In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories on TechForum, TechFest, tips for developers who want to market their Windows Phone apps and more.

TechForum demos reveal new world of “Intelligent Technology.” Microsoft’s strategic and technical vision for the future was discussed this week at TechForum, an annual event hosted by Craig Mundie, senior advisor to the CEO, and Eric Rudder, Microsoft’s chief technical strategy officer. To get the full story, check out this slideshow on the Microsoft News Center and read Tuesday’s post on Next at Microsoft. Below is a video featuring Craig Mundie, senior advisor to CEO Steve Ballmer, and Eric Rudder, chief technical strategy officer, who hosted the sixth annual TechForum gathering here at Microsoft’s brand-new Envisioning Center.

Marketing your Windows Phone app 101. Our resident app developer, Bernardo Zamora, recently joined the Windows Phone Developer Blog for a Question & Answer post, highlighting two ways to think about marketing your apps for increased discovery and downloads. Bernardo works on the Windows Phone Store team and has published several games in the Store. Check out the Q&A over on the Windows Phone Developer Blog.

Microsoft TechFest 2013: SketchInsight. Over the last few days, Microsoft has provided glimpses of our vision for  the future and where technology could take us — first with the opening of the Envisioning Center, and then yesterday with a conversation hosted by Craig Mundie and Eric Rudder regarding Microsoft’s strategic and technical vision for the future. Tuesday’s kickoff of TechFest continues that conversation. There’s been a huge focus this year on designing better data analytics and visualization tools, and there was an amazing example of this on display yesterday at TechForum. The project is called SketchInsight. To get more detail, read Tuesday’s post on Next at Microsoft and watch the video below.

Top healthcare organizations embrace Windows 8. At the HIMSS13 Annual Conference and Exhibition, Microsoft Corp. today announced new healthcare customers and partners that showcased Windows 8 solutions as part of a comprehensive approach to meeting mobility, productivity and collaboration goals within hospital and practice settings. With more than 850 health apps currently in the Windows Store available to healthcare providers, Windows 8 offers a platform for the next generation of apps poised to change the way the healthcare organizations connect with each other and patients, enabling a more integrated and patient-centric health system. Get more detail in this slideshow on the Microsoft News Center and this post over on the Windows for Your Business Blog.

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Windows Azure Store: Expanded Availability. We are excited to announce that the Windows Azure Store is now available in 25 new markets, bringing the total count of supported markets to 36. The Windows Azure Store is the place to discover, purchase, and use premium data app services and data sets which help you to build amazing cloud applications; try it today with no obligation (click here for more information on finding and using the Azure Store). Head on over to the Windows Azure Team Blog to see the latest markets supported by Windows Azure Store.

Now available: Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2012. Developers! In a Monday blog post, S. Somasegar, corporate vice president of the Developer Division at Microsoft, announced the availability of Office Developer tools for Visual Studio 2012. The Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2012 provide broad and deep support, ranging from new templates to new designers to a whole host of integrated lifecycle tools. They enable developers to create, edit, test, debug, package, and deploy apps for Office and SharePoint, across all current Office and SharePoint hosting models and app types. Check it out.

Image Debugging for Visual Studio. Image Watch is a Visual Studio 2012 plug-in from the Interactive Visual Media (IVM) group at Microsoft Research Redmond. The tool enables anyone building image-processing applications to visualize images just as they would any other variable within the Visual Studio integrated development environment. You can find out more over on Inside Microsoft Research.

Alive with activity, part 2: Writing and debugging services for live tiles. In Part 1 of this series we explored the nature of tile updates, badge updates, and toast notifications that bring a sense of “aliveness” to the overall user experience of Windows 8. In particular, we saw how these notifications are composed with XML payloads that are then issued locally, from a running app or a background task, or can be supplied upon request by an online service. Read part two over on the Windows App Developer Blog.

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

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog