Simon Bisson (sbisson) wrote,
Simon Bisson

PDCed Out

It's one of the busiest times of my year: Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference. It's when the folk from Redmond release (or at least announce) lots of new stuff, often at a very low level in their product stack. It's also where they set the public face of their corporate direction, so there's lots of scope for reading between the lines and for making predictions about the future of consumer and enterprise computing.

All in all, exhausting and fascinating and grist to my analytical mills, setting up features and blog posts for the next year. To top that, this year I've also been wearing a slightly unfamiliar hat, that of a news journalist. It's a very different set of skills, and a very different type of writing, and one where i'm grateful for a good editor all those timezones away and for marypcb's speed typing and qute taking skills.

All hard work, under normal circumstances. Of course, this year Microsoft decided to make dozens of announcements, from their cloud and enterprise development side of things, from their browser, and from the world of Silverlight - not to miss out the big Office announcements.

So here are links to my two main news stories:

Day 1

Microsoft announced yesterday that its Azure cloud platform will go live on 4 January, 2010, with billing starting at the beginning of February. The announcement was made by Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's chief software architect, on the first day of the company's 2009 Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles.

Integration with Visual Studio 2010 will simplify application development and deployment, he said, and there will also be support for automatically locking data into geographic pairs of datacentres, for example keeping European data in Dublin and Amsterdam. Key new features include a new storage type, the X-Drive, which mounts SQL Azure BLOBs as NTFS drives

Ozzie said that Microsoft now offered "a single coherent development platform" for its "three screens plus cloud" strategy of deploying applications across computers, mobile devices, home-entertainment systems and hosted internet services. He said Azure now supported more than the original subset of ASP.NET, including native code in C,  C++ and Java and open web development tools including PHP and MySQL.

Day 2

There will be an Internet Explorer 9, and it will be built on top of an enhanced version of Microsoft's Trident HTML rendering engine, Microsoft Windows Division president Steven Sinofsky announced on the second day of Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles.

Other key announcements included the beta of Silverlight 4, and the public availability of the Office 2010 beta.

Microsoft is only three weeks into the IE development cycle, Sinofsky said, so any public release is still some time away. However, in a live demonstration of its standards support, Sinofsky showed an early prototype browser scoring 32/100 on the industry standard Acid 3 test. Performance is also improved, with Microsoft claiming IE9 is only slightly slower that recent builds of Firefox and Chrome on the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark.

IE9 uses Direct X for page rendering rather than GDI, resulting in smoother text and animations, as well as improved frame rates on scrolling maps. This switch to GPU-based rendering also means CPU load is reduced, Sinofsky noted, saying that "the hardware you run on should shine through in the browser".

Read the rest at
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