Day Two of the MS Technology Summit

March 17, 2005

Technology

St. Patrick’s Day

Martin Taylor, Morning Keynote

  • There was an honest discussion about blog commentary. In particular, most comments were cautiously optimistic. Martin noted that he thinks people are serving judgment so that they won’t lose their wine ration! 😉
  • “I wish people could see our internal discussion” “We talk about cross-plat all the time.” The decision to deliver “cross-plat” .Net is based upon simple economics – esp. the increased R&D required for such a port.
  • Microsoft is not “anti-open source.” We believe that Windows is better than Linux.
  • The discussion spiraled off to a heated thrust/parry on open source politics and value props. Fortunately, members of the audience re-directed the discussion.
  • The discussion re-surfaced to discuss .Net on other platforms – including Mono on Linux and then fell back into the pit!
  • The kick-off/keynote session always sets the tone for the entire day. So Microsoft missed an opportunity to highlight expansive and cooperative opportunities. Unfortunately, Martin missed the opportunity and got caught into a confrontational trap.
  • One of the participants asked, “Wouldn’t it rock if Microsoft took its developers and made JDK rock on Windows.” But there was marked hesitancy and hedging by Microsoft on this point. I respect the ambivalence of their response. They must embrace enterprise developers who are not using .Net. But they must also embrace their shareholders who have invested financial resources and expect a return on that investment. So the cautious response is understandable. Nevertheless, there is a second reason to consider this option: as developers are able to use Windows (because of a supported JVM), they will be exposed to the richness of the .Net framework.
  • This was a rousing session. I sure hope that it does not inspire a confrontational tone throughout the day.


Jason Zander, Net CLR Architecture

  • Jason spent a few minutes discussing history.
  • Jason embarked on a “geek-out” frenzy by spewing forth numerous important TLA’s. But this had a great effect on the audience. It allowed everyone to focus on what alpha geeks love: techno wizardry. At the same time, the business architects were lulled into a semi-comatose state! For now, the zeitgeist from the previous session has been washed away – or droned away.
  • Jason did spend some time talking about the advantages of JIT compilation in CLI. While I appreciate the advantages (esp. for exploiting dynamic code interpretation and code generation), the full advantage of platform portability is diminished. The only real portability is between W2K, WXP, WLH and various SP iterations of each (plus W64). While this is important for enterprises with multiple instances of Windows, this is probably not as expansive as the conference attendees are accustomed to with Java portability. But it does highlight the fact that the infrastructure could be ported to “alien” platforms and still support complete (or nearly complete) application portability.
  • There was a good discussion about the importance of the framework for new languages on Windows. Of particular note was the potential for Iron Python and Ruby. Maybe there will be hope for a Groovy deployment!
  • One of the attendees noted the challenges with current Java development and memory management. In particular, developers must pre-state their heap needs. But no good tools are available to determine this. So this attendee was keenly interested in knowing how Microsoft lessens this challenge for .Net developers. Jason responded admirably. But my un-tuned ear heard the “wah, wah, wah” from Charlie Brown’s teacher. Now I’m a geek, but this was tremendously esoteric. But the presenter tailored his responses to the audience. Again, this was the perfect analgesic for the rancor from the previous session.


Scott Guthrie, ASP.NET 2.0

  • New features and functionality were discussed. Of particular note were the security improvements – and the fact that Microsoft spoke of secure applications in addition to knobs/cranks for the developers.
  • Scott discussed the provider framework and how they will defer to externally selected providers as part of the platform. For example, there are MySQL providers that are open source and readily available on the Net.
  • There was a very practical discussion of SQL Express. The Roo sees this as one way that Microsoft is getting it right while Oracle can’t see the forest for the trees. Both database platforms are being challenged from below by PostgreSQL and MySQL. And Microsoft is countering that challenge by providing an alternative – and not the MS Access alternative. But Oracle still refuses to directly address the “challenge from below.”
  • I had a very interesting side conversation regarding ASP.NET utility with Ted Hu. He asked a reasonable question about whether I saw utility in the ASP.NET package/framework. And I candidly told him that I had no immediate drive towards this platform. But the more I thought about it, the more an analogy came to mind. The first iteration of ASP.NET was very similar to Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon Tiki raft. It had the components and everything could be lashed together to make it “seaworthy.” But the platform has substantially matured since its introduction. It is no longer a bunch of logs lashed together with seasoned rope. But would I build “The Love Boat” for paying clients? Hard to say…
  • Scott then began to present a site development example.
  • The audience definitely broke into two camps: site developers were intently focused on the demo while the business architects seemed less engaged.
  • There was a good discussion of Beta 2 deployment and the “Go Live” licenses already in use. The expectation is that several thousand sites will be v2 at launch of the product.
  • Scott was extraordinarily impressive. As he discussed client experience models, he effortlessly uttered the name of Firefox, Mozilla and Opera. While this is quite expected from his position as the Product Manager for ASP.NET, it was, nonetheless, quite disarming.


VS.NET 2005

  • There was a brief discussion of VS.NET’s new features.
  • The team then had an excellent demo.
  • Of particular interests was a demonstration of SVG browsing/display through VS.NET. This is purely demonstration-ware, but it’s inclusion is encouraging because VS.NET will work with the Internet’s default vector graphics engine. Of course, this is not a statement about product or corporate support but a demonstration of the extensibility of VS.NET. Very cool.


Smart Client Futures

  • Smart client designer is integrated (and consistent) with VS.NET designer.
  • Whidbey will bring “click once” advantages to smart device deployments.
  • Windows Forms 2.0 was overviewed as a basis for discussion.
  • A demonstration of development and deployment was offered for the group’s consideration. The most curious demo was a UI that looked damned near identical to Outlook. There was little exploration of the buttons, widgets and decorations. So for all I know, this was a bitmap only. But if it is a moderately functional UI, this would be amazing! Man, UI development and deployment is moving at an every increasing pace!


Guidance through Patterns and Practices

  • The presenters emphasized “scenario-based” guidance.
  • There was an excellent discussion about how the MCS field staff should be engaged in the use of these patterns and deliverables.
  • Success is measured via proof-point analysis. Success is not measured by unit sales of Microsoft products.
  • They are shipping patterns and codes under an expansive EULA while the patterns themselves are licensed under the Creative Commons. This work is available at http://patternshare.org.
  • Enterprise Library was demonstrated and discussed. What is keenly interesting is that these tools would work well with almost any framework (Zachman, TOGAF, FEAF, etc).

Bill Hilf, Open Source and Microsoft

  • Perceptions vs. Reality
  • P: Microsoft is against open source; R: Microsoft is not against the model. But Microsoft does compete with products developed under the open source model.
  • P: Open source equals open standards; R; No
  • P: Linux is Unix; R: No
  • P: All open source software is free; R: No
  • P: Developers like to ride early-morning shuttle buses; R: No
  • Microsoft tracks kernel development trends to understand development speed and the community development model
  • Bill Hill discussed his own credentials on Apache (mod_proxy)
  • Three lessons: a) community involvement is good, b) the more transparent you are, the more trust you engender, and c)
  • Microsoft has offered “shared source” program as an alternative to open source. Twelve “shared source” options (out of seventeen) allow code modification. Of even more importance is the fact that many of the “17” license instruments are existing, OSI-approved licenses. For example, WIX (app installer) is licensed under the CPL. MySQL now uses the WIX installer.
  • Learning: You just don’t get a community by giving away the code. You need to have project owners/maintainers and you must nurture the development team.
  • Reality: There are no Croatian hackers employed by Bill that are working on new generations of Linux virii! 😉 (The crowd roared)
  • Monad/MSH: A Microsoft command line interface that looks/acts like a typical *nix shell.

-CyclingRoo-

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