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January 2013

Associating Windows Store Apps with Websites

How to make a Windows App findable? If there’s already a Website that is known, it is easy to associate this site with the app. Users can find the app easily by opening the Website. A requirement for this is using IE in the new modern mode, and adding two meta elements to the Website.

This article shows what’s needed to associate a Windows Store app with a Website, and what’s the result.

The Website http://www.kantine.at already uses these meta elements. If you open this page with IE 10, you’ll have a direct link to the Kantine App.

Deutschsprachige Version dieses Artikels

For all my friends outside of Austria, the Kantine app currently is only available in the Austrian marketplace. You can use http://www.bing.com for showing these features as well.

KantineWebsite_thumb[1]

Internet Explorer offers buttons to Refresh and Pin the website, Page Tools, and Forward. The Forward button only becomes active if the Back button was clicked before, or with the Flip Ahead feature turned on. The Page Tools allow to switch the browser in the desktop mode, and find content within the page.

NotAssociated_thumb

If the Website is associated with a Windows Store app, the Page Tools button receives an additional plus sign:

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Clicking this button if the app is not installed yet, a menu is opened with the new entry Get app for this site:

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Clicking this menu entry directly opens the page of the app in the store:

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If the app is already installed, the menu entry is replaced with Switch to Kantine app, and clicking this menu the app is started:

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All this is possible just by adding two meta elements within the HTML head element: msApplication-ID and msApplication-PackageFamily:

<meta name="msApplication-ID" content="App" />
<meta name="msApplication-PackageFamilyName" content="CNelements.Kantine_x1ms6s50zdxze" />

You can get the values for these elements directly from the package manifest of the application. msApplication-ID is the ID of the application that is found using the XML editor. The Application element is child element of the Applications element. Get the value of the Id attribute. The value for msApplication-PackageFamilyName can be read using the manifest editor, Packaging Tab:

VStudio_thumb[1]

Summary

Just by using two meta elements it’s becoming easier to find your Windows Store app. Maybe it will take some time before users find this AppBar button in IE. As soon as the user finds this information, it works the same with all the associated Web sites. In any case, it just takes two meta elements for this feature.

Christian

CN innovation

More information about this feature in the IE Blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ie/archive/2011/10/20/connect-your-web-site-to-your-windows-8-app.aspx

More info's to Windows Store apps in my workshops and in the book Professional C# and .NET 4.5.

Buying Apps in the Windows Store with Family Safety

You can find many free kids games in the Windows Store. However, more interesting games need payment. You either need to buy apps immediately, buy them after some testing, or use in-app payment to get more interesting offers.

Using family safety there are some issues with buying from the store – buying just doesn’t work with the kids account. I had some issues with this that I could all resolve, and this is explained with this article.

Deutschsprachige Version des Artikels

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Some questions I had:

  • How to buy apps from the store with family safety?
  • I don’t want to add my credit card to the kids accounts
  • Do I have to buy the same app for every kid account?

All these questions are resolved with this article. Using the Windows Store with family safety does not work automatic. Doing this as I’ve finally found out, buying kids games with family safety can be done fine.

In case you try to buy apps from kids accounts with family safety turned on, timeouts can be the result. I never succeeded buying an app this way. At least there’s the issue that the URLs for the Windows store are not opened with family safety. I didn’t check to allow the correct URLs, maybe there would be some other issues as well I’ve found a better way.

Parent Account

First, a specific parent account should e created. For this account I didn’t use my major Microsoft account but added another one. These are the reasons for adding another Microsoft account:

  • One Microsoft account can only install apps from the store using 5 PCs. With my PC’s and the PC’s of my children, this limit is exceeded.
  • With my major account I don’t want to see all the games as my apps. The Windows store hast the great feature that just with a few clicks all my apps can be installed on a fresh new system. The children’s apps shouldn’t be part of this.
  • One great feature of the Windows store is that with just a few clicks to install all my apps with just a few clicks.

Buying Apps with the Parent Account

Using the parent account it’s fine for me to add the credit card to the store. Now I can install games on the kid’s PC’s using this parent account. In-app payment is also done using this account. Games I’m buying for the children I need to test anyway, so it’s not an issue to start in-app payment from the parent account.

Installing Apps with Kids-Accounts

The next step is to install the app again using the kids account. One paid app can be installed on up to 5 PC’s – and this can be done from other accounts as well. First I’m logging into the kids-account. However, in the store I’m changing the account to the parents account. This is done from the charms bar, Settings, Your Account. Changing to the parent account in the store, it’s easy to find the paid apps again with Your Apps in the app bar. This also makes it easy to install the apps for every kid.

Summary

The easiest way to install paid apps for children is to use a dedicated parent account. First install the apps using this parent account. Logging in to the system with the kids account, changing the store to to the parents account, the apps can be installed again for the children.

It”s possible to install a paid app on up to 5 PCs. So this is fine for up to 5 children. I’m not planning to exceed this Windows limit Winking smile

Have fun!

Christian

CN innovation

A Happy New Year 2013!

2013 – the first year with 4 different digits since…. since 1987!

My previous blog article was about 2012. What can we expect from 2013?

German Version

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Windows 8 was the start in a new era. Applications are becoming easier, specialized for a feature. Touch is an important aspect of the new applications. Focusing them to specific features makes them easier to use. However, with such smaller apps, communication between apps is becoming more and more important.

The new Microsoft design not only influences Windows Store apps, but also desktop apps (btw, desktop apps can be found by the Windows Store, and Windows Store apps can be installed without the Windows Store by using sideloading).

Windows 8 is becoming a cool operating system only with its apps. For 2013 I’m expecting many new apps; not only consumer apps but also LOB apps. Some of the LOB apps were already shown at the last Build conference, e.g. apps from SAP, Citrix, Hyland, Greenway Medical, and others. With the start of developing LOB apps for Windows 8, I’m expecting to see many new usability ideas. This is for accounting apps as well.

It will take some time before the desktop can be fully replaced by Windows RT. The year 2013 will bring some progress to this, but of course the desktop will stay important in 2013. Talking more time, the new UI will win. In reality, many users nowadays don’t need more than Windows RT. With more apps, Windows RT is becoming the future.

Many new Windows Store apps in 2013

Windows Blue was already discussed. What’s really behind Windows Blue we’ll see in 2013. No matter what this code really means, I believe in faster update cycles. Windows Azure is a front-runner with this to bring new features every quarter. Visual Studio is running with a faster update pace as well since the release of Visual Studio 2012. Windows should deliver faster updates, as well.

Last year, Microsoft introduced Windows Phone 8. With this phone update, the operating system for the phone is similar to the one for the desktop. In reality it’s not the same, but became more similar. With Windows Phone apps some features from Windows Store apps are still missing. I’m missing JavaScript project templates in Visual Studio, and some small parts like the HttpClient class (namespace System.Net.Http). I’m expecting some updates for Windows Phone in 2013 as well.

Faster updates for Windows, Windows Phone, Visual Studio

Continuing with development, at Microsoft Windows Store apps have a major focus – of course. I’m expecting updates for libraries, many new features, and features in regard to LOB apps.

JavaScript is becoming more and more important. JavaScript is not only used for client-side development, but on the server as well. Using table and blob storage with Windows Azure Mobile Services can be done using JavaScript – with the help of Node.js. Issues of JavaScript are solved with TypeScript.

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C++ is becoming more important again. For 2013 I’ve already requests for C++11 workshops Smile

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C++11 and TypeScript

Let’s make a move to hardware. Microsoft Surface Pro is available soon.

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I’m already using a Microsoft Surface RT, running several Windows Store apps on this device. For development with Visual Studio I need a larger touch device. Hardware manufactures were not delivering powerful devices in 2012. Now some cool devices are nearby.

One powerful device is the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Touch

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another option the HP Spectre XT TouchSmart

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Microsoft Surface Pro or a powerful device such as Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Touch or HP Spectre XT TouchSmart?

In 2012 I completed the book Professional C# 2012 and .NET 4.5. For 2013 I’m hoping it sells well – and I’m already working on another book. However, the time is not right to talk about this Winking smile

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Professional C# 2012 and .NET 4.5

A Happy New Year 2013!

Live long and prosper!

 

Christian

CN innovation