Tomorrow (Tuesday 26th April) I’m presenting three sessions at WinHEC 2005 (which is combined with the Driver Devcon) sessions include Windows CE 5.0, Windows XP Embedded SP2 and Windows CE Test Kit (a combined session with James Zwygart) – While setting up my hardware this evening for a rehersal one of the driver devcon delegates came into the breakout room and asked about Windows XP and Longhorn kernel mode driver development. Of course I didn’t have a clue about the answer (it’s been a while since I wrote a driver for Windows desktop, and even then the driver was a printer driver), isn’t it good that there are experts that know their specific technologies inside out!
Which reminds me, I was talking to someone from another team this morning about developing software for robots (there are a number of robot enthusiasts at Microsoft) we got onto the subject of MSDN Channel 9, and how interesting it is to see what other teams across Microsoft are doing – We’re typically so “heads down” working on our own tools and technologies that it’s sometimes hard to know what other teams are doing.
Anyhow, last year we have a roving reporter in the form of Chris Muench – and he’s back to report on this years event – here’s the report from day one of WinHEC 2005.
What da WinHEC!
Today was a big day in PC history…at least according to Bill Gates, who finally announced the availability of 64 Bit computing at the WinHEC keynotes.
The introduction of Windows Server 2003 64Bit Edition and the Windows XP Professional x64 Edition has been anticipated by many enthusiasts for a long time and on this magical April 25th, 2005, Bill final stated the “Third Digital Decade”. This third digital decade (first was 16Bit, than 32Bit not 64Bit ….oh and a little Longhorn) was also the motto of this years WinHEC.
The one hour and 30 minutes keynotes showed very impressively how 64Bit and Longhorn will change the way we think about computing. While the keynotes were done very professionally and had great guest speakers (what do you expect from marketers ), I was a bit disappointed how those speakers actually treated this highly technical audience. I am not sure if it is still necessary to explain what a “Folder” is and that “metadata” can be use to create custom “Views” of your data. In fact to sell this as the best new feature of Longhorn was kind of shocking. I hope they really did not drop all the other cool features of Longhorn. And since the presentation on the “new” Longhorn explorer was done by a marketer, such burning questions on “How do you create Metadata?” and “What is the underlying storage story?” …now that WinFS was cut…remained unanswered.
In the conference bag was a new build of Longhorn that had the “Lockdown Driver Model”. This again is a nice marketing way to say “your existing drivers will not work!”. But then WinHEC is a Hardware Conference aimed at driver developers (who surely know what a “folder” and a “View” is). With the Driver Model Locked down (Window Driver Foundation) IHVs can start creating drivers for Longhorn as of now and can be sure they will run when Longhorn ships. (Of course you need to read the fine print that MS always keeps its option to change “locked-down” technologies for “security” reasons). Anyway, if you get your hands on that build and you are NOT an IHV, do not expect any of your existing hardware to work. Longhorn has new-everything in regards of drivers and if your hardware happens to have a hardware component that is not supported out of the Longhorn Box, you will not find drivers for it for quite some time. My suggestion is to rather wait for the broader PDC release of Longhorn if you want to do some serious application development.
After the keynotes, something amazing and quite new for Microsoft happened: There was a 2.5 hour lunch break! Why is that so amazing? If you have ever been on a large Microsoft event you will always find yourself rushing through lunch to get at least a little glimpse at the exhibition or showcases – not even talking about networking. I think a VERY good format that should be replicated for every large scale event. I finally had time to go to every booth and talk to all the folks I was interested in without feeling I have to watch my watch () all the time. Learning about Wireless USB, WiMax, iSCSI and other cool new hardware technologies was at least as interesting as talking to AMD about their broad 64Bit offering. AMD was even showing their fast NOR Flash for Windows CE as well as a new Windows CE reference board for their chips. .
As you can imagine 64Bit was the main theme on the exhibition floor and AMD, Intel and a variety of other big companies showed their 64Bit solutions. The biggest cahuna I saw at the “FastLane” was a 8xDualCore x64 Bit Server with 128GB (its GIGA Byte not Mega Byte ) RAM. For “only” $100K you can get this puppy home. Since its only 4U I could even safe some space in my rack .
In the afternoon I visited a couple sessions where the title was sort of misleading. I was expecting more depth and information from these talks but I guess the theme of the first day was “Introduction to the new stuff”. All three sessions I visited (Designing Entertainment devices, Cellular Phone Connectivity and The new “Designed for Windows Longhorn” logo) were only telling the 10.000 foot level of things and pointed to other sessions on the upcoming days….well, I guess I will see if the next days will provide more in-depth.
Overall the outlook of DualCore Workstations with 4-8GB of RAM coming in June this year are very promising for everyone who is longing for some more power. 64Bit is starting now… (Blogged from a 64Bit XP Pro workstation)