Archive | July, 2011

Silverlight on IPad 3

22 Jul

I’m a Silverlight MVP and I love Silverlight! These days I often hear “Isn’t Silverlight dead?” – well to some Silverlight have never really existed but I think Silverlight have a bright future ahead. I also hear a lot complaining about problems with the IPad due to the fact that IOS is just a mobile OS.

It has been reported Windows 8 will be able to run on ARM processors. This will open up some new possibilities for Windows based slates and I guess we will see hardware looking like IPad – but running a full OS instead of a mobile OS.

If Apple want to compete with Windows 8 running on ARM processors they need to upgrade the IPad – they need to run a full OS. A few days ago Apple launched OSX Lion. It looks great and with its new feature to show the apps like on an IPad I guess Apple have taken the initial step to launch IPad 3 running OSX Lion.

With a full OS like OSX Lion it will be possible to run Silverlight on IPad 3.

by xamlgeek

Windows 8 based slates

21 Jul

I’m really looking forward to BUILD and some more news about Windows 8. In the meantime I’m running Windows 7 on an Acer slate (read my review here) for work and serious browsing and iPad to browse and read on.

Today I read a post saying that iPad has dropped from more than 94% share of the market to a 61.3% share. Over the same period of time, Android tablets jumped from a 2.9% share to a 30% share last quarter. “According to market research firm Strategy Analytics’ latest report, Windows-powered media tablets owned 4.6% of the global market in the second quarter of 2011.“, the post from BGR says.

I really, really hope that Microsoft is launching Windows 8 (beta) soon – and it better look damn nice.

by xamlgeek

How happy are you with your mobile OS?

21 Jul

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about my experience with iPhone 4. I was not very satisfied with the device.

From a survey of 4000+ mobile users, 57 percent of Windows Phone 7 users are “very satisfied” with the devices. That compares to 50 percent who are “very satisfied” with their Android device. Seventy percent of iOS users report being “very satisfied”.

Guess I’m alone in the World…

Read the full article at GeekWire.

by xamlgeek

Review of a Windows 7 based slate

13 Jul

For the last couple of weeks I have been using a Windows 7 based slate from Acer (Acer Iconia W500). My intention with the slate was to write notes, write blog posts, edit documents and work as a quick- and easy-to-use computer. I’m writting quite a lot so the docking station (actually it is just a dockable keyboard) was important for me. Many slates does not provide this opportunity. The W500 got a 10.1″ multi-touch screen (4 simultanious touches) and is born with Windows 7 home edition.

Earlier this week I did a review of an iPad 2. This post will focus on a review of my experience of the Acer Iconia W500 with docking station.

Windows 7

Windows 7 is the key advantage and key disadvantage of this slate. Windows 7 is my primary OS, I think it is an amazing OS and many critics agree with me. However in this scenario it got one big problem: the UI is designed for mouse and keyboard input – not fingers!

With the touchpack for Windows 7 installed you will get some great features for use with touch screens but it will never compensate for the fumbling when you try to open an application located in the startmenu. The menu items are not very high and with an average sized finger you are most likely to hit two items at a time.

As it is a full Windows 7 running on the slate I can install all the programs I can possible dream of – on the 32GB available. I started by upgrading the browser to Internet Explorer 9 and installing Windows Live Writer (I truly love that program!). Most document editing is done using Office Web Apps in the browser so I do not need to install Office or anything like it. If you have not tried out Office Web Apps yet you should really consider trying them out – and it is free!

Wireless and 3G

W500 got build-in WIFI but not 3G (you need to get the W501 for that). It is fast on the wireless and it works without any issues. I look forward to test the build-in 3G on the W501. My Lenovo T410S got build-in 3G and it takes about 10-15 seconds before it is available – I really hope that it works better on the slates (not that I could see any reasons why it should). If it turns out to be an issue I hope that it will be fixed in Windows 8.

A touch-friendly layer

From what I have seen so far about Windows 8 it looks like it will take care of some of the touch issues that Windows 7 is suffering under. A more fluid and touchable UI. My guess is that we will see a beta of Windows 8 in September 2011 (during BUILD) and a final release in end of 2012.

I can not wait until the end of 2012 to do Windows applications targeting slates. To compensate for this I have developed a simple WPF application to work as a “touch-friendly-layer” on top of Windows 7. The application only works as an application launcher and is really simple – but it gives the end-user a much better experience. I’m thinking about putting it on CodePlex…

Marketplace

The integrated marketplace in IOS makes it easy to access and install thousands of apps. The need is a bit different here since you are running a full OS and can install all the programs you wish. However I still see the point in the marketplace and I guess there will be a marketplace for apps with Windows 8.

Hardware

So far Apple have had a great succes with iPad – it is cool hardware and it is easy to use. The software got some flaws but all-in-all it is a fine piece of hardware. ALL (and I really mean ALL) Windows based slates fails on cool-factor of the hardware – it looks like crap! Sorry Dell, Acer and Asus but you are a decade behind on this! Yes, I’m aware that it is a mobile OS running on iPad and a full OS running on the Windows based slates – but come on. The slates do not need to look like something invented by engineers – let them be cool and appealing. Based on what I have seen Samsung deliever in laptops lately I hope they will join the Windows slate market soon.

The performance of the W500 is pretty good – it can not be compared with my Lenovo T410S with 8GB RAM, but it does a decent job. The docking station (keyboard) works pretty good but looks like crap and have a tendency of falling (the screen is too heavy for the keyboard).

When I turn the device off it goes to sleep mode. When I turn it back on it is ready to use and responds to touches within a second.

Conclusion

With my home made touch-friendly layer I actually get the job done with the W500 slate. Hence I have ordered two Acer Iconia W501 with built-in 3G as part of a project running for the next six months. There are still some issues Windows 8 will fix but all-in-all I’m satisfied. Still it looks nothing like an iPad :) If Apple decided to put a full OS on the iPad most of the Windows 7 based slates would have a really hard time.

by xamlgeek

5 days with an iPad

13 Jul

For the last 5 days I have been using my new iPad as my primary home-device. With home-device I mean the device I use to check e-mails, editing documents, order planetickets, transfer money and check what is coming on TV tonight.

First of all my wife appreciate the performance, the lightweight hardware and that it is really easy to use. Secondly my 2-year old kid loves it – the userinterface and hardware is so intuitive to use that he actually switches between games without my wife or I need to help him.

For my own point of view I’m amazed by the hardware – it great looking and simple to use. I’m not really enjoying IOS but I must admit that it is running smoothly on the hardware. I’m a bit disappointed about the lack of functionality due to the fact that the browser is treated like a mobile browser; the mobile browser will not let me edit my documents online (blame it on the browser or the office-product; I do not care – it does not work). There is a lot of functionality I’m missing in OS (like being able to run Java – my online banking require it) but it is partly compensated by the lots of apps available.

One app really blow my mind: Flipboard. It is a really cool new way to read news.

I think we will see a new OS running on iPads in the future – an OS looking more like OSX then IOS. In a moment Microsoft will launch Windows 8 running on lots of different slates – some will proably look more or less like the iPad. With Windows 8 you will get the full OS experience on the slates and Apple have to match that in some way.

This post was written on my iPad using the WordPress app.

by xamlgeek

Status on Windows Phone 7

11 Jul

Yesterday I did a post about iPhone and iPad. To sum it up I was not very pleased about iPhone but I can see some quality in iPad. Since I was not very please about the iPhone I decided to write this post about Windows Phone 7 and my thoughts on the Windows Phone platform based on the public Mango beta.

Penetration
Microsoft was late in the game about the next generation smartphones. Some will say they are 2 years late – some will say they are too late get in the game at all. According to Gartner Microsoft will gain about 20 percent market penetration in 2015 (Google 50 percent and Apple 18 percent). The growth in Microsofts market penetration is apparently caused by the coorporation with Nokia. We still haven’t seen any Nokia devices running Windows Phone 7 but rumours say they will send least one on the market before EOY 2011.

Developer experience
There is no doubt that one of the forces of Windows Phone 7 is its developer experience. Developing an app for WP7 is easy. Visual Studio is the primary development tool for lots of developers but more and more developers have taken Expression Blend into their toolbox (this is based on my own experience). Visual Studio 2010 and Expression Blend 4 is strong tools helping developers to create apps easy and in a known environment.

Hardware
Apple have had great success designing good looking phones and only make their OS run on their own hardware. On the other hand Google have had great success in designing an OS that can run on almost any mobile platform making it the fastest growing OS at the moment. The Windows Phone platform is designed to run on different hardware (with some pretty high minimum hardware requirements). At the moment we have only seen a limited number of devices running Windows Phone 7 but after the coorporation with Nokia we must expect to see a large number of Nokia devices running Windows Phone 7 in the future.

I have had some severe issues with my Windows Phone 7 based hardware (Samsung Omnia 7 and HTC Mozart). I really hope that these issues are unique and will never be witnessed by a “normal” user.

Buttons
One of the major downsides of the Windows Phone platform is the buttons on the phone. The hardware producers are forced to place 3 buttons in front of the phone – a back button, a search button and the Windows button. So the back button and the Windows button makes sence but I really do not see any use of the search button – only that Microsoft wish to force Bing into our lives in a really annoying way. In the beta version of Mango the only purpose of the search button is a shortcut to search Bing. Any actual search functionality on the phone is activated using software buttons.

The real problems begin if you get a phone with touch buttons – you will stroke the buttons all the time interrupting the actual purpose you got on the phone. Microsoft have indicated some improvements in this area but nothing have been published yet. Microsoft, please please remove the search button – I promise to visit bing.com at least once every day if you do.

Performance
The performance on the Windows Phone platform is amazing. It runs really smooth and provide a really good user experience. On the same time the tiles makes the phone come alive and ready to make a distance to other more static platforms.

Marketplace
To publish an app to the marketplace it needs to be approved by Microsoft. Despite a few problems getting apps through the certification process it is in general a smooth process that should be completed in 4-5 days. In the first version of Windows Phone 7 there were some issues searching the marketplace. Often games, apps and music got mixed in the search result. This should be better in the final version of Mango.

Did I forget anything? Let me know at @xamlgeek.

by xamlgeek
@xamlgeek

Articles about the Future of Silverlight

10 Jul

Since PDC in late 2010 there have been lots of rumors and guessing about the future of Silverlight. In spring 2011 at MIX11 Microsoft released the beta of Silverlight 5 and announcing the final release of Silverlight 5 in late 2011.

With this post I’m trying to gather some of the most objective articles written about the future of Silverlight.

Silverlight is Dead, Long Live XAML
written on July 5, 2011

Premature cries of Silverlight / WPF skill loss. Windows 8 supports all programming models.
written on June 14, 2011

Silverlight rumored to have high prominence in Windows 8
written on June 9, 2011

Microsoft reorg: Scott Guthrie to head new Azure Application Platform team
written on May 2, 2011

Video: Tim Heuer – Silverlight is not dead – DevConnections 2010
written on November 7, 2010

PDC and Silverlight (by Bob Muglia)
written on November 1, 2010

Microsoft: Our strategy with Silverlight has shifted
written on October 29, 2010

Silverlight and HTML5 and Your Future
written on October 29, 2010

Silverlight TV 50: The State of Silverlight with Scott Guthrie
written on October 21, 2010

If you think I’m missing an article please let me know at @xamlgeek.

by xamlgeek
@xamlgeek

Apple is in the House

9 Jul

Apple have been innovators on the next generation of smartphones and on the next generation of tablets. To be honest I appriciate the introduction of iPhone – the smartphone market was almost not evolving at the time. As a Silverlight and Windows Phone 7 developer I’m not sure that I understand the fixation Apple have received after introducing iPhone and iPad; the IOS platform is very limited and not very developer-friendly – but damn they (Apple) produce some nice hardware!

For a long time I have been listening more or less passive to the hype about iPhone and iPad. Yesterday I decided that enough is enought! I decided to buy an iPhone and iPad to try them out and see if the fixation is genuie. I bought an iPhone 4 (16GB) and an iPad 2 (64GB); both with a 32MBit data connection from 3 (http://3.dk). The iPad is with a docking station from Apple.

Prior to buying the stuff above I have been using a Samsung Omnia 7 and HTC Mozart (both with Windows Phone 7.1 beta) as my primary phones and an Acer Iconia W500 slate running Windows 7. Becides that I have a Lenovo T410S I use for development. I have been pleased with the Windows Phone platform so far – there are some issues I find critical if Microsoft is going to be able to get a leading position in the smartphone market but it is a really good starting point.

First let me comment on the iPhone. What Apples always have been good at is the wrapping. I received it in a very small box and it looked like a million (Nokia, Samsung and HTC pay attention – you could learn a lot here from Apple!). I put in the micro sim card and turned it on. “Please connect to iTunes”. What? What the fuck! A few years ago I had an iPod – being forced to use iTunes to choose to give it away. In my opinion iTunes is by far the most non-userfriendly music application ever created. With no way around it I choose to install iTunes again. Running through a quick wizard in iTunes to register the iPhone it was ready to use.

My expections for the iPhone was high. With all the hype I almost expected it to be ready to make coffee for me :) I tuned some settings and tried to download a few apps – constantly I was told that I wasn’t able to use the data connection. Laying the blame on the location (Ordrup, Denmark) I accepted this eventhough I had an average speed when using my laptop. As the hours went by and I was getting more and more annoid about the lack of performance of the data connection I recalled the media storm about the antenna problem. Almost for fun I tried to hold the iPhone in the bottom between my fingertips the data connection instantly doubled the performance. WHAT?! Why is such a simple problem not fixed?!

Next step was to get my 3 e-mail accounts up and running: a hosted Exchange account, a Hotmail account and a GMail account. I was fairly simple to add all the accounts. Not sure why but a lot of my contacts from my Exchange account was added 3 or 4 times (this could be something done wrong from my side). Looking at my e-mail accounts from the startscreen I only get notified about new mails; not on which account and I have to got through a few steps to open to correct mailbox. No big issue but in the long run it could be. Finding something in the AppStore is easy! and I can find almost anything I want. However the AppStore is REALLY slow (could be a side effect of the data connection issue mentioned above).

I have used the iPhone as my primary phone for a few days now and I have to switch back my Windows Phone 7. The iPhone is too slow and it is static and borring in its userability. On the upside the hardware looks so much better then any other phone on the market and it is obvious that Apple have learned some lessons during the first 3 versions. However with the developer experience in mind iPhone (4) could never be my primary phone.

With that in mind I turned on the iPad. It looks cool and weights about half of my Acer tablet. After completing the wizard in iTunes I tried to install a few apps. This time I did not experience any problems the data connection and the apps was quickly installed. Tried to introduce Angry Birds to my 2 1/2 years old son with great succes. This was not possible on the Samsung Omnia 7 due to the touch search-button. Anybody with the a Windows Phone 7 and with touch buttons knows about the issue.

I expected to use Windows Live Apps to edit my Office documents. Fast I realised that IOS is just a mobile OS. Dough! Windows Live Apps is not supported in mobile browsers leaving me without any possibility of editing my documents. Dammit! Why haven’t Apple upgraded their OS on iPad to run some more features then the extremly limited version running on iPhone?

Since you’re reading this blogpost you know that I use WordPress as my blogging engine. I found a WordPress app for the iPad enabling me to write posts on the iPad. And it actually works pretty good. There is already lots of iPad specific apps and some of them looks really nice.

So the iPad is good for two things: children (of any age) playing and blogging :) (not fair to say, I know!). I have only been using the iPad for about 5 hours but I must that I see some great potential in the format and Apple’s infrastructure on this platform. I hope to see OSX vNext running on iPad some day. That would really turn this platform into something really great.

Having tried iPhone and iPad I there is not doubt iPhone is not the best smartphone on the market but the iPad got some great potential. Dear iPhone users (and developers), please give Windows Phone 7 a try – you will be REALLY positive surprised!

UPDATE: As a follow up on this post I did a post on the status of Windows Phone 7. You can read it here. One thing that keep amazing me is the hardware that Apple produces – it is in an entire different league then most other hardware manufactores. I have received a few comments about my judgement of the iPhone – I stand by my comments by admit that I had really high expections which might have had influence on my judgement. I will give it another go soon and I all-in-all do believe that it is a good phone.

This post is written on my iPad.

by xamlgeek
@xamlgeek

(anybody want’s to buy an almost new iPhone 4?)

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