Tag: Hardware

Azure Stack

Hardware requirements for Microsoft Azure Stack Technical Preview (POC)

Jeffery Snover (Microsoft Techical Fellow) just announced that they will release a PoC (Proof of Concept) of Microsoft Azure Stack Technical Preview soon, which you can run in your datacenter to test Microsoft Azure Stack. Microsoft also released the Hardware requirements for Microsoft Azure Stack Technical Preview (POC) deployment.

 

Azure Stack PoC Hardware

Storage:

Data disk drive configuration: All data drives must be of the same type (SAS or SATA) and capacity.  If SAS disk drives are used, the disk drives must be attached via a single path (no MPIO, multi-path support is provided)
HBA configuration options:
     1. (Preferred) Simple HBA
2. RAID HBA – Adapter must be configured in “pass through” mode
3. RAID HBA – Disks should be configured as Single-Disk, RAID-0
Supported bus and media type combinations

  •          SATA HDD
  •          SAS HDD
  •          RAID HDD
  •          RAID SSD (If the media type is unspecified/unknown*)
  •          SATA SSD + SATA HDD**
  •          SAS SSD + SAS HDD**

* RAID controllers without pass-through capability can’t recognize the media type. Such controllers will mark both HDD and SSD as Unspecified. In that case, the SSD will be used as persistent storage instead of caching devices. Therefore, you can deploy the Microsoft Azure Stack POC on those SSDs.

** For tiered storage, you must have at least 3 HDDs.

Example HBAs: LSI 9207-8i, LSI-9300-8i, or LSI-9265-8i in pass-through mode


Microsoft Display Dock HD-500

First view on the Microsoft Display Dock HD-500 and Windows 10 Continuum for Phones

Some days ago I received my new Microsoft Lumia 950 XL, which is one of the first phones with Windows 10 Mobile. Microsoft also created some new cool accessories, such as the Microsoft Display Dock HD-500. The Microsoft Display Dock allows you to connect your Lumia 950 or Lumia 950 XL using a USB-C cable and adding a keyboard and mouse and connect it to a bigger screen. Windows Universal Apps such as for example, Mail, Outlook, Office, Edge, File Explorer and several others scale up on the connected screen like they would run on a desktop computer running Windows 10. This Windows 10 Mobile feature is called Continuum for Phones and it allows you to use your phone as a desktop PC. This is great for example think about it, you only carry your phone and when you need to do some real work you can connect it to mouse, keyboard and screen and you have a desktop ready to use.

Microsoft Display Dock

Display Dock Connections

The Microsoft Display Dock HD-500 has a USB-C Port for connecting and charging your phone, 1 powered and 2 full-sized USB 2.0 ports to connect keyboard, mouse, USB drives or external drives, a HDMI and a Display-Port for connecting the screen or beamer. The device supports a resolution up to Full HD (1920×1080).

Microsoft Display Dock HD-500 Lumia 950 XL

Continuum for Phones

Continuum for Phones makes it possible to use this feature. Now Continuum for Phone also works wirelessly using Miracast for example with the Microsoft Display Adapter or even using the Xbox One with the Wireless Display App (right now for Preview Members only). You can also connect a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to your phone, so you can use this feature completely wireless.

Continuum for Phones

Continuum for Phones has also some limitations, right now it only supports Windows Universal Apps and no Win32 apps or old Windows Phone Apps.

Some apps which work with Continuum for Phones:

  • Mail
  • Calendar
  • File Explorer
  • Photos
  • OneNote
  • Excel
  • Word
  • PowerPoint
  • Messages
  • Maps
  • MSN Money
  • MSN Sports
  • MSN News
  • Alarm and Clock
  • Groove Music
  • Movies & TV
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Xbox
  • Facebook
  • Fitbit
  • Cortana
  • Camera

I am sure a lot of developers are working on porting apps to the Windows Universal App Platform and make them available on several devices. Continuum for Phones is one of the best examples how Windows 10 and the Windows Universal Apps will improve the Windows Ecosystem. I think for some people and even employees, Windows 10 Mobile phones could replace the desktop PCs, since you have a lot of great Universal Apps for Mail, Office and other Offices tasks. If Microsoft makes a Universal App for Remote Desktop available you can even have a full desktop, with full desktop apps on your phone while docked to a screen. And with the new Mobile device Management options in Windows 10 Mobile, this can be perfectly managed by enterprises. They can also implement the Microsoft Windows Store for Business on Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile.



Microsoft Lumia 950 XL

First Impressions of the new Microsoft Lumia 950 XL – Microsoft did not compromise

For the past year I was using the Nokia Lumia 930 and the Lumia 1520 and I was really waiting for a new Windows Phone flagship. Microsoft finally released the Lumia 950 and the Lumia 950 XL last week in several countries including Switzerland. I am one of the lucky few, who got one last Friday and had the chance to test it over the weekend.

Lumia 950 Lumia 950 XL

First of all I was using Windows 10 Mobile for a while on my Lumia 930 and the Lumia 1520, so there are not a lot of surprise for me here. I a really like Windows 10 Mobile, it still looks a lot like the first Windows Phone 7 and 8 versions but it looks a little bit cleaner and more mature. Especially the built-in apps like Mail, Calendar, People, Office and the MSN apps go a total redesign and a lot of new features.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL and Surface Book

So here are some of my first impressions of the device:

First thing you notice the device feels and looks, like a lot of the recent Microsoft devices, a like a high quality premium device, and Microsoft did not compromise on features. You basically get everything you ever wanted in a device.

  • You get a amazing 5,7-Zoll-Quad-HD AMOLED ClearBlack Display (2560 x 1440 Pixel and 518 ppi) which just looks gorgeous.
  • You get one of the fastest mobile processors out there: the Snapdragon 810 Octa-Core 2,0 GHz. With that Windows 10 Mobile
  • One of the greatest thing about the Lumia Smartphones always were the cameras. Especially since the Lumia 1020 you always had a great camera. And with the Lumia 950 and the Lumia 950 XL you definitely get a perfect mobile phone camera. For me the camera of my mobile phone is very important since I take my mobile everywhere and take pictures with it. The camera of the Lumia 950 XL is just amazing, especially in difficult low light situations. If you are looking for a phone with an absolutely great camera you should definitely have a look at the latest Lumias. The main camera is a 20.0 MP, Auto focus with two-stage capture key, 6-lens optics, aperture: f/1.9, Backside-illuminated image sensor, PureView, True 16:9 sensor, Fast Focus, High resolution zoom and 4K Video support. For the front-facing camera you get a Full HD 5 MP wide angle camera with a aperture: f/2.4, perfect for selfies.
  • You get also the following features:
    • Glance Screen
    • Wireless charging
    • Fast charging
    • Replaceable battery (3340 mAh)
    • 32GB internal Memory
    • Micro-SD card support
    • 3GB of RAM
    • USB-C 3.1 connector
    • Great antenna technology
    • Dual SIM option
    • Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer, Proximity sensor, Barometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer, SensorCore
    • Corning Gorilla Glass 4
    • Super sensitive touch display
    • Bluetooth 4.1
    • NFC: Pairing, Secure NFC for payment, Sharing, Tagging
    • WLAN IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, MIMO, Wi-Fi call
    • Wi-Fi hotspot: Up to 8 Wi-Fi-enabled devices
    • AV connectors: 3.5 mm stereo headset connector, DisplayPort over USB-C
    • and a lot more…
  • You also get the full Microsoft Office suite with OneNote, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Which is great especially if you are using it to edit your documents or present it to other on the go.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL Windows Continuum 3

  • Windows 10 Continuum: One of the biggest new features of Windows 10 Mobile. Windows 10 Continuum let’s you connect your phone to a bigger screen and use it as a light Windows 10 desktop together with a keyboard and mouse. You can use Continuum using the Continuum dock or wireless. Unfortunately I don’t have Display Dock right now, so I could only test Continuum using the wireless connection using my Xbox One which worked great. You can also use the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter to connect your phone and use it with Windows 10 Continuum. Right now Windows 10 Continuum only Windows 10 Universal apps, like Mail, Calendar, Photos, Office and others. If you think about this feature, this is something Windows 10 can really be unique and may replace a computer for some people and employees out there.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL Windows Hello

  • Another very cool Windows 10 feature is Windows Hello. This is also included in the desktop version of the OS and it allows you to login using fingerprints, face recognition or in the case of the Lumia 950 or Lumia 950 XL Iris face recognition. You just have to press your the power on button and the camera try to recognize your iris, and if it can, it will log you in, without the need of a PIN or password.

I think, with the Lumia 950 XL, Microsoft didn’t compromise on anything here. Microsoft just built a phone with all the features people requested. I really like the phone, the new Windows 10 features like Continuum and especially the camera.

Here a picture of the Lumia 930, Lumia 950 and the Lumia 1520:

Lumia 930 950 1520

I also got the Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard which is a perfect companion to your Microsoft Lumia 950 with Windows 10 Continuum :

 

 

 

 



Surface Book

My first impressions of the Surface Book

Last week Microsoft released some of their new device including the Surface Pro 4, the Surface Book and the Microsoft Band. I was one of the lucky few who had the chance to pick up a Surface Book in Las Vegas during the VeeamON Conference. I didn’t really plan to get the Surface Book in the US since it has another keyboard layout, instead I planed to get the Surface Pro 4. But when I had the chance to have a look at the Surface Book I really had to get it. The Surface Book is the first laptop made by Microsoft, and I have to say it is gorgeous and fast! I think this is the fastest machine I have ever owned. The reason for that is not only the new Core i7 processor from Intel or the dedicated Nvidia graphics card, in my opinion the reason for that is also the integrated flash storage which is extrem fast. This factors and some tuning by Microsoft really makes it fast. In the Microsoft Store in Las Vegas they only had one version left, which was the Core i7, 8GB RAM and 256GB Storage version. I really would have loved to get the version with 16GB RAM to run more Hyper-V Virtual Machines, but well I am happy I could at least get one.

Surface Book

I will write a full review later on but let get the quick impressions I could get during the short time I had to use it.

  • The display is amazing, the color and brightness is stunning.
  • The display ratio of  3:2 is perfect, I loved it on the Surface Pro 3 and I love it on the Surface Book. you have much more space to work on.
  •  It is fast, Microsoft was not lying when they said it is fast, this is the fastest machine I ever owned.
  • The detachable screen, which makes it to a tablet is very light, even lighter than a Surface Pro
  • Build quality is great as even better than the Surface Pro 3
  • The keyboard is also some of the best keyboards I have ever used, it feels great to type on.
  • The trackpad is maybe the best trackpad you can find on a Windows laptop
  • Audio Quality is good as well.
  • Detaching the screen from the keyboard is easy but it takes some time, it is not as fast as you could do it with the Surface Pro.
  • Design is just great it looks and feels premium.
  • Windows Hello on Windows 10 which allows you to sign in via face recognition work perfect, even in a dark hotel room. I think I will never sign it using a password ;)
  • The new Surface Pen feels a lot better than the old one, it feels more writing on paper instead of a glass screen than before.
  • There are some minor driver issues for example screen flickering when you install the Hyper-V role, or some battery drain during the sleep time which can be solved by disabling the WiFi connected during sleep (under settings).
  • The screen is a little bit larger than the one on the Surface Pro 3 or Surface Pro 4, which I really like for my daily work machine.
  • I still like the concept of the Surface Pro which allows you to faster switch between notebook and tablet mode. Over the past 3 years I really got used to it by using the Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2 and the Surface Pro 3. I think I still have to test the Surface Pro 4 which brings the most of the improvements the Surface Book has, including the better screen.

This are my first impression of the Surface Book, if you have any questions just ask it in the comments of this post. I will write a full review after a couple of weeks using it.



Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Desktop

Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Desktop Review

Some days ago I received the new  Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Desktop including the new keyboard and the mouse and I thought why not write a very small review.

Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Desktop

I am using the Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse for a few days at my home office and I have to say the experience so far is every good. I moved from the Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Desktop to the new Designer Bluetooth Desktop, which is quite a change especially the keyboard keys are really different.

The Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Desktop comes with its ultra-thin and modern look. Microsoft did a really good job here in terms of design, it looks very minimalistic but still premium. And it also feels premium, it doesn’t feel like a cheap plastic keyboard. To be honest it even felt more premium than the Sculpt Comfort Desktop, which doesn’t feel cheap at all. Connecting the devices was easy, both the mouse and the keyboard use Bluetooth 4.0 technology to connect to your device, and both are using two AAA batteries.

Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Desktop Surface

About the keyboard, for me it is perfect, as already mentioned it feels premium. If you like will like it, depends on if you like the chiclet-style keys or not. If you prefer the classic keys, your are definitely better of using the Sculpt Comfort Desktop instead of this one. But if you like the chiclet-style keys, this is a keyboard you will love. The keyboard gives you a robust typing experience which I like. The keyboard also comes with media keys and some shortcuts for Windows, like search or sharing. The only thing which was kind of difficult for me is the position of the Fn key, since I used the Sculpt Comfort Desktop for a while I was used to have the Windows key directly next to CTRL, which is different on the Designer Bluetooth Keyboard.

 



Surface 3 Starbucks

My Microsoft Surface 3 Review

A couple of weeks ago I got myself a Microsoft Surface 3 as a secondary device to my Surface Pro 3. While I am totally happy with my Surface Pro 3 as my daily driver on the road, in the office or at home, I wanted a secondary device for home tablet use and to showcase some new Windows 10 scenarios with Azure Active Directory and Office 365 integration. I got some tweets from some user who wanted to know my feedback on the device and so here is a small review:

Technical Specifications

Surface 3 Specs

  • Size 10.52″ x 7.36″ x 0.34″ (267mm x 187mm x 8.7mm)
  • Weight 1.37 lbs (622g)
  • Display 10.8” ClearType Full HD Plus Display Resolution: 1920 x 1280 Aspect ratio: 3:2 10 point multi-touch
  • Surface Pen support
  • Battery Life: Up to 10 hours of video playback
  • RAM/Storage 2GB RAM with 64GB storage & 4GB RAM with 128GB storage
  • Processor Quad Core Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor (2MB Cache, 1.6GHz with Intel Burst technology up to 2.4GHz)
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Full-size USB 3.0
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • microSD card reader
  • Micro USB charging port
  • Headset jack
  • Cover port
  • Software Windows 8.1
  • 1-year of Office 365 Personal with OneDrive cloud storage
  • 3.5 megapixel front-facing camera
  • 8.0 megapixel rear-facing camera with autofocus
  • Microphone
  • Stereo speakers with Dolby® audio
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Proximity sensor
  • Accelerometer
  • Gyroscope
  • Magnetometer

I got the smallest version with 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

Design and Durability

Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3

Microsoft did it again, if you expect any sacrifices on design, quality and durability you are wrong. The Surface 3 comes, like the Surface Pro 3 with great design and great built quality. The Surface 3 comes with a 10 inch screen, the Surface Pro 3 comes with a 12 inch screen, but both have a 3:2 aspect ratio which I really like for getting stuff done. With that you can also use it in portrait mode without any problems.

The difference between the Surface 3 and the Surface Pro 3 is the size and performance. With that, the Surface 3 is designed to be used as a tablet. And you can feel that, the size and especially the weight is made for tablet usage. The Surface 3 is just 200 grams lighter than the Surface Pro 3 which is just enough to hold the tablet in one or to hands for awhile without getting tired arms. This is also handy if you are doing some writing using the Surface Pen.

Again, everything seems to be at the right place and all buttons and the whole chassis is feeling very “high-class”.

Display and Audio

If you think you get any sacrifices on display quality or audio, you are wrong again. The Surface 3 comes with a stunning display, very bright and good color quality, in some scenario, the display even feels brighter than the Surface Pro 3. Now the biggest surprise of the device was the audio quality, this is maybe the best audio quality I every had from a tablet. If you have used other tablets including the iPad or Surface 2, you know that audio quality wasn’t bad, but it was far from being good. The Surface 3 has changed this, of course it is still not somethings music enthusiast will really use, but if you want to watch House of Cards on Netflix the speakers are loud and clear.

The other big pictures here is the Surface Pen support. As the Surface Pro 3, the Surface 3 does support the Surface Pen, not like the Surface 2. This is great to take notes using OneNote and use it as a notebook, especially if you wake up in the middle of the night and have a great idea you can use the Surface Pen and the OneNote button to quickly open an new OneNote page.

Ports and Internals

The Surface Pro 3 has full-size USB 3.0, microSDXC card slot, a Headset jack, a Mini DisplayPort and at the bottom a Cover port for the Type Cover. Of course also the older covers work perfectly, but they just don’t match in size. The position of the ports have changed a little bit from the Surface 2. The Surface 3 does also have a new power port in form of a micro USB port, instead of the magnetic power port of the Surface 2 or Surface Pro 3. This is great so you can use every charger, even the one from your phone. But to be honest you don’t really want to do this, because the charging speed using a phone charger is very slow. And on the other hand you lose the magnetic adapter safety feature.

Heat and Fan Noise

The Surface 3 comes equipped with Quad Core Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor and I had never had any issues with heat or fan noise. To be honest, I am not even sure the Surface 3 has a fan. But on the other side, the workloads you are running on the Surface 3 are not even close as powerful as the applications you run on the Surface Pro 3.

Type Cover

Surface 3 Type Cover

The Surface 3 also comes with an own Type Cover in the right size. Microsoft also improved the Type Cover from the Type Cover 3 which you got with the Surface Pro 3, even you can not really see it directly. Especially the keys feel much better, which make it a perfect typing machine. I am sure with the next release of the Surface Pro comes out, the improvements in the Type Cover for the Surface 3 will be included in that as well.

Battery life and Performance

Surface 3 IE

I think this is the most important part for most of the people reading this review. First, the performance of the Surface 3 is a lot better than the performance of the Surface 2 and the same goes for battery life. But for the same the Surface Pro 3 performance is much better compare to the Surface 3. But this was clear right? The Surface 3 is designed as a tablet with light usage for office apps and some other apps as well, and the Surface 3 handles that just fine. The Surface Pro 3 is design as a powerful notebook replacement which is a total different story, so if you are looking on a powerful machine you should go with the Surface Pro 3, if you need something thin and light to use as a tablet and Office usage, you will definitely be happy with the Surface 3. As I mentioned I got the smallest version with only 2GB of RAM, and this is my real bottleneck if you are doing multitasking. So if you are expecting to do any real multitasking you should go for the 4GB version. The other performance bottleneck is the disk speed, this is a huge difference to the Surface Pro 3 as well, but to be honest for the things I use the Surface 3 for, I don’t really care.

Camera

Microsoft also upgraded the back-facing camera to a 8 megapixel camera which is even better than the Surface Pro 3. So you can do some simple but good shots with the tablet. But of course this never comes close to your Nokia Lumia.

Software and Accessories

Surface 3

Software is where everything comes together. Windows 8.1 works perfectly on the Surface 3 and I really like the mix between touch and keyboard usage. I use it as a tablet with touch apps and can run a full desktop applications like Office to get real work done. I really love the combination of different Microsoft Services such as Skype or Skype for Business for communication. But where the real power comes together is with OneDrive and OneNote. The new Surface Pen and OneNote are already a perfect combination. You can press the OneNote button on the Surface Pen and OneNote opens instantly and you can start taking notes, even if you are not logged. The notes from OneNote get sync via OneDrive on all your devices like your phone or desktop pc. Microsoft is not only bringing software services together, they are now also integrate hardware.

After the first 2 weeks I upgraded the Surface 3 to Windows 10, and I have to say the new tablet mode works perfectly, performance of the Surface 3 with Windows 10 is great.

Microsoft also offers a lot of different accessories like display or Ethernet adapters for the Surface Pro line and they will now also work with the Surface 3. You can use the same USB Ethernet Adapter or Mini Display Port adapter as for the Surface Pro 3. Microsoft also released a new docking station for the Surface 3, which helps you make the Surface 3 also a desktop replacement.

Conclusion

Well if you have to choose between the Surface 3 and the Surface Pro 3 you really have to consider what the devices are designed for. The Surface Pro 3 can be the tablet which is your powerful laptop and desktop replacement. The Surface 3 is more your lightweight tablet which also can be your laptop if you only need it of light Office usage. So if size and weight matter to you, and you don’t need great performance you should go for the Surface 3. But if you need any performance you may want to go with the Surface Pro 3, even the i3 version has much more power than the Surface 3. Another thing here is, if you want to go with the Surface 3, I really recommend you to spend that extra money and go with the 4GB model.



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 Wireless Display Adapter

Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter

Some weeks ago I was in the US for a couple of days, I took advantage of that and visited the Microsoft Store to get a Microsoft Band which was unfortunately out of stock. But I found another great gadget, which as far as I know is only available in the US and Canada, called the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter. The Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter is basically a Miracast receiver, which you can use to project your Windows, Windows Phone or Android display wireless to another screen or projector.

Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter

The adapter has a HDMI port for the display signal and a USB port to power the adapter. You plug them in to your TV and after the adapter finished booting you can start connecting your Wireless Display. The Wireless Display Adapter does not only stream the video, it also allows you to stream audio.

Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter App

This is perfect not only at home, but also during meetings or presentations. With the Windows Store App for the Wireless Display Adapter you can also configure some settings like name or security for the adapter.

 

 



Microsoft Band

Microsoft Band powered by Microsoft Health

Microsoft today announced a new product called Microsoft Band. The Microsoft Band focuses on health and fitness and comes with over 10 different sensors for health, sports and sleep tracking like built-in GPS and 24-hour heart rate monitoring to help you reach your fitness goals.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sleep tracking: When activated, Microsoft Band tracks the length and quality of your sleep. Analyze the sleep charts in your app to gain insights about your slumber.
  • 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.

Cloud-based service Microsoft Health

Microsoft Health Cloud

 

Microsoft Health is a cloud-based service that helps you live healthier by providing actionable insights based on data gathered from the fitness devices and apps that you use every day. Activity-tracking devices like the new Microsoft Band, smart watches, and mobile phones plus services like RunKeeper or MyFitnessPal connect easily to Microsoft Health. Using this fitness data and our Intelligence Engine in the cloud, Microsoft Health provides valuable, personal insights so you can reach your fitness goals.

Be more productive

Microsoft Band Smartwatch

But the Microsoft Band is much more. It also offers a lot of features as a smartwatch or personal assistant. Which shows you the usual stuff like text messages, meetings, calls, Facebook and Twitter integration but if you are using a Windows Phone you also have Cortana (the personal assistant on Windows Phone) integrated. These features should not only help you trough your daily life, they also should make you more productive and help you to keep your phone in your pocket.

Some of the function Microsoft offers in terms of notifications and alerts.

  • 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.
  • Personalization: With your choice of background designs and colors, let Microsoft Band reflect your personality.
  • Display: The full color touch display is bright and easy to read, even in direct sunlight.
  • Bluetooth 4.0: With Bluetooth 4.0, your data syncs to your phone in the background, so Microsoft Band is always up to date. You don’t have to log in to get the latest.

Works with the phone you own

Microsoft Band iPhone and Android

 

The Microsoft Band not just works with Windows or Windows Phone devices, it can also be used on iOS or Android devices.

Microsoft says the battery life of the Microsoft Band will be up to 48h and is only available in the US for $199 (Microsoft Store). I am totally looking forward to replace my Nike Fuelband with this devices.



RemoteFX

GPU Requirements for RemoteFX on Windows Server 2012 R2

If your are planning a VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) deployment with Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V  and you want to use physical graphics power with RemoteFX for your VDI machines fore example for CAD applications, you might wonder which cards are recommended and supported. Back in November 2013 Derrick Isoka (Microsoft Program Manager) wrote a blog post about recommendations and here is a quick summary.

RemoteFX GPU Requirements

To make use of RemoteFX with GPU acceleration on Windows Server 2012 R2 you require a compatible graphic card.

Most likely, the servers hosting the RemoteFX workloads will be located in a datacenter and as such, we recommend using passively cooled, server class graphics cards. However, it’s also acceptable to use a workstation card for testing on small deployments depending on your needs.

However the minimum requirements for the graphics cards to be used with Hyper-V RemoteFX are:

  • Direct 11.0 or later
  • WDDM 1.2 driver or later

DirectX and WDDM

There is some other point to this, in Windows Server 2012 R2 provides support for DirectX 11.0, DirectCompute and C++ AMP. Most of the graphics cards do support OpenGL 4.0 and OpenCL 1.1 or later, however these APIs are currently unsupported by RemoteFX in Windows Server 2012 R2.

Hardware and Driver Support

To find a graphics card also make sure you check the Windows Server Catalog.

RemoteFX Compatible GPUs

Microsoft did some tests and showed some of the results on the Remote Desktop Services blog.

RemoteFX Cards

  1. Best: These are server class cards, designed and certified for VDI workloads by hardware vendors like NVIDIA and AMD. They target the best application performance, experience, and virtual machine densities. Some of the cards are particularly recommended for designer and engineering workloads (such as Autodesk Inventor or AutoCad).
  2. Better: These are workstation class cards that provide acceptable performance and densities. They are especially capable cards for knowledge worker workloads (such as Microsoft Office or Internet Explorer).
  3. Good: These are lower-end cards that provide acceptable densities knowledge worker workloads.

Source: Microsoft

Performance and Scale

This is important, Microsoft also points out that GPU speed and memory, the performance and scale of your VDI deployment also depends on additional factors such as CPU, Storage and Network performance.