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This article was published on March 30, 2012

This week at Microsoft: Censorship, Windows Server 8, and mobile development

This week at Microsoft: Censorship, Windows Server 8, and mobile development
Alex Wilhelm
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Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

Microsoft is in a relatively quiet period, between releases. Windows 8, Windows Server 8, Windows Phone 8, Kinect 1.5, and other future launches such as Office 15 are all on the horizon, but the company simply doesn’t have much to say right now.

That hasn’t stopped TNW from covering the company. Our philosophy is simple: official announcements be damned. That aside, we do have a number of meaty stories for you to enjoy, so get ready. As always, ensure that you are following TNW Microsoft on Twitter, and Facebook, and we’ll get into it.

PirateBay? No

Just about a week ago, there was a storm in the media, with many accusing Microsoft of censoring links to The Pirate Bay in its Messenger product. The howls were, as you can imagine, strident. It’s important to note that Microsoft has long redacted and banned certain links; it’s one way the company keeps viruses from spreading.

However, giving how politically touchy The Pirate Bay remains, this was an issue of real import. Microsoft, perhaps a bit too slowly, responded with a statement, saying that the company “block[s] instant messages if they contain malicious or spam URLs based on intelligence algorithms, third-party sources, and/or user complaints. Pirate Bay URLs were flagged by one or more of these and were consequently blocked.”

That’s a bit heavy-handed if reasonable. Our take was cautionary: “this story should be a firm reminder that the platforms that you use to communicate are not always as open, and free as you might wish. In this case, Microsoft is turning off a certain part of the global conversation, which always make me feel a mite queasy.” Yeah. Icky. You must be protected from yourself, in other words.

Windows Server 8

We didn’t quite have this on our radar, so bear with us as we bring you up to speed. In Windows Server 8, which remains a code name (it will be Windows Server 2012 or 2013), there will be an option to back up your data to the cloud. Guess which cloud.

Yes, Microsoft is tying its Azure, cloud product, to its on-prem Windows Server solution. If you had been wondering about Microsoft’s commitment to cloud-oriented services and so forth, consider this the lock.

Now, this service is voluntary; Microsoft won’t be forcing people to use the backup process. But really, this is quite cool. I expect it to be  quite popular. And as you know, Azure needs more demand.

Mobile Development

This piece was just for fun. Regular readers of TNW Microsoft will know by now that I spent a small piece of my time yesterday digging into developing my first app for Windows Phone. Yes, I followed a guide. Yes, I screwed it up my first time ’round. But if you want to read about what it is like to really dive into development for the platform, I recommend learning from my mistakes.

Here’s a small sample: “Also, as it turns out, you have to bounce around various number of pages when developing. Buttons have their own page of code, for example, which apparently compiles with the larger unit. It’s actually rather neat and orderly; things are in their own boxes.”

If you have thought about trying to build your own app, you should probably get on it. Now.

Kinect 1.5

Finally for this week, we turn to the coming update to Kinect for Windows. Dubbed the 1.5 release, this bit of code will greatly expand what developers can do with the device. As you surely know, Kinect for Windows is all potential right now, and nothing more.

Until the code is written, Kinect with your computer is just a device, blinking at you. But the 1.5 update should have some heft to it. From our previous coverage:

First, the brass tacks: the version 1.5 update to Kinect for Windows is due this May. It will allow developers to better test their apps with playback and record features, and allow for ’10-point’ tracking of the subject, making it possible for people to sit down and use the device. Also in version 1.5 is speech recognition for French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese, languages that could greatly broaden the appeal of the Kinect for Windows Product.

The moment there is an app that compels me, I’m going to pick up a unit. Here’s my vision, for this December, when all this is in the market: 30″ main screen, non-touch, in front. A 24″ touch screen to my right. A Kinect for Windows device on top of the 30″ monitor. Windows 8 desktop on the big screen, Windows 8 touch interface on the smaller screen, and me dictating to the Kinect as I go. Boom. I could get so much done.

Now, wait for 5 this evening, and then make a proper mint julep. If you screw it up, or deviate from that recipe, I’ll hunt you down.

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