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.
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
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
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
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
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 PM