PDC10 keynote summary

PDC10 conference kicked off today in Seattle – but really, Microsoft wanted to define the conference as global, having hundreds of local streamwatching events around the world.

Unfortunately, as many have suspected, running PDCs every year tends to wear out some of the glamour around them. Even with all the Microsoft’s development resources, they have trouble producing hot enough stuff for a yearly PDC.

Still, while they didn’t provide a single really great leap, the number of small improvements particularly in the Azure space show that Microsoft is really serious about the cloud. Whether or not they can keep developers intrigued and educated is a entirely different challenge.

But enough with that – here’s a recap of what was announced.

The devices

The key message of the keynote’s first part was that the full utilization of a Windows PC enables very rich web experiences. Of course, the key elements to this were IE9 and hardware acceleration, but really – what’s new here? The IE9 beta has reached 10 million downloads, and now they have released Platform Preview 6 featuring CSS3 2D transforms. Nice, but nothing spectacular. Elsewhere, they stated that there will be no beta 2, but the next major step is rather a release candidate.

Windows Phone 7 was up next. Some cool apps were demoed, and as usual, Scott Guthrie wrote one on-stage. The dev tools have received half a million downloads so far, and there was quite a push to get developers to work with the phones – including giving a phone free for every PDC10 paid attendee.

Notable launches were a new version of the Windows Phone 7 OData library and a promise on delivering a performance profiler for the phone. Admittedly, the profiler actually looked very good, and was able to instrument the application as it was running on the phone.

What’s noteworthy is that the keynote was very explicit at underlining the power and interoperability of HTML 5. Meanwhile, it was totally mute about Silverlight. While these two technologies may well not be at odds with each other, the absence of Silverlight is an ominous sign.

The cloud platform

The other part of the PDC10 equation is the cloud platform, which was described as a backplane for the future. The cloud was presented as the information channel as well as the ultimate hosting platform. Microsoft also professed love for PHP, Java and Ruby, promising to make and keep them as first class citizens in Azure, allowing the developer to choose his tools – or in other words, “it’s all about the app”.

The real announcements were (note: availability generally means “available for testing at some point this year”):

  • Windows Azure Platform
    • Windows Azure Virtual Machine Role: You can now take a Windows Server 2008 R2 instance and run it on the cloud.
    • Server Application Virtualization (Server App-V): You can now package a server application on-site and transfer it over to the cloud, enabling migration of applications that aren’t worth rewriting for the Windows Azure paradigm.
    • Remote Desktop access to Windows Azure instances.
    • Full IIS features, enabling many advanced scenarios such as smooth streaming and multiple sites within one role.
    • Virtual Networking enables you to configure a private network – or even a domain – between your Azure instances and on-premises infrastructure. This is Windows Azure Connect, or previously known as Project Sydney.
    • Elevated Privileges support
    • Multiple administrator accounts
    • Extra Small Instance with pricing of $0.05/h (see my Mini-Azure post for some background on this)
  • Windows Azure AppFabric:
    • Access Control supports now a broader set of protocols, including OData
    • Caching available (formerly known as Velocity) on Azure as well
    • Service Bus now supports durable messaging
    • New AppFabric Composition Service: The ability to connect all kinds of services with a declarative workflow-like structure, then enabling model-based deployment. This strongly reminds me of the application architecture diagrams touted with Visual Studio 2005 Architect edition.
  • SQL Azure
    • Reporting Services now available on the cloud
    • Data Sync capability between on-premises and SQL Azure instances (taking advantage of the new virtual networking features)

Windows Azure MarketPlace was announced; as a key part of it was the Codename Dallas, now known as DataMarket.

Apart from the main Azure stuff, Microsoft announced a prototype of Team Foundation Server on the cloud, including authentication with LiveID, Facebook and others. It’s just a prototype, but an interesting one. There’s a PDC session on Thursday 4:30 PDT regarding the migration story of TFS.


As a side note, thanks to Sovelto and Microsoft Finland for hosting the Finnish PDC10 insider event!

October 28, 2010 · Jouni Heikniemi · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: .NET, Cloud, Web

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