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Satya Nadella’s Microsoft world

The days when Microsoft used to treat Linux as a cancer are long gone.

Earlier this month, Tech giants Microsoft shocked us all by announcing that they have developed a cross-platform, modular operating system specifically designed for data networking based on the Linux platform. In spite of the fact that it is quite far from an ordinary Linux distro (distribution), it nonetheless shows that even tech bigwigs like Microsoft need Linux.

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Now, Microsoft has shocked us once more. They have collaborated with Canonical and Hortonworks to unveil a colossal data solution Azure HDInsight which is an Apache Hadoop managed cloud service. Azure HDInsights deploys and manages Apache Hadoop clusters present in the cloud, therefore offering a software framework that is tailored to analyze, manage and also report on big chunks of data with relatively high reliability and availability.Hadoop often refers to the Hadoop ecosystem of components as a whole, which includes HBase and also Storm clusters, along with many other existing technologies within the Hadoop umbrella.

It is normally driven by open source technologies, and they are also offering it with Linux.

Microsoft and Hortonworks companies have been strategic partners for quite sometime now, and there is no amazement in the fact that HDInsight is based on the Hortonworks Data Platform. Both companies are until now working together in order to bring the advantages of Apache Hadoop to Windows operating system.

Audrey Ng of Hortonworks claims that Microsoft has worked hand in hand with Hortonworks in the community to play a part in Apache Hadoop and other associated projects, including the Apache Ambari framework project.

Why Ubuntu instead of RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux)?

This is simply because the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Red Hat is Microsoft’s bitter rival in the server or cloud space technology. Microsoft, while adopting Linux, is warding Red Hat off of their ecosystem. Therefore, Microsoft has strategically chosen Red Hat’s arch rival Canonical as its partner. Both companies are already working together very closely on diverse fronts, including Microsoft Azure, which is a flexible, enterprise caliber cloud computing service. As a result of this fierce rivalry and strategic partnership, Microsoft has decided to choose Ubuntu Linux distro for its very first Linux based Azure product.

John Zannos, Canonical’s Vice President of Cloud affiliations and ecosystems, recently stated in a blog post that Canonical and Microsoft are fully committed to satisfying the customers needs and requirements as the industry seeks to embrace analytics and cloud architectures in order to boost scalability and performance using their technologies. Over the previous year, Microsoft has really been a staunch proponent of open source software technologies and services, and we at Canonical are pretty much ecstatic to be Microsoft Linux that they prefer in Azure and HDInsight.

Microsoft is not just supporting the Linux platform because of magnanimity or love, but rather for economic reasons, Zannos added. Today, approximately more than twenty percent of virtual machines on Azure are powered by Linux distros and also the Virtual Machine Depot reportedly has more than one thousand Linux images. Most of these Linux images are undoubtedly Ubuntu.

Why Linux and not Windows instead?

Microsoft already has Azure HDInsight that is based on Windows. Therefore why do they need to offer the Linux platform and subsequently disassemble their very own Windows market?

This is simply because market.

Most customers happen to run heterogamous environments. More and more clients are seamlessly moving to much more sustainable, vendor impartial technologies and platforms(read Linux and open sources) and the new look Microsoft completely doesn’t want to let go of that market.

John Zannos, Canonical’s Vice President of Cloud affiliates and Ecosystem, recently claimed in a blog post that every significant institution shall utilize both Linux and Windows and would love the flexibility of being able to choose the perfect platform any kind of workload that the customers have. Having that particular choice in a platform is very crucial to the marketplace.

So here we happen to witness a new kind of Microsoft that is absolutely not Windows-obsessed. Satya Nadella’s Microsoft will offer almost anything that their esteemed customers want, even if it means that they want to begin using Linux.

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Microsoft vs Linux

Many industry experts believe that soon people would be able to enjoy platform-freedom while effectively using Microsoft products. While talking about the differences between Microsoft and Linux, you can not overlook the subject of Bridge NET development. There are some people who raise questions on its overall support and compatibility with Linux. Earlier, Bridge.NET could only be built with MVS or Microsoft Visual Studio on Windows. People never thought that it would be possible to build it over Linux with Mono. According to the company, it was trying to port the .NET framework into Linux.

After receiving positive feedback from our community, we planned to give it a shot. The processes related to adding basic support for Linux surprised us. We noticed a few positive things. Even though Bridge.NET was built on the operating system Windows, we were able to run the compiler on Linux without experiencing any problems. There were only a few minor bugs, such as backslashes in the paths. However, the compiler libraries and core were running and linking. It was like using a well fitted engine with a new car battery.
With the overwhelming response and appreciation, we could have easily started building Bridge.NET projects on Linux. In fact, we could also run the Windows .NET binary or interpreter on Linux or turn C# into basic JavaScript with Mono. However, this wasn’t the end. Our community feedback once again suggested to not only run the compiler, but also build the advanced builder. Within a short period of time, we could easily have the project fully compatible with Apple OSX, Linux and Windows.

Until now, there has not been a lot of effort from Microsoft in this regard. The only support is that .NET applications are sometimes able to run on Linux. Most of the efforts made by the company are community-sourced. It’s worth mentioning that Microsoft has been researching and working on something special for some time. The company has been rigorously working on the ASP.NET 5. It’s supposed to bring a wide range of innovations for the community and people involved with using ASP.NET 5.

It’s important to understand that ASP.NET 5 is a project hosted on GitHub, which is a major competitor to TFS in advanced version control system. In addition to this, it’s open source, which is quite unexpected from Microsoft products. Until now, ASP.NET 5 is hosted on GitHub and even functions as an open source platform. In addition to this, it’s supposed to work on OSX, Windows and various Linux distributions with DNX or .NET Execution Environment. Even though ASP.NET 5 still is in development stages, it’s innovative and promising.

When Linux was making some serious support efforts, Microsoft announced the public beta edition of something called the Visual Studio Code. It’s not an open source platform, but an advanced cross source platform. In other words, it’s a simpler and more convenient version of the Visual Studio with full IntelliSense support and code coloring. We even tried using VSCode on Linux, OSX and Windows, and it looked really good. In the current 0.5.0 version, it basically allows you to open solutions created on existing Visual Studio version and also offers support for ASP.NET 5 projects on architecture and file format.

Following the trend, we tried to bring Bridge.NET to VSCode. With a lot of community feedback, we were able to make both .csproj and DNX versions of the Bridge NET projects. We could easily build and run the projects on Linux, Windows and OSX. Currently, we host one of the GitHub repositories, i.e, a sample of .csproj of a VSCode project. It’s worth mentioning that a DNX project still requires a great user effort and changes in the short-term. Therefore, we planned to stick to the .csproj approach. However, we can easily develop a sample for DNX without any problems. You can access the .csproj demo through GitHub at the below mentioned address:

It’s important to understand that the demo given above requires some additional steps to pull various Bridge packages from servers. Due to this, we also built a revamped or packaged edition of the demo using the link below. You can check out this link and provide your valuable feedback.

In order to run these packages, all you need are some basic requirement specifications. These have been listed below:

  • If you’re running the packages on Windows, you need Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio 2013.
  • If you’re running the packages on OSX or Linux, you need Visual Studio Code and Mono 4.0+.

It’s worth mentioning that the sample project mentioned above isn’t limited to VSCode. We also tested the demo project with Visual Studio on Windows. In addition to this, we tested it with XamarinStudio on OSX. It’s important to understand that XamarinStudio is the advanced Mono-IDE that works effectively on Linux, Windows and OSX. We encourage everyone to try it. We would appreciate your feedback on the community forums and GitHub.

Industry experts believe that Microsoft finally realized that it could benefit a lot from user feedback. Thus, it decided to distribute the product at large. Due to this, Microsoft was able to extend the experience to many other branches within the company. Personally, I never expected .NET applications to receive support on Linux. In order to win the battle, Microsoft had to work with some other companies. Once again, I have this opinion because of whatever I’ve learned over the years.

According to most industry experts, Microsoft is giving in to joining forces and community efforts to enhance user experience while maintaining its market share. It has been leaving aside strictness over products. Now, Microsoft doesn’t believe that products should only be used on Windows. Thus, the company is allowing cross-platform usage.

We would love to know what you think about the company’s efforts. In case you’ve been working on any .NET Windows application, whether on VB, C# or F#, please tell us how similar is it to running on different platforms. We would also like to know if you would expect better audience if the software could be used among various users on the same system. In the next few months, there may be some industry-wide changes. Thus, we would love to get some feedback.

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Google Chromecast still holds its own

A field once ruled by specialist companies, Gaming has become a fierce battleground of tech giants.

Video and music streaming right on TV bombarded headlines previously with the Chromecast. Now, the new Chromecast has opened up a whole new arena, and that is, gaming. Sensibly, Google is making a play in this continuously growing market and increasing gamers throughout the world.

Apple, the long-standing rival of Google, innovatively focused on games which were the primary selling point of their state-of-the-art Apple TV. This device is both a digital media player and microconsole they have particularly developed to download and likewise seamlessly run games. This ignited the talk of being a competitor to established game consoles.

Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony are the biggest names of all-time in the gaming industry, and the Apple TV or simply iTV was thought to pose trouble for Nintendo’s Wii U, or maybe even Sony’s PlayStation 4 or Microsoft’s Xbox One to be thrown out of the living room!

Hence emerges Google, making a play on the games market by revolutionizing playing your favourite game on your smartphone. With the new Chromecast, it can be done right on TV. Not only can people view and play, but can utilize their phone as a ready controller and source of processing power.

Chromecast vice president, Mario Queiroz, brushes off competitors by saying that this innovation from Google has an advantage over others like the Apple TV.

He states that the fundamental difference of the new Chromecast, what sets it apart and makes it stand out from the rest is its superior computing power. Games definitely require this specification, whereby a smartphone has a significantly higher computing power than any other streaming boxes which are popular today. He further tells the Guardian that it holds computing power that’s ahead for a generation or two.

He adds that running the game from a smartphone allows a gamer to fully enjoy games in its utmost potential through a potent computing power, as compared to having to download a game on a streaming box prior to running on that certain device.

The thumb-sized Chromecast was originally released in the year 2013, which boosted to around 17 million sales as of May 2015. By this time, it has accumulated a library comprised of thousands of both Android and iOS applications that support the cast technology.

Their new Chromecast model can be deemed reliable for games to run perfectly, and render impressive high-quality graphics on TV. Queiroz mentioned that they are seeing a vast amount of takeup by API game developers, including those that build multiplayer games, which they think will be a big hit with the Cast.

In this second-generation Chromecast, the aim is to build on the same concept, in line with Chromecast Audio. Queiroz admits to the challenge of the gaming industry, as well as selling Wi-Fi connected speakers since US households that have implemented this equipment in their homes is actually fewer than 5%!

However, they hope that the device priced at $35 will transform audio within homes, allowing it to break out of merely a technology solely for music and tech-savvy people. Anyone can play music from Google’s partner services, from their very own Google Play to Pandora and the newest addition, Spotify.

Can Google possibly reach the remaining 95%, or at least a decent number of households with their mainstream technology? Well, Google vice president says that this is their objective, right to the point, and that they think they will certainly be able to conquer.

He highlights two things, one is that the apps are what people already make use of to listen to some good music with their smartphones. Second, most homes typically already have purchased speakers before, and Wi-Fi too. These things are brought altogether for just $35.

Spotify vice president of product, Gustav Soderstrom, suggests devices such as the Chromcast line has the potential to bring larger tech-industry concepts towards a more conventional audience. Last year, the major focus was on the IoT, or the Internet of Things. The buzzword was somewhat about smart fire alarms and extinguishers, but the most obvious feature is you can quickly get music playing with the connectivity it presents.

This is undeniably a natural entrance into the internet of things that are capable of making a drastic shift from the thoughts of a big number of people. This great $35 device can be the turning point of massive people from being a fan of the IoT, to simply said, a person who wants music right in his or her cozy home.

Soderstrom adds that Spotify is really excited about the experimentation going on, which is not limited to the new hardware. He wonders how the interface would be, particularly what the image of a perfect one will be- would it be glass, your voice, dedicated hardware, or any other surprising approach?

Google’s Queiroz has previously cited working with app developers and looking into collaborative ideas, dealing with both software and services. This entails dealing with multiple people instead of just a single owner.

He has first detailed that your smartphone serves as the controller for multiplayer games, but with this year’s API launched by Google, joint queues are to watch out for. This feature was something they had presented since the day they launched YouTube for Chromecast, where one is allowed to create playlists where everybody is free to add their music and share across multiple listeners.

Spotify is thinking about the same unparalleled experience and how they can possibly fit it into their own mobile app, as they continue to find ways to give the owner of the smartphone on which it is installed a personalized, unbeatable experience!

This sure gives Spotify a good challenge to take on, yet Soderstrom implies for now that the company is quite keen for their mobile app to be up to the task of innovatively understanding when a user typically plays music at home and be able to adapt accordingly to his or her delight and utmost satisfaction. This they aim to achieve, whether music is sourced from a PlayStation 4, Sonos HiFi, or a speaker with a Chromecast Audio attached to it.

Soderstrom points out the importance of being able to adapt to the situation you’re in. Once you arrive home, with Connect, speakers pop up immediately and make themselves easily accessible to your convenience. In this aspect, it is evident that it understands your context and will do the same thing whether you’re on-the-go, on board a train, or driving your car, which is downright what they are looking to eventually achieve.

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