Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

It's all about community!

September, 2007

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Standing on the Shoulders of Giants


    26-Sep Updated table formatting


    "If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants"

    Isaac Newton 1676*

    As a Developer Evangelist, I'm often talking about the value of "the Platform" and sometimes it takes a little while for people to see that value. I like to tell a story about the evolution of a platform

    image image Imagine it's 10,000 years ago and you live in a cave up the hill to the left. Getting water is a matter of walking the 500m down to the stream, using the water and then walking home. That’s fine if it’s a beautiful day like in this picture. The next day, however, there’s a severe storm so going outside is already unpleasant. To make matters worse, a large carnivore chases you when you do venture out into the elements go to get water. Once you get there, you find that one of your neighbours has slaughtered a woolly mammoth just upstream and the water is polluted and unusable. You have to go over the next hill (5 km) just to get water.
    image image Fast forward to 4,000 years ago and you’re living in a village in the African desert. Your village has constructed a well and you maintain it collectively. You still have to go outside for water, but not nearly as far, and all of the people in the village contribute to the maintenance.  Your water supply occasionally dries up, but is much more reliable than having to go down to a stream. 
    image imageFast-forward to 150 years ago** in the city of London. You now live in a lovely house in Broad Street. Just outside your front door, the City of London has installed a pump (or, more accurately, has contracted a private company to install a pump) connected to the new-fangled plumbing. You still need to go outside for your water, but you don’t have to worry about maintaining the pump, and there are public health professionals ready to remove the handle of the pump if too many of your neighbours catch cholera.
    image imageimageFast forward to today. Now you get water plumbed into every part of your house. The question now is not "how do I get water?", rather it’s "what do I want to do with water?"  Delivery of water is now a platform on which you can build, rather than being a task on its own.
    image We've seen this platform evolution (albeit on a much shorter time scale) in pretty much everything that happens with computers. From having to write your own code to read and write bytes from a disk (or punch card, or circuit board) to letting the operating system handle it for you. From having to write your own code to paint a window on the screen to letting the framework handle it for you. From sourcing drivers for every piece of hardware to having it just work when you plug it in and so on.

    One of the questions I often get asked is whether abstracting away the details of the working of the platform makes us less connected from the source and therefore somehow less capable. There's no requirement to not understand how the platform works (just like, as a Civil Engineer, I understand water supply systems pretty well), but equally, there's no requirement to rebuild the platform every time you want to build something on top of it. Whether I'm installing an espresso machine or a hydroponics farm, I can use the water supply platform without having to drill a well, install a reverse-osmosis plant, install solar panels for power and so on.

    MPj04008460000[1]This also makes a distinction between platform and services. Pat Helland pioneered the concept of a metropolis where he described the various utilities (water supply, sewerage, electricity, roads, railway lines, ports, telecommunications infrastructure etc) as services (I haven't done Pat's work any justice at all here - go and read his paper). I'd argue that these are actually the platform on which services (schools, high-speed internet access, parcel delivery, banking, petrol stations etc) can be built. In a similar way, in the Software plus Services story both the software and the services are built on a platform (or platforms). The more common functionality the platform provides, the more time service providers can spend on the provision of the actual service. For example, pretty much every provider of any significant services in the cloud needs to have a way to authenticate and bill (or otherwise gain benefit from) users of the service. There aren't that many schemes for doing either of these things and so it makes sense to have the platform (on which the service is built) provide this functionality. By factoring out commodity platform capabilities (i.e. billing, provisioning, SLA monitoring and management, auth[n|r], messaging, CRM, monetization services etc.), the service provider is free to invest fully in an offering in their domain of expertise, without being encumbered by having to build out these concerns.  Customers are also free to pick and choose those services that make the most sense, again without having to build out (and care and feed for) commodity capability. 

    This has the related effect that the costs of these cross-cutting platform capabilities – which cost a lot to develop and maintain – can be amortised against a much larger population of users. In turn, this tends to bring the cost of the services down, which makes them more accessible to smaller organisations (i.e. further along the tail).  This is a democratising effect  - i.e. now a small software firm can afford an enterprise-grade provisioning, billing and SLA management engine, and can scale this according to their needs, and therefore potentially compete with larger players, or offer lower-cost services to customers who are also further along the tail.

    Time to value is shorter.  If a service provider can focus on their offering sans the surrounding infrastructure, they can deliver services much more quickly, and can respond to opportunities in the market more rapidly.   Related to this is the expectation that markets and offerings will evolve much more quickly than ever before.  If you aren’t tied down by infrastructural drag, you can innovate much more quickly.


    Many thanks to Nigel Watson for his insight and additional thoughts.

    * Yes, I'm aware that Isaac probably wasn't the first person to use this phrase, but he's probably the most famous
    ** OK, OK, the picture's obviously not from 150 years ago (of course, the first one is from 10,000 years ago), but I really wanted a picture of this pump - it's because of my background in GIS

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Recognising Talent


    <disclaimer>If it's not obvious from the content, I have a personal interest in this post</disclaimer>

    I was going to thinly disguise this post as a follow on from Frank's ASP.NET Site of the {insert time period here}, but I'm just going to boast.

    Telstra's Business Women's Awards have just announced the 151 finalists (see, it's an ASP.NET page) for 2007. Check out the first name in the list of NSW finalists.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    SBS Technical Training - Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth


    Via Wayne.

    The Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 R2 Readiness program is a Microsoft initiative to introduce new and innovative features to their Small Business partners.

    The intended audience includes Microsoft Small Business Specialist partners, System integrators, OEM Builders and professionals that have used Microsoft Small Business Server 2003. Previous knowledge of SBS 2003 is required.

    Microsoft SBS 2003 R2 – Exchange 2003 and Outlook 2003 SP2 Features:

    This session introduces the new features on SBS 2003 R2 in regards to Exchange 2003 SP2 and Outlook 2003 SP2.

    After completing this course, students will be able to:

    • Describe the new flexible client licensing in SBS 2003 R2.
    • Identify ways to increase mobile security and efficiency through new Windows Mobile 5.0 policies and Direct Push technology.
    • Provide increased message hygiene by using the Open SPF standard as well as an improved Intelligent Message Filter.
    • Show how to allow for more storage with an increased mailbox size limit of 75GB.

    Microsoft SBS 2003 R2 - Windows SharePoint Services V2.0\V3.0 Features:

    This session will introduce WSS v2.0, however it will be mainly focused on WSS V3.0. Students will learn the advantages of using Windows SharePoint Services in their SBS 2003 R2 environment.

    After completing this course, students will be able to:

    • Describe the benefits of using SharePoint as an information sharing tool.
    • Show the advantages of using WSS V3.0 in their environment.
    • Prepare for and upgrade to WSS V3.0.
    • Integrate WSS V3.0 into Microsoft SBS 2003 R2 environment.
    • Utilize advanced WSS V3.0 features to enhance the current environment
    EXCOM Education
    150 - 160 Gladstone Street
    South Melbourne, Melbourne 
     Melbourne 1
    24 Sep 2007, 9:30 AM to 24 Sep 2007, 5:30 PM AEST  Melbourne 2
    25 Sep 2007, 9:30 AM to 25 Sep 2007, 5:30 PM AEST
    EXCOM Education
    Level 2
    549 Queen Street
     Brisbane 1
    24 Sep 2007, 9:30 AM to 24 Sep 2007, 5:30 PM AEST  Brisbane 2
    25 Sep 2007, 9:30 AM to 25 Sep 2007, 5:30 PM AEST
    EXCOM Education
    Level 1
    203 Clarence Street
     Sydney 1
    20 Sep 2007, 9:30 AM to 20 Sep 2007, 5:30 PM AEST  Sydney 2
    21 Sep 2007, 9:30 AM to 21 Sep 2007, 5:30 PM AEST
    EXCOM Education
    Ground Floor
    191 Pulteney Street
     Adelaide 1
    20 Sep 2007, 9:30 AM to 20 Sep 2007, 5:30 PM ACST  Adelaide 2
    21 Sep 2007, 9:30 AM to 21 Sep 2007, 5:30 PM ACST
    EXCOM Education
    Level 2
    23 Barrack St
     Perth 1
    27 Sep 2007, 9:30 AM to 27 Sep 2007, 5:30 PM AWST  Perth 2
    28 Sep 2007, 9:30 AM to 28 Sep 2007, 5:30 PM AWST

    Register Now!

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    New TechTalkBlogs Editors


    In my farewell post to the previous Editors of TechTalkBlogs, I dropped five hints about the next incumbents:

    • There are three of them
    • Two of them are not from 'round here, but the third definitely is.
    • Community-minded doesn't even begin to describe these three.
    • I'm sure you can guess one - it'll be a breeze!
    • Think about the other half of D2 (that'd be R2)

    In the comments section of that post both Anthony and Mick chimed in with hint-like guesses of their own. I'm disqualifying Mick (sorry mate, but you know too much), but AB wins the prize (it's bragging rights) for his hint that one of the new editors is none other than Mick himself.

    The theme for this set of editors is BizTalk, but as I wrote to them in their welcome mail:

    that doesn’t mean your posts have to be exclusively about BizTalk. Any technical topic is fair game.

    For completeness, the new editors are (from South to North):

    Welcome guys!

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT - for all your OpenXML Development Needs


    As you might expect, there's been a bit of discussion on the internal aliases about the results of ISO ballot DIS29500. Kleefy asked me about resources for developers wanting to write apps that read and/or write the new formats regardless of the programming language. Of course, I pointed him at There's a wealth of resources up there for OpenXML developers including these gems:

    There's more going up all the time, so check it out.

    While you're at it, head over to the community site,, to read some of the business reasons you'll want to consider OpenXML as your document format of choice. If you feel so inclined, you can sign up as a supporter of the format.

    Finally, if you are developing an application that uses any of the OpenXML formats, or the Open Packaging Convention and you'd like help publicising it, please contact me.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    The Fishbowl Hits Keep On Coming


    More great work from the Virtual TechEd Team. Check out the new videos from the Fishbowl:

    Click to Play

    Tablet PCs, Vista and Mobility

    Lee Williams and Craig Pringle from Gen-i discuss all you need to know about the benefits and added functionality of the new generation of Tablet PCs, giving you a better understanding of what Tablets are (and aren’t) and where they would fit in your organization.

    Watch Now

    Click to Play

    Windows Live Web Services

    Get a sneak peak at the Tech·Ed Australia Session “Utilising Windows Live Web Services Today” from Dr. Neil Roodyn and Tatham Oddie, independent consultants. Be sure to check out the Via Windows Live community space and Via Virtual Earth for more.

    Watch Now

    Click to Play

    What’s the Buzz on Activation?

    This video, hosted by John Pritchard, Windows Client Technology Specialist, and Ramprabhu Rathnam, Director of Marketing US – MEG Genuine Windows, provides a quick rundown on what activation is, why it has been introduced, and its value to enterprise customers. Learn more by visiting the Volume Activation 2.0 Frequently Asked Questions site.

    Watch Now

    Click to Play

    Virtual Machines and SCVMM

    Listen in as Andrew Dugdell, Virtualization MVP, talks with Jeff Alexander, IT Pro Evangelist, about virtual machine management using the new System Centre Virtual Machine Manager. For more fun, visit, a community resource focusing on the Microsoft VHD format and virtualization technologies.

    Watch Now

    The Fish Bowl Travels to Australia  
  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT - for Windows Live Developers


    Tatham and Dr Neil alluded to it in their fishbowl interview, and now Anna's been plugging it too. From the developers of ViaVirtualEarth, there's a new site for Windows Live developers. Check out the plethora of topics on the nav bar:


  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    More Great .NET 3.0 Training in Australia


    I just got this note from Faith Rees about some exciting .NET 3.0 training being conducted by our partner, Readify. Contact them directly for more info.

    Juval Lowy’s Windows Communication Foundation MasterClass– Registrations close 21 September

    Juval Lowy is returning to Australia by popular demand to deliver his best-of-breed WCF Master Class from 15-19 October 2007 in Sydney. This 5 day intensive course covers WCF programming, design guidelines, pitfalls, original techniques and best practices.

    For More information and to book your place or email

    First Time ever in Australia, Jon Flander’s Applied Windows Workflow- Registrations Close 6 October

    Jon Flanders will come down under 13-16 November 2007 to Melbourne to deliver his 4 day Applied WF intensive course which affords experienced .NET developers training in WF tools and services needed to add rich workflow capabilities to their ASP.NET and Smart Client applications as well as Web and Windows services.

    For More information and to book your place or email

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    (fish)Bowling for TechEd


    Two new videos from the Virtual TechEd FishBowl.

    While you're at it, check out the BuilderAU video section for even more TechEd goodness.

    Click to Play

    XNA Gaming Tools and Technologies

    XNA, Microsoft’s latest suite of game creation tools, is composed of industry-leading software, services, resources, and communities focused on enabling game developers to be successful on Microsoft gaming platforms. Luke Drumm and Daniel Crowley-Wilson from Readify provide an introduction to XNA, and you can learn more by visiting

    Watch Now

    Click to Play

    The Near Future of Developer Technologies

    Mick Badran and Anthony Borton, Microsoft MVPs, have a quick chat about their respective areas of expertise and Tech·Ed Australia sessions around the near future of BizTalk solutions, Windows Communication Foundation, Visual Studio Team System, Team Foundation Server and more.

    Watch Now

    The Fish Bowl Travels to Australia  
  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Office DevCons - Sydney (November 3-4) and San Jose (February 10-13)


    As I posted previously, Grahame Seach is pulling together the community Office DevCon in Sydney this November (3-4). The website is now live with the list of 29 sessions and speakers, information about the conference and the facilities, as well as a registration link.

    Sign Up Now!


    There's also another Office Developer event on the cards, this one organised by Microsoft:


    So to Summarise:

    Sydney, November 3-4 (Community, CodeCamp-like event)

    San Jose, Febrary 10-13 (Microsoft event)

    Looking forward to seeing you at one or both.

Page 1 of 2 (15 items) 12