PDC 2008 : Wrap up

5 11 2008

So the PDC is over and there were a heap of product announcements, some of them really well done and received (Windows 7) some of them not so well done or understood (Azure). Personally I think Azure is going to be huge, and I am really interested to see how people are going to start using it in the real world, specifically how it’s going to impact the partner and enterprise ecosystems.

Anyway, I wanted to go back and look at my Canberra Airport Crystal ball and see what came true or what the Crystal ball was too damn foggy to see clearly.

Live
Lots and lots of Mesh news. As expected, a developers preview of Mesh was released built on the new Azure Services platform, one of Microsoft’s big announcements for PDC. The SDK / framework was released in a limited beta. Yes there was a new Mesh build dropped, moving Mesh from Tech Preview to Beta and introducing a number of new features. The Mac and Mobile clients were released, and I have to admit I am loving using the mobile client to push photos from my phone through to my other machines.

Windows
PDC had lots and lots of Windows 7 news. There were some really interesting demonstrations showing off the new feature of Windows 7 including HomeGroups, new Taskbar, Libraries, Aero improvements etc. As predicated there was a build given out to the attendees which everyone is commenting on how stable and snappy it is.  Unfortunately in typical MS style, the builds shown did not necessarily reflect the build given to the attendees, but WithinWindows has worked out how to address that to a certain extent. I am not waiting for the Windows 7 beta to start so I can get my hands on it.
Office
The biggest surprise to me was that there wasn’t much in the way of Office announcements at PDC. I had fully expected some demo’s of the Office 14 suite, but maybe it’s too early in the development cycle to see it. What was announced was Office Web Applications, a set of web based applications including Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote that include a vast majority of the functionality of the desktop clients blowing the current implementation of Google Apps out of the water. There is a pretty snazzy demo on Channel 9 showing the integration between client and web that is an interesting watch.  I have to admit, these apps got me thinking as to some of the scenarios that they could be used in, think Excel Services. Wouldn’t it be awesome to not need any client applications at all and to do everything within SharePoint 14? I am not quite sure when we are going to see more Office 14 related news, stay tuned.

All in all, PDC 2008 delivered a lot of news, a lot of it as predicted from my Canberra Airport crystal ball. Of those items I am particularly interested in Windows 7 (heh I have always been an operating system wh0re) and how people are going to start using the Live Framework in their application. It is certainly going to be a wild ride ahead.





PDC 2008 : I won’t be there

22 08 2008

Unfortunately my powers of persuasion have let me down. After trying to persuade my boss that PDC was in fact a Project management Development Conference and not an awesome nerdfest of coolness it seems, I am left to watching all the announcements and news from my trusty friends Bink, Neowin and Google Reader.

But, this won’t stop me having a quick prediction at what will be announced and released, so without further ado, I peer into my crystal ball, whilst sitting in the departure lounge at Canberra Airport.

Live

  • Mesh will be opened up to allow development and access to the MOE ala Ori Amiga’s Channel 9 video
  • The Mesh SDK will be released
  • Programming in the Mesh will be released / showcased, maybe including Silverlight
  • Obviously a new Mesh build will be dropped
  • Mac and Windows Mobile client will be released
  • Other Wave 3 announcements, maybe the new Messenger?

Windows

  • More information about what is coming in Windows 7, but only the concrete changes, those features that are still up for discussion will not be discussed / shown
  • Lots of Windows 7 demo’s, possible early beta client build in the goody bag (might be PDC, might be WinHec)
  • Hints as to the Windows + Live services that will coming, how will Windows 7 interact with the cloud?

Office

  • Office 14 early beta, or at least a sign up
  • Lots of SharePoint news:
    • Two way BDC
    • Better Excel Services
    • Forms Services Improvements
    • Obviously WSS 4.0
  • Consistent Ribbon across other Office applications like Project, OneNote & Visio

Other

  • Lots and lots of cloud stuff
  • More general Silverlight goodness – maybe Silverlight 2.0 RTM?
  • Talk of OSLO and how it will integrate with the various v.Next Developer offerings.

Of course I could be wrong, as I am only a project manager, but we will have to wait until October to find out.





Live Mesh : I get it now.

13 06 2008

 96px-Live_Mesh

When Microsoft released the Live Mesh Technical Preview a few weeks ago I was intrigued to see what it was all about. Thanks to the Grumpywookie I managed to wangle an invite and could experience it in full technicolor and I have to admit I was a little dumbfounded as to what it was.

After a couple of hours playing with it and some thinking, I have to admit I was under-whelmed, but then I don’t think I was judging it fairly.  You see, we have been spoilt by the live team at Microsoft, they tend to ship highly functional stuff really quickly, so when I looked at Mesh the stuff I was surprised all it did was:

  • Sync folders (ala Foldershare/ Synctoy) across computers and the cloud
  • Mimic remote desktop
  • Provide a cloud based desktop to access files

But being the self confessed MS fanboy, I have continued to use it, syncing files between my home and work PC’s with ease and dreaming of the day that the Mesh Operating Environment (MOE) is made available for people to develop against (for some strange reason I really WANT to use the MOE WebDAV mount for storing docs in the cloud).

Anyway, fast forward a couple of weeks and I was listening to the Windows Weekly podcast with Leo Laporte and Paul Thurrott. They were discussing Windows 7 and how they are expected to merge the operating system and Live services even more, this got me thinking. Damn, MESH is a clever play by Microsoft, why? Well if you start thinking about Mesh as a platform, you can start doing things like this:

  • Extend the OS’s backup functionality, like Vista’s backup to push up to the cloud. In fact you can probably do this pretty easily when the MOE is opened up for programming against. Obviously this is going to require more space, and MS will be in an ideal position to offer more storage ala Google or Amazons’ S3;
  • RSS platform – Instead of storing RSS information in Vista and then letting things like IE and Outlook access it, why not store it in the cloud, then other services can access it. Why is this a good idea? Well you could have an RSS reader that uses this source and stores it’s read state in Mesh, then if I go to use a rich desktop app, the same items will have been read there;
  • Roaming profiles – Imagine having the same settings / desktop for every computer you use. If you store your roaming profile in the Mesh, this would be possible;
  • Software distribution – Once an application has been installed , Mesh could be used to distribute that software amongst computers on the mesh, a bit like a kind of private Peer-to-peer network. The application would need to be pretty isolated and not touch the registry but it should be possible;
  • Network drives – Through the MOE, you will be able to store your documents, pictures, movies, music in the cloud as if it were a normal network drive.

The MESH previews and blog posts are also talking about applications that run in the desktop. If that starts to leverage SilverLight (if it isn’t already) there will be some fantastic applications popping up.

Looking forward, there is a whole heap of sessions on Cloud services and Live Mesh coming up at PDC 08. I am hoping the Developer tech preview will be released there so developers can start to innovate on the platform and Live Mesh will sprout it’s wings and fly amongst the clouds! 🙂