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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 [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 10/26/2008

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