The Midweek Download: Dec. 5th Edition – Create Cool Apps with the New TouchDevelop Web App

In this edition of The Midweek Download, we have stories on the TouchDevelop Web App for developers, market expansion and new game ratings in the Windows Phone Store and more.

TouchDevelop in your browser. Are you looking for a little extra cash for the upcoming holidays? Then you might be interested in creating some cool apps to sell in the Windows Store. Or maybe you’re simply curious and want to try your hand at developing for Windows 8 and Windows Phone. In either case, the newly released TouchDevelop Web App is for you. TouchDevelop Web App is a development environment to create apps on your tablet or smartphone, without requiring a separate PC. Scripts written using TouchDevelop can access data, media and sensors on the phone, tablet and PC. The script can interact with cloud services, including storage, computing and social networks. Read more about it in this Nov. 30 Microsoft Research Connections Blog post and take a look at the video below to see how you can seriously create apps anywhere, on all your devices.

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Windows Phone Store market expansion and new game ratings. On Nov. 30, we began to roll out the latest in the series of regular updates to the Windows Phone Dev Center and the Windows Phone Store. These updates are designed to address issues that you have identified, as well as to add small feature enhancements and reflect new country-specific policies. On tap for this wave of updates are several behind-the-scenes changes designed to help further improve the reliability and performance of the Dev Center, in addition to the app submission process. Two big changes to note are: 1) Expansion of the Windows Phone Store in 42 new markets, and 2) The addition of new ratings requirements for games made available to users in Taiwan and Russia. Head over to the Windows Phone Developer Blog to get an overview of these changes, plus a few others you’ll want to know about.

Microsoft Dynamics December product releases deliver new capabilities and value to customers. As part of the company’s unprecedented period of product launches, Microsoft on Tuesday announced that significant updates to three core Microsoft Dynamics business solutions are available in December, delivering new capabilities and value to help customers transform their businesses. Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 is available to customers now and additional product refreshes will be available later this month, including Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 (planned for Dec. 19) and Microsoft Dynamics December 2012 CRM Service update for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online (beginning mid-December). Get all the details in this press release on Microsoft News Center.

Geoposition advanced tracking scenarios for Windows Phone 8. Windows Phone 8 offers a new model for tracking a device’s position, based on change of distance, with the new Geolocator object. With this new model, the Geolocator object provides location updates at a defined time interval. This new functionality in Windows Phone 8 is different from tracking in Windows Phone 7, which uses an API that’s exposed through the MovementThreshold property to track device location. The Geolocator object gives you more flexibility as you design your app by delegating most of the tracking logic to the Geolocator. Find out more about how to use Geolocator to write cool location-aware apps for Windows Phone 8 in Monday’s Windows Phone Developer Blog post.

Windows Azure Active Directory: Making it easier to establish Identity Management in the cloud. Identity Management and Access Control are anchors for virtually all critical processes, collaboration and transactions. To that end, it was no accident that Access Control was one of the very first cloud services we delivered within Windows Azure. In the years since, customers have often reminded us that in addition to being highly reliable and easy to use, identity management should be delivered by a cloud directory available for use by any business, large or small, around the world. In a Nov. 30 blog post, the Windows Azure team announced that two key features of Windows Azure Active Directory that will help make identity management in the cloud accessible and available to every business and organization in the world.

Windows Azure now supports federation with Windows Server Active Directory. On Nov. 27, we shared that Windows Azure Active Directory (AD) has processed 200 BILLION authentications . On Nov. 28, Windows Azure Director of Program Management Alex Simons shared some great identity-related improvements we’ve made to Windows Azure that leverage the capabilities of Windows Azure AD. The number one identity management feature that Windows Azure customers request is the ability for organizations to use their on-premise corporate identities in Windows Server Active Directory to deliver single sign-on (SSO) access to the Windows Azure Management Portal and centralized user access management. As of Nov. 28, the Windows Azure Management portal is now integrated with Windows Azure AD and supports federation with a customer’s on-premise Windows Server AD. Find out how it works and what it means for IT professionals in this Nov. 28 Windows Azure post.

Microsoft Research India: The faces behind the fight against TB. In his Monday guest post on The Official Microsoft Blog, Microsoft Research India Researcher Bill Thies says, “In India, I have seen first-hand the faces of those stricken by tuberculosis (TB), one of the world’s deadliest diseases. Every year, 9 million people contract TB and here in India alone, two people die every three minutes. As a researcher at Microsoft Research India, I’m interested in using technology to help solve some of the world’s most pressing societal and health challenges.” In partnership with Operation ASHA, a leading provider of TB treatment in India, Microsoft shared on Monday a mini-documentary that takes a personal and up-close look at a biometric system Microsoft Research invented and is now deploying in India to amplify performance and accountability in patients and care providers. Watch the documentary below, read Bill Thies’ post and take a look the feature story and slideshow on Microsoft News Center.

Using Windows 8 to help mobile workers be more productive. As we’ve shared with you before, Windows 8 Enterprise has a variety of features unique to this edition of the operating system designed to address the needs of business customers. In a Nov. 30 Windows for your Business post, Erwin Visser, senior director of business planning for Windows, talks to you about these features that we hope will give you new possibilities in mobile productivity – whether you’re a road warrior, “work-from-home-er,” or remote office worker. Visser starts with one of the most talked about new features of Windows 8 Enterprise: Windows To Go. To read more about Windows To Go and how it can be a “game changer” for enterprise customers, head over to the Windows for your Business blog.

The new Office is now available for business customers. Business customers around the world can now purchase the on-premises versions of the new Office products – including Office 2013, Exchange Server 2013, Lync Server 2013, SharePoint Server 2013, Project 2013 and Visio 2013 – through Microsoft Volume Licensing. Broad availability of the new Office through retail and online channels is planned for the first quarter of 2013. The new Office gives customers a comprehensive set of productivity tools to help them do their best work in a world of devices and services. For the rest of the story, head over to Monday’s edition of the Office News blog.

W3C Web Performance: continuing performance investments. The W3C Web Performance working group held the W3C Workshop on Performance on Nov. 8. The goal was to hear current challenges and proposals for new performance ideas for the working group to consider. There were 45 attendees from 21 organizations, including most browser manufactures (Microsoft, Google, and Mozilla), hardware organizations (Intel, Qualcomm, Nokia, Motorola), network organizations (Cisco, Akamai, F5), and top Web properties (Gmail, Google Search, Bing, Netflix, LinkedIn, Zynga, and more). Details on the presentations and discussions from the workshop can be found in this report and you can read this Nov. 27 IE blog post for a summary of the areas the Web Performance working group will be focusing on.

And in case you missed it… Microsoft awards Imagine Cup Grants to jumpstart student startups that address social issues.

That’s it for this edition of The Midweek Download! Thanks for reading!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog