Putting Technology In Everyone’s Hands

This is the first in a series of blog posts I’m going to write about some cool things Microsoft is doing around education.

We all know about the box-top redemptions and various fund-raising exercises that schools use today. If you’re like me though, you may find these things frustrating because you have no way of knowing how much money this actually raises for the school or how that money is spent. Just by using Bing as your search engine, you’ll earn reward points that can be exchanged for all kinds of things, but one option is to contribute towards getting tablets for schools.

You need to sign up for Bing Rewards with either a Microsoft account or a Facebook account. You can then donate your reward points to your school. Once your school has accumulated 30,000 points, they get a Surface RT tablet! These aren’t just toy tablets, but tablets that provide the number one productivity suite – Microsoft Office. You are no longer tied to your desktop to write papers and build presentations.

You get a point for every 3 Bing searches, but there are also daily opportunities to earn more points by learning more about Bing and other topics on the internet.

Getting 30,000 points may seem intimidating, but teamwork counts here. Let’s do some arithmetic. Even though you can get points other ways, the majority of your points will probably come from searches, let’s just focus on that. You are limited to 30 points a day for searches, so…

30,000 points / 30 points per day = 1,000 days. That means you’d have to search every day for three years before you got one tablet!

But there are hundreds of kids in most schools and approximately double as many parents! So, if one classroom has approximately 25 kids, then you also have approximately 50 parents.

50 people * 30 points per day * 20 days = 30,000 points! That’s a free tablet in just 20 days!

If those same people continue for one year…

50 people *30 points per day * 365 days = 547,500 points OR 18 Surface tablets! We almost have enough for the whole class!

Oh, and by the way, you get 200 credits for every friend you invite to Bing! So, don’t just tell people about the program – invite them to it!

Learn more about Bing Rewards. You can order free posters and flyer here as well.

Options for Copying Test Cases in TFS

I recently had a customer ask if they could “copy” test cases in Microsoft Test Manager. As with many questions, the answer is the all too fearsome, “it depends” and more context is needed to properly answer the question. In this post, I thought I’d try to describe the options for “copying” test cases and provide some sample use cases.

Re-using a test case

Within a test plan, you can place the same test case in multiple test suites. These “copies” are the same test case and any changes you make to this test case will be evident no matter which test suite you open or run it from.

Copying a test case – This is also known as a “shallow copy”

You can copy test cases from one test plan to another. When copying test cases, you create a copy of all test cases in one test suite and add them to another test suite. As with the above option, these are really the same test cases, so any change you make to one, you will make to the other. The attributes and test steps are all “shared”, however test results are not.

Note that the source and destination test suites are independent of each other. You can add or remove test cases from either of them without affecting the other.


  1. From the Plan tab, select a static test suite that will hold the new copy.
  2. In the toolbar, click the button Create test suites by referencing existing test cases.
  3. In the dialog window, select the test plan and test suite that you want to copy, and click Create suite.

Use Case:

  • When you are beginning a new iteration or project, you may want re-use existing test cases from previous efforts.

Cloning a test case – This is sometimes known as a “deep copy”

You can clone test cases to create an independent copy of an existing test case. After cloning, you can make changes to either the original or cloned test case without affecting the other.

Note that cloning can be used across Team Projects, but not across Team Project Collections.

Note that this creates a whole new test plan.


  1. From the Organize tab, select a test plan.
  2. In the toolbar, click the button labeled Clone.
  3. In the dialog window, select one or more test suites from the drop down list that you want to clone.
  4. (Optional) Check the box labeled Clone requirements to also “deep copy” any requirements associated with the selected test suite(s).
  5. On the right side of the dialog, enter the name of the destination test plan, and set the associated area path and iteration path.
  6. Click the Clone button.
  7. The Clone log appears. Pay close attention to the status of each cloning operation as it may take a few moments to complete.


  1. Open a command prompt.
  2. Type cd %VS110COMNTOOLS%..\IDE to navigate to the necessary directory
  3. Type tcm suites /clone /collection:http://YourServer:8080/tfs/YourCollection /teamproject:”YourSourceProject” /destinationTeamProject:”YourDestinationProject” /suiteid:YourSourceSuite /destinationsuiteid:YourDestinationSuite /clonerequirements /overridefield:”YourField“=”YourValue
    1. YouServer– the name of your Team Foundation Server
    2. YourCollection– the name of your Team Project Collection
    3. YourSourceProject– the name of the Team Project you want to clone from
    4. YourDestinationProject – the name of the Team Project you want to clone to; this is an optional parameter and you do not need to use it if you are cloning within the same Team Project
    5. YourSourceSuite – the ID of the test suite to be cloned; the ID is displayed in the details pane when you select it in the test plan; retrieve a list of suites by using tcm /suites /list; nested test suites will be cloned as well
    6. YourDestinationSuite – the ID of the test suite you want to clone to
    7. *clonerequirements – this is an optional parameter and you use it if you want to clone the requirement work items used by requirements-based suites; if this parameter is not specified, requirements-based suites will be converted to static suites
    8. *overridefield – this is an optional parameter and you use it if you want to set a particular field in the new test cases

Use Case:

  • Clone test cases when you want to use the same test case against two releases simultaneously. This way you can edit the test case for one release without interfering with the efforts in the other release.

Use a test case as a template to create a new test case

You can use an existing test case to create a new test case with all of the same values.


  1. From the Plan tab, right-click a test case, and select Create copy and add to suite.

Use Case:

  • When you have a number of test case properties (e.g. iteration path, area path, priority, etc.) that will have the same values in your new test case, you can use an existing test case as the starting point.
  • Similarly, when you have a complicated or lengthy number of test steps in an existing test case that will be repeated in a new test case. (You should also consider Shared Steps in this use case.)

There’s a growing number of Microsoft Test Manager/TFS users out there, so I hope this helps you.

Visual Studio 2013 Preview Event

I just wanted to thank my co-presenter, Chris Kadel, and everyone who attended the event in St. Louis. (We had a broad range of new features to present on and there just never seems to be enough time to get to everything.)

I didn’t have any slides, but Chris did and you can find those here.

For those that weren’t able to attend, here’s a breakdown of features we covered:

  • Managing SCRUM of SCRUMs (agile portfolio management)
  • Improved offline version control option with Git
  • New collaboration options (Team Rooms and web-based code commenting)
  • IDE enhancements to improve productivity
  • New insights into code (CodeLens)
  • Simplifying performance analysis (Performance & Diagnostics Hub)
  • New performance tools (Energy Consumption & UI Responsiveness)
  • Productivity for C++ developers w/ new language/tooling support
  • “De-fragging” ASP.NET
  • Cloud-based load testing
  • Simplified Team Build
  • Integrated release management (InRelease)
  • New ways to reproduce production issues (new version of IntelliTrace collector and memory dump analysis)

Look forward to future events around Visual Studio and TFS 2013. I’ve seen a glimpse of other features that may be included for RTM/Update 1 and I think you will love it!

Xbox Music Now Available Everywhere Else

The absolute best value in music is now available wherever you need it to be!

Microsoft now allows you to access your Xbox Music from any browser. The site looks almost exactly like the new Windows Store version. (I don’t know when I would use the web version myself as I will no doubt continue to use Xbox Music on my PCs, Xbox, and HTC phone.)

Like I’ve said before, the Xbox Music Pass is the really great deal here. For $9.99 a month or $99.90 a year, you get unlimited access to the entire Xbox music library. You can get a 30 day free trial at http://music.xbox.com.

Do you have an Xbox Music Pass? What features would you like to see added to Xbox Music?

Visual Studio 2013 Preview – User Account

New to Visual Studio 2013 is the concept of a user account.

When you first run Visual Studio, you will be prompted to sign in. We will use this information to store your settings in the cloud and make them available to you on whatever machine you are using.

You can always view your account information by going to File | Account Settings…

If you click the Visual Studio profile hyperlink, you’ll be navigated to the following page in your browser.

After reviewing your profile information, click Continue. This will just take you the Team Foundation Service site.

This user profile feature is still early, but I can foresee a lot of potential here beyond tracking your settings. Down the road, we could…

…add more features to the associated web site that show you news you follow like blogs, Channel 9 videos of interest, events you may want to attend, etc.,

…track your recent activity and activity of your team(s) in a dashboard,

…use your stored credentials to auto-connect you to databases, servers, Azure, and more;

…alert you to activity wherever you are – such as NuGet Package updates.

Where would you like to see us go with this?

Visual Studio 2013 Preview – Team Explorer Home Page

While Team Explorer 2012 (and subsequent Updates) added some really great features, I’m really happy to see the new user experience in Visual Studio 2013 Preview.

The new Home page

Project group

At the top of the Home page, the Project section shows the same hub links, but is both more concise and colorful. You can more easily dock team Explorer to a small pane or on your second monitor in a very small space. The color adds some aesthetic appeal, but it also helps your eye gravitate to the color/symbol faster than reading text.

With 2013, each option is more than a navigation link. You can right-click each to see a context menu of related commands. Right now, the context menus are very sparse, but I could see additional options being added over time. In 2012, there is a Request Code Review link under the My Work link. In 2013, the Request Code Review command is available by right-clicking My Work.

Right-click Pending Changes gives you the option to Find

Right-click Work Items to create a New Query.

Source Control Explorer is now its own item – rather than under Pending Changes as it is in 2012.

I love that you can navigate straight to the active Task Board for this Team Project and I’ll explore that and the new Team Room feature more in another post.

Solutions group

Below the Project menu is a list of solutions pulled from the active Team Project and your workspace. My favorite part of this is subtle – when you open a solution from this list, it bolds the text. I can just glance at it to see which solution and its branch. For those of you that regularly move between workspaces, you can switch them in the drop-down list provided. The New… and Open… hyperlinks create/open Visual Studio projects respectively – not workspaces as one might think.

That’s all for now. I’d love to hear what you guys think. If you have suggestions for the product team, contribute to User Voice. (They really do listen to that feedback. I know because I see the summary reports the team sends out.)

TFS 2012 Fun!


This is a fun video. The lyrics are really funny!

Publishing WCF Data Services to Azure Web Site

I’ve been developing a WCF Data Service and it was working great on my local machine. (How many times have you said that?) With the trickiest parts of the service in place, I thought I’d push it up to an Azure web site and get it working there. Unfortunately, I was getting the following error after publishing my service.

After troubleshooting for about an hour, I finally found a really helpful blog post describing the exact problem here. It appears the primary issue is that the .svc file contains a hard-coded reference to version of Microsoft.Data.Services. Like any good blog post, it also contains a couple of solutions. I simply removed the reference to any version number and it worked like a charm – both locally and in Azure!

Now, I’m gonna push my Code-First Migrations to SQL Azure. Wish me luck!

Now Working With Azure Without Leaving Visual Studio!

First, let me say I love what they have done with the Windows Azure user interface on the web. (You can see it here.) The UI is easy to get around, the animations are helpful, etc. Unfortunately, it’s all in the browser and not in my IDE. This means I have to leave my IDE on occasion to do things like publish my app and confirm the names of sites, services, databases, etc.

But times are a changin’! On April 30th, Microsoft released the Windows Azure SDK 2.0 for .NET. This SDK includes enhancements to Visual Studio that provide integration between the IDE and the Azure management services. In this blog post, I’m going to focus on the publishing to Azure features, but there are other features enabled with this SDK that you can read a little more about on Scott Guthrie’s blog post here.

As I have in the past, I’m going to start by right-clicking my web project and selecting Publish… from the context menu.

Again, as before, the Publish Web dialog appears and we’ll click the Import… button to open the Publish Profile dialog.

I used to download my Azure publish profile from the management portal and keep that file in my Visual Studio project, so I could re-use it if I needed to and share it with my team. I would then import it using this dialog. Here comes the new part! Rather than browsing to the file, I’m going to select the first radio button, labeled Import from a Windows Azure web site, and click the Add Windows Azure subscription hyperlink.

The Import Windows Azure Subscriptions dialog appears. We need to download our subscription details, so click Download subscription file to get the .publishsettings file from the portal. This is the only time you’ll need to return to the Azure portal. This settings file includes all of the information about our Azure subscription – not just a single web site’s publish settings. We’ll then return to the Import Windows Azure Subscriptions dialog and browse out to the location of the file we downloaded. Click the Import button to continue.

Returning to the Import Publish Profile dialog, you should be able to select from your existing Azure web sites from the drop down list. Click OK to return to the Publish Web dialog. The publish settings will auto-populate the Connection tab (which is way better than trying to enter/re-enter all of this stuff yourself). If you’d like, you can click Validate Connection to ensure everything is correct.

The rest of the publish process remains unchanged. After clicking the Publish or Close buttons, you will be prompted to save all of your publish settings and if you choose to do so, they will be added to your Visual Studio project under Properties | PublishProfiles.

Now that I’ve published my application, I should probably check on its status. By opening Server Explorer in Visual Studio, you can now see your Azure subscription services. By expanding the Windows Azure Web Sites node, I can see that my teamsystemcafeservices site is running.

There are several useful options available if you right-click your web site. I can start and stop the web site and stream logs to my output window.

Of course, I can save myself the trip out to the management portal again by selecting View Settings and configure my web site right within the IDE.

There are several other features in the new Azure SDK, so check ‘em out!

Another Chance to Win Stuff! The Cloud Challenge

Build your very own Virtual Network in the Cloud for FREE with the Windows Azure cloud platform, and Enter for a chance to win one of the following fantastic prizes:

You could win a ticket to Microsoft TechEd 2013, a Microsoft Surface Pro or Certification Exam Voucher!

But Wait! There’s More!

In addition to a chance to win one of the prizes above, EVERY ENTRANT will receive up to 750 compute hours and up to 35GB cloud storage to use as you’d like each month for 90-Days as part of the Windows Azure free trial program.

How To Enter the “Cloud Challenge”

You can enter the Microsoft TechEd “Cloud Challenge” Sweepstakes by completing all of the THREE EASY TASKS below to activate a Windows Azure FREE 90-Day Trial Account ( no subscription obligation or fees required ) and build your Virtual Network in the Cloud.  Be sure to complete the last task to submit your proof-of-completion for entry into this sweepstakes.

  • Entries must be received between April 1, 2013 and April 30, 2013 to be eligible. One entry per individual.
  • This contest is open to all IT Professionals Age 18 and over that are legal residents of the United States.
  • Estimated Completion Time: 15-20 minutes

TASK 1 – Activate a FREE Windows Azure 90-Day Trial

Activate a FREE Windows Azure 90-Day Trial Account to receive up to 750 compute hours and up to 35GB cloud storage to use as you’d like each month for 90-days.  After the free 90-day period ends, there is absolutely no obligation required for a paid subscription.

Activate a FREE Windows Azure 90-Day Trial

DO IT: Activate a FREE Windows Azure 90-Day Trial
NOTE: When activating your FREE Trial for Windows Azure, you will be prompted for credit card information.  This information is used only to validate your identity and your credit card will not be charged, unless you explicitly convert your FREE Trial account to a paid subscription at a later point in time.

TASK 2 – Build your Virtual Network in the Cloud

Virtual Networks on the Windows Azure Cloud Platform allow you to define a predictable set of virtualized IP subnets upon which you can place one or more Virtual Machines running Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Linux.  You can even securely connect a Windows Azure Virtual Network to your on-premise environment via a Site-to-Site IPsec VPN tunnel to leverage Windows Azure as a remote datacenter for disaster recovery, online backup, pilots, migrating applications … and MORE!

Complete the steps in this task to sign-in to the Windows Azure Management portal and quickly provision a new Virtual Network in the cloud.

  1. Sign-in to the Windows Azure Management Portal with the Microsoft account credentials used in the prior task to activate your free 90-day trial.
  2. On the bottom toolbar, click the +New button, then select Network | Virtual Network | Quick Create.  
    Creating a Virtual Network using Quick Create
  3. On the Quick Create form, complete the following fields of information:
    - Name: xxxlabnet01 ( where “xxx is replaced by your initials ). 
    - Address Space: 10.—.—.—
    - Maximum VM Count: 4096 [CIDR: /20]
    - Affinity Group / Region: East US
    - Connect to Existing DNS Server: None
    - Subscription: 3 Month Free Trial
    Virtual Network Quick Create Form
    Click the Create A Virtual Network button to create your new Virtual Network on the Windows Azure Cloud Platform!

Congratulations! You now have a new virtual network that you can use to connect multiple virtual machines together on the Windows Azure Cloud Platform. Learn more about using your new Virtual Network with our FREE Online Training at http://aka.ms/AzureVMTraining.

TASK 3 – Submit Proof-of-Completion

Complete the steps in this task to submit your proof-of-completion entry into the Microsoft TechEd “Cloud Challenge” Sweepstakes for a chance to win one of the exciting prizes listed above.

  1. Sign-in to the Windows Azure Management Portal with the Microsoft account credentials used in the prior task to activate your free 90-day trial.
  2. On the Windows Azure Management Portal page, click on the ALL ITEMS link on the left navigation panel.
    Windows Azure All Items Page
  3. Press the PrtScn ( Print Screen ) function key on your keyboard to copy an image of this page to your PC clipboard.
  4. Click on THIS LINK to create a new email message addressed to the sweepstakes team at CloudChallenge@microsoft.com
  5. IMPORTANT: In the body of the email, include this exact text:
    “I’ve completed the Microsoft TechEd Cloud Challenge for Windows Azure Virtual Networks.”
  6. IMORTANT: Paste the image copied in Step 3 into the body of the new email message created  above.
  7. Click the Send button in your email client to submit the email message as your proof-of-completion and sweepstakes entry.

Upon submitting your entry, you will receive a confirmation email within 24-hours.

COMPLETED! Want more?

Now that you’ve built your Windows Azure Virtual Network in the cloud, start leveraging it with these additional free learning resources.

  • Want to learn more about Windows Azure Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks?
    • COMPLETE the FREE online training on Windows Azure
    • COMPLETE Getting Started with Servers in the Cloud
    • COMPLETE additional lab scenarios with Step-by-Step Guides
  • Want to learn more about Windows Server 2012? Become our next “Early Expert”!
    • DOWNLOAD Windows Server 2012 for further evaluation.
    • JOIN our Windows Server 2012 “Early Experts” Challenge IT Pro Study Group. 
  • Want to learn more about our FREE Hyper-V Server 2012?
    • DOWNLOAD Hyper-V Server 2012 for evaluation and production use.
    • COMPLETE the Step-by-Step Guide for Hyper-V Server 2012 to begin leveraging it. 

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