In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories on customers who are setting their businesses apart from the rest using Windows 8 and Windows 8 apps, some great Windows Phone developer tips, and Windows Azure SQL Database being named an Enterprise Cloud Database Leader by Forrester Research.

European customers embrace Windows 8. During the past year we’ve been talking about what Windows 8 means for businesses. Now that Windows 8 is officially available across the globe, so many of our customers are seeing first-hand how Windows 8 can benefit their organizations. Last Wednesday, Windows Commercial Senior Director of Business Planning Erwin Visser reported from Europe where he heard from several businesses using Windows 8. In this Nov. 13 Windows for your Business post, Erwin highlights a few favorite Windows 8 business adoption stories from Europe. And don’t miss Erwin’s post from Dubai from Monday, featuring Emirates airline.

Windows Azure SQL Database named an Enterprise Cloud Database Leader by Forrester Research. In the latest in a series of Windows Azure good news, Forrester Research Inc. has positioned Microsoft as a Leader in The Forrester Wave: Enterprise Cloud Databases, Q4 2012. In the report posted here, Microsoft received the highest scores of any vendor in Current Offering and Market Presence. Forrester describes its rigorous and lengthy Wave process: “To evaluate the vendors and their products against our set of criteria, we gather details of product qualifications through a combination of lab evaluations, questionnaires, demos, and/or discussions with client references.” Read the summary here, including examples of customers who are taking advantage of the very Azure benefits Forrester identifies.

Windows Azure benchmarks show top performance for big compute. Windows Azure now offers customers a cloud platform that can cost effectively and reliably meet the needs of Big Compute. With a massively powerful and scalable infrastructure, new instance configurations, and a new HPC Pack 2012, Windows Azure is designed to be the best platform for your Big Compute applications. In fact, we tested and validated the power of Windows Azure for Big Compute applications by running the LINPACK benchmark. The network performance was so impressive — 151.3 TFlops on 8,065 cores with 90.2 percent efficiency — that we submitted the results and have been certified as one of the Top 500 of the world’s largest supercomputers. For the rest of the story, head over to this Nov. 13 post on the Windows Azure blog.

Sonos, The xx and Kinect create a musical immersion. The Sonos Studio in Los Angeles is currently hosting an exhibition titled “Missing” in collaboration with The xx, media producer Aramique Krauthamer, media artist Kyle McDonald and engineer Matt Mets. The exhibition features 50 robotic Sonos PLAY:3’s (image below) that follow the movement of visitors as they pass through the space. How do the players follow the guests? You guessed it, with Kinect. Take a look, including more images and video, in this Next at Microsoft post.

Enabling great Play To experiences from your Windows 8 apps – and websites! The “Play To” feature allows you to stream music, photos and videos from apps to Xbox and other supported devices on your home network. Imagine being able to easily flick photos and videos from your app to the big screen TV (like in the image below). Or music from your app to your living room speakers. Using the Play To contract, you can easily enable those scenarios for your users from your apps. It’s a great way for you to make your apps more engaging in users’ living rooms. Get the scoop on what Play To is, when to use it and how to use it, plus a load of resources to get you started on the Windows 8 developer blog.

Play To

Networking in Windows Phone 8. A couple of weeks ago at Build 2012, Tim Laverty, program manager for Windows Phone, provided an overview of the API surface and features offered for networking in Windows Phone 8. Over the next few months, Tim will be writing drill-down posts focused on the individual sections he showed in the networking session. These posts will use the examples he used at Build, which showcase Windows Phone 8 support for sockets, Bluetooth, NFC and more. Check out Monday’s Windows Phone Developer Blog to see what topics Tim will cover.

Adapting your WebKit-optimized site for Internet Explorer 10. Ensuring that your site works great on Windows Phone 8 is easier than ever, thanks to extensive HTML5 support in Internet Explorer 10. You might currently target WebKit on a site specifically optimized to support iOS or Android. Now, it’s very easy to adapt a WebKit-optimized site to also support IE10. This means you’ll have less code to maintain and you’ll give your customers a better experience. Even better, the vast majority of changes you’ll make will make your site more compliant to the HTML5 standards! Head on over to the Windows Phone Developer Blog for a collection of tips, best practices and code samples to get you started.

Introducing BPMN 2.0 in Visio. Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) is a standard maintained by the Object Management Group that allows businesses to document and communicate business processes uniformly using graphical notation. The new version of Visio supports BPMN 2.0, which is the current version of the standard, and corresponding Diagram Validation rules. Using these rules, a user can check the visual correctness of a diagram against logical rules specified in the standard. Head over to Monday’s Visio Blog to learn more about our new BPMN 2.0 support.

In case you missed it... Microsoft hires Jeannette Wing as new vice president, head of Microsoft Research International.

That’s it for this edition of The Midweek Download! Thanks for reading!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog