Thursday, November 29, 2012

Surface Pro Tablet Prices and Specs

surface pro

Microsoft has just announced the price and detailed specifications for its Surface Pro tablet. A more powerful Intel-based tablet that runs the full version of Windows 8 Pro. The Pro version also comes with a Surface Pen, although the keyboard covers will be sold separately.

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Prices
$899 for the 64GB version and $999 for the 128GB version
$120 for the TouchCover and $130 for the TypeCover

Specifications
CPU: New Generation Core i5 processor
Display: 10.6", 16:9 ClearType with 1920x1080 full HD resolution
Pen Support: Full digitizer and ink support with Palm Block technology
USB: Full-size USB 3.0 port
Display Port: Mini DisplayPort (can drive an external display up to 2560 x 1440 resolution)
Weight: less than two pounds
Thickness: less than 14 millimetres
Body: dark titanium VaporMG casing with kickstand

Availability
January 2013

You might consider it a bit pricey, but keep in mind that this is a tablet with the power and compatibility of an ultra-book. Comparing the Surface Pro with a Surface RT or an iPad doesn’t make sense, since they are on different categories. However, you can compare the Surface Pro to a MacBook Air or any Windows 8 powered ultra-book and when doing that you will notice that the price is not that bad.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Deploying and Debugging Windows Store Apps on a Microsoft Surface RT Tablet

RemoteDebug_Surface_09

Playing with devices is cool and the most fun is to develop cross device applications. Think phone to phone and phone to tablet apps. One of the key things you need to do is to be able to deploy, debug and test your apps on the available hardware, and no Windows Store app is ready until you test it on a Surface RT tablet.

Here’s a quick rundown of the steps":

  • Check/Update your dev machine tools
  • Download and Install the VS2012 Remote Debugger Tools on the Surface.
  • Run the Remote Debugger Tools on the Surface (let it configure the Windows Firewall settings).
  • In VS2012, set the debugger to Remote Machine and select/enter your Surface device address.
  • From VS2012, run the Windows Store app. It will be remotely deployed and run on the Surface.

If you would like a little more detail and some screenshots of the whole process, keep reading !

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Step 1: Setup your development machine
First of all, you need to make sure you have the proper development environment. You need a Windows 8 (the Pro or any active evaluation version you might be using) machine with Visual Studio 2012. You also need your developer license.

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Step 2: Download the Remote Debugger Tools 
You need to download and install the Visual Studio 2012 Remote Debugger Tools on your Surface RT tablet. The tools are available for ARM, x64 and x86 devices, so you are able to deploy and debug not only in the Surface, but also on any Windows RT and Windows 8 device (both 64bit and 32bit versions). The tools will enable the installation of the developer license on the Surface RT (which can’t run Visual Studio) and also allow you to deploy and profile the performance of your Windows Store apps.

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Step 3: Run the Remote Debugger Tools
Once you have the tools installed run the program. You can open the charms bar and use the search charm to look for the app. The first time you run the tools it will need to configure the Windows Firewall settings to be able to connect with other machines in the network. This program will maintain a server running waiting for connections.

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Step 4: Configure remote debugging in Visual Studio
Now you can turn to your development machine. Fire up Visual Studio 2012 if you haven’t already. You can just click on the debugging toolbar dropdown to and select “Remote Machine” from the available deployment targets. It will launch the debugger available connections within your subnet. Alternatively, you can right click on your Win8 project and modify the Debug settings. Select “Remote Machine” from the target device drop down options and enter your remote machine name. You can click on the Find button and it will launch the debugger available connections too.

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Step 5: Run your Windows Store application
Visual Studio will use the Remote Debugger to connect to the Surface. Once the connection is made, it will install and run the app on it, as you would experience it in the local machine. The beauty is that you can debug the code remotely just as if you were running the app locally. Which is incredibly handy when troubleshooting performance or working with hardware sensors and touch gestures when your dev machine don’t have those capabilities. Notice that after stopping the debugger, the Windows app will remain available on the start menu of the Surface. You can keep running the app directly from the Surface afterwards.

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You can find more details on the different remote debugging settings and configuration options on MSDN

Hope this helps. Let me know if it works for you, or if you have any issues.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Windows 8: Cheat Sheet

official_windows_8_wallpaper

Windows 8 is full speed ahead, and if you are like me, you are in the process of moving all your devices into it. Since we will be stuck with non-touch screens for a bit until the screen hardware catches up, you need to learn not only the touch gestures, but also the mouse and keyboard short cuts on the new OS. Here is the must-know cheat sheet for Windows 8.

Touch Screen

  • Start Screen: swipe into the screen from the right hand border, then tap the Windows logo (start).
  • Charms Panel: swipe into the screen from the right hand border.
  • App Bar & App Menu: swipe a short distance into screen from top or bottom of the screen.
  • Next App: swipe into the screen from the left hand border.
  • App Switch: swipe into the screen from the left hand border and then back off the screen. A vertical column of the running app icons will appear.
  • Split the screen: swipe into the screen slowly from the left border. Drop the next app on the left or right borders of the screen. Alternatively, you can swipe down from the top border of the screen, hold your finger to drag the app, and then move to the left of right of the screen to drop the app.
  • Close App: Swipe down from the top border of the screen, almost to the bottom of it.
  • Right Click or Context Menu: swipe down from a tile on the start screen to mark it. The context menu will appear. You can also press and hold with your finger on the traditional desktop mode to bring the familiar context menu.
  • Zoom In/Out: pinch two fingers on the screen.
  • Search: swipe into the screen from the right border to bring the Charms Panel, then select the Search charm. Tap Apps, Files or Settings  to search for the relevant item.
  • External Monitor/Connect to a Projector: swipe into the screen from the right border to bring the Charms Panel, then tap on Devices, and then tap on Second Screen.

Mouse

  • Start Screen: point to the lower left corner of your screen, and then click on the screen icon.
  • Charms Panel: point to any of the right hand corners of the screen.
  • App Bar & App Menu: right click anywhere on the window.
  • Next App: point to the upper left corner of the screen.
  • App Switch: point to the upper left corner of the screen, then click and hold on the icons that pops out, and drag it back to the left (like trying to grab it out of the screen). A vertical column of the running app icons will appear.
  • Split the screen: point to the upper left corner, click on the apps icon to bring the list of running apps, and then just click and drag any app icon into the left or right border of the screen.
  • Close App: point to the top of the window to make the grabber handle appear. Then drag it all the way down the screen.
  • Right Click or Context Menu: right click.
  • Zoom In/Out: press Ctrl + Mouse Wheel.
  • Search: point to the left lower or upper corner of the screen to bring the charms bar. Then click on the Search charm to bring up the Search panel. Click on Apps, Files or Settings to search for the relevant item.
  • External Monitor/Connect to a Projector: swipe into the screen from the right border to bring the Charms Panel, then select the Devices charm and click on Second Screen.

Keyboard

  • Start Screen: press the windows key.
  • Charms Panel: press Windows + C.
  • Share Panel: press Windows + H.
  • Settings Panel: press Windows + I.
  • Devices Panel: press Windows + K.
  • App Bar & App Menu: press Windows + Z.
  • Next App: press and release Windows + Tab.
  • App Switch: press Alt + Tab (hold down Alt) or Windows + Alt (hold down Windows).
  • Split the screen: press Windows+Left or Windows + Right.
  • Close App: press Alt + F4.
  • Right Click or Context Menu: press the menu key (generally between the left Alt and Ctrl keys).
  • Zoom In/Out: press Ctrl + Minus Key or Ctrl + Plus Key.
  • Search: press Windows + F to search for files. Press Windows + Q for searching settings. You can also just start typing on the start screen.
  • External Monitor/Connect to a Projector: press Windows + P.

Meet Windows Phone 8: Video Walkthrough

In case you are new to Windows Phone, or you are looking for a way to tell your friends, family and colleagues what is it all about, check out this video from Joe Belfiore, Corporate VP of Windows Phone. The video has been online for a couple of weeks now, but it does a comprehensive overview of the top features of Windows Phone 8.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Migrating to Windows 8: First Steps

I’m about to migrate my main computer to Windows 8, and I thought it would be good to share my experience and the workflow for the migration. As usual, the first thing to do is to organize and backup your files.

I have two external hard drives, and two partitions in my system. I have to admit that I have been a bit lazy setting up a proper automated backup plan, but hey, it is never late to start doing things right !

The first thing I need to do was cleaning up and organize my main PC files. For now I’m doing this in a manual way, since I want to clean and organize my folder structures a bit better. Once this was done, I needed a simple and fast tool to help me synchronise my files across my external drives.

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For this, I headed to the web and looked around to see what I could find. I ended up downloading and installing the free version of SyncBack (SyncBack Freeware v3.2.21). Easy to install and it lets you set up automated backups and also sync files between source and target locations.

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Here’s an article on LifeHacker for a quick tutorial. Additionally, you should check this post from Scott Hanselman about backup strategies.

I have done this on both of my drives to make sure I have a bit of local redundancy. Make sure to check your data partition and also your main partition for files to backup (favourites and bookmarks, Windows documents, pictures, music, projects, code, etc., games save files and such).

Once you have your local backups in place, you might want to create a full image of your main system so you can go back if you really need it.

When you have completed all this steps, then you are ready to insert your Windows 8 Pro media and click on the setup executable!