Tag Archives: microsoft

What is Windows Azure?

I’ve been picking the brains of some of our developers to really get to the bottom of what Windows Azure can provide; it’s interesting and really quite useful so I wanted to share my learning’s.

Firstly to understand what it is, it’s worth just remembering all the things you usually have to consider when developing a new service:  the OS you need to use, the network and how that will interact with the system, storage needs – scale, geography and so on…

Quite a lot really… so wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to get through all that before you start bottoming out your idea? Well that’s what Windows Azure take care of – all those things you need to consider so you can concentrate on making your service great.

Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing platform. It’s designed to be a place where you can run your service, at scale, on the internet.

Furthermore it takes a service centric view of cloud computing so it manages the entire cycle from design to deployment to ongoing monitoring and deployment of optimal versions of your service.

It consists of three layers:

  1. The Fabric layer, an abstract set of computer resources in the data centre consisting of multiple computers, running virtual machines, running windows.
  2. The Storage service, which is there to help manage the data coming in from your service in a reliable and scalable way.
  3. And the Developer experience.  This packages up the Fabric and Storage layers with all the API’s integrated in visual studio and delivered through an SDK (Software Development Kit).This can then be downloaded for free so you can develop and test the service locally before you deploy to the cloud.

So not only does this remove the stress of the pre-mapping stage, make the development a whole lot easier but you can also manage confidential information in a private cloud whilst rich content can be run in the public cloud AND it also works on a scalable model.

Obviously when you launch a new service you hope the uptake will continue to grow and you’ll reach a peek at some point in the scale of the growth. With a lot of buying models now you need to estimate that peak and pay upfront. Windows Azure runs on a ‘Pay as you go’ model.

If you want to learn more about the using Azure then you can visit www.dev.windowsazure.com

We heart cloud computing…

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The new X-Box ‘Kinect’

It’s ‘sleeker, smaller and quieter’ and according to the Vice president of Microsoft, the X-Box 360 ‘Kinect’ is the next revolution in gaming.

With 250GB HD and built-in wi-fi the console brings you technologies that allow you to use your voice as a control, plus movement and gestures.  The team at Microsoft have created new partnerships with the likes of ESPN in order to build more intelligent software that recognise you and your opponents to add in more interactive dimensions to the world of gaming.

You might worry that this will be detrimental to the quality you expect to receive as historically we’ve all experienced rich high-definition video but Microsoft promise they’re not moving away from delivering this quality and look to better their three massive blockbusters: Halo, Gears of War and Call of Duty.

One for your wish list to Santa, the ‘Kinect’ is due to hit stores by the end of this year.

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Wave 4 is on the horizon

Microsoft have announced the arrival of the latest version of Windows Live Messenger “Wave 4”.

It’s the latest way to collaborate all your social networks, video chats, photo sharing and cloud integration (similar to Facebook Connect) plus it offers integration with other websites so you can share your thoughts with your friends wherever in the virtual world they are.

Video chat comes in HD, the navigation is tabbed and easier to use – meaning multiple flashing windows are a thing of the past – plus it’s available for download for the Windows Phone 7 and iPhone. The beta version should be launched this summer. If you can’t wait that long to find out more the watch this video.

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are we Google pawns?

It’s pretty difficult to fully get your head around the epic scale of the ongoing battle between Microsoft, Google and Apple. Ridiculous sums of money at stake, entire business strategies hanging in the air and umpteen routes to a delicate balance between success or failure hang in the balance.

It’s not so much the size of these businesses, in the 90’s monopolisation was defined in the dictionary as ‘Microsoft’. Where there was a computer there was Microsoft.

And then along came Apple, they conquered music, revolutionised mobile phones (sorry to all the blackberry/ HTC/ Android phone lovers), I might be so bold as to say they made the computer industry sexy (gasp). However Apple only really dominate (controversial I know) closed information appliances with lots of third-party apps.

And then there’s Google, all roads lead to the internet, and the internet is pretty much Google.

So are we all just pawns in Google’s worldwide game of chess? Discuss…

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