The Midweek Download: April 27th Edition – A glimpse at the Kinect for Windows SDK and 10 tips on moving from XP to Windows 7

Microsoft made big news this week when it showed off a glimpse of the Kinect for Windows software development kit (SDK). Also new this past week – how to kick that pesky Windows XP habit and a cool behind-the-scenes story on the Kinect’s audio capabilities.

The power and potential of Kinect. Later this spring, Microsoft will release a non-commercial Kinect for Windows software development kit (SDK) from Microsoft Research to encourage the freedom to dream and create amazing experiences with natural user interfaces (NUI). We believe the combined creativity of Microsoft and the academic research and enthusiast communities will lead to new experiences that will transform our relationship with computers. At MIX11, an annual developer conference hosted by Microsoft, the power and potential of Kinect was center stage.

Being productive at work with Windows 7. In this April 25th post on the Windows Experience Blog, blogger Brandon LeBlanc gives readers five videos that demo some of the features in Windows 7 designed to make you more productive at work. Check them out.

Ten ways to kick the Windows XP habit. Many businesses still running Windows XP want to make the upgrade to Windows 7, but they don’t know where to start. Relax. It’s not that hard. In this April 21st post on the Springboard Series Blog, blogger Stephen L. Rose provides 10 tips on how to migrate from XP to Windows 7. We know you’re attached to XP, but a wise man once said that the younger generation always overthrows the older generation. That’s the way of things.

Listening to Kinect. Next at Microsoft Blog Editor Steve Clayton has been telling anyone who’ll listen recently that Natural User Interfaces are more than just touch, gesture and speech – though Kinect, perhaps the hottest NUI tech around, does two of these exceedingly well. Much of the focus of tinkering with Kinect has been with gesture, using the skeletal tracking capability. The speech capability of Kinect has had less focus. In this April 25th post on the Next at Microsoft Blog, Clayton profiles Ivan Tashev, an engineer in Microsoft Research who has been instrumental in developing the Kinect’s audio capabilities.

Hardware acceleration through…paintball? Hardware acceleration is more than just a checkmark. How a browser chooses to enable hardware acceleration has a direct impact on the performance and user experience of Web applications. To highlight the quality and performance differences in hardware acceleration, the folks at Internet Explorer look closely at the Paintball test drive, released with IE 10 Platform Preview 1. Don’t miss their conclusions in this April 26th post on the IEBlog.

User experience on Windows Phone 7 apps. In the video below, Jobi Joy, UX Architect with IdentityMine, discusses some of the lessons his company learned while contributing to the very popular and successful IMDB and Twitter Windows Phone applications. Jobi covers a wide array of topics, including the design and the UX of the IMDB application as well as what "perceived performance" means, and he dives into the framework he put together for panorama controls.

Silverlight 5 beta available now. Microsoft recently announced the immediate availability of the Silverlight 5 Beta. The beta is a major step towards the final release of Silverlight 5 later this year and includes many of the features Microsoft already announced at the Silverlight Firestarter last December. Visual Studio and Expression Blend support for Silverlight 5 is also available for download. You can download the Beta and Tools here. Silverlight 5 makes further advances in media, application development and user experiences, adding over 40 new features and 100s of new APIs.

That’s it for this edition of the Midweek Download – thanks for reading and we’ll see you here next week!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog

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