Microsoft Writing Style Guide: A new guide for technical communication


For technical writers and technical communicators, the Microsoft Manual of Style has been one of the main resources of style guidelines for writing about computers and technology. It was an essential manual for content developers, creators, journalists, communicators, and editors. After the 4th Edition was published in 2012, I thought for sure Microsoft would continue to release paper versions of this essential book.

In February 2018, Microsoft took the radical approach of publishing the next version of the guide as a free, web-based resource. Now branded the Microsoft Writing Style Guide, it brings Microsoft writing guidelines “up-to-date for 2018 and is an evolution of the Microsoft Manual of Style from 2012. The principles and guidelines in the guide are the same as those used by internal Microsoft writers, which allows consistent quality and style across all apps and content.”

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Free eBook: .NET Microservices – Architecture for Containerized .NET Applications


NOTE: This book is now in its second edition. See this blog post and this blog post for more information.

If you are like me and love all the free eBooks from Microsoft Press, a new one seems to have slipped under the radar.

.NET Microservices: Architecture for Containerized .NET Applications is an introduction to the architectural design and implementation of microservices-based applications and the management of them using .NET Core and Docker containers. This book is written by Cesar de la Torre, Bill Wagner, and Mike Rousos.

You can find out more information about the book via Cesar’s blog.

The eBook is available for free as a .PDF download: You can also explore the content online at

Related Articles

Book Review – IoT Solutions in Microsoft’s Azure IoT Suite (Apress)


  • Full Title: IoT Solutions in Microsoft’s Azure IoT Suite: Data Acquisition and Analysis in the Real World
  • Author: Scott Klein
  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Apress; 1st edition (April 22, 2017)
  • ISBN-10: 1484221427
  • ISBN-13: 978-1484221426

The Internet of Things (IoT) is expanding every day with newly connected devices continually coming on line. Processes that benefit from having mini-computers attached to them are being discovered all the time as more data is being generated. Storing, analyzing, and reporting on this data is what Microsoft’s cloud-based system (the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite) has been constructed to do.
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Azure book I technical reviewed now available

Microsoft Azure IaaS Essentials book coverThe Microsoft Azure book I recently technical reviewed for UK publishers Packt Publishing is now in print.

The book is entitled Microsoft Azure IaaS Essentials by Gethyn Ellis (ISBN 13: 9781782174639). It “is intended for system administrators and other IT professionals who need to both design and implement an Azure-based cloud solution. With the help of this book, you will soon master the basic tasks needed to build a cloud-based solution.”

It covers how to:

  • Deploy both Windows-based and Linux-based virtual machines to Microsoft Azure.
  • Utilize SQL Server Azure to build a robust, highly available solution that can be recovered in the event of disaster for your important business applications.

It also serves as “A practical guide to configuring and creating a virtual network that expands your on-premises network into a cloud-based infrastructure.”

Related Articles:

Microsoft Azure Essentials free eBook series

Microsoft Press has recently started releasing a series of eBooks under the title Microsoft Azure Essentials. These books are all about Azure and they are written with the care and precision of traditional paper MS Press books. The best part though is that all of them are FREE.

Current books

There are four books currently in the series:

Fundamentals of AzureMicrosoft Azure Essentials: Fundamentals of Azure

Michael S. Collier and Robin E. Shahan
February 2015
246 pages

The first book in the series serves as an introduction to the world of Azure. It balances its approach to Azure by looking at seven key areas. It also shows how to navigate both the old Management Portal and the new Preview Portal.

I am currently working my way through this book right now and I can honestly say that it is an excellent read – both as refresher on the older technologies and as an introduction to new ones.

Microsoft Azure Essentials: Azure AutomationAzure Automation

Michael McKeown
March 2015
112 pages

The second book in the series is on Azure Automation. This is a timely topic as the world of dev ops has become huge. Azure Automation helps you with automating frequent tasks centered around continuous deployment.

Automation tasks are built using runbooks. They are created using Windows PowerShell Workflow and once completed are stored in Azure.

Using Azure to automate your tasks means you diminish the likelihood of errors and you can complete your work in a more timely manner.

Azure Machine LearningMicrosoft Azure Essentials: Azure Machine Learning

Jeff Barnes
April 2015
237 pages

The next eBook in the Microsoft Azure Essentials series is Azure Machine Learning. The book details instructions on how the developer can create predictive analytics models and then deploy them so that they can be consumed as a web service.

The book talks about some common machine learning algorithms and also provides samples on how to use the service.

Microsoft Azure Essentials: Azure Web Apps for DevelopersAzure Web Apps

Rick Rainey
June 2015
115 pages

This book was published to help developers get up to speed on Azure Web Apps. Since Web Apps are a new idea within Azure (some components like Azure Websites and Azure Mobile Services are repackaged here), this book is a nice companion for those just getting started. It is targeted at developers with experience in .NET and Visual Studio. Chapters in this book cover items such as Azure WebJobs, scaling your web apps, and monitoring and diagnostics.

Azure SQL Essentials

Microsoft Azure Essentials: Migrating SQL Server Databases to Azure

Carl Rabeler
June 2016
161 pages

“This ebook helps SQL Server database users understand Microsoft’s offering for SQL Server in Azure. The author walks you through the steps of getting started with SQL Server in an Azure virtual machine and with Azure SQL Database. Follow the numerous screenshots to create a trial subscription, create SQL Server in an Azure virtual machine, create an Azure SQL Database, migrate an on-premises database to each Azure environment, create users, back up and restore data, and archive data.”


These are the first three books in the Microsoft Azure Essentials series. More books are slated on future topics and I for one cannot wait for the rest. Azure is moving so fast right now and they are adding so many new features that it can be hard to stay up to date. This series of books is a great way to do just that.

Free Azure Training Resources

This article is also available on the Canadian Developer Connection blog under the title Get Ready for Global Azure Bootcamp.

In honor of Global Windows Azure Bootcamp, which will be next month on April 25, 2015, I decided to create a list of free Microsoft Azure training resources to help you prepare. If you would like to participate in a Global Azure Bootcamp you can find a participating location near you.


Microsoft Press recently started releasing a series of new Azure books:

However, other free e-books on Azure also exist:


There are several great sites where you can find Azure video training:

Channel 9

There is two types of Azure video content available on Channel 9.

  • The first are traditional Azure videos which can be found by doing a search for the word Azure on the main page.
  • The second are two weekly shows that cover Azure. Bothcan be accessed from the links in their names or as a video podcast in iTunes.
    • One is Azure Friday, a show hosted by Scott Hanselman, which presents videos on the latest Azure releases in bite-sized chunks. Most shows are about 10-15 minutes in length. You can also download every Azure Friday video using this PowerShell script by Microsoft’s Marc Gagné.
    • The other is the Microsoft Azure Cloud Cover show. This program is more in-depth and the length of a show can range from 25 minutes to one hour.

Microsoft Virtual Academy

The Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) is a traditional video learning environment where you can watch full-length training videos on designated topics. You can either choose to sign in to chart your progress or you have full access without logging in. The videos are not just Azure based but cover all types of Microsoft technologies. The Azure courses are constantly being updated. Generally, the courses are recorded as a live event so you can follow along if you wish or you can watch the recording later. Most courses also have assessments after each module so you can gauge your progress.

Within MVA is a series called Microsoft Azure Fundamentals which contains an introductory course on Azure and subsequent courses on websites, storage and data, and virtual machines.

Microsoft Azure YouTube Channel

Many people may not know there is a Microsoft Azure YouTube channel as well. Here you can find all sorts of videos about things like how to Supercharge your Datacenter to working with Docker in Azure. Subscribe to the channel to stay up to date. You can also find all of the Tuesdays with Corey series by Corey Sanders here as well.


Pluralsight is a third-party company dedicated to producing high quality videos for developers around the world. They have 40+ beginner, intermediate, and advanced trainings on Microsoft Azure in their catalog. Pluralsight offers a 10-day trial where you can watch an unlimited amount of videos for free.


We touched on video podcasts above but there are also audio podcasts too that cover Microsoft Azure.

  • The Microsoft Cloud Show is hosted by Andrew Connell and Chris Johnson. They offer the latest news on the cloud and how they see it.
  • The Azure Podcast offers insight into different areas of Azure in these short, timely podcasts.


Hands-On-Labs, Online Training & Certifications

  • Azure Readiness – A repository in GitHub that contains all of the content to run your own Dev Camp. This repository has both the slide decks and the Hands-on-Labs for you to learn at your own pace.
  • AzureConf 2014 – A virtual conference in October 2014 that was hosted by Channel 9. This one-day event had a keynote followed by several presentations. All of the sessions were recorded for Channel 9.
  • Azure IaaS for IT Pros Online Event – A four-day virtual event in December 2014 that was hosted on Channel 9. This was billed as in-depth Azure training for IT Professionals. You can learn all about Azure IAAS in this series of videos.
  • Building Real-World Cloud Apps with Windows Azure – An online e-book designed to walk you through creating an end-to-end cloud app. Although it is from June 2013 it still has some relevant information.
  • .NET Azure Documentation – Contains information on combining Azure with .NET and Visual Studio. Lots of samples here to work with.
  • Learning map for Azure Websites – Follow the guidance on this page for an effective learning path through Azure Websites content.
  • Microsoft Azure Documentation Center – Houses all of the Microsoft Azure information you will need.



  • – Experiment with Azure Websites for one hour with your Google or Facebook account —­­ free of charge and commitment.
  • Azure PowerShell – A module that provides cmdlets to manage Azure through Windows PowerShell.

Blogs & Sites

User Communities


Azure on Twitter

2013 year in review

Now that we are well into 2014 I thought it was time to reflect on the year that passed.

I wrote 10 new articles in 2013 (which is a lot for me). The whole blog received approximately 13,000 page views for the year. WordPress equated my totals this way:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

The most requested article for the year was one I created in 2012 entitled Export an ODBC Data Source in which I outlined the steps to export ODBC data sources from one server to another. I found information in this area lacking and so I knew that by posting it to my blog not only would it help others but it would be a great reminder for myself if I ever needed to do so again.

This year also saw me expand my presentation skills as I spoke at two major conferences. For my successful session submissions I followed the tips I outlaid in an article I wrote on submitting a conference session proposal. The first presentation was at DevTeach Toronto in May and the second was at That Conference in Wisconsin in August. Both were excellent ways to get my feet wet in speaking at larger conferences.

All of my presentation slides are hosted on SlideShare. According to their end of year totals I received 1,143 views of my slides. Or, in other words, SlideShare says:

It would take three full Boeing 747 flights to hold that many people!

Two other things that I did not blog about but which occurred in the second half of the year were the following:

In July I was asked by Microsoft Canada to be a member of the Windows Azure Canadian Community Experts Team. This was quite unexpected as I am just beginning my foray into the world of Windows Azure and I have a lot to learn. That being said I have discovered a group of Canadians excited about spreading the word about Windows Azure who I can definitely learn from.

August saw the publication of the Windows Phone book I was the Technical Reviewer for. Entitled Pro Windows Phone App Development, Third Edition, it was published by Apress and it was written by the fine folks over at Falafel Software.

Pro Windows Phone App Development, Third EditionThis is the second book that I have been the technical reviewer for. I have written an article in the past of the role the technical reviewer plays in helping a book come to fruition. If you have an interest in publishing then I recommend you explore this avenue.

I hope for 2014 that I can be more consistent with my writing. It is a good way to share the knowledge I gain and to give back to the developer community. As well, hopefully I can begin to add more Windows Azure related content to the site as I explore it in more depth.

Thanks for reading and see you in 2014!