"Microsoft" entries

Four short links: 4 April 2014

Four short links: 4 April 2014

MSFT Opening, Declarative Web, Internet Utility, and Design Fiction Reading List

  1. C# Compiler Open Sourced — bit by the bit, the ship of Microsoft turns.
  2. The Web’s Declarative Composable Future — this. For the first time since 1993, I feel like the web platform is taking a step towards being a real platform (vs simply bolting features on the side).
  3. Why the Government Should Provide Internet Access — video interview with Susan Crawford about why the Internet should be treated like a utility. She’s the only policy person I see talking sense. There’s a multilarity coming, when a critical mass of everyday objects are connected to each other via the Internet and offline devices become as useful as an ox-drawn cart on railway tracks. At that point it’s too late to argue you need affordable predator-proof Internet, because you’re already over the (sensing, e-ink covered, Arduino-powered) barrel. (via BoingBoing)
  4. Design Fiction: A BibliographySome resources about design fiction I’m use to share with students.

An introduction to TypeScript

At Fluent 2013, O’Reilly’s conference dedicated to the Web Platform, JavaScript and HTML5, Microsoft’s Luke Hoban spoke about TypeScript, a strict superset of JavaScript that adds optional static typing, modules, and classes.

In Introduction to TypeScript, Luke presented a 40 minute introduction to the language, how it relates to JavaScript and ECMAScript 6, and how TypeScript looks and behaves in IDE environments and within the context of complete applications.

TypeScript is an open source project from Microsoft that aims to help developers work on larger applications that could benefit from features like static typing but without eschewing JavaScript and its wealth of libraries and tools. As TypeScript is a strict superset of JavaScript, all JavaScript code is legitimate TypeScript code and TypeScript compiles down to idiomatic JavaScript so it runs on any runtime that JavaScript does too.

Some key parts of Todd’s talk include:

  • What is TypeScript? [at 01:48]
  • A demo of TypeScript [at 05:14]
  • A look at how typing helps [at 06:40]
  • How classes in TypeScript work [at 16:20]
  • The TypeScript ecosystem / community [at 21:53]
  • TypeScript 0.9 [at 25:48]
  • A look at generics support [at 29:18]
  • TypeScript in the context of a full app [at 34:40]

If you want to learn more about TypeScript, check out the official TypeScript homepage which includes a simple tutorial and an interactive playground that lets you type TypeScript code on the left hand side of the screen and see the JavaScript translation on the right.


Update Mobility: The Year in Mobile

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

As the end of December approaches, it’s time to take a look at the year that was. In a lot of ways, 2013 was a status quo year for mobile, with nothing earthshaking to report, just a steady progression of what already is getting more, um, is-y?

We started the year with Apple on top in the tablet space, Android on top in the handset space, and that’s how we ended the year. Microsoft appears to have abandoned the handset space after a decade of attempts to take market-share, and made their move on the tablet space instead with the Surface. In spite of expensive choreographer board room commercials, the Surface didn’t make a huge dent in Apple’s iPad dominance. But Microsoft did better than Blackberry, whose frantic flailing in the market has come to represent nothing so much as a fish out of water.

Read more…


Upward Mobility: Microsoft’s Patent Arsenal Is Full of Blanks

Why innovate in the product space, when you can leech money instead?

It is with some amusement that your humble servant read this week of Microsoft’s lucrative business licensing their patents to Android handset makers. How lucrative? Evidently, over two billion dollars a year, five times their revenue from actual mobile products that the company produces. What is harder to discover, unless you do a lot of digging, is what the Android vendors are actually licensing. You have to dig back into the original suit between Microsoft and Motorola to find a list of patents, although they may have added to their portfolio since then through further acquisitions. The thing is that, unlike many parts of the software industry, the cellular portion actually has some valid patents lurking around. Cell phones have radios in them, and there are continual improvements in the protocols and technologies used to make data move faster. As a result, it is a perfectly reasonable assumption to make that Microsoft has acquired some of these cellular patents, and is using them as a revenue stream. Unfortunately, a look at the Motorola suit patent list tells a different story. Read more…

Four short links: 4 October 2013

Four short links: 4 October 2013

Neuromancer Game, Ray Ozzie, Sentiment Analysis, and Open Science Prizes

  1. Case and Molly, a Game Inspired by Neuromancer (Greg Borenstein) — On reading Neuromancer today, this dynamic feels all too familiar. We constantly navigate the tension between the physical and the digital in a state of continuous partial attention. We try to walk down the street while sending text messages or looking up GPS directions. We mix focused work with a stream of instant message and social media conversations. We dive into the sudden and remote intimacy of seeing a family member’s face appear on FaceTime or Google Hangout. “Case and Molly” uses the mechanics and aesthetics of Neuromancer’s account of cyberspace/meatspace coordination to explore this dynamic.
  2. Rethinking Ray Ozziean inescapable conclusion: Ray Ozzie was right. And Microsoft’s senior leadership did not listen, certainly not at the time, and perhaps not until it was too late. Hear, hear!
  3. Recursive Deep Models for Semantic Compositionality
    Over a Sentiment Treebank
    (PDF) — apparently it nails sentiment analysis, and will be “open sourced”. At least, according to this GigaOm piece, which also explains how it works.
  4. PLoS ASAP Award Finalists Announced — with pointers to interviews with the finalists, doing open access good work like disambiguating species names and doing open source drug discovery.
Comment: 1

SPTechCon, iPhone Bootcamp, OSCON, and More

Tech events you don't want to miss

Each Monday, we round up upcoming event highlights from the programming and technology spaces. Have an event to share? Send us a note.

HTML5 Application Development Class: This two-day training class offers a small class size and individual attention for developers looking for insights into HTML5 app development. Visit the event page for more information and to register.
Date: June 13–14 Location: San Francisco, CA

The Linux Way: Rebuilding The Unix Way for a New Era webcast: Andy Grover covers ways the Linux platform is shifting away from the Unix philosophy and how hackers and users are defining a new Linux Way, independent from the Unix Way. Register for this free webcast.
Date: 10 a.m. PT, June 14 Location: Online webcast

Read more…


TechEd 2013: The ASP.NET Team, Surfaces at a Deep Discount, (and Google Glass?)

Humid, harmonious, and happy

People weren’t kidding when they told me New Orleans is humid, but the good news is the conference venue has great air conditioning. As expected TechEd is focused mainly on system administrator issues, but I’m feeling that even more so this year with BUILD right around the corner on June 26. However, that isn’t keeping the ASP.NET team from letting us in on what they’ve been working on these past few months.

I wrote a post a little more than a year ago on how Microsoft was starting to embrace open source. Well, it seems to be paying off with Web API 2: two of the new features, CORS and Attribute Routing, were initially contributed by community members and then perfected with the ASP.NET team. These two features are making writing code for your website more streamlined.

In other impressive updates, layout and styling are now based in Bootstrap and cross-browser testing is now much quicker with a tool codenamed “Artery.” We saw, Damian Edwards, Program Manager on the ASP.NET team, make a change in the code, rerun the program, and show us the updated website on local versions of Explorer and Chrome. In addition to upgrade announcements, a welcome change came in the form of a consistent toolset offering with Visual Studio 2013 that makes working across Web Forms and MVC much easier for developers. All new versions of these technologies, ASP.NET MVC 5, Web API 2, and Signal R2 will run only with .NET 4.5.

Sitting in the front of the packed room I kept thinking this is what Microsoft needs—an engaged audience that can work with a brilliant team to consistently update the technology and encourage change.

Oh, and Microsoft (in what I think is a smart move) is selling the Surface RT and Surface Pro, to full attendees, at deep, deep discounts, with the RT priced at $99 and the Pro at $399. The lines have been massive since the offer was announced. Hopefully this will provide Microsoft with more mindshare if not market share in the coming months.

And a note about Google Glass: I brought them to the conference in my continued social experiment to see how people would react. It has been a mixed bag of folks wanting to talk to me about them, those afraid I am recording them, and even a few that aren’t sure what it is. It continues to be good conversation starter as is the story of my eating my first crawdad—a New Orleans staple!

Comment: 1

Building Modern Web Apps, Build 2013, TechEd North America, and More

Tech events you don't want to miss

Each Monday, we round up upcoming event highlights from the programming and technology spaces. Have an event to share? Send us a note.

Modern Web Applications Utilizing HTML5 APIs webcast: Ido Green covers techniques and tools for building great “modern” web apps, including tips on Chrome DevTools, HTML5 power tools, and modern web app design techniques. Register for this free webcast.
Date: 10 a.m. PT, May 30 Location: Online webcast

TechEd North America: This is Microsoft’s main conference for IT professionals and enterprise developers. Get hands-on experience with more than 200 self-paced labs. If you need to convince your boss to let you go, there’s even a guide to help. For more information and to register, visit the TechEd website.
Date: June 3–6 Location: New Orleans, LA

Read more…

Comment: 1

Upward Mobility: Should There Be Only One?

Admittedly, the idea of Ballmer, Cook and Schmidt all battling it out Highlander-style is appealing...

As long as most people can remember, the smartphone space has been a contested one. Before the iPhone became temporarily ubiquitous, RIM and Palm were fighting it out to own the market, and today you have a plethora of platforms to choose from, including Android, iOS, Windows, and Blackberry. And because many mobile OS vendors license their products to third-party manufacturers, some mobile operating systems have little market share wars of their own, such as HTC fighting it out with Samsung and Motorola for the Android customer base.

I’ve talked before, in the context of languages, about the damage that the paradox of choice can bring to societies. Having more product choices may not make us any happier, or even lead to better products, but only create the vague uncertainty that whichever product choice we make, it wasn’t the correct one.

For obvious reasons, a monopoly doesn’t usually work out that well either, at least in mature markets with stable standards. Very few will argue that Microsoft’s most innovative years occurred during the period that they sat “fat, dumb and happy” with 90%+ desktop market share. But I would argue that there comes a time when some choices should be left to die a dignified death, and that both Windows and Blackberry mobile products are at that point.
Read more…

Comments: 2
Four short links: 27 September 2012

Four short links: 27 September 2012

Don't Pay Developers, Teaching Programming, Second Android Screens, and Democracy

  1. Paying for Developers is a Bad Idea (Charlie Kindel) — The companies that make the most profit are those who build virtuous platform cycles. There are no proof points in history of virtuous platform cycles being created when the platform provider incents developers to target the platform by paying them. Paying developers to target your platform is a sign of desperation. Doing so means developers have no skin in the game. A platform where developers do not have skin in the game is artificially propped up and will not succeed in the long run. A thesis illustrated with his experience at Microsoft.
  2. Learnable Programming (Bret Victor) — deconstructs Khan Academy’s coding learning environment, and explains Victor’s take on learning to program. A good system is designed to encourage particular ways of thinking, with all features carefully and cohesively designed around that purpose. This essay will present many features! The trick is to see through them — to see the underlying design principles that they represent, and understand how these principles enable the programmer to think. (via Layton Duncan)
  3. Tablet as External Display for Android Smartphones — new app, in beta, letting you remote-control via a tablet. (via Tab Times)
  4. Clay Shirky: How The Internet Will (One Day) Transform Government (TED Talk) — There’s no democracy worth the name that doesn’t have a transparency move, but transparency is openness in only one direction, and being given a dashboard without a steering wheel has never been the core promise a democracy makes to its citizens.
Comment: 1