minimum value that we’ll always honor, as well as a maximum value. In this case, we’ll never go above six instances, so you can be sure you won’t get a giant bill.
                      Next, you can also configure a target CPU range. In this case, I say choose 40 to 54 percent, and what that means is the autoscale engine for Azure in the background we’ll be turning off and turning on website instances so your CPU always stays in that range. In other words, if you go below 40 percent, we’ll turn off the machine to save you money, and if you go above 54 percent, we’ll turn on a new machine so none of your users are impacted.
                      And just like that, I click save, and Windows Azure will manage my website, scale, and capacity entirely on its own. (Applause.)
                      Next, I’ll hop over to the cloud service autoscale. I just have a simple deployment here with a Web front end where my customers can come and, say, place T-shirt orders or other memorabilia. And this front end puts items into a queue, which I have a background worker role, which will go and pull items from this queue and process them for billing or shipping.
                      For the Web role, I’ve already configured autoscale based on CPU, just like you saw for websites with an instance range and a CPU range. But I also can configure a scale up button, which impacts the velocity by which I increase my capacity. I’ve chosen to scale up by two instances with only a five-minute cool down because I want to respond immediately and quickly to spikes in customer demand.
                      For my background worker role, it’s a little bit different. I don’t care as much about CPU; I care about how many items are waiting in the queue to be processed, how many orders I have to go through.
                      In this case, I’ve already configured autoscale based on queue depth by selecting a storage count and queue name, as well as the target number of items in that queue per machine.
                      In this case, as the queue gets bigger, we’ll add more machines. Imagine it’s the holidays and a bunch of new orders come in; we’ll make sure you have enough capacity to process it in real time.
                      And imagine it’s a Sunday night and not as many people are coming to your website and placing orders. We’ll go down to your minimum to save you even more money on your monthly Azure bill.
                      Lastly, I’ll hop over to virtual machines. Virtual machines are just like cloud services in that you configure autoscale for a set of virtual machines based on either CPU or queue.
                      For the virtual machines, you can choose minimum-maximum instances, and we’ll move you up and down within that range by turning on and turning off those machines. And with the recent announcement of no billing while the machine’s stopped, you don’t have to worry about being charged in this case.
                      As you can see, it just took a few minutes to configure autoscale across all these different compute resources. And that’s what the power of autoscale brings to Windows Azure. In just a few minutes, you can make sure your cloud application runs, stays up and running for the lowest possible cost. Thank you. (Applause.)

                      SCOTT GUTHRIE: So as Charles showed you, it’s super easy to configure autoscale and set it up so you can really take advantage of some great savings. He also mentioned, two of the improvements that we made earlier this month is the ability now to stop VMs without incurring any billing compute charge, as well as the ability to now bill per minute. This means that if you run your site or you run your VM for only 20 minutes, we’re only going to bill you for the 20 minutes that you actually run it instead of the full hour.

                      And when you combine all these features together, it really yields a massive cost savings over what you can do today in the cloud, but in particular, also over what you can do in an on-premises environment.

                      We’re really excited to announce that the preview of Windows Azure Autoscale is now live. And you can actually all try it out for free and start taking advantage of it today. (Applause.)

                      So let’s switch gears now and talk a little bit about enterprise integration and some of the things that we’re doing to make it even easier for you to build cloud apps and integrate them within your corporate or enterprise environment. Whether you’re an enterprise building your own apps or you also hear a little bit about how we’re enabling ISVs that are building SaaS-based solutions to sell into an enterprise environment and monetize even more effectively.

                      imageThere are a whole bunch of services that we have built into Windows Azure in the identity space that makes it really easy to do this kind of enterprise identity integration so that you can define an Active Directory in the cloud using a service we call Windows Azure Active Directory.

                      You can basically have a cloud-only directory, meaning you only have one directory, and it’s in the cloud, and you put all your users in it.

                      imageWhat’s nice about Windows Azure Active Directory though is it also supports the ability where you can synchronize it with an on-premises Active Directory that you’re running on Windows Server. And this is great for enterprises or corporates that already have Active Directory installed. And it allows them to very easily synchronize all their users into the cloud and allow cloud-based applications to start using that directory very easily to authenticate and enable single sign-on for all their customers.

                      And what’s nice about Windows Azure Active Directory is it’s built using open standards. So we support SAML, OAuth, as well as WS Federation, which makes it really easy for you as developers to start authenticating and enabling single sign-on within all your apps using existing libraries and protocols that you already use.

                      So what I thought I’d do is actually walk through a simple example of how this week we’re making it even easier in order to take advantage of that.
                      So what I’m going to show here is just a simple example where we have a company called Contoso that has an Active Directory on premises. And they’re going to basically spin up an Azure Active Directory running inside Windows Azure. And they can synchronize their directory up into the cloud. That means all their users are now available there.
                      And what they can then do is they can start to build apps, whether they’re mobile apps, Web apps, or any other type of app, deploy them in the cloud, and now any of their employees when they go ahead and access that application can enable single sign-on using their existing enterprise credentials and be able to securely login and start using that app. Let’s go ahead and walk through some code on how we do that.
                      So what I’m standing in front of here is the Windows Azure Management Portal, which you already seen Scott and Josh and Charles walk through earlier today.
                      What I’m going to do is click on this Active Directory tab that’s within the portal, which allows me to control and configure my Windows Azure Active Directory.
                      And what you can see here is the Contoso directory has already been created. I’m creating directories inside Windows Azure; it’s actually free; it doesn’t cost anything. So every developer they want can create their own directory, and companies can very easily go ahead and populate their directory with their information.
                      You can see here this directory; I already have a number of users that are stored within it. If I want to, I could directly inside the admin tool create new users and manage them through the admin console.
                      I could also click that directory integration tab and then set up a sync relationship with my on-premises Active Directory. That means every time a user is added or updated inside my on-premises Active Directory, it’ll be automatically reflected inside Windows Azure as well.
                      So once I have this, I basically have a directory that I can use within my applications to authenticate users.
                      So let’s build a simple app using the new Visual Studio 2013 and the new ASP.NET release coming out this week and show how I could basically integrate that within a Web app.
                      So I’m going to use the same Web application template that Scott showed earlier. Call this Simple App.
                      I can choose whatever frameworks I want within it. I can also click this change authentication dialog box that Scott touched on briefly in his talk.
                      And what I’m going to do is I’m going to click this organizational accounts tab. And I can go ahead now and enter in the name of the domain of my company. You’ll notice inside this dropdown we’ve added support so that both for internal apps within an enterprise that want to target a single company, they can do it. We also support the ability if you want to develop a SaaS application and target multiple enterprise customers, you can go ahead and select that as well. (Applause.)
                      I can then go ahead and just enter the password here. What I’m doing here is just registering this application with Windows Azure. And I just hit create project, and what this is literally going to go ahead and do now is create for me an ASP.NET project using whatever framework that I wanted to specify as registering that application with Windows Azure. So it’s basically saying I’m going to do secure sign-on with it.
                      And now if I go ahead and run this application in the browser, it’s going to launch, and one of the first things you’ll see it do is because I’ve enabled Active Directory single sign-on, it’s just going to automatically show me a single sign-on screen. And right now, I’m on the Internet, so that’s why it’s going to prompt me with this in HTML. I can also set it up if I was in an intranet environment where I wouldn’t have to explicitly sign in.
                      But right now, I can sign in. And I’m just going to say Contoso Build.com. If I do this now, I’m logged into this ASP.NET. I’m logged in using my Active Directory account that the employee has. And I’ve literally in a matter of moments set this thing up where I’m actually now using the cloud in order to actually use a single sign-on provider.
                      What this means is not only can I run this thing locally, but I can now just right click and hit publish, and I can publish this as a website, I can publish this as a virtual machine or in a cloud service. And now any of the employees within my organization that access it are integrated with their existing enterprise security credentials and can do single sign-on within the application. (Applause.)

                      So this makes it really, really easy for you now to build your own custom applications, host them in the cloud, and enable enterprise security throughout.

                      What we’re also doing with Windows Azure Active Directory is making sure that not only can you host your own applications, but we also want to make it really easy for enterprises to be able to consume and integrate existing SaaS-based solutions and have the same type of single sign-on support with Active Directory as well.

                      This is great for enterprises because it suddenly means that they can go ahead and take advantage of all the great SaaS solutions that are out there, and they can start to integrate more and more apps with less friction into their enterprise environment. And it’s really great from an ISV and developer perspective because it now means that you can go ahead and build SaaS solutions and sell them to enterprises at a fraction of the friction that was required today. That makes it much easier to go ahead and show the value quickly, makes it much easier to onboard your enterprise customers, and at the end of the day, enables you to make a lot more money.

                      So what I’m going to do is walk through an example of how this works. So we’re going back to the Windows Azure portal. And we’ve got our users, like we had before here. I’m now going to click this applications tab as well. And what the applications tab does is it’s going to show me all of the apps that have been registered with this directory. So any of the custom apps that I would build would show up here.
                      You’ll notice also inside this list, we have a bunch of popular SaaS-based solutions that have already been registered with Contoso as well. So we’ve got Box, Basecamp, and many others.
                      What I can do now inside the Windows Azure portal if I’m an administrator of the directory is I can go ahead and just click add. Click this manage access to an application link. And what we’re integrating is SaaS-based directory of existing SaaS-based solutions that this organization can now seamlessly integrate as part of their Windows Azure Active Directory system.
                      So, for example, I could do popular ones like DocuSign or Dropbox or Evernote.
                      We’ve got ones you might not expect at a Microsoft conference. We’ve got Google Apps. We’ve got Salesforce.com. We even just for giggles enabled Amazon Web Services. (Laughter.) Some of these we’d like you to use more than others. (Laughter.) But regardless, you can add any of these, and basically once you just click add, they’ll show up in this list. And then all you need to do in order to integrate your single sign-on with one of these apps is drill into it.
                      So in this case here, I’m going to drill into Box. Basically, I can just hit configure. I can say I want to enable my users to authenticate the Box using my Windows Azure Active Directory. Just paste in my Box tenant URL, which is the URL I get from Box. And I just download and upload a cert in order to make sure that we have a secure connection.
                      And once I do that, I then basically have integrated my Active Directory with Box. I can then go ahead and hit configure user access. This will bring up my list of all the users within my Windows Azure Active Directory. I can then go ahead and click on any of them, click enable access.
                      You’ll notice we’ve even integrated if the SaaS provider has roles defined within their application, I cannot only give this user access to Box, but I can actually map which roles within the Box applications they should have access to. And then hit OK and then literally in a matter of seconds, that user is now provisioned on Box and they can now use their Active Directory credentials in order to do single sign-on to that SaaS application. (Applause.)
                      So I’m going to switch gears now and go to another machine. So I was showing you kind of the administrator experience for how an administrator would login or enable that. I’m now going to kind of show you the end-user experience of what this translates into. And once we set up that relationship with that particular employee, that employee can go ahead and just go to Box directly and use their Active Directory credentials to sign in.
                      Or one of the other things that we’ve done which we think is kind of cool is integrated the ability so that the company can expose the single dashboard of all the SaaS applications that they’ve configured that employees can just go ahead and bookmark.
                      So in this case here, going ahead and logging into this. So this is kind of an end-user experience. All of the apps, SaaS solutions, or custom apps that the administrator of Active Directory has gone ahead and said you have access to will show up in this list. So you can see the Box app that we’ve just provisioned shows up here now. And as more get added, we’ll just dynamically show up.
                      And then what the user can do is just go ahead and click on any of them in order to initiate a single sign-on relationship. And that’s how easy now our Contoso employee is now logged into Box. And they can now do all the standard Box operations now using their Active Directory against it. (Applause.)

                      The beauty about this model is not only is it super easy to set up, you saw both on the administrator side, as well as on the developer side, it’s really, really easy to integrate. But it also means from an enterprise perspective, they feel a lot more secure. It means that if the employee ever leaves the organization or their account is ever suspended, they basically lose all access to the SaaS applications that they’ve been using on the company’s behalf. So the company doesn’t have to worry about the data leaving or the employee still able to kind of login and make changes to their data. So it enables a very nice model there.

                      And I think from a developer perspective, you know, one of the things to think about in terms of what we’re enabling here is not only is it easy, but it’s going to enable you to reach a lot of customers. We have more than 3.2 million businesses that have already synced their on-premises Active Directory to the cloud and more than 68 million active users that login regularly using that system.

                      That basically means as a developer, as a company that wants to sell to enterprises, you’ve got an awesome market that you’re now able to go ahead and sell to and makes it real easy for you to monetize.

                      And what I thought I’d do is actually invite Aaron Levie, who is the co-founder and CEO of Box to actually come onstage and talk a little bit about what this means to Box and some of the kind of possibilities this opens up for them.

                      AARON LEVIE: Hey, how you doing? (Applause.) How’s it going? So I’m really excited to be here. At Box, we help businesses store, share, manage, and access information from anywhere. And we’re big supporters of Microsoft. We build for the Windows desktop, we build on Windows 8, build on Windows 8 Phone. We love to integrate our work with SharePoint. Unfortunately, they haven’t returned our email yet, but maybe spam filter, we don’t know what’s going on there.

                      But it’s really exciting to see sort of an all-new Microsoft. I think the amount of support for openness and heterogeneity is incredibly amazing. I think you normally wouldn’t have seen a development preview on top of a Mac or whatever. I was actually afraid that Bill Gates was going to drop down from the ceiling and rip it off. So that was really exciting to see.

                      So we’re really excited to be supporting Windows Azure Active Directory. It helps reduce the friction for customers to be able to deploy cloud solutions, and we think it’s going to be great for developers. We think that’s going to be great for startups and the ecosystem broadly.

                      SCOTT GUTHRIE: Yeah, we were talking a little bit earlier about some of the friction that it reduces. I don’t know maybe you could talk as an enterprise SaaS solution what that friction is like, and how does something like this help?

                      AARON LEVIE: Yeah, I mean, if you think about how the enterprise software industry for decades basically if you wanted to deploy software or technology in your enterprise, you had to build this sort of massive competency in managing infrastructure and managing services and managing new software that you want to deploy. And there was so much friction for implementing new solutions into your business. So any new problem that you wanted to solve, you had to have the exact same amount of technology that you had to implement per solution.

                      Even harder was getting things like the identity to integrate and getting the technology to actually talk to each other. The power of the cloud is that any business anywhere in the world — and we’re talking millions of businesses that now have access to these solutions — can instantly on-demand light up new tools.

                      And so what that means is when you have lower friction, when you have more openness, we’re going to see way more innovation. And that creates an environment where startups can be much more competitive, where we can build much better solutions, and I think the ecosystem broadly can actually expand. And the $290 billion that is spent every year on enterprise software today on-premises can massively move to the cloud, and we can actually expand the amount of market potential that there is between the ecosystem.

                      SCOTT GUTHRIE: That’s awesome. You know, we’re kind of excited on our side in terms of the opportunity both kind of to enable that kind of shift. How we can use Windows Azure, how we can use the cloud in order to provide sort of this great opportunity for developers to basically build solutions that really can reach everyone.

                      You know, I think one of the other things that’s just nice is sort of how we can actually interoperate and integrate with systems all over the place. And that’s across protocols, that’s across operating systems, that’s devices, that’s even across languages. And I think as Aaron mentioned, it’s going to open up a ton of possibilities. And at the end of the day, I think really provide a lot of economic opportunity out there, hopefully for everyone in the audience.

                      AARON LEVIE: Cool.

                      SCOTT GUTHRIE: So thanks so much, Aaron.

                      AARON LEVIE: Thanks a lot, appreciate it. See you. (Applause.)

                      SCOTT GUTHRIE: I’m really excited to say that everything that we just showed here from a developer API perspective, you can start plugging into and taking advantage of this week. We’ve got a lot of great sessions on Windows Azure Active Directory where you can learn more, and you can start taking advantage of all the tools that we are providing in ASP.NET and with the new version of .NET and VS to get started and make it really easy to do it.

                      We’re then going to go ahead and soon have a preview of the SaaS app management gallery that you can also start loading your applications into, and we’ll start taking advantage of as an enterprise. So we’re pretty excited about that, and we think, again, it’s going to offer a ton of opportunity.

                      imageSo let’s switch gears now. We’ve talked a little bit about identity and how we’re trying to make it really easy for you to integrate that within an enterprise environment. I’m going to talk a little bit about the integration space more broadly, and in particular talk about how we’re also making it really easy to integrate data, as well as operations in a secure way into your enterprise environment as well.

                      And we’ve got a number of great services with Windows Azure that make it really easy to do so.

                      One of them is something that we first launched this month called Windows Azure BizTalk Services. And I’m pretty excited about this one in that it really allows me to dramatically simplify the integration process. For people that haven’t ever tried to integrate, say, an SAP system with one of their existing apps, or ever tried to integrate an SAP system with an existing SaaS-based solution, there’s an awful lot of work involved in terms of doing that both in terms of code, but also in terms of monitoring and making sure everything is secure. And these types of integration efforts can often go on for months or years as you integrate complex line-of-business systems across your enterprise.

                      What we’re trying to do with Windows Azure BizTalk Services is just dramatically lower that cost in a really quantum way. And basically with Windows Azure BizTalk services, you can stand up an integration hub in a matter of minutes inside the cloud. You can do full B2B EDI processing in the cloud so you can process orders and manage supply chains across your organization.

                      We’re also enabling enterprise application integration support so that you can very easily integrate lots of different disparate apps within your environment, as well as integrate them with cloud-based apps, both your own custom solutions, as well as SaaS-based apps that your enterprise wants to go ahead and take advantage of.

                      You know, we think the end result really is going to be a game-changer in the integration space and opens up a bunch of possibilities.

                      So what I thought I’d like to do is walk through just sort of a simple example of how you can use it. So I’m going to go back to our little Contoso company.

                      And they want to be able to consume and use a SaaS-based app that does travel management. We’ll call it Tailspin Travel. And they want to be able to do single sign-on with their employees so that their employees can login using their Active Directory credentials.

                      But to really make it useful, they also want to be able to tie in their travel information and policies with their existing ERP system on premises, and that poses a challenge, which is how do you securely open up your ERP system and enable a third party to have access to it? How do you monitor it? How do you make sure it’s really secure?

                      And so that’s where BizTalk services comes into play. So with BizTalk services, you can go to Windows Azure, you can very easily and very quickly stand up a Windows Azure BizTalk service. And then we have a number of adapters that you can go ahead and download and run on-premises to connect it up.

                      In particular, we have an SAP adapter. We also have Oracle adapters, Siebel adapters, JD Edwards adapters, and a whole bunch more. So, basically, without you having to write any code, you can actually just define what we call bridges, which make it really easy and secure for you to go ahead and expose just the functionality you want.

                      That SaaS app or your own custom app can then go ahead and call endpoints within Windows Azure BizTalk Services using just standard JSON or REST APIs, and then basically securely go through that bridge and execute and retrieve the appropriate data.

                      Again, it’s really simple to set this up. What I’d like to do is just walk through a simple example of how to do it in action.
                      So what I have here is kind of the end-user app that our Contoso employees will use. It’s a Web-based application. Again, our Tailspin Travel. You’ll notice that the users are already logged in using the Windows Azure Active Directory already within the app. So this app could be hosted anywhere on the Internet.
                      I could then create new trips as an employee, or I could go ahead and look at existing ones that I’ve already booked. So here’s one, this is the return trip from Build. Right now, I’m flying in economy. I don’t know, maybe it would be nice to get upgraded. So I can go ahead and try to enter that.
                      But you’ll notice here at the top when I do it, a few seconds later, I’ve got a policy violation that was surfaced directly inside the Tailspin Travel app. And basically it just was saying I can’t just do this myself; my manager actually has to go ahead and approve it. And it’s coming directly out of the SAP system of Contoso.
                      So how did this happen? Well, on the Tailspin Travel side, this is the SaaS app, they’re building it in .NET. This is basically a simple piece of code that they have, which allows them on the SaaS side to actually check whether or not this trip is in policy.
                      Basically, the way they’ve implemented it is they’re just making a standard REST call to some endpoint that’s configured for the Contoso tenant. And this doesn’t have to be implemented with Azure, doesn’t have to be implemented with .NET, it can be implemented anywhere. And it’s just making a standard REST call. And depending on that action, the SaaS app then goes ahead and does something.
                      So how do we implement this REST call? Well, we could implement it in a variety of different ways on Windows Azure. We could write our own custom REST endpoint and process the code and handle it that way. We have lots of great ways to do that. Now, the downside, though. The tricky part of this is not going to be so much implementing the REST API; it’s actually implementing all the logic to flow that call to an on-premises SAP system, get the information validated, and return it.
                      Again, that would typically require an awful lot of code if you needed to do that from scratch.
                      What I’m going to do here is switch here to the other machine. And walk through how we can use BizTalk services to dramatically simplify it.
                      So you can create a new BizTalk service. Go ahead and just say new app service, BizTalk service custom create. I could say Contoso endpoint. And literally just by walking through a couple wizards here and hitting OK, I can basically stand up my own BizTalk service inside the cloud hosted in a high-availability environment literally in a matter of minutes.
                      And for anyone who’s ever installed BizTalk Server or an integration hub themselves, they’ll know that typically that does not take a couple minutes. And the nice thing about the cloud is we can really kind of make this almost instantaneous.
                      Once the service is created, you get the same kind of nice dashboard view and quick start view that you saw Josh with Mobile Services. And so there are ways that you download the SDK. You can also monitor and scale up and scale down the service dynamically.
                      And then as a developer, I can just launch Visual Studio. I can say new project. I can say I want to create a new BizTalk service, which will define all the mapping rules and the bridge logic that I want to use.
                      This is one I’ve created earlier. You’ll notice here on the left in the Server Explorer we have a number of LOB adapters that are automatically loaded inside the Server Explorer, so I can connect through my SAP system directly and do that.
                      Add it to the design surface, and then I can create these bridges that I can either define declaratively; I can also write custom code using .NET in order to customize. Basically, I can just double-click it. This little WYSIWYG designer here lets me actually map the REST calls that I’m getting from that Tailspin Travel SaaS app, transform it, and then I can basically map it to my SAP system.
                      And you can see here in our schema designer, we basically allow you to do fairly complex mapping rules between any two formats. So here on the right-hand side, I have my SAP schema that’s stored in my on-premises environment; the left-hand side here, there’s that REST endpoint. This is a very simple example with a lot of these integration workflows. You might have literally thousands of fields that you’re mapping back and forth.
                      Once I do the mapping, though, all I need to do is just go ahead and hit deploy, and this will immediately upload it into my BizTalk Azure service and at that point, it’s live on the Web. I can then choose who do I want to give access to this bridge? And I can now securely start transferring just the information I want into and out of my enterprise.
                      For an IT professional, they can then go ahead and open up our admin tool. They can see all the bridges that have been defined. And then one of the things that we also build directly into Windows Azure BizTalk Services is automatic tracking support. And what this means is now the IT professional can actually see all of the calls that are going in and out of the enterprise. It’s all logged; it’s all audited so it’s fully compliant, and they can basically now keep track of exactly all the communication that’s going on to make sure that it’s in policy.
                      Literally, you saw all of this sort of a simple example here, but this really starts to open up tons of possibilities where you can integrate either with other SaaS out there that your organization wants to use, or as you want to start building your own custom business application and host within Windows Azure, you can now securely get access to your on-premises line-of-business capabilities and very securely manage it. (Applause.)

                      And I’m excited to announce that everything we just showed here, as well as everything I showed when I created that Active Directory app, is now available for you to start using. You can go to WindowsAzure.com, and you can start taking advantage of Windows Azure BizTalk Services today. (Applause.)

                      imageSo I talked a little bit about how we’re making it easy to integrate enterprise systems with the cloud, both on the identity side as well as the integration side. The other side of enterprise grade services that we’re delivering fall into the data space. And here we’re really trying to make it easy for you to store any data you want in the cloud, any amount of data you want in the cloud, and be able to perform really rich analysis on top of it. And so with Windows Azure storage, we have a really powerful storage system that lets you store hundreds of terabytes, or even petabytes, of storage in any format that you want. We have NoSQL capabilities that are provided as part of that as well as raw block capability. With our SQL database support, we now have a relational engine in the cloud that you can use. You can very easily spin up relational databases literally in a matter of seconds and start using the same ADO.NET and SQL syntax features that you are familiar with today.

                      We also a few months ago launched a new service that we call HD Insight. This makes it really easy for you to spin up your own Hadoop cluster in the cloud, and that you can then go ahead and access any of this data that’s being stored and perform map reduce jobs on it. And what’s nice about how we’re doing HD Insight, like you’ve seen with a lot of the openness things that we’ve talked about throughout the day, is it’s built using the same Hadoop open source framework that you can download and use elsewhere. We’re actually contributors into the project now.

                      And with Windows Azure, it’s now trivially easy for you to spin up your own Hadoop cluster, be able to point at the data and immediately start getting insights from it, and starting to integrate it with your environment. And so I think in the next keynote later today, you’re actually going to see a demo of that in action. So I’ll save some of that for them.

                      But the key takeaway here is just sort of the combination of all these capabilities in identity integration and data space really we think are game-changers for the enterprise, really enable you to build modern business applications in the cloud. I think they’re going to be a lot of fun to use. So we look forward to seeing what you build.

                      Thank you very much.

                      (Applause.)

                      SATYA NADELLA: Thanks, Scott.

                      So one last thing I want to talk about is Office and Office 365 as a programmable surface area. We talked a lot about building SaaS applications using services, Scott talked about it. But what if you were a large developer, line-of-business application developer, or a SaaS application developer and could use all of the power of Office as part of your application? And that’s what we’re enabling with the programming surface area of Office.

                      What that means is the rich object model of Office, everything from the social graph, the identity, presence information, document workflows, document libraries, all of that is available for you to use using modern Web APIs within your application. You can, in fact, have the chrome either in the Office client or in SharePoint, and you can have the full power of the backend in Azure. And, of course, the idea is here is to be able to do all of that with first-class tool support.

                      To show you some of this in action, I wanted to invite up onstage Jay Schmelzer from our Visual Studio team to show you some of the rapid application development in Office.

                      Jay, come on in.

                      JAY SCHMELZER: Thank you. The requirements and expectations and importance of business applications has never been greater than it is today. Modern business applications need to access data available inside and outside the organization. They need to enable individuals across the organization to connect and easily collaborate with each other in rich and interesting ways. And the applications themselves need to be available on multiple different types of devices and form factors.
                      As developers, we need a platform that provides a set of services that meet the core requirements of these applications. And we need a toolset that allows us to productively build those applications while also integrating in with our existing dev ops processes across the organization.
                      What I want to show you this morning is a quick look at some things we’re still working on inside of Visual Studio to enable developers to build these modern business applications that extend the Office 365 experience leveraging those services available both from Office 365 and the Windows Azure platform.
                      And, of course, doing it inside of a Visual Studio experience that allows the developer to focus on unique aspects of their business, and their application, not spending as much time in boilerplate code.
                      To do that, we’re going to focus on the human resources department at Contoso, who has been using Office 365 to manage the active job positions across the organization. And we want to create a new application that allows individuals in the company to submit potential candidates for open positions from within their Office 365 site using whichever device they happen to have available at the time.
                      To do that, we’ll switch over to Visual Studio, and we’ll see that we have a new Office 365 Cloud Business app project template available to us. This project goes and builds on the existing apps for Office and apps for SharePoint capabilities that are surfaced as part of that new cloud app model Satya was talking about. And it provides us a prescriptive solution structure for building a modern business application.
                      I mentioned data is a core part of this, and you see we’ve already started creating the definition for a new table that we’ll use to store our potential candidates. What Office 365 Cloud Business apps does for us is surface additional data types that provide access to these core capabilities of the Office 365 and Windows Azure platform.
                      Some examples of that we see here that the referred by is typed as a person, giving us access to all the capabilities in Office 365 associated with that Office 365 or Azure Active Directory user. The document, their resume, is stored as a typed document. So we can store it in a document library, and it leverages the rich content management and workflow capabilities associated with Office documents.
                      We also need to be able to go and pull in data from elsewhere. In our case, we want to go and grab data from that existing SharePoint list the human resources team is using to manage active positions, so that our users can choose a potential position they think those candidates are appropriate for. You see, I’ve already added that, so it’s in my project.
                      We’ll just go and connect it up between the candidate and our job postings, specify the relationship, and say OK. And now we have this virtual relationship between our Office 365 list and our SQL Azure Database.
                      OK, the next thing we want to do, though, is really enable that people interaction. If you notice, when I look over here at the candidate, if I select this, you’ll see right from here I have the ability to have the application interact with my corporate social network on my behalf as I’m doing interesting things in the application.
                      So we have the data model defined. The next thing we need to do is create the UI model. Users of business applications today expect a modern look and feel, a modern experience, but they also want it to be consistent. Visual Studio gives you great ways of doing this for providing a set of patterns that are going to be consistent across your applications. We’ll select a browse pattern, just choose, or the default pattern, choose the table we care about, and now let Visual Studio go and create for us a set of experiences for browsing, viewing, editing and updating that candidate information.
                      So we have our data model. We have our UI model. The last thing we want to do is go in and actually write some business logic. In this case, back on the entity designer, we’ll go in, and we’ll leverage the data pipeline where we can interact with data moving in and out of the application. In this case, we’ll use our validate. And what we’ll do is, we’ll just go in and make sure that the only folks that can go and actually set or modify the interview date are members of the HR department. And here’s another example where we see the power of surfacing those underlying platform capabilities. I’m able to reach in to the current user, into their Azure Active Directory settings, and grab the current department and validate it against the checks we want to make.
                      Let’s go ahead and set a breakpoint here. I think we’re probably in good shape. Anyway, so we’re going to launch the application, and Visual Studio is going to go package this up, send the manifest off to our remote Office 365 developer site, and then launch our application. We have no candidates yet, so we’ll create a new one. Last night when we were talking about this stuff, Scott seemed pretty excited about what we’re doing. So maybe he would be an interesting person for us to work with.
                      When I go in and actually start specifying who it is that’s going to refer this person, you see I’m by default getting the list of the users available on this Office 365 site because I typed that it’s a person. So we’ll select Jim there, one of our team members, go ahead and upload a document that is Scott’s resume. And we’ll specify an interview date, maybe we’ll go out here into September.
                      The last thing we want to do is go choose which of the positions we think is appropriate to Scott. He’s going to be new to the team, so we’ll maybe choose a little more junior role for him so that he can be successful. We hit save. If we’d actually set that breakpoint, we would see our business logic would have been executed, and we would be able to get that rich debugging experience you’ve come to know and expect from Visual Studio.
                      We now see we have our candidate. When I drill in and look at it, you see that we’re getting that consistency of experience. I’m getting presence information for the person. When I hover over it, we see the contact card. A little misplaced, but if I want to have a conversation with Jim right now, I can go ahead and do that right from within the application just because we’ve leveraged those underlying capabilities. Of course, in the document we can see the properties of the document. We can view it in the Web application right from the site, or we can follow it if we want to do that as well.
                      I noticed one thing here; I’ve got this extra ID showing up. So let me go flip over to Visual Studio, and we’ll look at the View Candidate page. And just like we can with any other Web development, we can just go in here and while the application is running we’ll just remove that. We’ll save those changes, flip back over here, just kind of do a little quick refresh, and now when I go in you’ll see that, hey, that extraneous value is no longer there.
                      The other thing you’ll notice is that in addition to the values we specified for our SQL data, we also have built in the ability to do the basic tracking of, hey, who was the last person who created or modified this record, just core requirements of a business application.
                      The last thing we’ll look at is on the newsfeed we’re going to click over to that, and you’ll see that the application has gone and interacted on my behalf, right, and entered things into our internal social network, letting people know that, hey, I just submitted somebody as a potential new candidate. So if you folks want to follow them, and so forth.
                      OK. Our application is looking good. It’s time to go get it integrated with our existing dev ops processes. To do that, we’ll just go over here to the solution explorer, we’ll right click on the solution, and we’ll start by adding this to source code control. In this case, we’ll add it to our Team Foundation Service instance. We’ll go right click; we’ll go check in all these changes that we just made, and while that’s happening I’m going to switch over and take a look at some of the build environments we have established in our Team Foundation Service.
                      In this case. we’ll see that we have an existing build definition for HR jobs. If I look at that definition, we’ll see that the things I can do is I can switch it to now be continuous, so that as we check in code we can go move on. The other interesting thing is here we’ve got a custom process template that understands how to take the output of the build and deploy it into our Office 365 test site. So this is all just basic power, and this is all built on the underlying technologies and capabilities inside of Visual Studio. That also means we can extend this beyond the SharePoint experience into the Office client experiences, as well.
                      So here I’ve also built a mail app that allows me to go and prepopulate information in the application from the content of the mail and shove it right into creating a new user, without having to go directly into the application. Hopefully with that, you got a really quick look at some things we’re still working on in Visual Studio, to enable developers to build modern business applications, extending the Office 365 experience, building on the capabilities of Office 365 and the Windows Azure platform.
                      Thank you very much.

                      SATYA NADELLA: Thanks, Jay. Thank you.

                      So hopefully, you got a feel for how you can rapidly build these Office applications, but more importantly, how you could compose these applications you build with, in fact, your full line of business application on Azure and enrich your SAS app, or your line of business enterprise app. I’m very, very pleased to announce that there is a subscription of my Office 365 Home Premium for 12 months that’s going to come to you via email later this afternoon. We hope you enjoy that subscription. (Applause.)

                      And I know everyone in the room is also perhaps an MSDN subscriber. So we are continuing to improve MSDN benefits. One of the things that we are doing with Windows Azure is to make it very, very easy for you to be able to do dev tests. So now you can use your dev test licenses on Windows Azure. In fact, the cost and the pricing for that is such that you can probably share something like 97 percent of your dev test expenses. We’re also going to give you credits based on your various levels of MSDN. So if you’re a premium subscriber, you get $100, which you can use across your VMs, databases, as well as doing things like load testing. So fantastic benefits I would encourage everyone to go take advantage of it. And also to reduce the friction even further, we have now made it possible for any MSDN subscriber to be able to sign up to Azure without any credit card. I know this is something that many of you have asked for. We’re really pleased to do that. (Applause.)

                      We had a whirlwind tour of the backend technologies. Really with Windows Azure, we think we now have a robust platform for you to be able to do your modern application development for a modern business. It could be Web, mobile, or this cloud scale and enterprise grade. So hope you get a chance to play with it. We welcome all the feedback, and have a great rest of the Build.

                      Thank you very, very much.

                      END

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                      Windows 8.1: Mind boggling opportunities, finally some appreciation by the media

                      … this is how I can summarize what I’ve seen on the launch (live streamed, towards the end of the post there is the embedded video record with speech transcript) …
                      and also how the first media reactions could be summarited.

                      First The Windows 8.1 Preview is here! [WindowsVideos YouTube channel from Microsoft, June 26, 2013]

                      Second a video summary of the launch by a mainstream media Microsoft builds new features into Windows 8.1 [CNETTV YouTube channel, June 26, 2013]

                      Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer previews the company’s new Windows 8.1 operating system for tablets and PCs. Ballmer also highlights the return of the Start button, new Outlook functionality, Bing integration and gesture controls.

                      Media reactions in the first 15 hours:

                      Specific reactions:

                      Windows 8.1 Preview provides a window into the future of Windows [CNETTV YouTube channel, June 26, 2013]

                      We take a quick look at some of the more high-level changes coming with Windows 8.1.

                      Windows 8.1: The Five Most Exciting New Features [UPROXX, June 26, 2013]

                      Native 3D Printer Support (!) … Boot To Desktop … SkyDrive Gets An Overhaul … Apps Get APIs … Universal Search …

                      Windows 8.1 hidden features [networkworld YouTube channel, June 27, 2013]

                      From PC World: There’s a lot to learn about Windows 8.1. We’ll show you some of the coolest hidden features you need to know about.

                      26 Awesome Features in the Windows 8.1 Preview [Gotta Be Mobile, June 26, 2013]

                      … Start Screen Backgrounds … Start Menu … Start Button … Integrated Bing Search … Revamped Windows Store … New Start Menu Settings … Lock Screen Sideshows … More Start Screen Color Options … Boot to Desktop … Internet Explorer 11 … Snapped States … Resizable Live Tiles … Help Tutorials … Xbox Music App … New Apps … Outlook RT … Fingerprint Support … Default Device Encryption … Photo Editing … Synced Apps across Devices … File Explorer … Built-in SkyDrive … Lock screen Alarms & Added Detailed Status … Better Portrait Support for Tablets … Disabling Hot Corners … Automatic App Updates …

                      10 New Features in Windows 8.1 Preview that saved my Surface RT [Scott Hanselmann (Microsoft), June 27, 2013]

                      … BEING ABLE TO USE YOUR DESKTOP WALLPAPER AS YOUR START MENU BACKGROUND … SEARCH EVERYWHERE … FREAKING OUTLOOK 2013 … SMARTER WINDOWING … WAY EASIER CUSTOMIZATION … BETTER ALL APPS VIEW … MORE COMPREHENSIVE SETTINGS … REMOVABLE DISKS IN YOUR MUSIC AND VIDEO LIBRARIES … SMARTER NOTIFICATIONS AND QUIET HOURS … THE READING LIST …

                      3D printing:

                      3D Printing with Windows 8.1 [Shan Ruk YouTube channel, June 26, 2013]

                      Breakout session at Build 2013 by Kris Iverson, Principal Software Design Engineer. 3D printing is a high profile and transformational technology, and Windows now includes support for 3D printers. This session provides everything you need to know to add 3D printing capability to your apps and to integrate 3D printer devices with Windows.

                      Read also: 3D printing with Windows [The Official Microsoft Blog, Jun 26, 2013, 11:00 AM]

                      Bing as a platform (this is first 24 hours, as otherwise would be less, in order of relevance as per Google search):

                      Microsoft reveals 3D mapping, Bing voice controls [CNETTV YouTube channel, June 26, 2013]

                      Microsoft shows off new 3D-mapping capabilities and voice command integration for Bing at its Build conference in San Francisco. Bing VP Gurdeep Singh Pall demonstrated the features by asking voice search “who is the architect,” while looking at a museum on a map demo. The answer quickly popped up.

                      Read also:
                      Bing at Build 2013: Weaving an Intelligent Fabric [on Search Blog by Gurdeep Singh Pall, Corporate Vice President, Bing; June 26, 2013]
                      Bing will open up more of its APIs and controls via new developer platform [The Fire Hose news coverage blog by Microsoft, June 26, 2013, 11:00 AM]
                      Two new Bing apps will be included in Windows 8.1 preview [The Fire Hose news coverage blog by Microsoft, June 26, 2013, 11:00 AM]
                      Introducing The New Bing Developer Center and Services [Bing Dev Center Team Blog, Jun 26, 2013, 11:00 AM]

                      All other:

                      Overall reactions (in order of relevance as per Google search):

                      The one which had #1 relevance by Google search:
                      Review: Windows 8.1 Widens Gap With Older PCs [The Big Story of the Associated Press by Ryan Nakashima, June 27, 2013, 1:47 AM EDT]

                      probably because also appeared on The Washington Post, ABC News, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Indian Express, CenturyLink, and NPR just in 2 hours after AP published this review (so more news organs will republish it later, for sure)
                      SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer says the latest update to Windows is a “refined blend” of its older operating system for PCs and its new touch-enabled interface for more modern, mobile devices.
                      After some hands-on time with it, the update seems to me like a patch over an ever-widening chasm.
                      The issue is that there are over a billion personal computers that use some version of Windows as it existed until last October, when Microsoft unveiled Windows 8. All those PCs are responsive to mice and keyboards, not the touch screens and other input methods like voice and gestures that represent the future of computing. Making it easier to cross that bridge is one of the goals of Windows 8.1, a preview version of which Microsoft released Wednesday.

                      After spending several hours with devices running Windows 8.1, it remains unclear to me whether a touch-based environment is what traditional Windows users want to accomplish the productive tasks for which they’ve come to rely on Windows.

                      But Microsoft has added to 8.1 a grab bag of fun features that make the free update worthwhile.
                      One way Microsoft reaches into the past is by reviving the “Start” button in the operating system’s traditional “Desktop” mode. It appears as a little Windows icon at the bottom left corner of the screen.
                      However, other than the location and its general look, the button doesn’t do what it once did. A single tap brings you back to the “Modern” interface, instead of the traditional Start menu, which used to bring up a whole host of convenient items like recent programs and commonly used folders.
                      An extended press brings up a list of complex settings functions — the kind that most people would probably rather leave to their tech department if they are fortunate enough to have one.
                      So, instead of bringing back a familiar environment, the revived “Start” button is mainly just another way of directing you to the new one.
                      Another way Microsoft attempts to appease its established PC user base is by allowing people to launch their computers directly into the “Desktop” environment. But again, with no way to access programs except through the “Modern” interface, there is little cause for celebration among traditionalists.
                      The main changes in Windows 8.1 offer an easier way to function inside its “Modern” environment, better more integrated search results, and a hint of what’s possible in the future.
                      One feature that makes the new environment easier to navigate: Now, a screen called “All Apps” is just a swipe away from the “Modern” tile screen. Swiping up literally displays all the apps on the computer, not just the ones that you have made as favorites on the start screen. In the past, you had to swipe up from the bottom edge and tap another button to get there.
                      Unfortunately, the “All Apps” page feels like too much. An array of icons easily covers two full screens. Although you can re-organize the apps into categories or alphabetically, there are too many to make it easy to use.
                      It’s easier to use the search function, which can either be brought up by swiping in from the right edge, or just typing when in the “Modern” tile screen.
                      Entertainers get terrific new billing in Microsoft’s improved search function. Type in an artist’s name, say Lily Allen, and Windows 8.1 brings up a lively and colorful sideways-scrollable page that shows big photos, her birthdate, and a list of songs and videos followed by decent-sized renditions of websites.
                      Clicking on a play button alongside a song instantly plays it. You don’t have to own the song, because Microsoft throws in the feature as part of its Xbox Music service — which inserts ads unless you pay a monthly fee. You can queue up all the top songs and even add them to a playlist for listening to later.
                      Windows 8.1 can also run on smaller devices, including Acer’s Iconia W3, which has an 8.1-inch screen measured diagonally and works with a wireless keyboard that also acts as a stand. In the past, screens had to be about 10 inches or longer diagonally.
                      Some add-ins didn’t really excite me. The ability to resize the split-screen, which lets you do more than one thing at once, lacked pizazz. On the Acer and even Microsoft’s own Surface Pro, you can only split the screen in two, and only at fixed intervals. With the update, the screens can be half-and-half or roughly cover one-third or two-thirds of the screen, instead of one taking up a sliver as in Windows 8.
                      Another feature is a predictive text function. Windows 8.1 offers up three predictions for words you are typing on an onscreen keyboard when in certain apps like Mail. To me, the feature seemed to be more annoying than useful, even though you can select the options with sideways swipes on the space bar.
                      Yet another feature turned the camera into a motion detector. In one demo, Microsoft’s new “Food and Drink” app lets users swipe through a recipe with mid-air hand gestures. In practice, this often failed, sometimes turning pages in the wrong direction or not reacting at all. Still, it’s a way to struggle through a recipe if your hands are coated with sauce.
                      At Wednesday’s presentation, Microsoft executives previewed future Windows functions that could come in handy, including voice recognition in apps and contextual understanding of spoken questions.
                      For example, corporate vice president Gurdeep Singh Pall demonstrated a prototype travel planning app that not only showed 3-D overhead views of cities but gave computer-voice tours of various monuments. Speaking the question “Who is the architect?” brought up a webpage showing the answer, simply because the building that the architect designed was in view in the maps app.
                      “Apps are going to have eyes, they’re going to have ears, they’re going to have a mouth,” said Pall.
                      As of this month, Microsoft says its new Windows platform will have 100,000 apps, and the company made it clear it hopes developers make even more, incorporating some of the new tools it has made available to them.
                      Ballmer said in his keynote he hopes that Windows 8.1 also offers a “great path forward” for users of the millions of programs that work on older versions of Windows. By showing off a variety of enticing features of the new interface, however, it’s clear that path leads through the “Modern” world.

                      Windows 8.1 Preview now available [Microsoft press release, June 26, 2013]

                      Microsoft Corp. today announced the immediate availability of the Windows 8.1 Preview, the next update of the Windows operating system, at the company’s developer-focused Build conference. As part of the conference’s keynote speech, the company outlined the reach, design and economic opportunities for developers to build differentiated, touch-based apps for the Windows platform, including new developer tools and increased support. Company executives also highlighted new top apps coming to Windows, including Facebook, Flipboard and NFL — clear evidence of the steady app momentum for Windows, which is experiencing the fastest growth across any platform.

                      Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was joined on stage by Julie Larson-Green, corporate vice president of Windows, and other company executives to demo the Windows 8.1 Preview, focusing on key areas of personalization, search powered by Bing, increased functionality for businesses, new in-the-box apps and more.

                      “With Windows 8 we built a new Windows, reimagined from the chipset to the experience. It was an ambitious vision, and with Windows 8.1 we refine it,” Larson-Green said. “Windows 8.1 will support the widest range of tablets and PCs and demonstrates how responsive we can be for customers. The preview we are releasing today is an important step for partners around the world that are building the next generation of Windows devices and apps.”

                      Antoine Leblond, corporate vice president of Windows Program Management, also took the stage to outline how Windows 8.1 provides additional opportunity for developers to design, build and market their Windows Store apps. He reinforced the best-in-class economics — developers keep 80 percent of the revenue for the lifetime of the app once it crosses the $25,000 revenue threshold. He also highlighted new updates, including the following:

                      • Redesigned Windows Store. The Windows Store has been completely redesigned in Windows 8.1 to reach engaged customers and connect them more effectively and quickly to the apps they want. This includes increased merchandising opportunities for apps and better discoverability based on an individual’s preferences, as well as new search controls from Bing in the user interface. App listings have a new layout with refined navigation and more related content.

                      • More monetization opportunities. Windows 8.1 delivers new opportunities for developers to build and monetize apps and engage users. Leblond introduced Windows Store gift cards, an easy way for consumers to purchase apps, books, games and content. Customers will be able to load their Microsoft Account with stored value in their local currency and make purchases online from the Windows Store. For developers in China, the Windows Store will support Alipay, meaning local developers will have new options to generate additional revenue.

                      • Leading experiences. Windows 8.1 offers developers a canvas to present and develop compelling app designs. Windows 8.1 apps can work together to share data, share the screen and deliver richer customer experiences across a range of devices, including new 8-inch-and-below form factors.

                      Beyond Windows 8.1, Microsoft showcased how developers can take advantage of tools and resources across the company to build differentiated experiences for their customers across Microsoft devices and services, including the following:

                      • Bing as a platform. The new Bing platform builds upon the large investments Microsoft has made in the core technologies behind Bing.com to be embedded as intelligent services into Microsoft devices, Microsoft services and third-party apps that people use every day. In addition to providing the Search experience in Windows 8.1, Windows Phone, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Office, Bing Developer Services are now available that enable third-party developers to leverage Bing technology to create amazing experiences in their own services and Windows and Windows Phone applications. More information is available here.

                      • Releases of Visual Studio 2013 Preview and .NET 4.5.1 Preview. Timed to the next wave of Windows, Visual Studio 2013 offers the ideal toolset for building rich modern applications that run on Windows 8.1. With a range of new features, Visual Studio 2013 makes it easier and faster for developers to create applications and services using modern lifecycle practices that span mobile devices and the cloud. Microsoft also announced a preview of .NET 4.5.1, enabling developers to build next-generation applications for devices and services while innovating their existing core business applications. Visual Studio 2013 and .NET 4.5.1 previews are now available for download here. More on Visual Studio can be found here.

                      • Windows Phone developer opportunity. Microsoft today announced that shipments of Windows Phone grew six times faster than the rest of the smartphone market over the past year. Sprint also announced plans to add Windows Phone 8 to its 4G LTE network this summer with the HTC® 8XT and the Samsung ATIV S Neo™. With the release of Windows Phone 8, customers are now downloading more than 200 million apps per month and generating more than twice the daily app revenue. To help give developers the best return on their investments, the next release of Windows Phone will be designed to run the same apps that developers are building today and support the same familiar tools and skills. For a limited time, developers can register with Windows Phone Dev Center for only $19.

                      Courtesy of Microsoft and Intel Corp., attendees at Build received the first 8-inch Windows-based tablet, the Intel® AtomTM Z2760 processor-based Acer Iconia W3 and a Microsoft Surface Pro, with all the horsepower of the third-generation Intel® Core™ processor in a sleek tablet form factor. With new levels of  performance, battery life and versatile form factors enabled by Windows 8.1 and Intel Architecture, these devices offer developers the chance to quickly get started building Windows 8.1 apps that will scale across form factors of all sizes. Among other giveaways, attendees received 100 GB of extra SkyDrive storage for one year, making it easy to store and access their files from anywhere.

                      The Windows 8.1 Preview is available for download beginning today. More information is available at http://www.preview.windows.com.

                      Additional information from Microsoft:
                      Windows at Build 2013 [Blogging Windows, June 26, 2013]
                      Get started building apps on Windows 8.1 Preview [Windows App Builder, June 26, 2013]
                      Windows 8.1 Preview is here [Blogging Windows, June 26, 2013]
                      Windows 8.1 Preview Product Guide [June 26, 2013]
                      Day one running Windows RT 8.1 Preview on Surface RT [Surface Blog, June 26, 2013]
                      Kinect for Windows new generation developer kit program [Kinect for Windows Blog, June 26, 2013]
                      Build 2013 and Visual Studio 2013 Preview [Somasegar’s blog, June 26, 2013]
                      Announcing the .NET Framework 4.5.1 Preview [.NET Framework Blog, June 26, 2013]
                      Introducing IE11: The Best Way to Experience the Web on Modern Touch Devices [IEBlog, June 26, 2013 9:59 PM]
                      Designing the Visual Studio 2013 User Experience [Visual Studio Blog, June 27, 2013]
                      What’s new in Visual Studio 2013 Preview for authoring Windows Store XAML [Visual Studio Blog, June 27, 2013]

                      Microsoft’s Build 2013 Dev Conference Day 1 – Windows 8.1 Preview launch [BogenDorpher YouTube channel, June 26, 2013]

                      Speech transcript: Steve Ballmer, Julie Larson-Green, Antoine Leblond, and Gurdeep Singh Pall: Build 2013 Keynote [June 26, 2013]

                      Remarks by Steve Ballmer, Chief Executive Officer; Julie Larson-Green, Corporate Vice President, Windows Engineering; Antoine Leblond, Corporate Vice President, Windows Program Management; and Gurdeep Singh Pall, Corporate Vice President, Information Platform & Experience Management; San Francisco, Calif., June 26, 2013
                      ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Chief Executive Officer, Microsoft Corporation, Steve Ballmer. (Cheers, applause, music.)
                      STEVE BALLMER: Well, thanks. It is exciting to have a chance to kick off this Build Conference here in Moscone Center in San Francisco. It’s hard to get a room in San Francisco, let alone a room for 6,000 of your favorite friends. So we really appreciate and welcome all the folks who are joining us here today in person.
                      We estimate we have about 60,000 people also watching live on webcasts. Frankly, we actually have quite a bit to show you today, and we’re pretty excited about it. The world is so dynamic, and the amount of incredibly interesting and exciting and valuable work that we’ll get a chance to show you today from Microsoft and from our innovation partners, hardware vendors, software developers, it’s really, really amazing.
                      Probably won’t show you a lot of Office 365 and Xbox and Skype because we’ve been kind of sharing that separately, but we’ve got a whole lot of Windows, a whole lot of Windows Phone to talk to you about, a whole lot of Windows Azure, and I think you’ll really get a sense on some of the amazing and cool stuff that’s coming really, really fits together very, very nicely.
                      I will say probably the No. 1 thing that I’m excited about, and the No. 1 thing that I’m happy to be able to do, is to welcome you back to a Build Conference so quickly after the last Build Conference. (Applause.)
                      And that’s not even so much about the conference, but it’s about the rapid pace of innovation. If there’s not one other message that I reach you with in my opening remarks, it’s about the transformation that we are going through as a company to move to an absolutely rapid release cycle — rapid release, rapid release.
                      I’ve talked externally about the transformation that we’re going through as a company who’s a software company to a company that is building software-powered devices and software-powered services. And the only way in which that transformation can possibly be driven is on a principle of rapid release.
                      It’s not a one-time thing. We’re certainly going to show you Windows 8.1 today. But you can think of that in a sense as the new norm for everything we do. For Windows releases, in addition to what we’re doing with devices through our partners, what we’re doing with Azure and Office 365, rapid release cadence is absolutely fundamental to what we’re doing, and, frankly, to the way we need to mobilize our ecosystem of hardware and software development partners.
                      So the first thing I want everybody to do, whether you actually do it physically in this room, we’ll test the Wi-Fi network, but I want everybody to take the opportunity to go download the Windows 8.1 Preview edition and the version of the Visual Studio tools that allow you to do first-class development for Windows 8.1.
                      Remember, we put Windows 8 systems in market just the end of last year. It was literally November when we started to see Windows 8 systems really coming to the fore. And yet, what you see and what we will show you as we demonstrate Windows 8.1 to you is you see a heck of a lot of movement, a heck of a lot of innovation, a heck of a lot of responsiveness all coming to market in a very, very rapid timeframe, and with a toolset that ought to enable all of our developers to flourish, to do great work, and help continue to fill out the portfolio of applications that are available for Windows 8.
                      Now, we’ve been moving quickly not just with Windows but also with our Windows Phone software and what we’re doing with our OEM partners. So in addition to the Windows 8.1 Preview, the first thing I want to have a chance to show you is the incredible range of new devices that our partners are bringing to market with Windows Phone. These are incredibly, incredibly beautiful devices.
                      You see here a range of new devices. These are a couple of new Nokias, the 928 and the 925, polycarbonate and polycarbonate and aluminum body. They have absolutely the finest camera technology in the market available today. They have beautiful screens. They’re thin, they’re light, they’re available on a wide range of networks, and all have come available here within the last month or two.
                      The software, in my mind’s eye, is beautiful. It’s beautiful, and it looks like the same software that we have on Windows tablets, Windows PCs, Windows notebooks, and even on our Xbox systems.
                      An additional product that I think is worthy of mention is the Nokia 521. It, too, is a beautiful product. This product will be sold outside of the United States, primarily in countries where the phone operators do not subsidize; that is, they do not reduce the price of the phone, but this phone will be sold for just over $150, which is really quite amazing for a product that’s this beautiful, this gorgeous, and at this time, an inexpensive price.
                      We’re also pleased to announce today in conjunction with Sprint and with Samsung and HTC that for the first time, Sprint will be making new Windows 8 Phones available on its network. The HTC 8XT and the Samsung ATIV S Neo are coming available on the Sprint network, filling out the range of options that our customers here in the United States have been looking for, a family of beautiful Windows Phones available on every network in this country and around the world. And we’re really proud of the work that our hardware partners are doing on this collection of beautiful new phones.
                      It’s not just about phones, though. It’s also about transformation and innovation in the fundamental hardware that we think of as the Windows device.
                      I’m almost not sure whether to talk about Windows devices today, Windows PCs, Windows tablets, Windows notebooks — the PC, the Windows device of today doesn’t look a lot like the PC of five years ago or 10 years ago or 15 years ago. And it’s really been in this short seven months since we launched Windows 8 and we turned on the switch with our hardware partners that we’ve seen an explosion in the range of innovative new devices that are being designed with Windows inside.
                      For the first time today, we’ll really spend some time showing you small tablets running Windows. You will all receive, those of you here in person, you will all get an Acer Iconia 8.1-inch Windows 8 machine. (Cheers, applause.)
                      Antoine Leblond will show you one here in a minute, but it’s a very small tablet. It’s a full Windows 8 device. It has full entertainment, full PC capability. It comes with Windows Office preloaded, and literally is flying off the shelves in terms of volume and appreciation. A perfect device for students, a small, very light device, and yet you can add a keyboard, you have Microsoft Office and the full range of PC applications, enabling kids to do homework and have a little entertainment at the same time.
                      This small tablet form factor is very important. I wouldn’t call them PCs, but there will be Windows small tablets. You’ll see it, you’ll touch it, you’ll feel it, and we’re going to see a proliferation of Windows small tablet devices here over the course of the next several months.
                      This is innovation that had to be unlocked. We had to do work in Windows, and our partners have had to do work in the semiconductors and in their system design to really bring the small tablet form factor to life.
                      Second, when we brought out Windows 8, we talked about touch, touch, touch, touch, touch, touch, and more touch. When you went into the stores last Christmas to look for a Windows 8 machine, most of them didn’t have touch.
                      And yet, what we’ve seen in that timeframe is a real focusing by our industry ecosystem on bringing Windows 8 touch systems to market: Windows 8 notebooks, Windows 8 touch all-in-ones, touch notebooks.
                      Touch is incredibly valuable in what I might refer to as a traditional PC form factors. The advantages of being able to touch your all-in-one, or even the notebook, the notebook that maybe you use all day, every day with the mouse and the keyboard powered down, writing code, the ability in a more casual moment to reach out and touch is so obvious, and yet it’s really only in the Windows family that we have a range of touch notebooks.
                      And you will see in what we show you here onstage, and in what you’ll see now in stores, you will see literally an outpouring of new devices that are notebook computers in every respect, and yet have touch fully integrated and accessible.
                      One of the things we have certainly seen in our user research is customers who have Windows 8 on touch systems are much, much happier than other Windows 8 customers, and in fact, are even much happier than our Windows 7 customers. And so really getting the ecosystem to come forth with a full product line of Windows 8 touch PCs is incredibly important.
                      The other category of innovation that we’re going to show you some here today, I guess I’ll call a workhorse two-in-one tablet. I don’t know whether to call it a tablet, I don’t know whether to call it a PC, because really this family of devices really does a first-class job at both of those things.
                      I continuously bring in and try new machines. The newest machine I’ve tried, which Antoine will demonstrate later, is this Helix device from Lenovo. It’s a Core i7 machine. It has all of the security features, PCM, encryption that anybody would ever want.
                      I find that I get at least a full day of work in terms of battery life. It is light. It’s about two pounds. It has built-in pen. You say, “How can this possibly be a full-day battery life with a Core i7?” Well, it’s touch, it’s pen, but it also has a keyboard with built-in battery that turns it literally into the most — oops, I should put it down more carefully in demo areas — it literally makes it the most powerful PC and the most powerful, capable, lightweight tablet that you could carry.
                      Should we call that a PC? Should we call that a tablet? What I call it is all Windows, all the time. And I think it really reaches out and touches a need that a lot of people feel.
                      How many of us have gone to a meeting with somebody who brought a tablet and then when it comes time to actually take notes, writes them down on pencil and paper, or can’t get at the spreadsheet that they really need to do their work, or try to use it terminal emulator mode, or can’t write the document really, or they take half an hour to set up and turn their tablet back into something that approximates a PC?
                      This new category of two-in-ones is what I think all of our developers at Microsoft will want.
                      A lot of times, people just want the desktop, they want a powerful PC or notebook, and yet from time to time, you want to be able to kick back with a lightweight, ink-enabled tablet, and we can go both ways with this powerful two-in-one tablet combination.
                      Third area that I want to highlight where we have a lot of innovation that you will see showcased here during the Build Conference is in the area of applications. It really again has only been seven months since we’ve launched Windows 8, and the number of applications that we see coming into the store is phenomenal.
                      But it also to me is gratifying to see that developers are doing really great work for Windows 8. Flipboard will be announcing their new applications. They’re known, of course, for very intuitive, visual design. And Mike McCue, who’s the CEO of Flipboard, says, “We aspire to not just create the best Windows application possible, but the best version of Flipboard possible.” This new range and family of Windows devices enables that kind of application innovation.
                      Facebook will bring an application to the Windows 8 environment. They’re very focused on mobile. That’s good. (Applause.) That’s very good.
                      Mike Chambers, director of engineering at Facebook, says, “Facebook has always believed in connecting everyone, everywhere, on every device. Given our strong and longstanding partnership with Microsoft, this is an exciting way to advance that vision.”
                      The NFL, we recently struck a deal with the NFL to bring its content and applications to a broad set of Microsoft devices, including all Windows tablets, PCs, et cetera. And today, the NFL will be announcing that their Fantasy Football experience will be available across the range of Windows 8 devices.
                      These join applications just announced even in the last week from Vivo, from Viclone, from Time Out, from Tesco Groceries, Disney’s new game Where’s My Mickey, and many, many more.
                      Within this month, I think we’ll pass the 100,000-application mark in the Windows Store. But of course, as important as those 100,000 applications are, they join a list of literally millions of applications that people use on Windows today. In our instrumented versions of Windows, with your permission, when you feed us back data, we get to see kind of the numbers of applications that we have instrumented versions. And we literally have data that shows us approximately 2 to 3 million applications in production on Windows on a daily basis.
                      They haven’t all been moved to the modern user interface, they’re not all in the store, but they are essential to the way all of us work and get stuff done every day. And they will move, and they will migrate, and they will continue to be the basis and the evolution for the productivity that drives all of us in our daily lives around the world.
                      The importance of those desktop applications was never more reinforced to us than in the course of the last six months. Since we announced and shipped Windows 8, suffice it to say we pushed boldly in Windows 8, and yet what we found was that we got a lot of feedback from users of those millions of desktop applications that said, if I was to put it in coffee terms, “Why don’t you go refine the blend here?” Let’s remix the desktop and your modern application experiences. Let’s balance them better. Let’s complete them better. Let’s make it easier to start applications the way we’re used to with the millions of desktop applications that we use to be productive every day.
                      So what we will show you today is a refined blend of our desktop experience and our modern user interface and application experience.
                      You will see that we bring back the Start button to the desktop. (Cheers, applause.)
                      You will see that if you want to boot to the desktop, you can boot to the desktop. (Cheers, applause.)
                      You will see that we have, nonetheless, enriched the Start screen and Start menu, but we have brought back the flexibility for you to see all of those many, many applications that you use every day at a simple and quick glance.
                      You will see that we have built into the user experience more multitasking options, so you can have more things up on the screen like you’re used to in desktop mode. You can use more screen real estate with multiple monitors. We said, “Let’s reblend the desktop and the modern experience, and let’s recognize the fact that it’s not just these hundreds of thousands of new applications that are in our store and support the modern touch user interface, but let’s also make sure that we have a great path forward for the people using the millions of desktop applications in the world.” So we have refined the blend of those two things, and we’ll show you that here later today.
                      The last big thing I want to highlight in terms of what we’re doing in Windows 8.1, we’re doing with Bing. We have put an incredible amount of energy, innovation, brain power into our Bing search engine. And we’ve built absolutely an unbelievable product. We have consistently improved the experience to the point where today in the United States we win blind taste tests if you compare results between Bing and Google.
                      We have gained market share consistently since the launch of Bing here in the United States.
                      But the time has come now to also use Bing in new ways, to use Bing to harness it, to help improve the fundamental usability of Windows devices and Windows applications.
                      So, with Windows 8.1, I would say Bing is inside. Our shell experience is powered by Bing. You’ll see that we’re opening up Bing as an application development platform for all of you as Windows developers so that you can use all of this investment we’ve put into crawling the Web and understanding entities. You can use that, see that, and build that richness into your applications running on top of Windows.
                      So I would say we have moved from Bing super and outside you’ll see Bing inside the whole family of Windows devices and the cool, new applications that all of you are building.
                      To show you some of these innovations, to demonstrate them to you, we’re going to have Julie Larson-Green, who runs our Windows group, Antoine Leblond, who runs program management and kind of design conceptualization for Windows, and Gurdeep Singh Pall, from our Bing team, come on out and show you some of the exciting innovation that I got a chance to talk to you about. I’ll rejoin you in a little bit, but welcome, Julie, and enjoy the show. (Applause, music.)
                      JULIE LARSON-GREEN: OKOK, thanks, Steve. So I’ve got a demo to show you, but the most exciting feature that you’ll see is the fact that we’re here in eight months with an update that shows how much more responsive our engineering has become.
                      Now, I remember when I was here at the developer conference for Windows 7, and we were really proud of that release. It unlocked a whole new generation of PCs called ultrabooks, and those were the best ones that were ever made at the time. They were really a breakthrough product.
                      And then I came back exactly three years later to unveil Windows 8. And it was about enabling another generation of PCs, tablets that can do everything.
                      Windows 8 was the most ambitious vision for Windows ever, one that introduced a new platform, experience, app model, and more.
                      So today, I’m going to show you Windows 8.1. It’s an update that refines the vision of Windows 8 and is responsive to the latest industry trends, from supporting the newest silicon to the widest range of devices at the same time we’ve been delivering continuous improvements.
                      We have had over 800 updates to Windows since we launched in November that address everything from performance, efficiency, to the look and feel and new features in the product. We designed 8.1 to feel natural and everything from the new mini small tablets up to large, powerful work stations. And so I’m going to give you a glance at all of those things.
                      Right here, I have the one that Steve was talking about, the Acer 8-inch. I’m going to go over and show you a little bit about how we’ve designed the system to work really great with these devices.
                      I’m going to use the one connected to the projector. Here I am with the new Start screen for the small device. Works great in portrait mode. These devices are really easy to carry around in your bag or your purse and great for reading. So we have Nook Reader right here.
                      But we didn’t really just stop there, we also rethought the way that you can be productive on these small devices and came up with some innovative ways to use an onscreen keyboard.
                      So I’m going to go to Twitter. No Internet connection; that will make it hard to tweet. And right away, you see an application that was designed or an app designed for this 8-inch portrait form factor.
                      So here’s the onscreen keyboard, and I’m at the Build keynote, started at 9:00. I’m going to tweet that. So as I start typing, immediately you start to see the suggestions at the top. It has B, Build, Bing as suggestions for me.
                      Normally, I would take my hands away from the keyboard, go to the top, press one of those, and continue typing.
                      With Windows 8.1, we’ve added gestures to the onscreen keyboard. So, as I slide my finger on the space bar, it selects across. I see the one that I want, I tap, and it gives me the word. (Applause.)
                      I can do that again. So I’m just going to slide my finger on the space bar right across and tap and the word. I’m going to type “at.”
                      Another way that we do gestures is on the keypad itself. So one of the things that’s most annoying about an onscreen keyboard is going to the keypad for numbers and then coming back and typing. So instead, with Windows 8.1, I can use a gesture to slide up and put in a number. So here I go with 9. Slide up — whoops, I slid the whole thing — slide up for the colon, zero, zero — and show you what I’m doing here. I’m going to press and hold on the question mark. Now I can slide in any direction to get my exclamation point or pound sign or anything else I want, and it’s just that easy. (Applause.)
                      So when we launched Windows 8, it was on these larger tablets, really tablets that can do everything. And it was all about making you productive and helping you get things done that you wanted to go do. Some of the things that we’ve improved in Windows 8.1 are around email, around searching, what Steve talked about before, and also with entertainment. So I’m going to take you through some of those things.
                      Let’s go to my email. Now, we’ve got a big update that hopefully many of you got in February for the mail client. We added all kinds of new capabilities, and we’ve been improving it ever since. What I’m going to show you here are some of the capabilities that help you really manage your inbox content and the innovations we’re putting in when we release. This isn’t in your preview build, but it will be there in the fall when we come out.
                      So right away, I have what’s called the power pane here on the left-hand side. It makes it very easy for me to filter and find things that are in my inbox. So I press on social, and it gives me all my social updates all at a glance. I can see everything that’s been coming from my Facebook feed or anything else that I have connected here.
                      I have my favorite people that I can get to really quickly or get to an individual.
                      I also have newsletters. If you’re like me, you’re getting many of these newsletters every day; sometimes many times a day and it fills up your inbox. So we’ve added the capability to sweep these away.
                      So if I go and select one of these, I’ve got LivingSocial, use the sweep command, and I can delete them all at once. I can delete all but the latest. And then as they come in, it automatically will update and set it aside for me so I don’t have to manage all that content all at once. So I’m going to go ahead and delete all of these and sweep them away. (Applause.)
                      So Steve was talking about Bing and how Bing powers Windows. And we introduced the Search charm in Windows 8. And the Search charm in Windows 8, it can search through a variety of contexts. What we’ve done in 8.1 is make it the one box that just does it all. It’s the place you’re going to go for everything. It’s like the modern command line to your system. It can bring back results from the Web, from your local drive, from the control panel, from apps on your system. It’s the one place you go to get to everything you want to do. And with 20 billion searches that were done in the U.S. alone in one month, we know it’s the way that people like to use their PC.
                      So here I am with all those results. I have my SkyDrive, Store, everything that starts with “S.” I’m going to continue typing, and we’re going to go get some results for San Francisco.
                      So this smart search brings back the results from everywhere. So I have the weather, I have maps, I have attractions that are popular and known to be in San Francisco. I have Web results with little pictures of the pages that I would get. And so it’s a one-stop shop to find out everything I might want to do in the relevance of things in San Francisco.
                      So I’m going to go look at the weather. And part of the search experience is it just takes me right to the weather. I can look at the city, look at the temperature and go right back to search. I can go right to a map of the city. I have little stars of things that I’ve selected here. I’m going to select on a restaurant, Aziza. And built right into the whole search experience is the ability to go look at that restaurant, find the menu, go to OpenTable, make a reservation, making it very easy and seamless. Search is not just a list of links; it’s things you can do.
                      So I’m going to go over here and search for something else. There’s a band playing this week that I’ve heard of called Fitz & The Tantrums. I’ll show you another one of these. This is like an app that’s been built on the fly for Fitz & The Tantrums. It tells me the genre. I can play songs. I can read about it, look at videos, find things on the Internet, just very quickly and simply get that built right up for me.
                      And I can play things right from here. So I’m going to play this song, 6:00 a.m. (Music plays.) So I didn’t own that song. That used the Xbox Music app to go find the song and play it for me and stream it for me automatically without me having to do anything, because free music streaming comes with Xbox Music. It’s built into Windows 8.
                      So the Xbox Music app has been completely redesigned to focus on playing content. We were focusing on discovery before, but really what you want to do with a music app is you want to go and play. And so it starts from your collection. I also have a new radio feature where I can create playlists, create new stations and enter artists.
                      And I have this one new feature that is so cool, I’ve never seen this before in any kind of music app. I’ll show you how it works.
                      I’m going to go back here to the browser, and this is just a regular music Web page. It’s just a site on the Internet. You guys can go there now and take a look at it. It has the lineup for the Second Wave Festival, and it just lists all the bands that are going to be playing.
                      I can share the site using the charms to the music app. It’s going to automatically comb through that website and create a playlist using the streaming music from all those bands. And then when I go back there, I automatically have a playlist all created for me. (Applause.)
                      Pretty cool. OK, so those touch machines, tablets, you’re using them, you’re touching them all the time. Pretty soon, every screen you have is going to be touch.
                      Here is this all-in-one. It’s a great 27-inch Dell PC touch machine. And we’re finding these more and more in public areas of the home. They’re in the living room; they’re in your kitchen. They’re sitting here, and we’ve made them much more beautiful in Windows 8.1 with a live slide show of all your pictures.
                      So these pictures come from SkyDrive where your pictures are stored, or from your local hard drive, and they just go with you. They’re organized by date. So if your birthday was this week, next year at the same time, pictures from that birthday event are going to show up there.
                      But it’s not just sitting around looking beautiful. It’s also ready to go at a moment’s notice. On the lock screen — (tones). Ah, Jensen, right on cue. OK, did you see what I did there? I opened it right from the lock screen without being logged in.
                      JENSEN: Hi, Julie. That’s pretty cool.
                      JULIE LARSON-GREEN: Yeah, you can do that with camera as well. You can just slide down from the top with your tablet and take a picture without logging in.
                      JENSEN: Yeah, you didn’t have to enter a password or a PIN or anything. You just got instant video chat right from the lock screen on any device.
                      JULIE LARSON-GREEN: Absolutely. I’ll talk to you soon, thanks.
                      JENSEN: Bye.
                      JULIE LARSON-GREEN: Bye. (Cheers, applause.)
                      OK, Start screen. So Steve talked some about the Start screen and all the capabilities of the Start screen. It is designed for all sizes of screen. It looks great on this big screen. I have all the things that I do every day sitting right here. I have a beautiful background, and we’ve added lots of personalization. I’ll show you a couple of things here.
                      I’m going to go to this dragon one, this bright, colorful one and show you — see how I’m sliding the tile and the dragon is moving behind there? I’ll do one more. So that’s a robot. Now, watch on the bottom here as I move and the gears are turning. And you can just customize it to look any way you want.
                      Now, when you install apps from the store, they’re going to go into all programs. And we made all programs much easier to get to. It works just like it does on Windows Phone. So as I scroll up to the top, all programs are just right there. I just swipe up and swipe back down. (Applause.) I’ll do that again.
                      And when you’re in this view, you can filter and sort by a number of different things. We can sort by date installed, by most used, by category, making it easy for me to find all the things that are on my system.
                      And when you’re in this view, you can filter and sort by a number of different things. We can start by date installed, by most used, by category, making it easy for me to find all the things that are on my system.
                      So I’m going to go by date installed. And you see the little “new” that I just recently installed Urbanspoon, and it’s ready there for me to go.
                      So I’m going to talk a little bit about SkyDrive and the services that are backed up behind Windows 8.
                      So I talked before about having your photos in the cloud, in SkyDrive, making it easy for you to get your beautiful lock screen. And SkyDrive is where you’re going to store all of your documents, your photos, your music, and everything that you want to keep, all the content that you want to keep on your system.
                      We also have a number of other services that come with Windows that roam your content across, that roam your apps across your settings, your favorites. We also have Outlook, which powers your email, and the Xbox Music and Video service. And they’re all available from all of your Windows devices, even your Windows Phone.
                      So I’m going to go here into pictures and show you a couple new things. So we have picture editing built right into Windows 8.1. So there’s a bunch of presets that make it very easy for you to go and customize the look of your photo. We have some detailed ways to go do that. I’m going to play with the saturation and desaturate it here.
                      These are some of the new controls that you’ll find when you start creating your applications, a bunch of these kinds of cool, new things for your apps. Makes it very easy to go and create a beautiful interface on top of the pictures.
                      There’s going to be all kinds of new apps coming in Windows 8.1. Every app in the box is either new or updated and refined from 8.0.
                      I’m going to show you one here. Oops, wanted to keep going a little further. There we go. It’s called Food and Drink, and it’s a new app that has everything you can find about cooking. It has tips and techniques; it has videos of chefs; it has recipes; it has a shopping list, meal planner. It also has another very cool new feature. So when I get in here, you know, this is sitting in your kitchen, you’re using your tablet and you’re cooking. Your hands are sometimes kind of messy. And so we’ve learned by doing and watching people do this that it would be really nice to add something that we call hands-free mode.
                      So I’m going to press the hands-free mode. It’s going to turn on the camera. And then I’m going to be able to use the camera itself to go ahead and advance through the recipes. So I’m going to sit here and go, without touching the screen, no messy hands. (Applause.) Pretty cool. So you’ll find all kinds of new things.
                      So this screen is big, but it’s really not the biggest screen that I have in my house. The biggest screen in my house would be my television. And Windows 8.1 makes it really easy for you to stream content from one device to another.
                      So I’m going to open up the Xbox video, and I have Star Trek playing here. And I’m going to play it to my Xbox One. Swipe out to devices, play, Xbox One. (Video plays.) I never get to finish watching that movie; I only get to see that much.
                      OK, so you guys out in the audience, you build applications. Steve was talking about the importance and the power of the desktop. So I’m going to show you some things about working on the desktop.
                      Here we are booted straight into the desktop, which is an option for you in Windows 8.1. We love the desktop, we’re proud of the desktop, and we’ve been making refinements to the desktop to bring the modern world and the desktop world together.
                      So as I go down to the new Start button down here on the bottom left-hand corner and click it, it brings up the Start screen. I’ll do that for you again. And see how the tiles float right over the background for your desktop. So it’s very seamless and smooth, not at all jarring.
                      And then from here you can get into your all programs, and you can choose to default to this view. You can default to your desktop applications or all apps and get right here and continue working in a very quick and efficient way. You can see four times more apps on the screen at a time than you ever could with a Start menu, making it really easy to find what you want to go do and go do it.
                      Another part of being on the desktop is about windowing and multitasking, and we’ve added improvements in 8.1 for that as well.
                      So I’m going to go ahead and launch Outlook. And I have an email message here with a link in it. I’ll click that link. And we’re going to automatically go ahead and snap those two side by side. I’ve been using this, and it’s a really incredible way to work, especially on large-screen monitors.
                      So here I am. And you’re no longer constrained by the one-third/two-third split. It can be any size you want. (Applause.) Great.
                      And it doesn’t stop there. I can also right-click on a link and open in a new window and have more than two things on the screen at a time. (Cheers, applause.) So I can compose my email and view an email at the same time.
                      So if you’re a developer, you’re probably also using multimon, right? And so we’ve made a ton of improvements there as well. Check this out.
                      So I have eight windows on two monitors, one PC — powering two monitors; it’s OK to clap. (Applause.) So you can set it up exactly how you want. You can resize those windows, you can move them from one to the other, and they’re blended together in a way that makes it really, really productive for you to go and work.
                      Speaking of productive, there’s one set of applications that are really synonymous with productivity and have been on the PC forever, and that’s Office. And so I have a preview of an alpha version of PowerPoint that I’m showing for the very first time to show you the power of the Win RT platform and how our applications are moving forward into the modern world.
                      So I’m going to launch PowerPoint. This is a Win RT version of PowerPoint. I’m going to go ahead and dock it at the top. And right now, what we have working is a viewer. So I’m going to browse the SkyDrive, the default place to go and get files from, open this presentation, and you’re going to see right away the transitions, high-quality graphics, video. PowerPoint is a pretty resource-intensive application. So this really shows the power of what you could do in Windows RT.
                      And then there are also the benefits of being a modern application for PowerPoint. It can show up in the store; it gets automatic updates to your apps automatically and that’s new in Windows 8.1. You can take advantage of the system and participate in notifications and contracts, and of course, you get touch. And all of this works on both ARM and x86 from the smallest, tiniest tablet to the largest, most powerful work station. So it’s all there ready for you to get going and building great new apps. So 8.1 is Windows 8 refined.
                      And I’m going to ask Antoine Leblond to come out now and get us started on showing you how to do it. Thank you very much. (Applause, music.)
                      ANTOINE LEBLOND: All right. That was a great look at the new features and experiences in 8.1
                      What I want to do now actually is I want us to look below the covers at the great developer improvements we’ve made in 8.1 that power those experiences.
                      So whether you’re a hardware developer or a software developer, we’ve got some great improvements and amazing advancements for you in 8.1. These will help you create beautiful, powerful, responsive, and delightful touch-friendly apps that are really efficient with system resources and have great performance.
                      Your existing apps will run better on 8.1. So having people upgrade is a real benefit to you. And that’s why we made the upgrade free.
                      And then when you migrate your app to 8.1 and update it in the store, it’ll run even better than before for your customers.
                      Of course Windows continues to offer developers a unique array of choices. You have your choice of programming languages and presentation technologies so that you can use what you know to write native Windows 8.1 apps. You can write first-class, high-performance apps using HTML and JavaScript, C# and XAML or C++ and DirectX. And you have your choice of business model via the Windows Store.
                      And in 8.1, there are actually literally over 5,000 new APIs for you to take advantage of and unleash your creativity with. Windows 8.1 has a lot of surface area, and BUILD is devoted to sharing that with you. The Windows team has put together over 100 sessions for you to see at the conference or on demand later.
                      So what I’m going to try and do here is I’m going to try and actually give you a bit of a sampling of some of the great things that you’re going to get to learn about over the next couple of days.
                      Let’s jump right in. Now, the best place to start talking about developer investment is obviously with tools. So we’re going to start with a preview of the next version of the world’s best development tools, and that’s Visual Studio.
                      So Visual Studio 2013 makes it incredibly easy to develop next-generation mobile and connected apps and support devices and services across our entire platform.
                      Just like the Windows team, the Visual Studio team has been operating at a faster release cadence, and that means that the developer preview of 2013 is available today for you to download. So you have to go check that out.
                      There’s a lot in this version of Visual Studio, and I’m going to show you just a few of my favorite new things here.
                      Now, this is going to be a test of how many developers we really have in the room. I’m going to start by talking about performance a little bit. Knowing how your app performs is obviously a really important part of delivering a great experience to your customers. With mobile devices, it’s actually more important than ever. So it’s not only about how fast your app is, but if you think of things like mobile broadband, for example, you really want to know how network efficient your app is. Or you want to know, for example, how your app will affect the battery life of the device that it’s working on.
                      So, in Visual Studio 2013, we’ve built some powerful performance analysis tools directly into the tool.
                      So we’re going to start here. This app is called Supernova. All it does is actually downloads a bunch of photos of known supernovas from the Web and then displays them in a nice grid.
                      And what I’m going to do is I’m going to do a little performance analysis on this app.
                      So I’m going to go to the debug menu, and I’m going to pick performance and diagnostics. And here it lets me pick what kind of report I want to do. And I’m going to pick one that’s really cool, my energy consumption report. I’m going to do that and I’m going to hit start.
                      So now what it’s going to do is it starts up my app. And in the background, it’s actually profiling its energy consumption.
                      So we’ll go back to Visual Studio now. I’ll hit stop collection. It’s going to build the report for me.
                      Now, have a look at how cool this is. What this chart is showing me, it’s actually showing me the power consumption of my app in milliwatts. How would you have done this before? The red bar is actually the total consumption. You can see in yellow is the consumption from the CPU. Gray is the consumption from the display. You get a really, really good sense of how your app is actually using power on the device.
                      This doughnut chart at the bottom here just sort of shows me the relative consumption from those different parts of the device. And it even tells me here down at the bottom that this app would run on my device for 9.17 hours before the battery runs out. So really, really cool diagnostics and information for me to make my app even better for mobile devices. (Applause.) Good, it gets better, it gets better.
                      I want to talk about async debugging for a second. Now, this is the test of developers. Another feature we added to Visual Studio 2013 are some great tools around async debugging. So in Windows 8, we did a lot of work to let you write procedural async code, right? So you don’t have the spaghetti code with callbacks all over the place. Really neat stuff, but it’s a little bit tricky to debug.
                      But I want to have a look at a different app. So I’m going to switch over to this different app here. And this is basically an async version or it’s a different version of my Supernova app. And what it does is — I’m just going to run it here. So what it’s doing here, it’s actually showing me some low-res photos of these supernovas. But when I bring up the app bar, there’s a button down here at the bottom that says “full image.” And what that’s going to do when I tap it is it makes an async call to actually go get the high-res images for these supernovas.
                      Now, I have a breakpoint set here. So I’m going to go tap on this. And I’ve hit the breakpoint. Now, developers in the room, you know what’s going to happen here. If I try to step over this, what’s going to happen is first that async operation gets triggered and starts, control returns to UI processing, so my app stays responsive, and I can keep processing UI events. And only when that async routine is done does control come back to the next statement in here.
                      Now, today if you do this, what’s going to happen is when you get back there and you look at the call stack, there’s one function on it and that’s it. We’ve completely lost the async call context. So it makes it kind of tricky to actually debug around these async calls.
                      Let’s try this in Visual Studio 2013, though. I’m going to step over this. Now, look at the call stack down at the bottom. It’s actually preserved the entire async call context for me. (Applause.)
                      So that retains my ability to actually effectively trace through my code, and it just makes it much, much easier to debug async code.
                      Now, I mentioned connected apps earlier. Visual Studio 2013 makes it trivial to connect an Azure mobile service to your app and send a push notification. I want to have a look at that now.
                      We’re going to go back to my first app. And what I want to do is — let’s close this report here. What I’d like to do is actually set up a live tile for this app and have an Azure service that basically monitors the data source, and when a new supernova shows up, it sends the notification down, and the live tile actually shows a photo and a message about a new supernova showing up.
                      Now, the way I do this is I’m going to go into the Solution Explorer here, and I’m going to right click, and I’m going to go to “add,” and I will select push notification.
                      Now, this starts up a wizard. I’m not going to walk through the whole wizard. It has about eight to 10 steps, but I’m just answering a bunch of questions in here.
                      And what this wizard will do is it actually provisions an Azure mobile service for me, pushes all this template code over to it and connects everything together so that I can actually get these push notifications.
                      What’s even cooler, and I did this earlier so it’s set up this way, what’s even cooler is I can use this new Server Explorer here to actually go look at the server-side code without ever leaving my client project, which is really neat.
                      Let’s look at insert.js. So this is the piece of code right here that will actually send the notification. I’ve chosen a tile template that basically cycles between an image and two lines of text. And you can see here that’s all it’s setting up. It’s setting up a source for the image and then the lines of text.
                      We’ll run this. And we’ll give it a second. Now, it’s fired up the service over on the Azure Mobile Service. And the app is running. And if we switch over to the Start menu, we should see our tile. There’s our tile right there. And if you give it something like five to eight seconds here, you’ll see it cycle between the image and between the text. Just like that. That was super easy, just did it through a wizard. How cool is that? (Applause.)
                      So let’s switch and talk about something different now. I want to talk about the Web platform. Since Windows 7, Microsoft has been a leader in supporting Web standards. And we continue this in 8.1 by adding support for WebGL and MPEG-DASH. So WebGL is a JavaScript API for rendering interactive 3-D graphics without using a plug-in at all. MPEG-DASH is a protocol for high-quality video streaming. It does things like variable bitrate and DRM and things like that. And the Web platform in Windows 8.1 supports both of these.
                      Because the Web platform powers both IE and the WebView control, it means you have access now to WebGL and MPEG-DASH content, both in the browser and in your native apps. So let’s have a look at that.
                      I’m going to start in IE here. And what you’re seeing here is a page with WebGL content in it. So this is a beautifully rendered 3-D object. You can see the lighting and the shadows and all that stuff. And using touch pointer events I can actually interact with it.
                      And it’s super nice. It’s really smooth because it’s hardware accelerated and all the rendering on the Web platform is actually hardware accelerated. So that’s really neat.
                      Now, let’s do something different here. I’m going to come over here and I have an app that’s running. And we’re going to dock it right next to it.
                      Now, this on the left is a native app, right? It’s got the same code, the same markup, the same experience in it. And it’s running in WebGL, too. So this shows you how easy it is to take code that I’ve written for a website and bring it over to a native app almost seamlessly and make it work in the native app.
                      Now, the cool thing about this, because it’s a native app and it’s running in the WebView controller, I can put multiple WebView controls on my canvas.
                      So let’s get rid of this window. Let’s tap next here. Now, here’s a place where I actually have four WebView controls up in my native app. The two at the top are both WebGL controls. The one on the top left is the one we just saw, this one is a panorama. I can, of course, interact with these. I can actually interact with both of them at the same time. And then at the bottom, what you’re seeing are two 1080p streaming videos that are streaming over MPEG-DASH.
                      The one on the right, actually, is DRM protected; the one on the left isn’t. But all this stuff is playing at the same time, hardware accelerated, super seamlessly. It’s really, really cool stuff.
                      And we’ve even done more with the WebView control. So one of the things that many of you have been asking for is to actually be able to compose the WebView controls with other components of the UI.
                      So we’ve done that. If you see here, when I bring in the app bar, see how it just swipes over? It’s transparent. The content is still playing in the back. It’s super, super cool and lets you create absolutely beautiful apps.
                      We’ve done more than that even with the WebView control. We’ve added navigation events, we’ve added smart screens so that you stay safe with the content that you bring into those controls. The controls handle offline content. All this makes it easier than ever to build high-performance apps, apps that blend both local and Web content. (Applause.)
                      OK, now I want to talk about the Windows Store. So the store, of course, continues to offer the best economics of any store out there, period. And we’ve also redesigned it so people can more easily find and buy your apps.
                      We’ve added support for cash stored value in over 40 markets. We’ve added in-app purchasing for items and consumables. We’ve added app gifting. And we’ve also added significantly better merchandising and promotion powered by Bing. Our goal is to make sure that people know about all the great apps that you write, and then make it easy and flexible for them to buy them.
                      I want to show you a few highlights. So the first thing, I’m back here at the Start screen, and you can see the store tile up here. And the first thing you’re going to notice is that there’s something missing. There’s not a little update count up in the top-right corner. We are done with those. You will never see those update counts again. We’re done with manual app updating in Windows 8.1. Now apps get updated automatically so that your customers are always running the latest version of your app. (Applause.)
                      Let’s tap on the tile and go into the store. And you can see here that we’ve actually significantly redesigned how this works.
                      The first section you see here on the right is a rotating spotlight. So this is a program section where we get to show some great apps.
                      And then as I pan over to the right, what you’re seeing here are lists. So we know that people love lists as a way to go discover apps. What we’ve done is we’ve brought these lists to the front and exploded them on the front page of the store. So you get to see a lot more apps than you used to, and it makes it much easier to find things and much easier for customers to find your apps.
                      I want to point out one list in particular here, which is the first one. It’s the picks-for-you list. So this is kind of cool. This is actually a personalized list for you. So it’s built, actually, by the Bing recommendation engine based around signals like apps that you’ve acquired before and ratings, and similar apps that other people have acquired. So it’s a great, great way to actually discover new apps. And of course as a developer it’s a great way to have your apps merchandised to potential customers, so really cool stuff.
                      Let’s go over here, and I’m going to tap into one of these so we can have a look at the new app description page. So this has been changed a lot also. You see there’s a lot more surface area to show some really high-fidelity screen shots from my app.
                      As I go across here, you can see some rich ratings and review information. And probably the most important section to talk about here or most interesting section to talk about are related apps and then apps by Microsoft Studios, which in this case is us. So this is a place where you get to cross-merchandise your apps if you have a number of apps in the store. So, again, a great way to have people discover the apps that you’re building and actually sell more and make more money in the store. So great, great, great stuff.
                      Finally, navigation in the store is much easier. (Scattered applause.) No, you can go ahead. (Cheers, applause.)
                      Navigation is much easier from anywhere in the store. I can just drop down the app bar, tap on any section, and go right where I want to be. So, again, you can see the list exploded here at the store. All this is designed to make it easier to sell your app and to make more money. (Applause.)
                      So now what I want to do is I want to talk about the desktop for a minute. So we love the millions of desktop apps that are out there, and we’re absolutely committed to continuing to support them. In fact, we’ve done work in 8.1 to make them work even better on modern PCs.
                      I’m going to show you an example of that with multimon support. What I have here is a Surface Pro, and it’s connected into this external monitor. Now, the Surface Pro has a really high DPI screen, whereas this 25-inch monitor running at 1080 resolution is actually relatively low DPI.
                      Now, in the past, Windows has always used one scaling factor for all your monitors regardless of their DPI. It basically picks the scaling factor of the primary monitor, and then that’s what it uses for all your monitors.
                      And 8.1 now allows each monitor to have its own scaling factor. So you actually get the most use out of the space available to you on your external monitor. (Applause, cheers.)
                      So watch what happens here. I’m going to start dragging Visual Studio over. And you can see as it peeks into here, it’s scaled really, really highly because it’s got the scaling factor from my primary monitor here on the Surface.
                      But as I keep going, watch what happens. See how it just scales down? And now look at all the usage I get of the space on this giant monitor. How cool is that? If I’m a Lightroom user, for example, I can just do the same thing here. I bring it over, boom, look at all that space I have.
                      I’m showing you Lightroom because I just want to show you that these apps didn’t have to be modified at all for this to happen. Windows just takes care of doing the work for you. And these are just nice touches that allow your existing desktop app investments to just keep being great with modern hardware.
                      Now I want to talk about graphics and games. This is where this gets really fun. We continue to innovate in DirectX to make Windows the best gaming platform out there for both casual and AAA games. And I want to show you something that we’ve been working on with NVIDIA, AMD, and Intel. It’s something called “tiled resources.” Now, the best way to explain this is actually with a demo.
                      So what you’re seeing right now is a model of the planet Mars. Now, this is actually pretty cool. It uses about 3 gigs of data. And this is actually a fairly accurate model. What this does, the data actually comes from the Mars Global Surveyor mission, the satellite that orbited Mars for a couple years and used a laser altimeter to build up a really, really detailed model of the topography of the planet. And that’s the data we’re using here.
                      Now, the cool thing, if you wanted to build this app, this is just a model of the planet, and I want to be able to zoom in and look around at it, what you would do is you would load all of this data into your graphics card and let the graphics card actually do the hard work of rendering the images. But the problem is it’s 3 gigs of data, and I don’t have that much memory on my graphics card.
                      So what happens typically is what you would do is you’d sort of down-sample the details so that you can use the memory on the graphics card. And what happens is as I zoom in you’ll see that actually as I get closer you’ll see that it gets a little bit fuzzy. Let’s keep going in here just so you can see it. See as I get closer, it’s kind of fuzzy. There we go.
                      So now this is where tiled resources help. So tiled resources give you a programmable hardware page table for graphics memory. So what this is going to do is it’s basically dynamically swapping the parts of the data I need into my graphics card to render the scene that I’m actually looking at. So let’s flip that on, and you can see the difference here. Look at that. Now, look at the difference in detail here. And here the cool thing is, we made this demo, and we restricted it to only using 16 megs of memory on that graphics card.
                      Now, that’s pretty cool, but obviously the motivation for doing something like this is actually to let you make games with really unprecedented amounts of detail. So let’s have a look at another demo here.
                      What you’re going to see here, so this is a demo that’s built by a company called Graphene. They’re out of Belgium; they’re a games middleware company. And this is running on an NVIDIA GPX 770 card. So this is a good graphics card. It’s one you can go buy today at the store, and it’s easily available. And here, tiled resources are being used to render these two gliders. There’s another one here that’s flying around this one, flying over this absolutely beautiful detailed coastline. It’s way more complex. This one uses about 9 gigs of data, and you can see just how amazing this is.
                      But watch what happens when I zoom in here. You’re going to get a good sense of the level of detail. Push the button here, and zoom in. And if you look carefully, you can see individual rivets on this thing. You can see smudge marks on the skin. It’s unbelievable the amount of detail that I have here.
                      And so the best thing about this is this actually will run on tens of millions of DX 11 cards that are out there today. And, of course, that number grows every day. You cannot dream of doing this on iOS or on Android; in fact this is actually only possible on a Windows 8.1 machine or on a next-generation gaming console like the Xbox One. (Applause.)
                      OK. Now I want to talk about something different. I want to talk about devices a little bit. So, in Windows 8.1, we’ve really invested in giving you great new ways to write apps that interact with this exciting range of devices and peripherals that’s exploding around us right now. One great example of that is 3-D printing. Now 3-D printing is super-hot right now, and Windows 8.1 is the first and only platform to support it natively. And what that means is that we did the work to create the APIs, the formats, and the driver model that makes printing in 3-D just as seamless as printing in 2-D is.
                      So, with 8.1, you can create an app like this little demo one that I have here that lets you manipulate and create 3-D objects. And then when I’m happy with what I have, printing it is just as seamless and easy as printing to a laser printer. I can just go here to devices, select print. I’m going to select my 3-D printer here. I’m going to hit print. And now, what it’s doing, is it’s sending the data for this face over to the printer. It’s going to take about 20 seconds, because it’s actually fairly rich data. And you’ll see the printer start up here in a few seconds.
                      Now the printer, this is actually a MakerBot Replicator 2. This thing prints in thicknesses of about 100 microns. So it actually takes quite a while to print something like this face. We’ve got this time-lapse video up here showing me what’s going on. But this stuff is super, super cool.
                      Here’s the finished result. If you’ve never seen one of these, these are actually really fun to play with. I’m going to toss one down there so folks can play with it. Good catch. And these are really becoming broadly available. This one will be in Microsoft Stores soon. And this other one over here on this side, you can see it go here. There’s this other one over here on this side, it’s made by a company called 3D Systems. It’s called the Cube Printer. And this will be available in Staples soon for under $1,300. It’s really, really broadly available, and these things are particularly fun to play with. (Applause.)
                      Now, in Windows 8.1, we’ve also added APIs in WinRT that let you interact directly with devices that use their own protocols over either USB or Wi-Fi Direct, or Bluetooth or HIP. I wanted a really cool demo to show you. We’re actually able, we were lucky enough to be able to work with the Lego Education Team to build something using new unreleased Lego MINDSTORMS PV3 platform. Take a look at this little beauty. We’re going to have fun with this.
                      So those of you who have kids know how popular these are in schools, and if you have kids who have one, I know you’re playing with these also. This is the next generation of that MINDSTORMS platform, and it will allow kids around the world to learn programming skills for the 21st century. So we built this robot. And what we did is, we’ve created a Windows Store app to actually control it. So we’ve got a Surface tablet on this thing; it connects to the robot controller using USB. So it’s pretty cool. It can send it signals and make it do things.
                      But we actually wanted it to do a little bit more, so what I have here is I actually have a second tablet. And so what I’m going to do is I’m going to use this as a remote control for that. So what it’s doing is it’s actually communicating; this tablet is communicating with that tablet over Wi-Fi, that’s then communicating over USB to the robot controller. And we’re going to see if we can make this thing move. All right. There it goes. How cool is that? (Applause.)
                      Wait. We actually wanted to do more. So what we’ve done here now is that we’re actually using   I’m going to use the real-time streaming APIs that are new in Windows 8.1, and we’re going to have this thing send a live video feed to that guy. Now this is going to be a video feed of me, so who knows what this will look like. But here we go. Here’s me, and you can see it on the front. It’s getting sent over Wi-Fi directly to that tablet. And I’m just going to go sit in the back now and let this thing finish the keynote for you.
                      How awesome is that? We could keep going and going and going with this thing, actually. We actually did a lot of work on it. It actually has a sentry mode that uses the Lego Distance Sensor and face recognition software. It actually detects when someone comes within range and gives you a notification. There’s all sorts, it knows how to send tweets. There’s all sorts of fun things you can do.
                      You combine a device like this with Windows 8.1, and you’re really only limited by your imagination. You can just imagine what kids are going to be able to do with something like this.
                      Before I wrap up, I would like to spend a couple of minutes just showing you some of the exciting new PCs and tablets. Now, Windows 8 has really spurred some incredible innovation in our PC ecosystem. In just a year, we’ve started to see an explosion of new and unique form factors, design concepts like detachable tablets, like all-in-ones, like portable all-in-ones, like high DPI displays. We’ve got this massive selection now of touchscreen devices in every price point. You can be sure that there’s a PC out there that’s exactly right for you.
                      And I want us just to have a look at a few specific ones here. The first one I want to show you is, this is the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus. So this thing has a mindboggling 3200-by-1800 13-inch screen, so this is the highest resolution 13-inch laptop in the world. It blows away a MacBook Retina. And it has a touchscreen. (Applause.)
                      This one actually is really cool. It’s actually also running a fourth-generation Haswell Intel 4 i7 processor. It has 8 gigs of RAM and 256 gig SSD. Samsung says this gets 12 hours on a single charge. How amazing is that? And look at how thin this thing is. (Applause.) Absolutely beautiful device.
                      Now one of the things I really love is the innovation from OEMs in convertible designs. And I want to show you this one. This is one that Steve was talking about earlier. This is actually the Lenovo Think Pad Helix. So this is a tablet and an ultrabook all-in-one device. And, first of all, it’s a great tablet for work. It has TPM in it. It has BIOS encryption. It has USB 3.0. It has MSC. It’s a great, really powerful machine.
                      But thanks to this cleverly designed detachable keyboard, once I pop it in here, it’s then just a nice, thin, ultralight ultrabook as well. So it’s just a wonderful, wonderful design. This is a great   for you who love Lenovo keyboards, this is just an amazing machine.
                      Now let’s keep going. The next one I want to show you is this one. This is the Acer Aspire P3. So this is just a beautiful, powerful tablet, and a really compact design. It’s only about .4 inches thick, weight 1.74 pounds, and it has an Intel Core i5 processor on it. So this thing really, really smokes. It’s fast. You can do a lot of work on this thing. And it also has the unique detachable wireless keyboard that doubles as a protective cover for it.
                      The next thing I want to show you over here is actually another Acer device. Now this one, this is the Acer Aspire V5. Now this is a full featured laptop. It has a 10-point multi-touch screen. You can see. And it has a pretty powerful AMD dual core A4 processor in it. But the thing that I love about this is it’s under $400. It’s great to see high-quality touch coming to all price points in the PC ecosystem. (Applause.)
                      The next one I want to show you is actually a Windows RT device. This is the Dell XPS 10. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor in it. It has 4G LTE connectivity. Dell claims an incredible 18-1/2 hours of battery life when it’s docked to its detachable keyboard. And the best part of this one, too, is it’s under $400 as well. And it’s an amazingly thin and light and portable device. I love this thing.
                      The last one I want to show you is this interesting one. So this is such a great example of innovation in all-in-ones. This is called the Dell XPS 18, and it really brings the best of PCs and tablets together. It weighs less than five pounds. And when I undock it, it has up to seven hours of battery life. So I can carry it around and play games and watch movies and all these things. So it’s just a great, super-innovative device. (Applause.)
                      So what we have onstage there today is just a really small subset of over 3,000 certified Windows 8 PCs to choose from. It’s really cool stuff.
                      And I think here comes Julie, so I think Julie has one more that she wants to show us.
                      JULIE LARSON-GREEN: Yes, I have one more here. This is my Surface Pro, and I really love this device. It does everything. It’s a tablet. It’s a full PC. It’s powerful.
                      ANTOINE LEBLOND: Yes. I mean with Windows 8.1 and Visual Studio 2013 on it, you really have a great tablet for developers, for building mobile and connected apps. I love my Surface Pro.
                      JULIE LARSON-GREEN: I love mine, too, and these are all developers in the audience. Do you think they would like one? (Cheers, applause.) So great news, we have one for each of you, and we’d really like to thank Intel for co-sponsoring the Surface Pro for you. (Cheers, applause.)
                      ANTOINE LEBLOND: All right. So that was my overview of Windows 8.1 for you. We’ve doubled down on fundamentals, filled gaps; we’ve addressed feedback; we’ve expanded the platform in really exciting ways. And now it’s time for you to start exploring all the details. You can go to Preview.Windows.com for all the info you need and to actually download the Windows 8.1 Preview release. And whether you’re working with the Windows Store on desktops, on the Web, every one of your apps is going to benefit from Windows 8.1. If you create PCs or tablets or other devices, Windows 8.1 opens many, many new experiences for you to innovate. And we’re really looking forward to seeing what you will do.
                      Now, here to speak to you about some more developer opportunities around Microsoft Surface is Gurdeep Singh Pall from the Bing team.
                      Thanks, everyone.
                      GURDEEP SINGH PALL: Good morning, folks.
                      So Steve, Julie, and Antoine mentioned Bing in their talks. So I’m here to talk to you a bit more about Bing. Now Bing, as all of you know, is a beautiful, powerful search engine. Bing is on a roll. Let me tell you about momentum for Bing: 17.4 percent share in the U.S., gaining month over month, Facebook Bings, Yahoo Bings, and Apple Siri Bings. Folks, all these people know something. They’re smart people; they know something. They know that Bing is an incredible product. It’s an incredible product that is built by incredible engineers.
                      Now, these engineers have not only built a great search engine, they’ve also built some amazing capabilities, an Internet scale infrastructure, machine-learning plant, ability to understand user intent, understand, sort of make sense of, a lot of unstructured content on the Web. Now it turns out that all these things can be actually quite valuable even beyond the search box. For a long time, we’ve had this vision that you can take these capabilities and enable a whole bunch of new experiences; and that was the journey that we started down on a couple of years ago.
                      Now you can see, of course, search is a huge, huge piece of what Bing is about. But, we started to extract some of the capabilities out. So for example, the Web index and relevance is a huge capability, with lots of potential. Entities and knowledge, the ability to extract, conflate, and to organize entities into an ontology so that you can now start reasoning over information, as opposed to just looking at it as pieces of text. NUI capabilities, natural user interfaces are all about understanding user intent. Now, it turns out that the great work that was done in Bing can be divided into a lot of interesting natural user interface technologies.
                      And then there is about the real world. The Web has become sort of a proxy for the real world that we live in, and we sort of go back and forth between those. It turns out in Bing we had to tackle that problem. So is there a way that we could take all these capabilities out and then start enabling some first-party experiences? Now Antoine talked about some, and Julie talked about some great features in Windows 8.1, the Search charm, the ability to use Bing to really make apps discoverable in the marketplace. Some examples, we’ve had the translator app, which is this brilliant, new, interesting application on Windows 8. So that’s one example.
                      When you look at Office, Office 2013 has some award-winning Bing Apps for Office, which allow you to think about Office not just as a set of tools, but also to connect it into the Web and information that naturally belongs inside those applications. We’ve seen the GeoFlow application in Office 2013, which lets you render a lot of content on top of this beautiful real-world canvas. In Xbox 360, some great NUI work was done by Bing. You saw that, how you access entertainment and information, with Xbox One that goes to a completely new level. And then there’s other things like the Windows Phone 8, which has lots and lots of Bing functionality, which is built in.
                      Now folks, I learned a lesson in the ’90s when I was a developer on the Windows operating system. And that is that if we can do something with an API that is good, third parties can do something with it, which is dynamite. So today, what I’m here to announce with you is the availability of Bing as a platform for you, the developers. (Cheers, applause.)
                      So let me tell you what all you can do with this. With entities and knowledge, now firstly, with Web index and relevance, we already have a bunch of Bing APIs that are used by tens of thousands of developers today, mostly using the search pattern. Now let’s talk about entities and knowledge. Now think of it as being the brain, the knowledge of the Web, the unbounded knowledge of the Web, is now available to your applications. Let’s talk about natural user interfaces, the ears and the mouth and the eyes. These capabilities, which have never been available for developers in a large-scale way, we are providing through the new Bing platform. And then for the real world, we want to bring a whole lot of new mapping and visualization capabilities, and also capabilities with which you can connect the real world with the virtual world, through a set of APIs and controls.
                      Now I can talk a lot about APIs, but I thought it might be interesting to show you what you can do with these APIs. Now what we did here is that we put ourselves in your shoes and built an interesting application. This is not a shipping application by any stretch, but it’s an application to exemplify the use of these controls. So this application tackles the very simple task, which is trip-planning task for users. So let me come over here, and I’ll start by, I’ll go to my Windows Phone here, and I have sort of a Trip Companion app, which runs on the phone. So let me go ahead and do something with it. Trip Companion, add Spain to my vacation ideas.
                      VOICE: Added Spain to your vacation ideas.
                      GURDEEP SINGH PALL: OK. So you can see that this application on the phone added Spain to my vacation ideas. Now I did that when I was standing by the water cooler with the phone in my hand, and my friend was telling me about the great trips that they had to Spain. Now later on, I’m thinking about my long summer. I’m thinking maybe I need to go pick a trip for my family. So I come back to my desk, and I’ve got my Surface sitting there, and I see the Road Trip Companion app is right here. So let me open that up. Now you’ll notice that Spain, it shows a star, which means that this idea just got added to my apps. So you can see how the Bing platform will work across the family of devices for the user.
                      So let me click on Spain, and here the developer has created an application experience with Spain in there. They’ve used one of our controls. That’s nice. Let me just browse through and now my friend, who was at the water cooler, was telling me about Valencia. So let me click on Valencia, beautiful pictures of Valencia that you put inside your app. I can browse through them. And this is what I call pretty much what an experience is today.
                      Now let’s see what we can do when we sprinkle this with the magic of some of our new controls. So you integrated one of our controls, and you have this what looks like a street side view. OK. Let’s see if you can make this more interesting. Let’s create a bit of a virtual tour here.
                      VOICE: This is the city of arts and sciences in Valencia. It is one of the largest cultural centers of Europe. You could easily spend more than a day here. You must see the Oceanographic, the Prince Philip Museum, and the Queen Sophia Arts Palace here. There are quite a few good hotels nearby. You can check out the views that you get from them to see if you should believe their marketing.
                      GURDEEP SINGH PALL: OK, great. So that was a little gritty thing, I thought developers would like that. So now you said believe, that’s great, you’ve given me a control where you flew a plane over Valencia, and we got to have it. So OK, fine. Let me see if we can do something more interesting with it.
                      Folks, can you guys keep a secret? I know you’re all developers, so I trust you guys. What we’ve not announced to anybody yet is that Windows 8.1 Maps app will come with 3-D capability, 3-D imagery. OK. Now, we’re going one step further. (Cheers, applause.) We’re going to go one step further, because we’re going to take this 3-D imagery, all the content we are creating, and enable it through a 3-D control that you can embed inside your applications. I guess that’s what I’m showing you here today, OK. So let me play with this a little. (Applause.)
                      Let’s see, there are some hotels here. Maybe we can go along the hotels, maybe I can go explore a little bit before I go with it. Now, this takes the idea of going and visiting a city to a whole new level. And you can see how beautiful this imagery is. This is built using cameras that we have built ourselves, with some amazing optics. This is very, very high-resolution imagery. You can see all the details, and these details actually become really interesting, when you really think about interacting with the real world.
                      Here’s the beautiful building here. There’s some basketball courts. So you can see how this beautiful imagery can actually provide a canvas for a whole lot of interesting things. So let’s see what are some interesting things that we can do. Now you know one of the things about the real world, and especially when you look at the real world in this amazing way, is that it really starts begging the questions that I’ve got lots of questions. I’m going to visit Valencia. I’m going to visit some really beautiful architecture, some churches there. And the question that pops to your head is, “Hey, who designed this thing?”
                      Now, normally a user would have to change from this application, go to a browser, type in Valencia, type in whatever little context they can put in. But, the reality is the user is looking at your app at a particular object. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just say who is the architect? Folks, what you see here is that we’ve taken a whole lot of steps away from the user. and we’ve allowed you to create an unbounded amount of knowledge right into your applications, because I could have asked a different question, which would have again gone to the Bing platform, and it would have returned with an entity, which best relates to what you’re looking at.
                      So let’s keep going. So I’ve decided that Valencia is, indeed, a very nice place. So I’m going to visit it. So I’m going to go ahead and add Valencia to my itineraries. Now while I was standing at the water cooler, this friend of mine said that they had some of the best food when they were in Valencia. I said, well, that’s great. And what does he do? He reaches into his wallet, and he gives me a card. Now this is a little analog artifact that he brought from Valencia. Now if I go put this into my   if I go ahead and put this into my wallet, I’ll probably lose it a week later. And I definitely will not find it when I’m in Valencia. So let’s see if we can do something better.
                      Let me use some of the functionality in the Bing platform and scan this card, which I can then use later. So I go to scan it. So using the OCR capability that is available through the Bing controls, you can now scan the information, which is wonderful except that I don’t speak Spanish. So let me see if I can do something a little bit more interesting. Great. So now using the OCR capabilities of the Bing platform, and the translator capability, I’ve combined those two things, and now let me go ahead and save this later, so that when I’m in Valencia I won’t forget it. Add this idea for dinner to my itinerary. Great, so now this information, which existed in an analog artifact, is now saved with my itinerary, available for me when I’m in Valencia.
                      Now, roll forward, and here I am in Valencia now, and I said, hey, I want to go try out some nice places to eat. And I remember that I’d filed some of these things away. So let me bring back my Windows Phone that is with me. And remember I had a Trip Companion app here. So I could say, Trip Companion, find ideas for dinner.
                      VOICE: Finding ideas for dinner.
                      GURDEEP SINGH PALL: Great, so now we had extracted that information, translated it, and now connected it to a speech-based search on that information. And now I’ve got it right here, so I can open it up, and you can see that this is exactly what I had scanned into my little artifact.
                      So folks, what you’ve seen here is a little sample application that we have put together to show you the power of these controls. I really believe that in this coming decade, apps are going to have eyes, they’re going to have ears, they’re going to have a mouth, and that will enable a really, really seamless experience for you as you are trying to create these seamless experiences for your developers.
                      Now all this is great. I’m very happy to announce this new platform, which is available to you. There’s a new developer portal that you can go really try it on. Next year, I want to be standing here onstage, showing some really interesting apps that you have built, and that’s why we come in to do the work that we do.
                      Thank you, folks. (Cheers, applause.)
                      (Video segment.)
                      (Cheers, applause.)
                      STEVE BALLMER: Well, about an hour and a half ago, I promised you we had lots to show today. And I hope at this stage, you’ve got a sense of the sort of diversity of what we’re doing, and the speed with which we are trying to do it. With Windows 8.1 particularly, I think we state clearly a new rapid release cadence. I hope you agree, you saw some beautiful, beautiful new phones, some unbelievable transformation in Windows devices, from the PCs we knew and loved, to these new two-in-ones, touch notebooks and very, very small tablets, all very interesting and very capable, in terms of what they permit, in terms of application-level innovation, certainly new applications coming to market, and all of the tools and technologies that both Antoine and Gurdeep had a chance to talk about that will really allow you to do phenomenal new applications, both in the modern style, as well as enhancements in new applications in the desktop style.
                      We really have paid some attention to this notion of the desktop and modern applications and how people mix and match and use their environments and have made some pretty transformative changes.
                      And last, but not least, I think building Bing into Windows, and into Windows Phone, then into Xboxes allows not only us but all developers to be able to very rapidly do some of the exciting new kinds of applications that Gurdeep gave you a sense of in his last talk.
                      So a lot of new things, a lot of new ground, a lot of innovation, and a lot of excitement, all available in the Windows family of devices, from phones to tablets to notebooks to two-in-ones to desktop, I think all very, very exciting.
                      Tomorrow, we’ll get a chance to talk about a different set of subjects, but also moving at a very rapid rate with a very rapid release cadence. We’ll anchor tomorrow’s discussion in what’s going on in the cloud backend with Windows Azure. We’ll talk to you about new capabilities in Azure that really make it a cloud on which businesses and enterprise can really operate. We’ll talk about the popularity of Office 365, which is a SaaS application, has taken off like a rocket ship. And things that we’re doing to make it extensible by you with customizations, new applications, integration into Active Directory and the security model. We’ll show how that extends beyond Office 365 and Azure to any SaaS application that you want to create, the ability to integrate securely data and identity with on premise and SaaS applications.
                      And, of course, tomorrow again we’ll talk about tools, tools, tools, because at the end of the day, particularly as the infrastructures that are available to you get more sophisticated, the importance of giving you tools that let you rapidly and simply build this modern style of application, front-end and cloud infrastructure, is increasingly important.
                      So enthused about the range of things that we get to talk to you about at Build, but before I wrap up, I wanted to show you just one more demonstration, one more demonstration. We’re going to show you an application that’s also a development environment that uses kind of everything we’ve talked about today to some measure. It uses the graphics capabilities. It uses phones and tablets. It runs on Azure, on the backend. And this is a game we first talked about at the E3 Conference just a few weeks ago. We call it Project Spark, and I think it will, again, spark your imagination in terms of some of the things that you can do in this modern environment.
                      So this is a game that’s also a development environment for building games, but let’s welcome on stage Rusty McLellan and Dave McCarthy from our Interactive Entertainment Group. They’re going to whet your whistle for one final time this morning.
                      Dave.
                      DAVE MCCARTHY: Hi, everyone. Rusty and I are excited to be here today to give you a small glimpse at what Project Spark can do across devices on a variety of inputs. Rusty is going to start off by creating a beautiful world on a Windows 8 desktop with touch controls. In less than five minutes, we’ll build a game from scratch via Smart Glass on the recently announced Xbox One.
                      Project Spark is an open-world digital canvas. It enables anyone to build, play and share whatever they can imagine. It’s a powerful yet simple way to create your own worlds, stories, and games.
                      Project Spark will be available on Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Windows 8, and through the power of the cloud, it lets you seamlessly carry over your progress and content from one platform to another. It’s an ongoing service with frequent updates and content additions across all of our platforms. Play the way you want on whichever platform you want.
                      Now, Rusty is just putting the finishing touches here on our game setting. We’ve chosen desert oasis. He’s using our paintbrush to put in some finite detail, a little greenery around the pond there. Let’s put a couple more finishing touches on this, Rusty. We’ll play with the time of day. And let’s do the position of the sun. That’s cool. And then we’ll finish off with placing an enemy for our gameplay scenario. Your choice. He chose the goblin, nice. Place him in there. Excellent.
                      All right. So Rusty is going to save what he just made for the cloud, and we’ll pick up over here in our living room without losing a beat. Imagine the possibilities that are unlocked by creating away from your console, and then playing your masterpiece over on the big screen. Seamlessly creating back and forth, devices at your ready, just waiting for your next inspiration. This is digital age nirvana.
                      All right, Rusty, so we’re loading this up on the Xbox One. We want to see our desert oasis, and our little gameplay moment with the goblin here. Rusty is on controller right now. There we are. It looks good.
                      Now, being across all devices opens up new methods of input and allows us to innovate with games of all types. Even though we’re now playing on an Xbox One, we can use Smart Glass and remote rendering on any Windows 8 device to keep creating with amazing touch controls.
                      So Rusty, let’s change this controller based action mechanic into something maybe a little less predictable for console gaming.
                      In Project Spark, we can add behaviors to anything in the world or alter brains that exist on things. I’m going to play around with this goblin brain and make a quick touch game for everyone. So Rusty started by deleting the default brain, and we’re going to build one from scratch. The brain is broken up into a when and a do side. The visual language is simple yet very powerful.
                      We’re going to tell the goblin here to jump on the ground after a specified time to a height of   what are we going to pick?
                      RUSTY MCLELLAN: Meters.
                      DAVE MCCARTHY: That’s good.
                      Now Rusty is going to change the camera next to a different view. He’s going to start again by deleting our default brain here, and then we’re going to place a sixth camera, and we’ll see how this comes into play in a second. You have to frame it perfectly, Rusty, this is your chance. The scene looks pretty good. Desert Oasis looks nice. All right. Awesome.
                      Now it’s time to put our controls in. So we’re going to make this a touch-based instead of a controller-based game. So we’ve got our touch mechanic in. And when Rusty touches an object what we want to do is create a visual effect that we’ll pull out of our library here. Let’s let Rusty put this line in. We’ll go into our library and choose an effect. These include things that are both created by our team over in Xbox and some that can be created by the community as well.
                      Then we want to put one other child rule in, and that will execute after the effect, which will destroy whatever we touch making this our main mechanic. All right. It looks good.
                      Finally, we’ll use our clone command to make more goblins here. We just can’t have one goblin jumping around. And with more time, Rusty could set up timers, scores, sounds, and so much more.
                      Rusty, let’s change a couple of those goblins into something different, give it a little visual variety here. The desert, he’s chosen the yeti, interesting choice. So we’ll put a yeti in there, maybe another one. Looking good. Perfect. And then let’s play with the position a little bit, so we get some height variety. There we go.
                      Now Rusty should be able to swipe or touch these entities and try and defeat them all. There they are. Now in just a few minutes, he was able to create a touch game he started on Windows 8 and completed over on Xbox One with Smart Glass. With Project Spark and Microsoft Services, the power to create across devices, to delight with multiple inputs, and the freedom to do it anywhere has never been easier for developers and players. We’re taking registration for our beta on Windows 8 at JoinProjectSpark.com. And you can also come by and check us out later in the gaming lounge to see the creativity that Project Spark can unlock.
                      We’d like to finish by showing you a short sample of some of the cross-platform games people just like you have brought to life using Project Spark. Thank you.
                      (Video segment.)
                      STEVE BALLMER: Simple point in showing you a little bit of Project Spark, because I think it really helps define what the new world of applications looks like, rich clients, interacting and taking advantage of very rich and sophisticated service infrastructure, and able to be customized and developed upon and enhanced, whether it’s client code or cloud code by literally hundreds and thousands of people around the world.
                      And whether we’re talking about productivity in the office, enjoyment at home, serious kind of hardcore fun, which I guess Project Spark certainly would be for my 14-year-old, we’re trying to facilitate that kind of deep innovation across everything we do.
                      Rapid release, an incredible family of devices, with incredible services to back them up, and across the Windows family, we’re really trying to bring together, and allow you as developers to bring together, one innovative experience on every device for everything from work to play to serious fun that’s important in somebody’s life.
                      As developers, we know you have a lot of choices. When it comes time for choosing the things to choose to build the innovation that people are going to really lean in on, when people really need to get something done, when people really want to plan the trip, when people really need to get some work done, when people want to hard core lean in and have some fun, we think we’ve got absolutely the highest volume platform on the planet. We will sell literally hundreds of millions of Windows devices this year. Windows Phones, Windows tablets, Windows PCs, Windows, Windows, Windows. And while certainly some of the form factors that have been most important traditionally in Windows will see an interesting transition, the rise of new Windows form factors, phones, tablets, two-in-ones, all-in-ones, even in the sense of the future of where we take Xbox and the ability to participate in Windows experiences is unparalleled. And the opportunity as an application developer to use Windows on the device, and Windows Azure in the cloud to build next-generation mobile, connected, experiences has absolutely never been better than it is today.
                      We appreciate you taking the time and joining us. We appreciate all of the energy you put in to studying and to learning and to innovating on our platform. And I want you to leave with but one thought — the future of Windows is very, very bright.
                      Thank you. (Applause.)
                      END

                      Spreadtrum is to be acquired by a Chinese high-tech investment enterprise owned by the state and also belonging to the leading Tsinghua University with microelectronics research interests

                      The top 10 SoC design enterprises of Mainland China had US$3.8B revenue in 2012. Out of that Spreadtrum had US$725.2M which is not less than 19%. On the ‘Experiencing the Cloud’ I’d reported extensively on the reasons:

                      It is also notable that this (together with MediaTek offerings) lead to Qualcomm’s SoC business future is questioned first time [May 1, 2013].

                      Update: TrendForce: Mediatek and Spreadtrum Advance in China Market while Qualcomm’s Chip Usage Declines [press release, June 27, 2013]

                      Mediatek has been making an impressive run lately; not only is the Taiwan-based chip manufacturer commanding its way in the mid-to-high end smartphone space, it has also successfully penetrated the 4G mobile market thanks to its recently announced 4G chip. According to the latest statistical data compiled by TrendForce, a global market research firm, Mediatek’s processors have been used by over 50% of China’s branded smartphones since the MT6575 chip was introduced in 2012. Due in large part to factors such as high pricing and the lack of hardware and software compatibility with various Chinese-made devices, Qualcomm’s chip usage rate has been gradually declining in China, and shrunk to as low as 33% in 2013. With Qualcomm and Mediatek both devoting their attention towards the mid to high end smartphone consumer segment, much of the low-end smartphone space has been left to Spreadtrum, which has recently unveiled a processor intended for low end hardware devices. In 2013, Spreadtrum’s chip usage rate in the Chinese market grew to approximately 11%.
                      imageFigure-1 2013 Smartphone processor market share in China’s smartphone market
                      Source: DRAMeXchange, June, 2013

                      Despite being an indisputable leader in the high end smartphone market, Qualcomm’s MSM8X30, MSM8X26, and MSM8X25Q processors are still facing a lot of stiff competition in the low-to-mid end mobile sectors. A way Qualcomm may reverse its struggles in China is by taking advantage of the country’s rapidly growing 4G/LTE developments. The company will have a good chance of emerging as a major LTE market leader should China’s 4G business opportunities appear early next year.  

                      Although Mediatek has generally been known to promote two new items on an annual basis, this year the Taiwan-based company has chosen to break away from tradition by announcing a total of four different products. The first –the MT6589– was announced during 1H13, and is intended for the mid-to-high end smartphone market; the remaining three products—all of which are smartphone chips—are expected to be introduced at some point during 2H13. Among the new processors, the duo core, Cortex A7-based MT6572 chip stood out as particularly noteworthy given its potential to exert a lot of impact on the low end smartphone market. The said chip is unique in that it supports China’s TD SCDMA system, is priced in a notably affordable range, and sports a good degree of compatibility with various low cost components (which could help push manufacturing costs down to as low as $US 40). All in all, this chip provides a perfect opportunity for Mediatek to compete against the low-end smartphone chips that are designed by Spreadtrum. The MT6575 is expected to become popular within the mid-to-low end smartphone market and should help Mediatek cement its position within the low end sector.
                      Following the release of the MT6589 chip, which is expected to open up new opportunities in the mid-to-low end market, Mediatek aims to introduce the quad core MT6580 and MT6582 in 2H13. MT6582 is considered a more affordable version of MT6589, and supports both qHD resolution and 8MP camera. These features are expected to help the company redefine the boundaries of a mid-end smartphone as well as increase its overall consumer appeal. The MT6580, on the other hand, is intended to be a viable alternative to a Qualcomm chip. Other than supporting 1.5Ghz speed, HD resolution, and 13MP camera, the chip is able to work with the kinds of high-quality hardware that are typically compatible with Qualcomm processors. According to TrendForce, if Mediatek is indeed successful in enhancing its presence in the high end market, a price war involving high-end processors is likely to ensue. Should this happen, both consumers and smartphone manufacturers will benefit, and the boundaries among high end smartphone devices will become less and less clear.    
                      With China’s recent plans to expand the TD-LTE coverage for its 500 million users by 2020, and with the 4G industry growing at a tremendously rapid pace, the LTE ecosystem in China is set to become more and more mature in the foreseeable future. Qualcomm is very likely to benefit from such a trend given its priority on the 4G/LTE business. Following the high end chip pricing war, the 4G/LTE market will likely become next battlefield for chip makers.

                      End of the update

                      Tsinghua University investment arm makes buyout offer for Spreadtrum [Asian Venture Capital Journal, June 24, 2013]

                      Spreadtrum [展讯] Communications [处在], a Chinese mobile chip manufacturer backed by NEA, has received a [non-binding] buyout offer from a unit of Tsinghua Holdings, an investment entity controlled by Beijing-based Tsinghua University. The offer values Spreadtrum at $1.35 billion.

                      According to a regulatory filing, Tsinghua Unigroup will pay $28.50 in cash for all outstanding American Depository Shares – a 20% premium on the stock’s previous closing price. Spreadtrum’s stock jumped more than 16% in response to the announcement, closing Friday at $25.91.

                      As of year-end 2012, NEA owned 10.4% of the company, having initially participated in the $19.8 million Series B round in 2002. Spreadtrum went public on NASDAQ in 2007, raising $124.6 million. Silver Lake bought a 13% stake for $40 million in 2010 but exited the following year.

                      In 2011, Spreadtrum also came under fire from short-seller research firm Muddy Waters over alleged accounting discrepancies. The company denied any wrongdoing.

                      “We believe that an Acquisition by Tsinghua Unigroup [紫光集团有限公司], which is majority-owned by Tsinghua University, a central player in China’s technology and R&D sectors, would provide compelling strategic synergies and position the company for additional value creation in key wireless communications markets in China and elsewhere going forward,” Unigroup CEO Weiguo Zhao said in a letter to shareholders.

                      Tsinghua Holdings has committed to guarantee full equity or debt funding up to the total purchase price of $1.5 billion.

                      Spreadtrum was founded in 2001 and develops mobile chipset platforms for 2G, 3G and 4G wireless communication standards. Customers include handset manufacturers selling into China and other emerging markets. The company posted a net income of $92.4 million for 2012, down from $134 million the previous year, although revenues jumped 7.6% to $725.2 million.

                      Tsinghua Holdings is a state-owned company responsible for managing the majority of Tsinghua University’s commercial assets. As of year-end 2012, Tsinghua Holdings had approximately RMB70.4 billion ($11.5 billion) in assets and a net income of RMB1.45 billion. Unigroup focuses on high-tech, biotech, real estate and urban infrastructure investments.

                      Tsinghua Science Park Venture Capital, which also ultimately falls under the control of Tsinghua Holdings, participated in Spreadtrum’s Series A and B rounds.

                      Note that this shows the strong determination by the Chineses State because:
                      我国大陆IC产业发展面临三大障碍 Mainland China IC industry is facing three major obstacles [Hexun.com, June 22, 2013] as translated by Google and Bing with manual edits

                      Summary:

                      What are the essential elements in the development of the IC industry or power? The industry generally believes that strong government support, pragmatic policies and systems, building good infrastructure and abundant human resources, are the key elements how the IC industry in developing countries and regions may come from behind.

                      The operating efficiency of the Innovation Alliance, of the official mechanisms for collaboration, research, and industry R&D is not high, which is one of the significant factors restricting the rapid development of mainland China’s IC industry.

                      Mainland China’s IC industry in recent years gained rapid development, and some of the advantages of the competitiveness of enterprises began to appear. Taking the fastest-growing design industry as an example, in 2011 the overall IC design industry sales continued to maintain a high growth rate, reaching 47.374 billion yuan [US$7.7B], an increase of 30.2% year on year. In 2012, total sales for the top 10 design enterprises in China reached 23.117 billion yuan [US$3.8B], an increase of 2.97 billion yuan [US$484M] over the previous year. 10 companies accounted for 33.97% of total industry sales, 2.21% increase over the 31.76% in the previous year. First business sales reached $ 1.183 billion.

                      Spreadtrum Communications [展讯通信], RDA [锐迪科], HiSilicon [海思], Zhuhai Allwinner [珠海全志] and so on, i.e. the SoC enterprises have made great achievements in the field. But compared with Taiwanese and Korean enterprises there is still relatively slow development, the products are low-tech, and the competitiveness of the enterprises is weak. Price is also the company’s main business strategy, “design” is still not a mainstream, the situation of slow building of the base capability had not improved. Industry-wide sales may also be less than the sum of the sales of the world’s top-ranked design firms.

                      Note that out of the US$3.8B revenue of the top 10 design enterprises in 2012 Spreadtrum had US$725.2M which is not less than 19%. This data alone shows how important is the Spreadtrum acquisition in order to speed up the further development of the IC industry by putting the company together with the Tsinghua University which has a Research Institute of Circuits And Systems as well as an Institute of Microelectronics (IMETU), see here and here:

                      IMETU, the Institute of Microelectronics of Tsinghua University, was founded in 1980 on the basis of the Semiconductor Research Division, which was a research division of the Department of Electronic Engineering established in 1957. The mission of IMETU is to educate top level professionals and deliver scientific innovations in the domain Micro/Nano-electronics. During the past 30 years, IMETU has made significant contributions and key achievements for the development of China’s semiconductor and integrated circuit industry. Its faculty members and students won 8 national awards, more than 20 province or ministry level awards, as well as 136 granted patents. The institute consists of four divisions, Solid-State Devices and Integration Technologies, IC & System Design, Micro/Nano Devices and Systems, and CAD Technology. Up until March 2012, IMETU has 94 faculty and staff members, among which there are 14 professors and 46 associate professors. After 30 years of development, IMETU has been China’s leading research and education base in the area of Micro/Nano electronics. It has established a high-quality research infrastructure for microelectronics comprising of two major research directions, Micro/Nano electronics and IC & System Design. Meanwhile, alumni of IMETU have become the backbone of China microelectronic industry.

                      which is also the premier university partner of The Institute of Microelectronics of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

                      Major shareholders of Spreadtrum (with more than 5%): source Annual Reports

                       
                      March 15, 2008
                      March 15, 2009
                      March 31, 2010
                      Feb 28, 2011
                      Feb 29, 2012
                      Feb 28, 2013
                      Scott Sandell [also includes New Enterprise Associates 11, Limited Partnership shares]
                      15.42%
                      15.71%
                      14.92%
                      14.4%
                      10.9%
                      10.4%
                      Entities affiliated with New Enterprise Associates 11, Limited Partnership
                      15.36%
                      15.61%
                      14.76%
                      14.2%
                      10.7%
                      10.1%
                      Entities affiliated with Fortune Venture Investment Group
                      6.31%
                      6.29%
                             
                      Entities affiliated with Pacific Venture Partners
                      5.21%
                      5.30%
                             
                      Entities affiliated with Silver Lake Partners
                         
                      12.47%
                      5.8%
                         
                      The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation
                         
                      5.45%
                       
                      5.2%
                       
                      FMR LLC and Edward C. Johnson 3d
                           
                      5.3%
                         
                      FMR LLC
                               
                      9.9%
                      Waddell & Reed Group
                               
                      5.3%

                      image
                      source: Yahoo! Finance SPRD Major Holders

                      Tsinghua Unigroup Announces Offer to Buy Spreadtrum Communications [press release, June 21, 2013]

                      BEIJING–(Marketwired – Jun 21, 2013) – Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd. (“Unigroup”) today confirmed that it has made a non-binding offer to acquire Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPRD) (“Spreadtrum” or the “Company”) for $28.50 in cash per American Depositary Share (the “Transaction”). Spreadtrum is a leading fabless semiconductor provider in China with advanced technology in 2G, 3G and 4G wireless communications standards. The offer represents a premium of 20.1% over the closing price of the Company’s shares on June 19, 2013, the day preceding the delivery of the offer and 44.3% over the volume weighted closing price of the Company’s shares for the 30 trading days preceding the delivery of the offer.

                      Unigroup is an operating subsidiary of Tsinghua Holdings Co. Ltd., a solely state-owned limited liability corporation funded by Tsinghua University, one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Tsinghua Holdings owns and manages a substantial majority of the commercial assets of Tsinghua University. As of December 31st, 2012, Tsinghua Holdings had total assets of approximately 70.4 billion RMB [$11.45B], EBITDA of approximately 4.07 billion RMB, and net income of approximately 1.45 billion RMB for fiscal year 2012. Tsinghua Holdings’ corporate credit rating is AA+ according to CCXI, the Chinese domestic JV partner of Moody’s and the leading credit rating agency in China. Additional information about Tsinghua Holdings can be found at (http://www.thholding.com.cn/english/simpleindex.aspx). 

                      According to the preliminary non-binding proposal letter, Tsinghua Holdings has committed to guaranteeing the aggregate purchase price, which may be funded through a combination of equity and debt financing. 

                      Unigroup is excited about the proposed acquisition of Spreadtrum and the strategic opportunity this Transaction provides given the strength of this leading China-based business. Mr. Zhao Weiguo, the Chairman and CEO of Unigroup, commented, “We are enthusiastic about Spreadtrum’s business and market position globally and here in China, and we see Spreadtrum as an excellent strategic fit with Unigroup’s overall commercial objectives. We look forward to working together on the details of our proposed acquisition.” 

                      Unigroup’s proposal is non-binding and is subject to, among other things, satisfactory due diligence with respect to Spreadtrum and the execution of acceptable definitive agreements. There can be no assurance that Spreadtrum will support the Transaction, that any definitive binding offer will be made by Unigroup with respect to the Transaction, that any agreement with respect to the Transaction will be executed, that any conditions, including with respect to regulatory approval, will be satisfied, or that this Transaction or any other transaction, on the proposed terms or on any other terms, will be approved or consummated. Unigroup does not undertake any obligation to provide any updates with respect to this Transaction or any other transaction, except as required under applicable law.

                      About Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd.

                      Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd. (“Unigroup”) is an operating subsidiary of Tsinghua Holdings Co. Ltd., a solely state-owned limited liability corporation funded by Tsinghua University in China. Tsinghua Holdings Co. Ltd. is the controlling shareholder of Unigroup. Unigroup’s business lines include high-technology, bio-technology, science park development, and urban infrastructure construction.

                      About Spreadtrum Communications, Inc.

                      Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPRD) (“Spreadtrum”) is a fabless semiconductor company that develops mobile chipset platforms for smartphones, feature phones and other consumer electronics products, supporting 2G, 3G and 4G wireless communications standards. Spreadtrum’s solutions combine its highly integrated, power-efficient chipsets with customizable software and reference designs in a complete turnkey platform, enabling customers to achieve faster design cycles with a lower development cost. Spreadtrum’s customers include global and China-based manufacturers developing mobile products for consumers in China and emerging markets around the world. For more information, visit www.Spreadtrum.com.

                      This press release does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to subscribe for or buy any security, nor is it a solicitation of any vote or approval in any jurisdiction, nor shall there be any sale, issuance or transfer of the securities referred to in this press release in any jurisdiction in contravention of applicable law.

                      Note that with June 27, 2007 Spreadtrum IPO on Nasdaq the company had $125.9M initial market capitalization which a year later became $209.41M; the quarterly revenue at IPO time was US$38.6M:

                      image

                      image

                      Data is in US$

                      Spreadtrum Closes $35.2 Million Series C funding [press release, June 4, 2004]

                      Sunnyvale, California – June 4, 2004 – Spreadtrum Communications Inc., a leading fabless semiconductor company developing and marketing innovative digital wireless communications products, today announced the completion of $35.2 million Series C financing led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) with additional participation from existing investors, Fortunetech Investment Fund, Pacific Venture Group, Vertex, Legend Capital, HuaHong International and more.

                      “Proceeds from this financing will be used primarily to expand operations and to develop new product offerings,” said Dr. Ping Wu, President of Spreadtrum. ‘Spreadtrum has gained customers acceptances in the GSM/GPRS markets and is now gaining traction in the 3G area. We are very pleased to be working with these experienced venture capital firms. With their industry knowledge and resources, we are confident we will expand our global reach.
                      “Spreadtrum has all the components we look for when making an investment,” said Scott Sandell, NEA general partner and Spreadtrum board member. “With its experienced management team and superior technology, Spreadtrum is poised to emerge as one of the world-class fabless semiconductor companies. They continue to demonstrate their ability to develop and market their products while gaining traction in this large, explosive market.”
                      Spreadtrum is currently shipping GSM/GPRS baseband chipset SC6600 families and GSM/GPRS module SM5100 families. The SC6600 is a highly integrated GSM/GPRS single baseband mixed signal chip containing all digital and analog functionality for a GSM/GPRS wireless phone. The SM5100 provides both voice and data functions, and can be used in GSM/GPRS tri-band cell phones, data modems and other mobile terminal devices. Reference designs for a complete GSM/GPRS handset terminal are available. Spreadtrum also has single and dual CPU solutions for various market demands. More information about Spreadtrum products is available via email at info@spreadtrum.com.

                      New Enterprise Associates Participates in $20 Million Series D for Spreadtrum Communications [Baltimore Citybizlist. Oct 31, 2006]

                      Spreadtrum Communications Inc., a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based maker of wireless chipsets, has secured $10 million of a $20 million Series D round, according to a regulatory filing. Return backers include Fortune Venture Group and New Enterprise Associates. The company has several offices in China. www.spreadtrum.com

                      About Spreadtrum
                      Spreadtrum Communications was founded in 2001 by a group of innovative entrepreneurs with determination to face any challenge in the future. Under Dr. Ping Wu’s leadership, Spreadtrum successfully set up offices in Silicon Valley and several different cities in China. It grew rapidly within the past a few years and became a raising star in the IC and wireless communications industry. Spreadtrum’s products became the choice of many Chinese and international clients. Spreadtrum focuses on the development and sales of the new generation wireless IC, provides fast-to-market, cost-effective and high-performance solutions for wireless terminal manufactures and design houses.
                      Our core competitive products are:
                      • 2G/2.5G/3G baseband IC: High integration, high performance, great functionalities
                      • Communication software: validity, stability, customizability
                      • Wireless platform: differentiated value-added open platform, reduced development time, increased product competitive edge
                      • Wireless module: Customizable, flexibility, high quality
                      Spreadtrum not only has complete wireless terminal core chip series and related software and platform solutions that cover from high-end to low-end handset markets, but also has successfully developed world’s first single TD-SCDMA/GSM/GPRS(3G/2.5G) dual mode baseband chip as well as world’s first single integrated multimedia GSM/GPRS baseband chip. By utilizing Spreadtrumer’ expertise and newest design methodology in the industry, Spreadtrum single chips solution possesses the characteristics of higher integration, smaller size, lower power consumption and higher performance and therefore greatly reduces system BOM cost. Spreadtrum is the first IC designs company to develop its own software protocols. Its open platform allows customers to customize their products in order to differentiate themselves among competitors. Spreadtrum provides its customers with warm-hearted support and fast response time to reduce their development cycle and shorten their time-to-market.

                      Spreadtrum Communications [InsideChips, 2006]

                      Based in Sunnyvale, Calif., with most of its engineering operations in China, Spreadtrum Communications is developing chips for China’s large and rapidly growing domestic cellular market. The company is developing single-chip solutions for GSM/GPRS and TD-SCDMA/GSM/GPRS mobile devices, and has integrated all of the analog, digital and power-management functions as well as a full set of multimedia features and interfaces into the chips.

                      Founded only five years ago, Spreadtrum has already grown to 450 employees. CEO Ping Wu and CTO Datong Chen founded Spreadtrum with Renyong Fan (VP of operations) and Jin Ji in July 2001. The company raised $6.5 million in Series A funding at the time of founding, followed by a $20 million Series B round in Nov. 2002 and a $35 million Series C round in April 2004. The company has more than 30 investors, with the largest including New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Fortunetech Investment Fund, Pacific Venture Group, Vertex, Legend Capital and HuaHong International.

                      Spreadtrum offers three chip products:
                      • SC6600M GSM/GPRS baseband chip – In addition to baseband functionality, the 6600 also supports a number of functions typically implemented separately on different chips. These include support for a 1.3-megapixel digital camera with video recording and playback, 64-polyphonics with stereo sound, MP3 player, USB interface and USB removable memory. Analog I/F features include a wide-range RF interface and power management on chip.

                        Spreadtrum began volume shipments of the SC6600 in June 2003, primarily to domestic handset makers including TCL, Ningbo Bird, Amoi Electronics, Hisense and Putian Capitel.

                      • SC8800 Single-chip TD-SCDMA/GSM/GPRS dual-mode baseband chip – Powered by the CEVA-Teak DSP core, the SC8800 enables dual-mode 2G/3G phones that operate transparently over China’s TD-SCDMA and GSM networks. As with the SC6600, the chip integrates analog, digital and power management functions on a single chip.
                      • SC6800 GSM/GPRS multimedia baseband IC – The SC6800 integrates an ARM9 processor and TeaKLite DSP, 5-megapixel camera controllers, auto-focus controllers, MPEG4 accelerator and MP3 player, and supports TV out and other multimedia application-processing functionalities.
                      Spreadtrum also offers a wireless module, the SM5100B, which incorporates the baseband chip, RF chipset, combo flash and software. Intended for applications such as wireless desktop phones, mobile phones, remote monitoring and remote meter reading, the module provides all the required functionality for full-featured GSM/GPRS terminals.
                      Spreadtrum provides its customers with IP and application software, and developed its own protocol stack software. The open platform enables customers to perform high-level development to implement their own IP and value-added features.
                      Compared with the Europe-initiated WCDMA and U.S.-backed CDMA 2000 3G standards, China’s homegrown 3G standard, TD-SCDMA, arrived late to the game. We even heard that Chinese telecom operators were reluctant to use TD-SCDMA due to that fact. Nevertheless, the Chinese Ministry of Information Industry formally approved TD-SCDMA on Jan. 20, 2006, as the national technology standard for 3G mobile communications.
                      Spreadtrum projects that shipments of 3G mobile phones in China will grow to 9.5 million units by 2007, up from 3.3 million units in 2004. The Industrial Technology Information Services (ITIS), a unit of Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), projects subscriptions for 3G services in China will increase from 15 million in 2006 to 80 million by 2008.
                      However, according to market research firm ABI Research, the establishment of a national 3G network will not greatly change the existing mobile landscape. The Chinese government will provide strong policy support to help TD-SCDMA operators gain time and establish a price lead over other 3G technologies, says ABI, but GSM will continue to be the dominant technology in China over the next five to eight years.
                      China is conducting its final TD-SCDMA trials in select cities between March and June. These latest trials follow three earlier rounds of tests, and should be the last before commercial use.
                      Spreadtrum will be competing with fellow TD-SCDMA chipmakers such as Commit (a joint venture involving Nokia, Texas Instruments, LG, Putian, DBTEL and Datang), Chongyou Information Technology, T3G (a joint venture of Datang, Philips and Samsung), Analog Devices and others.
                      The number of Chinese IC startups has been rapidly growing over the last few years, although many appear to have relatively simple technology, few people, little cash and fairly modest expectations. But a few – such as Spreadtrum – have set their sights higher and are establishing themselves as significant technology companies. We are impressed with Spreadtrum’s high level of integration in its products, as well as its ability to attract major investors and the early establishment of a global presence. We believe the company has a good chance for continued growth and success in China’s telecom market.

                      Spreadtrum Communications Announces Receipt of Acquisition Proposal [press release, June 21, 2013]

                      SHANGHAI, June 21, 2013 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPRD; “Spreadtrum” or the “Company“), a leading fabless semiconductor provider in China with advanced technology in 2G, 3G and 4G wireless communications standards, today announced that its Board of Directors has received a preliminary non-binding proposal letter, dated June 20, 2013, from Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd. (“Unigroup“), an operating subsidiary of Tsinghua Holdings Co. Ltd., a solely state-owned limited liability corporation funded byTsinghua University in China, pursuant to which Unigroup proposes to acquire the Company (the “Transaction“) for S$28.50 in cash per American Depositary Share (each American Depositary Share represents three ordinary shares of the Company).  A copy of the proposal letter is attached hereto as Appendix 1.

                      The Company’s Board of Directors is reviewing and evaluating Unigroup’s proposal and cautions the Company’s shareholders and others considering trading in its securities that the Board of Directors has just received the Unigroup proposal, and has not yet made any decisions with respect to the proposed Transaction, or the Company’s response to the proposed Transaction. There can be no assurance that any definitive offer will be made, that any agreement will be executed or that this or any other transaction will be approved or consummated. The Company does not undertake any obligation to provide any updates with respect to this or any other transaction, except as required under applicable law.

                      About Spreadtrum Communications, Inc.

                      Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPRD; “Spreadtrum“) is a fabless semiconductor company that develops mobile chipset platforms for smartphones, feature phones and other consumer electronics products, supporting 2G, 3G and 4G wireless communications standards. Spreadtrum’s solutions combine its highly integrated, power-efficient chipsets with customizable software and reference designs in a complete turnkey platform, enabling customers to achieve faster design cycles with a lower development cost. Spreadtrum’s customers include global and China-based manufacturers developing mobile products for consumers in China and emerging markets around the world. For more information, visit www.spreadtrum.com.

                      Appendix 1

                      Acquisition Proposal Letter

                      June 20, 2013
                      The Board of Directors
                      Spreadtrum Communications, Inc.
                      Spreadtrum Center, Building No. 1
                      Lane 2288, Zuchongzhi Road
                      Zhangjiang, Shanghai 201203
                      People’s Republic of China
                      Ladies and Gentlemen:
                      Tsinghua University, through its subsidiary Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd. (“Unigroup“) is pleased to submit this preliminary non-binding proposal to acquire Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (the “Company,” and such transaction the “Acquisition“).
                      We believe that our proposal as outlined below will provide a very attractive alternative to the Company’s shareholders.  Our proposal represents a premium of 20.10% to the Company’s closing price on June 19, 2013 and a premium of 44.3% to the volume-weighted average closing price during the last 30 trading days.
                      In addition to the premium that our proposal would deliver to Spreadtrum shareholders, we believe that an Acquisition by Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd., which is majority owned by Tsinghua University, a central player in China’stechnology and R&D sectors would provide compelling strategic synergies and position the Company for additional value creation in key wireless communications markets in China and elsewhere going forward.
                      The terms and conditions upon which we are prepared to pursue the Acquisition are set forth below. We are confident in our ability to consummate an Acquisition as described in this letter.
                      1. Purchase Price. The consideration payable for each American Depositary Share of the Company (“ADS,” each representing three (3) ordinary shares) will be U.S. $28.50 in cash.
                      2. Financing. We may finance a portion of the aggregate purchase price with debt. Tsinghua Holdings Co. Ltd., our controlling shareholder, has provided us with a Letter of Support, dated June 20, 2013, a copy of which is attached hereto as Exhibit A, pursuant to which Tsinghua Holdings has committed to guarantee full funding for any equity or debt financing that may be required for the Acquisition, as set forth therein.  For the avoidance of doubt, while we may seek to finance a portion of the acquisition with debt financing, Tsinghua Holdings has agreed to provide equity funding up to the total purchase price of $1.5 billion if satisfactory debt financing is not available.
                      3. Due Diligence. We will be in a position to commence our due diligence for the Acquisition immediately upon receiving access to the relevant materials.
                      4. Definitive Agreements. We are prepared to negotiate and finalize definitive agreements (the “Definitive Agreements“) concurrently with our due diligence review. This proposal is subject to execution of Definitive Agreements. These documents will provide for representations, warranties, covenants and conditions customary for transactions of this type.
                      5.  Confidentiality.  Other than the announcement of this offer letter, we are confident you will agree with us that we have a shared interest in proceeding in an otherwise confidential manner, unless otherwise required by law, until we have executed Definitive Agreements or terminated our discussions.
                      7. Further Information About Tsinghua Holdings and Tsinghua Unigroup. Unigroup is an operating subsidiary ofTsinghua Holdings,  a solely state-owned limited liability corporation funded by Tsinghua University that is responsible for managing a substantial majority of Tsinghua University’s commercial assets.  As of December 31st, 2012, Tsinghua Holding’s total assets approximated 70.4 billion RMB and Tsinghua had EBITDA of approximately4.07 billion RMB and net income of approximately 1.45 billion RMB for fiscal 2012.  Tsinghua Holdings’s corporate credit rating is AA+ according to CCXI, the Chinese domestic JV partner of Moody’s and the leading credit rating agency in China.  Additional information about Tsinghua Holdings can be found at (http://www.thholding.com.cn/english/simpleindex.aspx).  Other shareholders include Beijing Jiankun Investment Group Co. Ltd. and Beijing Tourism Group. Unigroup’s business lines include high-technology generally, bio-technology, real estate and urban infrastructure construction. 
                      8.  No Binding Commitment. This letter constitutes only a preliminary indication of our interest, and does not constitute any binding commitment with respect to an Acquisition. Such a commitment will arise only upon execution of Definitive Agreements, and in such case will be on the terms provided in such documentation.
                      In closing, we would like to personally express our commitment to working together in bringing this Acquisition to a successful and timely conclusion.  We look forward to hearing from you regarding our proposal at your earlier convenience and kindly request that you notify us by June 28, 2013 should you desire to engage in further discussions about our proposal.
                      Very truly yours,
                      Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd.
                      By: /s/ Zhao Weiguo
                      Name: Zhao, Weiguo
                      Title: Chairman and President

                      Exhibit A
                      TSINGHUA HOLDINGS LETTER
                      From:
                      Tsinghua Holdings Co., Ltd.
                      25F, Building A, S.P Tower
                      Tsinghua Science Park
                      Beijing 100084, P.R. China
                                                                                                                       June 20th, 2013
                      To:
                      Chairman Zhao Weiguo  of Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd.            
                      10/F, Unis Plaza, Tsinghua Science Park
                      Beijing, 100084, P.R. China
                      Subject:  Tsinghua Holdings Co. Letter of Support and Agreement to Guarantee Full Funding for the Acquisition ofSpreadtrum Communications, Inc. by Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd.
                      Dear Mr. Zhao,
                      This letter (our “Letter of Support“) is to confirm our official endorsement and commitment to support Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd (“You“) in your bid to acquire Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (NASD: SPRD) (the “Target” and such transaction, the “Project“) at the price of U.S. $28.5 per ADS for up to USD $1.5 billion (the “Support Amount“) and to guarantee any equity or debt financing that may be required for the Project.
                      As you know, we own and manage a substantial majority of the commercial assets of Tsinghua University, one of the most prestigious universities in the World. As of December 31st, 2012, our total assets approximated 70.4 billion RMB with 2012 EBITDA of approximately 4.07 billion RMB and 2012 net income of approximately 1.45 billion RMB. Tsinghua Holdings Co.’s corporate credit rating is AA+ according to CCXI, the Chinese domestic JV partner ofMoody’s and the leading credit rating agency in China.  Our corporate website contains further background information about Tsinghua Holdings, and can be found at (http://www.thholding.com.cn/english/simpleindex.aspx).
                      As the manager of the commercial affairs of the University, we are the parent company to Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd and own 51% of its outstanding capital shares.   We have officially approved the Project and have decided to fully support the Project to facilitate its rapid completion.  Although we have sufficient resources to fund the Project up to the full Support Amount from our own balance sheet, we understand that You may elect to utilize debt financing to fund a portion of the purchase price for the Target.  In any such case, we intend to assist You in obtaining any such debt financing on favourable terms.  In furtherance thereof, we will provide a corporate parent guarantee of such financing up to the Support Amount minus the amount of any equity contribution for the Project (and subject to any applicable government approvals).  In furtherance thereof, we will execute any bank or third-party guarantees and other related documents requested by you in form and substance reasonably acceptable to us and to any lender providing such funding.
                      At your discretion, this Letter of Support can be shared with parties with whom you are discussing the Project.
                      This Letter of Support and our agreement to provide a guarantee is a commitment of our broad financial enterprise, and credit support for purposes of the Project.
                      Yours faithfully,
                      Tsinghua Holdings Co., Ltd.
                      By: /s/ Xu Jinghong
                      Print Name: Xu, Jinghong
                      Title: Chairman of Tsinghua Holdings Co., Ltd.
                      To see a full copy of the signed version of these letters, click here:
                      http://www.prnasia.com/sa/attachment/2013/06/20130621172830287567.2 – Acquisition Offer Letter and Funding Support Letter.pdf
                      SOURCE Spreadtrum Communications, Inc.
                      Diana Jovin, ir@spreadtrum.com, +1 650-308-8148

                      Proper Oracle Java, Database and WebLogic support in Windows Azure including pay-per-use licensing via Microsoft + the same Oracle software supported on Microsoft Hyper-V as well

                      While with the latter Hyper-V is gaining significant market advantage against the VMware vSphere it is even more important that Windows Azure is becoming a true open cloud computing platform, especially by fully supporting Java and Oracle developers (in addition to existing .NET and various web developers), and Oracle cloud offerings are also vastly extended, especially in the crucially important “pay-per-use” space as the cloud offerings of the Oracle software so far have been only:
                      Oracle [Public] Cloud (Larry Ellison’s Oracle Cloud Announcement Highlights [Oracle YouTube channel, July 6, 2012] for when it was finally delivered and TechCast Live Introducing Oracle Public Cloud [Oracle YouTube channel, Dec 9, 2011] when it was pre-announced) which has application solutions in the cloud as well
                      Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for Oracle available with “pay-per-use” (officially named “license included” by AWS, earlier named “on-demand hourly”) licensing since Q2 2011 (Amazon RDS for Microsoft SQL Server came a year later), as well as Oracle Fusion Middleware (which includes the GlassFish Java application server and the WebLogic web application server), and Oracle Enterprise Manager licensed in the AWS Cloud

                      image

                      The essence according to Java and other Oracle software heads to the Microsoft cloud [Ars Technica, June 24, 2013]

                      Microsoft and Oracle may compete head to head in many ways within the database realm, but today the two companies performed the most sweeping cross-join ever as executives from the two companies announced a broad partnership around cloud computing. In a conference call this afternoon, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Oracle President Mark Hurd discussed a partnership between the companies that will bring Oracle platforms—including Java middleware—into Microsoft’s Azure cloud. 

                      Oracle has moved to certify and support its products, including Oracle WebLogic, the Oracle database, and Oracle Linux, for Azure and Microsoft’s Hyper-V hypervisor. “At the highest level, this partnership extends Oracle’s support of Windows Server to also include Windows Hyper-V and Windows Azure as supported platforms,” Ballmer said.

                      Oracle will provide full license mobility, Ballmer added, so that customers can move existing Oracle software licenses from on-premises physical or virtual servers to virtual servers on Hyper-V and in the Azure cloud. “There’s an immediate benefit for our customers,” he said. Support of Oracle’s database and application server products, and of Oracle Linux, is available immediately starting today.

                      Microsoft also agreed to license Oracle’s enterprise Java run-time and APIs and make Java “a first class runtime in Windows Azure, fully licensed and fully supported by Oracle” according to Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s president of Microsoft Corporation’s Server and Tools Business. Previously, Microsoft offered open Java SDKs, he said. “Now we have the licensed [Oracle] Java stack, plus the [Oracle] middleware stack, available. We think it makes Java more first class within Azure.”

                      Hurd said that in addition to allowing existing licenses to be moved into the Azure cloud, Microsoft would provide a mechanism to obtain licenses on demand “for those who don’t have licenses for Oracle or Java.” Nadella emphasized that Microsoft would “make it easier to spin up Oracle software in Azure with pay-as-you-go licenses,” including pre-built Oracle Linux images that can be deployed in Azure as server instances.

                      Oracle has been pursuing its own cloud strategy, but Hurd said he saw “nothing but good” coming from a partnership with Microsoft. “I think it just makes sense for us to continue to improve our capabilities but also form partnerships like this,” he said. “Java is the most popular development platform in the world. The fact that more people will get access to our IP is favorable.”

                      A general business media opinion:
                      Rivals Microsoft, Oracle bonding in the cloud [The Seattle Times, June 24, 2013]

                      The partnership looks to be a good move for both companies, while being bad for mutual competitor VMware, said veteran Microsoft and Oracle analyst Rick Sherlund, of investment bank Nomura.

                      Back in the day, Microsoft and Oracle were bitter rivals, competing over providing database and server products and trading barbs during the U.S. government’s antitrust suit against Microsoft in the 1990s.

                      Now they’re holding hands and looking at a future together.

                      Microsoft and Oracle announced Monday a cloud partnership in which customers will be able to run Oracle software (including Java, Oracle Database and Oracle WebLogic Server) on Microsoft’s Windows Server Hyper-V or in Windows Azure. Oracle will provide certification and full support.

                      Oracle Linux will also be made available to Windows Azure customers.

                      “I think they need each other,” Sherlund said. “They’re cooperating in areas that are mutually beneficial.”

                      Microsoft is getting Oracle’s support for Hyper-V, Microsoft’s hypervisor technology, which allows companies to run virtual servers. That’s important because Hyper-V competes against VMware, which is dominant in the server virtualization market. And many of the businesses that would be interested in such technology already use some Oracle software.

                      “It’s an advantage for Microsoft to be able to say: ‘All this Oracle stuff runs on Hyper-V,’ ” said Sherlund, who added that Oracle does not support VMware’s vSphere.

                      The move likely also allows Microsoft to say it’s being open with its Azure platform.

                      “That’s the rap you have against Microsoft: That it’s all the Microsoft platform,” Sherlund said. “If you’re in the cloud, it’s good that you’re supporting other platforms.”

                      Oracle, meanwhile, has traditionally delivered its software to its customers’ own premises. Now that it’s focusing more on delivering its software as services, it’s “motivated to make sure that [the services are] available on a lot of different cloud platforms,” Sherlund said. “So that’s good for Oracle.”

                      … these days, both companies are battling newer competition from the likes of VMware and Seattle-based Amazon.com.

                      Ballmer and Oracle President Mark Hurd said during the conference call after Monday’s announcement that their two companies would continue to compete.

                      But, Ballmer said, “the relationship between the two companies has evolved … in a very positive and constructive manner on a number of fronts.”

                      Hurd said, “The cloud is the tipping point that made this all happen.”

                      Hurd said Oracle would continue to offer its own public, private and hybrid platforms. But the fact that Java will be accessible to programmers who work in Windows Azure “is a good thing for us. … The fact that more people get access to our IP is favorable,” he said. “It’s good for our customers and therefore good for Oracle.”

                      Oracle CEO Larry Ellison had also said last week that the company would be announcing partnerships with Salesforce.com and NetSuite.

                      And an ICT analyst opinion: ORACLE EMBRACING THE BROADER CLOUD LANDSCAPE [James Staten on Forrester blogs, June 24, 2013]

                      It’s easy to accuse Oracle of trying to lock up its customers, as nearly all its marketing focuses on how Oracle on Oracle (on Oracle) delivers the best everything, but today Ellison’s company and Microsoft signed a joint partnership that empowers customer choice and ultimately will improve Oracle’s relevance in the cloud world. 

                      The Redwood Shores, California software giant signed a key partnership with Microsoft that endorses Oracle on Hyper-V and Windows Azure, which included not just bring-your-own licenses but pay-per-use pricing options. The deal came as part of a Java licensing agreement by Microsoft for Windows Azure, which should help Redmond increase the appeal of its public cloud to a broader developer audience. Forrester’s Forrsights Developer Survey Q1 2013 shows that Java and .Net are the #2 and #3 languages used by cloud developers (HTML/Javascript is #1). The Java license does not extend to Microsoft’s other products, BTW. 

                      This deal gives Microsoft clear competitive advantages against two of its top rivals as well. It strengthens Hyper-V against VMware vSphere, as Oracle software is only supported on OracleVM and Hyper-V today. It gives Windows Azure near equal position against Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the cloud platform wars, as the fully licensed support covers all Oracle software (customers bring their own licenses), and pay-per-use licenses will be resold by Microsoft for WebLogic Server, Oracle Linux, and the Oracle database. AWS has a similar support relationship with Oracle and resells the middleware, database, and Oracle Enterprise Manager, plus offers RDS for Oracle, a managed database service.  

                      Bring your own license terms aren’t ideal in the per-hour world of cloud platforms, so the pay-per-use licensing arrangements are key to Oracle’s cloud relevance. While this licensing model is limited today, it opens the door to a more holistic move by Oracle down the line. Certainly Oracle would prefer that customers build and deploy their own Fusion applications on the Oracle Public Cloud, but the company is wisely acknowledging the market momentum behind AWS and Windows Azure and ensuring Oracle presence where its customers are going. These moves are also necessary to combat the widespread use of open source alternatives to Oracle’s middleware and database products on these new deployment platforms. 

                      While we can all argue about Oracle’s statements made in last week’s quarterly earnings call about being the biggest cloud company or having $1B in cloud revenue, it is clearly no longer up for debate as to whether Oracle is embracing the move to cloud. The company is clearly making key moves to cloud-enable its portfolio. Combine today’s moves with its SaaS acquisitions, investments in cloud companies and its own platform as a service, and the picture clearly emerges of a company moving aggressively into cloud.  

                      I guess CEO Ellison no longer feels cloud is yesterday’s business as usual.

                      Microsoft and Oracle announce enterprise partnership [joint press release, June 24, 2013]

                      Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp. today announced a partnership that will enable customers to run Oracle software on Windows Server Hyper-V and in Windows Azure. Customers will be able to deploy Oracle software — including Java, Oracle Database and Oracle WebLogic Server — on Windows Server Hyper-V or in Windows Azure and receive full support from Oracle. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
                      As part of this partnership, Oracle will certify and support Oracle software — including Java, Oracle Database and Oracle WebLogic Server — on Windows Server Hyper-V and in Windows Azure. Microsoft will also offer Java, Oracle Database and Oracle WebLogic Server to Windows Azure customers, and Oracle will make Oracle Linux available to Windows Azure customers.
                      Java developers, IT professionals and businesses will benefit from the flexibility to deploy fully supported Oracle software to Windows Server Hyper-V and Windows Azure.
                      “Microsoft is deeply committed to giving businesses what they need, and clearly that is the ability to run enterprise workloads in private clouds, public clouds and, increasingly, across both,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft. “Now our customers will be able to take advantage of the flexibility our unique hybrid cloud solutions offer for their Oracle applications, middleware and databases, just like they have been able to do on Windows Server for years.”
                      “Our customers’ IT environments are changing rapidly to meet the dynamic nature of the world today,” said Oracle President Mark Hurd. “At Oracle, we are committed to providing greater choice and flexibility to customers by providing multiple deployment options for our software, including on-premises, as well as public, private, and hybrid clouds. This collaboration with Microsoft extends our partnership and is important for the benefit of our customers.”
                      Additional information about support and the licensing mobility changes that went into effect today is available on Oracle’s blog at https://blogs.oracle.com/cloud/entry/oracle_and_microsoft_join_forces.

                      Oracle and Microsoft Expand Choice and Flexibility in Deploying Oracle Software in the Cloud [Oracle Cloud Solutions blog, June 24, 2013]

                      Oracle and Microsoft have entered into a new partnership that will help customers embrace cloud computing by providing greater choice and flexibility in how to deploy Oracle software.

                      Here are the key elements of the partnership:

                      • Effective today, our customers can run supported Oracle software on Windows Server Hyper-V and in Windows Azure
                      • Effective today, Oracle provides license mobility for customers who want to run Oracle software on Windows Azure
                      • Microsoft will add Infrastructure Services instances with popular configurations of Oracle software including Java, Oracle Database and Oracle WebLogic Server to the Windows Azure image gallery
                      • Microsoft will offer fully licensed and supported Java in Windows Azure
                      • Oracle will offer Oracle Linux, with a variety of Oracle software, as preconfigured instances on Windows Azure

                      Oracle’s strategy and commitment is to support multiple platforms, and Microsoft Windows has long been an important supported platform. Oracle is now extending that support to Windows Server Hyper-V and Window Azure by providing certification and support for Oracle applications, middleware, database, Java and Oracle Linux on Windows Server Hyper-V and Windows Azure. As of today, customers can deploy Oracle software on Microsoft private clouds and Windows Azure, as well as Oracle private and public clouds and other supported cloud environments.

                      For information related to software licensing in Windows Azure, see Licensing Oracle Software in the Cloud Computing Environment.

                      Also, Oracle Support policies as they apply to Oracle software running in Windows Azure or on Windows Server Hyper-V are covered in two My Oracle Support (MOS) notes which are shown below:

                      MOS Note 1563794.1 Certified Software on Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V – NEW

                      MOS Note 417770.1 Oracle Linux Support Policies for Virtualization and Emulation – UPDATED

                      Explanation for that is in Partners in the enterprise cloud [Satya Nadella on the The Official Microsoft Blog, June 24, 2013]

                      As longtime competitors, partners and industry leaders, Microsoft and Oracle have worked with enterprise customers to address business and technology needs for over 20 years. Many customers rely on Microsoft infrastructure to run mission-critical Oracle software and have for over a decade. Today, we are together extending our work to cover private cloud and public cloud through a new strategic partnership between Microsoft and Oracle. This partnership will help customers embrace cloud computing by improving flexibility and choice while also preserving the first-class support that these workloads demand.
                      As part of this partnership Oracle will certify and support Oracle software on Windows Server Hyper-V and Windows Azure. That means customers who have long enjoyed the ability to run Oracle software on Windows Server can run that same software on Windows Server Hyper-V or in Windows Azure and take advantage of our enterprise grade virtualization platform and public cloud. Oracle customers also benefit from the ability to run their Oracle software licenses in Windows Azure with new license mobility. Customers can enjoy the support and license mobility benefits, starting today.
                      In the near future, we will add Infrastructure Services instances with preconfigured versions of Oracle Database and Oracle WebLogic Server for customers who do not have Oracle licenses. Also, Oracle will enable customers to obtain and launch Oracle Linux images on Windows Azure.
                      We’ll also work together to add properly licensed, and fully supported Java into Windows Azure – improving flexibility and choice for millions of Java developers and their applications. Windows Azure is, and will continue to be, committed to supporting open source development languages and frameworks, and after today’s news, I hope the strength of our commitment in this area is clear.
                      The cloud computing era – or, as I like to call it, the enterprise cloud era – calls for bold, new thinking. It requires companies to rethink what they build, to rethink how they operate and to rethink whom they partner with. We are doing that by being “cloud first” in everything we do. From our vision of a Cloud OS – a consistent platform spanning our customer’s private clouds, service provider clouds and Windows Azure – to the way we partner to ensure that the applications our customers use run, fully supported, in those clouds.
                      We look forward to working with Oracle to help our customers realize this partnership’s immediate, and future, benefits. And we look forward to providing our customers with the increased flexibility and choice that comes from providing thousands of Oracle customers, and millions of Oracle developers, access to Microsoft’s enterprise grade public and private clouds. It’s a bold partnership for a bold new enterprise era.

                      IMPORTANT: for Java developers this strategic partnership will be really important when the latest versions will be covered on Windows Azure, see:
                      Java EE 7 / GlassFish 4.0 Launch Coverage [Oracle’s The Aquarium blog, Jan 12, 2013]

                      Java EE 7, the standard in community-driven enterprise software, is now available. Back in April, Java EE 7 completed the JCP final approval ballot.  Today, developers can learn all about Java EE 7 during the Java EE 7 Live Web Event, and get some hands-on experience with the arrival of the Java EE 7 SDK and GlassFish Server Open Source Edition 4.0.  Of course, others have quite a bit to say about Java EE 7 as well, and this is just for starters:

                      Java EE 7 SDK and GlassFish Server Open Source Edition 4.0 Now Available [Arun Gupta, Miles to go … weblog among Oracle technical blogs, June 12, 2013]

                      Java EE 7 (JSR 342) is now final!

                      I’ve delivered numerous talks on Java EE 7 and related technologies all around the world for past several months. I’m loaded with excitement to share that the Java EE 7 platform specification and implementation is now in the records.

                      The platform has three major themes:

                      image

                      • Deliver HTML5 Dynamic Scalable Applications
                        • Reduce response time with low latency data exchange using WebSocket
                        • Simplify data parsing for portable applications with standard JSON support
                        • Deliver asynchronous, scalable, high performance RESTful Service
                      • Increase Developer Productivity
                        • Simplify application architecture with a cohesive integrated platform
                        • Increase efficiency with reduced boiler-plate code and broader use of annotations
                        • Enhance application portability with standard RESTful web service client support
                      • Meet the most demanding enterprise requirements
                        • Break down batch jobs into manageable chunks for uninterrupted OLTP performance
                        • Easily define multithreaded concurrent tasks for improved scalability
                        • Deliver transactional applications with choice and flexibility

                      This “pancake” diagram of the major components helps understand how the components work with each other to provide a complete, comprehensive, and integrated stack for building your enterprise and web applications. The newly added components are highlighted in the orange color:

                      image

                      In this highly transparent and participatory effort, there were 14 active JSRs:

                      • 342: Java EE 7 Platform
                      • 338: Java API for RESTful Web Services 2.0
                      • 339: Java Persistence API 2.1
                      • 340: Servlet 3.1
                      • 341: Expression Language 3.0
                      • 343: Java Message Service 2.0
                      • 344: JavaServer Faces 2.2
                      • 345: Enteprise JavaBeans 3.2
                      • 346: Contexts and Dependency Injection 1.1
                      • 349: Bean Validation 1.1
                      • 352: Batch Applications for the Java Platform 1.0
                      • 353: Java API for JSON Processing 1.0
                      • 356: Java API for WebSocket 1.0
                      • 236: Concurrency Utilities for Java EE 1.0

                      The newly added components are highlighted in bold.

                      And 9 Maintenance Release JSRs:

                      • 250: Common Annotations 1.2
                      • 322: Connector Architecture 1.7
                      • 907: Java Transaction API 1.2
                      • 196: Java Authentication Services for Provider Interface for Containers
                      • 115: Java Authorization for Contract for Containers
                      • 919: JavaMail 1.5
                      • 318: Interceptors 1.2
                      • 109: Web Services 1.4
                      • 245: JavaServer Pages 2.3

                      Ready to get rolling ?

                      Binaries

                      Tools

                      Docs

                      A few articles have already been published on OTN:

                      And more are coming!

                      This blog has also published several TOTD on Java EE 7:

                      All the JSRs have been covered in the Java Spotlight podcast:

                      The latest issue of Java Magazine is also loaded with tons of Java EE 7 content:

                      image

                      Media coverage has started showing as well …

                      And you can track lot more here.
                      You can hear the latest and greatest on Java EE 7 by watching replays from the launch webinar:

                      image

                      This webinar consists of:

                      • Strategy Keynote
                      • Technical Keynote
                      • 16 Technical Breakouts with JSR Specification Leads
                      • Customer, partner, and community testimonials
                      • And much more

                      Do you feel enabled and empowered to start building Java EE 7 applications ?
                      Just download Java EE 7 SDK that contains GlassFish Server Open Source Edition 4.0, tutorial, samples, documentation and much more.
                      Enjoy!

                      Previous situation:

                      image
                      From Oracle Database Cloud Service [Oracle presentation, Feb 15, 2013]

                      as well as: New Java Resources for Windows Azure! [Windows Azure blog, July 31, 2012]

                      … Make the Windows Azure Java Developer Center your first stop for details about developing and deploying Java applications on Windows Azure. We continue to add content to that site, and we’ll describe some of the recent additions in this blog.

                      Using Virtual Machines for your Java Solutions

                      We rolled out Windows Azure Virtual Machines as a preview service last month; if you’d like to see how to use Virtual Machines for your Java solutions, check out these new Java tutorials. …

                      New in Access Control

                      Included in the June 2012 Windows Azure release is an update to the Windows Azure Plugin for Eclipse with Java (by Microsoft Open Technologies). …

                      The Java part of this partnership is dating back to GlassFish and Java EE 6 everywhere, even in the Azure cloud! [Oracle’s The Aquarium blog, Jan 18, 2011]

                      imageMicrosoft’s technical architect David Chou has a detailed blog entry on how to run a recent GlassFish 3.1 build on the Microsoft Azure Platform (wikipedia). The article builds on this other recent blog entry on running Java applications in Azure and adds GlassFish-specific instructions.

                      In Azure terminology, the article discusses setting up a Worker Role using Visual Studio, reserving Ports, setting up a Startup Task (for the JVM), and configuring the Service, GlassFish in this case. This uses Windows Server 2008 (a GlassFish supported platform) and a zip install of GlassFish.

                      It’s early days (need best practices on working around some of the cloud-inherent limitations) but with this support of GlassFish, the Azure platform now has full support for Java EE 6!

                      which then was followed with a Java wishlist for Windows Azure [Arun Gupta, Miles to go … weblog among Oracle technical blogs, Feb 11, 2011]

                      TOTD #155 explains how to run GlassFish in Windows Azure. It works but as evident from the blog, its not easy and intuitive. It uses Worker Role to install JDK and GlassFish but the concepts used are nothing specific to Java. Microsoft has released Azure SDK for Java and AppFabric SDK for Java which is a good start but there are a few key elements missing IMHO. These may be known issues but I thought of listing them here while my memory is fresh 🙂

                      Here is my wish list to make Java a better on Windows Azure:

                      1. Windows Azure Tools for Eclipse has “PHP Development Toolkit” and “Azure SDK for Java” but no tooling from the Java perspective. I cannot build a Java/Java EE project and say “Go Deploy it to Azure” and then Eclipse + Azure do the magic and provide me with a URL of the deployed project.
                      2. Why do I need to configure IIS on my local Visual Studio development for deploying a Java project ?
                      3. Why do I have to explicitly upload my JDK to Azure Storage ? I’d love to specify an element in the “ServiceConfiguration” or where ever appropriate which should take care of installing JDK for me in the provisioned instance. And also set JAVA_HOME for me.
                      4. Allow to leverage clustering capabilities of application servers such as GlassFish. This will also provide session-failover capabilities on Azure 🙂
                      5. Sticky session load balancing.
                      6. If Windows VM crashes for some reason then App Fabric restarts it which is good. But I’d like my Java processes to be monitored and restarted if they go kaput. And accordingly Load Balancer switches to the next available process in the cluster.
                      7. Visual Studio tooling is nice but allow me to automate/script the deployment of project to Azure.
                      8. Just like Web, Worker, and VM role – how about a Java role ?
                      9. And since this is a wishlist, NetBeans is the best IDE for Java EE 6 development. Why not have a NetBeans plugin for Azure ?
                      10. A better integration with Java EE APIs and there are several of them – JPA, Servlets, EJB, JAX-RS, JMS, etc.
                      11. The “happy scenario” where every thing works as expected is fine is good but that rarely happens in software development. The availabilty of debugging information is pretty minimal during the “not so happy scenario”. Visual Studio should show more information if the processes started during “Launch.ps1” cannot start correctly for some reason.

                      And I’m not even talking about management, monitoring, adminstration, logging etc.

                      Thank you Microsoft for a good start with Java on Azure but its pretty basic right now and needs work. I’ll continue my exploration!

                      Christmas is coming later this year … and I’ll be waiting 🙂

                      See also:

                      Nokia becoming the next Samsung from its new Vietnamese manufacturing base?

                      Update: Microsoft renames Nokia Vietnam Company [News VietNamNet, Dec 20, 2014]: Nokia (Vietnam) Limited Liability Company was renamed Microsoft Mobile (Vietnam) Limited Liability Company, according to an official decision of Microsoft Vietnam released on December 18.

                      Microsoft had earlier changed the name of the Nokia Lumia cell phone line to Microsoft Lumia. The first mobile phone line with the Microsoft brand was sold at the end of November. However, Microsoft and its retail stores will continue to sell old phone lines with the Nokia Lumia brand.

                      Nokia officially inaugurated its factory in the northern province of Bac Ninh in October 2013. Since Microsoft’s takeover in April, Nokia has produced nearly 74 million mobile phones by the end of November.

                      The factory is considered to be Microsoft’s main global supplier after the American software giant transferred its smartphone production lines from China and Mexico to Viet Nam in August 2014.

                      Microsoft Mobile Vietnam has exported more than five million Lumia mobile phones to the rest of the world thus far. The factory currently has more than 10,000 employees, which include highly skilled engineers.

                      Samsung has been the pioneer of exploitation of much cheaper manufacturing opportunity in Vietnam. While its production capacity in 2009 was 1.5 million units per month there (from October), it increased to 6 million per month by the end of 2010. Now it is standing at 20 million per month with total of 240 million this year out of the planned total of 510 million.

                      Relative to that Nokia’s new plant was launched with 5 million units per month capacity for 2013 which could be raised to 15 million units per month by the end of 2014 as the earliest, or by the end of 2018 as the latest.

                      After loosing the overall phone marketshare this year to Samsung it is now Nokia’s turn to play the catch-up game in manufacturing efficiency and economy like Samsung was launching a similar game against Nokia in 2010. To understand Nokia’s opportunities in this regard one must understand the circumstances which I will explain via the headlines of collected publications you can read further on in detail:
                      “Nokia will be merged into another company, 40 per cent probability”[Ilta-Sanomat, June 20, 2013]
                      First Nokia exports dial in a new manufacturing era [Vietnam Investment Review, June 10, 2013]
                      Nokia’s Vietnam factory opens in Hanoi City [VMPoweruser, April 17, 2013]
                      Nokia – Samsung the battle of the two tigers [News VietNamNet, May 18, 2013]
                      Unboxing the cheapest Nokia phone manufacturered in Vietnam [Vietnam News World Vietbao.vn, June 21, 2013]
                      Samsung Secures Tax Breaks for Vietnam Handset Factory [cellular-news, June 20, 2013]
                      Work begins on Samsung’s largest cell phone factory [VietNam News, March 26, 2013]
                      Samsung aims to sell 510 million phones [The Korea Times, Dec 23, 2012]
                      Samsung Vietnam SEV-Project [SAMOO Architects & ENGINEERS, 2011]
                      Samsung Boosting Handset Output in China to Beat Nokia [The Korea Times, March 22, 2010]
                      Dial Vietnam For Cheap Labor [The Nikkei Asian Review June 12 edition, 2013]
                      Why Vietnam is the new China for the global electronics giants[whathifi.com, Feb 19, 2013]

                      Let’s start with the news that “Nokia will be merged into another company, 40 per cent probability” [Ilta-Sanomat, June 20, 2013] as translated by Google and Bing with manual edits

                      Nokia is combined with another company 40 percent chance in the next two years, estimates research firm Strategy Analytics.
                      Rumors of Nokia’s sales to another company have been moving for a few years already. According to research firm Strategy Analytics, the probability of combining Nokia with another company in the next two years is 40 per cent.
                      – Nokia has an impressive distribution network and an extensive patent portfolio, which many companies would benefit from, according to [Strategy Analytics] director Neil Mawston assessment.
                      Mawston says Samsung, LG, Huawei, Microsoft, Google and Cisco, for example, could afford to buy Nokia, and they also benefit from the sales of the company.
                      Nokia this week contacted Huawei and Microsoft. On Tuesday, the newspaper Financial Times reported that Huawei would be considering the purchase of Nokia. However, the company denied the allegations later, according to the news agency Reuters.
                      – I think it is very unlikely that Huawei would be acquiring Nokia at the moment, estimates Director Ben Wood of CCS Insight research company.
                      According to him, Huawei might be interested in the future in some of Nokia’s operations, if Nokia’s business deteriorate dramatically. In addition, he believes that the Chinese manufacturer would have major legal obstacles if it is going to buy a Nokia.
                      On Thursday, in turn, the newspaper The Wall Street Journal reported that Nokia and Microsoft negotiated in mid-June, the company store, where Microsoft would buy Nokia’s mobile phone business.
                      According to the newspaper the sales of the company got bogged down due to the weak market outlook for  Nokia, among other things.

                      We have to have in our mind the other news that First Nokia exports dial in a new manufacturing era [Vietnam Investment Review, June 10, 2013]

                      image
                      Nokia has exported the first volume of made-in-Vietnam mobile phones, as the Finnish company plans to expand its investment and operations in Vietnam.
                      Ivan Herd, general director of Nokia (Vietnam) LLC, told VIR that the handset maker has started production at its $302 million factory in Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park in Bac Ninh province, about 20 kilometres from Hanoi, after one year of construction.
                      Although some of the factory’s facilities remain at construction process and the factory is expected to be launched sometimes in August or September, Herd said “we hope Nokia Vietnam would become one of the largest factories of Nokia in the world”, implying a possibility to further expand investment in Vietnam. He declined to give further details.
                      Near the factory, Nokia’s rival – Samsung Electronics – has been aggressively expanding its mobile phone manufacturing, raising total investment from $670 million to $1.5 billion. The South Korean firm is also turning Vietnam into one of its biggest manufacturing hubs in the world, starting construction on another $2 billion manufacturing complex in Thai Nguyen province in March.
                      The first shipment from Nokia factory marks a milestone as for the first time a Nokia handset made in Vietnam has been exported globally.
                      “We will start with our Nokia 105, and as our capabilities improve, we will move on to other more difficult products,” said Herd.
                      “Our factory in Vietnam will be part of the global supply network so the expectation is that a maximum 5 per cent of our products will be exported to domestic market,” he said.
                      Nokia received investment certificate for this factory in late 2011 and the new factory is expected to attract more electronic component suppliers to Vietnam.
                      So far, Nokia has recruited over 300 employees for this factory. “By the end this year, our employee number will be thousands,” said Herd.
                      “Nokia does not focus on one cost element but total supply chain costs, infrastructure, our extended supply chain and customer locations. These are the main reasons we moved to Vietnam,” he said.

                      image

                      In the very first news about Nokia’s Vietnam factory opens in Hanoi City [VMPoweruser, April 17, 2013] we had more information as well:

                      Nokia Vietnam has indicated that their new Hanoi City factory, which broke ground last year, is now up and running, posting pictures of the facility and staff on their Facebook page.

                      The factory is located in the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP) in Bac Ninh, a province in the north of the country, and may employ up to 10,000 workers by 2014, churning out 45 million handsets per quarter [180 million yearly].

                      The handsets are predominately expected to be low-end, but hopefully it will increase Nokia’s capacity overall, and help eliminate those annoying supply issues which has dogged Nokia’s popular Windows Phone smartphones recently

                      Later the Vietnamese were assessing Nokia – Samsung the battle of the two tigers [News VietNamNet, May 18, 2013] as follows:

                      VietNamNet Bridge – Finnish Nokia still holds the biggest mobile phone market share in Vietnam. However, its Number 1 position has been shaken with the rise of Samsung.
                      Nokia plans to put the factory in the Vietnam – Singapore Industrial Zone in Bac Ninh province into operation in June 2013, when it would churn out 30 million products. The productivity would increase gradually to 180 million products by 2018.
                      Of the total investment capital of $302 million, $67 million would be disbursed in 2013, while the figure would be $100 million in 2014 and $102 million in 2015.
                      In order to attract Nokia to Vietnam, the country has to offer a lot of investment incentives, including the preferential corporate income tax of 10 percent for the first 15 years of the production, and the corporate income tax exemption for the first 4 years and the 50 percent tax reduction in the next 9 years.
                      With the investment capital of over $300 million in total, Nokia is hoped to generate 10,000 workers.
                      The fact that Nokia has closed down some of its factories in the world, but sets up a new factory in Vietnam can show the attractiveness of the Vietnamese market. This might also be the reason for Samsung to develop its projects in Vietnam.
                      According to GFK, a market survey firm, Nokia held 54 percent of the market share in 2011 and 56 percent in 2012. However, if considering the value, the giant has made a step back with the market value decreasing from 52.6 percent in 2011 to 45 percent in 2012.
                      The decline of Nokia has brought the golden opportunities to other manufacturers, including Samsung, to arise.
                      In 2011, Samsung only accounted for 15 percent of the total mobile phone products consumed in the market. The figure rose to 23 percent in 2012. However, if considering the value, Samsung’s share market increase is sharper, from 17.8 percent to 30.6 percent.
                      Especially, in the last months of 2012, Samsung, while accounting for 21 percent of the market share only, had its products’ value accounting for 34 percent of the total market value.
                      It seems that Samsung has left the popular mobile phone market segment opened, while concentrating on smart phones. The popular mobile market segment is believed to be less profitable than the smart phone segment. The South Korean manufacturer targets the high income earners who like using fashionable products.
                      Also according to GFK, in terms of quantity, in the popular mobile phone market, Nokia’s market share increased from 55.9 percent in 2011 to 65.5 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, Samsung’s has been hovering around 15.1-15.3 percent.
                      In the smart phone market segment, Samsung’s market share has been expanding steadily from 22.7 percent in 2011 to 46 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, Nokia’s decreased sharply from 46.6 percent in 2011 to 24.2 percent in 2012.
                      The fact that PSD, which was a distributor of Nokia’s products in Vietnam with 45 percent of market share, said goodbye to Nokia and joined hands with Samsung after that, is an evidence showing that it’s very difficult to obtain the market, but it’s even more difficult to retain it.
                      PSD began distributing Nokia’s products in mid 2007, when there were three other Nokia product distributors already, including FPT.
                      In 2009, the amount of Nokia phones distributed by PSD and FPT was equal. Both of them distributed the number of products accounting for 95 percent of the total Nokia’s products sold in Vietnam.
                      As such, the parting of PSD would be the bad news for Nokia when implementing its business plans in the Vietnamese market.
                      NCDT

                      And lately we had the first product review in Unboxing the cheapest Nokia phone manufactured in Vietnam [Vietnam News World Vietbao.vn, June 21, 2013] as translated by Google

                      Cheap phone Nokia 105 were present at the shelves nationwide priced at 450,000 [$21.4]. This is the first phone to be manufactured in the factory of Nokia Vietnam Bac Ninh.
                      imageBoxes for Nokia 105 – Nokia’s first phone manufactured in Vietnam.
                      Right on the box of the product, you will easily see the words: “the first Nokia phone made in Vietnam”. We can say that this product line is the first important step of the Nokia factory Vietnam to continue rolling out other products in the future, ensuring good price, suitable for Vietnamese consumers .
                      Nokia 105 has candybar design with a lightweight of 70 grams, but the machine is quite thick with dimensions of 14.3 mm. The cover of the Nokia 105 good plastic material used to manufacture, ensuring that the machine works well when accidentally falling or collision.
                      Nokia equip 1.45 inch color display with resolution of 128 x 128 pixels and supports 65,000 colors. Capacity 800 mAh battery provides talk time up to 12 hours and 30 minutes. At the same time, the machine also supports the practical functionality for everyday life, like the popular phones like its previous FM Radio and flashlight.
                      Currently Nokia 105 to be sold at the price of 450,000 Vietnam dong [$21.4].
                      imageNokia 105 comes just charger.
                      image
                      Front with 1.45 inch color screen and buttons with rubber material.
                      image
                      It has a thickness of 14.3 mm.
                      image
                      The back break with the Nokia logo.
                      image
                      Nokia 105 integrated flashlight as the phone lines of its previous high.
                      image
                      Bottom edge is a microphone.
                      image
                      SIM slot.
                      image
                      Screen interface.
                      image
                      Menu interface.
                      image
                      Playing games on the Nokia 105.
                      Vietbao.vn (According Zing News)

                      At the same time we had the news that Samsung Secures Tax Breaks for Vietnam Handset Factory [cellular-news, June 20, 2013] which is showing quite well how Samsung has about 3 years of advantage in terms of exploiting the Vietnamese manufacturing capability:

                      Samsung Electronics has secured a range of tax breaks for its new factories being constructed in Northern Vietnam.

                      The company’s US$2 billion cellphone and tablet assembly plant won’t have to pay tax for the first four years of operation and will get a 50 percent break for the next 12 years.

                      The company also plans three more factories, including a US$1.2 billion investment in a semiconductor facility and each of those will see their land rent reduced by half.

                      The four factories are based in the Yen Binh Industrial Zone in Pho Yen District, and the first — the handset factory is due to start production by the end of this year.

                      Samsung’s exports from Vietnam last year were worth $12.7 billion, more than 11 percent of the country’s total exports — although it also imported around US$11.3 billion of components. The company employs around 24,000 staff in the country.

                      Vietnam is increasingly seen as an alternative to China, where rising wages along the coastal regions and increased international pressure on workers conditions are making the area less appealing for future investment.

                      And Work begins on Samsung’s largest cell phone factory [VietNam News, March 26, 2013]

                      image
                      THAI NGUYEN (VNS)— Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung yesterday applauded Samsung’s decision to expand operations in Viet Nam, adding that it would contribute to the strategic partnership between Viet Nam and South Korea.
                      He was attending the Samsung Group’s ground-breaking event for the construction of a US$3.2 billion high-tech complex in the northern province of Thai Nguyen.
                      The complex, which will house Samsung’s largest mobile phone factory, is expected to provide jobs for thousands of local people.
                      It will also contribute tens of billions of US dollars to the country’s annual export turnover, while boosting the development of the electronics support industry in the northern region of Viet Nam.
                      Dung spoke highly of South Korean businesses’ operation in Viet Nam and pledged to create favourable conditions for them and other foreign businesses to do business in the country on the basis of friendship, co-operation and equality.
                      The same day, the Prime Minister held a working session with provincial leaders where he urged Thai Nguyen Province to use its potential and advantages in agro-forestry and industry.
                      Dung affirmed the Government’s policy of creating the best possible conditions for Thai Nguyen to develop into an economic, political, cultural and educational centre in the northern midland and mountainous region.
                      On the province’s famous tea trees, the leader said Thai Nguyen should develop industrial-scale processing for the product, which was key for the locality’s poverty reduction.
                      He also urged Thai Nguyen to improve the investment environment, reforming administrative procedures and attracting high-tech projects.
                      Last year, the province recorded an economic growth of 7.2 per cent, generated jobs for 22,600 people and reduced the percentage of poor households by 2.93 per cent.
                      Particularly, tea trees have been a lifeline for poor families in the province with the crop growing on a total area of 18,500 hectares. — VNS

                      Samsung aims to sell 510 million phones [The Korea Times, Dec 23, 2012]

                      GUMI, North Gyeongsang Province – Samsung Electronics, one half of the global duopoly on smartphones, claims 2013 will be the year when it separates itself from bitter rival Apple.

                      The Korean technology giant is the world’s largest maker of mobile phones and aims to ship a record 510 million handsets next year.
                      That would be a 20 percent increase from the estimated 420 million devices this year, according to sources from the company and its suppliers. It shipped around 288 million handsets through the first nine months of the year and is expecting a global Christmas bump.
                      ”Of the 510 million handsets it plans to sell, 390 million are slated as smartphones and 120 million, feature and budget phones,’’ according to an executive from one of Samsung’s key suppliers.
                      Aside of its Galaxy smartphones and tablets, which have emerged as the main competitors to Apple’s iPhones and iPads, Samsung is planning to release a lineup of devices powered by Microsoft’s Windows 8 mobile operating system. It will also push products that support TIZEN software, which Samsung jointly developed with semiconductor rival Intel.
                      ”There are some possibilities that smartphone demand will slow in general. But we are seeing new demand for devices using Long Term Evolution (LTE),’’ said Kim Hyun-joon, an executive at Samsung’s telecommunications division.
                      Another source said that Samsung expects to manufacture 240 million devices at its Vietnamese factory, 170 million in China and 20 million in India to complement the 40 million to be produced in its Korean factory in Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province.
                      In order to effectively save costs on manufacturing, logistics and delivery time, Samsung will spend $2.2 billion on its handset factories in the Vietnamese towns of Bac Ninh and Thai Nguyen by 2020 to boost output.
                      ”By offering better pricing to consumers in developing nations, we will find new growth. This will also enable consumers in developed nations like North America and Europe to buy our LTE devices at more affordable prices,’’ said a Samsung official.
                      The plan contrasts a previous outlook by leading market researcher Gartner, that predicted the Korean firm to sell between 250 million and 300 million smartphones next year. In 2011, Samsung sold 97.4 million smartphones, up from 23.9 million and 0.6 million in 2010 and 2009, respectively.
                      Analysis from HIS iSuppli, another research firm, noted that Samsung is set to seize the global mobile handset market’s top ranking this year, ending the 14-year reign of Nokia.
                      The report projects Samsung will account for 29 percent of worldwide mobile shipments, up from 24 percent in 2011, while Nokia’s share will drop to 24 percent, down from 30 percent last year.
                      ”Samsung’s proven ability to quickly produce and replace a wide range of handsets aimed at several different markets contrasts with Nokia’s struggles and Apple’s difficulties that are mainly related to parts sourcing problems,’’ said Hwang Min-seong, an analyst at Samsung Securities.
                      Hwang expects Samsung’s handset division to raise its profit to 21 trillion won [$18.16B] next year from an expected 19 trillion [$16.43B] won this year.

                      Samsung Vietnam SEV-Project [SAMOO Architects & ENGINEERS, 2011]

                      imageLocation
                      Hanoi, Vietnam
                      Program
                      Industrial
                      Area
                      80,727㎡
                      Floors
                      2 Stories
                      Year
                      2011

                      This was started 3 years ago with the declaration that Samsung Boosting Handset Output in China to Beat Nokia [The Korea Times, March 22, 2010]

                      Samsung Electronics plans to produce over half of its mobile handsets at its three Chinese facilities this year.

                      For better logistics and labor costs, the world’s second-biggest manufacturer of mobile phones is giving more responsibility to its Chinese affiliates, while the company is leaning toward high-end and pricy phones for its local line, officials told The Korea Times Monday.
                      According to Samsung and industry officials, it has been set to make over 210 million units or some 80 percent of the total outside South Korea in 2010.
                      Shin Jong-kyun, president of Samsung’s telecommunication division, which is in charge of mobile phones, earlier said the company will sell a maximum 270 million handsets including 18 million smartphones by the end of this year.
                      Samsung’s factory in Huizhou, China, is expected to produce 72.9 million units (27 percent), while another China-based factory in Tianjin will manufacture 70.2 million (26 percent).
                      The other Chinese facility in Shenzhen will produce some 7 million handsets, the officials said.
                      A plant in Vietnam will handle 37.8 million units (14 percent), while 59.4 million (22 percent) will be produced from the local line in Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province. Lines in Brazil and India will produce 19 million and 10 million, respectively.
                      Over the past five years, the proportion of Samsung’s mobile handset output that has been manufactured overseas has risen dramatically.
                      The consumer electronics giant is seeking to cut costs and use these savings to invest in the development of new technologies such as touch-screens and powerful mobile software used to drive the devices’ operating systems.
                      It can be used to compete with other international brands such as Nokia, Apple of the United States and Research In Motion (RIM) in Canada.
                      Samsung’s proportion of overseas mobile phone production is forecast to reach a record 78 percent throughout this year. The proportion has steadily risen from 25 percent in 2005 to over 70 percent in 2009, they said.
                      “The biggest change was that Samsung has given more production authority to its Huizhou affiliate. Better cost cuts in logistics and labor had been the top considerations,” a high-ranking industry official said.

                      image

                      Samsung Goes South
                      Samsung Electronics has lowered its portion of mobile phone production in Tianjin to 26 percent from last year’s 33.5 percent. In contrast, the company raised the levels in Huizhou and Vietnam, respectively.
                      “Due to cost factors, Samsung’s key lines in mobile phones are going to the south. Better prices for labor and logistics mean better cost competitiveness, boosting edges in low- and mid-tier phone segments,” a Samsung official said, asking not to be identified.
                      Huizhou is a city located in central Guangdong Province. The city looks out to the South China Sea to the south, while the city Tianjin is near China’s capital city of Beijing.
                      Officials say an increased output plan at its factory in Vietnam has also been matching Samsung’s realignment moves in production.
                      Last October, Samsung opened a $700 million manufacturing plant in the northern province of Bac Ninh, Vietnam. It is its first foreign-owned handset factory and the 7th Samsung plant operating outside South Korea.
                      The factory’s estimated production capacity in 2009 was 1.5 million units per month, however, that will increase to 6 million per month by 2010, and 9 million by 2011, according to representatives.
                      “It’s natural to give more authority in production to regions that have competitive edges in costs as Samsung has been expanding its output in the global market,” a company spokesman said.
                      Its local line is handling high-end and pricey phones such as AM OLED-embedded devices. Samsung is pushing for the so-called AM OLED phones to emerging and some of developed markets.
                      The company has a plan to ramp up the production of AM OLED-embedded smartphones domestically, though the chief of its phone business Shin Jong-kyun declined to comment.
                      “By sending most of its production outside South Korea, Samsung is managing to keep costs low enough to appeal to consumers while keeping its profit margins healthy by selling premium devices in developed markets such as North America and Western Europe,” So Hyun-chul, an analyst at Shinhan Financial, said.

                      imageNokia in its Sights?

                      Analysts and Samsung officials say the transitional efforts will help the handset powerhouse narrow the market gap with the Finland-based Nokia.
                      Last year, Nokia sold 431.8 million handsets worldwide, taking up 38.2 percent of the market share.
                      But this was a decrease of 1.6 percent from the previous year, according to research firms.
                      Samsung, however, saw a 3.3 percent increase to 20.1 percent during the same period.
                      “Samsung is injecting more resources for its smartphone-related sectors. But at the same time, it is concentrating on shipping more feature phones for bigger shares,” the company official added.
                      It lagged with its fewer smartphone offerings, but has vowed to attack the market aggressively in the U.S. and elsewhere.
                      Samsung is hoping to pick up smartphone market shares from faltering Motorola, but the U.S. company itself has been waging a comeback of sorts with its new Android handsets.
                      Unfortunately, it only has a 3 percent of share in the smartphone market, according to recent reports.
                      From 2005 to 2009, Samsung’s overall mobile phone shipments grew by 101 percent from 103.8 million units in 2005, according to BMI research.
                      The company expects to raise its global market share from 21 percent to around 23-24 percent. Meanwhile, Nokia’s market share is predicted to remain between 37 percent and 38 percent level in 2010.
                      Lee Seung-hyuck, an analyst at Woori Investment, expects Samsung will take up a record 21.5 percent of global shares in the first quarter of this year by shipping 63 million handsets during the January-March period.

                      Which was reviewed recently by eager Japanese as well in their Dial Vietnam For Cheap Labor [The Nikkei Asian Review June 12 edition, 2013] article:

                      HANOI, SEOUL, TOKYO — About 30 minutes from an international airport, one of the world’s largest consumer electronics makers has created a town in what is, despite its proximity to the airport, rural Vietnam. It is complete with restaurants, cafes and apartment buildings. And let us not forget the big production plant where the town’s 30,000 or so residents work.
                      While the Mekong River basin is becoming increasingly linked, Vietnam is also advancing on its own, taking advantage of its strategic location and Asia’s changing business conditions. The growth of manufacturing in Vietnam is illustrative of how labor costs in China, the world’s factory, are becoming too expensive for some global goliaths.
                      Powerhouse
                      The company town in the Yen Phong Industrial Zone is about half an hour from Noi Bai International Airport, and perhaps a bit closer to Hanoi, the country’s capital. On a map, the three places look like the points of a triangle. The town was built by Samsung Electronics Vietnam, a unit of South Korean powerhouse Samsung Electronics Co.
                      This new facility in Bac Ninh Province produces many of the company’s handheld devices, such as the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note II, around the clock. Its output came to 120 million units last year, accounting for 30% of Samsung’s worldwide handheld shipments. This year, the number is expected to climb to 240 million units, with smartphones making up much of the increase.
                      Heart of the action
                      The global smartphone market will expand to 918 million units this year, according to estimates from U.S. research firm IDC. Samsung’s Vietnamese production base will likely supply more than 20% of this volume.
                      This puts the Southeast Asian nation hot on the heels of the giant economy to the north, which has been responsible for roughly half the world’s smartphone output. And Vietnam is not just where the final product is being assembled; it is also becoming a hub for electronic parts makers, mostly to feed Samsung’s smartphone production.
                      Samsung decided to set up shop in northern Vietnam to take advantage of the region’s low labor costs as well as its proximity to South Korea, Taiwan and China, where most key smartphone and mobile phone parts are still made.
                      imageAccording to Ryo Ikebe, an assistant professor who studies economic collaboration between Vietnam and China’s south at Fukui Prefectural University, the trade of integrated circuits and other electronic components between the two countries has been surging since last year.

                      Samsung also flies in DRAM memory chips, organic electroluminescent panels and other core components from South Korea.

                      A facility has been set up in the town for the sole purpose of handling Samsung’s cargo. Customs procedures, X-ray inspections and other clearance steps normally carried out at airports are done right beside the factory.
                      It is estimated that nearly 3,000 metric tons of Samsung products are exported from Noi Bai airport every month, accounting for 40% of all cargo leaving the airport.
                      To handle all the Samsung shipments, Korean Air Lines Co. lands six large cargo planes a week at the airport. Asiana Airlines Inc., another South Korean carrier, comes by three times a week. A lot of the shipments stop in South Korea on their way to Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
                      Ikebe believes that because Greater Hanoi is only 1,000km or so from China’s Guangdong Province, the entire region has the potential to develop into a single economic bloc, with specialized manufacturers operating symbiotically on both sides of the border.
                      Vietnam exported $12.7 billion worth of handsets and parts in 2012. That is double the previous year’s total and 11% of the country’s overall exports. Thanks to the surge, Vietnam recorded its first trade surplus in 19 years.
                      More coming
                      The country is about to become an even bigger smartphone production base. Nokia Corp. has decided to build its own plant in Bac Ninh. The world’s No. 2 cellphone maker could begin production there this summer.
                      For Japan’s electronic parts makers, Samsung has become a major client on par with Apple Inc. Inspired by the Korean giant’s big footprint in Vietnam, some Japanese companies are rushing to expand their own production in the country.
                      Meiko Electronics Co., a maker of printed-circuit boards, is expanding the capacity of its Hanoi factory. It will double the facility’s production capacity by bringing in equipment from China. And from fiscal 2014 onward, it will go on a Y4-5 billion ($39.6-49.5 million) per-year investment binge, all the money going into production equipment.
                      Toko Inc. is a midsize company that makes high-performance coils used in smartphone power circuits. It has been supplying Samsung and other companies from its factory in Da Nang, a port city in central Vietnam. Current production is 130 million units per month, up 10% from the end of last year.
                      Foster Electric Co., which makes the earphones that come with smartphones, is mechanizing the manufacturing of diaphragms at its factory in Vietnam.
                      And Panasonic Corp. last year set up a factory for multilayer printed-circuit boards in Vietnam. It sees potential in supplying the key part to Samsung.
                      Samsung has suppliers within the Samsung group for the components that go inside its smartphones. But the company is expected to buy even more parts from outside suppliers now that its smartphone sales are going ballistic.
                      Given that so many of today’s smartphone parts are feather light, Samsung can still make a tidy profit even if it flies in parts from makers based in Japan, China, South Korea and Taiwan.
                      That said, if the number of smartphones produced in Vietnam continues to increase, it will be cheaper to mass-produce the parts locally. Toward that end, Vietnam’s government is already busy showing foreign parts makers around the Yen Phong Industrial Zone.
                      — Translated from an article by Nikkei staff writers Manabu Ito, Kentaro Ogura and Yoshio Takatsuki

                      The trend is obvious, but Why Vietnam is the new China for the global electronics giants [whathifi.com, Feb 19, 2013]

                      There’s a problem with China.
                      It’s not the oft-rehearsed arguments about British jobs being exported there, products bearing ‘once-great’ British names being made in Chinese factories or even whole British companies falling into Chinese hands.
                      No, the problem with China is that it’s getting a bit too expensive for its own good, thanks to rising standards of living, the demand for production capacity there, and the growing aspirations of Chinese workers – they’re now not just making the products we all buy, but thinking of being able to buy them, too.
                      And that’s leading ever more companies to look for new countries in which to manufacture, with serious investments being made in the likes of Brazil – where one company is planning five new plants – and Vietnam, the target of substantial further investment from South Korea’s two consumer electronics big-hitters, LG and Samsung.
                      It’s one of the clichés of the modern age: products once made by proud British craftsmen in brown shop-coats and flat caps, the stub of a pencil behind one ear and a roll-up behind the other, now being put together by slave-labour Chinese teenagers working night and day for a pittance.
                      The truth – as in this IAG factory where Audiolab, Quad and more are made – is often far from that myth, but the fact remains that yes, Chinese wages are still much lower than in Europe or the US, for example.
                      20% annual wage rises
                      However, they have been rising, and fast – by up to 20% a year for the past half-decade.
                      For example Foxconn, the Taiwan-based company that’s both one of the biggest employers in China, with a million-plus-strong workforce in its 13 factories there, and one of the best-known – due to the fact it makes iPods, iPhones and iPads alongside Kindles, Wiis and PlayStations and much more – , hiked its workers’ wages by 16-25% last year.
                      That was just the most recent of several wage increases on a similar scale, and such rises have led some economic forecasters to suggest that China is in great danger of pricing itself out of the market, predicting that the cost of manufacturing there could double, or even treble, by the end of this decade.
                      Cheaper in America?
                      Indeed, some commentators even suggest that if the costs of shipping, and Chinese workers’ wages, continue to rise as they have, within a few years it’s going to just as cost-effective to make products in North America as in China.
                      Certainly the companies once looking to China for cost-effective – oh, OK then, cheap – manufacturing are casting their net wider.
                      Foxconn has announced that, although it’s planning more factories in China, it’s investing almost $500m in five new plants in Brazil, creating 10,000 jobs, and three more in Malaysia, to add to other operations in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Mexico – not to mention the joint-venture Sharp LCD plants in Japan, which it now more or less runs, and which it is expected to acquire completely at some point.
                      And for both LG and Samsung, Vietnam seems to be the new frontier: both companies already have plants there; both are planning significant investment and expansion in the country.
                      LG is already manufacturing all four of its major product lines – TVs, fridges, washing machines and air conditioners – at factories in Vietnam, but is now set to invest $300m in a new plant in Haiphong, the country’s third city.
                      The new facility, set to be up and running by 2020, will enable LG to integrate its existing operations in the port city, east of Hanoi, and surrounding areas, enabling it to meet growing local demand as well as having capacity for exports.
                      It’s also considering the manufacture of mobile phones at the facility.
                      The plan will see production being shifted from China to the new plants, LG citing lower labour costs and the availability of skilled workers, and the company hopes it will be sweetened by Vietnamese government incentives including reduced prices for land leases and extended exemptions from corporation tax.
                      Not to be outdone, Samsung already has in place plans to build at least one more plant to assemble mobile phones and other hi-tech electronics in Thai Nguyen province, north of Hanoi, and possibly a third.
                      It already has a factory employing 24,000 and making 11m products a month in Vietnam, and expected to export goods worth $10bn this year.
                      Since opening that first plant (above) in 2009, it has just about doubled output each year, although some Vietnamese commentators question whether this is giving the country a mobile phone industry, or just an assembly one for foreign investors.
                      One expert on the country’s mobile phone industry last year bemoaned the fact that only the plastic casework for mobile phones was actually manufactured locally, and accounted for just one percent of the value of the finished product.
                      Samsung’s new plant in Thai Nguyen, the land lease for which was signed a couple of weeks ago, is the subject of a $700m investment, with Samsung chairman Lee Kun Hee, seen above visiting Samsung’s existing production plant in Vietnam, saying that there are plenty of further opportunities for investment in the country.
                      He’s probably right – after all, economic analysts are already describing Vietnam as having the potential to become the ‘new industrial factory of the world’.
                      The process by which recent industrialisation started in Japan, moved to South Korea, Taiwan and the like, then on to Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, and has settled for now in China. will, it seems, just keep on rolling.
                      Writing this piece, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a press trip to the Far East many years ago, when a number of journalists were helicoptered into a factory in Thailand – one of three we visited that day owned by a Japanese company making speaker drive units.
                      One of our number commented on the large number of young Thai women working on the production lines, and our host, the factory boss, explained to us that they were brought in from agricultural areas all over the country.
                      They’d never left their rural homes before, had taken some time to adapt to the conveniences of modern living – especially the ‘conveniences’, our Japanese host stressed – and had been specially chosen for their small nimble fingers, especially suited to handling the tiny precision components used on the lines.
                      ‘Not to mention being very, very cheap,’ muttered one of my fellow travellers…
                      Written by Andrew Everard
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                      Windows Embedded is an enterprise business now, like the whole Windows business, with Handheld and Compact versions to lead in the overall Internet of Things market as well

                      OR Windows Embedded: Recommitting to x86 across all of the edge devices of the future intelligent systems of enterprise customers and consumers while pushing ARM along its current positions in mobile and real-time, which is essentially corresponding to the Windows 7 licensing and pricing described by this source 
                      OR Windows Embedded enterprise solutions strategy based on creating actionable operation intelligence extended to edge devices in retail and hospitality, healthcare, manufacturing, and automotive industries
                      OR Capitalizing on the Internet of Things [WindowsEmbedded YouTube channel, March 20, 2013] and Transforming Business 
                      OR Building Edge Devices & Intelligent Solutions [WindowsEmbedded YouTube channel, March 20, 2013]
                      OR (as stemming from The future of Windows Embedded: from standalone devices to intelligent systems [this same ‘Experiencing the Cloud’ blog, March 9-29, 2012], note however that ARM architecture support was delivered only in Handheld and Compact versions despite original hint included into that post)
                      An intelligent system built on Windows Embedded—with the expertise of the extensive community of established Windows Embedded partners—extends the power of Windows and Microsoft technologies to edge devices. Our portfolio of products powers solutions that meet unique industry needs and span enterprises of any size and complexity.
                      coinciding with:
                      1.  Microsoft betting on boosting Windows RT demand with top level ARM SoCs from its SoC partners, Windows 8.1 enhancements, Outlook addition to the Office 2013 RT and very deep tactical discounts to its OEM partners for tablet offerings of more value and capability [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, June 6, 2013] and
                      2. “Cloud first” from Microsoft is ready to change enterprise computing in all of its facets [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, June 4, 2013], as well as
                      3. Visual Studio 2012 Update 2 is here [The Visual Studio Blog, April 4, 2013] which according to ANNOUNCING VISUAL STUDIO 2012 UPDATE 2 CTP 2 [BlendInsider, Jan 30, 2013] providing the utmost effectivity in developer productivity, finally achieving uniformity in XAML based embedded user experience design as well with one version of Blend for everything (highlighted inserts are mine):
                      image

                      as Windows Azure is providing a leading cloud application platform for all that (download): image
                      and an excellent  testimony to that is given in Discovering Intelligent Systems at work in Manufacturing [Windows Embedded Blog, Nov 27, 2012] from which it is important to include the basic story (just substitute “’intelligent’screwdriver” with “any enterprise or consumer device enhanced with ‘intelligence’”, “larger network in the factory” with “classic and mobile Internet” and the “backend” with “Windows Azure” to understand the enormous potential which is becoming available for Microsoft in terms of the Internet of Things market):

                      Hey everyone, recently our Windows Embedded team was on a customer site visit in Europe, and we came across a fantastic example of Intelligent Systems in action. While we were touring an automobile manufacturing plant, we observed the line using electric screwdrivers like the one pictured below. They had two cables running into them. Power and Ethernet. We asked the tour director about the network cable, and they explained that the screwdriver was actually an ‘intelligent’ screwdriver.
                      We smiled at the thought of this basic piece of hardware actually being able to think about what it was doing. Then he explained it and we were amazed. The screwdriver was hung off a manufacturing line Windows Embedded Compact PC that was connected to a larger network in the factory. The backend provided the screwdriver engineering specs about the screw going into that location on the car, including the required torque and even the number of revolutions that Class 1 screw should take to achieve the desired torque. So, when the technician popped the screw into the chassis, all they had to do was fire the trigger, and everything was automatic. They even had some scenarios where this was done using robotic arms instead of people.
                      imageWhen the screw was installed in the car, a data point was generated that came back down the network cable and registered in the factory database. Basically, an ‘OK’, or ‘NOT OK’ was registered, and in the case of either the torque being missed, or that torque being achieved in an unexpected number of revolutions, a flag was popped to investigate further. In summary, the car would not get off the production line if the quality bar wasn’t met.
                      We have learned since this visit that a number of our partners, and several large automotive manufacturers have deployed this technology in their factories both here in North America and in Europe.
                      The volume of parts going into just one car is massive, a true big data story, and the business doesn’t necessarily want to know about the hundreds of thousands of screws installed in their factory. What they do want to know is when a threshold like an engineering spec is missed. This type of approach enables business critical data to be presented, relevant, and not washed out in the volumes of activities/events happening minute by minute on the factory floor. …

                      In the IDC iView, sponsored by Microsoft, The Rise of Intelligent Systems: Connecting Enterprises and Smart Devices in Seamless Networks [April 18, 2012], you can find the following market forecast:

                      embedded and intelligent systems represent a much larger opportunity than the PC, tablet, or even the smartphone market. IDC estimates that the intelligent systems market will grow from 19% of all major electronic system unit shipments in 2010, to more than 27% of all systems by 2016. Revenue for the intelligent systems market will grow from more than $649 billion in 2012, to more than $1.4 trillion in 2016 (PCs and smartphones excluded from market-size numbers).

                      On the market for more than five years and with more than 5 million cars sold already, but in joint development since 2005, Ford SYNC based on Microsoft embedded technology is the best showcase of both the market potential and the level of achievements possible in this post-PC market for Microsoft:

                      The Ford Focus now comes with the optional Ford Sync system, which provides voice control and smartphone app integration. Jason Johnson, of Ford, takes us through a detailed demonstration of the system, showing off its ability to recognise navigation and phone book commands, as well as its wireless hot spot feature.

                      Soon we will have further advancements: Ford to Show the Smarter Way to Get There at Computex 2013 [press release, May 23, 2013] which you can follow on a special Ford Motor Company – Computex FB site which currently contains teaser videos about Future Technology Trends, Open Innovation and Device Interaction featuring Microsoft as well(note that those things are quite necessary as competition is getting stronger)

                      • Ford will be the only automaker at Computex 2013, the largest computer exhibition in Asia
                      • Ford will make several major announcements on its smart technologies for both Taiwan and Asia Pacific and Africa markets
                      • Ford to showcase its most advanced class-leading technologies, designed to take the driving experience for customers to a new level
                      Inserted later: Ford Press Conference Highlights at Computex 2013  [FordAPA YouTube channel, June 6, 2013]
                      Ford Motor Company today announced it will bring its Ford Developer Program to markets in Asia Pacific and Africa to allow developers to create voice-activated apps for the car, further reinforcing its position as a global leader in technology.
                        TAIPEI, Taiwan, May 23, 2013 – Ford Motor Company will show the Smarter Way to Get There at Computex 2013 with the most advanced class-leading technologies to further enhance the driving experience for customers.
                        Ford will be the only automaker at Asia’s biggest computer exhibition from June 4-8, 2013, where it will make several major announcements for both Taiwan and Asia Pacific.
                        “As one of the world’s largest and most influential technology shows, Computex is the ideal platform for Ford to showcase how our smart technologies are improving the driving experience for our customers in the digital age, ” said John Lawler, chairman and CEO, Ford Motor China.
                        “In a world where consumers want to be connected all the time, be it at home, in the office or in their cars, we have a great opportunity to provide driver-connect technologies in our vehicles which enable drivers to stay connected through voice commands while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. The technologies we are bringing to our vehicles not only give our customers a connected driving experience, they also make that experience simple, safe and personalized.”
                        The Ford stand at Computex will not only feature the company’s most advanced technology developments, but also the all-new Ford Kuga, dubbed by Ford as the “Smarter SUV” because of its fuel economy, versatility and new technology that makes driving easier and more fun.
                        Inserted later: Ford at Computex 2013 – Panel Discussion
                        [FordAPA YouTube channel, June 5, 2013]
                        On June 4, Ford will be part of the Computex Smart Living Industry Forum at which Edward Pleet, Connected Services Director, Ford Motor Company, Asia Pacific and Africa, and Europe will discuss The Smart Living, Networked Society.
                        The Ford booth will be located at Taipei Word Trade Center Nangang Exhibition Hall, 4th Floor, booth number M2005.

                        image

                        OR Windows Embedded: Recommitting to x86 across all of the edge devices of the future intelligent systems of enterprise customers and consumers while pushing ARM along its current positions in mobile and real-time, which is essentially corresponding to the Windows 7 licensing and pricing described by this source as (here only WIN7 COMPACT (CE) has ARM support as well):image
                        (click here or on the above image to see the full table, note also that the true enterprise licensing via even cheaper SELECT and EA (Enterprise Agreement) programs is not shown in the table, for explanations also see WES 7 “E” & “P”, WES SKU Differences, FES, FES 7 Pro, FES 7 Ultimate, WES vs FES, FES Pro & Ultimate SKU Differences, Win7 Compact (CE), Win7 Compact (CE) SKU Differences, Win7 Compact (CE) OS Components and “SKU rationale” from Microsoft) on which I overlaid the corresponding Windows Embedded 8 products and their already known (like General Embedded / NR / Entry for Windows Embedded Compact 2013 to be generally available on June 13) or supposed (like Standard ?…? / Standard ?Enterprise? for the Windows Embedded 8 Standard) SKUs. 

                        imageNote that the above table could be misleading since it is just representing low-volume purchases while Microsoft is using License Packs as well where the per unit price is non-linearly decreasing with the number of licenses in the Pack. Fortunately I’ve found current trade data records for WINDOWS EMBEDDED STANDARD 8 EMB ESD OEI RUNTIME -7WT-00094(N-77P-3153) [April 9, 2013] and WIN PRO EMBEDDED 8 EMB ESD OEI -42C-00051(N-77P-3154) [April 9, 2013] from Taiwan to India which I could use as Model 1 and Model 2 for supposed pricing of the Windows Embedded 8 Standard, see the results on the above right. This could certainly be not so steep in reality (e.g. the model numbers were “more decreased” in trade declarations for the larger License Packs representing higher absolute value in order to decrease the absolute tax even more) as it is only giving a kind of idea for License Packs.

                        It is also important to include here the argumentation why Isn’t a Linux or Android solution cheaper? [one of FAQs answered by Avnet Embedded, May 1, 2013]:

                        Linux or Android solutions may seem cheaper initially. However, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) should be taken into account as a useful metric for assessing the overall cost impact of your investment. For example:

                        • Acquisition costs— Inexpensive comparable products can cost as much or more than Windows to acquire and support.
                        • Total costs—Acquisition costs are a very small component of TCO. Even when the costs of different operating systems are comparable, research shows that Windows often offers a lower TCO because of cost advantages in the other, larger components, such as staffing and downtime.
                        • Cost vs. Value—In addition to what you must pay for, if you are making an investment in IT you should also consider what you will get in return; including features or capabilities that improve productivity and deliver additional value.   

                        To find out more about the TCO of Windows Embedded, read ‘The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) benefits of Windows Embedded software’ ebook

                        If the runtime license still looks too expensive than it is important to consider that we are talking here about very special types of devices with the x86 based Windows Embedded 8. Here is how Microsoft representing that x86-only focus on the top of “edge devices of the future intelligent systems of enterprise customers“: image
                        This has even very strong industry focus: Retail (from Kiosk to ATM), Manufacturing and Health Care. So we can proceed to other post titles which are equally important to properly represent the redefined Windows Embedded positioning:

                        OR Windows Embedded enterprise solutions strategy based on creating actionable operation intelligence extended to edge devices in retail and hospitality, healthcare, manufacturing, and automotive industries

                        OR Capitalizing on the Internet of Things [WindowsEmbedded YouTube channel, March 20, 2013] and watch also: Transforming Business

                        The Internet of Things is prompting businesses to re-think how they use their digital assets. Kevin Dallas, GM of Windows Embedded at Microsoft, tells GigaOM Research’s Adam Lesser how companies can build intelligent systems to take advantage of the data their devices are already generating, for better business intelligence.

                        OR Building Edge Devices & Intelligent Solutions [WindowsEmbedded YouTube channel, March 20, 2013]

                        To be a part of the Internet of Things, businesses need the right kinds of devices. Kevin Dallas, GM of Windows Embedded at Microsoft, tells GigaOM Research’s Adam Lesser what OEM/ODMs should think about as they help their customers build intelligent systems to take advantage of the data their devices are already generating.

                        Other videos in the “Building Edge Devices & Intelligent Solutions” series:
                        Dell Wyse, HP, Omnicell and ParTech, Inc. I will embedd here even Bravo Outdoor Advertising Reaches Greater Heights With Intelligent System [WindowsEmbedded YouTube channel, Feb 11, 2013] as it shows very well how the range of edge devices could be hugely extended over the years (here with digital signage on the public transport in Ireland):

                        Adrian O’Farrell, former marketing director for Bravo Outdoor Advertising, describes the many benefits — flexibility, customization and cost — of digital signage as opposed to traditional advertising on the Dublin bus system.

                        OR
                        (as stemming from The future of Windows Embedded: from standalone devices to intelligent systems [this same ‘Experiencing the Cloud’ blog, March 9-29, 2012], note however that ARM architecture support was delivered only in Handheld and Compact versions despite original hint included into that post)

                        An intelligent system built on Windows Embedded—with the expertise of the extensive community of established Windows Embedded partners—extends the power of Windows and Microsoft technologies to edge devices. Our portfolio of products powers solutions that meet unique industry needs and span enterprises of any size and complexity.

                        From Learn more about intelligent systems subpage linked on Microsoft > Windows Embedded > Products and Solutions page [May 6, 2013] which page also contains:

                        Unlock intelligence with the full breadth of Microsoft technologies
                        What happens when devices at the edge of enterprise networks are connected to software and services in the back end or the cloud? Suddenly, a rich new source of information is available. The data has always been there—but today, an integrated stack of Microsoft technologies, extending from the server room to the customer’s fingertips, can help evolve business intelligence to operational intelligence by enabling enterprises to identify and act on opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach. For OEMs, the ability to harness the power of Microsoft technologies to capitalize on data gathered from edge devices translates to new and expanded potential for creating solutions for customers.

                        [The Big Shift From Software to Cloud Services video of Nov 13, 2012 from WindowsEmbedded YouTube channel is quite important to embed here, since it clearly shows that Microsoft is shifting from being a software company to a hardware & services company:]

                        Windows Azure Marketing General Manager Eron Kelly discusses Microsoft Corp.’s focus on delivering software through the cloud and the opportunity it creates for devices and intelligent systems.
                        One Microsoft, everything you need
                        When connecting industry devices powered by Windows Embedded to back-end systems running SQL Server on-premise—or secured by Azure in the cloud–business data is without boundaries. Those building intelligent system solutions will shorten development time, and simplify implementation and management by harnessing the full breadth of Microsoft technologies, from the rich, familiar experience of Windows, to simplified management with System Center and security with Forefront. Device manufacturers, evaluate your intelligent systems business capabilities with Microsoft.
                        Devices at the network edge: critical infrastructure for intelligent systems
                        Intelligent systems are revolutionizing business, and Microsoft is focused on driving innovation in a number of industries, including retail and hospitality, healthcare, manufacturing and automotive. Whether streamlining inventory management with industry handheld devices, securely handling medical records using a thin-client solution, reinventing the customer experience with point-of-sale devices, transforming factory efficiencies with embedded robots, or reimagining the driving experience with an in-car infotainment system, edge devices are all around us. Powering these devices with Windows Embedded harnesses Microsoft technologies to create customized solutions that address specific industry needs and drive innovation—and profits—forward.
                        According to IDC, unit shipments of IP-connected embedded systems, excluding mobile phones and PCs, will more than double by 2015, growing from approximately 1.4 billion in 2010 to over 3.3 billion.

                        Source: IDC, “Smart Tech Market Forecast and 2020 Vision.”

                        Specialized devices in the marketplace

                        Select an industry [with a latest video of May 6, 2013 embedded here for each from WindowsEmbedded YouTube channel, in order to let you see how Microsoft and Windows Embedded are providing the technology, strategic leadership and partner ecosystem that are driving innovation]

                        As far as the Windows Embedded 8 is concerned we have a pretty clear picture now:
                        Windows Embedded 8 [Microsoft > Windows Embedded > Products and Solutions > Windows Embedded Products page, May 6, 2013]

                        From this page the basic offerings (based on Windows 8) are the following ones:

                        The Windows Embedded 8 family of platforms and tools helps companies extend their operational intelligence [by harnessing the flow of data across industry devices on the edge and back-end systems], using their existing IT infrastructure and industry devices that securely exchange data with back-end systems. Offering the same rich, multi-touch experience as Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 , Windows Embedded 8 delivers compelling user experiences on a range of industry devices.

                        Windows Embedded 8 Pro

                        The power and flexibility of Windows 8 in a platform designed specifically for building edge devices [digital signs or point-of-service terminals in a store environment, handheld devices, robots on the manufacturing floor, or thin client devices in hospitals to transform business intelligence to actionable operation intelligence] and intelligent systems solutions [such as kiosks, medical devices, digital signage and HMI (human machine interface)].

                        • Deliver a user experience that’s identical to Windows 8.
                        • Design custom apps that feature the fast, fluid behavior of Windows 8.
                        • Security features such as Bitlocker and Trusted Boot.
                        • Compatible with line-of-business and productivity apps.

                        Learn more

                        [The Next Generation Digital Signage on Display at Computex 2012 video of June 25, 2012 from WindowsEmbedded YouTube channel is quite important to embed here, since it clearly discusses the direction for digital signage systems where full Windows compatibility is essential:]

                        Windows Embedded’s John Boladian and Intel’s Gark Tan show off today’s interactive digital signage that create an engaging and connected experience for customers through combined technologies from Kinect for Windows, Windows Embedded and Intel’s Core processors.

                        Windows Embedded 8 Standard

                        Offers flexibility for purpose-built devices, such as thin clients, kiosks [digital signage] and automated manufacturing solutions.

                        • Compelling UI, powerful app support, security and manageability of Windows 8.
                        • Modular format allows you to use only the components needed.
                        • Ensure consistent configuration with embedded specific lockdown features.
                        • Custom branding feature.

                        Learn more 

                        [The Demo: Windows 8 on Embedded Devices video of Nov 13, 2012 from WindowsEmbedded YouTube channel is quite important to embed here, since it clearly shows the actually best example of a purpose-built ruggedized device (from a long-time partner Motion Computing) based on Windows 8 which is a kind of prototype of similar “custom branded” devices based on Windows Embedded 8 Standard:]

                        Embedded Group Manager John Coyne shows off an industry application on a PC running Windows Embedded 8.

                        Windows Embedded 8 Industry

                        A consistent, streamlined application platform that shortens development cycles for specific industry device scenarios in retail, manufacturing and other industries [such as POS terminals, ATMs, automated manufacturing solutions and medical devices].

                        • Compelling UI, powerful app support, security and manageability of Windows 8.
                        • Ensure consistent configuration with lockdown features.
                        • Fixed platform provides a consistent development experience.
                        • Plug and play peripheral capabilities with POS for .NET.

                        Learn more

                        [The Intelligent Systems Making Vending Machines Fun at Computex 2012 video of June 25, 2012 from WindowsEmbedded YouTube channel is quite important to embed here, since it demonstrates an interactive smart vending machine where retail peripheral support is essential:]

                        Windows Embedded’s John Boladian and Intel’s Gark Tan discuss the value and growth of intelligent systems across devices and the cloud. By highlighting an interactive smart vending machine, they show that intelligent systems not only make the purchase experience fun, but give the vendor a competitive advantage through increased connectivity, data collection, manageability and business analytics

                        [Read also: Windows Embedded 8 Industry: A Modern OS for Industry Devices [Windows Embedded blog, April 2, 2013] “On the heels of our recent release of the Windows Embedded 8 platform, we’re making another member of the Windows Embedded family available today — Windows Embedded 8 Industry. David Wurster, Microsoft Windows Embedded’s senior product manager, has details on how Windows Embedded has evolved beyond point-of-service (POS) systems in retail to do much more in the Windows 8 era.”]

                        Compare Windows Embedded 8 products

                        Features
                        Pro
                        Standard
                        Industry
                        Rich multitouch, multi-user interface
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                        Connectivity features, including connected standby, mobile broadband and WiFi
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                        Powerful security features, including anti-malware support, BitLocker and Trusted Boot
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                        Lockdown support, including unified write filter, gesture and keyboard filters
                         
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                        Retail peripheral support

                         

                         

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                        Custom branding
                         
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                        Full Windows compatibility
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                        Fixed image
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                        Easy end-to-end device management with Microsoft System Center
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                        Modular OS
                         
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                        In addition there are the following complementary offerings, which are not based on Windows 8, are shown on the same page as well:

                        Windows Embedded 8 Handheld

                        Built on Windows Phone 8 to offer intuitive line-of-business applications [such as package delivery, mobile point-of-service, communication and collaboration, and scanning and data capture], with proven integration and security for industry handheld devices.

                        • Common application programming interfaces so that devices easily integrate.
                        • Manage devices across the network through the use of Windows Intune and SCCM 2012.
                        • Benefit from a large selection of Windows Phone 8 apps.
                        • Use the Windows Phone 8 SDK and Visual Studio 2012 to create custom apps.

                        Learn more

                        [Read also: Windows Embedded 8 Handheld joins the Windows Embedded 8 family [Windows Embedded blog, Jan 14, 2013] “Windows Embedded 8 Handheld is more than just the successor to Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5. It’s a complete re-imagination of the enterprise mobile device. With Windows Embedded 8 Handheld, the platform is now based on the Windows Phone 8, which itself is built on Windows 8. In addition to the highly-praised Windows Phone 8 user interface, both Windows Phone 8 and Windows Embedded 8 Handheld now share a common kernel with Windows.”]

                        Windows Server 2012 for Embedded Systems

                        Binary identical to Windows Server, a proven, highly reliable operating system for embedded applications in server appliances [such as of telecommunications, medical imaging, industrial automation and corporate headquarters]

                        • Enable informed, real-time decisions that keep your enterprise ahead of the competition.
                        • New storage features optimize the reliability and efficiency of data stores and scale to meet demand and reduce costs.
                        • Equip employees with insightful analysis and reporting services.

                        Learn more

                        Microsoft SQL Server 2012 for Embedded Systems

                        A database management tool, binary identical to Microsoft SQL Server, for use with purpose-built hardware running the Windows Embedded Server operating system [such as in telecommunications, medical imaging, industrial automation and corporate headquarters].

                        • Glean new business insights from data, and harness it in real time.
                        • Provide access to powerful data analysis and visualization tools.
                        • Flexibility and usability for auditing and security manageability across SQL Server environment.

                        Learn more

                        Windows Embedded 8 Mission and Vision (from  Microsoft’s Intelligent Systems [Microsoft > Windows Embedded > Intelligent Systems page, May 7, 2013])

                        Actionable data fueled by intelligent systems is the new currency for business, and its value is expected to increase exponentially, improving how people live, learn and conduct business. Gartner predicts that big data will “deliver transformational benefits to enterprises” in the coming 2-5 years, and that by 2015, enterprises that employ big data strategies “will begin to outperform their unprepared competitors within their industry sectors by 20 percentage in every available financial metric.” (Source: Hype Cycle for Cloud Computing, August, 2012.) With intelligent systems, Microsoft is helping organizations access and transform critical data into operational intelligence by providing a wide range of operating systems, tools, and systems and services.

                        Our mission is to drive business growth and competitive advantage for our enterprise customers and partners through technology innovations that capitalize on the vast potential of data. Your investment in Windows Embedded is backed by Microsoft’s proven commitment to intelligent systems through more than 15 years of experience in the market.

                        Industry Focus (from Microsoft’s Intelligent Systems [Microsoft > Windows Embedded > Intelligent Systems page, May 7, 2013])

                        Intelligent systems are revolutionizing business and Microsoft is focused on driving innovation in retail and hospitality, healthcare, manufacturing, and automotive industries. Customized solutions built with Windows Embedded harness Microsoft technologies to address specific industry needs by connecting devices on the edge of enterprise networks with existing IT infrastructureson a single platform. The resulting intelligent systems help retailers deliver personal, seamless and differentiated experiences to customers; manufacturers increase efficiencies at every level of the operation to deliver innovative services, implement best-practice operations and enhance planning and decision-making processes; healthcare institutions optimize patient care and outcomes by bringing people, processes and information together; and automakers evolve “intelligent car” experiences, allowing drivers to access innovative in-car communication, infotainment, navigation and fuel-efficiency features.

                        Our Solutions Approach (from Microsoft’s Intelligent Systems [Microsoft > Windows Embedded > Intelligent Systems page, May 7, 2013])

                        Microsoft’s tools and technologies for intelligent system solutions extend beyond a software package or device; the great power and flexibility of industry devices running the Windows Embedded platform is that it works in concert with Microsoft’s cloud products and services, and with existing IT infrastructure to customize a complete connected system.

                        Windows Embedded minimizes risk and complexity by providing one trusted platform with which to build solutions and broaden business opportunity. Windows Embedded fits with your needs, connecting data across a diverse set of technologies, providing compatibility across your existing systems, and enabling customization through a worldwide network of partners, to increase ease of use and drive efficiency. And a Microsoft solution extends the intelligence of your organization, increasing opportunities for your workforce to act on data and insights that would otherwise be out of reach.

                        On the adjacent to the above “Windows Embedded Products” page there is a “Product Lifecycles” [May 7, 2013] page which contains the following

                        Road map for intelligent systems

                        With Windows Embedded 8, Microsoft extends Windows 8 to intelligent systems, creating the next wave of enterprise tools and technology. The release schedule includes the Windows Embedded 8 family of device operating systems, each with a distinct feature set that includes the building blocks for an intelligent system across hardware, software and services.

                        image

                        It means that from the whole portfolio the “Windows Embedded Compact 2013” was missing on May 7 as it was to be delivered in Q2 2013. When clicking on its “+” sign one gets the following description (corrections came in the first week of June with v.3 mark deleted after Blend and “sensory input and Kinect for Windows” deleted, and XAML for Windows embedded, multi-core support as well as Snapshot Boot added; it also coincided with “Microsoft Windows Embedded Compact 2013 ISO-TBE” availability for download):

                        imageA streamlined, componentized device operating system, Windows Embedded Compact 2013 gives developers all the tools they need to create the next generation of intelligent systems solutions. Compact 2013 provides the flexibility and real-time support to reduce time to market, while creating an easy-to-use, multi-touch experience that helps enterprise customers improve worker productivity.

                        • Access to up-to-date tools such as Platform Builder, Visual Studio 2012 and Expression Blend v.3 helps developers to streamline development.
                        • Support for XAML for Windows embedded, multi-touch, sensory input and Kinect for Windows and multi-core support enables the creation of immersive applications.
                        • Leverage the power of cloud computing through Windows Azure Application Services, giving customers a greater ability to extend their intelligence.
                        • Improved file system performance and Snapshot Boot gives companies the confidence that their devices will always be available, whatever their current state .

                        The first description of it was given in Windows Embedded Compact v.Next uncovered [Windows Embedded Blog, Nov 14, 2012] as follows

                        Posted By David Campbell
                        Program Manager

                        Woo hoo, it’s finally time to share more information about the upcoming release! First, the release now officially has a name: Windows Embedded Compact 2013. (I know that folks probably have questions around why we chose this name. We thoroughly considered a long list of potential names, including Windows CE again, and Windows Embedded Compact 2013 really did receive the best response.)

                        I’ll be doing a number of posts about the various key features and changes in Windows Embedded Compact 2013 over the next few posts, but I want to start with arguably the most interesting of the new features: the investments made for Visual Studio 2012 support, both ISV/app development via Visual Studio directly; and the OEM/device development experience with Platform Builder, now hosted in Visual Studio 2012!

                        With all development now in Visual Studio 2012, there is no longer a need for multiple versions of Visual Studio to support Compact development alongside other Windows platforms. Plus, you’ll get many of the new features and productivity improvements available in Visual Studio 2012 when developing for Compact! We now have the same C++ toolset and standards supported everywhere. (And of course Visual Studio 2012 includes the new features from Visual Studio 2010, which were not previously to Compact developers.)

                        We also have a new CRT, which has key new functionality aligned as well. (The existing CRT on Compact hasn’t been updated in some time.) And the new optimizer supports functionality like auto-parallelization of your code and auto-vectorization–so if your processor has FP registers, the optimizer will automatically generate code to use vector FP. The 2012 C++ compiler also includes many of the language features from the new C++11 standards.

                        C++11 has new language features that allow you to write better performing, safer code and code it faster than ever before. For example, RValue references let you operate on data without having to copy it. And C++11 brings in functional semantics to make writing code more efficient, like having anonymous functions. We also support range based loops, letting you iterate over members of a list directly. More information is available on the Visual Studio team blog.

                        .Net CF has also been upgraded to 3.9, which inherits the support Windows Phone updates while still being app compatible with 3.5. This upgrade improves performance significantly in a number of ways. .Net CF 3.9 has greatly improved performance overall, as well as memory allocation and garbage collection using the generational garbage collector. This not only improves performance, but also provides more predictability in the execution of applications. The memory footprint of the runtime is also smaller for both the framework and applications, using what is known as “the sharing server,” allowing loaded code to be reused across applications. The runtime itself is also multi-core enabled, which can improve the performance of all your applications. More information on the updated .Net CF is available on the .NET Framework blog.

                        The embedded developer experience improvements of bringing the new features of Visual Studio 2012 to Windows Embedded Compact are amazing, and I’m sure you’ll be as excited as I am to get started using the new features of Visual Studio 2012, Platform Builder and the new Compact OS.

                        For information on the upcoming Windows Embedded Compact release, visit www.windowsembedded.com.

                        Previous versions with some important new features (my own judgement + Windows CE Wikipedia article + other inputs):

                        CE7: Windows Embedded Compact 7 (March 2011)
                        – Silverlight for Windows Embedded (UX C++ XAML API): application development made easy, synching designers and developers.
                        – Windows Phone 7 IE with Flash 10.1 support: panning, zooming, multitouch and viewing bookmarks using thumbnails, etc
                        – Multi-core support
                        CE6: Windows Embedded CE 6.0 (September 2006)
                        – Significant change in architecture over previous versions of CE (process address space is increased from 32 MB to 2 GB, number of processes has been increased from 32 to 32,768 etc.)
                        – Incremental updates to features as R1, R2 and R3 releases
                        – Silverlight introduced, Microsoft Office and PDF viewers support too.
                        CE5: Windows CE 5.0 (August 2004)
                        – Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) introduced
                        – Updates to Graphics and Multimedia support
                        CE4: Windows CE 4.x (Jan 7, 2002)
                        – .Net Compact Framework introduced
                        – Since Windows CE.NET 4.2 system uses a new shell with integrated Internet Explorer
                        CE3: Windows CE 3.0 (June 15, 2000)
                        – Major recode that made CE hard real time down to the microsecond level
                        – Base for the Pocket PC 2000, Handheld PC 2000, Pocket PC 2002 and Smartphone 2002
                        CE2: Windows CE 2.x (Sept 29, 1997)
                        – Real-time deterministic task scheduling
                        – Architectures: ARM, MIPS, PowerPC, StrongARM, SuperH and x86
                        CE1: Windows CE 1.0 (November 1996)

                        Related post: Introducing NETCF 3.9 in Windows Embedded Compact 2013 – a faster, leaner and multi-core runtime! [.NET Framework blog, Nov 16, 2012] 

                        Ever since .NET Compact Framework was introduced at the PDC conference in 2001, programming with .NET has scaled from some of the smallest devices to the largest servers. With C# and Visual Basic, developers can apply the same skills to program both devices and servers to form a complete end-to-end solution. As the devices become more prevalent in our daily lives, .NET is evolving too. Abhishek Mondal, the program manager for .NET Compact Framework [note that Abdishek Mondal was the program manager for GC as well], shares the following highlights of the latest version. –Brandon

                        NETCF 3.9 advances the Windows Embedded Compact Platform

                        We are happy to announce that we will be including the .NET Compact Framework 3.9 in Windows Embedded Compact 2013, as part of its upcoming release. We have made major updates in this version of the .NET Compact Framework, which deliver benefits in startup time, application responsiveness and memory utilization. You should see significantly better performance characteristics of your applications on both x86 and ARM devices, running Windows Embedded Compact 2013. You can read more about the Windows Embedded Compact 2013 release at the Microsoft News Center.
                        The .NET Compact Framework is a version of the .NET Framework for embedded devices. It provides .NET development support for low-end embedded devices that run the Windows Embedded Compact 2013 OS. NETCF provides a familiar and rich development platform for embedded application development, with a small foot print and an extensive set of .NET functionality. For clarity, the other Windows Embedded OSes use the desktop .NET Framework, the same version that is included with desktop Windows.
                        NETCF 3.9 is based on the NETCF version that shipped with Windows Phone 7.5. The following features are the key advances in NETCF 3.9, all big steps forward for app performance:
                          • New Generational Garbage Collector for more responsive apps
                          • NETCF runtime is now multi-core safe to take advantage of multi-core hardware  
                          • Sharing Server feature that reduces working set and improves app launch
                            Another major benefit of NETCF 3.9 is Visual Studio 2012 support! You will be able to use the same tools for Windows Embedded Compact 2013 development as you use for Windows, Windows Phone and Windows Azure development. Visual C++ development for this new Windows Embedded Compact version will also be supported in Visual Studio 2012, as reported on the Visual C++ team blog.

                            Applications run (a lot) faster with NETCF 3.9

                            NETCF 3.9 is a faster and leaner runtime for Windows Embedded Compact 2013. We have made many changes that should enable your apps to run much faster. NETCF is also multi-core safe, enabling you to take advantage of multiple cores on embedded devices. Multiple cores are increasingly available on today’s devices, and can be an important part of delivering a compelling experience to your customers. Let’s take a more in-depth look at some of the additional improvements that are part of NETCF 3.9.
                            Faster app performance
                            NETCF 3.9 has greatly improved performance overall. There are three key features that will speed up your apps. Let’s start with the new garbage collector in NETCF. We have observed app performance in the lab that shows 50-60% drops in GC time. We no longer see GC pauses significantly affecting app responsiveness, in our lab apps, which was a problem that was reported in the past. The new GC is a lot faster!
                            For apps that use floating point arithmetic code, you may notice an additional performance boost, since NetCF takes advantage of ARM VFP instructions.
                            Last, we’ll look at the new Sharing Server feature. Sharing Server enables a significant improvement in the warm start-up time of your app, particularly in scenarios where multiple applications run on a device. It is able to achieve this benefit by sharing loaded assemblies and JITed machine code across apps (including re-launching the same app).
                            Efficient memory utilization of managed application
                            The Sharing Server feature also enables lower memory use for NETCF 3.9 apps. As already discussed, the Sharing Server allows code to be reused across applications. In addition to benefiting app launch performance, this feature significantly lowers the aggregate memory use of devices in scenarios where multiple apps are in use.

                            Developing apps with NETCF 3.9

                            You will find that NETCF is a great addition to a modern development environment. You can use Visual Studio 2012 for development, including features such as Team Foundation Server for source control and feature management.
                            Visual Studio 2012 will support Windows Embedded Compact development
                            The single most compelling attraction of this release for many of you is the support for embedded development in Visual Studio 2012. This support will simplify development if you are already developing for both Windows or Windows Phone and Windows Embedded Compact, since you can do all of your work in a single Visual Studio environment.
                            If you develop exclusively for the embedded platform, then Visual Studio 2012 support will enable you to use ALM tools and TFS in your development environment. There are also other benefits to Visual Studio 2012 such as performance improvements and other tools, which you can explore and enjoy.
                            Here is a snapshot of a sample managed application developed using NETCF 3.9 with VS2012:
                            imageA simple “Hello World” application on NETCF 3.9
                            You can see this same app, running in Hyper-V, stopped at a breakpoint in Visual Studio 2012, using remote debugging:
                            imageDebugging a NETCF 3.9 app on Windows, using Hyper-V
                            NETCF 3.9 is source compatible with NETCF 3.5
                            NETCF 3.9 is a big step forward for performance, however, the APIs that you’ve used in NETCF 3.5 stay the same. As a result, you can move existing .NETCF source code and investments forward to NETCF 3.9.
                            You may wonder why NETCF 3.9 is source compatible with NETCF 3.5 and not binary compatible, since .NET assemblies are compiled to the machine-independent MSIL format. There is no change in our assembly format, nor are there any compatibility checks in NETCF 3.9.
                            We chose a single compatibility message for Windows Compact Embedded 2013, for both native and .NET development, which is source compatibility. The single biggest driver of this support policy is C++, which needs to be re-compiled for the ARM thumb2 instruction set, with the new Visual Studio 2012 Visual C++ compiler. We have also found that many of you pair your managed code with native implementations. As part of re-compiling that native code, we expect that you may make API changes that would affect your P/Invoke declarations. As a result, we decided that a single compatibility policy for the whole release was the best choice.

                            Wrapping Up

                            If you are an embedded developer, I’m sure that you are excited that we are making NETCF 3.9 available to you for your embedded apps. We have already talked to a set of developers, who are looking forward to this big update, to significantly improve the runtime performance of the apps that you run on your devices. We look forward to seeing your new devices and the rich experiences that they deliver, after Windows Embedded Compact 2013 is released.
                            NETCF 3.9 will be made available with the Windows Embedded Compact 2013 OS, when it is released. It isn’t available at this time. It will also be included in the SDK for the OS, for use with Visual Studio 2012. Watch the Windows Embedded Newsroom for future updates on release plans.
                            Follow us or talk to us on Twitterhttp://twitter.com/dotnet.

                            Then here is Windows Embedded Compact 2013 presentation @Embedded World 2013 [kojtp2 YouTube channel, March 3, 2013]

                            [2:55] The “Silverlight for Windows Embedded” name was changed to “XAML for Windows Embedded” because Silverlight was associated with a browser plug-in technology in developers’ minds while here we have nothing like that.

                            Since this video has bad voice recording quality it is also worth to watch the Windows Embedded Compact 2013 Technical Overview of what’s new [Microsoft Webinar Live Meeting record, April 30, 2013] from which I will include the following slide screenshots and some transcripts of my own:

                            image

                            image

                            image

                            image

                            image

                            image

                            [21:35] Very cool news: „an entirely rewritten and upgraded .NET Compact runtime

                            clip_image002[83]

                            [25:25] „XAML for [Windows] Embedded” [changed the name to XAML from Silverlight] allowing UI developers to write using Silverlight, in Expression Blend 5.0 with this release [vs Blend 3 in the previous], which will generate XAML describing the user inerface and the user interactions. We link that in with native C++ code in the back-end, and that allows for extremely powerful interfaces while still allowing for high performance that we use native code plus there’s nothing between us and the operating system, and there’s nothing between us and the hardware, so we have clip_image002[85]much better performance, from real-time perspective as well, not just general performance perspective. … There is increased functionality [in this release] in terms of data binding and data context. … We’ve got new triggers that are supported. … This is still a very, very important area for Microsoft, and frankly from embedded perspective XAML gives you in many ways a superior user interface description environment compared to HTML5. … [27:30]

                            clip_image002[87][36:00] .. all-up general SKU … NR SKU for personal navigation devices … and we are coming with a brand new SKU „Windows Embedded Compact 2013 Entry” SKU. And this is the SKU for smaller devices that don’t need XAML capability. .. We haven’t announced our pricing for the 3 SKUs yet. That will be announced around the general availability [GA] timeline. … Windows Embedded Compact 2013 is still on schedule to ship in the first half of 2013. That means June. So we will be shipping and announcing the product in June. What we are giving now is a kind of sneak preview which will give you a technical introduction to the product. [27:53]

                            From Q&A

                            Using the same rendering engine as before

                            XAML for Windows Embedded is not supporting C#

                            More information:
                            Windows Embedded Compact 2013 [MSDN Library, April 26, 2013]
                            from which of particular interest are:
                            What’s New (Compact 2013) [MSDN Library, April 26, 2013]
                            Expression Blend and XAML for Windows Embedded (Compact 2013) [MSDN Library, April 26, 2013]
                            XAML for Windows Embedded Application Development (Compact 2013) [MSDN Library, April 26, 2013]
                            Developer Guides (Compact 2013) [MSDN Library, April 26, 2013]
                            from which of particular interest is:
                            .NET Compact Framework (Compact 2013) [MSDN Library, April 26, 2013]

                            Windows Embedded Compact 7 [Windows Embedded Products Overview > Windows Embedded Compact 7 Product Details page, May 7, 2013]

                            Windows Embedded Compact 7 is a componentized, real-time operating system designed for small-footprint devices at the edge of enterprise networks. With support for x86 and ARM architectures, Windows Embedded Compact 7 allows devices to leverage the latest innovations in hardware, and equips developers and device manufacturers with the tools they need to create nimble, enterprise-class intelligent system solutions, while reducing time to market.

                            Top features 

                            Rich user interface
                            Includes XAML for Windows Embedded, a powerful technology that allows you to build interfaces that incorporate touch and gesture support.
                            Flexible architecture
                            Real-time operating system supports an array of hardware requirements and key processor architectures, including x86 and ARM, to power everything from tiny controls to fully automated factories.
                            Secure and reliable
                            One-tier security model feature is SDL compliant and helps ensure that only authenticated applications can run on an industry device, with reliable wireless connectivity and networking performance.
                            Ease of development
                            Familiar tools like Visual Studio and Expression Blend allow you to create attractive and intuitive user interfaces, and bring differentiated devices to market faster than ever before.

                            Things you can do

                            For Enterprises

                              One trusted platform
                              Devices running on Windows Embedded Compact 7 are covered under a 10-year support program from Microsoft. You can deploy industry devices with the assurance that technical support will be there, when and if it’s needed. And because you can continue using your existing applications based on Windows Embedded CE 6.0, there is a smooth upgrade path for using current applications while moving to the next generation of touch-enabled apps that provide an easy-to-use experience for getting things done more quickly.
                              Meets your needs
                              Arm your employees with a new breed of business applications harnessing touch and gesture input that showcase your company’s work and give employees better tools to get things done with intuitive access to information. Windows Embedded Compact 7 also provides a flexible device platform that can run on the smallest of devices, or power rich device experiences. And with the capabilities of a real-time operating system, you can be confident of its ability to meet the most exacting of industry requirements.
                              Extend business intelligence
                              Windows Embedded Compact 7 supports a variety of connectivity options, providing more flexibility for connecting industry devices to your company’s network. Support for enhanced WiFi, Ethernet, Bluetooth and USB enables you to deploy devices across your corporate network, where they can help automate business processes and generate data that leads to greater insight. Collectively, these devices can provide you with greater visibility into what’s happening throughout your company. As critical components of an intelligent system, these devices can help you make decisions in real-time, as well as formulate long-term plans for the growth of your business.

                              For OEMs

                              One trusted platform
                              With Windows Embedded Compact 7, you can develop industry devices within the integrated environment of Platform Builder, to allow adjustments on the hard, real-time operating system while working on specific projects simultaneously. And support for Visual Studio 2008, Expression Blend 3.0 and the .NET Compact Framework 3.5 provides access to the tools that OEMs rely on. Windows Embedded Compact 7 also ensures a consistency of APIs and SDKs, making it possible to leverage past investments and current skillsets to create products that are supported by a 10-year support program from Microsoft, along with the assurance that Windows Embedded Compact 7 will be available for 15 years from the time it was first released.
                              Create differentiated devices
                              Windows Embedded Compact 7 includes a development framework based on XAML and supports a range of architecture options, including ARM, MIPS and x86. As a result, you have greater flexibility to create devices that match your customers’ specifications. Creating these experiences is simplified with tools such as 3D transformation and Pixel/Shader effects. Your devices will give customers the ability to seamlessly share content on business networks, as well as network devices. And the introduction of touch gesture interface allows developers to create a more natural, interactive experience.
                              Extend business intelligence
                              Create an experience that helps companies get more done. With Windows Embedded Compact 7, you can design a solution that’s more seamless, making it easier for companies to synchronize content with their Windows PCs. And with the Connection Manager feature and multiple connectivity options, you can ensure that businesses have the optimum level of connectivity across the workplace. Support for enhanced WiFi, Ethernet, USB and Bluetooth virtually guarantees that your device will connect with the other devices, PCs and servers already running in the enterprise. With this connectivity in place, employees will be able to remotely access Microsoft Outlook via Microsoft Air Sync. And the ability to view Adobe and Microsoft Office files will help them stay current on business developments.

                                Sample device types

                                Human machine interface (HMI)
                                The devices provide the ability to monitor automated processes, such as manufacturing, to safegueard against diminished product quality or equipment breakdowns
                                RFID scanners
                                Speed the completion of common tasks such as inventory, shipping and receiving with these devices
                                Medical devices
                                Sonograms and other medical devices enable doctors to monitor a baby’s health in utero and send images to researchers in real time via a wireless network
                                GPS devices
                                Help people stay on course to their destination with these navigation devices

                                News: Building the intelligent car of the future
                                [Microsoft feature story, May 7, 2013]
                                Microsoft: Working with automotive industry to design an updateable car that’s easier to use and responds to the driver’s needs.

                                In the 1920’s, carmakers started offering an accessory that would revolutionize the driving experience: the radio. While tooling down the road you could tune into the nightly newscast, a live jazz performance or the seventh game in the series. It provided a connected experience that replaced the steady drone of the four liter under the hood with the soaring notes of Duke Ellington’s bugle or the crack of Babe Ruth’s bat as the ball hurtled toward the right-field stands.
                                Since then, the notion of the connected car has changed. Features such as streaming music from your smartphone and using voice commands to control the stereo and environment are standard equipment in many models. And Microsoft has a vision for in-car technology that takes us beyond the confines of the cockpit to what they call the intelligent car — a scenario in which telematics data can help improve the driving experience, and the design of the vehicle.
                                Led by Group Program Manager Pranish Kumar, the Windows Embedded Automotive team is focused on fulfilling this vision and, in the process, developing an upgradeable technology solution that extends the useful life of the vehicle.
                                Says Kumar: “The automotive industry faces a lot of unique challenges, perhaps first of which is that cars must be supportable for much longer than consumer electronics devices — 10 or 20 years, in most cases. I think we’ve developed a solid understanding of some of these challenges and how technology can address them, while providing drivers with a better experience.”
                                Microsoft’s Pranish Kumar and his team work to develop reliable in-car experiences, not by sitting at a desk but by working behind the wheel of a fleet of test vehicles.

                                A relationship built on experience and trust
                                Microsoft’s involvement in the automotive industry stretches back 15 years to 1998 when the company partnered with Clarion to announce the Auto PC, a first-of-its-kind solution that gave drivers access to email, driving directions, paging and traffic alerts, and their entertainment system. And in 2003 Microsoft developed the Microsoft TBox, a telematics device that went on to power infotainment systems for a variety of carmakers.
                                When it came to working directly with carmakers, Kumar says it was an uphill battle to gain their trust. Many had tried to design their own infotainment system and were convinced that it couldn’t be done in a shorter time than seven or eight years. Microsoft has since proven itself by reducing development time down to just two to three years.
                                Kumar’s team also adopted the same level of rigor and many of the testing methodologies that carmakers use when conducting customer road tests. Making this change gave the team a “greater degree of confidence” that their development and reporting processes met the carmaker’s need and that the finished product would meet or exceed the driver’s expectations.
                                From the connected car to the intelligent car
                                For carmakers, the Promised Land lies in giving drivers the ability to access information and services anywhere they live, whether an app on their smartphones, a music file on their tablet at home, or customer contact information on their computer at work or in the cloud. Over time, members of the Windows Embedded Automotive team have earned a reputation for providing solid insight to help make these experiences a reality.
                                Together with Kumar, Creative Director John Hendricks, Principal Program Manager Jay Loney, Partner Development Manager David Kelley, and Experience Designers David Walker and Melissa Quintanilha are part of a larger team developing and designing the future of Microsoft’s automotive technologies.
                                Top Gear U.S.’s Tanner Foust talks with Microsoft engineers and designers about their vision for the future intelligent car.
                                In doing so, they are moving away from a focus on creating in-dash technologies, such as the entertainment or navigation systems, to an emphasis on creating a solution that would power these technologies as part of an overall user experience. Taking this approach has given carmakers the ability to provide periodic updates that refresh the driving experience and extend compatibility to the latest consumer devices.
                                In the future Microsoft wants to take that experience a step further. Whereas today consumers demand a car that’s more connected — to their phones, their music and their services — Windows Embedded Automotive is focused on designing intelligent cars that respond to the driver’s needs.
                                One example that Kumar cites involves the difficulty of pairing new phones, which is one of the most frequent problems facing car owners. According to IDC, 722 million smartphones were shipped globally in 2012, a 46.1 percent increase over the previous year.[1] As demand for smartphones continues, ensuring compatibility between new models and infotainment systems will remain a challenge.
                                A Windows Embedded-based system could transmit data about the unsuccessful pairing to Microsoft and overnight a solution could be identified and downloaded to the car. When the owner gets in his car the next morning, his phone would automatically pair. Over time, that same data could be used to design a user experience that’s not only easier to use but that performs tasks on your behalf, such as tuning to your favorite station or rescheduling a meeting due to traffic delays.
                                Drivers also stand to gain from the availability of data. Many vehicles contain sensors that monitor factors such as speed, braking, fuel consumption, tire pressure and environmental conditions. Drivers can already use this information to assess their performance and get recommendations on how to improve fuel efficiency or vehicle maintenance.
                                Using the same data, carmakers could augment the existing battery of tests that are part of their proving process. So in addition to putting a vehicle through the environmental extremes of Northern Sweden or California’s Death Valley, they could evaluate its performance in day-to-day conditions. Engineers and product planners could get a head start on the next year’s model through insights around where design improvements are needed or where a car has been over-engineered. They could even fine tune an engine over-the-air to improve fuel economy of the current model year.
                                Kumar believes that many of the systems are already in place to make this vision a reality. Using technologies such as Windows Update, cars could be automatically updated — in much the same way as smartphones automatically update when you activate them. And the combination of big data and machine learning could lead to cars that develop an understanding of your preferences and driving behavior to become more responsive to your needs.
                                “We’ve come a long way in terms of creating a product that works reliably and meets the quality standards of the automotive industry. And we’re continuing our work with carmakers to reach the full potential of in-car technology,” says Kumar. “Through a combination of software, hardware and user-centric design, we believe that car owners will experience driving like never before possible.”
                                [1] IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, Jan. 24, 2013

                                See also: Maximizing Internet Explorer in Windows Embedded Compact 7 [Windows Embedded blog, June 11, 2012]

                                Windows Embedded Compact has a customized version of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer named Internet Explorer (IE) for Embedded. This powerful browser can be used in a number of ways in an embedded system to enhance the functionality of the system. This post will discuss the various ways to tune, customize and even embed IE for Embedded inside embedded applications.
                                IE for Embedded is a customized version of Internet Explorer 7 for the desktop with performance enhancements from IE 8 added as well. Specifically, the JScript engine brought from IE 8 provides a 400% performance improvement over the original IE 7 scripting engine. In addition gesture support along with zoom and pan support is in this browser.
                                Internet Explorer for Embedded is fundamentally an HTML rendering engine. As such, the user input surrounding the engine, (the “chrome”) isn’t really part of IE for Embedded. Windows Embedded Compact comes with two examples of IE for Embedded; one with classic “Windows” controls and the other one with the chrome rendered with the XAML-driven, Silverlight for Embedded framework. Both of these examples come with the source code that demonstrates how to host the IE control. They also both illustrate that almost all the functionality of these Browsers is contained within the control itself. The chrome only provides input from the user and a platform for returning feedback.
                                The classic browser example, IESample, supports a favorites list, browser history and URL completion. It incorporates an internet control panel that can tune how the browser connects to the web as well as setting security settings. The XAML-based browser, IEExr, has a vastly different look and feel. However, it too handles a favorites list, history and control pane. IEExr even supports tabbed browsing using a thumbnail page to switch between pages. The reason the two examples have similar features is that most of the functionality, is incorporated in the IE ActiveX control itself.

                                Silverlight for Windows Embedded (Windows Embedded Compact 7) [MSDN Library, Jan 23, 2013]

                                Microsoft Silverlight for Windows Embedded is a native (C++) UI development framework for Windows Embedded Compact powered devices that is founded on Microsoft Silverlight 3. You can use Silverlight for Windows Embedded to do the following:

                                • Separate programming logic and UI design.
                                • Define visual UIs for applications in XAML.
                                • Add, modify, and customize the UI at run time.
                                • Create interactive multimedia UIs.
                                • Collaborate with designers who use Microsoft Expression Blend 3 projects.
                                • Simultaneously develop applications for Microsoft Silverlight 3 and Silverlight for Windows Embedded with a common UI defined in XAML files.
                                Silverlight for Windows Embedded is compatible with Silverlight 3 XAML and provides a set of equivalent classes for supported XAML elements. For information about Silverlight 3, see http://www.silverlight.net/.
                                Silverlight for Windows Embedded is also compatible with existing Windows Embedded Compact window controls, so you can use your existing window controls.
                                To add this feature to your OS, see Silverlight for Windows Embedded Catalog Items and Sysgen Variables.
                                For reference information, see Silverlight for Windows Embedded Reference.

                                For step-by-step guidelines and code examples to help you learn how to create a UI by using Silverlight for Windows Embedded, see Silverlight for Windows Embedded Application Development.
                                For recommendations on which hardware to use with Silverlight for Windows Embedded, see Silverlight for Windows Embedded Hardware Recommendations.

                                More information:
                                Differences Between Microsoft Silverlight 3 and Silverlight for Windows Embedded [MSDN Library, Jan 23, 2013]
                                Silverlight for Windows Embedded Application Development [MSDN Library, Jan 23, 2013]

                                Microsoft Silverlight for Windows Embedded is a “UI development framework” for “embedded devices” and is based on Microsoft Silverlight for the desktop browser. By using Silverlight for Windows Embedded, you can create an application that supports features such as storyboard animations, transformations, interactive controls, a layout system, and a visual tree.
                                Silverlight for Windows Embedded is a native C++ development framework in which you can design a UI for the shell and applications for a Windows Embedded Compact device. You can use Microsoft Expression Blend 3 to quickly design a UI in Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML), which you can then convert, or you can build your application from scratch in Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 by using one of the Smart Device project templates. In the native C++ source files for your application, you can use the rest of the features of Windows Embedded Compact 7, including any existing window controls.
                                By using Silverlight for Windows Embedded, you can create a UI that provides advanced visual effects for your Windows Embedded Compact device shell and applications. Silverlight for Windows Embedded makes this possible by supporting a subset of Silverlight XAML elements and by supplying a set of C++ classes that provide access to these elements.

                                Graphics and Performance in Silverlight for Windows Embedded (Windows Embedded Compact 7) [MSDN Library, Jan 23, 2013]
                                Hardware Acceleration in Silverlight for Windows Embedded (Windows Embedded Compact 7) [MSDN Library, Jan 23, 2013]

                                Many modern device platforms include on-board graphics processing units (GPUs) with two-dimensional or three-dimensional capabilities or both. Microsoft Silverlight for Windows Embedded provides support for using a GPU to accelerate certain types of animations. Hardware acceleration is accomplished by using the GPU (rather than the CPU) to do some critical composition steps in the rendering process. Silverlight for Windows Embedded supports hardware-based acceleration of graphics for both Microsoft DirectDraw and OpenGL.
                                For information on how to implement hardware acceleration, see Implement Hardware Acceleration for Graphics in Silverlight for Windows Embedded [Reference].

                                With Visual Studio 2012 Update 2 Now Available [Somasegar’s blog on MSDN, April 4, 2013]

                                It includes support in Blend for SketchFlow, WPF 4.5, and Silverlight 5.

                                which according to ANNOUNCING VISUAL STUDIO 2012 UPDATE 2 CTP 2 [Blend Insider, Jan 30, 2013]

                                Blend for Visual Studio [as part of a consolidated designer/developer offering retained only from previous Expression products that were phased out with the Visual Studio 2012] now support WPF, Silverlight and SketchFlow projects in the same version of Blend (support for these was previously available only as a standalone Preview release of Blend). With this CTP release, Blend now supports developing Windows Store, Windows Phone, WPF and Silverlight apps without needing to have multiple versions of Blend on the same machine. The table below highlights the various platforms that are now supported in Blend for Visual Studio 2012:

                                TARGET PLATFORM

                                VERSIONS SUPPORTED

                                SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS

                                Windows Store XAML and HTML

                                Windows 8

                                Windows 8

                                Windows Phone

                                Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 7.5

                                Windows Phone 8 SDK

                                WPF

                                3.5, 4.0, 4.5

                                 

                                Silverlight

                                4, 5

                                 

                                SketchFlow

                                WPF 4.0 and Silverlight 4

                                Visual Studio 2012 Premium or higher

                                Additional details:
                                – in Silverlight 5 Beta – available now! [Silverlight Team blog on MSDN, April 22, 2011] for Silverlight 5 Available for Download Today [Silverlight Team blog on MSDN, Dec 9, 2011]
                                – in What’s New in Silverlight for Windows Phone [MSDN Library] (which is part of Silverlight for Windows Phone [MSDN Library])

                                Silverlight for Windows Phone OS 7.1 is based on Silverlight 4. That means if you create a new Silverlight for Windows Phone application that targets Windows Phone OS 7.1, you can take advantage of several new features. You can still write applications that target Windows Phone OS 7.0, but to take advantage of the new features, you must target Windows Phone OS 7.1. Applications that target Windows Phone OS 7.0 will run on devices running Windows Phone OS 7.1. This topic introduces some of the new features and improvements in Silverlight for Windows Phone.

                                – in What Version is Windows Phone Mango? [Shawn Wildermuth blog, Aug 19, 2011]

                                In finishing up my new Windows Phone book, I had to deal with the confusing version problem. There are three version numbers to be aware of:

                                • Windows Phone 7.5
                                • Windows Phone OS 7.1
                                • Windows Phone SDK 7.1

                                So what is Mango? It comes down to this:

                                • Windows Phone 7.5: The marketing name of the phone. This is the phrase you’ll see in the ads to consumers.
                                • Windows Phone OS 7.1: The name of the actual operating system. When you create a new application in Visual Studio (or upgrade an existing one), you’ll see this version.
                                • Windows Phone SDK 7.1: The name of the Mango tools.

                                So get your nomenclature right and stop being confused.

                                Features Differences Between Silverlight and Silverlight for Windows Phone [MSDN Library]
                                Implementation Differences Between Silverlight and Silverlight for Windows Phone [MSDN Library]

                                Microsoft betting on boosting Windows RT demand with top level ARM SoCs from its SoC partners, Windows 8.1 enhancements, Outlook addition to the Office 2013 RT and very deep tactical discounts to its OEM partners for tablet offerings of more value and capability

                                … especially valuable for small businesses, and even enterprises of different, larger sizes thanks to new enhancements in manageability, networking, and security announced at TechEd North America 2013 (see “Cloud first” from Microsoft is ready to change enterprise computing in all of its facets [this same ‘Experiencing the Cloud’ blog, June 4, 2013]).

                                Relevant excerpts from Nick Parker, Tami Reller, Antoine Leblond and Steve Guggenheimer: COMPUTEX 2013 Keynote Transcript [Microsoft, June 5, 2013]

                                The full record of the keynote from Notebookitalia which contains the below excerpts between [10:49] and [19:50] as indicated.

                                Tami Reller, Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Financial Officer, Windows:

                                [10:49] Bringing the power of Windows to tablets is a really big part of the vision of Windows 8 and of Windows RT, really a new class of tablets that offers more value and capability than today’s tablets. […]

                                [15:00] Windows tablets are an important part of the Windows 8 vision, and Windows tablets do more.

                                Completing that promise of do more, I’m pleased to announce that starting with the back-to-school lineup, and in some cases even earlier, Windows x86 tablets will come with Office. That’s Word, that’s Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote in the box. We’re making that possible through new OEM offerings that were introduced earlier this spring.

                                Even with the value of Office built-in to these Windows tablets, these new offerings are going to allow our partners to build opening price point tablets, as well as great premium tablets.

                                Additionally, we’ve opened up support for small tablets with Windows 8, and we’ll do more with Windows 8.1. You’ve seen the first of those tablets here at COMPUTEX. Congratulations to Acer on their announcements earlier this week.

                                And coming with 8.1, building on our support for small tablets, we’re really committed to completing the scenario, including full portrait support.

                                One of the top requests from Windows RT customers has been Outlook. I’m very pleased to announce that with the Windows RT 8.1 update Microsoft Outlook will be in-box.

                                With 8.1 we’re again embracing the very latest technology, and the very latest on the silicon roadmap. Specifically this includes Bay Trail-T, Qualcomm 8974 [one of Snapdragon 800 SoCs coming in commercial devices of H2 2013, see more details in Snapdragon 800 Product Brief], and NVIDIA T40 [or Tegra 4 first in the already announced HP SlateBook x2 to be available in August 2013].

                                And we’re expanding our ARM program to provide more component flexibility, creating more opportunities for partners to build competitive ARM tablets running Windows. [17:15 …]

                                [19:10] Windows 8.1 is easy for our customers to get. It’s free to Windows RT and Windows 8 customers so that whether a customer has Windows 8 today or is buying a PC or a tablet or any other device in the near future, it will be one click away and very easy to get Windows 8.1. We’ll deliver it through the Windows Store, including the preview, which will come at the end of June. And the final product will be available later this calendar year. [19:50 …]

                                New ecosystem opportunities, Windows 8.1 updates shared at Computex [Blogging Windows from Microsoft, June 5, 2013]

                                Antoine Leblond, corporate vice president of Windows program management joined Tami and other top Microsoft executives on stage to give our very first public demo of the upcoming Windows 8.1 update – touching upon many of the exciting improvements Antoine highlighted in his blog post from last week. You can see some of the highlights of what to expect in Windows 8.1 for yourself in this short demo video featuring Jensen Harris from the Windows User Experience Team:

                                Jensen Harris from the Windows Team shows some highlights of what to expect in Windows 8.1 coming later this year as a free update for Windows 8 customers. http://bit.ly/10OM2Th

                                Additionally, Tami announced that Outlook 2013 RT will be coming to Windows RT tablets as part of Windows 8.1. Windows running on ARM architectures has enabled an exciting new category of mobile-first, instant-on tablets that are thin and lightweight, with amazing battery life. We know that the addition of Outlook for those using ARM-based Windows devices such as the Surface RT, Dell XPS 10, Lenovo Yoga 11, and ASUS VivoTab RT as well as new tablets to come in the future has been a popular request from consumers and businesses alike. As Tami said in her keynote address, we’ve listened and Outlook will be joining the other Office applications currently available on Windows RT, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

                                Our commitment to Windows on ARM doesn’t stop with the addition of Outlook 2013 RT. We announced a number of other enhancements with Windows 8.1, earlier this week at TechEd North America, including new manageability, networking, and security capabilities that will make Windows RT an even more compelling option for enterprises.

                                Eight questions about Windows 8 for Microsoft manufacturing chief Nick Parker [PCWorld, June 5, 2013] 

                                IDG: So you just announced you’ll be including Outlook with the next version of Windows RT, what was the thinking behind that?

                                NP: Outlook is one of those apps people love, and when you start thinking about RT in the small business environment, or for heavy email users, Outlook is one of those high value solutions. That was the one we got the most feedback about.

                                IDG: The reception for Windows RT has been a bit lukewarm, what are some of the reasons for that and to what extent will adding Outlook will improve the situation?

                                NP: If you look at what we did with RT—it’s completely new silicon, a new hardware platform, and Windows 8 is a new OS. So first you just have a natural growth curve when you’re starting at zero. Then you start seeing new apps appear, the killer apps that people want, like Outlook. And the ecosystem gets more familiar with it—they learn how to code to it and how to certify parts for it.

                                We get so used to the tremendous success we’ve had on PCs for years, you just think you can flip a switch and the platform’s going to change. I think it’s just the incremental growth of a new platform. And we should be a bit humble about how we go to market and talk about the new capabilities. I think we could maybe have inspired people a bit more with some of the RT devices and some of our marketing.

                                IDG: There’s a lot of downward pressure on tablet pricing—Asus showed an Android tablet this week for $129. Do you expect to see Windows 8 tablets getting down to those sort of prices?

                                NP: That’s a question to ask our OEMs [original equipment manufacturers, or basically PC makers]. I think people are prepared to pay for value and we see tablets with higher price points having better capabilities and features. I think buyers are getting smart about what’s good quality. But OEMs will choose their own prices.

                                imageThe Acer Iconia W3-810 tablet

                                IDG: We saw the first 8-inch Windows tablet launch this week from Acer. What are some of the things you’re doing to provide a better Windows experience on those smaller devices?

                                NP: For any device you can hold in one hand, one of the things you need is portrait mode—so, the ability for the apps to work in the same way, to move and to flow nicely. And for our OEMs, we’re giving them the ability to have buttons on the side of the device, because when you’re holding it in one hand you might want to push a button on the side. You have to make the OS extensible. So those are the types of things.

                                IDG: Will that all be part of Windows 8.1?

                                NP: Yes, we talked about that today.

                                IDG: I’ve never thought of Windows as being designed for smaller screens; the netbook experience wasn’t particularly great. What are you doing to improve the software experience?

                                NP: In terms of how the display scales up and down, and in terms of the zooming capabilities—as soon as the preview [of Windows 8.1] comes out you should play with it.

                                IDG: There’s a tremendous variety of form factors out there right now—all kinds of laptops and tablets and convertibles. When you look ahead a few years, do you expect them to coalesce around a few winning designs or will there always be that much variety?

                                NP: In terms of capabilities, I think touch is going to be the new standard. People aren’t going to want to carry around hundreds of devices. You’ll have a phone, and I think the phablet is an interesting space. But for two-in-one detachables—I’m seeing the interest in those ramp. People want the best of both worlds. You can have a tablet and sit there and surf, then you plug it into a keyboard and you’re off working.

                                IDG: Is the keyboard here to stay, or will people eventually get used to typing on touchscreens?

                                I think the keyboard is here to stay, you’ve got that physical feedback. You may see a lot of innovation around keyboards but I think they’re here to stay.

                                Google search on “Computex Windows ARM discount” between June 5 and 6 was yielding the following items:
                                One year after debut, Windows RT is a Computex no-show | The Verge | OSNews | I4U News
                                New ecosystem opportunities, Windows 8.1 updates shared at Computex | Blogging Windows [from Microsoft]
                                Microsoft to include Outlook app with update to Windows 8 RT | ARN [Australia]
                                Microsoft Aims to Lure More Users to Windows | WSJ.com
                                Microsoft To Give More Tablet Makers Windows 8 Discounts | NASDAQ.com | 4-Traders | Capital.gr
                                Microsoft to Offer Discounted Windows and Office for Small Tablets | AllThingsD | CELLIFONE.com
                                AMD breaks from Windows exclusivity, adopts Android and Chrome OS | Facepunch.com
                                Forget Haswell: Why tablet processors mean more to Intel at Computex | The USA News Online 
                                Computex 2013: low-cost tablets, high-res laptops steal the show | Techgoondu
                                Microsoft says Outlook is coming to Windows RT this year | ZDNet
                                Microsoft demonstrates Windows as a platform for small tablets, touch and mobility at Computex 2013 | Virtualization Journal [replica of Microsoft press release]

                                Windows RT is a Computex no-show:

                                Three days into Computex Taipei, Asia’s biggest computer show, not a single manufacturer has announced a Windows RT device. … The Computex show floor has been dominated by devices running Windows 8 on Haswell and other chips from Intel, but ARM-powered units have been conspicuous in their absence.

                                However, the upcoming Windows 8.1 update and its RT counterpart could provide a shot in the arm to the fledgling OS. Qualcomm has pledged support for RT 8.1 with its new Snapdragon 800 processor, which president and COO Steve Mollenkopf described in a presentation today as offering “about 75 percent better performance than the S4 Pro.”

                                The Verge has heard that manufacturers may be holding back RT devices for Qualcomm’s new chip and the 8.1 update, which is also designed to improve the experience on smaller-screened devices.

                                include Outlook app with update to Windows 8 RT:

                                Outlook will be included with version 8.1 of Windows RT, previously dubbed Windows Blue, Microsoft announced at the Computex trade show in Taipei on Wednesday. The 8.1 update is scheduled for release later this year as a free update to Windows 8.

                                “We’re always listening to our customers and one piece of feedback was that people want the power of Outlook on all their Windows PCs and tablets,” Microsoft said. […]

                                Support for RT from hardware makers has been limited, however, with several PC makers, such as Acer, Asustek Computer and Hewlett-Packard, not yet supporting the OS.

                                Microsoft hopes to change that by addressing one of the criticisms of Windows RT — that it doesn’t include a version of its popular Outlook email client. Nvidia CEO Jen Hsun Huang has been vocal about the importance of adding Outlook to RT.

                                “If Outlook were to show up on RT, my life would be complete,” he said recently, lamenting the slow sales of Windows RT tablets. “I am one Outlook away from computing nirvana. Outlook god, please…”

                                Lure More Users to Windows:

                                Until now, people with Windows RT devices—which use different kinds of computer chips than those common in personal computers—have only been able to use a new type of email app that has been panned by users.

                                A Microsoft executive, speaking at the Computex computer trade show in Taiwan, also acknowledged the company is cutting the prices it charges computer makers for Microsoft software.

                                The executive, Nick Parker, didn’t detail the size of the software discounts. But people familiar with Microsoft’s pricing strategy have said for Windows RT devices, Microsoft is cutting by two-thirds the cost to license Windows and Office software, or roughly $100 before marketing rebates Microsoft offers to PC makers.

                                Microsoft’s discounts apply to tablets smaller than 10.1 inches, Mr. Parker said. The company said it started offering discounts to some tablet makers in April.

                                The discounts and addition of Outlook underscore how hard Microsoft is trying to boost the appeal of devices that run Windows RT, a product whose development marked a major break from company tradition. […]

                                “This is an exciting development that we believe will deliver a much more robust and full-featured experience to Windows RT users,” wrote Mark Aevermann, an Nvidia product manager, in a blog post.

                                Microsoft executives have said they would push harder to bolster sales by explaining more clearly the attributes of Windows RT and ARM chips.

                                We are very committed to ARM,” said Tami Reller, the Windows chief financial officer and chief marketing officer, in an interview last month.

                                Windows executives also recently suggested Windows RT devices might in the future lose the dual modes that have been a polarizing feature of the new Windows.

                                Windows 8 and Windows RT devices operate in both a traditional Windows “desktop” and a new mode that looks and functions more like a smartphone screen. The Windows executives, Jensen Harris and Antoine Leblond, suggested in a May interview that it might be appropriate to junk desktop mode entirely on Windows RT devices.

                                Windows 8 Discounts:

                                Nick Parker, vice president of Microsoft’s OEM division, said at the Computex trade show in Taipei Wednesday that the Redmond, Wash. company is now expanding its discount program to include tablets that run on Windows RT, a version of Windows 8 running on ARM Holdings PLC (ARMH, ARM.LN) chips. The discount will also apply to an upgraded version of its Windows 8 system dubbed Windows 8.1. The discounts will only apply on tablets that are between 7 and 10.1 inches. The executive declined to comment on the size of the discounts but Mr. Parker said they will come in the form of a cut in licensing fees and free Office software for hardware makers.

                                Microsoft said it started offering discounts to some tablet makers in April and there is no specific time frame for when the discounts might end.

                                The Wall Street Journal reported in early March, citing people familiar with the situation, that Microsoft had been offering price breaks on its Windows 8 and Office software to help spur the development of small, touch-enabled laptop computers.

                                In the latest discount program, tablets with screens bigger than 10.1 inches will not be eligible for the discount, Mr. Parker said. But he didn’t elaborate.

                                Analysts said the discounts could help bring down retail prices of smaller Windows tablets and help Microsoft better compete with Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Google Inc. (GOOG).

                                Discounted Windows and Office for Small Tablets:

                                Second, Microsoft is cutting some sort of deal with computer makers that want to bundle Windows 8 and Office Home and Student onto a seven- or eight-inch tablet. Microsoft isn’t going into detail on what it is charging PC manufacturers, but it is clearly low enough to enable some pretty inexpensive tablets.

                                The first of these tablets to be announced, Acer’s Iconia W3, has a $379 sticker price. That’s pretty darn cheap for a machine that includes full-blown Windows and Office.

                                Microsoft isn’t saying which other computer makers may also be working on small tablets, but with the PC market struggling, it seems reasonable to think we will see a number of such tablets in short order.

                                And while Microsoft’s bundle program appears limited to small tablets, one could conceivably hook up the tiny tablet to a monitor and keyboard and use it as a home PC.

                                low-cost tablets, high-res laptops steal the show:

                                Since Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Asus’ Nexus 7 came out last year, the idea of a cheap, small tablet has taken hold like few expected. This year, the cheap is going to get cheaper, with Asus’ MeMo Pad HD7 starting from just US$129 for an 8GB version.

                                image

                                Now, this may not be as cheap as some models you’d find in Shenzhen, but this model from Asus will win over many users looking for an affordable but well-made tablet.

                                The new MeMo Pad HD7 also seems like an updated version of the successful Nexus 7. There is the 1,280 x 800 screen, now coupled with a quad-core Arm Cortex A7 CPU, and a microSD card slot to pop in memory cards, which the Nexus 7 did not have. No idea of when this is coming, but expect to save some money for a budget tablet this holiday season. […]

                                An interesting idea, which may not turn out to be a major trend, is small Windows tablets. Acer surprised many visitors with its 8-inch Windows 8 tablet, probably the first such mobile option.

                                The Iconia W3 runs an Intel Atom chip, has 2GB RAM and either 32GB or 64GB storage. The 1,280 x 800 resolution is not too bad on the small screen.

                                image

                                What’s a little hard to see is the Windows desktop, when you fire up your traditional Windows programs, like Excel. During a quick hands-on, I can tell that the screen was too small for serious editing. Don’t even think of sharing programs on the screen. It’s just too small.

                                Which leaves you in mostly the Metro touch interface on Windows 8. Sadly, there aren’t many apps here yet, compared to either an Apple iPad mini or an Android tablet.

                                Not just that, while the US$379 asking price isn’t unreasonable for the hardware, the question is on usage. If you’re using the machine mainly as a small tablet, Android tablets are getting cheaper all the time, as Asus’ MeMo Pad HD7 shows.

                                Outlook is coming to Windows RT:

                                Owners of existing RT devices will receive the updates for free.

                                Despite weak sales of its own ARM-powered Surface and even more tepid support from hardware partners, Microsoft doesn’t appear to be backing away from Windows RT. The addition of Outlook will undoubtedly convince some previously recalcitrant business buyers that Windows RT tablets make sense, as will the announcement at the Tech-Ed conference this week of management tools that allow greater control over Windows RT devices. And Microsoft also announced support for additional types of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) on Windows RT.

                                But there are still dealbreakers that stand in the way of widespread deployments of Windows RT. Office 2013 RT has many of the same features as its x86/x64 counterpart, but it lacks the ability to handle custom macro code. In addition, some features are missing from the RT programs, including the ability to embed audio and video in OneNote notebooks.

                                And Office is the only desktop app that Microsoft has officially ported to Windows RT. Third-party developers don’t have that option, which means any business that requires a third-party desktop app or a browser plugin other than Adobe Flash is out of luck. Likewise, Windows RT still doesn’t support some widely used third-party VPN clients.

                                There’s also the pesky issue of licensing. The version of Office included with Windows RT is Office Home and Student 2013, which is licensed for noncommercial use only. If you want to stay in the good graces of Microsoft’s licensing agreement, you need to add commercial use rights, through a volume license or by way of a subscription to a business edition of Office 365.

                                Today’s announcement is also noticeably silent on the question of when Microsoft plans to release native tablet versions of its Office programs, for both Windows 8.1/RT as well as alternative platforms like the iPad and Android tablets. The fact that the desktop version of Outlook is a key part of this fall’s update suggests that Office for tablets won’t appear until 2014, and one recent rumor says late 2014 is the likely target date for those apps.

                                Windows as a platform for small tablets [Microsoft press release replicated]:

                                “We want to be the best partner to all hardware manufacturers, from the way we engage and invest on new product designs to the experience we jointly deliver to customers,” Parker said. “This new wave of Windows devices from our partners, combined with our software, apps and services, reflects that commitment.”

                                Most notable of the devices Parker showed were the new 7-inch and 8-inch Windows tablets: the Acer Iconia W3 that launched on June 3 in Taipei, and three other small tablets from top original device manufacturer (ODM) and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners expected to ship for the holiday season. These small tablets provide a Windows experience with Office Home & Student 2013 delivering even more options to experience all that Windows can offer in a smaller form factor. […]

                                Tami Reller, chief financial officer and chief marketing officer of Microsoft’s Windows Division, joined Parker onstage … “Windows 8.1 furthers the bold vision of Windows 8 by responding to customer feedback and adding new features and functionality that advance the touch experience and mobile computing’s potential,” Reller said.

                                As part of this commitment, Reller announced that Outlook 2013 RT will be available on Windows-based ARM tablets with the Windows 8.1 update later this year. “Windows on ARM is a core part of our strategy today and moving forward, and the addition of Outlook further enriches this world of new on-the-go opportunities for partners and customers,” Reller said.