Some Thoughts & Comments From WPC 2015

Here are some things that I thought were noteworthy from Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference 2015 in Orlando this week. Keep reading even if you don’t work for a Microsoft partner, because this stuff affects anyone working in the Microsoft world.

These may be paraphrases because I wasn’t taking precise notes.

“Cortana is everyone’s assistant”

Not it’s not, when on the phone (the most mature version) it’s only supported in 10 countries. You can make it work internationally by screwing up your regional settings. This is what we call The Curse of Zune.

“I love my iPhone”

The Microsoft employee that said this live on a keynote stage was summarily executed backstage. Holy crap on a cracker!

“Cortana Analytics ….. <Snores>”

See The Curse of Zune. I’ll care when Cortana is relevant.

“Cortana Analytics will help businesses all over the planet”

Uh, no. It’ll help the USA at first, and then a max of 10 countries. Don’t believe me? Check out … I dunno … history.

“Sea Otters!!!!”

Apparently, this is why 12,000+ Microsoft partners flew to Orlando this week, according to Terry Myerson. Strange, because Sea Otters are native to the Pacific coast.

“Laissez le bon Windows rollez”

My reaction to Bryan Roper’s Windows 10 demo. OK, he’s Cuban-American and not cajun, but that’s what I thought (and tweeted) at the time. Best demo of Windows 10 I’ve seen yet, and LOVED the energy. The hat beats the hair, easily. We need more Roper in keynotes.

“Microsoft to expand its Surface distributor count from a couple hundred to a few thousand worldwide”

This is huge news. It means nothing to most people, but for the last 3 years my employers have said “sorry, we can’t sell that” over and over and over. To finally open the sluice gates through the channel to business, Microsoft’s new $1 billion business could double or treble in a year.


Seriously, Microsoft, trim those keynotes down to 2 hours. Down … to … two … hours. Oh my!

“Soon you will see premium Microsoft phones designed for Windows 10”

Nice timing – I’m due an upgrade from my provider. Me wanty Continuum.

“CSP program to include Azure, Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) and CRM Online, in addition to Office 365”

Again, means nothing to most of you, but this opens up a joint syndication channel to end customers via the channel. It’ll simplify purchasing, and force big changes in the channel too.

“New sync engine coming to OneDrive for Business”

This is badly needed. Two reasons I hear from partners that use DropBox with customers instead:

  • Constantly failing sync that is costly to repair
  • Problems with file path limitations

“There will be 5 more #Azure regions opening in the next few months”

Wowzas! South Korea is rumoured, though Finland was too. India is to come online with 2 regions before the end of this year.  Canada is getting two in 2016 (Toronto and Quebec City).

“Microsoft cloud partner competencies shifting to adoption instead of sales”

Competencies are the incentive-based expertises that partners must qualify to achieve. One measure has been amount of associated licensing sold to the partner’s customers. This is changing, as it it internally with Microsoft’s sales people, from monetary value to adoption. This is to counter “shadow sales” of cloud services that are more like sneaky discounted inclusions in volume licensing deals rather than requested purchases.

“WPC 2016 will be in Toronto”

Start camping out for your sessions now. The reviews that I heard of of the last WPC in Toronto were horrific – big crowds, tiny rooms, and few people able to attend sessions.

“You’ve got to have technical people dedicated to keeping up with Azure”

Keeping up is my job. It’s impossible for one person to keep up. Either have a team of subject matter experts that have time allocated to do this, or get serious about attending regular tech updates. And this isn’t just Azure, it’s EVERYTHING Microsoft from 2 years ago onwards.

“We’ve got to become more technical”

Microsoft COO Kevin Turner told this to partner sales people, account managers, owners and Microsoft subsidiaries, many of which have drained away technical roles over the last 5 years. Fact is, folks, Azure is a technical sale. No solution design, no pricing, no sale. Please move on.

“Continuum is my favourite feature of Windows 10”

Satya Nadella agrees with me. If Continuum-capable flagship Windows phones can be put into the hands of enterprise users with Office 365, then we have a game changer. But Microsoft needs to fix the channel. Their fascination with telecoms companies ha crippled the phone. Even Apple is selling unlocked phones via distribution now.

Microsoft News Summary – 10 September 2014

In other news, Apple proves that wearable devices are a pointless Gartner-esque fad, and those preachy tax-avoiding frakkers, U2, suck donkey balls.


System Center Operations Manager

  • OM12 Sizing Helper: This is a Windows Phone app version of the OpsMgr 2012 Sizing Helper document.



  • Microsoft rumored to be poised to buy Minecraft creator for $2 billion: This blocky game is the hottest thing with kids. I’ve spent many an hour *cough* helping *yes, helping* with constructions & adventures on an iPad and Xbox. And to be honest, it is a good problem solving game and it encourages kids to interact, based on what I’ve observed.

An Old Post Of Mine On Ballmer That Makes Interesting Reading

I’ve just re-read a post I wrote in 2010 about the future of Steve Ballmer. My two topics of focus were Windows Phone 7 (released that day) and the lack of a Windows tablet at the time.

I thought WinPho would struggle behind iOS and Android, mainly because of apps. I was not wrong. Things have improved, but there’s still issues with app quality and availability.

We now know that Ballmer bought into the Sinofsky plan (sounds like some dodgy French plan to keep out invading forces, and we know how those tend to work out). Windows 8 came, Windows 8.1 came, Windows 8.1 Update 1 came, and still Microsoft struggles in the tablet market. I thought (and I was not along) that, despite everything, Microsoft should get WinPho working on tablet devices. Instead we got the confusing and failed Windows RT, which is now being killed off through a merger with Windows Phone for ARM devices.

Fun times!

Oh yeah, I completely underestimated the impact of smartphones and tablets on the consumer market.

Event Notes: The Build 2014 Keynote – Futures

Myerson is back on stage. Now we get some futures – stuff that is coming but not soon. The next topic is Xbox (television). Universal Windows Applications will be able to run on the Xbox (One I guess). This app can also use Kinect from a single set of source code.

Kinect v2 for Windows is being updated to match the Xbox One. 1080p camera with wide field of view for a much smaller room.

The Xbox graphics platform is coming to DirectX 12 and will now also be on Windows Phone and Windows.

Now onto the next buzzword: the Internet of things. We see an Intel Quark chip (a full x86 system on a chip) which is the size of the nail on your little finger. Basically, it’s a tiny PC. He now logs into a “floor piano” (think Tom Hanks in Big) that is a PC. Belfiore is back to play the piano. We see a live debug of the data stream on the PC/piano.


They also visually present the data on an Azure app.


Now on to Windows. They are not announcing Windows 9. But they are going all-in on the desktop experience. Universal Windows Apps can run in a Window. The Start Menu will be back.


When Windows IoT (Internet of Things) is available it will be available for $0.

Windows is available now for devices smaller than 9” for $0.

Now up, Nokia ex CEO Stephen Elop, the man who will run Micosoft devices. Lumia Windows Phone 8 devices will get better with Windows Phone 8.1. The next generation of Lumias are being announced. I’ll tune out a bit here.

Elop now introduces Satya Nadella, who is dressed comfortably in a t-shirt. He makes the big pitch to developers. He talks about ubiquitous technology and ambient technology and the integration with cloud.


The DPEs previously went out to get questions for Nadella to answer. Let’s see if he deals with the tough ones or not.

Q) Why build for Windows?

A) You want to build for Windows because we are going to innovate. We are not coming at this as the incumbent. We are coming at this from many directions – hardware, services, platform, etc. They will keep pushing. Some USPs by bringing IT pros, devs, and users developers – the magic of the Windows platform. Second big attribute is to create an expanding developer opportunity. Apps can run across all device kinds and in the desktop in the near future. That’s a huge potential market. Don’t forget that there are hundreds of millions of PCs sold every year, and 1.5 billion Windows users out there. And Windows rules the enterprise.

Q) Will apps developed on Windows run on other platforms?

A) His answer suggests he gets this: crazy to abandon code. He talks about the integration with 3rd party libraries (Unity, Xamarin, and more)  for cross-platform coding.

Q) Most are using iPads or Android tablets and not Windows tablets.

A) There are multiple dimensions of competitiveness. Hardware, platform, price, and apps are those dimensions. Partners are producing a range of devices from low- to high-end. MSFT will innovate Surface. A new touch Office is coming. The key competitiveness is “how do users use the tablet in their device family?”. MSFT want to provide developer consistency and user consistency – a USP.

…. and there were more dev focused questions.

That’s all folks!

Event Notes: The Build 2014 Keynote – Windows Phone 8.1

Terry Myerson comes out on stage to kick things off, and tells the audience that they are a diverse group. This Build will focus on the delivery of apps and services. He gets things moving quickly.

1.5 billion people use Windows according to a video. 95% of Steam gamers are on Windows.

Joe Belifiore, late of Windows Phone and now Corporate VP of the operating systems group comes out, and praises the devs in the audience. He runs PC, tablet, and phone OS development. There are major updates for Windows:

  • Windows Phone 8.1
  • Windows 8.1 Update

He goes with what he knows best first: Windows Phone 8.1. A wider range of h/w will run the new OS. The following are working with MSFT and Qualcomm to make handsets:


He has Cromax and Prestigio development phones in his hands and shows them off. Next is a demo of WP8.1. They want it to be more personal and tailored to you. There is a new Action Centre:


He mentions that dual SIM is possible!!!! I’d love that – I carry two phones (work and personal) and I’d love to carry just one and be able to turn SIMs off.

There is a new lock screen interface. There are different themes for the lock screen with different layouts and animations.


The lock screen has changed too. You can change the theme and densities. You can also choose a background photo.


They want the phone to be very personal in a useful way. They have something new, and show "her" come to life. Here comes … Cortana. She is named after the digital assistant in the Halo games.


Cortana is powered by Bing. She also learns how you work, who and what you care about. Cortana has a live tile on the Start Screen, bringing her front and centre. She replaces the old search function on Windows Phone. She might suggest searches based on your history (careful now, Ted).

Apparently they talked to real world personal assistants to learn how to do the job well. Personal information was important … they kept it in a notebook. Cortana keeps a notebook so you can control your relationship with her. Your “inner circle” are the people you care about. Cortana will suggest people and learn your relationships. Quiet Hours (YES!) is there too. She can learn places and you can correct/add them.

Oh my! Cortana can be permitted to read your email. She can then recognise things like flight itineraries. That’s very cool. She can remind you that you need to start travelling to the airport. You get all the usual stuff like making appointments and setting alarms.

Bing is demoed by finding locations using Yelp! data. I wonder if this will work outside of the big 7 countries? I know Yelp! has the data, but Bing is limited internationally.

Don’t get too excited Cortana will be launched as a beta. They want to train her to learn accents. Ah – it will be limited to the USA first, then UK, then more countries. Kerry and Glasgow accents could really test a voice recognition service like Cortana! If Cortana is dependent on Bing then it should work in around 7 countries … ever. I’ll stop blogging about Cortana because it’s relevant to a small percentage of the planet.

On to business features in Windows Phone with Nick Hedderman. Stuff is said about things. They talk about enrolling a device, and how email, settings, and other stuff are pushed down. VPN is now added to Windows Phone.


SMIME is added to read/encrypt emails on the phone. Signing is also handled. A cert appears in the email to indicate security.

We see that an MDM (mobile device management) policy has prevented a local save. Apps can be disabled. (I guess this was Windows Intune). The enrolment appears to be a Workplace Join (settings > Workplace).

Belfiore is back. The store has had a much-needed overhaul. It’s now like the Windows 8.1 store. The calendar has been redesigned to give better daily navigation and a weekly view.

Wi-Fi sense will auto-connect to free Wi-Fi networks and automatically accept terms and conditions. Sounds like another USA-only service to me. There’s also a feature to allow friends to access your Wi-Fi network without sharing your password.

Skype and Cortana (yawn!) are integrated into the phone call feature. So you can escalate a phone call to a video call. He demos the new keyboard. Damn, Belfiore is fast at typing on the new wordflow keyboard.

If you save a password on Windows 8.1 then Wi-Fi sense will also sync it now. IE11 is a part of WP8.1. I’d prefer Chrome, thanks.

The update will go out to consumers in the “next few months”. Brand new phones will have it in either late April or early May. Sounds like developers in the audience will get it early.

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2 Months + Christmas – How The Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone Has Fared

I’ve been pleasantly surprised how well the Lumia 1020 has fared, reviewing it here and on the Petri IT Knowledgebase. How has the phone continued to work over time?

It’s not all been smooth sailing. There are times when there’s an app that I want to use that just is not there. I like to get my news with a sense of humour, and does sadly not have a Windows Phone app. That has me reaching for the browser or for my Lenovo Yoga 8 Android tablet where there is an app. I’ve also been doing some travel booking and there’s a distinct shortage of those apps on Windows Phone.

Over the holidays I did quite a bit of driving. And I like to drive safe, so I have a third-party Bluetooth hands free kit (Parrot CTK 3100) with recently upgraded firmware. Strictly speaking, the kit does not support the Lumia 1020, but it does support the 925 and 52x handsets. The experience was working well, but something went wrong over the holiday – I could make/answer calls but the audio failed to go over the kit. I did a little digging and eventually reset the phone. No joy. Then I “reset” the kit by removing all paired phones and that’s when I noticed something: My phone was registered twice, once under the default “Windows Phone” name and again with the unique name I had recently entered in the Windows Phone app. I made sure both entries were gone and I re-paired and tested. Everything was fine once again. Phew – I’d had to resort to using my HTC One for a couple of days so I could drive safely but now I am back on the Lumia 1020.

The real test for this phone was communications, especially on Christmas day. I was celebrating the day with family. My girlfriend was with her family and I have friends scattered all over. Windows Phone was designed from the ground up for social media integration. And that’s what I got … in one app. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are all added as accounts in the Windows Phone settings. That means I get integrated chat in the Messaging app, not just SMS texting. I was texting and Facebook IMing in one place on the phone. It worked really well, able to stay in contact, and I didn’t have to app switch.

There was some driving to be done too and Nokia’s Here Maps worked perfectly, even correcting me when I encountered a wrong road sign on New Years Eve!

The big feature (figuratively and literally) of the Lumia 1020 is the camera. Christmas means low light and the camera did get used. Microsoft got the physical reference interface of Windows Phone right: the dedicated camera button is so handy. I took photos in low light both with and without flash. Obviously the flash-less photos suffer with motion blur and/or camera shake and some grain, but what the Lumia produces beats what any compact camera might offer in the same circumstances, at least in my experience!

The other thing I’ve been doing is using the phone for music: be it while travelling or doing stuff around the house. The speaker quality is nowhere near what the HTC One offers (which might be best in class, including tablets) so I acquired a Creative (remember them!!!) portable Airwave HD Bluetooth/NFC speaker. Adding music to the phone is a breeze, and adding playlists from Windows Media Player is much easier than it is for Android. Tap the phone, pair, and music is playing via the speaker with volume control on the speaker and one the phone.  Nice!


The Creative Airwave HD is available from:

So Windows Phone 8 on the Nokia Lumia 1020 has had a real world, real user test and it’s passed, although there are still questions remaining about app availability.

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Another Windows Phone Hatchet Job? – Lumia 1020

I’m using this phone for 3 weeks.  Camera: excellent.  Social experience: excellent.  Apps: need some work but improving.  Only issue I’m having is when I’m listening to something in the car on the phone, I get a text, and the audio stops until I acknowledge the text – that’s a little unsafe.

Best thing I can say: this is the longest I’ve used Windows Phone as my personal handset without once getting annoyed at it :D  I’ve no plans to switch off of it for now.

I think that counts as high praise!?!?!?

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