Articles tagged in tech.ed

  1. Thoughts on Microsoft, after Tech.Ed 2008

    After Tech.Ed 2008 (I think) I have some new thoughts on Microsoft. It is in fact a different company than many Internet users and mass media have perceived. It is a lot more than just Windows, Internet Explorer, Office, Live/MSN, and Xbox 360. It is really about developers, developers, developers.

    For those who have read my previous 3 days of quick reports on Tech.Ed, I think I might need to explain who I am and why I attended Tech.Ed 2008. I use Windows on the desktop (ahem... it's a work computer!) but I was trained in a university which taught programming on *nix system (UNSW). I had my very first professional gig as C/C++ programmer on SCO OpenServer. I've used Linux for 13 years and Vim has been my text editor of choice over the last 10 years. Coding for a *nix/Linux system is just so much more natural to me.

    But then a start up that I was part of (and still is) got bought out by another ISV around a few years ago, and these guys use pretty much Microsoft stack all the way through. So my team (Linux loving, mostly UNSW grads) started living a "double life" at work -- almost all developers worked on Linux, but we have to build and deploy our software on Win2k3 boxes. And now they've just sent me to a convention focusing on the technology that I've been trying very hard to avoid...

    Okay. Back to Microsoft.

    It's a company that everyone likes to bash. Obviously when I say "everyone", I am talking about those who read Slashdot or those who read TechCrunch (note -- two very different crowd). To them, all the open source projects and new web start ups are pronouncing the defeat of Microsoft. MSFT is in trouble because Windows Vista does not sell. They are in trouble because Firefox/ Chrome are taking up more shares in the market. Google Docs is so much better than Office 2007 (yeah right). Zune is crap. Jerry Seinfeld + Bill Gates is worse. Etc.

    But one of the most important messages I received in the Tech.Ed this year was -- Microsoft is much more than just a software company. While it has also quickly transformed itself into a service company (like Google and Yahoo) and an infrastructure company (like Amazon WS), it is also a well established solution company (think IBM, Accenture, etc). They implement end to end solutions for enterprises with multi-million dollar budget. For those who triumph over the fact that he uses Linux, Firefox and OO.o instead of Microsoft equivalent -- just think about how much tax you have paid to the government, who spent big chunk of the budget on IT projects, many were designed by Microsoft certified architects using Microsoft development tools, deployed on the Microsoft operating systems...

    And the scary thing is -- how many other solution companies can provide the entire stack -- from operating system, virtualisation, database, web/messaging servers, development tools, deployment tools, programming languages, web browsers, RIA runtime and the whole lot? Sun, maybe, although most won't consider their own database system of "enterprise grade". Not to mention Sun seriously needs a health check. In Anna Liu's presentation on Wednesday where she showed a slide of a big application stack -- there's a Microsoft product for almost everything. For Microsoft certified professional developers, they probably won't think twice in choosing the right component, because MSFT have already done all the thinking + implementation for them. Talking about vendor lock in...

    With so much invested in development stack and infrastructure, developers and architects who have sold their soul to Microsoft platform, are actually one of MSFT's biggest assets. And with 3,000+ attendance at Tech.Ed 2008, this community is definitely not small size. These are the developers who are part of multi-million dollar projects in government, education, banks, etc. It's more than just Microsoft defending themselves from non-Microsoft products. These developers too have been advocating for their SQL Server, for their IIS and for their VisualStudio -- not just because of their loyalty but the entire Microsoft development stack is what brings food on the table for them. Obviously they will stick up for their favourite company in Redmond!

    And the Two-Point-Oh people can continue with their yada yada yada. Big corporates are usually immune to them -- at least here in Australia.

    Or maybe it is just Australia, which I found is very Microsoft'ised in comparison with many Asia and Europe countries, where some government will explicitly go the open source route to reduce vendor lock in.

    Anyway. Sorry about my disturbing brain dump. The rule of the game is more than the mind share of Internet and office suite users, but the mind share of software developers. Not just those in the start ups but also numerous developers/architects in big corps who might rarely raise their opinion on blogs but are solely responsible in picking the tools for their next million dollar project.

    Fortunately (or unfortunately) for Microsoft, having software products for the entire stack just make mind-share grabbing quite a bit easier.

  2. I Survived! - Tech.Ed 2008 Day 3

    I am tired. It's almost 12am (and by the time I finish this post, I am pretty sure it will be over 12am). I had a long day at Tech.Ed today and I went straight to the regular Friday night Bible Study afterwards. However as I have blogged about my last two days of Tech.Ed 2008 encounter (Day 1 and Day 2), I think I might as well blog about what I have done on the last day.

    Software Life Cycle for Business Apps

    Sessions today turn out to be actually pretty good (see how brainwashed I am). My day started 10 minutes late again, and the first session I went to, "Managing the Development of Complex Line of Business Application", was pretty helpful. Only Microsoft product mentioned was Microsoft Team Foundation Server which does not really apply to us as our Subversion, Wiki, Trac, and Mantis stack has pretty much covered everything. Interesting advice on managing projects in an iterative/agile environment and the emphasis on how important tests are (although we have already been doing them for years).

    F# -- for the Love of Programming

    Two DEV talks were the highlights today for me. In the morning I went to "F#: For the Love of Programming" presented by Joel Pobar. The session pretty much covers the basics of F# (basic syntax, pattern matching, etc) and touched a little bit on why you want to learn functional programming. The emphasis has been on concurrency and multi-core programming -- although I didn't think the "why it's better than imperative programming" has been explained properly. Well, the title was "For the Love of Programming" so I at least expected some imperative/OO bashing but I got none :) As an amateur OCaml programmer it is also nice to see the syntactic sugar Microsoft has given to F# (death to ever so confusing trailing semicolumns). With the access to all existing .NET libraries (battery included!) I think F# is really going to open up developers on the MS platform to a new world. TODO :: "F#"

    Parallel Extensions for .NET

    Second DEV talk I went to today was on Parallel Extensions for .NET, presented by Joe Duffy, who is another functional language geek. Parallel Extensions on the other hand is a reusable library for .NET that can be used by all .NET languages. I don't think the extension brings in any new concept in concurrent programming, but rather it's a library that your average C# developer can use to make use the multiple cores. But if you have shared state -- the problem persists and I didn't see alternatives like STM or Actor model getting mentioned. But indeed massive parallel computing will be the norm in the future, and how to get the average developers to start coding for that platform is not going to be an easy puzzle to solve.

    High Availability with Hyper-V

    Last talk I went to was on Hyper-V and HA. Nothing interesting except you can now click click click and do a quick migration of your VM between hosts.


    The last thing in the programme was the locknote, presented by Miha Kralj, a senior Architect at Microsoft, on the IT for the next 10 years. Very entertaining and quite a thought provoking talk (much better than the keynote may I say). So how's Microsoft's version of the future of IT? Cloud computing. Utility computing. Service oriented architecture. And it will be very different. Time to do some heath check on your current sacred cash cow, because it won't be there in 10 years. Not sure what has Microsoft and Google have planned for theirs (Office and AdWords/AdSense).

    So that's it. I survived! I don't think I have learn much that is really technical, but I think I do learn quite a bit about Microsoft's stack of development platform. Actually I think I have a new understanding about "Microsoft" itself. I'll blog about that tomorrow.

  3. Ends in High Note - Tech.Ed 2008 Day 2

    2nd day at Tech.Ed and it was actually not bad -- I guess I am well on my way of getting brain washed. Got out of the house at around 8am this morning, and saw Cherry on the bus on the way to the city. She thought I was early (I normally arrive work 9:15-9:30am), but I was in fact late for the first session!

    Silverlight 2 for Developers

    I was 10 minutes late when I got there. "Silvelight 2 for developers" Hmm sounds interesting. It was about techniques in building de-coupled Silverlight 2 application in C# (btw, Silverlight 2 wasn't even out yet). As someone who (1) does not know C# (2) not much idea about .NET runtime (3) have never built a Silverlight app before (4) blogged until 1am in the previous morning, I struggled to keep myself awake. Great techniques, but would be more useful if I am actually a C# developer. Next!

    Silverlight for Mobile Apps

    Then I went to "Introducing Silverlight for mobile applications" and actually got more usability advice than the usability session from yesterday. Amit and Neil are good presenters. As of Silverlight for mobile, I don't think it is even ready (not until a version that can run managed code anyway). Meanwhile, there are already Flash Lite and J2ME. Next!

    Reactive Programming

    Reactive Programming is the title of the session I went along next. However, instead of explaining the programming paradigm and digging deep into language design, we went straight to C#, WPF, INotifyPropertyChange and all their voodoo magic. Actually the entire presentation is pretty much implementation specific, which certainly makes it less interesting than just discussing the languages themselves and maybe imperative vs. functional reactive programming. Next!

    Layout Engine in Internet Explorer 8

    After lunch I went to "Cross-Browser layout with MS IE 8". Argh. Now I appreciate my browsers more (and they are not Internet Explorer).

    Microsoft's Application Platform in the Clouds

    Then "Extending the Application Platform with Cloud Services". Does that excite you, solution architects? Surely it does! Until the presenter revealed that the presentation is going to be exclusively about BizTalk and SQLServer Data Service. So we looked at the code example to call BizTalk -- I think you can pretty much build the same service bus thing with Amazon SQS or a high-available XMPP server. SQLServer Data Service (SSDS) has nothing to do with SQL, but a big tuple bag of key/value pairs with LINQ-like querying syntax. Just like Amazon SimpleDB or Google BigTable. Next!

    IronPython and Other .NET Dynamic Languages

    The final show today was the highlight -- "Pumping Iron: Dynamic Languages on .NET" where Harry Pierson talked about the benefit of dynamic typing languages and why they are useful to .NET users. Great presentation, and great arguments on why the lack of compile time checking is NOT really an issue. IronPython was used in the code example, which is something I am a bit familiar with. There will be a F# talk tomorrow (Microsoft's O'Caml implementation for .NET) -- looking forward to that.

  4. Enemy Territory - Tech.Ed 2008 Day 1

    "Enemy Territory" -- because I went to a conference promoting Microsoft products and were surrounded by Microsoft-worshipping geeks today, from 8:30am to 6:45pm. Not the greatest experience, and I was totally overwhelmed at how many "stormtroppers" who actually attended Tech.Ed. It did not end up as bad as …