This week in Microsoft - Volume 5


You look lovely. No, really, you that a new shirt?

So anyway, Microsoft TechED was this week, but since I did not actually attend, I'll have to wait for the sessions to be posted to Channel9 for all the nitty gritty stuff. However, there's been a few nice developments being reported on. We have some TechED Cloud Computing news, Visual Studio goes cross platform, updates to OneDrive, the final nails in XP's coffin, good news for Xbox owners, changes to Outlook Anywhere, and some Office365 security talk.

All that, as usual, after the jump.

I got some good news this morning by way of an email from the Xbox Live team saying that they are no longer requiring the Gold level membership to use streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube. I'm sure there are other services included, but it looks like consuming streaming content just became cheaper for Xbox owners. Of course, in order to multiplayer gaming, the Gold subscription will be required, and it also comes with a free game or two every month.

Onedrive for business just got a nice facelift as well as Simple Controls, Site Folders, and better search capabilities. The new design features a slicker looking interface with a bit less clutter, and new highlighted documents and people you have in common in someone's About Me page. Additionally, a new Simple Controls bar makes an appearance in your document folders that allows you to create new documents with one click. The search bar has also seen a slight revamp with the ability to perform various actions on documents in the search results as well as a move in the search box location.

Keeping on topic with cloud stuff, this years TechEd also featured a talk about security, compliance, and privacy as it applies to Office 365. The capabilities were shared by the Corporate VP of Office Services in a recent blog post. Without giving too much away, Microsoft is moving to having separate encryption keys for every file in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business, new features in the MDM space with their InTune product, as well as expanding DLP (Data Leak Protection) to be available across the entire cloud business platform.

In addition to Office 365, the Azure cloud platform has been given some significant updates as well. A new product called ExpressRoute will allow administrators to connect their corporate LAN directly to Azure by way of exchange providers in bandwidth tiers up to 10Gbps, and new features in Azure's site-to-site VPN capabilities will allow for multiple virtual networks to communicate with multiple corporate locations. Microsoft has also announced Azure Files, which is storage space available via regular SMB file shares without the need to build an Azure virtual machine to act as a file server. Finally, VMs can be built beefier, as new VM classes are now available, with 8 core/56GB and 16 core/112GB instances being available.

In light of the controversy of the previous Internet Explorer patch being made available for XP users, Microsoft is putting their foot down this time: no new updates, for real this time! This patch Tuesday included another IE patch that could have been applied to XP computers, but Microsoft decided to put the final nails in the coffin and not release it, or any other updates for the aged OS.

Turning to the development circle, Visual Studio will be getting Cordova integration, meaning that for the first time, IOS and Android developers will be able to develop in Visual Studio with the full blessing and support of Microsoft. Cordova is an Apache Foundation developed platform for building mobile applications. More specifically, it is a set of APIs that allow applications to access phone features such as the camera, accelerometer, or any other component or sensor. This is useful since an application built in HTML or Javascript can now make use of those fundamental features while keeping cross-platform compatibility. It's the old Java mantra of write once, use anywhere.

Attention Git users! Have you heard of Kudu? It's an engine for doing Git deployments to Azure. I wish I could tell you more, but this is the limit of my developer knowledge. I was passed along this link by an excited developer buddy of mine, so I hope it makes more sense to you.

Finally, Exchange 2013 SP1 brought along with it MAPI over HTTP. Previously, Outlook Anywhere was delivered by utilizing RPC over HTTP. The RPC call had the MAPI call inside it. So now, instead of having double-wrapped MAPI calls, there is a more efficient mechanism for OA connectivity. The article has all the nitty gritty bits of how the packets are encapsulated, but the end result is that this is the replacement for RPC over HTTP. Of course, it comes with its own caveats, such as requiring Exchange 2013 SP1 and Office 2013 clients, but in the end, as organizations upgrade their servers and clients, this will be come the standard, and a faster, more resilient communication protocol is never a bad thing.

That's it for now...enjoy your weekend!

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