Windows 7 is Coming. PDC Day #2 Recap

 

To read my PDC Day 1 recap, click here.

Ray Ozzie once again kicked off the keynotes for the day.  Today, the focus was on the client and the Live Services component of the Windows Azure platform.  In his opening remarks, Ozzie further solidified our story around the integration of the PC/Web/Phone and how our strategy will fundamentally change how we as consumers interact with these devices and that consumers demands for this type of integration is growing.  Our approach is to seamlessly integrate our S+S platform across these devices, exploiting the power of the PC through our investments in Windows and client runtimes such as Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), the power of the web through our investments in Silverlight 2 and Internet Explorer 8, and the power of the mobile device (e.g. Phone) through our investments in Windows Mobile and our Windows Live Services.  In his commentary, he basically broke down the 3 aforementioned areas as follows:

PC

  • Full and high-performance access to displays & peripherals
  • Natural UI & common controls for ink voice/audio, camera, touch
  • Local data privacy, portability, reliable/fast/full access
  • Use & recombine applications, data, documents, media
  • A personal environment, trusted & assumed under your control

Web

  • One common way to find, access, assemble & interact with people
  • One common way to find, access, share & transact information
  • One common way to connect devices, services, organizations & activities

Phone

  • Like the PC, provide a natural UI & common controls for voice/audio, camera, touch
  • Like the PC, provide facilities for local data privacy, portability, and reliable/fast/full access to data
  • Like the PC, use & recombine applications, data, documents and media
  • Provide a secure and reliable experience
  • Provide rich access to media/data through similar facilities afforded by the PC and Web “tiers”

KEY TAKEAWAY: Microsoft’s Software + Services strategy includes driving rich user experiences across multiple mediums highlighting the strategic advantage afforded to us through the Internet.  Our client runtimes such as Silverlight and WPF, coupled with our Windows brand (to include mobile) and key advances in our Internet Explorer technology will position us to deliver the next generation of user experiences on top of our investments in our Windows Azure Services Platform.

Windows 7 is Coming!
A lot of emphasis was put on Windows 7, as it was one of the main things PDC attendees wanted to see.  Most of the other topics discussed during the keynotes were further fleshed out during the breakout sessions, but I’ll provide some commentary about those in this post.  Steve Sinofsky, Senior VP, Windows division discussed our strategy around Windows and it’s future as it relates to delivering next generation experiences.  During his keynote, Sinofsky laid out our strategy around Windows 7 as it relates to what investments we’re making in the OS to build upon the platform established by Windows Vista, learning from the mistakes we made with Vista (and yes, he openly said we made mistakes :-)) while at the same time building upon the groundbreaking work we’ve done in the area of Windows security, to deliver a product that we’ll be proud to sell and our customers will be proud to use.  In his “Transition from Windows Vista” discussion, he highlighted several lessons learned from our Vista experience:

  1. Ship solid Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista SP1 products – With the negative press we got from the initial launch of Windows Vista, it was imperative that we shipped a solid Windows Server 2008 product and SP1 update to Windows Vista.  In reference to Vista SP1, we needed to ensure that we addressed the key issues highlighted by our customer feedback in efforts to drive broader adoption of Vista (and not just on new PC sales)
  2. Ecosystem Readiness – Driving Vista readiness was a key area during the launch lifecycle where we needed to spend more energy.  Through working with our partners, ISVs, OEMs, we need to ensure that they are equipped with the information they need in order to make Vista the platform of choice for new deployments, highlighting the enhanced capabilities of the OS, and showing clear evidence of the value add for customers making the investment
  3. Standards – Our investment in standards support as it relates to security, network protocols, etc has positioned us as a leader in driving industry standardization around the aforementioned areas in addition to new capabilities we introduce in future versions of the OS
  4. Compatibility – Working closely with our OEMs to drive more hardware compatibility with Vista is key.  Microsoft is making significant investments in this arena, particularly as we drive towards the RTM of Windows 7, to ensure that customers have the best possible experience with Windows 7
  5. Scenarios – Clear identification/clarification of Windows usage scenarios is key for us in improving the overall quality of the product.  We are taking very proactive measures to learn how the product is being used and what critical areas we need to focus on to deliver the best possible experience

Julie Larson-Green gave the PDC audience a demonstration of the Windows 7 (build 6933) and it was met with much applause and “ooohs and aaahs” 🙂  To quickly summarize the things she demoed/discussed:

  • “One click” experience when navigating Windows taskbar and menus.  For example, if you have multiple instances of an application (say Internet Explorer) open on your desktop, by hovering over the any of the windows in the taskbar, you get a thumbnail view of all the instances, thereby allowing you to select whichever instance you want from a single mouse click
  • Taskbar “Jump List” which essentially gives you an MRU list of the most recently launched applications & documents.  For example, if you have an Excel icon in your taskbar that you use to launch Excel, by hovering over the icon you can see a MRU list of Excel workbooks you’ve opened.  This capability extends to the Windows menu as well.
  • “Libraries” which help you aggregate and search content across multiple hard drives and machines connected within your network
  • “Homegroups”, which gives you the ability to creates groups of Windows 7-based machines or other computing resources (ex: printers) within your home network and when your machine is connected, have any one of those machines automatically discover/connect to those resources.
  • Ability for Windows 7 to automatically detect whether you are on your home or work network and automatically change your connection to network resources (such as printers) without you having to do any manual configuration 🙂
    Docable windows which essentially allows you to drag an application window to the left/top/right side of the screen and have it dock (or “snap”) to that location.
  • Windows Gadgets, which now work differently.  No more dependency of the Windows Gadget Sidebar.  Gadgets now float freely on the desktop
  • Enhancements to the task tray that essentially allow you to organize what goes into the task tray (and not have it “dictated” to you by the installed application/driver/service)
  • Windows 7 touch features extend to Windows Live Services such as Virtual Earth

Sinofsky stressed our focus on “Fundamentals” in our engineering efforts as we drive towards the RTM of Windows 7.  In his fundamentals discussion, he focused on the following:

Decrease

  • Memory Footprint
  • Disk I/O
  • Power Consumption

Increase

  • Speed (Faster Boot, Device Ready)
  • Responsiveness (Start menu, Taskbar)
  • Scale (256 processors)  – Yes, you read it right, Windows 7 is being positioned to support up to 256 processors)

It is important to understand though that Windows 7 shouldn’t discount the benefits of moving to Windows Viata.  This essentially goes without saying, but opting Windows Vista positions enterprises to more easily migrate to Windows 7 when it becomes available.  Windows 7 is going to present some very compelling features that may have folks thinking they should wait, however, it’s key that Microsoft wil continue to drive Windows Vista as the base platform to build upon.  Sinofsky made it evident in his keynote that we’re still committed to Windows Vista.

What about Windows XP?
We will continue to push out updates to Windows XP for our XP customers.  It is important though to get them moving towards Windows Vista.

Developer Platform
Scott Guthrie came on stage and talked about our investments in our client runtimes (e.g. Silverlight, WPF) as well as our enhancements in Internet Explorer and IIS7, and our web development platform (e.g. ASP.NET, ASP.NET AJAX, ASP.NET MVC, ASP.NET Dynamic Data) as well as laid some groundwork for where our future investments are as we evolve these platforms/technologies.

Windows Live Services
David Treadwell rounded out the keynote to talk about our investment in the Live Services component of the Windows Azure platform.  He discussed the Windows Live Essentials offering (currently in beta and available for download at http://download.live.com/) which provides capabilities like email, blogging, messaging, photos, etc. In addition Treadwell talked about the rich integration of Windows Live Platform with Windows 7 and how key Windows Live capabilities will be a natural part of the Windows 7.

Announcements

  • Windows Live Framework – Provides a developer framework for building applications on the Live Services platform.
  • Office Web Applications – Web-based equivalents of the Office client applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote) During the keynotes, the Group PM of Office demonstrated the Office Web Applications.  This provides a solid platform for delivering web-enabled versions of our popular office suite that BLOWS THE DOORS off the competition.

IMPORTANT NOTE: As it relates to Office Web Applications, this should NOT be viewed as a replacement for the client suite.  As a matter of fact, the web applications should be viewed as complementary and a part of of the Microsoft S+S strategy.  It is important that this not be positioned as an alternative, but as a solution to further extend the reach of Office.

The day was filled with great breakout sessions that covered the following products/technologies:

Resources

  • Engineering Windows 7 Blog – Great blog that gives a “behind the scenes” view, from the perspectives of the product team themselves, on how Windows 7 is being built
  • Windows Azure Portal – Provides information on the Windows Azure platform as well as it’s sub-components (ex: Live Services)

That’s about all I have for now 🙂  Hope it’s useful.

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