Windows 8

 

I’ve been using Microsoft Project Siena (beta) for rapid app development and am really excited about the possibilities this tool holds for the future. Project Siena is a truly visual tool that lets you visually construct apps and bind data in the background so you can design and preview in real time from a single interface. It’s a whole lot easier than coding in Blend or Visual Studio, and a whole lot faster. A week or so ago, I decided to build an app that displayed the real time available Doppler Mosaic animated images from NOAA, with a future goal of adding the individual 155+ individual stations in the USA. I sat down over the past weekend and added the individual stations, by sector. Release 3 of my NOAA Doppler Radar Mosaic Imagery app is now available in the Windows Store.

It was a lot easier to add the individual stations that I thought it would be. I had to massage some data from NOAA, create some Excel tables and set up some galleries. Finding the animated images and creating the Excel workbooks was actually the most time consuming part of the project. Once I had decided on how I wanted to display the data (images), actually building this out took very little time.

So what’s in my major update?

For readability/usability, I changed the background graphic. Should be far easier to read any text in the app.

menu

OK, that isn’t so major. What IS major is that I added all available 155+ local Doppler stations and current animations to each applicable mosaic sector, displayable as a gallery. Below is the Northeast Mosaic Sector display.

individual sector

So from each individual sector, simply select either the pushpin map on the left or the text below it. The stations in the Northeast sector (or for whichever of the 12 sectors you display) are presented in a scrollable format so that you can visualize the details. City names are also shown, making it easier to understand.

sector station gallery

NOAA refreshes the images every 4-10 minutes, so each time you launch the app, you will see a nearly real time animated Doppler radar display.

 

Living in New England, I’ve always watched storms come across the country or up from the South and visited several sources on the web to see what the Doppler radar looked like. I hadn’t yet found a Windows Store App for Windows 8 that provided all this functionality, so I sat down with Microsoft Project Siena and went to work. I came up with an idea that I liked and the second release is in the store (you can download it here).

NOAA divides the USA into a “mosaic” and produces nearly real time updating animations for 12 mosaic sectors, like 12 tiles.

The entry point for my app is a representation of the mosaic with options to select a tile to view that particular sector or view all of them as a gallery that is swipable/scrollable:

main menu

If you view a sector, a larger image displays, showing animated Doppler radar:

ne mosaic

Gallery view as you swipe:

doppgallery

Release 2 adds some About/Learn more screens to provide the explanation for the colors and the measurements:

page1

My next plan enhancement for future releases is to drill down from the individual sector to tiles to the stations within it and present animated Doppler loops in a scrollable gallery. This will provide a close up view. (The image below is not animated, but you get the idea.)

individual

 

While Microsoft Project Siena is still in beta (and I hope that some missing functionality and enhancements will arrive when it reaches GA), I decided to take some time to create an app to publish to the Windows Store. I’ve always followed the latest GOES satellite maps from NOAA, but have not yet found a Windows Store App that displays this information. I realized that using the same functionality I used to build my Barb Bowman Photography App (I’ve submitted that to the store now as well), I could quickly build exactly what I wanted.

So I created my GOES Satellite Imagery App. Basically this app displays the satellite images (that change about every 30 minutes or so) and includes animations when available.

 

goes1

goes2

goes3

Instructions for converting a Siena app to a Visual Studio Project are available from MSDN. I made a few detours from the supplied instructions and opened the processed app in VS2013 even though the instructions state NOT to do this and specify VS2012. I suspect that this is to prevent people from trying to target Windows 8.1 which Project Siena does not support. (I hope this changes in the future, but for now, targeting 8.0 is fine since the app will run on both versions).

I checked the package.appmanifest and removed all the items from the Capabilities tab except Internet (Client) since my app does not need or use the other items that were checked by default. I designed a different set of visual png files to be used for the Splash Screen, Store logo, Wide Logo etc. and imported them into the images folder inside the project (right click the folder, Add, existing item) and then changed the entries on the Visual Assets tab in the appmanifest accordingly. Because the Project Siena generated app has no support for Portrait mode (I hope this is coming soon), on the Application tab, I checked both landscape items but NOT the portrait items.

I wanted to have both a Privacy flyout  (supplied by Project Siena by default) and an About flyout to be available from the App Settings Charm, I created the about.html page. For both the Privacy and About flyout pages, I wanted to tweak the pages to reflect the color styling of my app and add a logo that represented my app for a professional finish; I added a specific color reference and added an image (30px square) as well and specified it’s position and location. You can see the altered annotated code below:

 

aboutpage

 

To enable both flyouts to appear in the Charms, Settings menu structure, I edited default.js in the js folder slightly to enable both flyouts:

 

flyouts default js

My GOES Satellite Imagery app is free and available in the Windows Store for US, CA, UK, and AU. Take a look and tell what you think on Twitter @barbbowman.

 

On August 18, we opened a support case as a result of a growing thread in Microsoft Communities: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_8-windows_store/what-is-going-on-with-windows-store-sorry-this-app/d6dfcb30-dcf1-400e-820c-354098ec67ca where the basic issue was the Windows Store returns Sorry this App is No Longer Available in error after installing KB2862768 which was part of the August 2013 update roll-up for Windows 8 RTM.

This case has been mishandled every step of the way. Microsoft should be ashamed of their outsourced paid technical support. This would be a hopeless situation for anyone with no technical skills who would count on Microsoft to supply accurate and understandable support. I have supplied repro steps, a video capture of the bug and pointed out many others similarly afflicted. Most people I know would have given up. This is a bug, pure and simple. It needs to be acknowledged by the core Windows team. If their plan is to ignore it as it is fixed in Windows 8.1, they should so state. And yes, uninstalling the KB does fix the issue. How hard could it be for Microsoft to officially acknowledge this in the KB itself?

Below is a chronology of the horrendous experience. I still don’t have confidence that the issue is on anyone’s radar. Last names, email addresses and phone extensions have been removed to protect the guilty.

Case number: 113081810672507
Case created: 8/18/2013 2:38:23 PM
Case title: Problem with getting apps after August update rollup
Product: Windows 8 Pro

Several hours after opening the case, the following was received:

Thank you for contacting Microsoft Support. My name is Rahul xxxxx.  I am the Support Professional who will be working with you on this Service Request. You may reach me using the contact information listed below, referencing the SR number 113081810672507.

If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.

Thanks and Regards

Rahul xxxxx |Support Engineer | Microsoft Windows Core Setup Team | Extension – xxxxx | Mon-Fri 9 Am – 6 pm PST | xxxxx

 

That was followed by an email stating:

Issue Definition: As per the issue description it seems that you are facing some issues on the Windows 8 Pro machine after installing the KB 2862768 and the error message that you get during the process is "Sorry. This app is no longer available".

Scope Agreement: Once we are able to resolve the above mentioned issue then we will consider this issue to be resolved.

We will now begin working together to resolve your issue. If you do not agree with the scope defined above, or would like to amend it, please let me know as soon as possible. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

At 6:51AM on August 19, I emailed repro steps:

repro steps – I can do this on either my Surface Pro with Windows 8.0 or my desktop with Windows 8.0. Neither has ever had the 8.1 preview installed. It can be any app, including inbox apps or third party apps. This will happen when searching for an app as shown below or from any store or email link. I am using a web search to clearly illustrate. Does not matter if Bing or Google. This issue disappears if the mentioned KB is uninstalled.

  1. search for an app. example Microsoft finance Windows 8 app

 

bug1

 

2. search will find the app on apps.microsoft.com. then select that link

 

 

 

 bug2

 

3.  The apps.microsoft.com page opens to that app which has the standard View in the Store button. Select the View in Store button

 

 

 

 bug3

 

4. Windows Store opens and displays Sorry not available. CLOSE the windows store (wipes down on tablet, pull down with mouse on desktop)

 

 

 bug4

 

5, Open the Store and search for Finance. Immediately found. Select the App

 

 bug5

6. App opens normally in Window Store

 

bug6

I called Rahul and attempted to discuss the issue. The accent was so thick and the grammar so bad that I found the conversation nearly incomprehensible.

 

Then, on August 20, 12:14am, the following email was received, as if the case had been not opened and with worthless advice:

Greetings of the day. Hope you are doing good.

My name is Kush xxxxxxx xxxxx and I am a Duty Manager with Microsoft.

 

First and foremost, I would like to apologize for the delay caused from our end in contacting you within the promised TAT. We are experiencing unexpected influx in case volume because of which we have not been able to assign an engineer on this case. 

 

We are working on this uncontrollable situation and would assign a resource as soon as we have someone available.

Meanwhile please use the following URL http://support.microsoft.com/fixit  to run Microsoft Fix it Solution Center ,that will finds and fixes many common PC and device problems automatically. It also helps prevent new problems by proactively checking for known issues and installing updates. Fix it Center helps to consolidate the many steps of diagnosing and repairing a problem into an automated tool that does the work for you.

We really do appreciate your understanding and patience regarding the same.

 

Thank you for choosing Microsoft Professional Support.

 

While replying to this mail please “reply to all” on this mail thread.

Regards,

Kush xxxx xxxxxx

Duty Manager (EPS PRO)

 xxxxxxxxxx | Mon–FRI 1PM–10 PM PST

Next,  at 11:41AM August 20, I responded to the email above my replying and including every email address on every email received thus far:

This email is alarming. We heard from a support person. I emailed the repro steps below. I then called Rahul and spoke with him, although I cannot say with confidence that there has been any further action. Please have someone phone me now at xxx-xxx-xxxx.

Then I telephoned Harpreet Xxxxx who holds the title Sr. Support Engineer and discussed the issue.

 

As discussed, please find my contact information in the signatures.

 

Thanks & Regards

 

Harpreet xxxxx| Sr.Support Engineer | Microsoft | Sun – Thu | 9 am – 6 pm EST

 

Dial the number corresponding to your country followed by my extension:    xxxxx

 

|United States/Canada: +1-425-704-3638 |UK: 0808 2349667 |Ireland: 1-800-760647 |Australia: 1-800-151075 |New Zealand: 0800-451917 |Singapore: 800-1205517 |Malaysia: 1-800-815217 |South Africa: 080-09-83720 |India: 1800 266 3050 |

Harpreet’s English was better, at least. He stated he would try to setup a repro. At the end of his shift, he replied he could not repro.

I just did the repro on the Windows 8 machine by installing the suggested update and restarted the machine. I could not reproduce the issue at my end.

 

However, the machine on which we tested is not joined to domain. Could you please check if the machine on which we are experiencing the issue are joined to domain? If they are then try removing them from domain and then install the update. Please reply to all if it works. My shift has ended so please reply to all with results.

 

Thanks & Regards

 

Harpreet xxxxx| Sr.Support Engineer | Microsoft | Sun – Thu | 9 am – 6 pm EST

 

Dial the number corresponding to your country followed by my extension: xxxxxxx

 

|United States/Canada: +1-425-704-3638 |UK: 0808 2349667 |Ireland: 1-800-760647 |Australia: 1-800-151075 |New Zealand: 0800-451917 |Singapore: 800-1205517 |Malaysia: 1-800-815217 |South Africa: 080-09-83720 |India: 1800 266 3050 |

I’m not joined to a domain. Where did he get that idea?

So then I used Camtasia from Techsmith to document the issue in a video, uploaded it to SkyDrive and replied with

 
this time I repro’d with the Microsoft Windows 8 photos app
 
 
I will be available today until 10:30am ET and from 2-4 ET for further discussion.

I received an Out of Office. So I called the next highest guy on the list, Prabhneet. I then followed with this email:

Prabhneet,
 
Per our discussion, Harpreet was able to repro this issue. You stated you would send me an email in the next 5 minutes confirming this had been reproduced and stated you would send a second status update before you left for the day. I did not receive the email you stated you would send in the next 5 minutes.
 
This case has not been handled well, first Rahul xxxxx  responded and was supposed to follow up but did nothing. The I emailed again and engaged Harpreet, who apparently has gone off on leave without escalating.
 
 

August 21, 3:04PM, received from Prabhneet:

Sorry for the delay as I was searching my internal database to find more information regarding this issue.

 

As per Harpreet he was able to repro the issue in his lab and he has confirmed that with KB 2862768 we get the error “Sorry, this app is no longer available"

 

I have already sent mail to my seniors regarding this issue.

Then I received:

As Harpreet mentioned that you go to apps.microsoft.com and search for app. Then you select View in Windows Store Option and this is the time when you get error message.

 

Now do we face same issue if we directly go to Windows Store from Start Menu and search for app.

 

Thanks

 

Prabhneet xxxxx

and I replied:

 

No. the bug is

1. open web browser either metro or desktop and use Bing or Google and search for an app.

2  the link that search finds is at apps.microsoft.com – we do not open apps.miicrosoft.com and search there as that is forbidden.

 

3. once the link in the format http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/photos/80703976-7271-478b-909d-c1805a297206  is clicked, a page opens ON apps.microsoft.com and then

 

4. click the View in store button sorry no longer available is displayed this is not related at all to searching directly from within the Windows Store.

 

One of my first emails had screen shots Not only did I provide screen shots, today I provided a video capture clearly demonstrating the issue: https://skydrive.live.com/?lc=1033&mkt=en-US#cid=4B7F83B6307DEF6D&id=4B7F83B6307DEF6D%21109&v=3 I do not have issues searching from within the store I do not know how I can make this any clearer. There may be other ways that this error can be reproduced but what I have supplied is 100% reproducible.

 
And received the following:

Hello Barb,

I have totally understood the issue and repro steps.

I was just trying to isolate that if we are getting the same issue while trying to search for apps directly in Windows store.

I am not denying the issue and we will definitely work towards the resolution.

I have already forwarded the details to my seniors and they needed this information to confirm if that issue is only when we try to search apps through Google/Bing as you have mentioned or even with Windows Store.

Thanks

Prabhneet

 

 

 After 4 days of silence, I sent the following on 8/25:
Status update?
 
And received the following reply:

Hello Barb,

 

I received reply from backend team that they were also able to repro the issue in lab.

They are currently working on it.

 

I will check with them on Monday and get status.

 

Either me or Harpreet will call you tomorrow and update you.

 

Thanks and Regards

 

Prabhneet xxxxx

Technical Leader – Server Performance Team

 

At 4:20PM, Monday, 8/25, I sent the following:


4.20pm ET and I have not heard from anyone. What is the status? Please send EMAIL update.
At 5:38PM, I received the following alarming email, showing the total incompetence of the Support System:

Hi Barb,

 

Please click on the link below from the affected Windows 8 machine and follow on-screen instructions to run the diagnostics:

 

http://support.microsoft.com/sdp/0B15770E353434313634333833356C

 

This diagnostics would collect few logs which the Debug Team will analyze. We would share the analysis accordingly.

 

 

Thanks & Regards,

Harpreet xxxxxxx

Sr. Support Engineer|Windows Server Performance Team |    xxxxxxxxxx

 

 And I replied:

I just received the following inappropriate response to this issue which you admit you can duplicate. This s an issue caused by the stated KB and you folks are trying to make me jump through unnecessary hoops. Why am I receiving this kind of request? Why have you not sent the promised update or communicated with me. Prabhneet, I would like to speak with YOUR supervisor.

Out of curiosity, I looked at the troubleshooter and becoming more enraged, sent the following email:

Run the diags on the systems you used to repro the issue. This is a ridiculous request. I have uninstalled the KB which as you know fixes the issue. You have two repro’s in house. There are others in the thread on Microsoft Communities with the same issue.

 

And then I sent:

Further, the troubleshooter you asked me to run is TOTALLY irrelevant. The issue occurs as documented even for apps that are not installed and have never been installed. Collecting appx logs and other information as documented has nothing to do with the issue. Try reading:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2777618/en-us which is what this troubleshooter supposedly does.

Please escalate to the next level of support since you do not seem to understand the issue.

 

Next I received the following from Harpreet:

This troubleshooter is only meant to gather the different set of logs from the affected machine as per the KB article. Regarding the issue, the concerned team has already been notified. If it turns out to be a bug then the OS Team will definitely work on it . But we do not have any time line to let you know that when the solution will be provided.

And I replied:

Again, the issue is irrelevant to any apps/environment on a local machine. You already know that you can do a clean install and install all updates and repro this. 
And received the following:

Hello Barb,

We have discussed this case with people in higher level in Microsoft.

As I had mentioned in my last email that they were also able to repro the issue.

They are working on this issue and trying to isolate why Windows is showing this behavior.

As it involves product team it might take some time to get reply from them.

At this point of time we do not require logs as we can repro the issue at our end.

I want to assure you that engineers in the concerned team are working on this issue and as soon as I get any update, I will let you know.

Thanks and Regards

Prabhneet xxxxx

Technical Leader – Server performance Team

 

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