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March 25, 2007
Even though I have been working for the (self-declared) non-evil empire for a while now, I still have a lot of ties to the Microsoft community, even beyond drinking Weissbier with Christian Weyer. I am particularly proud that I have been able to maintain my MVP status, Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional award. Having "Google" on my badge certainly gave some softies the chills at this NDA-only event. But I think having me there is a great testimony to the MVP program being focused on community, not corporate rivalry (and chair throwing). Furthermore, this event focuses on languages, frameworks, and tools for the Microsoft developer community, whereas very few of Google's offerings (e.g., GWT) are targeted directly at developers. In any case, the event was a great opportunity to spend some time with fellow MVPs and to get access to Microsoft product groups in a more intimate setting than the usual TechEd mayhem.
The MVP summit also provided a chance to see Bill Gates in a smaller setting, where smaller means about 1500 people as compared to the 25,000 or so attendees at the average TechEd event. Despite the various opinions about Microsoft I count billg as one of the more popular and personable leaders in the IT space. Admittedly this crowd was pretty much as friendly as it gets, but it was still nice to see standing ovations and the several GB of digital images being produced within seconds of Bill's appearance on stage. The format of the talk was excellent: about 20 minutes of PowerPoint-less presentation followed by extensive Q&A (I wish more of the sessions would have followed this format). The topics Bill touched on were not entirely surprising, but they provided some nice reassurance that Redmond is thinking about many of the same things the developer community is thinking about:
Fun quote: Bill started off one of his topics talking about "Microsoft and others who do search…" Who might he be referring to? The whole transcript of his talk is available.
Most remaining sessions of the summit fall under our individual non-disclosure agreements with Microsoft. I wish the product teams had used that as an opportunity to give us some insights beyond the (not so secret) Orcas CTP (while on that topic, it seems that you want to install the 7-part version, not the 9-part version). Anders talked about Linq (no surprise here), the Connected Systems Divisions showed Workflow enabled Services (interesting, and also in the CTP). I was excited to see that the CTPs now come as Virtual PC images so I no longer have to install OS, .Net, Studio etc etc. You "just" downloaded the 5 GB or so and let it run. Excellent idea. I attended mostly the CSD (Connected Systems Division) track. This group unites both the old "Indigo" team and BizTalk. Accordingly, they fielded a number of questions on how they will collaborate etc. According to Clemens "we now love each other."
Don Box gave a great session on his current work (super-secret). Luckily, his jokes should be non-confidential. My favorite quote: "I like Ruby for its directness but I always feel a little dirty afterwards"
With the rather strict NDA most that is left to report is of social nature. Scott Bellware was on his best behavior, the Canadians were loud and wore goofy Maple leaf shirts, the bus driver pointed out Bill's house on 76th Ave, the line to the Microsoft Company store was infinitely long (I sacrificed one session to go early), Software in the Store was cheap ($45 for Vista Ultimate), and it only rained a little. It was great to also great to see my friends from far-away places like Japan. As expected, the Japanese team aced the Karaoke contest, and the vegetarian food at the Museum of Flight party was excellent.
While I have your attention I want to point out that I ported the Simple Messaging Toolkit to .Net 2.0 and fixed a few bugs. You can now also pass your own item strings to the Customer component if you rather order Hot Dogs, Fries, and Burgers as opposed to Coffee, Latte, and Frappucino. And some people claim creating domain-specific languages is difficult :-)
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