What You’ll Hear at PDC2008

Microsoft PDC2008My favorite conference is almost upon us. If I’ve been quiet for a little while on my blog, it’s because this has been a crazy busy season for me and my team, as we put all the pieces in place for PDC2008.

PDC is Microsoft’s flagship conference, both because of the scale and depth of content, but also because it’s unique as a time when we open up as a company and share almost everything that’s been under wraps for the previous year or so.

This year is more significant than most – it’s been three years since the last PDC. That’s a lifetime in the software world – at PDC05, we hadn’t yet shipped Windows Vista, WPF, WCF, PowerShell, Visual Studio 2005 or SQL Server 2005. It’s high time we provided a set of deep, Level 400 developer sessions on new innovations like LINQ, C# 3.0, .NET 3.5SP1, Silverlight and so on.

But PDC isn’t primarily about shipping technologies. PDC is always a coming out party for the platform of the future. In the past, we’ve announced everything from .NET to “Longhorn” at the PDC (admittedly along with some blue sky projects that never truly saw the light of day, like “Cairo”). This year, we’ll be announcing a raft of new technologies that will impact every developer who focuses on Microsoft platform, whether your focus is Win32 or .NET, whether you specialize in server, mobile, web or desktop development.

At PDC2008, you’ll hear two primary themes resonating throughout the conference: Software+Services and Windows 7.

It’s hardly news that the Internet is transforming the software industry. We’ve seen it evolve from a loosely-coupled set of application-level protocols that spanned academic and military installations to a near-ubiquitous service to which billions of people are connected, with the browser having become by far the most pervasive means of accessing the net. Now we’re on the verge of a new transformation where the traditional lines of delineation are blurred – where Internet services enable the “cloud” to become the place where applications and data are hosted and accessed from rich client or browser applications alike.

You’re going to hear us reveal some significant new technologies at the PDC in this space. I’m obviously not going to pre-announce everything that we’re going to reveal, but the following quote from Steve Ballmer’s recent keynote at our partner conference will give you a few clues:

So what is the future? The future is about having a platform in the cloud, just as we have an operating system for the client, for the server, for devices. We will be launching a platform for the Internet cloud that lets you write programs and have them deployed and managed, that does computation and storage, and management, directly out in the Internet. We’re not getting rid of servers. We’re extending the basic programming model and management model that we know today from Windows and Windows Server to the cloud.

A platform for the Internet cloud? Doesn’t that sound like the kind of thing you’d hear a lot about at the PDC? Sure, you’ll be able to read a digested version of the announcements online, but there’s no substitute for meeting the developers and architects behind our new platform and attending all the deep-dive breakout sessions in person.

Windows 7
PDC has always been a “Windows” conference. At the first PDC I went to, ten years ago, the conference was almost exclusively dedicated to Windows NT 5.0 (which of course became Windows 2000). Almost every session focused on some aspect of the Win32 API. Of course, times have changed – the PDC is a much larger conference these days, and indeed the Microsoft developer platform has expanded hugely beyond Windows, a few server products and some scattered tools to encompass a portfolio of technologies so large that no individual can fully get to grips with all of it.

But the soul of PDC is still Windows, and this year more than most, Windows is a dominant theme. We’ll unveil Windows 7 to the world for the first time this year, and there are some exclusive surprises for conference attendees that mean you’ll be frustrated to miss out on being at the PDC in person. Although we’ve not yet unleashed the full set of tens of Windows 7 breakouts on the session planning tool, you can be sure that this will be a very significant part of the overall event.

We’ve revealed very little about Windows 7 so far. At Walt Mossberg’s D conference, we showed off multi-touch and there were a few other hints, but otherwise all you have to go on is rumors and mostly faked Photoshop renderings of what folk think Windows will look like. I’ve been running Windows 7 on my developer workstation in the office for some time now, and I think folk are going to like what they see. Among other things, we’ll be running compatibility labs at the PDC so you can bring your application and test it on Windows 7 builds. Don’t you want to make sure you’re ahead of the curve and, indeed, take advantage of some major new innovations? Make sure you’re at the PDC.

Other Stuff

I’ve not even mentioned some of the free goodies you’ll get for attending the event. Every PDC attendee will receive a 160GB external USB hard drive packed full of all the bits we’re distributing at the event. Yes, that’s right – the DVD package was just getting too unwieldy to be able to effectively distribute all the SDKs, binaries, whitepapers etc. that we want to hand out. Much of this content will be exclusive to the PDC – we just can’t distribute this quantity of content any other way.

So what are you waiting for? We’re filling up fast… don’t miss out on the chance to attend!