Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference has just wrapped up and I've decided to run through an account of what happened and some of the major announcements that have been made.
PDC was held at the enormous L.A. Convention Center. Every aspect of the conference was meticulously coordinated and well run, although at times I felt a little like cattle being herded through gates.
Tuesday's keynote, mostly involving Ray Ozzie, was focused primarily around Azure. Judging by the amount of face-time Azure saw at PDC and the amount of advertising Microsoft has spent on it, it's clearly a very important part of their future. Ozzie also introduced us to the phrase, "3 Screens and a Cloud" at this speech. The screens refer to personal computers, mobile devices, and televisions. The cloud, obviously, refers to Azure.
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The most interesting announcements came from other companies. I was personally surprised to hear Wordpress has switch to Azure for their hosting. Other announcements included Seesmic creating a Windows version of their desktop Twitter client, and the Cheezburger network hosting their new site, Oddly Specific, on Azure.
For the spectator, Wednesday's keynote was much more exciting. Scott Guthrie introduced us to the new Silverlight 4 Beta and iPhone video streaming support in IIS.
We also got a first glimpse of Internet Explorer 9, which will support hardware rendering.
Other than that, there were lots of information about Sharepoint 2010 and Office 2010. I think the most interesting feature from my perspective is Outlook Social Connector, which will let you integrate all of the social networking applications into Outlook. As of now, only LinkedIn is supported, however the API is open, so look forward to lots more in the future.
And of course, Microsoft gave everyone a free laptop.
The sessions were a mixed bag. Some were enjoyable and informative, and some were down-right boring. Preparedness was generally pretty good. At times there was a little too much waiting for code to compile and demo apps to launch. I never saw a demo fail, however I did see some beta software crash - accompanied by the look of surprise and the phrase, "that hasn't happened in a long time".
I focused my sessions around WPF and got at least some benefit. Each session was 1 hour long (45 minutes for lunch sessions). This gives the presenter enough to time to basically introduce you to a topic. If you're looking for an in-depth training session, PDC is definitely not the place.
The expo was disappointingly small. The "Big Room" was aptly named, however representative companies took up a small fraction of the total space. Most of the space was monopolized by Microsoft kiosks. I was actually looking forward to the expo to see what products might exist to help our software development, but there just wasn't much there.
That's not to say the expo failed entirely. There was free beer on Tuesday and Wednesday night. However Geekfest, on Wednesday night, was a pretty sad affair. I don't think software developers are known for their parties. I unfortunately was not made aware of PDC Underground until it was too late. If I attend PDC again, I think that's how I'll spend Wednesday night.
All-in-all PDC was an enjoyable experience. I would recommend that everyone that develops using the Microsoft stack should attend it at least once. PDC seems to be designed for those that are seriously looking to adopt an upcoming Microsoft technology. Other than that, the biggest benefit I received was just the ability to talk to other developers and see what technologies they use and how they get things done.