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Skype has been through a lot of changes lately. On the Windows platform it was a Win32 app, then a UWP, then a store app that was something else (Electron – ReactNative???). This something else is what interests me, because it seems to look exactly as my Android’s Skype, my wife’s IPAd’s Skype and even a new web based preview.

Check it out at http://preview.web.skype.com.

I find this quite interesting because it almost seems like a single source code for all of the different platforms out there, I think this is the kind of architecture that we must invest-in. If this were a simple website that shoes the weather after calling a web service, I wouldn’t of been impressed. This has notifications, audio, video and more !

Skype team, if you are listening! drop me a line so I can invite you to our local user’s group !

Every now and then I examine the tools I work with, the brands I use and how I work…

To me, phones are… still phones. I love them dearly with all their apps and potential, but since I spend 8-10 hours a day with a computer, I don’t need another 5 inch screen on my desk… 

Tablets… these are an interesting topic for me. I find them very cool (to the point that I can’t for the LTE Surface GO to come out so I can grab one). I need them to be a middle ground and act like a computer so I don’t always carry have to carry my laptop and act like a big phone so i can do personal usage stuff (media, social…).

I don’t expect to work on a phone so them being driven by apps and stuff is fine. I do expect more from a tablet and cannot adhere to a IPAD or Android tablet as I still do not understand how work gets done on those devices. Have you ever tried to plan a trip, with a map, a browser and a note-taking tool on one of these?

Here are my wishes for the Windows ecosystem for Redstone 6, I guess available around spring 2019:

  1. Split Windows.
    1. The kernel and core-os should be owned by Azure, Developement, Office and a new group called Consumers.
    2. The Azure team should evolve the kernel technologically, in collaboration with the Development group.
    3. The Office team should evolve the current Windows experience (let’s call it classic Windows with Explorer) and brand it as Windows for Professionals, in collaboration with the Development group.
    4. The Office team should also create a new SKU for Windows for Work which is basically today’s Windows S with some deep Office365 integration. They should be responsible also for Windows for Hubs (the OS for today’s Surface Hubs).
    5. The Consumers team should manage a bunch of different experiences for Windows, Phone – Tablet – Laptop – TV – Device. It’s the same software that adapts to whatever form factor the device is. Andromeda… Polaris… contimuum….
  2. Skype should become a telco within the Consumers team
  3. Why is Surface GO an Intel device ????? 
  4. Continue in the way of the “My android phone” app. It should mirror the screen if possible and seamlessly tether. It should also work via Bluetooth as often my laptop is connected to a wifi network and not my phone.
  5. Windows devices should just work together magically (share internet, files , pictures, messages…)
  6. Create HDMI dongles that run Windows for TVs – call them Surface Walls.
  7.  WSL should become a full android subsystem, Windows should be  a better Android than Android.
  8. Make Edge good ! support all standards so that PWAs can benefit from it all.
  9. Make Onenote the center of the pen experience.
  10. Get your media story straight (live tv, radio, podcasts, music, tv shows, movies…

A long time ago, I was working with companies helping them create add-ons for Visual Studio. This was NOT an easy task. We had to write code, implement COM interfaces, figure out registration, packaging, development instances of VS… It was CRAZY!

Now a new beast is in town, Visual Studio Code. It is a code editor based on Electron, a Javascript system for packaging apps. Although I still love my Visual Studio, I do have to say that I spend a lot of time in Visual Studio Code.

As it turns out, one of my clients needed to have an easy way to update data for his web site and so we created a JSON file that was in an accessible location. Next what we needed was an easy way to edit these files and so we thought, how about edit the file in Visual Studio Code with a custom addon.

The two commands required to start are (install yeoman, the generator and then create the base structure) :

npm install -g yo generator-code
yo code

Then you open Visual Studio Code in the directory and hit F5 ! Your addon will be loaded into a second instance of VS Code, you can even debug !

Now go on and create something ! Here is a link to the docs !

At the first Microsoft Build event, they gave attendees a Samsung tablet, made for Windows 8. I loved that tablet (other than the fact that it was heavy) because it had a built-in cellular modem.

But sadly, last week, the thing crashed and was going into a boot loop. The only way to revive it was to reinstall everything…

This was going to be a challenge because this particular model required a 4gb Fat32 USB key. Unfortunatly it is 2018 and the smallest key i found was 16 gigabytes…

So search the internet and i didn’t find an exact recipe, but i did try something that could work – so i gave it a try. Open DiskPart and issue the commands:

list disk
select disk 1 (in my case it was 1, it might be different for you !)
clean
create partition primary size=4160
active

That’s it, then i formatted it, copied the contents of this ISO of Windows 10 onto it and bingo, it booted and in thirty minutes everything was up and running.

To get back the key to 16gb, just run the same instructions without the size-4160 part.

And that’s how you shrink a usb key.

Well, as you all know, windows 10 Fall Creators Update is out (internally named Redstone3) and those of you who are Windows Insiders have started getting bits Redstone 4, which should go out in the spring and doesn’t have a public name yet…

In case you are reading Microsoft, this is what i would like to see…

  1. With Windows 10 ARM devices coming out soon…
    • Make Cortana better, make her take more real estate on the screen and not just a small popup where i am always scrolling. Innovate in tablet scenarios.
    • Make Windows Explorer a bit better in tablet mode, maybe tabs
    • Make the tablet experience one or two steps better, i miss swiping from the left quickly to change apps from my Windows 8 RT tablet.
  2. Upgrade Skype
    • Make Skype UWP better, allow to login with Microsoft work account and offer Skype4Business functionality. I don’t want to have two apps doing the same thing. OneDrive managed to do it, you do it also. It would be ok if Skype4Business functionality was in both Skype and Teams.
    • Make SMS sync work for each platform without bugs with mms support.
  3. Finalize Andromeda and Continuum, make it awesome, any Windows 10 device displays itself in the proper way according to how it’s being used.
  4. Upgrade networking, i use a LTE dongle which i cannot even mark as a metered network, innovate in the space somehow to bring innovation in the way in which we connect to wifi networks, lte or share the internet. At the same time, please have an automatic VPN mode for public networks.
  5. Innovate in sharing and continuing work…
    • Cloud Clipboard (was suppose to be in RS3)
    • Windows TimeLine (was suppose to be in RS3)
    • OneNote and Edge on every platform where everything syncs magically
  6. Surprise everyone with Edge
    • make it support PWA and all modern features, you are almost there
    • make it a rock hard stable, you are almost there
    • offer a few more innovations, you can do it !
  7. OneNote UWP should become a premier tool, deprecate the win32 version and make it ubiquitous
    1. Writing on webpages in Edge should not be a Edge feature but a feature of OneNote. It should work in any context over any app
    2. The Ink Workspace should revolve around OneNote
    3. Make OneNote accept personal and work accounts for synching like OneDrive
    4. Get rid of sticky notes,  OneNote should be my sticky notes app
  8. Make up your mind with the UWP office apps (Excel, Word, outlook, powerpoint). Stop having two flavours and be bold. I would prefer the UWP versions because sometimes less is more.
  9. Have a family mode which works on the lock screen or in a guest mode – i see this as a part of Andromeda and Continuum when the device is locked or we don’t’ know who is using the device, allow to browse the web in a inprivate session. There might be something called family apps in the store that are specialised to run without a user being logged in.
  10. Have a dongle based on windows 10 arm that has a hdmi plug, wifi, Bluetooth and a few usb ports. It can be plugged into a monitor to offer a full desktop or miracast receiver experience. Plugged into a tv for a tv experience. In enterprise this could replace thin clients or chromecasts in boardrooms. It also has to be cheaply priced.
  11. Get your media story together, after dropping Groove subscriptions, i feel tv is the next thing. Partner instead of dropping, you need presence in this space.
  12. Office personal and Ofice365 should have deeper integrations into the OS. I feel i am always on the web for these services
  13. Upgrade WSL to have a built-in wayland display server
  14. Upgrade WSL to bring Android apps to Windows 10 all factors, if you can’t beat them join them. Apps should be downloaded from the Store. If there were three major android stores (Google, Amazon and Microsoft), i think we could start moving towards shared api and not the closed Google Play apis… Xamarin could maybe provide that api…
  15. Keep on fighting and have presence in the mobile and tablet form factor, continue the Window S concept for low price points (but always upgradable if necessary)

One of the project i was working on involves taking Office 365 to the next level. Take the tools that Microsoft gives us and bring it to the next level.

Some of the things we do involves extending Sharepoint, Excel, Word, Office with addons. Works great. But where do we get all the nice information we show the user ?

This is where the Microsoft Graph comes in (http://graph.microsoft.com). It is basically an odata feed that gives you access to a variety of data that represents you. Naturally, you need to send a bearer token to get access so authenticate first !

You can find then entire “metadata” on the internet itself, all self-describing ! Also, there is some documentation.

You can even try the Graph Explorer, which is a web tool to explore the graph in an interactive way.

Here a are a few example of me for my own company :

Who am i ?

GET https://graph.microsoft.com/v1.0/me
{
 "@odata.context": "https://graph.microsoft.com/v1.0/$metadata#users/$entity",
 "id": "",
 "businessPhones": [],
 "displayName": "Erik Renaud",
 "givenName": "Erik",
 "jobTitle": "Principal Architect",
 "mail": "erik.renaud@modelon.net",
 "mobilePhone": "+1 514...",
 "officeLocation": "+1.514...",
 "preferredLanguage": "en-CA",
 "surname": "Renaud",
 "userPrincipalName": "erik.renaud@modelon.net"
}

What about my picture ?

GET https://graph.microsoft.com/v1.0/me/photo/$value

 

This is a goldmine of information and makes any business tool soo much more powerful.

Add  an email, find recently used files, show how many unread things in teams… It’s all possible !

 

 

As a @Microsoft MVP, i got an award for helping people with technology. I can give a talk, i can coach a team, but how do help more. Here is my #HitRefresh moment:

Working collaboratively is hard, yet it is the basis ouf of how we live – we have families, we have collegues and we have friends. When we realised how hard this problem was to solve; we #HitRefresh and rethought how digital tools can help us work together and accomplish more : a studio for all of your things to do.

We are not ready yet, but we are working hard to bring it to you soon.

This post is part of the collection of #HitRefresh moments. Read more at www.hitrefreshbook.com

Microsoft Build 2017 is right around the corner, with keynotes streaming live in about 24 hours !

This is my reading of the Windows ecosystem, and what i would like to see announced… My new thinking is that an operating system is just a management thing, the APIs are all similar now… there is no reason i should be choosing my OS based on the apps available but rather how i want to manage it. Oh, and the web with PWA apps is going to kill it all…

The big messages are :

  • Make Windows shine as a managed platform.
  • Every Windows device should be an Android device ++. We need the apps.
  • Every desktop-laptop Windows device should be a Linux device ++, this will bring in the entire academic and scientific public to Windows.
  • Make Windows cloud first, mobile first. Make it sync my life. Make it replace my phone. force a eSIM in every device and provide the service. Help us get ride of our telcos with take our money and offer zero innovation.

Here is the detailed list…

  1. Win32 Apps can now be on the store, and run everywhere windows can (desktop, laptop, tablets with ARM and Intel), you require a traditional Windows license to run Win32 outside of the store.
  2. UWP for redstone3  is the new API to build professional apps. The API surface will be augmented so that it is years ahead of any other API we have to build apps. It is 3d ready, mobile ready, cloud ready, sync ready… Works everywhere like RPI, desktop, laptop, tablets, phones, xbox, smart tvs.
  3. Xamarin is the way to build cross platform stuff using Microsoft technologies. These apps will shine on Windows and Xamarin will provide some sort of universal platform service API to compete against the Google PLAY specific APIs.
  4. Android apps can be downloaded from the Windows Store on any platform and things just work. Developers only need to submit their APK to the Windows Store. If you can’t beat them, join them. Microsoft has to differentiate itself by offering a better management platform and THE API to develop professional apps. An Android page exists in the settings app to manage the interoperability.
  5. A single shell that adapts to every device seamlessly (CSHELL), extend Continuum.
  6. An interface that doesn’t make me jealous of iphones (NEO).
  7. The development pace for EDGE will augment and will now be distributed in the store so that PWA is fully supported by redstone3. Also web sites will be deeply integrated into the OS and will not feel any different than UWP apps.
  8. EDGE will be enhanced to become the premier note taking and research tool. Complete integration with OneNote.
  9. Skype for UWP actually made usable and will integrate functionality for Skype for business.
  10. Skype will offer SkypeIn to everybody on earth so that i can answer the phone from my phone, laptop… With good rates on roaming and data. All Windows tablets should be eSIM compatible.
  11. Office will get it’s act together and put in the store great apps, current mobile office apps will remain as readers and light editors for the road.
  12. LXSS (linux subsystem for windows) will become official (not just a developper feature) in Windows PRO and have a it’s own page in the settings app.
  13. When you launch a feature, launch it globally
  14. Make Cortana able to have conversations, enhance it with bots.
  15. Indirect displays (Display link based USB monitors) will be made super efficient (this is a pet peeve since the new driver architecture)

On the hardware side…

  1. Come out with a small dongle that costs 50$, feels like a Roku with a remote like the Roku, and supports miracast, dlna – upnp, EDGE browsing with the wireless air mouse remote, continuum and UWP apps. Call it the YBOX or something. Make it do everything the XBOX can (minus heavy gaming) for 50$. The YBOX is even integrated in monitors and TVs.
  2. Come out with a surface phone that is the center of my life. It has an accessory called Surface which is basically a tablet (8, 10 or 12 inches) and a pen which is basically a second screen for my phone. Requires a Surface Phone to work otherwise you are limited to browsing the web with EDGE via WIFI. Can display any app that my phone is running (win32, UWP, android, PWA) via some Continuum technology. Can extend to my other Windows devices in seamless way.
    For example I turn on my laptop and see Visual Studio in my task bar (running on my laptop) as well as Facebook (an android app running on my phone but being broadcast to my laptop) as well as Twitter (running on my laptop but state being pushed from phone because the apps are both UWP and can sync state).
  3. Keep the Surface Pro, Surface Laptop and Surface Studio lineup as is…

On the media side…

  1. Support live tv and radio by region for a base streaming fee (5-6$ per month), allow plugins for cable providers (i.e. Videotron, Bell or even Netflix)
  2. Support magasines and newspapers as well as ebooks in the store, have an all you can read package for 10-15$ per month).
  3. Google gobbled up Songza… get your hands on DI.FM, evolve it a bit and offer it everywhere for a base streaming fee (3-4$ per month).

 

I have been using the new Windows 10 Creator`s update on my main laptop now for a few days, and things are pretty smooth. The upgrade process didn`t break anything…

The good :

  • Taking screen shots and putting them to the clipboard is not built in. It is the same combination as OneNote used. windowKey + Shift + s
  • Edge seems fast
  • Paired with the latest DisplayLink drivers (8.2) my system doesn`t get as slugish as before
  • The tv and movie apps has a windows on top mode so i can catchup on movies as i work without taking half the screeen
  • Skype is out of preview and actually kinda works. Paired with my phone i can now answer SMS from the desktop without having to take my phone and unlock it each time

The bad :

  • Someone decided that the new window on top feature in skype should activate as soon as skype loses focus. This is horrible when trying to answer email on a second screen when watching a demo which  is streamed to skype.

This is not meant as an exhaustive list of all of the new features, but mainly what i have used a lot since the I have installed the new version.

 

Hi community !

I’d like to thank all of you who supported me during the year by trusting me, listening to me and asking me questions and advice. This has led to my 9th renewal as a MVP. Thank you all !

I love to share knowledge and stories, and that is only possible with you guys out there…

As life advances, so does how i do things.

2017 for me needs to be the year that DayTickler comes to life. This is a project i have been working on with Mario Cardinal. We have been trough many pivots and we finally know we are on to something great, that helps people on a daily basis – this is for me a contribution to all, in order for all to better themselves.

2017 will also be a new year on the coaching aspect. I will continue working with teams and people tackling different problems using Microsoft based technologies. Microsoft has reinvigorated itself in that few years and i am proud to promote and work with these technologies. But ever since i have little ones who have started school, i see the world through their eyes. A world where they never knew MS-DOS and the limits of 640kb of ram. They don’t live in world where everything can be done with computers – they live in a world where everything is done and they are users of computers. I want to promote again computers as a creativity thing, and not a “how many likes to i have on facebook” thing. If you are in the Montreal area, please ping to see how we can reinvigorate these little ones together. Schools, teachers, summer camps – let’s invent something new !

On this,  to each and everyone, be healthy in 2017 and enjoy every moment of life.