Reflections on Wednesday

There were plenty more thought provoking sessions today at the PDC. I’ve uploaded
slightly fewer session notes than on previous days; I attended one really poor session
that wasn’t worth taking notes for, and one session that was entirely spent in code
demos and was therefore impossible to write up. I can’t remember a conference with
so many good sessions, though – internal or external. The DVDs are going to be worth
watching, too – chatting to a number of customers, we’ve all agreed that we could
attend the conference at least twice over again and still find plenty of interesting
sessions that are worth attending.

Probably the most innovative part of the day was inevitably the demonstrations from
Microsoft Research. The demo of MathPad^2 was particularly compelling – demonstrating
how a Tablet PC could be used to create formulas, graph and animate them. The demo
probably didn’t show anything that couldn’t have been accomplished with MATLAB,
but it was the use of ink to graphically design and manipulate the resulting graphs
that was particularly attractive. If only this had been around when I was doing maths
at school – it looked like it would take all the tedious bits out of learning without
dumbing the process down.

It’s easy to forget the impact that Microsoft Research has had on the company’s commercial
software. Innovations from ClearType (research
), Photo Story (research
), generics (research
), Smart Personal
Object Technologies
(research link)
and even the Longhorn
have all originated at MSR. It’s worth visiting their site every now and
again to uncover some of the ideas that might well make their way into future versions
of the platform at future PDCs!

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