Windows Azure Mobile Services Update

by on January 9, 2013

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It has been less than four months since we introduced the first public preview for Windows Azure Mobile Services and in this short time we have seen continual improvements to the service offering including:

  • SDKs for Windows Store, Windows Phone 8 and iOS app
  • Auth using Microsoft Account, Facebook, Google and Twitter
  • Push Notification support via WNS, MPNS and APNS
  • Structured storage
  • Deployments in East and West US datacenters

What’s New

We are continuing this great momentum and I’m happy to announce another round of exciting updates to Windows Azure Mobile Services.

  • Rapid Development: configure a straightforward and secure backend for Windows 8 and mobile applications in less than five minutes.
  • Scheduler (a.k.a “CRON”): you can now run a server script on a pre-set schedule or on-demand. This enables new scenarios, including:
    • aggregating data from Twitter, RSS feeds, or any external web services
    • executing background code efficiently, such as process/resize images, performing complex calculations, or sending emails
    • schedule sending push notifications to customers to ensure they arrive at the right time of day
  • Command-line support: you can now use the Windows Azure command line tools to create and manage your mobile services.
  • Availability in the North Europe datacenter: you can now deploy your mobile services in Europe to enjoy reduced latency for your European customers.

Whether you are a developer building for the Windows Store, Windows Phone 8, iPhone, or iPad, these new features in Windows Azure Mobile Services provides an easy, streamlined process for backend elements like storing structured data, configuring user authentication via Windows Live, Facebook, Twitter, and Google, and incorporating push notifications.

Visit WindowsAzure.com to access Mobile Services either by logging into a current Windows Azure account or sign up for the free Mobile Services trial. You get 10 Mobile Services for FREE!

As always, stay tuned to my twitter feed for Windows 8, Windows Azure and other Microsoft announcements, updates, and links: @clinted



The Rock, Paper, Azure Challenge is Back!

by on December 19, 2012

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I’m excited to announce that we have re-launched the Rock, Paper, Azure challenge! For the next 6 weeks Developers will compete in an online game based on rock, paper, scissors, with the opportunity to win prizes and some serious bragging rights.

The Rock Paper Azure Challenge is an online game based on rock, paper, scissors where developers code their own player “bots” to battle other competitors. But there’s a kicker – we’ve added a modern twist to this classic childhood game: dynamite and water balloons!

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The “bots” are deployed into Windows Azure and compete against each other for weekly and grand prizes. You can see the full set of moves and scoring rules here. There are weekly awards for anyone who submits an eligible “bot” and grand prizes for “bots” that place in the top 10 leaderboard. We provide the baseline downloadable code for the “bots”, and include step-by-step instructional videos on how to program, troubleshoot and upload a “bot”.

Weekly Sweepstakes Drawing

Every week (December 21st through January 25th) we'll randomly select five (5) winners to receive a $50 Best Buy gift card. All participants need to do is to deploy an eligible “bot” and they qualify for the weekly sweepstakes. It’s that easy! Winners will be selected each Friday at 2pm ET. By the close of the promotion, a total of 30 winners will have been selected (5 per week for 6 weeks).

Overall Grand Prize Sweepstakes Drawing

The grand prizes consist of a 32G Microsoft Surface, Xbox 360 4GB with Kinect Bundle and a $150.00 Best Buy Gift Card. However, to be eligible for the grand prizes participant’s “bots” needs to crush the competition and place in the weekly top ten (10) leaderboard. All “bots” that finish in the top 10 leader board during the weekly competitions (run on Fridays at 2pm ET) are eligible for the grand prize sweepstakes drawing at the end of the competition. At the close of the promotion, we will randomly select three (3) winners from among all weekly top 10 finalists to win the grand prizes.

Get Your Bot In There!

  1. Get A Windows Azure Account – Get your FREE trial here or activate your MSDN Subscription benefit that includes Azure services.
  2. Build and Test Your BotDownload the bits and start building a killer bot that’s ready to battle the competition. Check out the Get Started page for more details. You can enter the simple sample bot or test your strategic coding skills by building a more advanced bot.
  3. Play the GameEnter your bot into the Challenge for your chance to win. This round of the Rock, Paper, Azure challenge will run for 6 weeks through January 25th.

This contest is open to all Developers and coding hobbyists in the US.

As always, stay tuned to my twitter feed for Windows 8, Windows Azure and other Microsoft announcements, updates, and links: @clinted



TouchDevelop: The Fast Path to Windows 8 and Phone Apps

by on December 4, 2012

imageAre you looking for a little extra cash for the upcoming holidays? Then you might be interested in creating some cool apps to sell in the Windows Store. Or maybe you’re simply curious and want to try your hand at developing for Windows 8 and Windows Phone. In either case, the newly released TouchDevelop Web App is for you.

TouchDevelop Web App is a development environment to create apps on your tablet or smartphone, without requiring a separate PC. Scripts written by using TouchDevelop can access data, media, and sensors on the phone, tablet, and PC. The script can interact with cloud services, including storage, computing, and social networks. TouchDevelop lets you quickly create fun games and useful tools, turning your scripts into true Windows Phone and Windows 8 apps.

A year ago, Microsoft Research released TouchDevelop for Windows Phone, which is being used by enthusiasts, students, and researchers to program their phones in fun, inventive, and interesting ways. These scripts are available at TouchDevelop for anyone to download and use.

Ever since we released TouchDevelop, we’ve been eyeing the tablet form factor and working on a version for the browser. Now, with the release of TouchDevelop Web App, the wait is over: the tablet version is ready, so go play around with it.

All TouchDevelop scripts that are developed on the smartphone can be downloaded to the tablet and run (if hardware allows). Any script that is developed on the tablet can also be accessed on the phone. And scripts can be converted to Windows Phone or Windows 8 apps and submitted to the Windows Phone Store or Windows Store, respectively.

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TouchDevelop Web App’s editor and programming language have been designed for tablet devices with touchscreens, but you can also use a keyboard and a mouse. So grab your web-enabled device and give the TouchDevelop Web App a try. It’s fun and easy, and could even put a little cash in your holiday-depleted wallet. Or at least give you bragging rights at family get-togethers.

Are you interested in further tips on Windows 8 development?  Sign up for the 30 to launch program which will help you build a Windows Store application in 30 days.  You will receive a tip per day for 30 days, along with potential free design consultations and technical support from a Windows 8 expert.

As always, stay tuned to my twitter feed for Windows 8, Windows Azure and other Microsoft announcements, updates, and links: @clinted