Wednesday, October 29, 2008

PDC2008.Length mod 4 = 2

I'm now at the half way point of my first Microsoft conference. I've attended many conferences in the past, but this is my first sponsored by the Redmond giant. For a Monday morning start, I flew into LA Sunday afternoon on a CRJ-700. I must say it was the quietest plane I've ever flown on. Sunday evening I had a delightful dinner with some family who live in the area.

Overall, the conference itself has been very good. Good presenters. Great information. Super food. The purpose of this conference is for Microsoft to cast their vision of the computing future. It is mostly about new technology that has not been released yet. This spans the gamut from next versions of current products to things in research to directions they think the industry is headed.

In Monday's keynote they talked about a new product called Windows Azure that they are positioning to be the OS for the web. It's made up of a number of coordinating services such as .Net Services, SQL Services and Live Services that they host in their data centers. The idea is they take care of the infrastructure and you use it to put your applications in. It reminds me of Amazon's offering on a larger, more ambitious scale. As they talked about it, I kept having two thoughts: really cool technology! And, how do they pay for it? I thought they were going to finish without answering the question. But at the very end, they finally claimed they haven't worked out all the details, but it'll probably be a subscription service based on traffic and needed reliability.

In Tuesday's keynote, Windows 7 was presented. It's the next version of the desktop client to replace Vista in 18 or so months. Each attendee was given a hard drive, as well as a CD, with the install for Windows 7 and a host of other software to support it. I tried installing it on a virtual machine from the CD but got errors about a file not being found. It installed flawlessly, and much faster, from the HD. So far I haven't had a chance to use it other than playing around with a few settings, but as a pre-beta release, it seems pretty mature. Someone claimed everyone at Microsoft is using it for their day to day work.

So far there have only been two down sides to the conference: the bumper music has been awful; it makes me want to do violence to some sound equipment. And secondly, the special event last night was at Universal Studios. I was there once before and sort of ambivalent about going, but the food was free and I figured I'd check out the changes they've made in the last 20 years. It was terrible. None of the rides held any interest to me whatsoever and the lines were long enough I didn't feel like wasting any of my life on them. The worse part though was they were prepared for Halloween. This meant they had people in costume that would try to scare people, get in their face and generally be highly annoying. In addition, smoke machines limited visibility to 4 feet in places and the music (using the term loosly) was loud enough I couldn't hear the people taking my order for food. Needless to say, I didn't spend more time there than needed to get dinner and leave. They did a great job at changing my ambivalence about going to outright refusal for future visits.

No comments: