Microsoft PDC 2009 – Main Messages

The first keynote of Microsoft’s PDC 2009 conference in Los Angeles has come and gone. Ray Ozzie kicked it off with some of the main messages that gave everyone insight into how Microsoft sees the direction of IT, programming, processes, and more. It was an interesting session that really focused on a few things, but most importantly it focused on Microsoft dedication to the Windows Azure platform and the big thing (to me), the idea that they are dedicated to making a seamless experience between mobile, PC, and TV.

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There are a lot of questions in the air on which technologies people should use to build their applications. This is a big decision for programmers and architects alike. If you are a programmer, you have to make a dedication on which technologies you should study and learn and then use that knowledge to build solutions that will stand a test of (some) time. These applications should be meaningful and easy to use for the end user. They should appear modern. These are tough choices as you can use ASP.NET WebForms, ASP.NET MVC, Windows Forms, Windows Presentation Foundation, Silverlight, and more. What to choose? Is one of these more strategic for Microsoft. Which technology should you choose and do you have the confidence that this technology has a strategic direction at Microsoft.

Is it part of Microsoft’s strategic direction? That is an important question developers ask themselves all the time. Will Microsoft have their best minds dedicated to evolving the technology? Will they continue to bring new and exciting (and sometimes revolutionary) features to the technology? Will tools, such as Visual Studio, evolve to handle the technology better with each release? These are questions I ask everyday and with everything I hear and read from Microsoft.

For this reason, I found it interesting that Ray Ozzie presented this slide at the conference.

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So first off, it is a great goal to make a singular experience for developers across all these application types. I want to build an application that has as much reusable content/modules/components/etc as I move the application from Windows, to a device, to the TV and more. This is a great message from Microsoft. They are going to dedicate themselves to making a singular experience in building our applications in these different types of containers and help us get the most out of the code that we develop. I love this message and it is something I really wanted to hear from them.

The other message is quite shocking. Ray Ozzie pointed out that Silverlight is the technology that people should invest in. It is the client technology to get them to this realization of reusability. From this diagram, you can see the development tools of Visual Studio 2010 and Expression Studio to develop Silverlight-based applications to devices, the PC, and more. Ray continuously mentioned Silverlight has the means to the end and didn’t mention WPF as this means in the same paragraph. We are definitely seeing an evolution of Silverlight that has a lot of excitement behind it. We are definitely seeing a marketing and evangelism push behind this technology that seems so much bigger than anything else at Microsoft at the moment. Ray was asking developers to place their bets with Silverlight.

I said the message was quite shocking – not shocking in a bad way. I was just surprised as the Microsoft I’ve known from the past focused on a lot of different technologies to get to your end goals. The message was - “Look at your large tool chest of options”. That message seems to be gone now. We now seem to have a supertool for all our end goals. I really got this message – Silverlight.

Follow me at PDC on Twitter - @billevjen

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