Microsoft PDC is coming next week. I've spent several days in the last couple weeks watching many of the practice sessions. Here's my list of must-see sessions that apply to ISV decision makers and architects. In my opinion, there are several important themes for ISVs:

  • Cloud Services. How should you build next generation applications for the cloud? What changes are needed to current applications? How can new technology around identity make life easier? How to connect to data?
  • Updates to Connected Systems (Windows Workflow Foundations, Windows Communications Foundation)
  • Windows 7: How compatible is it? What features can be exploited for some competitive advantage?
  • Tools: Oslo, Visual Studio 2010

The session timeline was posted on Friday on the PDC website.

Day 1

A Lap around Cloud Services Part 1

Hear about key problems that cloud computing is solving and how these services fit into the Microsoft cloud computing initiatives. Learn about the pillars of the platform, its service lifecycle, and see how they fit with both Microsoft and non-Microsoft technologies. Also, hear about the services roadmap over the next few years.
 
Identity Roadmap for Software + Services
 
The security demands on applications continue to grow in the face of compliance, online threats, and cloud- based software. In this session find out how to use Microsoft's portfolio of identity software and services to advantage your connected applications. Learn about the future roadmap for Identity and the claims-based architecture underlying it all, from Windows Live ID to Active Directory, from on-premises software to the cloud, and anchored in industry standard protocols.
 
"Dublin" and .NET Services: Extending On-Premises Applications to the Cloud
 
Would you like to extend your existing SharePoint and .NET applications both on-premises and to the cloud in a non-intrusive way? This session will show you real-world examples of how to harness .NET Services workflow, access control and service bus to enhance business processes and add new capabilities to your application. We will demonstrate the use of "Dublin" Windows Application Server technologies to build extended application functionality. Lastly, you will see how workflow can be used to integrate across multiple organizations and the cloud. For ISVs, this session will provide a blueprint for how to sell more products to your installed base without requiring them to upgrade.
 
WF 4.0: A First Look
 
Programs coordinate work. The code for coordination and state management often obscures a program's purpose. Learn how programming with Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) 4.0 provides clarity of intent while preserving the functional richness of the .NET framework. See how easy it is to build workflows with the new Visual Studio workflow designer. Learn about text-based authoring options for WF. Hear how WF integrates well with other Microsoft technologies (WCF, WPF, ASP.NET). If you've looked at WF before, come and see the changes to data flow, composition, and new control flow styles. Significant improvements to usability, composability, and performance make Workflow a great fit for a broad range of solutions on both the client and the server.
 
SQL Server: Database to Data Platform - Road from Server to Devices to the Cloud
 
Cloud-based data services will change the way you develop and deploy applications, and SQL Server technologies are evolving to help you build data-driven solutions that span devices, desktops, servers, and the cloud. Learn how to use ADO.NET Data Services Framework (code name "Astoria"), SQL Server Data Services (SSDS), and the Microsoft Sync Framework. Hear how to build applications that can be deployed using SSDS in the cloud or SQL Server on-premises, and learn how to gain insights using the BI capabilities of Microsoft SQL Server.
 
Identity: "Geneva" Server and Framework Overview
 
See how to use "Geneva" and the claims-based identity model to enable single sign-on, strong authentication, federation, and the ability to flow user authentication between applications. Find out how to use "Geneva" with ASP.NET, WCF, Active Directory, Windows Live ID, and Windows CardSpace.
 

Day 2

 
Live Services: What I Learned Building My First Mesh Application
 
What's it like building an application that uses feeds and synchronization? The Live Services resource and synchronization model offers a lot of flexibility to developers and a different approach to development from typical database or SQL replication. I built one of the first Mesh applications at Microsoft, and I'll share the top five things I learned.
 
Developing Applications Using Data Services
 
In the near future, applications will be developed using a combination of custom application code and online building block services, including data-centric services. In this session we discuss advancements in the Microsoft development platform and online service interfaces to enable seamless interaction with data services both on-premises (e.g., ADO.NET Data Services Framework over on-premises SQL Server) and in the cloud (e.g., SQL Server Data Services). Learn how you can leverage existing know-how related to LINQ (Language Integrated Query), data access APIs, data-binding, and more when building applications using online data.
 
SQL Server 2008: Developing Large Scale Web Applications and Services
 
As a developer of mission critical, large-scale web applications and services, do you worry about supporting large numbers of users with lightning fast response times, scaling to terabytes of data, designing multi-tenant services, as well as the cost of building these applications? If you answered yes, come to this session and learn how Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and other data platform services will help you architect and develop your applications to be high throughput, low latency, and highly available-and yet provide predictability of performance and total cost. We describe proven data architectures, design patterns and practices being used by our highest scale customers who service millions of users every day. We also share our next release plans that will help you understand our roadmap on how we will continue to address the needs of the most demanding large-scale applications.
 
Architecting Services for the Cloud
 
From design to implementation, building a scalable, available web service is different from building other kinds of applications. This session discusses the impact that designing for the cloud has on all stages of the service lifecycle, and how the Microsoft cloud platform works for you to meet the scaling and availability goals of your service. Also learn how the cloud services platform is architected to isolate and protect your service.
 

Day 3

Panel: The Future of Programming Languages

Learn about the future of programming from some of the leading programming languages experts in the world. Hear how programming will be affected by a number of fundamental changes that are occurring like many-core machines, cloud computing, and more. Also hear about the biggest challenges that face the industry. This will be a fascinating expert panel discussion for anyone that is involved with developing applications or services.

Windows 7: Design Principles for Windows 7
 
Together, we can increase customer enthusiasm, satisfaction and loyalty by designing user experiences that are both desirable and harmonious. In this session we introduce the Windows User Experience Principles approach to shipping software. Along the way we share stories and lessons learned along the journey of designing the user model and experience for Windows 7, and leave you with a set of principles that you can apply as you build your applications for Windows
 
"Oslo": Repository and Models
 
"Oslo" is making news. We're taking silos of proprietary, platform, and application data and opening it up for sharing. What gets shared? Deployment configuration, web services definitions, workflow definitions, and that's just a start. Learn how to utilize platform models, how to extend models, and how to add your own models to the repository using the "Oslo" modeling language. Also learn how to version, secure, and deploy models.
 
Live Services: Building Mesh-Enabled Web Applications Using the Live Framework
 
Come learn how to extend your existing web applications and get them to live and breathe within Live Mesh. Mesh-enabled web applications can be accessed from anywhere through a web browser as well as run locally (and offline) on a user's desktop and can take full advantage of many Mesh value-add services such as a dedicated sandbox, online and offline synchronized storage, auto deployment and update, identity, application catalogue, social computing and more. Learn about the architecture and lifecycle of applications which live in the Mesh and how to Mesh-enable your Silverlight 2 and JavaScript application.

Day 4

Microsoft .NET Framework: Declarative Programming Using XAML
 
If you're using Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), or Windows Workflow Foundation (WF), then XAML is your new best friend! Learn how an entire application-from presentation to data to services to workflow--can be authored using simple, declarative XAML notations introduced in the next version of the .NET Framework. Learn about XAML additions like: support for generics, object references, non-default constructors, and more.
 
Enabling Test Automation Using Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V
 
With Hyper-V, you can decrease your software test cycles, improve your test coverage, and provide testers and developers a safe, scalable test bed for applications. In this session we introduce the concepts that can assist you in development of an automation framework that can take advantage of Hyper-V