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What is in my bag for Microsoft Ignite

What’s in my bag for Microsoft Ignite 2015

In a couple of hours I will catch my flight to Chicago with the rest of the itnetx team to join Microsoft Ignite 2015. I am really looking forward to it and meet other enthusiast around Microsoft Cloud solutions and of course meeting with members of the Microsoft Product Group.

What is in my bag for Microsoft Ignite

  • My main devices is of course the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 which I use as my 3-in-1 device, replacing my notebook, tablet and desktop using the Surface Pro 3 Docking Station. Of course it is running the latest Microsoft Windows 10 Insider Preview. Battery life I get is around 8 hours depending on what I am doing I get even some more.
  • As my day to day phone I use the Nokia Lumia 930, which is just a perfect device with a great camera to take picture from the place I travel to and listen to music.
  • Even I like the track pad of the new Surface Pro 3 Type Cover I think I am more productive using a mouse. For that I got the Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition.
  • I also got some Bose Quiet Comfort 25 Audio Headphones to listen to music. I really like them because the audio is great and they are really light and comfortable to wear and the active noise canceling works just great, especially on long flights. The integrated microphone is also pretty important to to Lync or Skype for Business calls.
  • When I am at a hotel and I am working or writing some blog post I love to listen to music. For that I use the Nokia MD-12 wireless Bluetooth speaker.
  • To get some extra power if I need it I use the Nokia DC-18 portable Micro USB Charger and a Microsoft Portable Power DC-21.
  • Of course I am also carrying the Microsoft Band which helps me tracks the steps I walk during Microsoft Ignite and the limited sleep I get during this event.
  • For presentations I got a Microsoft Mini-DisplayPort to HDMI and VGA adapter as well as the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter which acts as a Miracast Receiver and is great for presentations.
  • I also carry a USB 3.0, but I don’t use a portable hard drive anymore, since I got unlimited storage space on my OneDrive using Office 365.
  • You might think to charge all these devices I need a lot of different power adapters, well that’s not really true. I just use power adapter of the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 which also has a USB port for charging the phone, speaker and other stuff.

I am really looking forward to Ignite and meet some of you in Chicago.



Microsoft Band

My Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health User Review

Back in November I finally got my Microsoft Band after spending a lot of time try to find one in different stores in the US. Since then I have used my Microsoft Band every day and I was waiting for the first big update and the release of the Microsoft Health Dashboard to write my first review on the Microsoft Band since the web dashboard was one of the most critical and most important feature for the Microsoft Health platform. Yesterday Microsoft finally released the first major update to the Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health with a lot of improvements such as the new Health Dashboard and a Developer SDK Preview.

I was reading a lot of reviews from different only magazines which were trying to review the device, but in my opinion have never really used it or are just wearing some Apple glasses. Let me try to review some of the features of the Microsoft Band and how I use them a little bit differently from the professional reviewers. Of course since I am focusing a lot on the Microsoft platform I am not really neutral, as Swiss people normally are, but I try to give you a good review on the product.

What is the Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health

Microsoft Health Cloud

When I was reading some of the reviews done by professionals, I really saw that they didn’t really get the point of the device. Microsoft is advertising the Microsoft Band a fitness band and not as a smartwatch, even the Microsoft Band got a lot of smartwatch features, which by the way are really good, it is a fitness tracker which helps you to collected more and more health data about yourself. The devices was made my some “fitness geeks” inside the Xbox division and what they in my opinion did, was creating a device for themselves. And this is why the Microsoft Band actually an absolutely great device, because it is made from people with passion and not from a marketing research team. As mentioned this is a fitness tracker but of course with some really great smartphone features.

The Microsoft Health platform on the other site is where all your health information collected come together. The platform is not only made for the Microsoft Band but for other vendors as well which can integrate into the Microsoft Health platform. Since I am using the Microsoft Band I started wondering why I didn’t use a device or service like this earlier. We collect so much data about our environments but we do not really measure our health data and try to understand it. With Microsoft Health and the sync to the Microsoft HealthVault you can now get all your health data in one place. I also bought a Fitbit Aria smart scale which sends information about my daily weight to the Microsoft HealthVault. With the Microsoft Band and the Microsoft Health platform as well as the HealthVault I can now collect all my Health information and analyze them in one place.

Fitness Tracker and Workouts

Microsoft Health Dashboard Calories Observations

The most important feature of the Microsoft Band is to measure your fitness and health. The Microsoft Band comes with a lot of sensors and functionality to measure your health, and it shows you have active you were. With the Microsoft Band you can keep track of different kinds of workouts such as running, cycling or just general workouts. I use it a lot when I play badminton to keep track of my heart rate and calories burned. All the data gets synced to the Microsoft Health platform so you can review it on your Microsoft Health apps on Windows Phone, Apple iOS, Android or on the new Microsoft Health Dashboard.

  • 24-hour heart rate monitor: Gives you a better understanding of your calorie burn, sleep patterns, and peak and resting heart rate so you can perform at your best.
  • Run: Whether you’re on the treadmill at the gym or outdoors in the rain or sun, you can view your run summary on your band with personalized metrics in the phone app including pace splits and heart rate.
  • Cycling: With the latest update Microsoft supports now a specific mode for cycling, which not only keeps track of your heart rate and calories but also on speed and your route using GPS.
  • Steps: Set a goal and track your progress. Microsoft Band calculates the calories you’ve burned and the distance you’ve traveled each day.
  • Built-in GPS: Measures the distance you’ve run and tracks your pace and route. Save your favorites to retrace your steps and challenge yourself later.
  • Calorie tracking: Count the calories you burn each day. View daily or weekly stats, set goals, and receive a virtual “high-five” when you reach them.
  • Guided Workouts: Fun and challenging workouts from fitness partners like Gold’s Gym, Shape, and Men’s Fitness with exercise prompts on the band and much more in the app.
  • Goal setting: Challenge yourself by setting daily step and calorie goals. Microsoft Band notifies you when you meet them so that you can stay motivated.
  • UV monitor: Get a quick read of the UV Index while you’re out and about.

Sleep Tracker

Microsoft Health Dashboard Sleep Summary

I think one of the coolest and most interesting features is the sleep tracker. When you are going so sleep you just start the “sleep mode” and the Microsoft Band will check how long it took you to fall asleep, who long you slept, how many times and when you did wake up, how your heart rate was during that time, if you were in restful or just light sleep. So you can really find out how good or bad you sleep and probably can try different things to change your sleep behavior.

Smartwatch features

Microsoft Band Smartwatch

As I wrote before, Microsoft is advertising the Microsoft Band as a fitness band and not really as a Smartwatch, but it really is a Smartwatch and I think was one of the smartest moves in the whole campaign. When I hear the word smartwatch I always think about gadgets which will replace our old school watches and I don’t think this will happen in the short term. Probably this is because I am Swiss but I think watches are not just some gadgets to show you some time, they are more kind of personal jewelry. Don’t get me wrong I am not just talking about expensive watches, even cheap watches can be jewelry and help express yourself. I am not saying that we won’t use smartwatches, because for some scenarios they really make your life easier, but I think they will be more of an addition to our watches we already have, instead of replacing them. For example on my right arm I wear a normal Swiss watch and on the left arm I wear the Microsoft Band where I had my Nike Fuelband before. So form a marketing perspective I like the word and the concept of additional “bands” a lot more, than thinking about smartwatches replacing our existing watches. But this is just my personal opinion.

The Microsoft Band comes with a lot of smartwatch features:

  • Text Messaging: Get your text messages right on your wrist.
  • Calls: See incoming call and voicemail notifications on your band.
  • Calendar: Microsoft Band stays in sync with the calendar on your phone, reminding you of important events throughout the day so you can be where you need to be.
  • Email: Monitor and preview email activity right on your band, so you don’t have to pull out your phone in the middle of your lunch date.
  • Smart notifications: Choose which alerts you get on your wrist. Change the notification settings on your phone and your Microsoft Band will match.
  • Watch mode: Turn on “Watch Mode” to always display today’s time and date without pressing any buttons.
  • Facebook & Facebook Messenger: Stay up to date on Facebook without having to check your phone. Get the latest posts, comments, photo notifications, and personal messages on your band.
  • Twitter: Tweets, mentions, retweets, messages, new followers. Set your preferences on your phone and see it all on your wrist.
  • Cortana: If you’re using Windows Phone 8.1, you can take notes and set reminders with your voice using Cortana personal assistant.
  • Weather: Get real-time weather conditions and a 5-day forecast to plan your week.
  • Finance: Create a watch list for select stocks in your Microsoft Health app. View the latest ticker activity right on your wrist.
  • Starbucks: No need to reach for your wallet. Enjoy coffee on the go with your Starbucks card ready to scan at arm’s length.
  • Timer & Stopwatch: Time your laps or your entire workout with the stopwatch. Set alarms to wake up silently or remind you to go for a run.
  • Do-not-disturb mode: Tap the icon on your band to turn all notifications off.

The features are great and they are not just here, they are well optimized for a device on your arm wrist. In my daily life I only use some of the features which are integrated. For example I really like the notifications you get from calls, messengers and text messages. For example if I receive a call during a meeting with a client, I can quickly check my wrist and see if the call is important or not and I can quickly answer it with a text message for example “I will call you back”, or just press it away, without having to take the smartphone out of my pocket. Another feature I like is the Cortana integration. Cortana on your Windows Phone knows when your next meeting or flight is and helps you keep track of that by reminding you to leave to catch the flight or meeting. Another use case I use the Microsoft Band a lot is when I login to somewhere using Two-factor authentication, where I get a security code send as text message, which I can now see on my wrist without using my smartphone.

Overall I like the smartwatch features which are integrated but they are not my primary use case for the Microsoft Band or any smartwatch, since there are a lot of things a lot easier to do when you are using your smartphone.

Design and Hardware

Microsoft Band

Let’s talk hardware and design. Well Microsoft did a great job fitting all these sensors inside the Microsoft Band, but of course adding so many sensors make the thing look bulky and the flat screen should be probably replaced with a curved screen. But basically that is all the criticism I have for the hardware design. The weight is absolutely okay and if you have used other fitness tracker before it makes not a difference. Microsoft promises around two days of battery life, for me it is most of the time even more. This is okay but of course I have used the first version of the Nike Fuelband which I had to charge every 4 weeks in average, and I thought charging my band every two days would be hard, but it wasn’t. Since the Microsoft Band only takes a couple of minutes to charge the first 80% this is enough, so I charge it during the time I take a shower.

Software

Microsoft Band Windows Phone App

With software comes all the beauty to the platform. Microsoft offers the Microsoft Health App to sync your Microsoft Band with your phone and with the Microsoft Health Cloud for Windows Phone, Android and iOS. In my opinion the app is great and helps you quickly find things. Of course the app wasn’t the best place to make long term analytics, but for this you have the new released Microsoft Health Dashboard in the web.

Microsoft Health Dashboard

Microsoft Health Dashboard Steps Summary

We had to wait for that, but Microsoft finally released the Microsoft Health Dashboard yesterday. The Microsoft Health Dashboard app is a web console if you will, where you get all the information coming from the Microsoft Band. You have different kind of views to view a specific day, week or month and compare your data. You can get a simple view of the steps and workouts you made or even an overview about your sleep behavior.

Microsoft HealthVault

As mentioned the Microsoft HealthVault is where all your health information comes together. Microsoft HealthVault is a trusted place for people to gather, store, use, and share health information online. Since the latest update you can now setup Microsoft Health to sync data directly to the HealthVault. For me the HealthVault becomes more and more interesting especially if I try to get more data in there such was weight information. For this I bought a Fitbit Aria Smartscale which uploads data to the HealthVault.

Availability

The Microsoft did lunch the Microsoft Band back in November 2014 without a big announcement. Microsoft just released it and made it available in the Microsoft stores months before the Apple Watch will be available. Unfortunately there are two problems, first of all the Microsoft Band is only available in the US and even there it is still hard to get since it is most of the time out of stock. You have to get on some waiting lists and wait to finally get it. One the software site Microsoft released the Microsoft Health app for basically all the mayor smartphone platforms such as Windows Phone, iOS and Android.

Feature Requests

I am pretty happy with the Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health, but of course I have some ideas and wishes for future releases.

  • Platforms – Microsoft has now several Health Platforms and apps, such as Microsoft Health, MSN Health, HealthVault and Xbox fitness, to just count a few. It would be great if they would move MSN Health and Xbox Fitness to the Microsoft Health platform.
  • Xbox integration – As mentioned, on your Xbox One you get Xbox Fitness, which is btw great especially if you are using Kinect. Microsoft should make Microsoft Health available over all platforms and integrate the in a single data store.
  • Friends – It would be great if you could add friends using the Microsoft Health to compete with them in workouts or other goals.
  • Badges and Competitions – Would be great if Microsoft would build something like an award system for the Health platform, so you get awarded for workouts and more.
  • Hardware – Even I like my first version Microsoft Band, it would be cool to have a v2 which has kind of a more improved design.
  • More Hardware – It would also be great if Microsoft also offers other products, such as smartscale and other health related gadgets.

Conclusion

Microsoft did a great job with the Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health. They not just created a cool gadget, they really created a product which helps people tracking their health and get more productive. I have used other trackers before like the first version of the Nike Fuelband and I also bought some Fitbit stuff for my parents, since Fitbit is available in German language. I have to say that I totally get the best experience in features and usability with the Microsoft Band, it is easy to use and configure and it shows you the information you need in optimized way.

 



Microsoft Windows 10 January Event

What’s next for Windows 10

Microsoft yesterday held the January event about the next generation of Windows and showed some great new features of Windows 10. If you have watched the Windows 10 webcast, you have seen that Microsoft announced and showed a lot of new stuff yesterday. In this post I do a quick summary about this Windows 10 event. Spoiler alert, since this was a consumer event, there were no news about Windows Server or System Center.

Windows as a Service

Well the first great news yesterday was that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade in the first year for Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 7 users. After that Microsoft tries to keep the install base very up-to-date to make it easier for developers to develop and deploy new apps to customers.

New Windows 10 Experience

Windows 10 Expierence

Joe Belfiore demoed some great new features and the experience you get with new Windows 10. One of the great things you will see that there will be just one version of Windows 10, everything should be one platform. He also demoed the new Action Center and the new Start menu.

Continuum Mode

Windows10 Continuum

Continuum Mode was announced back in September. Continuum helps two-in-one devices to switch between different modes such as desktop mode with mouse and keyboard and tablet mode using touch input. So you always get the best experience when using the device.

Cortana

Windows 10 Phone Laptop Cortana

Another big news was the release of Cortana for Windows. Cortana is the personal digital assistant you already know from Windows Phone. Microsoft also showed some great improvements and how Cortana can make your life easier.

Windows 10 for phones

Windows 10 Phone

Microsoft also announced that Windows 10 will be coming to phones and small tablets.

New Browser

Windows 10 Spartan

Microsoft officially showed a new browser called Project Spartan, which will bring the latest web standard to the Microsoft web platform and some other cool features like digital inking and Cortana integration.

New universal applications

Windows 10 Universal Apps

Microsoft bring several universal apps to the Windows 10 platform like a great new Photo, Video or Music apps. This apps are running across several devices such as phones, tablets, desktops, TVs and the Xbox One.

Office universal apps

Windows 10 Universal Office

Not only Windows integrated apps are coming as universal apps, Microsoft is also releasing a touch-friendly version of Office as universal app which will run Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint across different devices types.

Xbox app

Windows 10 Xbox App

Microsoft also demoed a new Xbox app on Windows 10. The Xbox App will allow you to get your Xbox experience to Windows 10. This will bring multiplayer across devices (PC and Xbox One), Game DVR, Game streaming (from Xbox One to PC) and DirectX 12.

Microsoft HoloLens

Microsoft HoloLens

One of the biggest things Microsoft announced yesterday was the Microsoft HoloLens which is the world’s first holographic computing platform. With Windows 10, holograms are Windows universal apps and Windows universal apps can work as holograms, making it possible to place three-dimensional holograms in the world around you to communicate, create and explore in a manner that is far more personal and human.

Surface Hub

Surface Hub

Microsoft yesterday not only announced a new device called HoloLens, they also announced a new device called Surface Hub, which is basically a 84-inch touch screen with multi-touch and multi pen input, including Skype for Business and some great whiteboard technology.

Feedback is really important

Windows Insider

Microsoft did talk a lot about the Windows Insider Program and the feedback they are getting from a lot of people around the world.

 

Some facts

  • The next Windows 10 Preview will be available next week
  • Project Spartan will not be included in the next preview release
  • The first Preview for Windows 10 for Phones will be available in February
  • HoloLens will be released in the Windows 10 timeframe

 



Nokia Wireless Charging Plate DT-903

Quick review of the Nokia Wireless Charging Plate DT-903

Some days ago I got some new Microsoft or Nokia gadgets. One of the was the Nokia Wireless Charging Plate DT-903 which basically does wireless charge your phone and has some other cool extra when you pair it via Bluetooth using NFC.

So what does the Charging Plate do:

  • Of course it charges your phone – The DT-903 Wireless Charging Plate uses the Qi charging standard. It works with a wide range of devices and it can be powered by a USB port. Take the DT-903 with you, plug it into a USB port and enjoy quick and easy charging.
  • It reminds you when your phone is low on battery – Pair a Bluetooth Low Energy enabled Lumia with the DT-903 and a soft light will ‘breathe’ from beneath the charger when the battery is low. A subtle reminder to charge your phone makes wireless charging even more convenient.
  • Get notifications – Know what’s happening on your phone without looking at it. When you have paired your Lumia with the DT-903, the notification light on the charger glows for missed calls and messages

Nokia Wireless Charging Plate DT-903 Glowing

To connect the Charging Plate to your phone, just hold it on the NFC symbol on the plate and you will get ask if you want to pair it.

After that you can find the settings for the Wireless Charging Plate in the Device Hub Settings on your Windows Phone.

So you can setup which notifications from which app you want your plate to glow and you can also define a night mode, where the glowing is disabled.

Overall I really like the new charging plate, it is a pretty cool gadget and I am really happy about the notifications. Since my phones is always on silent I don’t get the notifications. Normally I just had to grab my phone to check if there are some new notifications, now I know if there is nothing glowing, I can relax ;-).



COD Berlin 2014

My 2014

Another year ends and I am ready for a new one to start. Since Christmas time is not the busiest time of the year, I always find some time to review my year. I really had a great year and I had the change to meet, talk and work with some really great people from all over the world. I really tried to summarize this year in this blog post, but there is just not enough space to cover it all.

Locarno 2014

I am now currently working three years for itnetx and my job as a Cloud Architect and Consultant takes me still to the most beautiful places in Switzerland and Europe. Even after three years it is just great to work with such great and talented people and see how things are moving forward.

COD Berlin 2014

During the Microsoft Community Open Day 2014 I had the chance to meet a  lot of people from Microsoft Germany and other DACH MVPs as well.

Thailand 2014

In April I had the chance to visit my friend in Thailand. I really enjoyed Thailand, great food, nice weather and friendly people.

Cisco Champions

In May 2014 I was awarded by Cisco with the Cisco Champion 2014 award. This was a great honor and I really enjoyed the new connections I got inside Cisco.

Moving 2014

2014 was also the year to move to a new flat, well not as big as a step you might think, but still a lot of work.

itnetx Office Bern

Not only I moved in 2014, also itnetx moved to a new and bigger office in Bern. The new location is great with a great city and mountain view.

E2EVC Brussels 2014

At E2EVC 2014 in Brussels I had the chance to deliver some overview sessions about the Microsoft Cloud OS stack, including things like System Center, Software-Defined Storage and Networking, Azure Pack and of course Hyper-V, together with Michael Rüefli (Microsoft MVP)

InovatiX 2014 Amsterdam

Talking about itnetx, during the summer time, itnetx, inovativ Belgium and inovativ Netherlands met in Amsterdam to discuss some topics on the Microsoft Cloud OS and sharing some knowledge. This was great, since I had the chance to meet some of the best experts in Europe around that topic.

Food 2014

If you follow me on some social media sites like Twitter, you know that I love good food. Of course I had some pretty good food in 2014, so if you are interested not only in Cloud OS but also in great food, you just have another reason to follow me on Twitter.

World Cup 2014

2014 was also the year of the FIFA World Cup, unfortunately Switzerland lost against Argentina.

Amsterdam 2014

The Cloud OS Network (COSN) in which itnetx is a part of, brought me another trip to Amsterdam for a great training and meeting with Microsoft Hosting people and partners.

Surface Pro 3

2014 also brought me some great new gadgets like the Surface Pro 3 or the Nokia Lumia 930.

System Center Universe Europe 2014

September was the time of System Center Universe Europe 2014 in Basel close to my home town. I had the chance to deliver two sessions about the Cloud OS networking stack together with Walther Dey (Former Cisco) and Michel Lüscher (Microsoft). You can watch the session recordings on my blog or Microsoft’s Channel9.

Master of Advanced Studies in Business Engineering and Management

In the summer 2014 I also finished the last semester of my Master of Advanced Studies in Business Engineering and Management. Now I am currently working on my master thesis.

VeeamON 2014 Las Vegas

Another great event I have been invited to was VeeamON 2014 in Las Vegas. This was the first Veeam conference and in my opinion this was just great. Bringing a lot of experts from around the world on site and talking about different Datacenter availability solutions is just great.

E2EVC Bercelona 2014

At E2EVC Barcelona 2014 I had the chance to deliver another session about Disaster Recovery using Azure Site Recovery and Hyper-V Replica. After that I had some time to relay in Barcelona and meet some friends before TechEd Europe 2014.

Microsoft MVP 2014

In October I was again awarded with the Microsoft MVP Award for the third time in a row after 2012 and 2013, which is a great honor.

COSN 2014

Some of the work I really enjoyed in 2014, was the work with service providers and building solutions form them using the Cloud OS stack with Azure Pack. It is great to help customers to build new solutions and business and cloud offerings.

MVP Summit 2014

One of the highlights as always is the Microsoft MVP Summit in Redmond (Seattle). It really helps to meet other people working on the same topic and talking to the Microsoft Product Groups about the current release as well as on the on going development.

MMS 2014

The last conference I was speaking, was the MMS 2014 (Mindwest Management Summit) in the Mall of America in Minneapolis. I talked about Fabric Management with System Center Virtual Machine Manager and Disaster Recovery using Azure Site Recovery Manager.

New York 2014

My last stop in 2014 took me to New York where I met two of my friends and spend some days exploring the city.

Microsoft Band

And this is my last gadget I got in 2014, the Microsoft Band. I was really exited about this little device. Since I started to do some more sports and I still had this first generation Nike Fuel Band I was happy to get this alternative.

Veeam Webinar Hyper-V 2012 R2

Another great thing I could to in 2014 was working with my partners and sponsors in several different projects and webinars. I really have to thank all my partners here like Veeam, Savision, Altaro, 5Nine and StarWind Software.

Overall 2014 was a great year for me and I really have to thank so many people which are helping, motivate and inspiring me every day, my friends, family, colleagues, bosses, partners, customers, and my girlfriend. I also have to thank all the readers of my blog, my followers on twitter and other social media sites and all the people how makes the effort running a blog and investing so much time in it totally worth it.

I wish you all a happy new year and a great start in 2015.

Thomas



how to change the Microsoft Band Wallpaper

How to change the Microsoft Band wallpaper

A few weeks back I got my Microsoft Band. Microsoft offers an app called Microsoft Health which allows you to sync your band and customize it. In the same time some developers are offering third party apps like Band Sensor Monitor, which allows you to see the sensor information on your phone.

Another cool app is Pimp my Band which allows you to set a custom wallpaper on your Microsoft Band. Just download the app from the Windows Phone Store and customize your Microsoft Band.

Pimp my Microsoft Band



Microsoft Band

Finally got my Microsoft Band

When I got home from work last night a nice surprise was waiting for me. I finally got my Microsoft Band. I already wrote a blog post about the Microsoft Band and the feature it offers. After the first 12 hours I already love it. It is great to have all the notifications directly on your wrist and don’t have to check your smartphone all the time. I am looking forward to test it a bit more, if you have any question feel free to comment on this post.

Microsoft Band Store