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The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

Microsoft postpones PDC and more

Robert Scoble had a great post on the PDC and what is going on at Microsoft.   I liked it so much I included most of it here with my comments.

The PDC stands for “Professional Developer’s Conference.” It happens only when Microsoft knows it’ll have a major new platform to announce. Usually a new version of Windows or a new Internet strategy.

So, this means a couple of things: no new Windows and no major new Internet strategy this year.

I agree there is no new strategy this year and that is disappointing; however, Silverlight is huge and this year, and if not an Internet strategy it is an Internet developer strategy. 

Cleary Mix07 was the place to be — I would have made sure I went if I had known that PDC was going to be cancelled.

Some other things I’m hearing about the next version of Windows? There still is a ban on .NET code in core parts of Windows. They aren’t getting enough performance yet from .NET to include code written in it inside major parts of Windows. This is a bummer, because .NET is a lot easier to write than C++ and letting Microsoft’s developers write .NET code for Windows would unleash a bunch of innovation.

I fully agree with you here — a definite bummer.  Yet I don’t agree about the performance of .NET.  Certainly there are parts of Windows that need to be unmanaged code; but Digipede has a slew of customers using .NET for computation and getting terrific performance from it.  Face it, this “not performant yet” argument is used by people at Microsoft from kernel / device authors (OK) to the Office team (what?).  It is hard to separate the good arguments here from just plain bias and inertia. 

The person who told me this (who works at Microsoft) told me .NET still takes too long to startup and load into memory and because Windows is now being compared to OSX they can’t afford to ship components that would slow down Windows.

What?  If this were baked into the OS, couldn’t they do a better job of sharing this startup cost (i.e., doing it once with reuse)? 

This gets right back to my posts about how the Windows .NET API is actually dead (see these: WinFx).

It also means that Ray Ozzie’s team probably doesn’t have anything dramatic to announce yet and they aren’t willing to have live within the bounds of a forcing function like the PDC (PDC forces teams to get their acts together and finish off stuff enough to at least get some good demos together).

This is the “no Internet strategy this year” part.  Yup.  Definite bummer.

Some other things I’m hearing from the Windows team? That they are still planning out the next version of Windows. So, I don’t expect to see a beta until 2008 (probably second half of the year, if we see one at all) and I don’t expect to see a major new version of Windows to ship until 2009.

Microsoft says it won’t be as long between releases of the OS now.  I think, though, we won’t see a major new version released until Windows till 2010.

Anyway, this is sad cause I was hoping to see Microsoft make an all out push for developers this year.

Well, I think they have.  Their developer story is getting better and better every quarter.  I think they should have had the PDC anyway and continued to flog the .NET 3.0 and new .NET 3.5 stuff particularly Silverlight. 

What do you think it all means? Am I reading too much in between the lines?

Maybe you are.  I think the timing for the PDC was definitely wrong for Microsoft.  The Microsoft Internet strategy we are really waiting for has to do with Office / other applications and Internet services.  When this is unveiled, I think it will have less to do with developers than warranted at a PDC.  Ironically that should have been announced at Mix, but will have to wait for the next one.

Will Microsoft unveil a new Internet strategy at Mix08?  I bet.

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Silverlight and Ajax

I’m glad to see that the CLR story for Silverlight (aka WPF/E) has made it out.  There was much discussion about this at the recent Microsoft ISV CTO Summit.  Scott Guthrie let us know at the time that there would be announcements at MIX07 as there have been.

Silverlight really is a game changer.  It pushes the very compelling managed code and XAML stories into the browser.

At the Summit someone asked how Ajax (and ASP.NET AJAX Extensions) fits in with the WPF/E strategy.  The answer (from the ASP.NET AJAX guy) was something to the effect of “they are solutions to two different problems”.

Certainly this is true.  I put it a little differently:

  • Silverlight is a new way of deploying apps on the Web while leveraging the existing .NET tooling and languages.  It is an entire development platform and strategy for building rich applications in a browser.  It provides an OS and browser independent story (albeit limited on day one).
  • Ajax is a set of techniques to create dynamic HTML.  Basically this is to force dynamic Web applications into the browser.  Ajax (and HTML/XHTML/CSS for that matter) is notoriously browser dependent.  Much Ajax work is made more painful because of browser-specific hacks.  In addition, building extensible and maintainable Ajax is extremeley difficult.

So, one is a new way of building web apps with killer toolking.

The other is a way of building web apps with killer hacks.

Which would you rather build, deploy, support, and maintain?

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Ultimate .NET Developer’s Charity Auction

Jamie Cansdale, author of the excellent, has organized several charity auctions to help people in Malawi.  In his words:

I have decided to organize a charity auction of a number of licenses for .NET developer tools. All proceeds of the auction will be given to Wells for Zoë, a charity dedicated to increasing the availability of safe drinking water and water for irrigation in rural areas of Malawi. You can read more about the project on their website or blog.

One unusual thing about this charity is that all travel and admin expenses are paid by the charity’s founders themselves. Therefore all donations go directly to sourcing the much needed equipment on the ground in Malawi. You can find out more about the equipment that is needed on the donation page here.

The software is being auctioned on eBay (they complete at the crack of dawn Pacific Standard Time on Wednesday):

If you want any of these excellent products, bid away!

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.NET 3.0 Ships

Office 2007 RTM’ed this morning so I’ve been looking throughout the day for news on .NET 3.0.

And, yes, it came out too.  Here.   

I got what I wanted: the release of .NET 3.0 has been decoupled from Vista.  Of course, Vista is in escrow and will RTM within a few weeks so it isn’t that decoupled.

Anyway, congratulations to the teams for getting this done!  

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WinFx is Dead Part 2

After I posted WinFx is Dead, I’ve gotten two kinds of comments:

Didn’t you hear that WinFx has been renamed .NET 3.0? What rock have you been hiding under?

Well, yes, I have heard that — my point wasn’t that the name WinFx is dead, it is that the concept of WinFx is dead.

Really, Microsoft has killed the managed Windows API?

What, am I psychic?

I have no idea if Microsoft has killed the managed Windows API. It appears to me that they have. The stated reason for the name change was to clear up confusion in the marketplace. The common belief seems to be that this confusion was that developers didn’t understand how WinFx related to .NET. I believe that the actual confusion was that developers didn’t understand how WinFx (as composed of WCF, WPF, WF, etc.) had anything to do with a managed Windows API.

I am guessing that this name change away from WinFx is indicates that the managed Windows API is dead. John goes further in comment on this post (full comment here):

. . . Microsoft continues to vacilate on this issue. I hear Microsoft execs stand up and proclaim that everything is .NET. Then I see product teams create products without the slightest nod to .NET, using a patchwork of unmanaged code and interfaces dating back to the (early) COM days.

So, Microsoft: you may think that the name change cleared up some confusion. Maybe it did. But as a Microsoft ISV, Gold certified partner, developer, I’ll tell you that I’m confused about how .NET actually fits into the overall product plans.

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WinFx is dead

From mdavey: Longhorn “Server Core” doesn’t have .NET? No managed code.

From the referenced article, Server Core Program Manager

(Andrew) Mason says his development team wants to add the .NET Framework to Server Core, but they first need the Framework team to modularize the code so they can add just the essentials.

Another example of the left-hand not being coordinated with the right. I know I’m mixing metaphors, but it has continued to baffle me that it is taking Microsoft so long to adopt managed code.

Now I think I understand why. And the WinFx to .NET 3.0 name change illustrates the point well:

  • WinFx was purported to be the new Windows API. This claim, while supported by various parts of Microsoft was never internalized by the product teams.
  • This is actually the message that was confusing people. Customers / developers were not asking “what is WinFx?”, as much as they were asking, “where is the new managed Windows API, WinFx?”.
  • But there is no managed Windows API. Managed code is not a core part of the OS (and may never be).
  • So, to avoid the topic, WinFx gets killed. Not just the name, but the entire idea of a managed Windows API. Sure, the components of WinFx get shifted to .NET 3.0.

I have posted before that I am OK with the name change. I am, but I am not OK with the death of the managed Windows API.

Now (of course) this blog is all my own opinion, but I want to point out that this is purely an outsiders view of what is going on at Microsoft. As far as I know I am completely mistaken and next week Microsoft will announce some new effort to provide a fully managed API. Or not.

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IE7 release date decoupled from Vista

It appears that IE7 has been decoupled from Vista. According to the IEBlog, the final release will be in “a few weeks”.

On a couple of occasions, I have requested that IE7 and .NET 3.0 be released when ready (post here) — presumably before Vista. I guess I have gotten part of my wish, though it is really the RTM of .NET 3.0 that I would like to see released.

On a side note: the last I checked IE7 is not dependent on .NET. Unfortunate to say the least. I would like to see managed Browser Helper Objects (BHOs) being easy without requiring COM — that could have gotten IE7 much closer to the Firefox extension model. What will ever drive .NET installs onto XP so that it is, in fact, ubiquitous?

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