PDC 2005 Blog: Day 3 (Thursday)

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6:48 am. OK, yesterday was disconcerting and a number of things highlighted how epically tired I've been. Greg Sullivan joked about avoiding me, prompting me to ask him where he had that. "I read it in your blog," he said, making me wonder if this hasn't become a bizarre written outline of my thoughts. At dinner, Mike Otey did basically the same thing: After starting to mention that I had broken my rolling laptop bag at Logon Airport, he just said, "I know," prompting much laughter. Ah well.

I've now had Sushi twice in one week after a seven year hiatus. Amazing. I had dinner with the folks from the magazine, which was fun. We eventually made it to the Universal Studios event which, frankly, wasn't all that great, but mostly because I was so tired. And let's face it, themed amusements parks (maybe all amusement parks) are icky. And I didn't meet up with the people I had planned to meet with, thanks to the never-end stupid cell phone problems I've faced since getting here.

Speaking of not getting in touch, I've been meaning to see Don Box at the show. If you read this Don, I'd really like to speak with you some time. I'm a huge fan.

Up for today: Bob Muglia keynote address, which I don't want to miss. They're giving out Longhorn Server Beta 1, which is a bit annoying, but exciting. The annoying bit: We got a huge LiveMeeting-based briefing about this release back in July and everyone from the magazine came away really impressed with it, even though Beta 1 has only about 10 percent of the features that will be in the final product. The problem was that we were under permanent NDA. But there was no heads-up that a public release of the beta was coming. I would have prepared a huge review of this in advance. Now I'll have to wait to work on this until next week. Sigh.

Also, my wife is arriving in LA late this morning. At that point, I'm pretty much out of here. We're going to check out some sights and, hopefully, relax. I could spend the all weekend sleeping, but I'm guessing she has more aggressive plans than that.

SuperSite stuff: I will have a lot more video to post soon, and some more build 5219 screenshots. Then I need to race into the LACC for today's keynote.

8:28 am. Windows codename "Eiger" will be called Windows Fundamentals. Of course.

10:55 am. Bob Muglia talked up Longhorn Server as expected, and it's looking great. He showed off Longhorn Server build 5219--which they're giving out at the show, not Beta 1 as I had thought--and several new features. We had heard about Server Core, which is extremely cool, but there's also going to be something called Server Core Plus, which Microsoft expects most enterprises to install. More on all of this soon.

2:55 pm. Had my final meeting with Windows Server guys, and Longhorn Server is looking solid. They gave us build 5219 of Longhorn Server, as previously noted, and it looks like everyone at PDC is getting on the Office 12 beta as well. Very nice. Also, they did give us the release candidate (RC) version of Visual Studio 2005, so I'll have to install that on Vista 5219 today and get busy.

My wife arrived as scheduled, and she came up to the press room briefly and met a few people before we headed out for lunch. So the blogging is going to slow down by necessity, but I've got a few more things to add later, so I'll probably have one more post to wrap things up in a bit...

5:15 pm. Let's see if I can wrap up some final thoughts about this week, the show, and the products that we saw here.


First, despite the fact that Microsoft revealed the Office 12 user interface, that user interface that we saw was not "the" Office 12 user interface. In other words, the huge swath of gray colors is not final, and the icons will be dramatically improved with photo-realistic graphics as the product is developed. I had a nice look at a much more recent build of the product than the versions that were shown at PDC, and was told it had a ways to go. What Microsoft was really revealing was that the menu/toolbar interface in Office is dead, as obsolete as the folder/file system we use in Windows is today, and for the same reasons: It was proper for the day in which it was created 20 years ago, but has gotten long in the tooth over time. So Office 12 will include a "ribbon" interface with tabs and groups of commands, and so on, but it will be much prettier and better looking than what was shown this week.


Mac fanatics were apparently beside themselves this week that Microsoft had shown off what appears to be a rip-off of the Dashboard feature in Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger." The feature I'm referring to, the gadgets in Sidebar, is actually arguably a rip-off of Stardock's DesktopX product. Stardock has been making UI like this for years, and long before OS X Tiger or even Konfabulator ever appeared. If anyone should be indignant about this, it's Stardock, not Apple. That's my take on it.


Microsoft Max is not Project M. Instead, Microsoft Max is a representative application based on the work being done as part of Project M. The idea, I think, is to create great Avalon applications and inspire other application makers to do the same. More on this later. I'm hoping to speak with Hillel Cooperman in a few weeks.


I'm told you can enable the Sidebar in Windows Vista build 5219 with a Registry hack. I'm waiting for details on that one.


We got a nice little grab bag of extra stuff after the Muglia keynote today, in addition to the 5 DVDs worth of stuff we got earlier. PDC 2005 attendees got the DVD 6, which includes Longhorn Server build 5219 and Longhorn Core Server build 5219, a coupon for a free copy of SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition (when it ships), an invitation to the Office 12 beta program, and a DVD with the release candidate version of Visual Studio 2005. Very nice.


There is no such thing as "Core Server Plus." This was a bit of unintended miscommunication on the part of Bob Muglia, or more succinctly, a poorly-written slide shown during his keynote. Here's how it's really going to work. Microsoft will ship various product editions of Longhorn Server that can be deployed or installed as Server Core (core services only, with no GUI), or you can add roles on top of that (as in "Core Server" plus.... whatever you add). So you might install Server as Core Server plus Terminal Services. Or File and Print Services. Or whatever. At this point in the beta, Longhorn Server and Core Server are separate installs. But they will be combined at some point, I was told today.


Compared to PDC 2003, I'd say that PDC 2005 was comparable in scope, size, and quality, and, perhaps, in excitement. What's interesting for me personally is that none of the Vista-related announcements or revelations were surprising at all. In fact, there was nothing new there (to me, anyway) at all, despite promises from several people. What was surprising was Office 12 and, to a slightly lesser degree (again, for me personally, since we had been pre-briefed about it in July) Longhorn Server. These are two products that are going to surprise very many people, and in a very positive way. This is an interesting statement about Vista. The quality is getting there, the feature-set is rounding out, and so on, but you know what? The excitement is almost over. It's just taken too damn long. That Office 12--and a future Windows Server version, no less--could out-excite Windows Vista is both strange and unexpected. I still need to wrap my mind around that. But it's true, and while people will ooh and ah as Microsoft announces features like DVD authoring and HDTV compatibility in Windows Movie Maker, the real action is not with Windows, not really.


Finally, I was looking over at my Google Sidebar this morning and thought out loud, you know, Google should do a PDC. They have all these products that have APIs that can be used to extend them. In fact, they're making a platform too. I think it's time. And I wouldn't be surprised to discover that Google could rally a seriously large number of developers to come to a Google PDC as well. Most of Microsoft's PDC 2005 attendees appear to be institutional developers, those that work at large companies. Google may not attract that exact crowd, given the Internet-based nature of its products and services. It's just a thought.

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