PDC Day 3 Keynote: Researching Microsoft

Day three of the PDC and Microsoft pauses to cast its vision forward, with Microsoft Senior Vice President of Research Rick Rashid taking the stage to talk about Redmond's efforts in basic, foundational research.

In the post-golden age of corporate research, defined by institutions like Xerox PARC and Bell Labs, it's fascinating to hear Rashid make a compelling case for pure research. By any measure Microsoft Research is a vital organization. Over the past 17 years Microsoft Research has published more than 4,000 publications and years ago surpassed the publish rate of IBM. The organization, Rashid points out, is larger than the entire faculty of Carnegie-Mellon or Brown University. With offices in Redmond, Wash., Cambridge, Mass., Cambridge, England, Bangalore, India, and Beijing, Microsoft Research has grown into a global organization.

What it is not, Rashid points out, is a product factory. While productization is one of the missions of Microsoft Research, he says it does not define the organization. Rashid made a case for the essential unpredictability of research.

"If you use a Mac or iPhone -- which honestly I don't recommend, but were you to use one -- you'd be using code I wrote more than 20 years ago," Rashid said, drawing laughter from the crowd. "If you had asked me 25 years ago if the code I wrote then and the systems I was designing were going to run on a cell phone, my reaction would have been, "What's a cell phone?'"

Microsoft Senior Vice President of Research Rick Rashid | Photo: (C) Michael Domingo
Microsoft Senior Vice President of Research Rick Rashid opens PDC Day 3 with a keynote on MSR's impact on real world problems in science, medicine and education. (See more images here.)

Not that Microsoft isn't making a fundamental case for immediately useful technologies. Rashid recounted his contribution in launching Microsoft's DirectX technologies, which came out of the research org. More relevant today, Rashid singled out research that produced the Windows Vista Static Driver Verifier, a unit testing tool that symbolically executes source code to test code paths. He also talked about Dryad and DryadLINQ, a technology that lets developers "harness the power of clustered computing." It's research that can help Microsoft drive its burgeoning cloud computing effort.

"Basically you can think of what Dryad is doing as creating a very sophisticated input to a query engine that can then be managed across thousands or tens of thousands of machines," Rashid said.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 10/29/2008 at 1:15 PM0 comments


PDC: Day 3: When It Rains, It Pours

Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? If some of the responses I've heard from attendees at the Professional Developers Conference 2008 are any indication, the answer might be yes.

More accurately, a lot of folks felt that Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's corporate vice president of the .NET Developer Division, could have used a lot more time to work through the enormous cache of developer announcements that he unloaded during his limited time on the stage.

As reported yesterday, Guthrie presented -- among many other things -- the first CTP of Visual Studio 2010, new toolkits and controls for WPF and Silverlight 2, and intriguing looks forward to .NET Framework 4.0 (which will add C# support for the Dynamic Language Runtime). As if that weren't enough, we learned that Visual Studio itself is being recast in phases in WPF, enabling powerful new developer design surfaces and visualizations.

Alas, this imposing lode of developer insight was tightly constrained by the keynote format. Guthrie yesterday shared the stage with Steven Sinofsky and his Windows 7 announcement, and with David Treadwell and his presentation on Microsoft's Live Services. And while these presentations are incredibly important in themselves, there was a sense of frustration among some developers.

"He wasn't up there that long," said one software company product manager who felt that Microsoft should have "let [Guthrie] talk for another hour." He described the Twitter feed that was displayed at the beginning of the Tuesday keynote showing scores of developers messaging each other about going to see Guthrie's presentation.

Courting Cloud Confusion?
Surprisingly, Microsoft also seems to be courting a bit of confusion over its cloud computing efforts -- due in part to what I might call "Sudden Branding Syndrome."

If rumors are to be believed, Microsoft named its cloud operating system offering, Windows Azure, in a hurry. Until last week, press reports indicated that the operating system described at one point by Steve Ballmer as "Windows Cloud" would end up with the name Windows Strata. But at Monday's PDC keynote, Ray Ozzie formally unveiled the Windows Azure name.

As Microsoft product names go, I've seen plenty worse than Azure. And despite some apparent confusion among Microsoft managers here as to how exactly to pronounce Azure, there's no reason Redmond can't successfully align the brand effort.

More troubling, really, is the use of the Windows brand at all with Windows Azure. According to one attendee I spoke with, developers have repeatedly asked about deploying Azure on their enterprise datacenters. The problem is, Azure isn't for sale. Instead, Microsoft will host the Azure infrastructure on its own servers and datacenters. This is a pure Microsoft-hosted service play. And that means that Azure will be the first member of the Windows family not intended for external consumption.

Can Microsoft overcome this confusion? Certainly. The company, after all, is already spinning up efforts to get developers accustomed to writing scalable, cloud-friendly apps using the familiar foundations of Visual Studio and .NET Framework. And no doubt we'll see a significant amount of course correction as the sundry enterprise product units -- SQL Server, Exchange, Office and SharePoint among them -- work to articulate and deliver their cloud-themed strategies and services.

Still, the move to a cloud-centric services strategy is nothing short of historic for Microsoft. So it's surprising to think that the company might have courted a bit of branding panic with its Azure launch.

Windows Large and Small
Tomorrow, I'll be reporting extensively on the aggressive parallel computing efforts coming out of Microsoft, including tooling and resources for both native C++ and managed .NET-based development. But for now, I was interested in the announced launch of Windows "Quebec," the upcoming version of Windows Embedded that's being built on the Windows 7 operating system core.

According to Microsoft, Windows Quebec will support leading-edge Microsoft tooling and technologies like WPF, Silverlight 2 and the Visual Studio 2010 IDE, which was released as a CTP yesterday. In an announcement, Microsoft touted the ability of Quebec's Windows 7 core to support "rich user experiences," including the multi-touch touchscreen input that was demoed at Tuesday's PDC keynote session by Corporate Vice President Julie Larson-Green.

Said Kevin Dallas, Microsoft's general manager of the Windows Embedded Business Unit, in a statement: "It also will feature a rich set of componentized operating system technologies and specific features that let developers optimally size the operating system on their devices with only the drivers, services and applications they need."

And so, there you have it. The circle is nearly complete, absent one critical product: Windows Mobile 7. From Windows 7 to Windows Server 2008 R2 to Windows Embedded "Quebec," Microsoft has moved decisively to step the entire Windows brand forward into the Win 7 space. The announcement of the Azure cloud-based services OS further extends the promise of Windows-friendly .NET development to the most vastly distributed online hosted apps.

Windows Mobile 7, however, will have to wait. As reported by Mary Jo Foley in our Oct. 15 feature on Microsoft's product efforts at PDC and beyond, Windows Mobile 7 is likely to be delayed until the second half of 2009. That could push the delivery of actual functioning Windows Mobile 7-based handsets as far out as 2010. Read the entire article here.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 10/29/2008 at 1:15 PM2 comments


PDC: Sinofsky's Mea Culpa

Steve Sinofsky, senior VP of Windows and the Windows Live Engineering Group, may be known as the guy who won't talk about his development projects, but during the keynote he produced some pretty powerful mea culpas regarding Windows Vista and some of the decisions in its development.

Talking about the transition from Vista, Sinofsky said, "We got lots of feedback. From reviews, the press, a few bloggers here and there. Oh, and commercials."

The comment, an obvious reference to the scathing Apple spots lampooning Vista, drew a round of laughter.

Sinofsky also offered a nod to the disruption caused by the User Access Control (UAC) security feature and Vista's poor initial hardware compatibility. "We really weren't ready at launch with the device coverage we needed," Sinofsky said, before noting that Windows 7 would present no such challenges to developers. The hard work, he said, is done.

Windows 7 seems to be solidly behind the burgeoning parallel computing effort at Microsoft. According to Sinofsky, Windows 7 will support up to 256 processors. The kernel is also being refined to improve system responsiveness, helping ensure immediate access to the Taskbar.

Also notable is that Windows 7 features updated versions of its aged applets, including WordPad and MS Paint, which will both sport the Office 2007-inspired Ribbon user interface. WordPad gains support for XML-based file formats, including (not surprisingly) Microsoft's Office Open XML file formats.

"We've also decided that once every 15 years or so we are going to update all the applets in Windows," Sinofsky joked. "Whether they need it or not."

Posted by Michael Desmond on 10/28/2008 at 1:15 PM0 comments


PDC: Microsoft: A Model Citizen?

The Microsoft Professional Developers Conference is the largest developer industry confab in years, so it's hardly a surprise that Redmond is pushing multiple themes during PDC this week. In addition to Windows 7 and the far-reaching cloud computing launch featuring the CTP release of Windows Azure, Microsoft is busy on a host of other fronts.

Tuesday's keynote presentation offered a glimpse at just how incredibly busy and productive Microsoft's various engineering groups have been. Steve Sinofsky's Windows 7 introduction and demo provided plenty of insight into what Microsoft's next client OS will look and feel like. There's been, to my mind, some wise "right-sizing" of the operating system, with a focus on streamlining common desktop and consumer management tasks. And when Microsoft Corporate Vice President Julie Larson-Green mentioned that Windows 7 includes a lightweight media player app, I have to admit that she had me at "lightweight."

But it was Scott Guthrie who illustrated the hyperactive efforts out of Redmond of late. Guthrie's rapid-fire presentation ran the gamut from developer tools to foundational frameworks to new toolkits, libraries and components. There's a Visual Studio 2010 CTP, a new WPF toolkit, the final release of the jQuery JavaScript library, and lots of guidance on .NET 3.5 SP1 and .NET 4.0.

Most remarkable might be what hasn't been keynoted. The Oslo application modeling platform got some love during the discussion of the Azure cloud OS push yesterday, but it's clear Oslo is a huge deal. With Azure and Oslo, Microsoft is working overtime to up-level the developer conversation, and potentially giving Microsoft a foothold in a host of vertical industries.

Oslo is also a strategic expression of the "model-ization," if you will, of Microsoft's development efforts. "The core .NET platform has been getting much more model-driven over the last three-plus years. If you think of things like Silverlight or WPF, it's much more model-driven," said Burley Kawasaki, director of product management the Microsoft Connected Systems Division, in an interview.

Then there's parallel programming, an effort that Guthrie highlighted during his comments today. Microsoft is working on new programming models that express concurrency in Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4.0, including new .NET Framework libraries such as the Task Parallel Library and Parallel LINQ. There's also the Parallel Pattern Library and Concurrency Runtime for native C++ development.

There is so much more afoot that it's impossible to list it all here. Suffice it to say, our industry will be spending the next 12 months picking through the prolific output of PDC 2008.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 10/28/2008 at 1:15 PM0 comments


PDC: Anders Gets Dynamic on Future of C#

Microsoft Technical Fellow Anders Hejlsberg drew a big and enthusiastic crowd as he provided a look at the future of the C# programming language in a session at the company's Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles on Monday.

Hejlsberg offered a rundown of what developers can expect from the next version of C#, with a heavy emphasis on the increasingly dynamic nature of the language. If the response of developers attending the presentation was any indication, there will be a lot to like about the next version of C#.

Hejlsberg provided insight into four key enhancements in C# 4.0: support for dynamically typed objects, support for optional and named parameters, "vastly improved" COM interoperability, and support for both co-variance and contra-variance.

The issue of COM interoperability is a particularly raw one for .NET developers, who find themselves going through contortions to manage the mismatch between statically typed C# and COM objects. Hejlsberg drew hearty applause when he showed the thoroughly cleaned code that's possible with C# 4.0.

"Isn't it amazing? It took us 10 years to get back to where we were," Hejlsberg joked. "The code actually looks like it was intended to look."

Hejlsberg's presentation provided a great look at what's possible with dynamic type support in C# 4.0. The Dynamic Language Runtime (DLR) that C# 4.0 will work with provides binders to .NET, Silverlight, Python, Ruby and COM. "With these binders we can get a single programming experience for talking to all these different environments that are not statically typed .NET classes," Hejlsberg explained.

Behind C# 4.0's dynamic typing is a delicious irony. Explained Hejlsberg to appreciative laughter: "In C# 4.0 we simply declare a variable whose static type is dynamic."

Posted by Michael Desmond on 10/27/2008 at 1:15 PM2 comments


PDC: Windows Azure Goes Live

As expected, Microsoft rolled out its cloud computing vision during the opening keynote of PDC 2008 this morning, and I have to say, there were surprisingly few, um, surprises.

Don't get me wrong -- the services-based cloud operating system known formerly as "Project Red Dog" isn't a small deal. Far from it, the ultimate scope of Windows Azure should dwarf that of Microsoft's latest client OS launch in Vista. This is a play for the entire Web, from hosted enterprise applications and services to hobbyist stuff running over the wire.

Azure is Microsoft's ground-up, services-based foundation for cloud-based applications and infrastructures. As Kathleen Richards reports for Redmond Developer News, Azure provides an abstracted environment for deploying and managing highly scalable and available cloud-based applications.

Azure represents a sea change for Microsoft, a company that has famously struggled to come to terms with the very concept of services-based computing. Remember when Microsoft wouldn't even say the term SOA?

That era is over. Big time. Services will be a strategic focus in Redmond for the foreseeable future. From Windows to .NET Framework to SQL Server, SharePoint and Dynamics CRM, every corner of Microsoft's enterprise portfolio is going service-based. Microsoft even discussed an upcoming portal for Microsoft's System Center product, called "Atlanta," that leverages Azure to provide analysis and presentation of the status of on-premise infrastructure.

Despite all that, it was notable how closely Microsoft stayed to its tried and proven playbook.

Windows brand and platform leverage? Check. From the Azure name to the integration of the Hyper-V hypervisor virtualization, Microsoft went to great lengths to deeply brand Windows into this cloud platform.

Visual Studio and .NET integration? Check. Amitabh Srivastava's "Hello PDC" demo showed how Azure cloud-based applications could be written using the familiar ASP.NET in Visual Studio. Throughout the presentation, attendees were pitched on the benefits of familiar tooling and languages.

XML foundations? Check. Cloud models are built in XML, which enables all sorts of extensibility scenarios.

Questionable support for non-preferred Microsoft technologies? Oh, yes -- check. Support in Azure for unmanaged native code, Amitabh let slip late, will come later. There's certainly an openness and interoperability message, but it's hardly surprising that the early work will be happening inside the Microsoft toolshed.

While the direction Microsoft took here may not be a surprise, it's clear that the company is taking the long bet. PDC 2008 may be remembered as the pivot point, when Microsoft moved past the tension that's been building between shrink wrap and services. The bet is on. The infrastructure is being deployed and the tools are being mobilized.

Did you see the keynote? What are your thoughts on Windows Azure? E-mail me at mdesmond@reddevnews.com.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 10/27/2008 at 1:15 PM1 comments


Professional Developers Conference 2008 Preview

The Microsoft 2008 Professional Developers Conference (PDC) kicks off tomorrow at the Los Angeles Convention Center. For RDN readers, this is perhaps the single biggest industry event in the past three years. While we expect more than a few surprises at PDC 2008, there's a lot that we already know will be featured at the confab.

We do know that the two key pillars of PDC 2008 will be the upcoming Windows 7 client operating system and Microsoft's far-reaching cloud computing initiative. By way of confirmation: Cloud is the topic of Monday's show-opening keynote, while Windows 7 and the Microsoft Live platform are on tap for Tuesday's keynote.

It may seem that these two topics could hardly be further apart in scope -- one is a bread-and-butter desktop play, the other is a transformative, long-ball vision. But they do have something in common: They represent the endpoints of Microsoft's strategic effort to stay relevant in the post-desktop world.

Don't expect anything crazy from Windows 7. It's a much-needed reset of the disastrous Vista launch. While there are rumors of kernel-level changes afoot -- something Microsoft had earlier said wasn't gonna happen -- we do know that Windows 7 will integrate tightly with Live services to provide an enhanced user experience. This is Windows, ever the core of Microsoft's vaunted leveraged model, reaching up to the cloud.

Ultimately, Windows 7 will be an evolutionary upgrade, more Windows 98 than Windows 95. At the show, developers can expect to learn new ways to integrate their apps with the desktop Windows environment, as well as enhancements to the Windows taskbar, Start menu and other desktop elements. There's also extended globalization support.

On the cloud side, we can expect fresh details about Microsoft's "Red Dog" cloud information-services infrastructure and new information on cloud-based federated identity services. Also look for insight into Microsoft's effort to bring .NET development technologies to its cloud efforts. Steve Ballmer early this month announced that "Windows Cloud," as he termed it, would be officially launched at PDC. According to frequent RDN contributor Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft's cloud efforts could end up looking a lot like Amazon's successful Elastic Compute Cloud infrastructure.

One question that is open is: How does Live Mesh -- now being referred to as Live Framework -- fit into the Microsoft cloud platform?

Other efforts getting attention include the Oslo modeling platform, which Microsoft expanded on a few weeks ago as consisting of three components: the Oslo repository, the "M" modeling language and the "Quadrant" visual editing tool. A CTP of these components are likely to end up in PDC goodie bags. Another CTP expected to drop at PDC is the new "Dublin" distributed app server, which is expected to appear in a future version of Windows Server.

Of course, there's the .NET Framework. .NET Framework 4.0 will be featured and offer updates on enhancements to Windows Communications Foundation (WCF) and tighter integration with Windows Workflow Foundation (WF). Also, expect news about ASP.NET 4.0 as well as more guidance on Visual Studio tooling.

Wednesday's keynote is specifically on parallel programming, and should portend some interesting announcements in the area of parallel/concurrent processing. Look for more details on Microsoft's Concurrency Runtime, Parallel Pattern Library and Parallel Extensions to the .NET Framework.

Oh, and did I mention that Microsoft Office 14 is likely to make a surprise appearance at the show? I'm not expecting much more than a drive-by demo or mention of the upcoming Office suite, but I think any news on this product will be anxiously awaited.

Heard a rumor? Got a tip? Shoot me an e-mail with what you're seeing at PDC at mdesmond@reddevnews.com.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 10/26/2008 at 1:15 PM0 comments


PDC: Incoming!

We just put to bed the Nov. 1 issue of Redmond Developer News, and I couldn't help but notice something funny: The news section of that issue is absolutely jammed with Microsoft-specific news.

OK, that's not surprising for a publication that's tasked with covering Microsoft- and .NET-based development technologies and issues. What is surprising, though, is the sheer volume of product news coming out of Microsoft just weeks ahead of its biggest developer event in three years.

The 2008 Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles kicks off on Monday and it will highlight strategically vital technologies coming out of Redmond over the next two to three years. Windows 7 and cloud computing figure prominently, but there's a host of other efforts that will get important attention from the developer community next week.

So honestly, I expected Microsoft to go into a mini-quiet period ahead of the PDC. Instead, we were inundated with news over the past three weeks. In the latest issue of RDN, we cover the release of Silverlight 2, next-generation SQL Server offerings, the new MVC beta, Office Communications Server 2007 R2 and the Web App Installer (Web AI) package. More than 80 percent of our news pages in the Nov. 1 issue are dedicated to news coming directly out of Redmond.

What's more, in the issue prior we covered the "Dublin" distributed app server, as well as details on "Oslo," .NET Framework 4.0 and Visual Studio and Visual Studio Team System 2010.

So much for that quiet period, eh?

Next week, our staff will be at PDC 2008 to cover the conference and provide first-hand accounts of what Microsoft and the Microsoft development community are up to. In addition to online coverage in the form of frequent Web articles and show blogs, we'll also be publishing the RedDevNews newsletter on a daily basis next week. We'll kick off with a pre-show installment on Sunday and conclude with a Friday post-show wrap-up.

There's a lot to cover and a lot to learn. We're also anxious to hear from you. What issues or questions would you like us to pursue during the conference? Send me an e-mail at mdesmond@reddevnews.com and we'll work to add your thoughts to our agenda.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 10/23/2008 at 1:15 PM0 comments


Silverlight Rising

It seems like it's been forever since Microsoft first started talking about Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere (WPF/E) and its vision of a XAML-based, cross-platform media and application runtime. And while Silverlight 1 was nice, in a sort of me-too Flash media player kind of way, most developers recognized Silverlight 1 for what it was -- a vehicle for getting the all-important browser runtime bits onto millions of machines.

But with the official release to Web (RTW) of Silverlight 2 last week, .NET developers can finally get to work on robust, Silverlight-based applications that can run on a variety of platforms, systems and even (one day) devices. Far more than a slick runtime for video and animation, Silverlight 2 delivers a robust subset of the .NET Framework to client machines. The possibilities for delivering sophisticated, connected, robust business applications are truly impressive.

As Andrew Brust, Microsoft Regional Director and chief of New Technology for consulting firm twentysix New York, describes it, Silverlight significantly ups the ante for Web development.

"Silverlight is a rich Internet application environment and not a 'poor desktop' application environment," Brust wrote in an e-mail exchange. "What I mean by that is developers care less that Silverlight lacks capabilities of the full .NET Framework and care more that it provides a better user experience (especially for line-of-business and data-entry-intensive apps) than any HTML-based environment."

He's got that right. Silverlight could really look attractive to a lot of dev managers who today grapple with AJAX-based development and its inherent complexity. And while the shared XAML heritage of Silverlight and WPF offers possibilities for delivering differentiated experiences locally or over the wire, I remain concerned about the lack of Linux and other platform support in the runtime.

Yes, the open source Mono implementation of .NET is out there. And yes, Moonlight at least offers Silverlight 1 runtime support for Linux clients. But the fact is, reach is what makes Web development compelling. I wonder if the lack of native Linux support will scare many dev shops away from Silverlight 2 development.

Are you planning to look into Silverlight 2 based application development? Let us know why, or why not. E-mail me at mdesmond@reddevnews.com.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 10/21/2008 at 1:15 PM1 comments


ASP.NET MVC Goes Beta

If you've been reading the pages of Redmond Developer News, you know that Microsoft has been hard at work building out its Model View Controller (MVC) story. This has been a remarkable effort, and one that previewed Redmond's strategic shift toward a more open -- and more open source-friendly -- technology stance.

After all, the minds behind the MVC push were snapped up by Redmond precisely because they understood the open software market. Scott Hanselman, Phil Haack and Rob Conery have really helped lift Scott Guthrie's Developer Division, as it has taken the lead in Microsoft's more open and pragmatic course of late.

Now comes the release of the first beta of the Microsoft ASP.NET MVC framework, as reported by Redmond Media Group Executive Editor Becky Nagel.

Previewed at the VSLive! Las Vegas conference keynote by Microsoft Senior Program Manager Scott Hanselman, the MVC beta was not pitched as a replacement for Windows Forms-based development.

"Windows Forms is not going away," Hanselman told the VSLive! audience. "It's all about alternatives."

In fact, what MVC promotes for Web developers is a clear separation of concerns in their applications, ensuring that UI, business logic and data exist as discrete entities that can be more easily built, tested and managed. The ASP.NET MVC Framework should, for instance, enable effective test drive development.

You can download the latest beta from Microsoft here.

Are you planning to adopt the ASP.NET MVC Framework for your Web development? Let me know. Email me at mdesmond@reddevnews.com.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 10/16/2008 at 1:15 PM1 comments


Silverlight and a Look Ahead

There's an old saying that goes: Life is about what comes next. And nowhere is that idea truer than in application development. Dev managers must constantly check their assumptions, track competing and complementary technologies and be ready to adapt their plans.

Look no further than today's official launch of Silverlight 2.0, the long-awaited update to the Silverlight rich Internet application (RIA) development platform and runtime that provides an encapsulated subset of the .NET Framework. As Scott Guthrie explained in a press conference yesterday, Silverlight 2.0 significantly extends the ability of .NET developers to deliver robust applications over the wire.

No longer simply a media-savvy competitor to Flash, Silverlight 2.0 offers robust data binding, enables advanced XAML-based UI development, and allows programmers to work with the same IDE -- Visual Studio 2008 -- that they use for general .NET development. And Microsoft is working hard to extend the appeal of Silverlight 2.0. Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition is a free IDE for Silverlight development, while the Expression Blend 2 product enables sophisticated development of interactive UIs. Microsoft even announced that it was working with Soyatec to enable Eclipse-based Silverlight development.

The funny thing about the Silverlight 2.0 press conference, the first question Scott Guthrie fielded from reporters was: What comes next? Well, that's a question Forrester Research plans to ask at its upcoming Oct. 24 webinar, "The Future of Application Development." If you are interested in attending the event, you can do so here.

As it turns out, Forrester is anxious to hear from RDN readers about their takes on the developer space, and honestly so am I. If you can take a second to respond to three short questions, we'd love to be able to feature your insights online and perhaps in print:

  1. Compared to five years ago, is development more difficult, less difficult, or the same level of difficulty?
  2. What do you look for when you hire a developer? What are the qualities that make a great developer?
  3. What advice would you give to someone just out of college entering the workforce to make them an invaluable application developer?

Shoot me an e-mail or respond in the Comment area of my blog.

If possible, also let us know what your role is within your organization. We plan to incorporate your insights into an upcoming issue of Redmond Developer News, as well as to share your observations with Forrester for their upcoming event. E-mail me at mdesmond@reddevnews.com.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 10/14/2008 at 1:15 PM3 comments


.NET Outside the Box

In the Sept. 1 issue of RDN, we covered reports about Microsoft's secretive Midori project and its implications for the post-Windows landscape.

In that feature Rockford Lhotka, principal technology evangelist at Magenic Technologies and a contributor to RDN's sister publication Visual Studio Magazine, made a cogent and concise observation about the .NET Framework and its evolution. Said Lhotka:

"First we had DOS. Then we had Windows, which ran on DOS. Then we had Windows, with DOS emulated inside. Now we have .NET, which runs on Windows. It is only a matter of time before we have .NET, with Windows emulated inside."

It's a remarkable observation, really, and one that goes to the heart of Microsoft's sustained dominance in the industry. Microsoft has been able to extrapolate its core technologies, projecting them forward in a way that both preserves and extends the company's strategic advantages.

Which brings me to the question of .NET-based development. Since 2001, corporate developers have grown increasingly comfortable with and reliant on Microsoft's vision of a managed development infrastructure. But is .NET-based development poised to break out of the confines of Windows?

In just the past week or so, we've seen both the release candidate of Silverlight 2 and the final version of the open source Mono 2.0 implementation of .NET for cross-platform development. Add the Mono Project's Moonlight effort to bring the Silverlight runtime to Linux, and developers have multiple ways to bring their .NET development efforts to non-Windows audiences.

The question is, are developers using these tools, frameworks and resources to deliver software beyond the traditional .NET/Windows target? And if so, what kinds of challenges and adjustments are they making in the process?

We want to hear from you. Are you looking at Silverlight 2.0 or Mono as a way to extend your .NET development efforts beyond Windows? E-mail me at mdesmond@reddevnews.com.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 10/09/2008 at 1:15 PM0 comments


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