Live from PDC 2003: Day 3, Wednesday

Morning in Los Angeles

This morning, LA was covered in a thick fog, but it looks like it's finally starting to wear off. We're heading to the Convention Center soon for today's keynote address by Microsoft Research's Rich Rashid. Oh, and today is Paul's birthday!

10/29/2003 7:19AM PST

Day 3? Hasn't it been longer than that?

It feels like Day 17. This show is brutal, as expected. It's also excellent, also as expected.

10/29/2003 7:22AM PST

Longhorn, Whidbey, Yukon and MSDN subscribers

So this complicates things. Microsoft sent me the following note this morning about MSDN subscribers. I ran across your coverage below of events at the PDC in LA and wanted to alert you to an issue that needs to be clarified. The PDC bits of Longhorn, Whidbey, and Yukon are not available via download, and will not be broadly distributed to MSDN Subscribers. The bits are available to MSDN subscribers only upon request at no charge and will be shipped to them.  Sorry for any confusion, but wanted to be sure you let your readers know." I'm still waiting to hear what the procedure is for requesting these products.

10/29/2003 9:52AM PST

Rick Rashid, Jim Gray tout Microsoft Research advances

This morning's keynote was an interesting look behind the scenes at Microsoft Research, the in-house research organization at Microsoft. Rashid's talk touched on such topics as A/V playback, image viewing and processing, AV capturing and encoding, and storage. A demonstration of some advanced video processing technology was particularly amazing: In a 3D scene, rendered in real time, Rashid showed how algorithmic improvements and GPU utilization allow them to render graphics far more realistically. SQL legend Jim Gray showed off SkyServer, Microsoft's latest massive database project, which contains over 10 TB of data and utilizes Web services.

10/29/2003 12:39PM PST


Aero rocks Aero rocks Aero rocks Aero rock Aero rocks ...

Hillel Cooperman, Product Unit Manager of the Windows User Experience Team at Microsoft gave a rousing and, dare we say it, inspiring presentation ostensibly titled The New Windows “Longhorn” User Experience: Get Users to Fall in Love with Your Software; Hillel actually changed the title to the simpler, and more concise, "AERO: The New Windows Longhorn User Experience." Hillel, who gave the Gates keynote Longhorn demo, was one of the best speakers and presenters we've ever seen, and we're officially begging everyone else at the software giant--including Gates himself--to study his style and enthusiasm. Hillel quickly whipped the crowd into a frenzy with a relaxed, hilarious, and dead-on explanation of what was wrong with today's software--including that by Microsoft--and what the software company was doing to fix it. Aero, he explained, isn't just about user interface, it's about the whole user experience (UX), and the ways in which all of the technologies in Longhorn work together to give users the best possible PC experience.

10/29/2003 12:55PM PST


Tradeoffs Microsoft is addressing with Aero

Is your computer ...

Experience or tool?

Powerful or simple?

Automatic or manual?

Familiar or special?

The goal is to have it all, but the reality is you must make tradeoffs toward one or the other in each category, Hillel said. Then he launched into the Aero demos and the room fell silent. We should note that Hillel's demo was a Macromedia Director prototype and not the real thing, though he did say that all of the Longhorn stuff shown elsewhere at PDC 2003 was live, working code. Hillel's demo, however, displayed a more recent look at the work in progress that is Aero, though all of the stuff we've seen is virtually identical to the Aero prototypes I revealed in August; clearly, they've settled on a general look, and are now fine-tuning how it all comes together. But it's early yet, and anything and everything could change. Feedback from the PDC 2003 developer preview build will have a lot to do with how Longhorn, and Aero, ultimately progresses.

10/29/2003 1:00PM PST


Hillel, Aero, and the Longhorn user experience

We desperately want to obtain some screenshots of the Aero demo Hillel showed, but he explained that the company felt it was far too early for that UX to get out, since it was still a work in progress and a distraction from the developer-oriented plumbing, technology, and concepts Microsoft is trying to communicate this week. However, Paul will be visiting Redmondin December and has made tentative plans to speak with Hillel further about Aero and the Longhorn UX. Even at this early stage, it's an amazing and exciting looking interface.

10/29/2003 1:04PM PST

The Microsoft Experience

Hillel has put up a new unofficial Web site online to encourage developers to learn more about the new Microsoft Experience work his team is undertaking. The site has a link and information on the newly released Windows User Experience Guidelines and will be updated with "thoughts and notes" on a regular basis. The site is available at

10/29/2003 1:50PM PST


PDC discovers blogging. Heads up, guys, we've been doing this for years

If it wasn't already clear, PDC 2003 has reinforced the idea that the Blogging Revolution is upon us. There are a countless number of Microsoft employees and event attendees posting their views and thoughts about the conference and newly unveiled technology. Microsoft has caught the blogging fever as well: The upcoming Tablet PC SDK 1.7 will include a sample application for InkBlogging. One of Microsoft Research's yeynote demonstrations this morning also included a blogging project called mywallop that brings bloggers together into an amazingly rich and interactive community. As we discussed on Sunday, Microsoft has released a community application for the event called PDCVibe which makes it easy to find and take part in different blogs covering the event.  Of course the best coverage of the PDC has taken place here and we've enjoyed providing it to you. But then we first "blogged" an event like this in late 1999 when we provided live coverage of COMDEX Fall 1999. This was before "blog" was even a term. If you're interested in Paul's notes on non-Microsoft technologies, his Internet Nexus blog has been almost constantly updated since he first started it over two years ago.

10/29/2003 2:04PM PST

It's AERO not Aero

So Mark Minasi tells us that Aero... excuse us, AERO is an acronym. It stands for Authentic Energetic Reflective Open. Huh.

10/29/2003 4:55PM PST


Universal Studios party

We winded down the day at Universal Studios, going on lame rides with a bunch of drunk geeks and eating and drinking, well, with a bunch of drunk geeks. It's always impressive when Microsoft rents out a place this size, but coming so late in the week, we were all a bit spent.

10/30/2003 12:35 AM PST

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