The Midweek Download: June 20th Edition–Microsoft Unveils the Surface Tablet, Announces Office 365 & Dynamics AX Customers

Well, it’s been a bit of a busy week here at Microsoft, and it’s only Wednesday! This edition of The Midweek Download has stories on the newly revealed family of Surface tablets, Windows 8 Metro app news for developers and a few customer wins for Office 365 (the Danish Red Cross) and Microsoft Dynamics AX (Aston Martin.)

Introducing Surface – a new family of Windows PCs. On Monday at an event in Hollywood, Microsoft unveiled Surface: PCs built to be the ultimate stage for Windows. Company executives showed two Windows tablets and accessories that feature significant advances in industrial design and attention to detail. Surface is designed to seamlessly transition between consumption and creation, without compromise. It delivers the power of amazing software with Windows and the feel of premium hardware in one exciting experience. Head on over to the Microsoft News Center for all the details. VentureBeat and Slate, among others, covered the news. Below is a screenshot of a Surface tablet.

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Designing the Windows 8 Calendar app. When we set out to design the Calendar app for Windows 8, there was no shortage of directional possibilities. Given the long history of calendars in society, and the diversity of Windows customers, we asked ourselves: What are the essential attributes of a great calendaring experience and how can we bring them to life by using the uniquely rich capabilities of Windows 8? Check out this June 15 post on Building Windows 8 to find out more. Also, don’t miss this June 14 post on building the Mail app and this June 13 post on building the People app.

Aston Martin switches gears with Microsoft Dynamics AX. Global automaker Aston Martin has a reputation built on its precise design and production of hand-built, high-performance sports cars. With that diligence in mind, the company implemented Microsoft Dynamics AX with the assistance of Microsoft partner eBECS to address its pressing need to source a new accounting system. The Microsoft News Center has the whole story.

From the Windows 8 App Developer Blog: Exposing .NET tasks as WinRT asynchronous operations. In the blog post Diving Deep with Await and WinRT, we discussed the new async and await keywords in C# and Visual Basic and how you can use them to consume Windows Runtime (WinRT) asynchronous operations. With some assistance from the .NET Base Class Libraries (BCL), you can also use these keywords to develop asynchronous operations that are then exposed via WinRT for other components built in other languages to consume. In this post, we’ll explore how to do so. (For overall details on implementing WinRT components with C# or Visual Basic, see Creating Windows Runtime Components in C# and Visual Basic.)

Danish Red Cross speeds up disaster response time with Office 365. The Danish Red Cross announced it will adopt Microsoft Office 365 to improve its communications needs and to reduce costs without compromising on capabilities. To help 250 employees connect more efficiently — and to help both prepare for disaster and provide disaster relief to those in need even faster — the nonprofit set a strategic mandate to strengthen its communications and service impact, starting with the Office 365 deployment. Read this press release for the rest of the story.

Windows Phone Marketplace news. Over the last several weeks, some developers have reported slowdowns or delays in the app approval and publishing process. You’ve also reported App Hub was taking longer to perform basic functions, like generating reports. We’ve heard you, investigated, and have made some changes to improve things. Read this June 14 post on the Windows Phone Developer Blog to get the low-down on the changes.

Ooo! Pretty! VIZIO unveils its new line of premium PCs. A decade ago, VIZIO, an upstart manufacturer from Costa Mesa, Calif., entered a very competitive TV market and went toe-to-toe with established brands. Against the odds, the company persevered and is now the No. 1 maker of LCD HDTVs in the United States. Given the company’s success in the TV industry, in a bold move, VIZIO decided to become a Windows-based PC maker. It recently released its new line of personal computing products in what press are categorizing as “one of the biggest disruptions to the computer industry in years.” Check out this feature story and slideshow on the Microsoft News Center to see what all the fuss is about. Below is a screenshot from the slideshow.

VIZIO24-InchAll-in-O_Web

From the IEBlog: Adapting your site to different window sizes. IE10 in the Windows 8 Release Preview supports the width and height properties of the W3C Working Draft CSS Device Adaptation. This gives Web developers a simple tool to control automatic content scaling across various window dimensions. In particular, it enables Web sites to easily adapt to Windows 8 Metro style browser in the snapped view and portrait orientation. Read this Tuesday post for the whole story. Also, don’t miss this June 13 post on advances in JavaScript performance in IE10 and Windows 8 and this June 14 post that also explores advances in JavaScript performance.

Work on documents stored in the cloud, even when you’re offline. Office 365 has opened up a new way of working for people across industries. Whether you’re a road warrior or someone who likes to work from a coffee shop, there are generally two variables completely out of your control: power outlets and Internet access. While we can’t solve for the number of power outlets at an airport or coffee shop, we have built SharePoint Online for easy offline access to documents. As customer Hermi Valk, owner of BabyBloem, said, “[With Office 365] our productivity follows us wherever or however we want to work.” Check out this June 14 post on the Office 365 Blog, which features a short video, to find out more.

That’s it for this latest edition of The Midweek Download. Drop by The Official Microsoft Blog again on Friday for another edition of Weekend Reading, where we’ll wrap up the latest and greatest news from the Windows Phone Summit taking place today in San Francisco.

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog