XBOX One Screenshots as Windows 10 Desktop Backgrounds

From the mountain vistas of Far Cry 4 and Rise of the Tomb Raider, to the cityscapes of Grand Theft Auto 5 and Batman: Arkham Knight, many of the current generation console games are gorgeous. The XBOX One lets you capture these stunning scenes as a screenshot or video clip, which you can then share with your mates or completely forget about until something randomly reminds you they exist and you lose hours browsing them all, reminiscing about hilarious bugs or wondering why in the hell you decided to record what you just watched.

When I finally installed Windows 10 on my laptop and saw that OneDrive was integrated into the system, I had a flash of inspiration. I use the same Microsoft account on both my laptop and my XBOX which means they share the same OneDrive (among other things)1.

I went to Upload on my XBOX and shared one or two screenshots to OneDrive (one of the possible ways to share screenshots and clips). I then checked my laptop and after a few minutes, saw the newly shared images under the Pictures/Xbox Screenshots folder of OneDrive. It was only a few steps to get from that to having my screenshots as a desktop background slideshow.

Setting up background slideshow
Setting up background slideshow

To setup the slideshow, I hit Windows+I to get to Settings, then selected Personalization. Choosing the Background section on the left, I selected Slideshow from the Background dropdown on the right, then I browsed to the screenshots folder under OneDrive and selected it as the source of pictures for the slideshow.

Setting up automatic accent color
Setting up automatic accent color

To make sure things looked right with my backgrounds, I also chose the Colors personalization section and checked for Windows to automatically pick an accent color.

ExampleScreenshots

Now, whenever I share a screenshot to OneDrive from my XBOX, it automatically gets added to the desktop background slideshow on my laptop and desktop computers. Of course, I still have to remember to share it in the first place, but I am hoping some future system update will make sharing automatic or at least easier from within a game (like a Take Screenshot and Share feature in one go).

Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to leave a comment if you find this useful or have a story to share about how you make use of the XBOX sharing features.


  1. Using the same Microsoft account across devices and services really helps make the most of Microsoft's offerings 

C#6: Support for .NET Framework 2.0 to 4.5

A colleague of mine, Eric Charnesky, asked me if C#6 language features would work in .NET Framework versions other than 4.6. I was pretty confident that the features were almost all1 just syntactical seasoning, I thought I would find out.

The TL;DR is yes, C#6 features will work when compiled against .NET 2.0 and above, with a few caveats.

  1. Async/await requires additional classes to be defined since the Task Parallel Library, IAwaitable and other types were not part of .NET 2.0.
  2. The magic parts of string interpolation need some types to be defined (thanks to Thomas Levesque for catching this oversight).
  3. Extension methods need the declaration of System.Runtime.CompilerServices.ExtensionAttribute so that the compiler can mark static methods as extension methods.

Rather than just try .NET 4.5, I decided to go all the way back to .NET 2.0 and see if I could write and execute a console application that used all the following C#6 features:

The code I used is not really important, though I have included it at the end of this post if you want to see what I did. The only mild stumbling block was the lack of obvious extension method support in .NET 2.0. However, extension methods are a language-only feature; all that is needed to make it work is an attribute that the compiler can use to mark methods as extension methods. Since .NET 2.0 doesn't have this attribute, I added it myself.

Exclusions

You might have noticed that I did not verify a couple of things. First, I left out the use of await in try/catch blocks. This is because .NET 2.0 does not include the BCL classes that the compiler expects when generating the state machines that drive async code. You might be able to find a third-party implementation that would add support, but my brief3 search was fruitless. That said, this feature will definitely work in .NET 4.5 as it is an update to how the compiler builds the code.

Second, I did not intentionally test the improved overload resolution. The improvements mostly seem to relate to resolution involving overloads that take method groups and nullable types. Unfortunately, in .NET 2.0 there was were no Func delegate types nor nullable value types (UPDATE: Nullable types totally existed in .NET 2.0 and C#2; thanks to Thomas Levesque for pointing out my strange oversight here – I blame the water), making it difficult to craft an example that would demonstrate this improvement. However, overload resolution affects how the compiler selects which method to use for a particular call site. Once the compiler has made the selection, it is fixed within the compiled output and as such, the version of the .NET framework has no bearing on whether the resolution is correct4.

Did it work?

With the test code written, I compiled and ran it. A console window flickered and Visual Studio returned. The code had run but I had forgotten to put anything in there that would give me chance to read the output. So, I dropped a breakpoint in at the end, and then ran it under the debugger. As I had suspected it might, everything worked.

Testing under .NET 2.0 runtime on Windows XP
Testing under .NET 2.0 runtime on Windows XP

Then I realised I was still executing it on a machine that had .NET 4.6 and therefore the .NET 4 runtime; would it still work under the .NET 2 runtime? So, I cracked open5 a Windows XP virtual machine from modern.ie and ran it again. It didn't work, because Windows XP did not come with .NET 2.0 installed (it wasn't even included in any of the service packs), so I installed it and tried once more. As I had suspected it might, everything worked.

In conclusion

If you find yourself still working with old versions of the .NET framework or the .NET runtime, you can still use and benefit from most features of C#6. I hope my small effort here is helpful. If you have anything to add, please comment.

Here Lies The Example Code6

 


  1. Async/await requires the TPL classes in the BCL, extension methods need the ExtensionAttribute, and exception filters require some runtime support 

  2. The Elvis's 

  3. very brief 

  4. I realise many of the C#6 features could be left untested for similar reasons since almost all are compiler changes that do not need framework support, but testing it rather than assuming it is kind of the point 

  5. Waited an hour for the IE XP virtual machine to download and then get it running 

  6. Demonstrable purposes only; if you take this into production, on your head be it 

Five things to love about modern.IE

You might be surprised to learn that the browser testing resources website, modern.IE (provided by Microsoft) is not just about Internet Explorer. Although some of the features are geared solely toward IE testing, some are browser-agnostic and can be very useful when developing websites. Here are a few of the things modern.IE can do for you.

Virtual Machines

Download virtual machines

Working on websites often means debugging using different browser variants. Unless you are exceedingly lucky, that will include older versions of Internet Explorer. While services like BrowserStack are invaluable for testing, they cost money and are not always responsive enough for productive debugging. Instead, I have found virtual machines (VM) to be much more useful.

Microsoft has been making VM's available for Internet Explorer testing via the website modern.IE for quite some time now. You can download VM's for whatever development platform you have, whether it is OS/X, Windows, or Linux.

Available versions of Internet Explorer
Available versions of Internet Explorer
Select virtual machine platform
Select virtual machine platform

Azure RemoteApp

If you want to test your work against the latest Internet Explorer in Windows 10 and you do not want to download a virtual machine, or are working from an unsupported device, Azure RemoteApp is for you.

Azure RemoteApp

All you need is a Microsoft Live ID and you can login and test with the latest IE for free.

Browser Screenshots

Browser Screenshots

Just want to check what your site looks like across various browsers and devices? The Browser Screenshots feature of modern.IE will give you screenshots across nine common browsers and devices. Somewhat surprisingly (at least to me), this includes more than just Internet Explorer; at the time of writing, you get:

  • Internet Explorer 11.0 Desktop on Windows 8.1
  • Opera 12.16 on Windows 8.1
  • Android Browser on Samsung Galaxy S3
  • Android Browser on Nexus 7
  • Mobile Safari on iPhone 6
  • Safari 7.0 on OS X Mavericks
  • Chrome 36.0 on Windows 8.1
  • Firefox 30.0 on Windows 8.1
  • Mobile Safari on iPad Air

Not only will it give you the screenshots, but you can share them with others, generate a PDF, and more.

Site Scan

This scan checks for common coding practices that may cause user experience problems. It will also suggest fixes when it can. Not only that, but the source is available on GitHub so that you can run scans independently of modern.IE and the Cloud.

Site Scan

I ran this against my blog and it took just over seven seconds to return the results.

Compatibility Report

Compatibility Scan

This feature will scan a given site for patterns of interactions that are known to cause issues in web browsers.  The first time I tried to run this, it did not work. However, a second attempt gave me results.

Debugging IIS Express website from a HyperV Virtual Machine

Recently, I had to investigate a performance bug on a website when using Internet Explorer 8. Although we are fortunate to have access to BrowserStack for testing, I have not found it particularly efficient for performance investigations, so instead I used an HyperV virtual machine (VM) from modern.IE.

I had started the site under test from Visual Studio 2013 using IIS Express. Unfortunately, HyperV VMs are not able to see such a site out-of-the-box. Three things must be reconfigured first: the VM network adapter, the Windows Firewall of the host machine, and IIS Express.

HyperV VM Network Adapter

HyperV Virtual Switch Manager
HyperV Virtual Switch Manager

In HyperV, select Virtual Switch Manager… from the Actions list on the right-hand side. In the dialog that appears, select New virtual network switch on the left, then Internal on the right, then click Create Virtual Switch. This creates a virtual network switch that allows your VM to see your local machine and vice versa. You can then name the switch anything you want; I called mine LocalDebugNet.

New virtual network switch
New virtual network switch

To ensure the VM uses the newly created virtual switch, select the VM and choose Settings… (either from the context menu or the lower-right pane). Choose Add Hardware in the left-hand pane and add a new Network Adapter, then drop down the virtual switch list on the right, choose the switch you created earlier, and click OK to accept the changes and close the dialog.

Add network adapter
Add network adapter
Set virtual switch on network adapter
Set virtual switch on network adapter

Now the VM is setup and should be able to see its host machine on its network. Unfortunately, it still cannot see the website under test. Next, we have to configure IIS Express.

IIS Express

Open up a command prompt on your machine (the host machine, not the VM) and run ipconfig /all . Look in the output for the virtual switch that you created earlier and write down the corresponding IP address1.

Command prompt showing ipconfig
Command prompt showing ipconfig

Open the IIS Express applicationhost.config file in your favourite text editor. This file is usually found under your user profile.

Find the website that you are testing and add a binding for the IP address you wrote down earlier and the port that the site is running on. You can usually just copy the localhost binding and change localhost to the IP address or your machine name.

You will also need to run this command as an administrator to add an http access rule, where <ipaddress>  should be replaced with the IP you wrote down or your machine name, and <port>  should be replaced with the port on which IIS Express hosts your website.

At this point, you might be in luck. Try restarting IIS Express and navigating to your site from inside the HyperV VM. If it works, you are all set; if not, you will need to add a rule to the Windows Firewall (or whatever firewall software you have running).

Windows Firewall

The VM can see your machine and IIS Express is binding to the appropriate IP address and port, but the firewall is preventing traffic on that port. To fix this, we can add an inbound firewall rule. To do this, open up Windows Firewall from Control Panel and click Advanced Settings or search Windows for Windows Firewall with Advanced Security and launch that.

Inbound rules in Windows Firewall
Inbound rules in Windows Firewall

Select Inbound Rules on the left, then New Rule… on the right and set up a new rule to allow connections the port where your site is hosted by IIS Express. I have shown an example here in the following screen grabs, but use your own discretion and make sure not to give too much access to your machine.

New inbound port rule
New inbound port rule
Specifying rule port
Specifying rule port
Setting rule to allow the connection
Setting rule to allow the connection
Inbound rule application
Inbound rule application
Naming the rule
Naming the rule

Once you have set up a rule to allow access via the appropriate port, you should be able to see your IIS Express hosted site from inside your VM of choice.

As always, if you have any feedback, please leave a comment.


  1. You can also try using the name of your machine for the following steps instead of the IP 

Getting posh-git in all your PowerShell consoles using GitHub for Windows

If you use git for version control and you use Microsoft Windows, you may well have used posh-git, a module for PowerShell. For those that have not, posh-git adds some git superpowers to your PowerShell console including tab completion for git commands, files and repositories, as well as an enhanced command prompt that tells you the current branch and its state1.

PowerShell console using posh-git
PowerShell console using posh-git
GitHub for Windows
GitHub for Windows

GitHub for Windows includes posh-git for its PowerShell console, if you choose that console when installing or later in the settings. It even adds a nice console icon to the task bar and Start screen2. Unfortunately, posh-git is only installed for the special version of the console that GitHub for Windows provides and you cannot make that prompt run as administrator, which can be useful once in a while.

Now, you could install a separate version of posh-git for all your other PowerShell needs, but that seems wrong. Especially since GitHub for Windows will happily keep its version up-to-date but you'd have to keep track of your other installation yourself.

Faced with this problem, I decided to hunt down how GitHub for Windows installed posh-git to see if I could get it into the rest of my PowerShell consoles. I quickly discovered ~\AppData\Local\GitHub containing both the posh-git folder and shell.ps1, the script that sets up the GitHub shell. The fantastic part of this script is that it sets up an environment variable for posh-git, github_posh_git, so you don't even need to worry about whether the folder changes3.

Armed with this information, you can edit your PowerShell profile4 and edit it to call both the GitHub shell script and the example profile script for posh-git5.

Once the edits are saved, close and reopen the PowerShell console to run the updated profile. Posh-git should now be available and all you have to do to keep it up-to-date is run the GitHub for Windows client once in a while.


  1. such as if there are any unstaged or uncommitted files and whether the branch is behind, ahead, or diverged from the remote 

  2. or menu, if you're pre-Windows 8 or installed something to bring the Start menu back 

  3. and if you've seen the folder name for posh-git in the GitHub for Windows installation, you'll see why that's useful 

  4. just enter notepad $profile at the PowerShell prompt 

  5. you may want to do the same thing for the PowerShell ISE, as it uses a separate profile script