New Azure “Basic” Virtual Machines

Yesterday (March 31, 2014), Microsoft announced some new Azure price drops, and some new VM and storage options.  You can read the entire announcement here, and you should because there is some storage goodness, like a “Zone Reduntant Storage” (ZRS) alternative to the current “Locally Redundant Storage” (LRS) and “Geo Redundant Storage” (GRS) redundancy options.

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsazure/archive/2014/03/30/microsoft-azure-innovation-quality-and-price.aspx

However, there was one topic I thought might be of direct interest to developers:

New “Basic” Tier Virtual Machines

Currently, Azure VMs come in two “tiers”. The “Standard” tier has VM sizes A0-A4 (Extra Small to Extra Large), and the “Memory Intensive Instances” tier has sizes A5-A7.  In yesterday’s announcement their will be a new “Basic” tier.  These will be similar machine configurations to the “Standard” A0-A4, but the new “Basic” VMs won’t include load balancing or auto-scaling options. 

These new “Basic” VMs might be of interest to developers who are using Azure VMs for Dev/Test workloads and don’t need the load balancing and autos-caling features. These basic VMs will give developers equivalent compute capabilities at a lower cost if load balancing and auto-scaling are needed.

The new “Basic” VMs should be available starting April 3rd, 2014 and the pricing will be updated and displayed on the Virtual Machines Pricing Details page.

Windows Phone Developer “Company” Accounts and Symantec Verification

I’ve noticed an issue with my personal business’ Windows Phone Developer account lately.  Every time I sign into the dashboard, and try to submit a new app, I get the “Account Summary” page instead:

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There wasn’t any useful information on the page though that told me why I was seeing that instead of my App Submission page.  My account was current, no obvious issues, etc.

I used the “Support” link at the bottom of the Windows Phone Dev Center page, and then clicked the “Submit a support ticket” link, then filled in my issues, and click the link to Start a Live Chat…

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The support rep was very helpful, and as it turns out that since my account is a “Company” account (not an individual), it was undergoing an annual account verification with Symantec.  Microsoft uses Symantec to verify the identities of the company developer accounts.  You can learn more about that here:

Symantec Validation for Company Accounts
and
Microsoft Developer Services Identity Validation

For support from Symantec on your verification status, go to:

Microsoft Developer Identity Validation Support with Symantec (http://go.symantec.com/microsoft-chat-support)

Fill in the form there, and you can enter a live support chat with Symantec:

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I gave the Symantec rep my Windows Phone Developer Account’s Publisher Name, and they were able to find my record and work with me (which for me included them calling the phone number associated with my publisher account) to verify my information was correct.

It turns out that my account has actually been in the “verification” phase for some time, and that I just ignored the email from *@symantec.com because I don’t use any of their products.  Point being, if you have a “Company” Windows Phone Developer account, make sure to monitor that email address associated with your account for annual verification emails from Symantec.  If I was more on top of my communications, I would have caught it earlier.  I just wish the developer center page was more informative of what the problem was.

It did take about 4-5 hours after my chat with Symantec before the fix made it through, but it eventually did, and now I can submit apps!

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Global Windows Azure Bootcamp San Diego (GWAB)

Looking forward to seeing everybody at the Global Windows Azure Bootcamp in San Diego tomorrow.  Wanted to get a couple of quick logistical things for the event.  You can also check back here for updates both during and after the event:

Date:

March 29th, 2014 from 9am to 4pm. 

Location:

Microsoft San Diego Office
9255 Towne Centre Drive
Suite 400
San Diego, CA 92121

Parking:

Parking is $12.50 for the day.
If you don’t want to pay for parking you can try to park on the street or over at UTC shopping center.

Please Bring:

Your EventBrite ticket and a laptop (or a Development VM in Azure, see below) with :

As an alternative to having the pre-requisites on your own laptop, you can create a Virtual Machine is Azure that has everything you need.  I have another blog post with a video that walks through that process: How to Use a Windows Azure VM for Windows 8.1 Development

I also have a step by step walkthrough here: Setting up an Azure Virtual Machine For Developers with Visual Studio 2013 Ultimate and SQL Server 2012 Express.

You should be aware that if you are going to create an VM in Azure to use as your “development workstation” the initial setup time can take a couple of hours (It just takes time to install Visual Studio, SQL Server, SDKs, Updates, etc).  Point being, you might want to get that started as soon as possible. 

FAQs:

Q: I signed up for a free trial a while ago but it has expired
A:
You can sign up for another free trial, but you will need to use a different Microsoft Account (aka Live ID).  You can create a new free Microsoft Account by going to signup.live.com . Then once you have a new Microsoft Account sign up for the free trial again.  Note, you may need to use “InPrivate Browsing” in Internet Explorer (Ctrl+Shift+P) or an “Incognito Window” in Chrome (Ctrl+Shift+N)

Q: Can I use Visual Studio Express Versions
A:
Yes, but be aware that many tasks require a full Visual Studio installation.  For general Azure development with Web Sites and Cloud Services you can use the Visual Studio Express for Web editions. 

Q: I don’t have Visual Studio 2013, can I use Visual Studio 2012 (or vice-versa)
A:
Regardless of which version you have, you will likely find labs that are written for a different version.  For the most part, everything works just fine, but you will find some differences between what you see, and what the lab says.  Just use your best judgement, and ask questions if you can’t figure out the differences.

Q: My Azure Portal doesn’t match the screen shots or lab instructions
A: Azure evolves rapidly, but that means that older versions of labs may not match the current state of the service.  For the most part, everything works just fine, but you will find some differences between what you see, and what the lab says.  Just use your best judgement, and ask questions if you can’t figure out the differences.

Azure Dev Camp LA Info and Links

Thanks all that came to the Azure Dev Camp in LA today.  Here is a quick and dirty blog post to share the various links and contact info from today:

Look for the “Global Windows Azure Bootcamp” coming up on 03/29:
gwab-sandiego.eventday.com

"Fixed" Labs Download:    http://aka.ms/wadclabs
Doesn’t include Azure Active Directory, Service Bus or Windows 8 & Windows Phone 8 Expenses apps

Original Labs Download: http://aka.ms/h2wadc  
Download the "Scenario Content" zip file if you want to try Windows Azure Active Directory & Service Bus

If you need:
Visual Studio 2013:    http://aka.ms/vs13eval
SQL Server Exp. 2012:    http://aka.ms/sqlexp12
Windows Azure SDK:    http://aka.ms/wazsdks

Contact Info:

Bret Stateham
http://BretStateham.com
Bret.Stateham@microsoft.com

Daniel Egan
http://TheSociableGeek.com
Daniel.Egan@microsoft.com

Michele Leroux Bustamante
http://www.slideshare.net/MicheleBusta
http://MicheleBusta.com
michelebusta@gmail.com

Bret’s BizSpark Tutorial

BizSpark Tutorial:    http://aka.ms/bsbstut
Contact me if you need help getting signed up with BizSpark!

BizSpark Enrollment Tutorial

This tutorial walks you through the process of enrolling for BizSpark, and then using your BizSpark benefits to access Windows Azure, as well as to register as a developer in the Windows and Windows.

To qualify for BizSpark you need:

  • To be a business who is developing software or apps
  • To be a business that is less then 5 yearsr old and privately held
  • To be a business that making less than US$1M annually
  • A website (perhaps a free Azure Website, or a Facebook page) for your business
  • A company email (like a free Microsoft Account or other email address) for your business

Read the rest of this entry »

Xamarin.iOS v1.10 fixes issues Windows Phone and Windows Store app development in VS 2013

If you have Xamarin.iOS 1.8.365 installed along side your Visual Studio 2013 installation, you may have noticed problems with Windows Phone and Windows Store projects not displaying correctly in the designer.  They would build ok, but you can’t set the debug target device, and the designer is broken and shows an “Invalid Markup” message, and there are a ton of Errors about the XAML.  Errors like ‘The Name “PhoneApplicationPage” does not exist in the namespace…’, etc. Here’s a screenshot of what the errors look like:

Xamarin.iOS v1.8.365 Causes Windows Phone App Errors in Visual Studio 2013
Click picture to view larger version….

To fix the problem, update to Xamarin.iOS 1.10 (info) or later. I can’t find a direct download link to the beta versions, but you can get it by telling your existing install to update via the “Beta” rather than “Stable” channel.  To do that:

  1. Open Visual Studio 2013, and open the “Tools” | “Options” menu. 
  2. On the “Xamarin” | “Android Settings” page, turn on the “Notify me about” checkbox.
  3. In the update channel drop-down box (reads “Stable by default) choose “Beta” updates.
  4. Click the “Check Now” link to check for updates now. 

Xamarin.Android Beta Channel

Repeat the process above, but on the “Xamarin” | “iOS Settings” page:

Xamarin.iOS Beta Channel

Allow the updates to be installed. 

When the updates have completed, you can verify their versions in the Visual Studio “Help” | “About Microsoft Visual Studio” window.

Xamarin Versions in Visual Studio

Once updated, you should now be able to open an existing Windows Phone or Windows Store app in Visual Studio 2013 and no longer receive errors. 

How to Use a Windows Azure VM for Windows 8.1 Development

04/11/2014 – Update – There have been a few changes to the portal since I recorded the video below, but the basic process is the same.  I also have a step-by-step walkthrough that you can use. To get the walkthrough, download the AzureDevVMWalkthrough.zip file from http://1drv.ms/1kBzFFr

I go to a lot of hackathons, live events, user groups, etc. where people want to do Windows 8.1 development, but need a Windows 8.1 machine to do so.  While there are a ton of different ways that you can get Windows 8.1, one way is to use Virtual Machines.  Windows Azure let’s you create and host virtual machines in the cloud.  The rub is that you can’t create a Windows 8.1 VM.  You can however create a Windows Server 2012 R2 VM in Azure, and configure it to allow you to do Windows 8.1 development!  Cool! 

The following video walks you step by step through the process.  Overall, plan on taking about 2 hours to get your VM setup (installing Visual Studio 2013 alone takes about 30 minutes).  That means that if you are thinking of using this in a hackathon, you want to do this a day or two ahead of time.  However, when you are done you’ll have a great VM you can use to build apps for Windows 8.1.

The basic steps are:

  1. Sign into the Windows Azure Management Portal
  2. Create a new Virtual Machine using the Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter gallery image
  3. Connect to the new VM using RDP and login using the admin credentials you provided during its creation
  4. Create a new user account that also has administrative privileges (because the built-in admin account can’t deploy Windows Store apps on Server 2012).  Disconnect an reconnect as the new user.
  5. Turn OFF the IE Enhanced Security Configuration
  6. Turn ON the User Desktop Experience Feature (Requires a restart)
  7. Install Visual Studio 2013 Ultimate using the Web Installer either from the free trial or from MSDN (Requires a restart)
  8. Apply Visual Studio 2013 Updates
  9. Install the Windows Azure SDK
  10. Connect up to your TFS project on visualstudio.com, or use some other source control repo to share code

HACKTECH Prep Session

If you will be attending HACKTECH this weekend, there are some special challenges and prizes for developers who develop for Windows 8, Windows Phone, and Windows Azure.  We’ll have a couple of prep sessions

1) Monday, January 20th from 8pm to 9pm: http://aka.ms/htms1
2) Tuesday, January 21st from 3pm to 4pm: http://aka.ms/htms2

You can grab a copy of my slides here.

You can watch a video recording of the session here, or below:

Resources:

Prepare for the hackathon: Windows8AppFactor.com/Prepare

Some training resources:

Windows Developer Center (dev.windows.com)

Windows Phone Developer Center (dev.windowsphone.com)

Windows Azure (windowsazure.com)

DreamSpark (dreamspark.com)

BizSpark (bizspark.com)

Microsoft Developer Network (msdn.com)

Kyatric’s Bomberman-Inspired Construct 2 Game Tutorial

I just ran across a great tutorial from Kyatric with step by step video’s for creating a Bomberman inspired game in construct 2.  He does an excellent job of explaining the process. 

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Check it out at http://gamedevelopment.tutsplus.com/series/construct-2-bombing-chap–gamedev-12711

“Developing Windows Azure and Web Services Jump Start” Demo Files

Hi all, I’ll update this post with more details later, but if you are attending the “Developing Windows Azure and Web Services Jump Start” session with Bruno Terkaly and myself, you can grab a copy of my demo files here:

Grab the demo File from GitHub: http://aka.ms/MvaWsAndAzZip 

Again, I’ll update this post later with the final info after the session!

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