This week’s edition of News Thursday provides news from the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) 2011.  For information on additional MMS news from Tuesday and Wednesday, visit the Cloud Virtual Pressroom.

Microsoft Releases Windows Embedded Device Manager 2011

Today Microsoft built on its comprehensive management portfolio by announcing the release of Windows Embedded Device Manager 2011, an integrated solution that extends the capabilities of System Center Configuration Manager 2007 to include Windows Embedded Standard and Windows Embedded POSReady-based devices such as cash registers. Windows Embedded Device Manager 2011 will be available globally starting April 1, 2011.

More details can be found on the Windows Embedded News Center and by following @MSFTWEB for real-time Twitter updates on all Windows Embedded news.

Release Candidate of System Center Advisor (formerly code named ‘Atlanta’)

During his keynote presentation at MMS 2011, Brad Anderson announced the availability of the Release Candidate (RC) of Microsoft System Center Advisor. System Center Advisor (formerly Microsoft codename “Atlanta”) is a cloud service that enables IT professionals to assess their server configuration, proactively avoid problems, and resolve issues faster, saving organizations both time and money. Additionally, Advisor helps reduce server downtime and improve server performance.

For more information, please visit the Microsoft System Center page of the official System Center Blog.

New Microsoft Virtual Academy to help IT pros build cloud computing skills.

At MMS, Microsoft announced the launch of a new virtual training portal aimed at IT professionals who want to learn new skills and enhance existing ones for cloud computing environments. The at-no-cost Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) offers 100- and 200-level content for IT professionals. It takes them right to the heart of the latest advances in cloud computing, guiding them through real-life deployment scenarios and the latest technologies and tools. The academy will provide content tracks and progress tracking using a points-and-rewards system.  Microsoft is the only company providing at-no-cost training to IT professionals to advance their careers by building their public/private cloud skills and knowledge.

In Other News

Customer Spotlights

Customer Spotlight: Stein Mart Speeds Reporting, Saves $600,000 a Year with SQL Server 2008

Department store chain, Stein Mart, and Microsoft released a video showcasing the retailer’s success switching its data warehouse system from IBM’s DB2 and AS/400 data servers to a new Microsoft solution based on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise database software, SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services, and SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse. In doing so, the company is saving approximately $600,000 annually in hardware leasing and maintenance costs, has been able to reduce number of employees needed to manage the servers, and has reduced the time spent on pulling query data. For example, weekly Stein Mart sales reports are processed in less than 3 hours, compared to 14 hours with the previous system.

For more information, visit Microsoft News Center or read the full case study on the Microsoft Case Studies Page. You can also watch the full video case study here.

Events

Tim O’Brien Keynoting at Microsoft TechDays

On March 29, Tim O’Brien, general manager of the Platform Strategy Group, will be keynoting at Microsoft TechDays in Sweden. In his session, The Economics of the Cloud, Tim will delve into the underlying economics that are driving the shift toward cloud computing for businesses ready to make the move.

For more information, please visit the TechDays 2011 page.

Developer

Microsoft Announces Availability of Visual Studio LightSwitch beta 2

As a follow-up to Soma Somasegar’s keynote at TechEd MEA on March 8, Microsoft has officially announced the availability of Visual Studio LightSwitch beta 2. This tool makes it simple for developers to quickly build polished, user-friendly custom business applications for the desktop, the Web, and the cloud. Building on beta 1, beta 2 introduces:

o   New functionality for the cloud: Windows Azure publishing is now fully integrated to let you deploy business applications to the cloud

o   Added extensibility: Professional developers can use Visual Studio Professional or higher to create LightSwitch application extensions

o   Expanded availability: Supported languages now include English and German.

Visual Studio LightSwitch is already being put to work. For example, ComponentOne has been working with Visual Studio LightSwitch since its inception last year. Not only does ComponentOne provide a wide range of Microsoft Visual Studio components and IDE platform development tools and applications, but it represents a broad and complete set of tools and solutions for Microsoft Windows, Web, and Mobile application developers. ComponentOne continues to work closely with the Visual Studio team through LightSwitch beta 2, and has plans for LightSwitch products which are currently under development.

For more information, please visit the Visual Studio LightSwitch page. Stay tuned about exciting updates coming from ComponentOne, and make sure you check out http://www.componentone.com. 

Microsoft Announces Free Accessibility Tools and Training for Developers

Microsoft has announced the immediate availability of Microsoft Accessibility Tools and Training. This package includes free online accessibility training courses, tools, and other resources to help developers worldwide create technology products, services and websites that are accessible to people with disabilities. The training courses cover a general overview for both technical and nontechnical audiences, a development overview course, and courses covering the Windows platform technology, including Windows Forms and the Windows Presentation Foundation. With this content, developers can focus on a range of topics, from general accessibility development to specific technologies such as Microsoft Silverlight. The courses and other resources are also designed to help business leaders make more informed decisions about improving the accessibility of their technology products, Web services, and internal processes.

Please visit MSDN for more information.

Microsoft Expression Web 4 SP1 Now Available

On Monday, Microsoft announced Microsoft Expression Web Professional Service Pack 1. Many of the enhancements came from customer requests to ensure our technology is keeping pace with current Web standards. This service pack fully supports new technologies such as Internet Explorer 9and supports HTML 5, CSS3, and PHP 5.3, as well as the ability to visually diagnose user-authenticated pages with SuperPreview from the following browsers:  IE6-9, Safari Mac, Chrome, and Firefox.  For these features, as well as bug fixes and stability enhancements, check out the download today!

To learn more, visit http://www.microsoft.com/expression/products/Web4SP1WhatsNew.aspx and http://expression.microsoft.com/en-us/gg702907.aspx.   

Cloud

SQL Server “Denali” DAC Framework CTP Now Available

Today, Microsoft released the SQL Server “Denali” Data-tier Application (DAC) Framework v2.0 Feature Pack CTP, which includes some exciting new updates for database management in SQL Server and SQL Azure. Specifically, this CTP includes a new file format that stores both database schema and data, simplifying data import and export between SQL Server and SQL Azure databases. In addition, the new import and export features allow for the retrieval and restoration of a full database, including scheme and data in a single operation. The functionality will be shipping in all editions of the next version of SQL Server “Denali.” For more information on the CTP, visit today’s post on the SQL Azure blog.

For more information, please see the official SQL Azure Blog.

 

Microsoft Announces CTP of Windows Azure Plugin for Eclipse with Java

On Tuesday, Microsoft announced the first CTP of a new plugin for Eclipse, which provides Java developers with a simple way to build and deploy web applications for Windows Azure. The CTP of the plugin is an open source project released under the Apache 2.0 license.  The team is collecting feedback to ensure that configuring, packaging, and deploying to Windows Azure integrates well with common Java developer scenarios. Customers can use it in conjunction with the new Windows Azure Introductory Special offer, which includes 750 free hours per month of the Windows Azure extra-small instance, plus one small SQL Azure database.

For more information on the announcement, visit the interoperability @ microsoft blog, or download the CTP here.

Industrial Solutions Supplier, CASON, Deploys Monitoring Application in the Cloud

Microsoft customer CASON recently adopted the Windows Azure platform in order to scale its industrial real-time management application, SIMSIM AMI, worldwide. CASON supplies solutions for monitoring geographically wide-area industrial systems, and developed the SIMSIM SMI application to manage real-time data coming from electricity, gas, and water meters to help customers achieve maximum efficiency. The team at CASON used Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010 to manage development and SQL Azure as a cloud-based relational database. The team also designed a user interface using Silverlight to provide its customers with fast deployments, extreme scalability, and the long-term support of the Microsoft platform. Find out more about CASON’s use of the Windows Azure platform by viewing their case study here.

Read the full case study on the Microsoft Case Studies page.

Microsoft Partner INFORM Reduces Deployment Time by 50% on SQL Azure

Microsoft partner INFORM, a German-based software development company that helps its customers optimize operations across various industries, recently expanded their INVENT Xpert inventory sampling application to the cloud by using the Windows Azure platform. After evaluating Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud and Google App Engine, INFORM chose the Windows Azure platform, including SQL Azure, and has reduced deployment time for customers by 50% and lowered capital and operational costs for customers by 85%. To find out more about how INFORM is using the Windows Azure platform and SQL Azure, view their case study here.

Read the full case study on the Microsoft Case Studies page.