Even though my only reason to go to this event was for the off chance I would get a free copy of vista (even though it was just RTM), I still had a great time.
The keynote was targeted at the buisiness crowd it seemed to me. I found that strange as there was a huge IT presence there. Towards the end they actually started showing some of the cool features of Exchange, Office, and Sharepoint which really impressed me (that or my head was starting to clear). I can not say I did not get some business ideas out of it but I dont know how many people at the event were business people.
The morning developer track seemed to be a lot of powerpoint and buzz words to me but it was short at least.
After lunch John Bristowe turned on the magic and started a presentation about WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation). This was a great showing of the things you can do with things like xaml, microsoft expression. I really liked this presentation and found it was just the right mix of showing the new features without going to deep into something most developers are not going to be using for months at least. After the talk I went upstairs where John was answering questions (so I skpped the office 2007 presentation). Some of the cool things I discovered:
- Users in vista are just regular users by default (not admins).
- You can have your application prompt to elevate its permissisons.
- There is a cool virtualization feature that takes for instance when a program tries to write to protected areas of the disk (i.e. c:\program files) that it actually gets writen to your user profile instead. This helps to protect areas like program files, the windows directory, and the registry for corruption / bloat. You can still actually write to these areas if you elevate your permissions
- Vista now randomizes the location of assemblies in memory on startup. This is great for mitigating buffer overflows that expect a certain application to be in a certain area of memory. John was stating that if there was something trying to do this you would now get a protected memory exception which should be a warning sign that there is some sort of exploit on your system
- I asked if MS Expression (the interface designer tarketed more towards the graphics people that produces xaml) will be available on Mac. John was unsure on this but I really think this is a necessary step for someone to produce a xaml editor for the Mac as this is what a lot of designers use for a computer.
Bristowe was then back presenting on Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and Windows Workflow Foundation (WF). I really love the distrubuted technologies like com+/enterprise services, remoting, and even sometimes asmx and msmq. The presentation showed how they have unified all these technologies into one. I really hope it is as good as the hype. WCF is a communication layer that supports running over any port, do any type of serialization, authenticate users, easily configurable, and has all the ws-* protocols (reliable messaging, message queing, security, and a whole load more). Basically WCF is all of the distributed protocols combined with none of the weaknesses of any individual one. I really really want this.
The workflow foundation stuff I had pretty much seen before but is another great technology. Basically you can create a graphical flowchart of a workflow in your organization and then associate code to decisions (or any other action). It seems like such a well thought out system there really is no point in creating your own workflow system. My favorite feature was the debugger in which you could actually step through the flowchart (and associated code) to see why decisions were being made. That is something I bet no inhouse shop has ever built for their own workflow engine.
Christian then came up to do a presentation on Office Sharepoint Server 2007. I am not a sharepoint person… and I dont really want to be. But seeing the technology gave me some good ideas and I really saw what you could do with it. The last presentation of the day is always hard and lots of people were leaving to go get swag and beer which makes it really hard to capture intrest in a presentation. There were also some technical problems that cropped up and even a few asp.net exceptions. Christian did not even break a sweat it seemed even when someones cell phone rang with the mission impossible theme. If that does not make you crack nothing will. So great content and I am sure that the bugs in this presentation will be worked out for the next stop of the tour.
So all in all a great launch event. I learned a lot more than I thought I was. I am excited about the technology. I was disapointed in the swag and prize selection but got free knowledge, food, networking, and way more beer tickets than Donald or I could consume.