Windows Azure: Free Developers Course

Windows Azure is a key part of Microsoft’s “Cloud” strategy moving into the future but of course, it needs people to use it and develop for it for it to be truly successful. They are piloting a new way of training developers & architects Azure, via self paced, web based training…best of all it’s FREE!

The method is one that I’m quite familiar with which aims to offer the best features of classroom training without the hassles and expense of travel, hotels, being out of the office for days etc. It utilises:

  • Interactive Live Meeting sessions with a tutor
  • On-line videos
  • Hands on Labs
  • E-Learning
  • Weekly Assessments

to cover off the topics, and you don’t need to go anywhere! The course lasts for 6 weeks from:

May 10th – June 18th

and covers:

Week 1 – Windows Azure Platform
Week 2 – Windows Azure Storage
Week 3 – Windows Azure Deep Dive and Codename "Dallas"
Week 4 – SQL Azure
Week 5 – Windows Azure Platform AppFabric Access Control
Week 6 – Windows Azure Platform AppFabric Service Bus

and did I mention it’s FREE?!

This is aimed at developers, architects, programmers and system designers and recommends at least 6 months experience programming in .NET and Visual Studio.

It will take around 4 to 5 hours a week to research and complete the tasks and there are timelines etc for submitting the work. However, successful completion gets you a “Microsoft Certificate of Completion” 🙂

This is a new approach from Microsoft and one that I hope will be expanded out to other product areas.


You can find more information and sign up here:

If you’re technically minded and interested in Azure, sign up…and get any colleagues/friends that would be interested to sign up too!

I’ve registered and am looking forward to it so hopefully I’ll see you there 🙂

Internet Explorer 9

Internet Explorer 9 is here! Well, a Developer preview build has been released at MIX 10 and it looks pretty freakin’ awesome!

  • Full HTML 5 Support…even video!
  • Rounded Corners
  • Background Compiled Javascript
  • Much improved (although not perfect) ACID 3 score
  • IE9 is the first browser to provide fully hardware-accelerated SVG support

These, and more, are already part of IE9 🙂

Head over to:

to find out more and download the current build of IE9, although it’s not a complete browser. There is no address bar and no back button (!), it’s a very early way of letting us all have a look at the goodness that is on it’s way.

An important point I’ve just seen in the FAQ is that:

“One of the best features of Platform Preview is that it installs side-by-side with earlier versions of Internet Explorer and any other browser(s) on your computer”

which means it should be completely safe to install it on your machine. I’ve got it on mine and it works great…

Look-Rounded Borders!


Asteroids in the browser?



Acid Test:

“Acid3 is a test page from the Web Standards Project that checks how well a web browser follows certain selected elements from web standards, especially relating to the Document Object Model (DOM) and JavaScript.” (from Wikipedia)

Current browsers that pass Acid 3 are:

Google Chrome

Apple Safari


while Internet Explorer 8 gets:


Internet Explorer 9 currently gets:


So much better…but still a way to go. I assume that Microsoft will get it to 100 by the time it ships?

Windows XP

Can I haz IE9 on XP?


What the What?

“Internet Explorer 9’s GPU-powered graphics take advantage of new technologies available in Windows 7 and back-ported only to Windows Vista. These technologies depend on advancements in the display driver model introduced first in Windows Vista”

Oh…ok…can I haz Windows 7 pleez?!

This is another reason for people to move from the creaking, aging and frankly not very good anymore platform of Windows XP. IE9 is going to be faster, flashier, sexier and better and will seriously enhance and improve people’s interactions with the web…both in terms of enjoyment and enhanced productivity…maybe this will be the thing that pushes people to take the leap onto Windows 7? Here’s hoping!

HTML 5 Video

Although Microsoft showed HTML 5 video working during the MIX 10 keynote, it’s not currently available in the Platform Preview. However, it is coming and, as MS are updating the build every 8 weeks, it won’t be too long until we see it.

Javascript Rendering

On the Webkit SunSpider Javascript Performance test, IE9 posts better results that Firefox 3.6:

Bar graph of Webkit SunSpider Javascript Benchmark results


and is getting very close to the super speeds of Opera. With many months until shipping we should see IE9 rise even further up the ranks.

Dean Hachamovitch (General Manager, Internet Explorer) has got a great blog post all about IE 9 here:


From what I’ve heard from MIX and via Twitter, what I’ve seen using the Platform Preview and what I’ve read on the MSDN blogs…this is going to fit in really well with Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7 Series…it’s going to be brilliant and put MS back at the top.

So go and download the preview, check it out and keep tuned 🙂

Windows Phone Developer Training Kits

Windows Phone 7 Series is a little bit closer after today’s MIX 10 keynote and Microsoft are doing a great job of making sure that WP7 developers have got everything they need to get started putting the iPhone to shame making great apps 🙂

They have put together a training kit for developers which includes 4 Hands On Labs:

Hello Phone:

As with the classic “Hello World” app, this is a way to introduce you to the tools needed to build Silverlight apps for Windows Phones.

Building Your First Windows Phone Application:

This teaches you to create a simple puzzle game using the basic building blocks, and includes some phone-specific features.


Windows Phone Navigation & Controls:

This focuses on on Windows Phone’s layout and switching between different screens.

Game Development with XNA Framework:

This lab helps you build a simple XMA game using Visual Studio Express for Windows Phone.

You can see the online kit here or download a local copy here.

To download the Windows Phone Developer Tools, hit this link:

Windows Phone 7 Series Development Tools

Today saw the start of MIX 10, Microsoft’s 3 day conference for web designers and developers, and it was all about Windows Phone 7 Series aka WP7 (or Windows Mobile 7 as you might call it).

They announced the availability of a comprehensive set of free tools to support developing Silverlight apps on WP7. This can be download from:

WP7 Developer Kit

and includes previews of:

· Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone

· Windows Phone 7 Series add-in to use with Visual Studio 2010 RC1

· XNA Game Studio 4.0

· Windows Phone 7 Series Emulator for application testing

· Expression Blend for Windows Phone CTP (available as a separate download).

I’m not a developer, although I often wish I was, and this is one of those times! Go get it and make some brilliant apps that will bring me, and countless others, back to the WinMo fold 🙂

An alternative download link is:

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