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“Antares” - Microsoft’s future web/cloud hosting platform?


Microsoft has made a HUGE commitment to the cloud. They’ve spent billions of dollars building datacenters around the globe that provide on-demand, dynamically scalable compute, storage, caching and content delivery capabilities. This is Windows Azure.

Azure datacenters are populated with specially-built shipping containers filled with server blades and storage racks. These containers are ordered on demand, delivered to site, plugged into power, network and cooling and then self-integrate into the Azure fabric.

Rather than buying and hosting complex and costly cloud-scale infrastructure, most customers rent compute and storage resources as necessary.

Compute resources come in two flavors: Worker Roles and Web Roles.

Windows Azure worker roles are essentially Windows Server VM's running on racks in Microsoft’s datacenters. Azure Web Roles also run IIS. This means that pretty much any existing Windows Server app can be easily run in the Azure cloud.

Today, Microsoft leaked a new codename: Azure “Antares” (source: Mary Jo Foley @ ZNet):


Details are sketchy at present, but I believe that Antares is a natural evolution of Microsoft’s current web/cloud infrastructure towards a more comprehensive, complete and holistic web/cloud hosting platform, allowing one to build and host a web/cloud app and deploy it seamlessly and without change to in-house servers, servers operated by hosting partners and/or to servers hosted in Azure.

Its highly likely that this infrastructure will integrate current and new features such as FastCGI and IISNode in order to better support sites that use technologies created by open-source communities such as Java, node.js and PHP.

More details as they appear Winking smile

Categories: Cloud | Azure | ASP.NET | node | node.js | IIS | Windows Server
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ASP.NET MVC 3, NuGet 1.0, IIS 7.5 Express & Web Matrix 1.0 Released


It’s a web technology download bonanza this week! Not only have Microsoft released ASP.NET MVC3 – by FAR the most powerful web development platform available today, but they’ve also released NuGet 1.0 IIS 7.5 Express and Web Matrix 1.0.

I won’t reiterate here what others have already covered in depth, but I do encourage you to download the latest releases of these powerful and liberating new technologies and go get to work on them.

Use the Web Platform Installer to download and install all the above goodness … and more!

Phil Haack announces the release of MVC3 & NuGet

Official Web Matrix introduction page

Now all we’re waiting for is VS 2010 SP1, SQL CE 4.0 and the new Entity Frameworks. When these final pieces of the puzzle are released, Microsoft will, for the first time in a very long time, have the most complete and compelling web development and hosting platform available, bar none.

Can’t wait!

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Great new features coming in Silverlight 5

Silverlight Firestarter 2010

Direct from the Silverlight Firestarter event here at Microsoft campus, Redmond, WA.

Silverlight 5 is coming and includes some great new features that will not only delight Silverlight developers, but will also wow users.

Silverlight 5 3D support

Yep, you read it right. Finally, Silverlight 5 will include hardware accelerated 3D support and introduces an immediate-mode API.

Luigi and Guido Rosso from Archetype, demonstrated a demo application they wrote in less than a week which displayed a full 3D model of Scott Guthrie’s body, skeleton and musculature. They were able to control the opacity of Scott’s clothes, skin, musculature and skeleton and were able to animate the entire model, spinning him around and zooming deep into his torso … to show his beating heart! :) The demo was extremely smooth and fluid, animations were blindingly fast and many chuckles were had at Scott’s ripped torso!

The key takeaway here was that Silverlight 5 will ship with exceptionally powerful 3D features that enjoy full hardware acceleration and will completely revolutionize the kinds of applications that can be built with Silverlight, eliminating the need to install 3rd party 3D ActiveX controls etc.

TrickPlay: Variable playback speed

One of the best features of Windows Media Player is the ability to speed-up or slow-down the playback speed of videos and audio (e.g. podcasts) without altering the pitch of the audio. This is a great way of watching some/all of a long video or podcast more quickly. Alas, however, this feature is currently missing from Silverlight … but it’s coming in Silverlight 5!

This means that you’ll be able to watch all of the content you care about from events like the PDC more quickly than real-time! :)

Quality, performance and power through hardware acceleration

ScottGu made it clear several times throughout his keynote that the Silverlight team has spent a great deal of time and effort further improving the quality, performance and power-consumption aspects of Silverlight.

Scott stated that they’ve made significant improvements to the time it takes to start-up Silverlight applications. This mirrors news I’ve heard from other ‘softies who have told me that  there are some significant improvements coming to start-up times for .NET applications. Faster booting apps are ALWAYS a good thing and I can’t wait to see what develops on this front.

Scott also mentioned that Silverlight 5 will also include a native 64-bit version. This is a big deal for Silverlight developers as Silverlight is often used as the UI to large, complex  databases which can easily consume more than 4GB data in order to render their data.

Video playback is now fully hardware accelerated. Text rendering quality has been improved significantly and animation quality has been significantly improved through improved hardware acceleration.

This will also result in Silverlight 5 applications consuming less power (important for mobile scenarios) because more graphics-intensive processing is being offloaded to the GPU rather than being performed by the CPU.

Remote Control support

Yep, you read that right – Silverlight 5 will support remote control – as in the little box that you use to change channels and control the volume of your TV. This is a great feature – as someone who is increasingly sourcing movies and videos from the web (e.g. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc.), having to control the movie via the PC it’s running on is a pain. I cannot wait until I can control movies streamed from Netflix without having to leave the couch!

Speculation: I wonder if this is an indication that, perhaps, Media Center in Windows 8 will be built on Silverlight?

Developer goodness :

Silverlight 5 also comes with some significant improvements for developers:

Data binding debugging

Ever run into issues with Data Binding in your Silverlight apps? Ever wanted to set breakpoints on your binds and the ability to examine step through your data binding code? You can’t do this in Silverlight today, but it’s coming in Silverlight 5!

Coded UI recording and testing

John Papa also demonstrated new Coded UI tests that can record your every action against your site’s UI. Each action is recorded into a series of steps which you can modify if you wish to remove unnecessary actions. You can then replay these actions and compare the values of individual HTML elements against expected results from within a test.

This is a really massive deal which will make testing your actual UI a great deal easier and more effective than ever before.

Further reading:

As usual, ScottGu has posted further details on his blog – be sure to go read his announcement:

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Wahoo - Razor Syntax Highlighting available now

imageIf, like me, you’ve fallen in love with the new ASP.NET Razor syntax, then you’ll be delighted to know that the Intellisense & syntax highlighting ships as part of the newly released ASP.NET MVC 3.0 Release Candidate (RC).

Be sure to go read the write-ups from the Gu and Phil Haack on what goodies ship in the MVC 3.0 RC, such as a newer build of NuGet (which replaced NuPack), Partial Page output caching, Unobtrusive JavaScript and a whole host of other goodies.

imageThe easiest way to get this stuff onto your machines is, of course, the Web Platform Installer which itself has been somewhat overhauled recently.

If you’d rather, you can just download the MVC3 RC bits here.

So stop reading right now and rush over to get all this new goodness installed on your machines!

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