Eric Kraus


Project Sienna

This is pretty cool. You can make Windows 8 apps with NO code. As a former developer, I was really skeptical as to how well this would work. I am convinced. For basic to intermediate applications, this is a really cool method for creating applications.


  • Add Text, Images, Buttons, Lists, etc. etc.
  • Navigate between pages
  • Link up data sources: Excel, RSS, SharePoint
  • Publish the app to AppX format (easily distributable or cataloged)

Living with Windows 8

I’ve been running a version of Windows 8 now for approximately 2 years and I’ve been quietly collecting my thoughts while Microsoft put together its formal marketing strategy around the “post-PC era” and its new “touch-first” operating system.  I’m not interested in debating Windows 8 vs. iOS/Android.  From a feature comparison, they are competitive (period).  So the rest is opinion on ecosystem, specifics, individual need, etc.

Instead, I’d rather share my personal experience with Windows 8, how I use it and why I believe in Microsoft’s strategy.


When both the iPhone and iPad were released, I -like many others- bought in to what was then a non-existent world of apps, social networking and productivity in my pocket.  I loved it and told everyone I knew that I loved it.  However, from day one, on both devices, there were limitations in what I could do.

I was a HUGE music buff, but certainly didn’t have the budget to support buying every song I liked.  I also noticed that my iPhone (and later my iPad) turned into great notification & web browsing devices…For example, I would receive an email, that required a decent response, and I found myself digging out my laptop to respond.  A lot has changed since then though.  Subscription services like Spotify and Pandora are mature and Bluetooth keyboards are paired with about 1 out of 4 iPads I see.

What I love

Xbox Music
After leaving the Apple ecosystem, I found myself in Zune and have never looked back.  Not only was the Zune software significantly better for exploring music.  Also, with Zune, and now Xbox Music, I only pay $9.99/month and I can stream OR download all the music I want.  I build playlists for working out, writing code (yes I still do some), social gatherings, etc.  Not only does it work great on Windows 8, but it’s built in to my Windows phone and our Xbox too.

Messenger / Skype
The built-in messenger is pretty cool.  Skype is obviously great and well adopted across the world.  At first glance of the Messenger app, it appears like you would only be able to chat with fellow Windows 8 users, but if you link up your Facebook account to your Microsoft account, you have access to all of your Facebook friends too.  This feature is a home run on my Lumia 920 too.  It blends messages that come via Facebook, Messaging (same as Windows 8) and txt messages.  In both cases, it lets me carry on a single conversation thread with a person no matter what platform they are on.

Live Tiles
Live tiles may seem like a minor thing until you realize how much time you spend opening apps just to see IF there is anything in them you want to see (Weather, Mail, Calendar, Facebook, Twitter, News, etc. etc.)  I turned my live tiles off the other day just to test my use of them and I was blown away at how much I felt disconnected.  The live tiles really provide a lot of information that make your device personal and informative.

Xbox SmartGlass
SmartGlass is still relatively new, but the existing functionality paired with potential are amazing.  You can control your Xbox (music, TV, movies, etc) from your Windows 8 device.  I’m not a huge gamer, but we are already seeing SmartGlass “companion” video and games come out.

Share and Search
We’ve heard enough of the Charms in Windows 8, but I seriously lean on the Share and Search features of Windows 8 in almost every app.  My largest “consumer” usage covers Browser, Music, News and Recipe apps.  Search and Share have ways of tracking your frequent actions so they are easily available.  For instance, I share news articles with several colleagues (typically the same ones) and share recipes with my mom and wife.  With 3 taps, an email is sent off (without having to retype email addresses each time) and I continue on working in the app.

These are just a few ways Windows 8 has been successful to me.  With updates coming in “Windows Blue”, the integration between Xbox, Windows 8 and Windows Phone will be even tighter.  (details to come)


Windows 8 Developer Hackathon

As a follow up to Day 1: Windows 8 Developer Bootcamp  Microsoft is hosting a second FREE developer focused training event

Combining the broad reach of Windows, best-in-class developer tools, a re-imagined user experience, support for new chipsets, and a built-in store with industry-leading business terms, Windows 8 is the largest developer opportunity – ever. Also re-imagined, with new support for IaaS, FREE web sites, industrial strength caching and a powerful, comprehensive API, Windows Azure is ready for your application – today.

Our Hackathon is an open Windows 8 and Windows Azure code fest, where you’ll put what you know into practice and be eligible to win some great prizes! Code to your heart’s content, with Microsoft experts available to guide you through every step of the process. It’s the perfect opportunity to get your dream application underway, or to finish that app you’ve already started.

This full-day event will be filled with coding, sharing, plenty of food, and perhaps the occasional Lightning Talk on topics determined by your apps and questions.

Windows 8 Developer Bootcamp

Here’s a great opportunity to get some FREE hands-on experience developing Windows 8 applications.

Training Overview:

Combining the broad reach of Windows, best-in-class developer tools, a re-imagined user experience, support for new chipsets, and a built-in store with industry-leading business terms, Windows 8 is the largest developer opportunity – ever.

Our DevCamp covers Windows 8 RTM from top to bottom, featuring sessions that run from introductory to intermediate as the day unfolds.Bring your PCs installed with Windows 8 RTM,Visual Studio 2012, your apps and your cool ideas and get ready to create!

Also, stick around for Day 2: Windows 8 Developer Hackathon

Windows 8 has Released to Manufacturing

Windows 8 has officially Released to Manufacturing (RTM).  I wanted to share a recent blog post with information regarding this milestone, but call out a few important dates for those people eager to get their hands on Windows 8.

Blogging Windows

Important Dates

  • August 15th: Developers will be able to download the final version of Windows 8 via your MSDN subscriptions.
  • August 15th: IT professionals testing Windows 8 in organizations will be able to access the final version of Windows 8 through your TechNet subscriptions.
  • August 16th: Customers with existing Microsoft Software Assurance for Windows will be able to download Windows 8 Enterprise edition through the Volume License Service Center (VLSC), allowing you to test, pilot and begin adopting Windows 8 Enterprise within your organization.
  • August 16th: Microsoft Partner Network members will have access to Windows 8.
  • August 20th: Microsoft Action Pack Providers (MAPS) receive access to Windows 8.
  • September 1st: Volume License customers without Software Assurance will be able to purchase Windows 8 through Microsoft Volume License Resellers.

Windows 8 Release Preview

Another Windows 8 milestone is upon us.  Windows 8 Release Preview (release candidate) hit the shelves today and it is awesome.


You can find information on Windows 8 Release Preview, here:

Or, download the ISO, here:

(use the Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool to make a bootable USB thumb drive)

Be sure to also check out the Windows Experience Blog.  It has a lot of great content on Windows 8 and specifically Release Preview.  Read the latest post here:

Twin Cities Windows 8 User Group

This just came across my inbox and I thought I would pass it along.  It also sparked a need for a consolidated list of local technology user groups, so I’m including that as well.

First, hot off the press – the Twin Cities Windows 8 User Group – a user group for people who make software to learn about all things Windows 8.  Find more information here:

The first meeting is coming up on May 22 and will cover WinRT APIs.


Second, I created a page as a single place to consolidate a list of all user groups.  If there is a group that I missed, please leave a comment at the bottom of the page or use the contact page.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview is here!

At a Windows 8 Consumer Preview event in Barcelona, attended by partners from Europe and around the world, Microsoft shared some key new updates in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview:

Broad range of product changes and improvements. Since the Developer Preview in September, designed to preview the programming platform, Windows 8 has progressed across every dimension. From completing the user experience for touch, keyboard and mouse to refining the development platform, the Consumer Preview improves performance, quality and reliability across all subsystems. With the added features, it represents a more complete view of the capabilities of Windows 8.

Windows Store with new apps. The Windows 8 Consumer Preview marks the beta opening of the Windows Store, which is filled with a variety of new Metro style apps from both third-party developers and Microsoft. During the Consumer Preview, these apps are available to try and experience at no cost to users. The Windows Store will offer personalized recommendations, and Windows 8 gives users the ability to take their apps and settings with them across multiple PCs, making it easy to discover and try new apps while offering developers the greatest opportunity of any platform.

Connecting to the cloud across Windows-based PCs and Windows Phone. The Windows 8 Consumer Preview offers seamless integration with the content people care about across their devices. An optional additional sign-on with a Microsoft account provides access to a host of features, including the ability to roam all settings, use cloud storage, communicate with email, calendar and contacts, and connect to a broad range of services. Your connection to the cloud works across your Windows-based PCs and your Windows Phones.

Internet Explorer 10 Platform Preview 5. The best way to experience the Web on Windows is with Internet Explorer 10. The browser has been re-imagined to create a new experience designed specifically for Windows 8 devices. It provides an edge-to-edge user interface that is all about less browser and more Web. Fast and fluid, Internet Explorer is hardware-accelerated to enable Web performance.

Preview of new hardware capabilities. At the event, Microsoft also showcased Windows 8 running on a wide range of new x86- and ARM-based reference hardware. This hardware will be available to select developers for trial and testing as previously announced.

Learn more and download here:

Continue to follow the Building Windows 8 Blog by Steven Sinofsky for general updates on Windows 8.


To install Windows 8 Consumer Preview from USB drive:

1.  Download Windows 8 Consumer Preview in ISO format

ISO Format:

2.  Follow the instructions on the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool to make a bootable USB drive.


ARM support for Windows 8

windows-8Today, Microsoft officially announced support for Windows 8 on ARM processor architecture.

Steven Sinofsky’s blog post is long, but thorough and interesting.  Here are some highlights from the post.

Windows on ARM

  • Windows will run on ARM Smile
  • Windows on ARM is still under development with expected milestones that align with x86/64
  • Metro style applications will run on ARM
  • Windows on ARM will ship with new versions of desktop applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote (currently ‘Office 15’) and Internet Explorer 10
  • Windows on ARM will support a desktop experience similar to X86/64 with File Explorer and Internet Explorer

Support for Connected Devices Services

  • Mobile Broadband
  • Printer
  • GPS
  • Sensors (accelerometer, rotation, gyroscope, compass, magnetometer)
  • Bluetooth
  • Media Transfer Protocol over USB and IP
  • Windows Update

Other Notes

  • Developing apps for ARM will be the same as developing Metro style applications on WinRT.
  • Applications for Windows on ARM will only be serviced through the Windows Store (metro applications)
  • Windows 8 will run on all Windows 7 logo PCs


You can find the entire post here:

Windows 8 Consumer Preview

What a way to kick off the new blog… Microsoft has officially annouced that Windows 8 Consumer Preview (beta) will be available for download on February 29th.  If you haven’t had a chance to look at Windows 8 yet, it’s worth a peak.  Here is a short list of some of the features coming:

  • Windows (App) Store
  • Metro (Tile) Design
  • Resilient File System (ReFS)
  • Live Tiles on Start Screen
  • Fast Boot up / Sleep Wake up
  • Picture Password
  • and MUCH more…

For more information on Windows 8, be sure to check out these resources: