Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Live! (Almost) From the Atlanta MSDN Developer Conference

Sorry there was no "heads-up" on this one; I've only known that I would be attending for the last few weeks. Normally I'd have posted something that I'll be at event X on day Y but my work schedule and the craziness of this time of year precluded that.

The Atlanta (and other cities) MDC is meant to distill critical developer sessions from PDC into a one-day event. I talked with a 'Softie about the purpose and execution of the event (dude, sorry, didn't note the name) and it seems that MS was not entirely convinced this was not a good idea since, at $99 per registration with speakers and MVPs comped, it was going to cost the company money.

Well, IMHO, I got more bang from the buck at this one day event than I have from any other in quite some time. If you'll excuse the phrase, MS went balls-to-the-walls and showed off a lot of stuff coming down the road that was definitiely ooh-and-ahh.

In the keynote alone, superbly managed by Ron Jacobs, we got doses of Azure and cloud computing, "Geneva", new SQL Services, Live Services, Silverlight/VS 2010 stuff, and Windows 7.

Ron used an interesting analogy to being aware of future technologies - he said is what like playing Age of Empires online and managing your kingdom only to find it rushed by your competitior without warning. I thought at first he was a bit melodramatic and was heavu-handed with the point but then, later, settled into more concrete and less fearful uses of the analogy.

My main take-away from the keynote was the unbridled enthusiasm and hope for Windows 7. Yes, "hope" not "hype". Ron was very open about what Vista falldowns are overcome by Windows 7 and showed a bit of a cool demo using the new HP touchscreen PC (which further justified my upcoming purchase of that machine - In your face, Tray!!)

Yeah, I could post a kool-aid faux knowledgable lie about the other things he talked about and say how wonderful they were since he used the stock phrase "isn't that cool?" enough times but, honestly, I am not familiar enough with the technologies to pass judgement and I'm not one to gush on hype. I have grown very conservative over the years judging upfront how a new platform or technology will service me and my customers so no insult intended for Ron or my former employer.

A friend from the Fox world, Alan Stevens, presented on the future of managed languages and cool stuff like JQuery (damn, now I'm doing the cool thing). Alan did a great, great job. Allow me an aside for a moment, this conference had a room christened the "Community Courtyard" with whiteboards and seats to discuss things. Alan *openly* sought out people looking for more information and then ran informal seminars in that room using the whiteboards and a clear, consistant manner to answering questions and directing the discussion. A few of the other speakers added commentary but Alan captivated about a dozen folks with expert insight into a variety of web architectural scenarios. It's easy to find technology experts, people persons, and great teachers, but it's RARE to find all in one guy. If MS doesn't hire this guy or make him a permanent addition to their speaker list they're missing the boat.

I continued to attend sessions in the Tools and Languages track and, thankfully, my co-workers attended sessions in other tracks so Advanced Systems Design got a full knowledge spread from their attendees.

I'm still digesting and I'll undoubtedly post more in the coming days as it occurs to me. It's almost midnight and I'm really tired from the 5 hour drive. I didn't immediately learn a lot but I never do from 75 minutes of being dictated to. However, I did have my interest piqued a-plenty and saw many things to be on the lookout for in the future.

Hey, Microsoft! Great job by your regional folks and you should do this every year. Thanks!

1 comment:

Ed Leafe said...

Keep your options open about the cloud. The whole point of a "cloud" is that it's open and nebulous enough that it isn't tied to any single platform or technology.

To be completely up front, I work for Rackspace, which has a competing cloud technology. I think it is a great choice because it is completely platform- and language-agnostic. Even if you can't envision yourself using anything but Microsoft forever, this is a technology that will work for you. And if you like to avoid lock-in, a platform-agnostic solution is awfully attractive.