PDC Day 1

Posted in General at 4:01 pm by jw

The keynote, as expected, was a pretty amazing show.  I’m sure the video of Bill Gates and Napolean Dynamite will become somewhat of an internet classic, probably even more so if someone cut/pastes it up.

Some of the more interesting points:

  • Office 12 and Windows Vista will be released in the same timeframe, currently H2 ‘06.
  • Vista has a gadgets bar on the right which is extensible, much like some of the stuff Apple did recently with Tiger.
  • IE7 is tabbed (which we already knew), but in addition it includes “quick tabs” where it tiles a preview of each tab on the screen and lets you choose between them.
  • IE7 has “shrink to fit” printing, and quick buttons to remove the header/footer if you want.
  • The RSS store IE7 uses is actually a part of Vista and accessible from any application through standard APIs.
  • Office 12 has a new interface paradigm, with menus replaced by tabbed toolbard much like 3d Studio Max.  It also has all sorts of pretty GUI junk that managers will just die for.
  • Outlook 12 has tasks better integrated with “flags” on emails and other tasks throughout the OS.
  • Outlook 12 has native RSS integration.
  • Outlook 12’s search is integrated with the Vista search features.
  • Outlook 12 will download Sharepoint documents for offline usage.
  • Sharepoint will act as a store for all office documents and allow all sorts of advanced file sharing (demo was sharing individual powerpoint slides through Sharepoint).

From Jum Allchin’s keynote:

  • Jim still can get an XT running with Windows 1.03 on it.
  • The PC will always be ahead of the game consoles, in Jim’s opinion.
  • There was a demo of Crytek’s efforts with Vista/DirectX 10 which allows some pretty amazing graphics from what appeared to be their new Far Cry engine (trees all have detailed shadow, etc.)
  • Vista does all sorts of cute 3d stuff with the windows.
  • The default user on Vista is not an administrator – this can very well break stuff but at least it makes it more secure.
  • “Superfetch” is a really cool technology that will use unused memory on the system to prefetch applications based on prior usage patterns.  It will even load stuff onto free space in a USB Flash Disk for faster loading…
  • Vista provides a configurable sandbox for applications which can prevent IE, ActiveX controls, or pretty much anything from accessing parts of the filesystem or registry.
  • Infocards is Microsoft’s new Passport effort, which is a front end to any internet or local identification system, including Passport’s competitors.
  • The “People Near Me” service looks kinda cool, but really like an extension of NetMeeting which allows P2P connections for files etc.

Don Box and some of his lackeys gave a presentation on LINQ, Atlas and Avalon:

  • SQL-style queries are native withing C# (and I assume other .NET languages), which can span data sources which includes any IEnumerable element.
  • Indigo wires up easily with these queries.
  • A bunch of demos showed all the cool stuff you could do with very little coding.

Following lunch, I went to the breakout sessions.  First was a cool tutorial on writing a compiler for .NET, which was really interesting but not at all worth writing stuff about in the blog.  The next talk on monad was incredibly good though, and makes me really keen to get a hold of it and try it out:

  • Monad is the new command line shell for Windows (will probably be called Microsoft Shell or ‘msh’).
  • Monad provides an incredibly flexible interface which uses an object I/O model instead of the standard stream based I/O.
  • The Monad object system is fully extensible by third parties through the use of Cmdlets and Providers.
  • Cmdlets are command that run in the monad pipeline (like “ps”, “where”, “sort”, format-table” etc.)
  • Providers appear as “drives”, which can be registry hives, databases, WMI trees, environment variables.

Windows Storage advances in Vista:

  • NFS will be part of Windows.
  • Symlinks will be fully implemented in Windows Vista and Longhorn Server.  The only issue is that if you aren’t using Vista/Longhorn on both client and server (assuming symlinks are on a shared folder) then you won’t be able to use those symlinks.
  • Remote Differential Compression allows syncronization from any Vista/Longhorn machine to any other and does so without copying entire files (does diffs with minimal network bandwidth).  Great for keeping folders synchronized between two machines.  This technology will be ported to the DFS copying system as well.
  • Transactional support for file read/writes and registry read/writes that can participate in any distributed transaction.

Was a long day today with lots of stuff I had to go through.  Picked up the PDC ‘05 build of Windows Vista which I’ll probably put onto my laptop at some time in the future.  Some of the stuff does make me think Vista will be a good platform after all for upgrading to.


  1. Dorick Said:

    September 13, 2005 at 5:29 pm

    I tuned into the web stream about an hour late. I missed the Napolean Dynamite part.

    They had a lot of exciting things to reveal and some things I don’t think will catch on. Who knows for sure anyway. It’s all in the name of progress.

    I like what they’ve done with Office 12. I’d have to get in and play with it to know for sure. (My company is still running Office 97, uhg.)

    The PDA they had looked interesting. If I where there I would have tried to get one of those PDAs before they ran out. 🙂

    – dw

  2. jw Said:

    September 13, 2005 at 10:42 pm

    I wanted one of those PDAs but they had all sold out by the time I even walked out of the conference room. I saw quite a few people leaving early when the “cheap price” was announced – they probably managed to get them all. Oh well. I’ll just live with my current one for a while longer.

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