Wednesday, October 29, 2008
PDC 08 Recap - Day 2: Windows 7, Office 14, Visual Studio 10, ...
Another long and exciting day at PDC 2008 has come to an end. I would call it a good day. I didn't get to go to as many sessions as yesterday, but I got a fair share and I was quite busy at the CoDe Magazine booth. But the booth didn’t open until noon, so I got to go to the 2 keynotes in the morning.
The first keynote started out with an introduction of Windows 7. As I mentioned in my blog yesterday, I had some pretty height expectations for this. Partially because I simply want Windows to do some things it doesn’t and there seems to be market pressure around that. Also, I really haven’t been looking into Windows 7 ahead of time, so I expected some announcement to be new to me.
To make a long story short: I was somewhat underwhelmed with the presentation. We saw some new UI features which I liked. It was also announced that Windows 7 will support real multi monitor setups for remote access, which is cool. I like the ability to directly mount virtual hard drives. (And there were other details they showed, like Window docking and an Paint now has a Ribbon control and such…). All these things I like and am ready to install today, but I really felt that this was Vista 1.1 or Vista SP2, and not a major new version of the OS that will ship at an undetermined point in the future, likely 3 years after Vista’s original release date. Besides, people will have to pay for an upgrade rather than getting a free service pack.
Multi-touch support is very cool. This isn’t Surface but it is similar in concept. I already knew about this feature ahead of time and think it will be important.
Of course, this was only a first demonstration. There was talk about performance improvements and apparently the demo ran on a machine with only 1GB of memory and a dual core processor (or something like that). But it was hard to tell from the keynote how much of a performance improvement there is. I really had hoped they would make a bigger deal about this. I was very interested in seeing advances in virtualization and had hoped there would be a lightweight version of Windows 7. Alas, no such luck at this keynote. I suppose there is still hope for the future.
Bottom line: I liked the things I saw but there wasn’t much that’s revolutionary. I will install Windows 7 when I get home. Apparently it is already very stable, which wouldn’t be too surprising considering that the updates seem to be more optimizations than anything else. So I may have expected more, but all this should be cool to have.
Office 14 (the next version of Office) made a brief appearance at the keynote as well. Most of it focused around a web version of Office. The main Office package is still the same Windows application as before, but there will be a second(ary) version that runs as a web application, similar to Outlook Web Access today. The presentation showed OneNote and Excel. I was quite impressed by this. Not only can documents now be opened inside of web browser versions of these applications (and the apps look great!) but all the editing can be done collaboratively, with multiple people editing the same document and seeing the other person’s changes.
This presentation was quite cool I have to say. How they pulled off a web version of Excel that looks practically the same as the Windows version is beyond me.
Many people have wondered whether Microsoft would ever move their Office package to the web, and now the answer is clearly “yes”. But not only that. It looks like the effort is coming along very nicely. A comparison to Google’s web offerings may also be in order here: Microsoft kick’s Google’s butt several times over!
Visual Studio News
In a further part of the keynote, Scott Guthrie showed a little bit of Visual Studio 10. One of the things I have been dying to talk about (and now I can) is that VS itself will have major parts implemented in WPF! This is nice for various reasons. For one, it is nice to see Microsoft betting on WPF with their own products. More importantly, the WPF implementations provide major advantages for users. The entire text editor is now written in WPF for instance, which allows for very advanced rendering and easy extensions. Scott showed a simple add-in that renders XML comments in a very rich and friendly (read “useful”) way. Awesome!
In other Visual Studio news: Future versions of ASP.NET will ship with jQuery support built in directly. This is great news as jQuery is a great library. We have been using it at EPS, and in fact, our Milos Solution Platform product has directly supported jQuery for a while now. It will be nice to have this support built in for all .NET apps. The news related to this that concern Visual Studio (the tool) is that you can now download the jQuery IntelliSense definition file, so you have direct IntelliSense support for jQuery now. Check out ScottGu’s blog post for more details.
WPF and Silverlight
These two topics are big at PDC08. So what is new in WPF and Silverlight?
Silverlight 2.0 was just released 2 weeks ago, so that is still a big topic at PDC. Scott Guthrie also talked about Silverlight futures. There will be more controls and better designer support and… yadayadayada… basically things we are all hoping for and seem to be getting. There was one tiny announcement in there that Scott just kinda threw in, but it seems to be pretty big news in my opinion: Scott mentioned that Silverlight will support applications that run outside the browser. Think about that for a moment! So you can build Silverlight applications that do not require a browser. Sounds very much like a connected desktop app that can run on any platform that can run Silverlight. So this means you could do desktop development for the Mac using .NET. Hmmm…
Not announced at the keynote, but shown in another session was a CTP of the new Silverlight 2.0 mobile SDK. I am surprised this was not mentioned at the keynote! Sounds like pretty big news to me!
WPF also got its share of love today. For one, Scott Guthrie went over 3.5SP2 again. There is cool stuff in there, in case you haven’t checked it out yet. Shader support is awesome if you ask me. True news around WPF come in the form of a new controls package. This package includes a WPF Ribbon control, date and calendar controls, and a grid. Awesome! Many of these were really missing. Click here for more details and the download.
Quite a bit of my day was consumed by doing CodeCast stuff. Ken and I recorded quite a few interviews (Gary was pretty busy at the DevExpress booth today). Ken interviewed the Internet Explorer team about news in IE8, including (previously unannounced news-alert!) the IE8 plug-in model, which will rival Firefox’s plug-in model. (We also just released a special CoDe Focus magazine on IE8. If you are quick, you can still get your free copy secured here!) I also did an interview with the Microsoft Surface team.
Make sure you subscribe to CodeCast to get the next episodes, which will feature a lot of this content!
Well, quite a bit, actually. But it is just about impossible to sum up all of a PDC day in a single blog post. Windows Live Services are important and cool and were mentioned at the keynote. There also are dedicated sessions for it. There were talks about things like Home Server that were interesting. There were many talks on roadmaps for things like WPF or ASP.NET and .NET 4.0 in general. Don Box and Chris Anderson did a full keynote on developing service for the Cloud. Those two are always entertaining in a “check out how easy this weird sh… is” kind of way.
So I can’t write about it all myself, but luckily, the blogosphere is busily at work and the twitterverse is going ballistic over PDC.
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