Excellent keynote from Steven Sinofsky opened the morning – how we built Windows 7, what a great story to tell to a room full of developers. Steven showed off a whole pile of new hardware from netbooks to ultra-thin notebooks, server strength workstations and consumer touch screens.
He also demonstrated a special new Acer touch screen laptop and then went on to announce they were available to PDC attendees…for free! Cue rapturous applause and something of a standing ovation.
Steven gave a sneak preview of some of the IE9 features that might just get people excited about the browser again. Fully standards compliant, hardware-accelerated rendering and much more.
Next up was Scott Guthrie who announced the beta of Silverlight 4 and a host of new features that drew warm appreciation from the crowd.
Scott really is a hero developer, king of the geeks, the PDC audience love him and he delivered a bucket load of features that people have been waiting for.
As an aside this was my favourite quip from his talk - while showing a silverlight site featuring both a Victoria’s Secret catalogue and a sports portal the crowd goes whoooo, his response “must be a lot of sports fans in the room…”
Kurt DelBene then covered Sharepoint and Office 2010 as a development platform. Basically Sharepoint as a first-class development citizen, with all the features and capability you’d expect as a traditional .NET developer. This is really important – stats show that .NET developers are far less likely to leverage existing apps and services, preferring to build it from scratch. This makes the cost of a .NET development project higher on average than other platforms where developers tend to take a number of components and glue them together. Hopefully this mentality will start to change as Sharepoint, Dynamics CRM and other platforms become more .NET-ified.
Favourite session yesterday was Gary Flake’s tour through Microsoft Pivot. Building on the DeepZoom work he deconstructed how we view and interpret information and showed how Pivot can help us make sense of massive amounts of information - “using the forest to see the trees” is the main concept.
He demoed this with a Pivot view of Wikipedia where top level articles have been “pre-processed” allowing you to view the context of the information. The example he used was searching on Albert Einstein. Typically we move in a linear fashion between pages, with Pivot you can see every page that links to or from the one you're on and the relevance or frequency of those links. So, for instance the highest relevant links for Einstein were for his work in theoretical physics, at number 10 or so on the list were links related to him being a Jewish German physicist – quite different pieces of information but allowing the user to “swim” through the data rather than step through a piece at a time.
This was Gary’s kinda flow diagram approach to information engineering:
Data –> Information –> Knowledge –> Wisdom
All up a really good day with Microsoft delivering on the promises made across a number of platforms.