Live from PDC 2003: Day 0, Sunday

Yes, Longhorn build 4051 has leaked...
I couldn't sleep (go figure), and for once it worked in my favor. As I noted Friday, Longhorn build 4051 (also called the PDC build at Microsoft) has leaked to the Internet, and it's now making the rounds at all the usual places. Look around for it, but don't get nervous: Within hours, this build should be so widely available online that virtually anyone should be able to find it. For the curious, Neowin has some shots of the build, which does feature the clean new Slate theme but is otherwise disconcertingly similar to the previous alpha builds I've seen. I'm asuming there's more going on here, but my reaction thus far isn't all that excited (yet). More info as it comes in (literally)...
10/26/2003 5:56AM PST

PDC goodie bag

PDC attendees are getting a small PDC 03 laptop bag with a PDC 2003 t-shirt, the full version of Microsoft Office 2003 Professional Edition, an assortment of free magazines and free magazine offers, the back-breaking book "Writing Secure Code 2nd Edition," and various other paper-based resources. We won't get the so-called "Bits" CD until Monday at 11:45 am; this is the CD that includes Longhorn build 4051. Good thing we just downloaded it, I guess.

10/26/2003 8:13AM PST

LA Convention Center

Well, we're here if that's not obvious, and waiting for the press room to open. The Los Angeles Convention Center is huge, with an Xbox game room, wired and wireless Internet connections everywhere, kiosks for those without PCs (inconceivable), food and beverages everywhere, the works. Very, very nice setup.

10/26/2003 8:24AM PST


Microsoft media briefing day

Today, we're sitting through a series of press briefings aimed more at getting people up to speed than delivering any new news. Some of this could be interesting though. We're getting updates on Microsoft's platform strategy, Web services architecture, Visual Studio .NET, Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI), and Security.

10/26/2003 9:43AM PST


Longhorn Build 4051

Oh, and yeah, we're working on getting build 4051 installed on all our systems as I write this...

10/26/2003 9:45AM PST


PDC 2003 Alerts

Nice! Microsoft has set up a nice set of MSN Alerts for PDC 2003 attendees. You can choose between the following alerts:  1. Just the facts - Too busy posting blog entries every ten seconds? This Alert features just important logistical information: room changes, session additions and deletions. 2. Information overload - ...but in a good way. All general event news, headlines and late breaking geek intrigue. Don’t be left out: that snickering in the back of the room could be about you. Note: if you want to know about room changes choose Just the Facts as well. 3. Freebies - Enter to win cool freebies! Winners will be notified via Microsoft Alerts.

10/26/2003 9:59AM PST

PDC Vibe

Although it's not available for download yet, Microsoft is promoting a PDC application called PDC Vibe throughout the show on posters. We assume it will either be up later today or by early tomorrow. PDC Vibe is a community application that will allow attendees to read blogs, create their own profiles and download files. Looks interesting, and we'll post more when we get our hands on it.

10/26/2003 10:11AM PST

Microsoft platform strategy

Microsoft is doing a great job of bringing technical topics like Web services architectures down to a level that normal people (i.e. journalists) can understand. We spent most of the morning listening to very interesting presentations about Microsoft's various PDC-related platforms (Windows, Visual Studio, Web services, etc.) and how they all tie together. It's a big-picture view of the Microsoft world that we don't normally see. If we could boil the message down to an easily digested tag-line, it would have to be "integration innovation," which sounds strange, but is accurate.

10/26/2003 11:56AM PST


Longhorn Build 4051 ... Boring?

At the risk of sounding a bit negative, Longhorn build 4051 is, sorry, boring. Once you get over the mildly amusing Slate theme, and the slow and painful hardware detection, it's basically the same as previous alpha builds, albeit in more usable form. Explorer windows feature the Aero-like look that I first revealed on the SuperSite for Windows and... well, that's about it. There really isn't that much more to say, at least not yet. We've installed 4051 on three machines so far and we're not that impressed.

10/26/2003 1:44PM PST

Authors, pundits, and press oh my

We spent most of the first half of the day in various press events. Seen in the press lounge: Outspoken science fiction author and PC industry report Jerry Pournelle and author Brian Livingston of "Windows 3.1 Secrets" and "Windows 95 Secrets" fame. As usual, Pournelle was having problems getting his email sent (he went on a tirade over this at WinHEC, but we tried to help him this time to no avail). In the afternoon, we set about taking Longhorn build 4051 screen captures for tomorrow's SuperSite update. We took over 300 screenshots altogether, though only a small percentage will be posted live.

10/26/2003 3:12PM PST


Los Angeles ... Muggy, hot ... and on fire

The fires raging around Los Angeles are now affecting the PDC. We were supposed to have dinner this evening with a few folks from Microsoft but massive amounts of smoke at LAX cancelled virtually all flights today, stranding at least 50 Microsofties in Seattle. Good thing we got in yesterday.

10/26/2003 7:14PM PST


So what's new in Longhorn build 4051?

Well, we've spent several hours playing with Longhorn build 4051, and while we're still not overly impressed--tomorrow's Gates keynote better kill or these guys have some explaining to do--we have at least gotten the gist of what's going on in this build. First, it's a dog on any system with less than 512 MB of RAM, so consider that a base amount (up from 256 in Windows XP). The new content aggregator Libraries are more usable in this build than in previous alphas, and it's clear that a lot of what we're seeing now are just placeholders for future refinements. For example, you can dynamic scale the icons in any Explorer window, like you can in Mac OS X: There's just one difference: Longhorn's icons are currently the junky old bitmapped versions we've all used before and they don't scale well at all. We think the new Aero UI will fix that. Contacts are now integrated directly into the file system, which makes sense when you consider the file system's new database capabilities. The digital image stuff is very much enhanced with simple image red eye removal and quick fix features in Image Preview, and a new zooming mode in Paint (yes paint) that makes that app truly usable. Oddly, Outlook Express 7 has been dramatically improved to more closely resemble MSN 8.5, and Internet Explorer 6.05 (which will surely be at least version 7 in the final build) includes pop-up ad blocking and a download manager.
10/26/2003 8:27PM PST

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