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The August 2008 Tech Preview has arrived

Aug 30, 2008 at 8:05 AM
Edited Aug 30, 2008 at 10:44 PM

The August 2008 Tech Preview is finally here. Download it at this location.

The team worked extra hard to improve the overall PKS experience, starting with a much more reliable deployment. The documentation now comes with an upgrade scenario, install and configuration- all in less than 20 pages. Alright, I’ll admit that removing some screenshots also helped reduce the number of pages.

Another good news is the compatibility with Windows Server 2003 and 2008, x86 and x64 environments.

We also upgraded to the latest release of Silverlight 2 (which is still beta 2 as of Friday August 29th).

Feature-wise you will notice the following:

1.       A new MediaEncoder service taking care of the thumbnail generation, and in future builds, of the server-side re-encoding. It has been built using the Microsoft Expression Encoder 2 APIs.

2.       A new “Add to Zune” icon and link, allowing a one click integration experience between PKS/MOSS and Zune

3.       Co-Podcasters are now listed on the Podcast Detail Page

4.       A new Reward & Recognition feature for Podcasters and Contributors- the more you upload, rate or comment the more points you get. Podcasters can trade those points for anything your organization will decide to offer. No surprise here at Microsoft: we give away Xbox and Zune J

5.       Alternate Fields for the podcaster profiles: if your deployment is on the extranet and unable to synch profiles with your http://my environment then these fields will allow you to maintain your podcaster profiles (picture, bio, etc…)

6.       Several UI improvements to highlight the podcast grid view filtering, normalize the font size, align a few things here and there…

You should find several bugs being fixed in all core components, and I'm sure a few additional. Don't hesitate to post those bugs to the issue tracker tab the dev team is monitoring them and we'll do our best to fix them in the next release.

Speaking of which, I’d like to give you some insight into our plans for the next few weeks.

It’s going to be all about stabilization, performance and stress test. First we’re going to deploy the August TP in a 3 servers farm (2 WFE and 1 SQL), and migrate our current Academy Mobile content over. To give you an idea after one year of operation Academy Mobile is about 70Gb, 3000 podcasts and 3500 podcaster profiles.

You should also know that our deployment preference is to store the media files on each WFE server and use DFSR to synchronize them. This is mainly because of the increased redundancy of the data, the challenges presented in our extranet environment with regard to the propagation of authentication between the WFE servers and media storage servers, and the relatively low cost of this solution versus a SAN.

After the migration of the data we’re going to run stress tests … see how far we can take it. I’m expecting we’ll find some optimizations to be done.

In parallel the PKS code will go thru a formal internal security threat review called ACE.

A few new features should be introduced like server-side re-encoding and average ratings for podcaster, but beyond these two expect mostly more bug fixes and performance, reliability, stability improvements. The PKS September Beta (our first!) will be built from these experiments, learnings and formal reviews.

The PKS September Beta release will be running in the Microsoft production environment, replacing the aging Academy Mobile site in October 2008.


I hope you’ll enjoy the August Tech Preview as much as the team enjoyed developing it!


Aug 30, 2008 at 10:49 AM

Great job on pushing out this release as promised, hey, it's still August!

Kudos to the team!

Aug 31, 2008 at 9:19 PM

Excellent to see the August release; we'll be hard at work tomorrow morning doing both upgrades and clean installs in our various environments.


Sep 1, 2008 at 7:00 PM
I've just posted a HOTFIX for the August Tech Preview solving the issue with the podcast search results page not pointing properly to the podcast detail pages, which before the fix was preventing the Silverlight playback from working. First deploy the August Tech Preview, then install the hotfix.