Hello Windows 7 – PDC Day 2 Keynote Recap

Wow!  Lots of really cool stuff from the PDC today focusing on Windows 7, Visual Studio, .NET Framework 4.0, and Office Web Applications.  It's going to be impossible to do this justice, so I'd really recommend checking out the replay of the keynote.  It ran 2 1/2 hours today, but is so chock full of demos and coolness covering the spectrum from web, to desktop, to mobile, that you don't really notice the time.  There were five main sections to the keynote, and I'll do my best to summarize those here:


Windows 7 (user-focused) 

This session was introduced by Steven Sinofsky, but Julie Larson-Green did most of the demos.  Plenty of eye candy and productivity enhancements are in store including:

  • combined start bar, taskbar, and quick launch
  • live thumbnails on the task bar
  • "jump list" - a very cool MRU-like task list available right from the task bar
  • "homegroup" enabling automatic detection of devices and peripherals in your home network and providing a division between home and office resources
  • "Libraries" (one step above folders) - coalescing information and resources from disparate devices in your network
  • "Device Stage" - a control panel-ish interface providing one place to manage each device, access vendor documentation, etc.
  • more options for desktop customization, placement of gadgets,  and what's in system tray
  • touch screen - Word 2007 just 'works' (because of hooking into mouse events), other applications like Explorer and Paint have been retooled to be touch-aware.

Check out Zack Whittaker's blog for more, and some screenshots here and here on Paul Thurott's site.


Windows 7 (developer-focused)

Sinofsky transitioned from the end-user focused features into a discussion on lessons learned from Windows Vista and an introduction of features for developers in Windows 7.  I thought his explanation on why Windows 7 will not face the same challenges as Windows Vista was earnest without being too apologetic.  Here, in no particular order, are some of the items he touched on in terms of advantages to developers using Windows 7 (by the way, all of the features are available to both managed (.NET) and unmanaged (Win32) developers!):

  • accessibility to ribbon interface (such as they showed in the new version of MS Paint; it's available now to developers in CTP form for WPF applications on Windows XP and Vista)
  • jump list and libraries (which are a user experience facet that developers can now take advantage of to differentiate their offering)
  • multi-touch, ink and speech capabilities all augment the user experience
  • DirectX will extend to 2d and animation becoming the new "GDI"
  • memory footprint of the operating system has been reduced along with disk IO (such as for registry access)
  • bit locker support for USB and external devices
  • enhanced experience for multiple monitors and support of multiple monitors in remote desktop!
  • UAC Setting Control Panel allowing you to control how  much (or little) of the system messages you want to see

The big question is "WHEN", and Sinofsky suggested it will be on target with the "3 years from Vista" messaging we've heard before.  The bits provided to PDC attendees are the M3 release, and beta is expected early next year.  There is no commitment to a schedule beyond that, as the beta experience will be used to further solidify the timeline.

More reading: Mary Jo's blog, Ed Bott's blog, ActiveWin.com review, Paul Thurott's SuperSite, and Microsoft blogs: Windows 7 blog for developers (MSDN), Engineering Windows 7 blog (MSDN)


.NET 4.0 and Visual Studio 10

Scott Guthrie did the honors here talking a bit about what came in .NET 3.5 Service Pack 1 and what's coming next:

  • latest release of WPF Toolkit available today, including version 1 of datepicker and data grid, and a preview of the Visual State Manager
  • .NET 4 will allow CLR 2 and CLR 4 in the same address space!
  • The Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF) introduces a new scheme for building components and is at the foundation of the new Visual Studio UI (built using WPF, by the way).  Use of the MEF and WPF should foster Microsoft and 3rd-party extensions of the Visual Studio UI as well as enable richer support for code-editing, multiple monitors, and refactoring.
  • jQuery Intellisense support is available now for Visual Studio 2008 (as of this writing though, I don't see it on Codeplex or jQuery's site)
  • investments in ASP.NET including
    • MVC
    • Improved traditional Web Forms (control over client id names, for example)
    • Ajax enhancements (REST support, templating)
    • distributed caching via Velocity
  • Investments in Silverlight (which is approaching installation on 100 million computers!)
    • Silverlight Toolkit available now
    • Next release to include H.264 support ("and others" according to Guthrie)
    • Designer in Visual Studio 10 to support editable design surface (yay!) and all the goodies from the new WPF designer
    • ability to run Silverlight in and out of the browser [one of the demos today did this, but I didn't catch much addtional dialog regarding the 'disconnected' Silverlight model]

More reading: Scott Guthrie's blog, Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4.0 Overview (MSDN)


Live Services

Dave Treadwell moved the discussion toward the "web tier" introduced yesterday by Ray Ozzie in his announcement of Windows Azure and the Azure Services Platform.  Live Services focuses on four pillars

  • Identity - in which the Microsoft Services Connector and the Microsoft Federation Gateway are key components, as is the announcement of Windows Live ID becoming an OpenID provider.
  • Directory Services - allowing applications to leverage the 'social graph' each of us has within his e-mail contacts, IM buddies, etc.
  • Communication and Presence - via integration with Live Messenger, etc.
  • Search and Geospatial capabilities

The Live Framework (CTP announced today) provides the APIs to access these services, as Ori Amiga demonstrated in what I thought was a compelling demo that took Scott Guthrie's WPF photo-browsing application from the previous demo and 'meshified' it to sync with a mobile device. 

Anthony Rose of the BBC showed another cool example (currently a proof-of-concept) for their iPlayer application demonstrating the social sharing aspects enabled by the Directory Services of Live Services and also the synchronization capabilities - he stopped playing a movie on his desktop, synced to his mobile device, and resumed viewing on his device at the point he stopped earlier!

Also announced was the open beta of Live Mesh, including limited availability for Mac and Mobile later this week.

More reading: Live Services blog


Office 14

The big announcement here was delivering Office Web Applications as part of Office 14, essentially lightweight versions of the desktop manifestations of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote.  There were two great demos of using OneNote on the desktop, web, and mobile phone to provide a seamless collaboration experience, as well as of Word on the desktop and web (Safari even!).  Even the live bloggers seemed somewhat impressed that this one-ups Google Docs.

Check out Todd Bishop's and Mary Jo Foley's blog posts or this Channel 9 video for more!

Comments (3)

  1. Onenote scam! says:

    The onenote mobile client can’t sync over the air… the only reason it updated the notebook live at PDC was because it was connected through activesync with a laptop!

  2. Jim O'Neil says:

    Well, from watching the replay that does seem to be the case, you can certainly what looks like the USB cable leading to the laptop (or maybe he was just charging the phone <G>).  I agree it’s a bit misleading to not have mentioned it, but keep in mind to this is a preview of a feature on the horizon so there’s a bit of ‘poetic license’ involved.  Such a solution would be rather non-credible in a shipping product, so while I see your point about full disclosure, I don’t really think it was meant to mislead.

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