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Microsoft PDC 2009 – Key Themes

November 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Microsoft’s 2009 Professional Developers Conference (PDC) was held in Los Angeles from November 17-19 this past week. And there’s a whack of content to digest.

Day 1 and Day 2 of the conference saw keynotes from top Microsoft brass on key areas of focus for the Windows platform and related Microsoft products. In addition to the two keynotes, there were many, many technical sessions drilling deeper into specific topics.

Let’s have a look at the key topics covered in the keynotes, to see what’s “top of mind” at Microsoft these days.

Day 1 Keynote

The Day 1 Keynote was headlined by Ray Ozzie, Chief Software Architect at Microsoft and Bob Muglia, President Server & Tools.

Cloud Computing and Windows Azure

Front and center of this keynote was cloud computing and the Windows Azure cloud computing platform. Windows Azure is both:

  1. A set of capabilities and technologies
  2. An application/programming model

A key focus at Microsoft is to create a unified programming model and infrastructure management experience for managing applications across enterprise data centers, and applications hosted in the cloud on the Azure platform. Integating these two computing infrastructure – in the enterprise and hosted in the cloud – is the Azure Fabric controller.

Here’s how Microsoft presented key features of the Cloud Application Model in the Day 1 keynote:

Cloud Data Services – code name “Dallas”

Ray Ozzie discussed the Cloud of Data, and introduced the Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra (who is a very charismatic speaker BTW) by live video feed to speak about the Federal Government’s Open Government initiative, and its support for Open Data.

Ozzie briefly spoked about Microsoft’s Data Services in the Cloud offering, code named Dallas.

Modeling – the fate of Oslo

Finally, somewhere in the mix, Microsoft announced that Oslo has moved into the Data Developer group, and has been rebranded as SQL Server Modeling technologies. This includes the newly-christened SQL Modeling Services (the old Oslo Repository), as well as the M modeling language and Quadrant modedling UI. Here’s a nice little blog post that discusses Microsoft’s rationale for closely integrating the modeling and data spaces.

Those are really the key topics from the Day 1 keynote. Give it a view if these topics are of interesting to you.

Day 2 Keynote

The Day 2 Keynote featured:

  • Steven Sinofsky – discussing Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 9
  • Scott Guthrie – exploring new features in Silverlight 4
  • Kurt DelBene – providing an overview of SharePoint 2010

Windows 7 and IE 9

Steven Sinofsky, President of the Windows Divison at Microsoft, gave what I thought was a very interesting and entertaining look at Windows 7. He talked about some of the “lessons learned” from developing past Windows platforms, and discussed some of the key new features in Windows 7, some of which are summarized in the slide below:

Sinofsky also briefly touched on lessons learned in developing IE 8, and some key areas of focus for IE 9.

Silverlight 3 and 4

Scott Guthrie‘s keynote on Silverlight was absolutely delightful. As is evident from the presentation, the “cadence” of the Silverlight team of bringing new features to market is remarkable. Here’s a “few” of the features that Microsoft introduced in Silverlight 3:

To quote Guthrie:

We shipped Silverlight 3 a little over three months ago … Silverlight 3 delivers the richest media experiences on the Web.

With Silverlight 3, Microsoft also shipped Expression Blend 3, which is a tool for delivering rich, interactive experiences for both Silverlight and WPF. Guthrie played a video showcasing some of the capabilities of Sketchflow, which is an innovative tool for application prototyping. Very cool!

Guthrie went on to showcase some of the summer’s leading online streaming events delivered via Silverlight, including the Sunday Night Football site, illustrated below:

Guthrie then turned his focus to Silverlight 4, which will be a major new release for Microsoft. I’m not going to review the new features in Silverlight 4, but if you’re interested, do check out Guthrie’s keynote.

I thought the Silverlight 4 based Facebook applications demoed by Brian Goldfarb was extremely cool. Check that out as well.

Finally, Guthrie announced that the Silverlight 4 Beta is now avaiable for download, and that the final release of Silverlight 4 will be released in the first half of 2010.

Microsoft Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010

The final speaker of the Day 2 Keynote was Kurt DelBene, senior vice president of the Office Business Productivity Group (OBP) of the Microsoft Business Division, who discussed some of the new features in Microsoft Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010.

I’m not going to provide an overview of DelBene’s keynote, as I recently blogged about the upcoming features in SharePoint 2010 here.

Session videos

Finally, just a whack of sessions delving into the various technical and product domains. A full listing of the PDC09 sessions is provided here.

I’ll just quickly provide a few links to some of my favorite talks (which obviously reveals my particular interests):

In Summary

So a lot of interesting content at this years PDC. Hope this overview provides you with a sense of future directions of the Microsoft computing platform.

glenn

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SharePoint 2010 – Microsoft embraces Social Media, and much more

November 21, 2009 1 comment

In October, Microsoft held its SharePoint Conference 2009, where it formally introduced SharePoint 2010 to the world.

Keynotes

A couple keynotes from this conference that are a great place to start to familiarize oneself with the capabilities of SharePoint 20101. First, Microsoft Corporate VP for SharePoint, Jeff Teper, had a keynote where he introduced new business capabilities in the SharePoint 2010 platform. Jeff also provided this excellent blog post on the SharePoint Team Blog outline the key features upcoming in SharePoint 2010.

For the more technically inclined, Steve Balmer’s keynote, which he delivered with Tom Rizzo, Senior Director for SharePoint, is an excellent overview of new development capabilities available for SharePoint 2010 developers.

Taxonomy, Tagging, Folksonomies – these are a few of my favorite things 🙂

What most pleases me about SharePoint 2010 – and there are many things truth be told – is the move away from a “nested folders” metaphor for navigating content, towards a navigational paradigm based on tagging, taxonomies, and folksonomies.

Thank goodness! SharePoint 2007 really sucked in this regard IMO. I found it very frustrating to navigate content based primarily on a “nested folder” paradigm. When you combine Microsoft’s new commitment to tagging, social tagging, and taxonomies with their improved features for Communities/Social Computing, you have the basis for a very decent social computing platform IMO.

In Summary

For those that are “deep” into the SharePoint space, the new features in SharePoint can be a bit overwhelming. For users of SharePoint, it’s a bit mind-boggling (for me anyway).

Anyway, lots of great learning resources.

glenn

Place Profiles – The convergence of Listings & Reviews, HyperLocal, Local Search, Maps, and Mobile platforms

November 11, 2009 1 comment

Very interesting to see how the emerging “Places” technology space is unfolding. With Google’s recent launch of Places Pages, I believe we’re witnessing the intersection of Listings and Reviews, HyperLocal, Local Search, Maps, and Mobile platforms into an integrated product offering.

Google’s powerful Location-based Search platform

First there was the announcement from Google on September 29th 2009 of Place Pages for Google Maps. Mashup’s analysis re: the implications for Yelp is here: Place Pages: Google Launches Rival to Yelp.

The very next day, Google launches an improved mobile search service. Again, here’s what Mashup had to say on the matter: Google Launches Mobile Local Search: More Bad News for Yelp.

The combination of Google’s Maps, Places, and mobile Local Search services are a powerful trio. Throw in Google’s efforts in Semantic Web technology – of which Google Snippets is an example – and you’ve got quite a platform.

So what are “Place Pages” exactly?

Well, imagine that places – historical sites, monuments, your city, your community, your business, your residence, the mall, etc – were on Facebook. To my way of seeing it Place Pages is like Facebook for Places. Here’s an example of a place page for the Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. Note the map, reviews, products and pricing, pictures, etc. on this page. Here’s another place page for the city of Tokyo, Japan.

I tell you, there’s some serious semantic technology at work here. Welcome to the Web of Things (see also Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle’s Web meets World – aka Web Squared – presentation, which I blogged about here).

Here comes Microsoft

Not sitting still, Microsoft also has some powerful technology and products to bring to bear. First, in 2008 Microsoft acquires Semantic Search engine Powerset to integrate into their Bing Search platform.

Then, just days ago, Microsoft announced a significant upgrade to their Bing Maps platform.

Meanwhile Microsoft continues to invest in Local Search technology, and the Semantic technology experitise they acquired with PowerSet should position them well moving forward.

So where does this leave Yelp?

Well, we’ll have to see. Certainly Yelp’s new augmented reality iPhone app is mighty cool. And they’ve got a solid strategic position. But look out for the big boyz!

Location Technology – beyond Maps

For additional insight into the future of location-aware technology, see my previous blog post on O’Reilly’s Where 2.0 2009 conference.

glenn