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Oct 29

Microsoft say Game On; Thoughts on PDC

Microsoft, Tech Add comments

Blue Monster

I have had the pleasure to be at PDC this week and Microsoft put on a great show. As they showed their vision of unification around Windows (cloud, Web, PC, mobile) through great developer tools, there was excitement.

Windows Azure looks great. The “on premise” feature looks particularly intriguing. If they can bridge the data center and the cloud, they have something quite compelling. Enterprises are struggling with the cloud in part. What do you put up there? How do you secure it? How do you tie back? Microsoft is going after that problem.

I am curious about the details. Ray talked about how you get to “leverage your skill set”, and showed mappings between the Windows platform and the Azure one (SQL Server – SQL Services). How similar are they? Surely there are limitations when you are in the cloud (App Engine has restrictions on request timeouts, file sizes, threading, and other APIs). Running unmanaged code? Virtualization is good enough that you can just do that these days huh. Impressive. Again, what are the limitations? You can imagine people deploying platforms if this is Open enough. E.g. platforms that are currently in C, or C#, Ruby (IronRuby), Python, (IronPython), …

Have they got SQL Server so it “just scales”? I noticed that the demos that ChrisAnn and Don Box did with SQL services dealt with XML tuples of data when inserting data, and LINQ to get data out. I am excited to hear more of the details.

In fact, I feel that way about a lot of the things that were released. I want to dive in more. Many of the talks stayed very high level indeed. Ray Ozzie was a good speaker, but spent a long time talking about the history of computing to put things in context. I get it, they have to do that for the press etc. They are setting a tone of “this is where we are coming from, this is where we are going.” For developers though, I wish for once someone here, or at JavaOne, or at MAX, (whatever) would stand up and say “Ok, let’s build some amazing things in front of you and show you what we have done with our tools and platforms.”

Don and Chris do that in their talks and people love it. They were on form as always this time around, although I wish that instead of showing AtomPub, they showed us Oslo, M, etc. I know that Douglas talked on that later, but I would have loved to have had that content in the Don/Chris show. I enjoyed it, but when it was done I thought “wait, did I just sit here for an hour watching manual HTTP?” Don’t get me wrong, showing the path from local development, to running on your on premise server, to the cloud is compelling, but I wanted more :)

Game On

Everything that was announced we pretty much knew was happening. From the cloud, to the Web (Silverlight 2 / IE 8), and beyond. But, even though we knew about this, I don’t know if we thought they were this far along. Microsoft is executing. This show set the stage “this is where we are going, and look how far we have come.”

The Office on the Web demo showed that. Works in all browsers, with enhanced Silverlight support. Very nice indeed. What a wake up call to the rest of the Web?

And, what about tools. The WPF version of Visual Studio 10 looked fantastic. Having a plugin model that makes it so easy to interact with the editor looked snazzy and useful indeed. I have long wanted to separate the source code from the visualization of that same code. The source code in the repository can have curly braces on separate lines, but I will see function() {. In my world, comments in the style of “<author>Dion Almaer</author>” will get converted to “Author: Dion Almaer” and made small.

Blue Pill

If you are a Microsoft developer you are probably very happy at Ray Ozzie’s coming out party. Others on the fence may be interested. For those of us who worry about handing Microsoft control of the browser, plugins to other browsers, the cloud, the server model, and more…. I won’t lie to you. I am cautiously observing. Silverlight adoption worries me.

We can’t fight Microsoft with “don’t choose them, remember what they did to you before?” Fear is lame. Instead, this is a wake up call to Adobe, Google, Yahoo!, Amazon, IBM, Sun, [insert other developer / platform players] to get kicking.

We can’t just be Open, we have to be better!

12 Responses to “Microsoft say Game On; Thoughts on PDC”

  1. sil Says:

    Well put. :)

  2. Emil Hunefalk Says:

    Great post! Others shouldn’t relax, but I still feel MS have been looking too comfortable for too long in most online development. I believe “Adobe, Google, Yahoo {…}” welcomes the challenge, as it will drive even more interest toward areas where MS is not currently leading..

  3. Peter Svensson Says:

    I think that all organizations only get stronger if the eat their own dog food. Microsoft has so much dog food that they will get mighty strong one day.

    Not just today. Or any other day.

    Just some.

    Cheers,
    PS

  4. Diptanu Says:

    Do you think JavaFX, with all the vast toolset that Java technology has, would be a one-up to Silverlight?

  5. dion Says:

    Java has great tools, but JavaFX? I think Sun made totally the wrong bet with it. They should have used an existing language on the JVM for JavaFX Script (JRuby, Groovy, Rhino, whatever…. just not another new language).

  6. Richard Osbaldeston Says:

    Has anybody asked the users whether they want everything in the cloud and all their apps online? Part of really doesn’t get the advantages of this kind of shift to the average user. From Microsofts side I can see once everybody is using the clouds web-services and applications they can start charging a subscription for the privilege. Isn’t that the real agenda? monetizing the web for their own shareholders benefit not ours (damn now I’m sounding like Stallman).

    Can the net continue to support this shift? isn’t it already pretty maxed out with streaming media, online gaming, voip etc.. or will it a move to paid for ip service levels also need phasing in at some point. Who can you trust with your data once it’s all online? with all the spook accessing and archiving all your online activity and Australia even planning proxied (censored?) access to the web? What happens when your broadbands down or you move into a wireless blackspot? back to the abacus?

  7. Richard Osbaldeston Says:

    ..On the other hand, having a schizophrenic kind of day thanks to another kick in the nuts from sun (http://forums.java.net/jive/thread.jspa?messageID=313969&#313969) I’m kind of interested in what we can do with Silverlight, WPF which seems to have a huge untapped potential.

    If a long term client side Java developer suddenly decided what should I do next? where are we headed? whats hot? The prospects don’t seem all that appealing. Theres javascript and ajax, but my forays into javascript left me cold. It was like going back to the stone age in terms of running and debugging code and needing to know huge swathes of other frameworks, libraries and skills. Never mind the inherent incompatibilities between browsers, which must quietly haunt your every commit. Still while there’s Ben & Dion there may be hope.

    Or they’re Microsoft Silverlight, WPF, whole scary new world of Microsoft speak a seemingly impenetrable maze of technologies.. but hey if you ever got there at least I could later leverage my skill set.

    Other Java ex-pats seem drawn to Air, Flex, again whole new platform, possibly a less mature one but more manageable in term of size for it.. but part of me still finds flash hard to take seriously and it can’t live on it’s own, your utimatley going to need to mix in some of the server side ajax work from option 1 (or 2?).

    Guess what I’m hinting at is do we need any more options? we see new RIA frameworks every day, but we don’t see any real use or takeup of any of them. It seems everybody is too nervous to place any bets. The whole scene is hopelessly divided with every camp playing catchup with each other, so no one technology can ever pull ahead.. wheres all this going?

  8. James Senior Says:

    Great post, you identify some of the clear problems that Microsoft, and others, are trying to solve relating to Cloud Computing. It should be a fun game! :-)

    Cheers, James

  9. Shawn Oster Says:

    There is quite a bit of excitement over these technologies as people figure out just what and how and why they exist. I’m curious about your ending comments, like this one “Silverlight adoption worries me”. Do you worry that it’s not being adopted fast enough or too fast?

    I also agree that people should be cautious in handing over control to any one entity as echoed in your statement, “…handing Microsoft control of the browser…”, whether that’s all search to Google, all browser to Microsoft, all media to Apple, all RIA to Flash, all cloud to Amazon. It’s a fine line because you often need one clear leader to help establish a playing field but not get so big they don’t allow anyone else to kick the ball around. Plus over-controlling anything often leads to killing off innovation.

    (My comments are my own)

  10. michael sheridan Says:

    Handing control over to Microsoft rather than the inter-connected data mass about me that lives at google?

  11. David Evans Says:

    It can be helpful to view what companies are trying to do through a lens of what they have done, or it can be a hindrance if they really have changed. In this case, when I read this I hear Steve B screaming ‘Developers, developers, developers’ at me…and I wish he’d stop. MS are very good at making it easy for you to develop on their stuff, and they spend a lot of time in amongst their .NET community making sure they’re happy (or at least, not too upset) and promoting what you can do with their stuff. First time I saw ‘Evangelist’ in a job title was at MS, although there may be prior art. Google have a long way to go to get embedded in software development (although Chrome, when it goes multi-platform, could be a good start). My point is that what people develop in is what people run is what people buy. In other words, same MS, different day.

    Or am I missing something…?

  12. mevlüt şekeri Says:

    mevlüt şekeri

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