The other night I had the opportunity to speak to the Toronto Delphi User Group about Windows Vista and Office 2007.  Now you may be wondering what an IT Pro Advisor for Microsoft is doing talking at a user group meeting for another companies product.  Well I am excited and passionate about the capabilities of Windows Vista and Office 2007 and when they asked, I jumped at the chance.  I enjoy talking about technology and even though I have an infrastructure background, I have worked for software development firms and understand the environment they work in and in reality, IT Pros and Devs, whether they are in Vancouver, Halifax or anywhere in between, often face the same challenges and have a lot of things in common to talk about.

I talked about a lot of the new features in Windows Vista including UI upgrades, search capabilities, security improvements, IE7, language packs and more.  I showed off some rarely seen things such as Dreamscene, Virtual PC 2007 and Speech Recognition as well as some of the new features in Office 2007 like the ribbon, and search capabilities of Outlook 2007.  In all it was well received and a heck of a lot of fun.  The group had lots of questions, most of which I was able to answer by showing how to do what they were asking, but being developers they did have development related questions that I could not answer on the spot, but after pinging our Developer Advisors I got some great resources to share!

For information on creating Vista Sidebar Gadgets MicrosoftGadgets.com (http://microsoftgadgets.com)  comes highly recommended.  When demoing language packs and the ability to switch between languages one of the questions raised was can a 3rd party developer access this functionality.  I knew the answer was yes, but if you want to know how, Writing Culture Safe Managed Code (http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms994325.aspx) has some great information.  Lastly, there was a question on integrating your application with the Speech Recognition features of Vista and I found this great article titled Exploring New Speech Recognition And Synthesis APIs In Windows Vista (http://msdn.microsoft.com/msdnmag/issues/06/01/speechinWindowsVista/) with a lot of great information.

After the event, we headed to a local pub for a few pints were the topic turned to XNA and how youth finally have something exciting to get them motivated to learn software development.  As a non-dev looking back, if I had something like XNA to be able to create games for my xBox360, I maybe a Developer Advisor now instead.  There is a whole host of information on this free tool located at the XNA Game Studio Center (http://msdn.microsoft.com/directx/XNA/default.aspx) if you wish to look further into this.

All in all I had a great time and will definitely look for more opportunities to talk to other user groups outside the scope of IT Pro and Microsoft!  If you have any more questions click the Email link at the top of the page and one of our friendly Developer Advisors would love to answer your more technical, development related questions.

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Rodney Buike (http://www.microsoft.com/canada/technet/community/meetTN/content/RodneyBuike.xml) is an IT Pro Advisor on the Developer and Platform Evangelism team at Microsoft Canada. Before joining Microsoft Canada Rodney worked as a network technician, system engineer, independent consultant, author and most recently as a Senior System Architect/Engineer for a Microsoft Gold Partner in Winnipeg, Manitoba.