This week Microsoft is hosting its PDC conference in LA. During this time the future technologies are displayed and the developers are given a preview of the things to come. Windows 7, Azure, CRM 4 are some of the products that are actively being discussed with much interest and so far not being at PDC though watching both keynotes I have formulated some though around the next iteration of Visual Studio, Surface and Windows.
I am deeply into the concepts of touch UI. I think it does represent a different way of doing things and will allow for scenarios in both the consumer side and business side that were either not possible or the workflow too kludgy to be usable. However when MS announced that the Dev Kits are going to cost more (30% est.) Effectively putting the investment into Surface to close to 20k CDN I started to get cold about the Surface SDK. My thoughts
1. Surface being a new technology has not been fully understood and in itself does not carry a market to ensure a ROI on the investment for a Small Development house
2. MS itself may be limiting the usefulness of the full surface system with the advent of windows 7 that will include touch and gestures. This is the platform that will enjoy more ubiquity
3. Tech Previews of Windows 7 are now showing up which means that POC development will be less costly then the surface investment
4. The Economy does not bode well for the smaller development shops to invest 20K unless there is a pretty good reason.
So for me I will wait till windows 7.0. I also might go out and pick up one of these HP Computers providing Touch capabilities today
Though it does not seem to represent a radical departure from Vista. Which is ok with me since I have been using Vista for some time and not finding it as problematic as some might suggest. I have yet to see a release build of windows, but when one is exposed I will check it out and see if the advancements are valuable. There is mention to some of the applications being removed from windows such as the native email client and photo software. From a business standpoint does any one still use the email client for anything more then News Groups anyways?
However being able to mount VHDs sounds very cool indeed.
Visual Studio 10
I watched both Keynotes with much anticipation on the technologies that would be coming in the next version of VS. It is my bread and butter development environment and I spend as much as 15 hours a day developing in in (ya, get a life) So the productivity gains in the UI, the enhancements in C# or VB.net that the features that will allow me to build new products that are not possible today or take a lot of effort are what drives me in these events. I honestly can say …. snooze …. The first day the keynote was dry and boring honestly I did not get much that was being said (note that I was not completely focused as I was writing code at the same time) but I just could not find the excitement in Azure.
Do not get me wrong, I am sure that this is going to be “game” changing but really is Azure nothing more then a glorified hosting solution. Sure there are connection points and deployment enhancements but can it be considered an OS or more then a framework. What defines it as an OS in the clouds more then what every other ASP is doing with hosting web, SilverLight and Flash/AIR applications. The presenters did not give a good elevator speech that made it a compelling argument. It seems to me really a way for generating revenue by collocating and aggregating services. I will watch with some interest to understand more in-depth the kinds of opportunities this opens up.
During the second Keynote more was discussed about VS but really from all I have heard, and read this next iteration of the product seems to be more evolutionary then revolutionary. Which is a good thing, given the investments to get into 2008, things will not shift so much to negate that investment.
I am sure that more details will come out in the next few days, and weeks and I am looking forward to C# 4.0 and the next iteration of VB.net to see what language innovations are exposed.