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Today Microsoft released a preview version of its upcoming Windows Server 2012 R2. The preview is very interesting for us right now, since we’re only a stones throw away from migrating our entire IT organization at Mindbite to Windows Server 2012.

Tomorrow Microsoft kicks off its Build Conference where the unveiling of Windows 8.1 will take place. A preview version of Windows 8.1 is highly expected to be released by tomorrow. And the Server Preview comes hand in hand with that.

As a Microsoft Gold Partner we’ve already gained access to Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview, and I’ve also installed it on one of our servers. To get an early glimpse of how Windows 8.1 will work, I’ve installed the Desktop Experience feature on the Server Preview.

Here are some screenshots from Windows Server 2012 R2

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And as with Windows 8/Server 2012 Beta, the Bet(ta) fish is back (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betta)

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Since the release of iPhone 3GS me and my colleagues at Mindbite has been quite the iPhone fans. When iPhone 4S was released about a year ago, everyone switched to one. They look good and they feel good. A vast number of useful apps are available so there is little to miss about the iPhone.

Last summer (2011) I took the time to try Windows Phone 7 and even developed an app for it. As a frequent beta user in many of Microsoft’s beta programs I got into the Windows Phone 7.5 Mango beta program and received the beta version early. A few months later I was developing an iPhone app for a customer and switched back from Windows Phone.

I must say that I have missed the Windows Phone for the last year, and when iOS 6 was released some time ago, me and my colleague Marcus got quite disappointed by it and started looking for good alternatives to the iPhone. Marcus bought a Samsung Galaxy S III and he’s now evaluating it for 30 days. Read his blog about it over here (in Swedish).

A few days ago I tried the new iPhone 5, and it’s even more disappointing than iOS 6. The device is taller and they have changed the back material from glass to some other scratch-sensitive material. I hate the fact that you must put your good looking phone in a not so good looking case, because you’re afraid to break it.

My feeling is that Apple innovation peaked a long time ago. I keep waiting for that moment like when the first iPhone was revealed. I want to be surprised. So, last weekend me and my new pal kicked it off. His name is Lumia and looks real handsome. He’s of no help when it comes to boiling eggs or managing my bank account. When I leave home forgetting to turn on the alarm, he is not the go-to-guy. And for every moment when I have nothing to focus on, and I do like every other iPhone addict, reaching for my phone to bring ease to that little boring moment, he’s even more boring.

But when I want to manage my e-mail, stay up-to-date with my friends or work on a Word, Excel or OneNote document, he’s my best friend. Everything works fast and smooth and I can do and watch everything I need without tapping around a bunch of dead icons.

The best thing with Windows Phone is that it has a lot of fantastic features built in. I have only installed a few apps, like Netflix and Adobe Reader. Social media interaction like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn already exists in the phone. Even the dreadful Facebook chat is nicely integrated into the phone.

My favorite part of Windows Phone is the People hub which connects me with everyone I know. It’s hard to describe how good it is, you simply must try it. On the surface it doesn’t look like much, but when you start working with it right, you won’t need Facebook or Twitter apps. You can create groups and extract the information you want or just click on an interesting person and see a history with all your communication and also the person’s Facebook and Twitter feed.

Now, you might think I’m some kind of wacko that puts down an iPhone for a Nokia Lumia with Windows Phone 7.5. And if you do, I understand you. It’s hard to compare Windows Phone with other phones, because the Windows Phone lacks some features and abilities. But I don’t want to be that guy that walks around with a phone in front of me all the time. The Windows Phone matches the person I want to be. And with the upcoming Windows Phone 8 and Surface, this is a good step in acclimatizing to greatness.

Take a look at this old commercial for Windows Phone, and you might understand how I think. It’s actually tragic, because it’s true.

Closing comments

I miss Bike Baron. I miss it a lot.

Today we finalized SiteFactory CMS version 5.0.8 which brings full support for the upcoming Windows 8 and Internet Explorer 10.

Windows 8 will be released on October 26. We’ve had access to the final version for about two months now, and we’ve been working on making SiteFactory CMS fully functional with the included browser Internet Explorer 10.

We will begin a controlled distribution of the new version today, using our Update Service. This is the 68th update since we released SiteFactory CMS 5.0 in early November last year.

Closing comments

Mindbite has always been dedicated to testing new technology in its early stages to be able to bring working software to its customers. As with earlier versions of Windows and Internet Explorer we once again deliver working updates before Microsoft’s release to the consumers.

Last week I installed Windows Server 8 Developer Preview on Hyper-V. Installation was smoother than ever, but I can’t say that I liked the UI/UX. When bringing the Home Screen and removing the Start Menu on a server OS, I think you’ve gone to far. I seriously hope Microsoft will reconsider this, at least for the server. Luckily there is Server Core, so you won’t have to see the graphical mess.

One of my main motives for this installation (besides curiosity) was to test IIS 8 and see if SiteFactory CMS works on it.
Test results: It works great!

Screenshots from installation, initialization, management and IIS8 with SiteFactory CMS

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Closing comments

Michael Johansson, if you read this, I guess you just puked all over your keyboard :-)

Just a few days ago Microsoft released Windows Server 8 Developer Preview on MSDN. This morning I installed it on our Hyper-V server. One of the new things in Windows Server 8 is IIS 8 which is a new version of the web server we host all SiteFactory CMS sites on.

Even though Windows Server 8 and IIS 8 hasn’t even gone in to the beta phase yet, SiteFactory CMS works like a charm. We will of course test SiteFactory CMS on every release before RTM, so that we can fix any possible issues in upcoming releases.

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After my failed installation of Windows 8 on Virtual PC, I quickly turned to Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008 R2, which worked like a charm. Installation took only a few minutes.

Screenshots from installation, initialization and some apps

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I woke up with a smile this morning, the Windows 8 Developer Preview was released during last night. Once downloaded and configured on Virtual PC, I’m eagerly waiting for the virtual machine to boot. Sadly the developer preview doesn’t work well with Virtual PC (which I should have figured).

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Last week I released my first app for Windows Phone 7. The app is called “Viltolyckskartan” and it’s developed with Rikspolisstyrelsen.

Since this spring I’ve had the opportunity to test-drive a Windows Phone. And when Mango beta was released early this summer I started developing the app. After my summer vacation I did a live demo in a car with our project manager at Rikspolisstyrelsen.

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The app shows a map and uses Location Services to determine the user’s location. Every 50 meters the app sends a call to a web service at viltolycka.se and asks for every wildlife accident nearby. The web service responds with a list of all accidents and its coordinates. Then the app adds these accidents as PushPins to the map. When 3 or more accidents has occurred nearby, an alarm is triggered so the driver will be alerted that he/she is entering an area with several historical accidents.

For the moment our database stores accidents from January 2010 up to now. So we have a lot of data to work with. And more features will certainly be developed in the future.

Many might think of it as stupid to develop an app for Windows Phone 7, due to its lack of owners. Today WP7 has a market share around 1-2 %. The reason I decided to test developing for Windows Phone is:

- Windows Phone apps are developed with Microsoft .Net and C# which is the language I work with professionally, so I have great knowledge in that.

- Short learning time. I wrote a working app in only a few hours (even though the final product took a lot longer).

- The Marketplace is not near the quantity in apps from competitors iPhone and Android. So I figured, hey, if you want to get some attention, publish an app here.

- The app might be released on iPhone in the future.

Even though I’ve had access to the Mango update, this app is developed for the original (7.0) Marketplace. Microsoft began accepting Mango apps as of today, so I haven’t had the time to publish with features like multitasking yet.

If you have a Windows Phone 7, check out the app using this deep link.

Closing comments

Developing apps for Windows Phone 7 is really easy, especially if you are familiar with Microsoft .Net Framework and C#. If you have no previous skills with this technology, Microsoft provides free developer tools and a lot of online training, and it’s easy to learn.

Yesterday I attended the WP7 CodeCamp at Microsoft’s head office in Sweden. It was a WP7 coding event with approx. 40 developers and some people from Microsoft. We kicked off with an introduction by Dag König, presenting some news in WP7 Mango development and some example projects we could work with.

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Outside Microsoft. Pretty cool facilities.

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Our dev team working working on a Memory game using Augmented Reality. For four hours we brainstormed, and developed an app that we later showed for the other attendants.

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At 15.00 we took the stage and demoed our apps. Here you can see Jessica Engström showing off here XNA Game.

About an hour ago I arrived at the Ibis Hotel in Akalla, Kista. Not the worst hotel (even though its price would suggest that). So Marcus & Kim, you’re still in the lead.

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Tomorrow I will attend the Windows Phone 7 CodeCamp at Microsoft’s head office in Sweden. We’re 45-50 developers gathering at Microsoft for a whole day, focusing on development for WP7. Dag König will lead us through the new features in the Mango release.

Closing comments

Very exciting.