With the year almost coming to an end, I was looking back at some of the remarkable events this past year.  One of the fondest memories I have of this year, although with mixed feelings, is Bill Gate’s keynote and luncheon at TechEd This keynote marked Bill’s last public speech before he made the switch to focus more on his foundation.  I found it to be a very appropriate venue for him to finish on as he took a step back from the day to day Microsoft business.  He spoke to the audience that Microsoft was first created for – Developers.  As I have blogged about in the past, the luncheon that he hosted with a few community leaders that day was also very powerful in its messaging about the potential impact of technology and individuals partnering together to make an impact in advance of natural or other disasters.  


The mixed feelings come from the fact that I feel like I was a part of history here, but I am also saddened to witness a close to a great era. I am, of course, honored to continue the legacy of commitment to innovate and support the great work of the developer community and agree with Bill’s message that it is an exciting time to be a developer and there are many great things that lay ahead.


When I look at everything else that happened this year, I know that while Bill has moved on to new things, his presence and guidance are still felt as we move forward into the future.


As I walk down memory lane, here are some of the key things that stood out in my mind. 


Heroes Happen Here: In February we had a huge launch for Visual Studio 2008 and .NET Fx 3.5 along with Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008.  These products were received amazingly well and it is great to see customers build amazing applications with these products.


Silverlight Powered the Olympics: To enable the Olympic Games to reach millions of people and enable hundreds of thousands to concurrently watch live events such as Michael’s swimming, NBC created an amazing site that was powered by Silverlight 2 Beta 2.  In the first four days of the Olympic Games, there were 13.5 million video streams, 16.9 million unique users, and 291.1 million page views.  To provide some context, in the entire Athens Olympic Games four years ago, there were only 2.2 million video streams launched.  Subsequent to the Olympics launch, we also shipped Silverlight 2 and Expression 2, the tooling for designers to support Silverlight and WPF applications.


DreamSpark and BizSpark: We announced Microsoft DreamSpark, a program which makes professional-level developer and design tools available to students around the world at no charge, to support and advance their learning and skills through technical design, technology, math, science and engineering activities.  This program equips tomorrow’s leaders with the professional tools to inspire and create today.  We also announced another program to help jumpstart startup businesses – Microsoft BizSpark.  These companies will get fast and easy access to current Microsoft full-featured development tools, platform technologies, and production licenses of server products that can be used for immediate use in developing and bringing to market their products with no upfront costs and minimal requirements.  Startups will also get access to the community technology preview (CTP) of the Microsoft Azure Services Platform.  They will receive professional technical support from Microsoft and community support from BizSpark Network Partners around the world. 


Windows Azure: At the PDC, we announced Windows Azure Services Platform as Microsoft’s new cloud computing and services platform hosted in Microsoft’s data centers.  We have a great set of tools with Visual Studio and the .NET Framework, and we want developers to be able to use them to build cloud applications. We did a preview of some of these tools available at PDC.

Foray into Parallel Computing: We established the Parallel Computing Initiative in 2007 which encompasses the vision, strategy, and innovative technologies for delivering natural and immersive personal computing experiences that harness the computing power of manycore architectures. This year, we announced our first big steps to deliver Parallel Computing technologies in Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 and the .NET Framework 4.0.  This will include programming models for concisely expressing concurrency, including new .NET Framework libraries such as the Task Parallel Library and Parallel LINQ as well as the Parallel Pattern Library and Concurrency Runtime for developing native applications with C++ that execute efficiently on parallel hardware and parallel profiling and debugging experiences.  This is all a part of the Emerging Trends pillar of Visual Studio 2010.


There are many interesting things I haven’t mentioned including the revealing of the Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Fx 4 pillars, launch of the DevLabs website, the combining of Team Dev and Team Data, Application Guidance, Visual C++ 2008 Feature Pack, and much more.


Have a happy holiday season and I wish you all a very happy new year!