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PDC 2005 Blog: Day 2 (Wednesday)

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6:44 am.
Awake at last. I'm  so out of it, I originally wrote "Day 2 (Tuesday)" at the top of this document. It's Wednesday. Wait, it's Wednesday? Help.

About last night. Let's see. When last we left, I was preparing for my last meeting, which was with the IE team (I also met with the Windows client and Office teams yesterday; more meetings today and tomorrow). IE 7 has a come a long way, folks, and this is going to have to cause a personal reassessment. Now, this won't help anyone today, but in addition to the security/safety features we already know about in IE 7--protected mode (Vista only), the anti-phishing stuff, the anti-malware stuff, and so on--Microsoft this week announced that IE 7 will also include something called ActiveX opt-in, which should finally end all the complaints about this product. I'll have more about this on the SuperSite next week or whenever, but IE 7 is shaping up. Microsoft has a lot of work to do to convince the doubters, of course, myself included. But I can see that this is going to be much better than previously thought.

OK, my brain is still addled, but I'll try and pull this together. After the meeting, I met up with Ward, a friend from Microsoft. We headed out for dinner and then hit the end of the party at Hotel Figueroa, which was on the ground floor, and not the rooftop as I had thought. It was still pretty good. I ran into a number of Microsofties were there, including Greg Sullivan, who I will eventually corner and interview. He can't avoid me forever.

After that, I crashed. I didn't even turn on a computer or, alas, think to pick up the package that had been waiting for me since noon at the hotel. That package? I shiny new little jewel from Apple: An iPod nano. In black. More on that later.

I did run into Mark Minasi briefly yesterday, which was nice. I can't remember this last time I saw him--please tell me it wasn't PDC 2003--but it's been a while. I don't miss all the travel, but some of the best times I had traveling were a slew of road shows I did with Mark a few years back.

I didn't say that. Apparently someone posing as me (but not as dashing, I'm sure) wrote the following comment in Sean Alexander's blog: "Why don't you just call it Windows OS X and be done with it?" I did not write that. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Apple has copied Microsoft with OS X as much as the reverse. Sorry.

Microsoft did say this. I got my hands on Microsoft's current "official" stance on the Windows Vista product editions, or SKUs. This is the exact quote: "We are not ready to discuss the Windows Vista product edition strategy and expect to be able to share more as we continue through the beta process and solicit feedback on our product plans. At this time no final decisions have been made on the naming, pricing or features for all the product editions in the line up." The truth is, however, that they have made a decision about the products and names. That information was published in WinInfo last weekend, and it is corroborated in even newer internal documentation that reads as follows, "When Windows Vista goes to market in the fall 2006 \[sic\], we will offer 7 SKUs. By the way, SKU is an internal term we (and the industry) use for what a customer would call a product. In general, customers will not be exposed to all 7 SKUs. Typically, at most they will see 3 options. While naming is not final, the planned SKUs (using placeholder names) are: Starter Edition, Home Basic, Home Premium, Small Business, Professional, Enterprise, \[and\] Ultimate. Each SKU will support 32-bit and 64-bit (except Starter, which is 32-bit only). The Enterprise SKU will not be sold at retail or via OEMs. It will only be available to customers with Software Assurance or Enterprise agreements." The document also notes that XP currently has 6 SKUs, so "in terms of the number of SKUs, there is very little difference. We are adding 1 SKU -- Ultimate -- which combines all Windows features into one SKU for the first time. The other major difference is that Media Center and Tablet PC are OEM-only SKUs in Windows XP, but the features of those SKUs will be available more broadly in the Windows Vista lineup."

I didn't see or hear about this, but I'm told that Microsoft was supposed to announce something yesterday called Digital Locker. This is a "free service that enables people to easily purchase and download software from the rich portfolio of products that are available at Windows Marketplace. The Digital Locker is an ad-ware and virus-ware free service that provides complete control over personal information and the ability to track purchase history and software license details." Digital Locker will begin as a preview this month, apparently.

If you're wondering about the IE 7 release schedule, wonder no more. A Beta 2 Preview release will ship internally on October 12 and then publicly soon thereafter, but only to the same groups that got Beta 1. IE 7 Beta 2 will ship on December 7, 2005, the same day as Windows Vista Beta 2. When that happens, the XP version will be made publicly available. And IE 7 for Windows XP will be finalized in March 2006. You heard it here first.

7:28 am. Having burned the DVD, I'm now installing build 5219 to the ThinkPad. I just noticed that the Beta 1 keys will work on this build, if anyone is into that kind of thing.

8:43 am. OK, I've finally gotten 5219 installed and, as expected, there's a lot going on. I took a bunch of screenshots will start getting them posted soon.



9:34 am. OK, the first Build 5219 screenshot gallery is up on the SuperSite.

4:27 pm. Another busy day, but that was no surprise. I spent a bunch of time this morning working with the new build, so much, in fact, that I didn't even think to eat anything until 11:00 am. In any event, there were a few meetings today--Office 12 information worker advances, and a look at Quartz/Sparkle--but the big thing was a two-hour sit-down with Jensen Harris of the Office team, who gave me a fantastic hands-on with a very recent Office 12 build, and really let me drill through the features. Office 12 is clearly the biggest surprise of PDC 2005, and is a revolution, not evolution, in computer software interfaces. This is big stuff, folks, much bigger than it appears at first glance. More surprising: It is Office 12, and not Vista, that has me the most excited about this show. I will obviously have a lot more to say about Office in the future. But Office 12 is where the action is.

I've been posting more keynote videos to the SuperSite. Some of them are having a few issues playing back for some reason, however, and I'm trying to figure that out.

Microsoft tells me that Digital Locker was, indeed, announced. And they're right.

5:01 pm. I should answer a few questions. Yes, the PDC build does include Media Center functionality (and Tablet PC functionality, actually), and it includes a few additional Media Center extras that aren't in XP MCE 2005. I can't get it running on the ThinkPad, but I'll play with it more at home. Beta testers, and TechNet and MSDN subscribers will get Windows Vista build 5219 (which, by the way, is labeled as Ultimate Edition) this week, perhaps as early as Thursday, I was told.

5:58 pm. I was just warned that the press room is closing in 5 minutes, so I have to bail. Be sure to check out the PDC 2005 page on the SuperSite: I posted a bunch of video, and will have more in the morning. Also tomorrow: More build 5219 screenshot galleries. Tonight: Dinner with friends from the magazine and then the Universal Studios event.

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