Classic Start Menu in Windows 8

by Dmitry Kirsanov 4. January 2013 14:16

Clasic Shell screenshot - Windows XP themeWith beta version of Windows 8, we had native legacy start menu, which disappeared in the release version of the OS. For many people it is still the reason to not upgrade, but seems there is the light at the end of the tunnel, after all.

Even though this might be old news by now, but there are few free applications, which provide the classic start menu to your Windows 8. And I just tried the most popular one, the Classic Shell. It’s more advanced than even the original Start menu of Windows 7 / Vista / XP, as it may look as you want and you can tune just about anything in it. See for yourself.

Frankly, I wouldn’t install it, as I have no problems with adopting the new Start menu of Windows 8, but the last update to Windows 8 just killed the new Start menu in one of my laptops. Of course I used the “sfc / scannow” command to fix the problem, but I felt need a backup just in case.

This thing reminds me the “good old” days of Windows 3.1 with application called Calmira – the Start menu of Windows 95 for Windows 3.1.

Introduction to Windows 8 App Development: HTML5 or XAML?

by Dmitry Kirsanov 30. December 2012 15:19

As you, perhaps, already know, in Windows 8 you can develop Windows Store applications by using one of 3 ways:

MetroLanguageProjections

It’s either C++ native application using DirectX, or C# / VB .NET application using XAML, or HTML5 / CSS3 / JavaScript application.

Although Microsoft says that it’s more a matter of style, there are some advantages and disadvantages in using each of these methods and we are going to discuss them now.

As you know, Windows 8 is the first Microsoft’s operating system whose kernel works on servers, workstations, tablets and even mobile phones, which means that it supports a lot of scenarios beyond the scope of any single platform. Windows 8 shares it’s kernel with Windows Server 2012 (servers), Windows RT (ARM based tablets) and Windows Phone 8 (mobile phones), but fortunately you can’t build application that would work on each platform without changes. This reminds me Linux (shares kernel with Android) and MacOS (shares kernel with iOS) – even though at low level it’s the same OS, what’s stands on the shoulders of that kernel is what makes real difference. As Ludwig Mies van der Rohe said, “the God is in the details”.

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Introduction to Windows 8 Apps for Software Developers

by Dmitry Kirsanov 29. December 2012 16:24

Earlier this month, I wrote an introduction to Windows 8 Store for those who didn’t attend any course or online event, but would like to learn about it.

I met quite a few people so far, who wanted to go through Windows 8 development labs without knowing anything about how Windows 8 works, what are the new key components and so on. Needless to say, practice without even the basic theory is a waste of time.

So, this is the second part of about 10-part introduction to Windows 8 for Software Developers, and this time we’ll talk about the Metro Style application principles – what they are, how they work, what you should know first.

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The Price of Effective Training

by Dmitry Kirsanov 21. December 2012 08:00

I’ve finished an experiment today. For a bit more than a week I was going to prepare myself for a Microsoft certification exam 70-480, which is about HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. I had good prior knowledge of HTML 4, some basic JavaScript and (as I thought) good enough CSS. However, this was about the next, more advanced level.

The experiment was simple – even though I had access to quite expensive courses and official training materials, I was only going to use free video training created by Microsoft, which is available for everyone at Channel9. And what do you know? 900 / 1000.

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Creating Windows 8 Store Apps: Introduction to Windows Store for Software Developers

by Dmitry Kirsanov 15. December 2012 13:16

For a long time I had an itch to create an introduction to Windows 8 Metro Apps development with using either XAML or HTML 5 and JavaScript, but had no time to begin. So here it goes.

This will be the first part of (hopefully) many and I’ll begin with explaining the Windows Store – what it is, how it works and why I think it should matter for you.

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Infographic: New Microsoft Certification Roadmap

by Dmitry Kirsanov 21. November 2012 18:07

MicrosoftCertificationMapWith upcoming retirement of nearly all its exams, Microsoft created a new roadmap for the upcoming certifications for all kinds of specialties, including Microsoft Office, System Administration, SQL Server and Software Development. Here is the latest map in PDF format. As always, you can get all the latest information at Microsoft’s official learning website. More...

How To Ruin a Good Idea, part 2

by Dmitry Kirsanov 17. November 2012 06:34

New technologies allow us to reach new goals. Different tool sets enrich scenarios and it becomes easy to do things we couldn’t dream about before. We implement features so fast, that sometimes we just can’t analyze the impact until the most loyal customers uninstall our app.

Once upon a time I’ve downloaded the mobile application which made my phone a toy that could be handed to a kid. Just like the Kid’s Corner in Windows Phone 8, but for Android. It contained a few badly written games, but it was not the reason why I uninstalled it.

In Android, just like in Windows 8, you can use other apps to enrich your application with their services. Connect to social networks, send e-mails and whatever else.

What this particular application did – it used my e-mail application to send e-mail to developer of that application, to automatically register me as it’s user. I realized that only when I’ve received an e-mail with the password and warm “thank you” for registration which I didn’t commit or solicit.

In some countries that’s crime which could cost you your business.

The morale is – sometimes you can’t do what you can do. You can use contracts in Windows 8 (or their analogs in Android and iOS), but you shouldn’t do anything that your customer is not aware of and can’t cancel before it happens.

How To Ruin a Good Idea

by Dmitry Kirsanov 15. November 2012 03:29

Here is a short story of a good idea gone bad, and a good lesson for mobile application developers.

The Preamble

We find ideas everywhere. The best place to find a good idea is where you wouldn’t look for it. The dump, graveyard, museum, park or simply the street of your city at night (in other words – any uncommon place for you) may bring something that would keep you busy for the next year. Or show the pitfall to avoid, and sometimes this knowledge comes with the price.

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The Possible Future of Reporting Services

by Dmitry Kirsanov 15. October 2012 14:04

Today, if you’ll visit the MSDN Labs, you won’t find there much about Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services. The reason is simple – Microsoft doesn’t consider reporting to be the edge technology. The frontier of changes and fountain of creativity is somewhere else. Usually what you see in there is something that is complex or very important for Microsoft. Neither is a category for reports.

However, I recognize the trend, which is, although relatively distant, could shift the position of Reporting Services and perhaps make it more widespread, potentially adding more jobs to the market.

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Automating Deployment of Hyper-V based Microsoft Labs

by Dmitry Kirsanov 6. October 2012 22:22

Microsoft Certified Trainer logoThis article is about free software I made to automate the deployment of exported Hyper-V machines. More precisely – Hyper-V machines of labs for Microsoft Official Curriculums (MOC), used by students at Microsoft official training classes. It should be interesting for MCTs (i.e. Microsoft Certified Trainers) out there, whose job is to deploy labs in form of Hyper-V virtual machines, as well as for system administrators having the same duty of periodic installation of Hyper-V virtual machines. The installation procedure of a pack of Hyper-V machines could be extremely time consuming. Or should I say - used to be.

I will speak about it as about the solution for a lab deployment problem, but if you are working with other virtual machines, just think about the similarities with your scenario.

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