Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Edge Browser in Windows 10


Today, I was mildly (but pleasantly) surprised when I logged into my laptop and discovered it had updated itself over night to the latest build of the Windows 10 Insider Preview (10158).  I shouldn't have been surprised, in retrospect... I knew a build was coming, and I left my laptop on overnight...


The first thing I did was run smack into the Edge browser, which is far more polished in this build.  More importantly, this new browser has many features built in... especially Web Notes. 


Web Notes is a feature which, with a touch (or click if you don't have touch) you can graphically deface (ok, "annotate" or "mark up") web content.  Even more fun, you can  touch again, and post it to your favorite social media site or even to OneNote.


This one feature really differentiates the browser, in my mind, from just about anything else out there, and makes it much more clear why a replacement for IE is justified.   I'd heard about the feature, but the experience is far cooler than just seeing it. 


Frankly, in the past, I've panned Spartan/Edge as nothing more than browser platform fragmentation... a new wedge in the browser market designed to make the browser a harder platform to build viable apps for. After experiencing the WebNotes feature, I find myself wondering if it won't a)  end Internet Explorer, and b) make the web cool again.


Given the way the Edge browser integrates with OneNote, I also find myself wondering if Edge shouldn't be considered a part of the Office suite rather than a part of Windows.  That said, I'm aware of the fact that Microsoft has no plans to bring Edge to IOS or Android.


Aside from the myriad of practical content research and sharing applications, I can easily imagine Edge Web Notes being a social media hit, especially.  Who wouldn't love to draw moustaches on all their friends & family's profile pictures?




I have not heard if Edge on Windows 10 Mobile will have Web Notes, but I will be fully disappointed if it doesn't.  It'd definitely make the web more versatile in a mobile form factor.  My Lumia 1520 with build 10149 has Edge on it, but no Web Notes...  yet.  As a colleague of mine points out, Edge is a Universal Platform app, meaning the code should be baked in, even if it's not exposed in the UI.  I'll keep ya posted.


Wouldn't it be cool, also, if MS updated the Apache Cordova platform to incorporate Edge as the web view, thereby enabling annotations in apps that use it?


For what it's worth, I used Edge to compose & edit this post.  Blogger is definitely much happier with Edge than with IE 11.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Intro to Windows 10 Universal Devices and Raspberry Pi

I really enjoyed presenting "Intro to Windows 10 Universal with Raspberry Pi" to the Granite State Windows Platform App Devs (#WPDevNH) this past week. 




Here's the slides which have a few decent links in them to get you started.







I will try to get a presentation on the next part of this sometime over the next couple months, with a dive in on the GPIO libraries.


Check out the group's Meetup site for stuff going on going forward.


http://www.meetup.com/Granite-State-NH-WPDev/


Apache Cordova and SharePoint Online / Office 365

The concept came from a good place, but at this point, the story is best described as "science experiment", as I mentioned at SharePoint Saturday Boston 2015.  I was working on a cross-platform Apache Cordova project for Windows, Windows Phone and Android when the call for speakers hit.  I said "why not?" and I signed myself up to present it...


The good news is that the story's not without some worth to someone exploring the idea of hooking into SharePoint from an Apache Cordova-based app. Tools that exist today at least assist in the process.




The demo code is mostly about accessing files from your personal SharePoint profile document library (A.K.A. OneDrive for business) and indeed, the code is using file access code in addition to SharePoint connection.  The hardest work in a browser based app is to authenticate with Office 365, and this code does that, and then opens up to the rest of SharePoint...


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Windows 10 and the Near Zero Hardware Liability Enterprise

With Windows 10, Microsoft is re-defining the BYOD (bring your own device) game, and it's a subtly aggressive move that many will probably appreciate.

No, really.  Like you, I have heard "BYOD game-changer" shticks before, and dismissed it as marketing hype.  Hear me out.  (And also keep in mind that folks once often said "never" with respect to the cloud... but "never" is a lot longer than folks tend to look.)

Let me start by describing what I mean by "near zero hardware liability".

There are already smaller organizations out there that have completely moved their hardware behind the wizard's curtain. That is, they own little to no IT hardware themselves (with little to no capital expense, depreciation, or hardware liability.) These companies are typically small, use the cloud to support their infrastructure & services hardware, and BYOD for their employees' desktop machines.

While cloud services are making serious headway into the enterprise, BYOD has been an arguably harder sell. The whole concept of BYOD has been largely dismissed by most larger companies because BYOD in in the Windows 7 (and prior) world can't be managed.  Policy can't be addressed and applied.  Data can't be protected on an "unmanaged" employee owned device.  Hardware depreciation, liability, and support is kinda small compared to the other liabilities involved.

Imagine a more classically European view of the world however.  In Europe, a user's computer traditionally is considered to be only a step away from personal property.  Like the days of being given a company car, the days of being issued a PC by your employer may well be coming to an end. 

At the Windows 10 Pre-flight Summit in Redmond this week (6/1-2), it seems the word of the day isn't so much about "upgrade".  It is, but there's a bigger word floating around. 

It's "provisioning", or enrolling a device in an enterprise.

In Windows 10, the word "upgrade" is going to die.  It's not just one platform for multiple devices.  It's not just one platform for now, until Windows 11.  It's one platform for the coming decades.  Upgrade to Windows 10, sure.  Update Windows 10, yes.  Upgrade from Windows 10, not in the works.  It's also one very personal platform in more ways than one.

The day may be coming when part of a hiring decision (both by employee and employer) may be that an employee has devices of their own to bring to the table.  The employee will have their own support network, their own personal liability, and in order to accept the job, the employee must be willing to provision their devices with their employer.

Provisioning a device means the device gets an enterprise managed workspace, as us developers would say, a sandbox where all managed apps and app data live.  Provisioning also sets a minimum acceptable standard policy on the device.  If the device can't meet the provisioning policy requirements, it won't be accepted...  (sorry Charlie, you need new hardware.)

I speculate on how much effort it would save companies if they could have the security & policy management without the hardware ownership overhead, but I bet, all told, it would be pretty significant. 

In many ways it will be similar to the car analogy...  you can't expect to keep a job if you can't manage your own transportation sufficiently to get you there when you need to be there.

This is also a very aggressive tactic. Imagine an enterprise deciding to implement BYOD, and it's very successful... to the point where you can't really get a job at that company without bringing a Windows 10 device.  Is that a labor issue? 

By kicking down as many objections to BYOD as possible, Microsoft may even be looking to drive adoption from the bottom up. Rather than the CIO/CTO decreeing and pushing Windows 10 down, the BYOD user will use Windows 10's features to overcome the BYOD objections.  Tired of the "golf cart" class standard issue machine at work, a power user brings in their own "hot rod", and harasses IT until IT realizes the objections can be sufficiently mitigated with Windows 10... and the floodgates open.

I also speculate on the ramifications of the job market.  I could easily envision a day when the mark of a more desirable employee would be the higher end hardware they bring with them.  Imagine how it might re-invigorate the PC market if employee competition drove sales.  Imagine the PC becoming more important than the automobile in terms of employability-driving hardware, as a competitive attribute of an employee.  (The mark of a good chef is their knife set.  The mark of a solid information worker may be their laptop.)

It won't hit all at once on July 29th.  It all has a ways to go.  It is a very thought provoking possibility.  What do you think? Is this on the path to Tomorrowland?

Edit 6/3:  Day 2 of the conference points out that Hyper-V 6.2 included in some editions of Windows 10 will enable virtualized Trusted Platform Module (v-TPM).  This means that an employer could provide a secure, Bitlocker enabled VM to an employee (which may or may not be provisioned), rather than provisioning the employee's device as a directly provisioned system.   Yet another way to make BYOD a more Enterprise friendly policy.