Tag Archives: Windows 8

Developing Apps for Microsoft Surface, Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8

Recently, at one of the conference i presented at Microsoft Technology center, i was asked the following questions.

  • Is .NET dead? What is .NET Client profile?
  • Is Windows 8 compatible with my current Windows app?
  • Can I build Windows 8 Metro apps in .NET?
  • Can I build apps for both Windows 8 and Windows Phone?

The following table summarizes the latest devices and their operating systems as well as the development technologies along with other useful information (for developers)

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Well, here are some of the answers and commonly used Windows 8 terminology.

  • Windows Phone 8 now shares a common core with Windows 8. This means you can expect to write apps for one and easily port it to the other, with UI retooling of course. Developers targeting both should use C#/VB + XAML for apps, and C++/D3D for games. Portable class library definitely helps when developing for both the platforms.
  • The term “Metro Apps” now called “Microsoft Design Language” denotes apps that can be purchased in the official Windows App Store and that are built on top of the WinRT runtime, using either C# + XAML, or WinJS + HTML5. Even though Windows Phone features a Metro user interface (and the original one at that), the term Metro Apps does NOT apply to Windows Phone 7.5 apps.
  • The term “Metro Games” denotes apps that can be purchased in the official Windows App Store and that are built on top of the WinRT runtime, using Direct3D (D3D) and C++. Windows RT & Windows 8 Metro games cannot be built in XNA.
  • XNA can still be used to create Windows Phone 7.5, 7.8 and 8.0 games, and sold in the marketplace. You will not need to keep Visual Studio 2010 since Visual Studio 2012 and the Windows Phone 8.0 SDK will still support new development in XNA.
  • WinRT is the new native Runtime for Windows RT and the Metro side of Windows 8. It completely replaces .NET and Win32. Let me make this clear: If you look under the covers of WinRT, there is no .NET and no Win32, all you’ll find is the Windows Kernel. Since the only dev platform supported by Windows RT is WinRT, that means you cannot use .NET to build apps for Windows RT (or for the Metro side of Windows 8). Read this post on Paul Thurrott’s Windows Supersite for a more in-depth explanation.
  • WinRT is not based on .NET but you can use a subset of .NET from WinRT. Microsoft provides a subset of managed types called the .NET APIs for Metro style apps which enables .NET Framework developers to create Metro style apps within a familiar programming framework. Note that porting some .NET apps to WinRT could be trivial while others could be hard, based on which namespaces & classes you use. Check this section of the Metro style development documentation for more details.
  • Side-loading implicates installing non-certified applications using external media, thus bypassing the official Microsoft Windows App Store, whether it originates from a CD/DVD, USB key or web download. Note that developers can always side-load their own apps in a developer-unlocked device.
  • Xbox LIVE games are always platform specific. Microsoft Surface and Windows Phone both feature Xbox LIVE enabled games but this does NOT mean it runs the same Xbox LIVE Arcade games as the Xbox 360.
  • 2D game development can also be done using the same platform as apps. For example, on Windows Phone, 2D games can be built in Silverlight and do not require XNA.
  • Confused about version numbers for Windows Phone? Read my blog post that demystifies it all here.
  • Windows 8 can also be installed on any PC running Windows 7 today, and will also come pre-loaded on future generations of OEM (Dell, HP, Lenovo, Toshiba, etc.) computers, laptops, notebooks, Ultrabooks, Netbooks and tablets. The first column applies to all these other Windows 8 computers as well.
  • Windows RT will also be available on third-party tablet devices offered by Microsoft’s OEM partners (Samsung, Toshiba, Lenovo, etc.) Windows RT cannot be installed manually by a consumer, it must be licensed and pre-loaded by the OEM manufacturing the tablet.

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    101 Questions and Answers About Windows 8

    1. What tools and information do I need to develop Windows 8 Store applications?

    a. Windows 8 – Download free version here

    b. Visual Studio 2012 Express – Download free version here

    c. Windows Phone – Download free version here

    d. Windows Server 2012 – Download free version here (Optional)

    e. Microsoft Virtual Academy – Register here

    2. How to develop a Windows Phone 8 app in 30 days?

    Register at http://www.microsoft.com/click/services/Redirect2.ashx?CR_CC=200134727

    3. For a Mac user, where can I get the free tools to build Windows Store apps for Windows 8?

    Install Windows 8 and the dev tools on your Mac.

    4. How to start planning now for a cloud-based backend service—user authentication, push notifications, and structured data?

    Sign up for the Windows Azure 90-day Free Trial and receive 10 free Mobile Services running on shared instances.

    5. Get the samples and get started!? Download the design assets—PSD assets include templates, common controls, and common components—and the sample apps pack.

    6. Where to find Windows 8 Sessions and Keynotes — //BUILD Conference Site

    7. Download the Bits — Windows Dev Center

    8. PDF Manual — Windows Developer Preview Guide

    9. Code Examples — MSDN “Metro Style” app examples (or get them all together in a Single ZIP)

    10. What Devices will Run It? — List of Devices in Microsoft’s Test Lab

    11. How to Install on My Machine without Losing Everything even if I don’t have Dual-Format DVDs or 8 GB Memory Sticks Handy — Installing Windows 8 Developer Preview as a Bootable VHD

    12. What About Silver light? — It’s still here, with a diagram from Microsoft to prove it

    13. Chat about Windows 8 or Cry for Help — MSDN Forums for Windows 8

    14. What is WinRT? — Introduction to WinRT and WinRT demystified

    15. Touch Input — Quickstart: Touch Input

    16. Comfort Guide to Controls for Silverlight and WPF Developers — Controls List (for Xaml)

    17. How do I Convert Silverlight to WinRT/Metro? — Blog Series on WinRT vs. Silverlight

    18. But is Xaml REALLY There? — Yes, It Is

    19. The New Architecture — Windows 8 WinRT Capabilities (Tip: Lean forward to make it look flat)

    20. Platform and Tools Architecture — Windows 8 Platform and Tools (Tip: this time lean sideways)

    21. Can I Borrow Someone’s Opinion? — Sure thing: Yours Truly, Michael Crump, Engadget, Wired

    22. Create a bootable USB? jerrynixon.com

    23. Setup boot to VHD? jerrynixon.com

    24. Get an Azure account? http://aka.ms/w8cloud

    25. Get Windows 8? http://aka.ms/w8download

    26. Get Visual Studio 2012? http://aka.ms/w8tools

    27. Get Windows Live SDK? http://aka.ms/w8live

    28. Get Windows 8 Samples? http://aka.ms/w8samples

    29. Get Multilingual Toolkit? http://aka.ms/w8language

    30. Get Advertising SDK? http://aka.ms/w8ads

    31. Get Design Assets? http://aka.ms/w8design

    32. Register your App? http://aka.ms/w8reg

    33. Join 30 to Launch? http://aka.ms/w8launch

    34. View the online labs? http://aka.ms/w8vlabs

    35. Does Windows 8 run Windows 7 software? Yes

    36. Does Windows 8 support .Net 4.0? Yes

    37. Does WinRT replace the .Net framework? No

    38. Can users re-enable the start button in Windows 8? No

    39. Can enterprises disable Microsoft Design Style on their Windows 8 desktops? No

    40. Will Microsoft Design Style be part of the server version of Windows? Yes

    41. Do developers need two apps in the Windows 8 store to support ARM? No

    42. Can apps have a hidden URL in the Windows 8 store? No

    43. What is the revenue split with Microsoft for the Store? 80/20

    44. Do developers need a developer account in order publish an app? Yes

    45. Can developers use payment systems other than Microsoft? Yes

    46. Is HTML5 and JavaScript (JS) supported in Microsoft Design Style development? Yes

    47. What is the HTML rendering engine in HTML-based Microsoft Design Style apps? IE10

    48. Is IE10 Microsoft Design Style the same engine as IE10 desktop? Yes

    49. Can desktop applications create live tiles? No

    50. Can desktop applications use WinRT? Yes

    51. Can desktop HTTP end point be accessed by Microsoft Design Style apps? No

    52. Can Microsoft Design Style applications access a local SQL server? No

    53. Do Microsoft Design Style applications have a local database solution? Yes, Sqlite

    54. Can Microsoft Design Style applications access the internet while the pc is in standby? Yes

    55. Can Microsoft Design Style applications access SkyDrive? Yes

    56. Can Microsoft Design Style applications iterate through the user’s hard drive? No

    57. Is there a Microsoft Design Style version of windows file explorer? No, see above

    58. Can Microsoft Design Style applications detect other Microsoft Design Style apps? No

    59. Can more than one Microsoft Design Style application run at one time? Yes, two

    60. Can push notifications execute client code? No

    61. Are there background tasks in Microsoft Design Style? Yes

    62. Is the performance of HTML5 Microsoft Design Style applications comparable to XAML? Yes

    63. Is native code (C++) supported in Microsoft Design Style development? Yes

    64. Is Microsoft Design Style C different than traditional CPP? Yes

    65. Should all desktop apps be migrate to Microsoft Design Style? No

    66. Will the Windows 8 store support trials? Yes

    67. Will the Windows 8 store support subscriptions? No

    68. Will enterprise apps deliver through the Windows 8 store? No

    69. Can enterprises disable the Windows 8 store? Yes

    70. Can enterprises disable side-loading of apps? Yes

    71. Can apps in the Windows 8 store access desktop apps & services? No

    72. Can side-loaded apps access desktop apps & services? Yes

    73. Can parents disable the Windows 8 store for kids? Yes

    74. Can parents limit the hours in the day their kids can log in? Yes

    75. Can parents limit the cumulative time in a day kids can use the PC? Yes

    76. Can parents filter available web sites? Yes

    77. Can parents disable games based on their rating? Yes

    78. Can Visual Studio 2010 be used to build Microsoft Design Style apps? No

    79. Can Visual Studio 2012 be used to build Windows 7 apps? Yes

    80. Can Visual Studio 2010 access Team Foundation Server 2012? Yes

    81. Can Visual Studio 2012 open 2010 projects without altering them? Yes

    82. Can Visual Studio 2010 open 2012 projects? No

    83. Does the .Net 4 async keyword work in WinRT? Yes

    84. Does Windows 8 WinRT code run on Windows Phone 7? No

    85. Does Windows Phone 7 code run on Windows 8? Yes, some

    86. Does Windows Phone 8 code run on Windows 8? Yes, more

    87. Does Windows 8 code run on Windows Phone 7? Yes, some

    88. Does Windows 8 code run on Windows Phone 8? Yes, more

    89. Can Microsoft Design Style applications roam settings/files across desktops? Yes

    90. Can desktop applications roam settings, too? No

    91. Can Microsoft Design Style applications roam settings/files to Windows Phone? No

    92. Can Windows Phone roam settings to Windows 8? No

    93. Does Windows 8 Microsoft Design Style support XNA game development? No

    94. When was Windows 8 released? Friday, October 26, 2012.

    95. Win+E – Explorer

    96. Win+R – Run

    97. Win+D – Desktop

    98. Win+Plus or Win+Minus (no shift) – Magnifier/Zoom In and Out

    99. Win+F – Find Files

    100. Alt-Tab – Switch between Apps

    101. Win-Tab – Switch between Full Screen Apps

      First Impressions of Intel Next Generation Ultrabook™ with Windows 8

      Few days ago I received an Ultrabook from Intel as part of winning the Round 1 of Windows 8 & Ultrabook™ App Innovation Contest as shown in figure 1.

      IMG_0561

      Fig 1: Ultrabook box

      Intel sent me an Ivy Bridge Ultrabook as shown in Figure 2 to review. This Ultrabook from Intel will never be a production hardware – This laptop will never be made. It’s meant to be a reference example for hardware makers to make Ultrabooks of their own. This particular device will not be made available for purchase. So It’s just a proof of concept from Intel. The only manufacturer branding on it is Intel’s Ultrabook TM, as you can see from Fig 2.

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      Fig 2: Picture of Intel’s concept Ultrabook (Nice to see Intel logo on the cover)

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      Fig 3: Nice touch screen  (Intel Logo on the Ultrabook)

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      Fig 4: Ultrabook next to my existing laptops at home.

      Following are my initial observations of the new “on the road laptop.”

      Sensors that are present in the Ultrabook

      • 5 point multi-touch screen
      • Accelerometer
      • Magnetometer
      • Gyroscope
      • Ambient light sensor
      • GPS
      • NFC (Near Field Communication)
      • Bluetooth 4.0
      • WiFi (b/g/n)

      sensors

      Fig 5: Sensors present in Ultrabook.

      Physical Factors First:
      • High Definition Web Cam
      • Slot for SDHC card
      • Slot for SIM Card (Yes, you can out the phone SIM card in this Ultrabook)
      • Two USB-3  slots on either side
      • Mini-HDMI connector
      • Headphone jack
      • Power Connector
      • Weighs 3.5 pounds (Very very  light compared to other laptops)
      • Great built-in audio
      Performance Factors:
      • Intel Core i7 CPU @ 2.0 GHz (Windows 8 shuts down in 2 seconds)
      • 180 GB Solid State Hard Drive
      • 4GB RAM

      The laptop came with Windows 8 Pro which I immediately activated through MSDN and the computer was ready to go with zero adware. There was also included a 16GB thumb drive with all the drivers and everything it takes to return the machine to factory conditions which was very nice. Responsiveness and speed is amazing. The computer itself feels substantial and has a very beautiful “rubberized” top. It just looks sharp, closed or open. I read on some posts about fan being loud, but the ultra book i received is as silent as thought.

      Hardware and Physical Form Factor

      The Ultrabook is really thin, light, powerful, fast and run Windows 8. The book weighs in at about 3.5 pounds. On the outside it’s got 1.5MP web-cam camera, a 5-point touch screen, a mini HDMI connector port, a pair of USB 3.0 ports on either side, an HD webcam,  a headphone jack, power connector slot and a 13.3” multi-touch display. Inside, it has Intel Core i7-3667U processor (4M cache, 2.00 GHZ) which is one of the new Ivy Bridge processors, 4 GB of DDR3L RAM, a 180 GB SSD hard drive, and the following specifications (to name just a few):

      • 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
      • Bluetooth
      • NFC
      • Multi-Touch Pad
      • Sensors
      Activating Windows 8:

      The machine came with the Windows 8 Pro (64 bit) pre-installed. Now that Windows 8 is released to manufacturing (RTM) and available to MSDN subscribers, I was able to successfully activate Windows 8 Pro through the license key obtained from my MSDN account .

      TouchScreen & Sensors:

      My prediction is that Touch screen is going to be the default feature like USB port in every laptop within a couple of years. A touch screen on a laptop? Why? What kind of madness is this? After using it for a while having a touch screen is a nice to have. I believe that in two to three years from now, all display devices will be touch enabled like monitors in office and laptops. Swipe in from the right to get the charms menu, in from the left to task switch and down from the top for menus and browser tabs. This is such a clean and clear extension of the “touch” experience that if I were in charge of the Windows hardware ecosystem I would require it. Pinch to zoom works as well, just as it should. I found myself using the touch screen more than I expected to. I don’t much like taking my hands off the keyboard, but once I do, the multi-touch screen is a lot more physically intuitive than a mouse, even though I have been using mice for over 20 years. It is, in any case, much more satisfying.

      Most new tablets and Ultrabooks running Windows 8 are going to have a slew of sensors. Here are the sensors and other advanced features included in this proof of concept device:

      • GPS (Location Sensors)
      • NFC
      • Multi-Touch (display and touchpad)
      • Accelerometer ( acceleration along 3 axes)
      • Compass (orientation and position)
      • Gyro meter (angular velocity)
      • Inclinometer (angle of incline)
      • Light Sensor (ambient lighting)
      • Orientation Sensor (combines accelerometer, compass, gyro meter to get more sensitive movement)
      • Simple Orientation (orientation of the device including face up or down)

      Detecting Sensors on an Ultrabook: There are a few ways in which to determine if a system supports the sensors, and if so, which sensors:

      • Computer Management/Device Manager: Find the Computer Management App on the Windows UI Start Menu (if it isn’t there you can view “All Apps” by right-clicking in the window and then click on the “All Apps” icon in the lower right-hand side of the window. Once the Device Manager is up, look for “Sensors” in the device tree as shown in Figure 6.

       sensorsmmc

      Fig 6: Sensors and Proximity devices in Device Manager.

      • Sensor Diagnostic Tool: If you want to get finer detail regarding each sensor and possibly even have some control over some of the sensor parameters (for testing purposes) you can run the Sensor Diagnostic Tool – it is part of the Windows Driver Kit ( WDK). The Sensor Diagnostic tool uses the Sensor and Location API for data retrieval, event handling, report intervals, changing sensitivity, and property retrieval. The tool can also be used to write the sensor data to a CSV file. I should note, however that the Sensor Diagnostic Tool really exists to aid with the development of Windows Drivers; its true use is to help with the testing and optimization of Windows Drivers. This tool can be found in the following folder once you have installed the Windows Driver Kit: C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\8.0\Tools\x86\Sesnsordiagnotictool as shown in Figure 7.

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      Fig 7: Sensor Diagnostic Tool (sensordiagnostictool.exe)

      Figure 8 shows the Sensor Diagnostic Tool that comes with the WDK talking to this Ivy Bridge Ultrabook’s sensors:

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      Fig 8: Sensor Diagnostic Tool run on an Ivy Bridge Software Development Platform + USB Sensor Hub

      The following table shown in Figure 9 provides information about the new sensors that are recommended for the Ultrabook (and required for convertibles). It will be up to the OEMs which sensors are included for their specific models/usages.

      sensortable1

      Fig 9: Sensor information table.

       

      Performance Speed & Software Development:

      This feels like a high performance machine in a small package, and an interesting middle ground between a slate and a laptop. 

      • Loads Visual Studio 2012 in about 2 seconds (amazing speed) and builds of average-sized projects are also just 6 seconds on my stopwatch. Not bad at all.
      • System shuts down in 3 seconds
      • How about a reboot of the system:
        • 3 second to the windows lock screen
        • another 2 seconds to login to windows. So in total 5 seconds you can logon to Windows8 from cold start. This a machine I can use to develop, test and write about Windows 8 code. All in all, this machine is clearly a contender.  More to come in a subsequent review once I’ve lived with it for a while.
      • Processor i7 at 2.49GHz – It’s a physical Dual Core with Hyper threading so that’s 4 logical processors as shown in Figure 10.

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      Fig 10: Task manager showing 4 logical processor information

      Conclusion

      I could develop real serious applications on an Ultrabook and i see it as the future of today’s laptops. It pains me to say it as I have been carrying around 10lb laptops in the name of power for over a decade. In the coming days, I will publish more information around how Windows 8 developers can use this type of device to develop Windows 8 Modern UI style apps.

      Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe my readers will enjoy. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

      Flags Capitals Countries App

      You can get the app from the store using the download link below!

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      Learn the flags of the world using this app. If you want to learn the capitals of all the countries then this app is your best choice. Know the official or native language(s) of the countries in the world.

      Features:

      • Flags of Countries
      • Capitals of Countries
      • Official or Native Language(s) of the Countries
      • Semantic Zoom
      • Search Charm to search for any country
      • Search Suggestions automatically populated
      • Share Charm
      • Secondary Tile
      • Supports Snapped View, Filled View and Full view.

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      Figure 1: Main Screen showing list of countries

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      Figure 2: Detail Screen showing information for a selected country.

      Windows features supported in the app:

      • Semantic Zoom – Users can now easily navigate countries list within a single view. Semantic Zoom organizes countries alphabetically in a single view and presents the data using the letters of the alphabet. The user could then zoom in on a letter to see the countries associated with that letter.

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      Figure 3: Main screen showing semantic zoom. 

      • Share charm – The app exchanges data with other apps without having to navigate away to share data. The app helps you to share content with another app or service quickly and easily by using Windows Share charm. So you can continue using the app and still share your information.

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      Figure 4: Detail screen information can be shared with other Windows 8 apps. 

      • Search charm – Lets users search the app from anywhere in the system, including the app itself. Users will be able to use the Search charm to open a search pane where they can enter search queries and the app displays the search results with the following.
      o Suggestions: Start typing country name in the search pane, and you will get a list of suggestions as well. Displays a maximum of 5 countries.

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      Figure 5: Detail screen information can be shared from other Windows 8 apps. 

      o Filter List: Countries names can be searched. Simply start typing in the search charm and you’ll see your list of countries filter down to the one you are looking for.

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      Figure 6: Search screen displaying the results in full view mode. 

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       Figure 7: Search screen displaying the results in snapped view. 

      • Secondary Tile – The app enables you to pin a specific content or experience from an app to the start screen. Secondary tiles provide a direct link to the feature within the app. Pin any country or main features tile to the main screen and the app takes you directly to that feature.

      image

      Figure 8 : Start screen showing secondary tile of country Finland. 

      • App Bars: The app bar contains contextual actions or commands for each screen in the app. Frequently used commands are kept near the right edge so that they are easy to reach by hand.

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      Figure 9 : Detail screen showing app bar. 

      All tiles (screens) in the app support Share and Search contracts of Windows Store apps. The app adjusts the screen display perfectly in landscape, portrait, filled and snapped view.

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      Figure 10 : Main screen showing countries information in portrait view mode. 

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      Figure 11 : Main screen showing countries information in Filled view mode. 

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      Figure 12 : Main screen showing countries information in Snapped view mode. 

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      Figure 13 : Detail screen showing countries information in Snapped view mode.

      My First Windows Store App : Emergency – Help Me

      You can download from Windows Store at http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/en-US/app/emergency-help-me/477b898a-6781-4b75-a439-44dee5904f14

      Have you ever thought what you would do, if an unforeseen events happens and you need to alert/contact someone immediately, but for whatever reason you can’t? An emergency might impose itself in various ways, someone is stalking/following you, traffic accidents, car trouble, walking at night, lost during hiking/camping trip, threat during a foreign visit, and many more. Odds are that you might have your mobile device with you but given the nature of the situation you might not have time or the means to communicate conventionally via a text message/call for help and to let someone know of your situation. Unlikely? Maybe. But what if…?

      Emergency – Help Me is the first go-to app in case of an emergency. The App generates a SOS distress signal to attract attention of others, simulates a police siren and lights, displays emergency phone numbers for all countries, displays your current location, stores ‘In Case of Emergency’ information, Flash Light and has Request and Respond to alpine emergency (mountain help) light signal. Additionally, this provides you a feature to communicate with a click of a button. You can tell your current location, contact details when in emergency, your medical conditions, blood group, allergies and other information useful during an emergency situation. With just a click of a button, you can send the information to a variety of apps like Facebook, Twitter, Email and any app on Windows Store that accepts text to share.

      You can take advantage of 8 sensational features as shown in Fig 0.1:

      • SOS Emergency Flasher
      • Police Emergency
      • International Emergency Phone Numbers
      • GPS Location Data
      • In Case of Emergency (ICE)
      • Flash Light
      • Alpine Distress Signal
      • Respond to Alpine Distress Signal

      image 

      Fig 0.1: Figure showing the main launch page of the application

      Windows features supported in the app:
      • Color Preference and ICE Data Roaming – Roaming personalization settings is key to feeling connected to your preferences and data. You don’t want to configure or choose preferences every time you use a new device. The ‘Help Me’ app creates a connected experience by allowing the user to configure ICE (In Case of Emergency) data and color preference once and use it everywhere, so you don’t have to re-configure the app each time you access it from a different system. When you change the color of the screen by using app bar, it is automatically saves to your preferences. So the next time you open the app and use any feature from any PC or device, it knows the color of your choice and your configured data. The app helps you connect to your data from anywhere by having a continuous experience as you transition from one device to another. image

      Fig 1: Choose color preference from App Bar. The choice of color is automatically remembered by the application. image 

      Fig 2: Enter information of the person to be contacted during emergency and your medical data. The data is automatically saved and synced to your personal account you used to login.

      • Semantic Zoom – Users can now easily navigate countries list within a single view. Semantic Zoom organizes countries alphabetically in a single view and presents the data using the letters of the alphabet. The user could then zoom in on a letter to see the countries associated with that letter as shown in figure 3. image image

      Fig 3: Semantic Zoom of International Emergency Numbers.

      • Share charm – You often come across a situation where you want to share your emergency situation, current location and ICE information with someone or use it in another app. The “Help Me” app exchanges data with other apps without having to navigate away to share data. The app helps you to share content with another app or service quickly and easily by using Windows Share charm. So you can continue using the Help Me app and still share your information.

               image

      Fig 4: Sharing data with other apps using Share charm.

      • Search charm – Lets users search the app from anywhere in the system, including the app itself. Users will be able to use the Search charm to open a search pane where they can enter search queries and the app displays the search results with the following. 

      Suggestions: Start typing country name in the search pane, and you will get a list of suggestions as well. This displays a maximum of 5 countries in the suggestions list as shown in figure 5. image    Fig 5: Search pane automatically showing the Search suggestions as the user types in.

      Filter List: Country names and emergency numbers can be searched. Simply start typing in the search charm and you’ll see your list of countries or emergency numbers filter down to the one you are looking for as shown in figure 6. image image

      Fig 6: Search results displaying the countries that contain the string user searched for.

      • Secondary Tile – Help Me app enables you to pin a specific content or experience from an app to the start screen. Secondary tiles provide a direct link to the feature within the app. Pin any country or main features tile to the main screen and the app takes you directly to that feature shown in figure 7.

      image    

      Fig 7: Large Secondary Tiles (Shortcuts) to the app features.

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      Fig 7.1: Small Secondary Tiles (Shortcuts) to the app features.

      • Help Page: Help information is included to explain the features of the app. Every feature (tile) has a help page include with it to explain the functionality in detail as shown in figure 8.

      image image

      Fig 8: Help information displayed on Help screen.

      • Settings – Help me app implements Settings contract so that you can access its settings like switching location access on or off from the Settings charm.

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      Fig 9: Application Settings.

      • App Bars: The app bar contains contextual actions or commands for each screen in the app. Frequently used commands are kept near the right and the left edges so that they are easy to reach by hand as shown in figure 10.

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      Fig 10: One of the features showing App Bar.

      All tiles (screens) in the app support Share and Search contracts of Windows Store apps. The app adjusts the screen display perfectly in landscape, portrait, filled and snapped view as shown in the following figures A-K.

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      Fig A: Main Screen shown in portrait view.

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      Fig B: Main Screen shown in snapped view.

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      Fig C: Main Screen shown in filled view.

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      Fig D: SOS Emergency Signal Screen shown in snapped view.

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      Fig E: SOS Emergency Signal Screen shown in filled view.

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      Fig F: Police Emergency Signal Screen shown in portrait view.

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      Fig G: Police Emergency Signal Screen shown in snapped view.

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      Fig H: Police Emergency Signal Screen shown in filled view.

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      Fig I: International Emergency Numbers Screen shown in snapped view.

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      Fig J: International Emergency Numbers Screen shown in portrait view.

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      Fig K: International Emergency Numbers Screen shown in filled view.

      A distress signal is an internationally recognized means for obtaining help. Distress signals are commonly made by displaying a visually detected item or illumination, or making an audible sound, from a distance. In order for distress signaling to be the most effective, two parameters must be communicated:

      1. Alert or notification of a distress in progress
      2. Position or location of the party in distress.
      SOS Emergency Flasher:

      This is super easy to use. Just run it! A flashing emergency light with high distress signal sound for alerting people that you are in an emergency situation as shown in figure 11. A realistic light, in a variety of colors, that blinks and has attention grabbing pattern to make yourself visible in the dark, attract attention or warn others about an emergency or safety hazard.

      Simply run it to continuously display a flashing light and distress sound – perfect for use in traffic accidents, car trouble, running or walking at night, and more. Emergency Flasher is a feature dedicated to everyone who want to feel more secure any place, any time.

      Features:
      * Intuitive and elegant UI design
      * Realistic screen display with flashing.
      * Distress sound to alert or attract attention of others.
      * Variety of color options to choose from App bar. Your choice of color is remembered by the device automatically. If you open the app on a new device, it displays the light with your preferred color automatically.
      * App bar to play or stop the sound.
      * Use Windows Share charm to share your location and ICE details with other people or apps.

      image 

      Fig 11: SOS Emergency Signal screen.

      Police Emergency:

      Is someone stalking you? Use this feature to alert others. Real high quality police beacon and blue/red strobe light blow up to full screen that will turn any vehicle (such as your own personal vehicle) into your very own emergency vehicle! This is a cool feature that continuously simulates a police siren and lights. The app bar displays the controls to play, pause or stop the sound

      Features:
      * Realistic screen display with flashing.
      * Police Beacon sound to alert or attract attention of others.
      * App bar to play, pause or stop the sound.
      * Use Windows Share charm to share your location and ICE details with other people or apps.

      image

      Fig 12: Police Beacon screen.

      International Emergency Phone Numbers:

      Travel the world with peace of mind. Ever been on vacation abroad or on a business trip and an emergency occurs, and you wonder what number to call? Ever wondered how to call the police? The firefighter? Or an ambulance? To be perfectly honest, most people are not aware of these and added to that not every country in the world has the same emergency numbers. The problem arises when you need something fast and in case of emergency.. Don’t forget, roaming internet can be very expensive in other countries. With this app, simply select the country you are in and with just one tap the app displays the emergency numbers for the country you are in. It is possible to call an emergency number right away, without going to menus using snapped view. It doesn’t use internet, so no roam costs! Hopefully this app makes your holiday a lot safer. Have fun!

      Features:
      * Zooming functionality to easily navigate to the country that you are searching for.
      * Share emergency details with your friends and family members with just a button click.
      * No GPS or cell data network required.
      * Fast selection of which country you are in. Search by index or free search to quickly select the country. Each country is listed by its name and national flag.
      * No cell coverage? You can still call! It displays the emergency phone numbers from the country you select. Just read the emergency numbers from the app and make the call from a landline based phone.
      * Supports 237 countries (covers most of the world that support emergency telephone numbers).
      * Using Windows start screen, you can search for police, fire or medical emergency number of any country in this world and the app shows you the information directly with just a click.
      * Directly search for a country by typing in the Windows Search charm.

      image

      Fig 13: International Emergency Numbers screen.

      GPS Location Data:

      Never get lost. Using this feature, you can let others know your current location with just a click. GPS Location uses the device GPS to show your position coordinates and current address in case of emergency. With just a press of a button, you can send your position details to any of your contacts using any Windows Store app that can share information. Your GPS location will be displayed on the screen in any view so that you can quickly provide you exact location.

      Features:
      * Get GPS coordinates
      * See how accurate the GPS coordinates are
      * Send your position to a family member or friend through any Windows store app that shares information.
      * You can activate the Track Me feature and the app displays your current location coordinates, in real-time. You can stop the tracking feature when you want!
      * The application automatically detects your GPS coordinates [location]. These coordinates along with the information you entered into the In Case of Emergency tile of the application can be send with any Windows Store app that accepts text like Twitter, Facebook, Email and other social media services.

      image

      Fig 14: GPS Location Data screen.

      In Case of Emergency (ICE):

      This screen provides all the information needed in case of emergency. You can add your own emergency contacts. This fantastic tile rolls so many features into one screen:

      Features:
      * Store your Emergency contact Details like the person name to be contacted during emergency, phone number, Twitter ID, Facebook ID and email address of the person.
      * Store your allergies information
      * Store you prescriptions & important medical conditions
      * Record your insurance details (travel, car, home etc.) – making sure you have these details to hand at the right time.
      * Store your doctors contact details
      * Store your address in case someone needs it during emergency.
      * Use Windows Share charm to share your location and ICE details with other people or apps.

      image

      Fig 15: ICE Information screen.

      Flash Light:

      Bright. Fast. Simple. The most elegant and functional flashlight tile. Flashlight fills the device screen with bright white light to illuminate your world when you find yourself in a dark spot or concert.

      Features:
      * Full white screen.
      * Brightest Flashlight instantly ON.
      * Change flashlight color with just a click.
      * Choose from a variety of widely useful colors from App bar. Your choice of color is remembered by the device automatically.
      * Use Windows Share charm to share your location and ICE details with other people or apps.

      image

      Fig 16: Flash Light screen.

      Alpine Distress Signal (Mountain Emergency Help):

      Alpine Request is a feature that uses the device screen to transmit alpine distress help light indicating mountain emergency. The entire process is controlled automatically. The only thing you need to do is to trigger the process.

      Features:
      * Choose from a variety of commonly used colors to transmit light signal during daytime or night. Your choice of color is remembered by the device automatically.
      * Easy to use interface.
      * Share your location and ICE details with others.

      image

      Fig 17: Alpine Distress Signal screen.

      Respond to Alpine Distress Signal:

      Alpine Response is a feature that uses the device screen to transmit response to an alpine distress signal indicating that you have received the Alpine Emergency Signal. The entire process is controlled automatically. The only thing you need to do is to trigger the process.

      Features:
      * Choose from a variety of commonly used colors to transmit light signal during daytime or night. Your choice of color is remembered by the device automatically.
      * Easy to use interface
      * Share your location and ICE details with others
      * If the device has a light sensor, the app displays light in Red color if it is daytime and in bright white color if it is night.

      image

      Fig 18: Respond to Alpine Distress Signal screen.

      While we hope that you never need this app, we would like to give you peace of mind. Our goal is that in case of an emergency or an unforeseen event, you are prepared and you can easily communicate your situation and current location to others.

      The creator of this application is under no circumstances liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential or exemplary injury or damages resulting from the use of this application. Calling an emergency number without reason is forbidden in most countries.

      There will be a continued commitment from the developer to implement new features or solve problems you encounter! Just drop a comment on this blog.

      Privacy Policy

      Your privacy is very important to us. Accordingly, we have developed this Policy in order for you to understand how we collect, use, communicate and disclose and make use of personal information. The following outlines our privacy policy.

      • The application uses internet connection only to retrieve your location information upon request. Other than that, we do not use internet connection at all.
      • Before or at the time of collecting personal information, we will identify the purposes for which information is being collected.
      • We do not collect any personal information. Personal information is used solely with the objective of fulfilling those purposes specified by us like In Case of Emergency information, unless we obtain the consent of the individual concerned or as required by law.
      • The application only retain ICE information as long as necessary for the fulfillment of those purposes. ICE information is saved onto your device and is stored with your device Windows account. Other than displaying the ICE information in the app, we do not use your ICE data at all for any other purposes.
      • ICE Personal data should be relevant to the purposes for which it is to be used, and, to the extent necessary for those purposes, should be accurate, complete, and up-to-date.
      • We will protect personal information by reasonable security safeguards against loss or theft, as well as unauthorized access, disclosure, copying, use or modification.
      • We will make readily available to customers information about our policies and practices relating to the management of personal information.

      We are committed to conducting our business in accordance with these principles in order to ensure that the confidentiality of ICE information is protected and maintained.

      What’s the chatter about Windows 8, Windows 8 Surface, Windows 8 Phones & the new development technologies

      Well, the last few weeks had been exciting with the release of information related to Windows Surface & Windows Phone 8. I was following these releases and noticed the chatter around the new devices from Microsoft. Here is some of the info related to the same.

      5 ways Microsoft’s Surface may be better than an iPad:
      http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/19/tech/microsoft-surface-ipad/index.html?hpt=hp_c2

      Windows 8 is an Android killer : http://www.kernelmag.com/comment/opinion/2432/no-but-for-reals/

      Microsoft’s Surface tablet vs. the iPad: Seven challenges: http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-33642_7-57456140-292/microsofts-surface-tablet-vs-the-ipad-seven-challenges/

      Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304765304577478283669023576.html

      Windows 8 is, in my humble opinion, the most innovative version of Windows Microsoft has released since Windows 95. What Windows 8 does, says Mr. Courtois, is to bring a consistency to all of Microsoft’s products. The "metro" interface, with its innovative live tiles design, is a bold departure for Microsoft from its familiar and iconic desktop. The one interface to bind them all—desktop, tablet, smartphone, X-Box, even TV—is what Mr. Courtois is hoping, and Mr. Elop is praying, will get people to buy Windows-powered mobile phones.

      Personally, I very much appreciate what Microsoft is trying to do with Windows 8. I’ve noticed many improvements from the Developer Preview to the Release Preview and I believe they will reveal some interesting surprises in the final version. I very much understand and appreciate Microsoft’s end goal – one operating system and one experience on all your devices: your phone, your Xbox, your desktop, your laptop, your tablet, your hybrid computing device you don’t yet know how it looks like. If they succeed with this vision, they will change how we use computers and devices forever.

      With the new kernel, Microsoft is also enabling the creation of native code applications written in C++ for the first time on Windows Phone. In version 7.5, all applications are developed in C# or Visual Basic .NET and compiled to platform-independent bytecode. While this has proven easy to use and attractive to many developers, it makes it hard for game developers to eke out all the performance the hardware can offer. It also precludes the use of useful libraries that developers on iOS, Android, and Windows can take advantage of.

      Windows Phone 8’s native code support addresses both issues. Native code development will produce programs that run directly on the ARM processors that Windows Phone supports. This should boost performance, and will greatly extend source code compatibility with other platforms.

      The trend of "Bring Your Own Device" causes both IT and compliance departments numerous headaches. It is one thing for the IT department to support the CEO’s iPad, but with the explosion of devices, operating systems and services, how CIOs must yearn for the day when they could issue recruits with a company laptop and a company phone and it was all integrated. That is the promise of Windows 8; it puts the IT department back in control, just like the good old days.

      "We are providing an end-to-end managed infrastructure to allow any enterprise, large or small… to manage all kind of devices and all kinds of applications in a secure way,"

      Microsoft takes matters into its own hands.  It uses an ARM processor to compete on price, and an Intel processor to ride its Office monopoly.  These are not dumb moves.

      Surface for Windows Pro also features the ability to use Digital Ink with pen input. During the announcement, it was noted that the distance between the stylus and the screen is .7mm. Surface for Windows Pro also features a microSDXC slot and a USB 3.0 port instead, and is slightly thicker at 13.5 mm.

      Surface represents a major shift in strategy for the Microsoft Windows business unit. For years, OEM partners like HP, ASUS, and Dell, provided the hardware. Now Microsoft will be competing directly, particularly in the Ultrabook segment of the market.

      Surface is notably competing directly with Apple‘s iPad, and doesn’t stop short with building a competitive set of features. In addition to its primary hardware specs, Surface also features a built in kickstand, which essentially turns the tablet into a monitor, and also a 3mm thin case that includes a multitouch keyboard. As no one does keyboards better than Microsoft, yet another keyboard is also available for Surface that features a full trackpad with clicking buttons. Though Surface is slightly heavier than the iPad and has 25% less battery size (31.5 Watt hours compared to the iPad’s 42.5 Watt hours), Surface is truly one of the most powerful and lightweight mobile PCs we have seen.

      It’s clear that Surface is designed for current Windows users, and according to NetMarketshare, Windows XP, Vista, and 7 combine for 93% of all desktops. For these users – especially those in the corporate environment – there is a hesitation to switch to another platform, even just for mobile use. As a result, Surface could be a game-changer in the tablet industry. Not only does it feature key capabilities that Apple has yet to ever integrate (such as a keyboard), but Surface will undoubtedly make it easier for curent Windows users to transition from home to office and in-between. While a price has yet to be set, it’s expected to be extremely competitive compared to other tablets, ensuring that Surface is a device that many current Windows users will want to own.

      Shared Windows core

      Our biggest platform-related revelation last week was that Windows Phone 8 is built on a single shared code with Windows 8. This benefits every player in the ecosystem—end users, OEMs, mobile operators, and of course app developers.

      So what does it mean for you? First, it means that your apps will be running on the same base platform that powers a billion PCs around the world and will provide your apps with a stable, high-performance core on top of next-generation hardware. More directly, it means that you’ll be able to share a significant amount of code between your Windows 8 apps and your Windows Phone 8 apps, in many cases only adjusting for the screen size differences between slates and phones.

      Native code support

      As I mentioned, one of the significant benefits of a shared Windows core is the ease of portability between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. We also know that the most popular way to ensure portability across numerous devices is to encapsulate most of an app’s logic in platform-independent native code. That’s one of the main reasons we’ve announced that Windows Phone 8 will support C++ and C.

      I know many of you have questions about the implications. For example, over the last few days I’ve seen developers asking whether this means they can mix C#/XAML with DirectX/C++ or consume native C++ libraries from C# apps. Absolutely! You can mix the code as well as the UI (one element in XAML, another in DirectX).

      Windows 8 has reached the RTM milestone

      People will be able get Windows 8 starting on October 26th either by upgrading for $39.99 or on a new PC or device. And if you buy an eligible Windows 7 PC today, you will be able to purchase an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $14.99 (U.S.) through the Windows Upgrade Offer.

      However, a number of programs that provides various audiences early access to the Windows 8 RTM code to help prepare for Windows 8 as it enters the marketplace this fall:

      • August 15th: Developers will be able to download the final version of Windows 8 via your MSDN subscriptions.
      • August 15th: IT professionals testing Windows 8 in organizations will be able to access the final version of Windows 8 through your TechNet subscriptions.
      • August 16th: Customers with existing Microsoft Software Assurance for Windows will be able to download Windows 8 Enterprise edition through the Volume License Service Center (VLSC), allowing you to test, pilot and begin adopting Windows 8 Enterprise within your organization.
      • August 16th: Microsoft Partner Network members will have access to Windows 8.
      • August 20th: Microsoft Action Pack Providers (MAPS) receive access to Windows 8.
      • September 1st: Volume License customers without Software Assurance will be able to purchase Windows 8 through Microsoft Volume License Resellers.