Mike-Ward.Net

PDC – Day 2

As I mentioned in the earlier post, PDC days generally go from 7 in the morning to 10 or 11 pm at night. I crashed into my bed last night shortly before 11 pm. Sleep is a valuable commodity at these conferences.

Yesterday’s keynote was equally uninspiring. Perhaps I’m projecting, but the whole event just has an unexciting tone to it. Windows 7 was “announced” and the first official previews were shown. Judging from the crowd response, everyone was underwhelmed. That’s not to say that they are not doing good things in Windows 7, but much if sounded like an apology for some of the deficiencies of Vista. And keep in mind, I’m a fan of Vista.

The UI “improvements” are modest in my opinion. Jump lists and a new taskbar are nice but it certainly doesn’t feel like you need a whole new operating system for these types of changes.

More importantly, Microsoft is reporting that they will use less memory than Vista, boot up faster, and have much higher performance when starting windows explorer or other programs. Again, really needed changes, but it feels more like a service pack type change. Reading between lines it looks like Windows 7 is the “it’s not Vista” release more than it’s new technology.

Other changes include more customizations and personalization. Again, interesting, and maybe even overdue features, but nothing worthy of an an new operating system release.

Perhaps the most useful change is in the area of networking. Moving between home networks and work/domain networks should be much easier. Mostly, it just detects the active network and connects silently. And default settings like printers will be sensitive to network selection. At long last something useful.

A final gripe (I’m really having fun, honest), it looks like Microsoft is going to continue distributing different versions of Windows 7 (i.e. Home, Business, Ultimate). Microsoft, if you’re reading this, this just sucks. Who actually wants a dumed-down version of Windows? I’m no marketing person by why can’t I have one version of Windows 7 with one price point (say $99). It’s really annoying.

At 1pm they started distributing the new hard drives with all the conference materials on them.

harddrive

The little black box next to the soda can is the famed and promised PDC hard drive with “The Goods”. While it’s cool that we get an external, USB only hard drive, it’s actually a very convenient way to distribute these materials. Plug it in and you’re accessing the materials without the network delay of online materials. Nice job guys!

Long time readers of my Friday Links posting know I have a particular affection for Sara Ford’s postings. Just to be clear, this is all tongue and check and I really respect Sara’s posting. I’m just having a bit of fun (as Sara’s expense of course). Well lucky me, I actually met Sara, and she’s every bit as nice as she appears to be in her blog. She even posed for a picture with me.

SaraAndMike

I didn’t realize how short she was. I really had to stoop for this picture.

Other highlights of the day included:

Velocity – Microsoft’s, explicit, distributed in memory cache. I’m expecting to leverage this in an up coming project so the talk was particularly timely.

Silverlight Futures – Not as exciting as I thought it would be. Two very interesting “research” items they are working on is an abstraction layer for business logic and role based security access through the simple use of attributes on the protected classes/methods.

Optimizing Graphics in Silverlight – A very good presentation on the graphics pipeline in Silverlight. Also, best practices and a very useful tool called XPerf that was formerly an internal Microsoft tool.

The evening’s entertainment was a trip to Universal Studios. Microsoft “rents” the entire park for the evening. Restaurants, rides, booze and other features are all free for the night. Because it’s close to Halloween, they have seeded the park with sorts of ghouls and zombies. Guys walking around with chain saws chase the patrons at random. The entire park is artificially fogged which was actually quite disorienting at times. It’s fun and a nice break from all the tech sessions.

Last note: PDC’s are usually only every couple of years. However, I just saw a posting on http://www.microsoftpdc.com, announcing a PDC for next year. Must be something really cool they’re working on to push up the schedule up like this.

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