Live From The Microsoft Launch 2010 Event In Boston

6:50 PM:

The event ended at 4:45 PM, following Chris Bowen’s very interesting overview of Windows Phone development. I was desperate to get out of there, and this is the first access to the Web (wifi on the Concord Coach bus) I’ve had since making a beeline for Copley Square.

On Windows Phone: It leverages Windows Presentation Foundation for applications and uses XNA (like XBox does) for games. The capacities of the phone seem on par with Android / iPhone, and Microsoft is using a vetting process similar to Apple’s for approving applications.

Developer tools, including an express version of Visual Studio 2010 and an emulator, are available at developer.windowsphone.com, where you can also register for their marketplace.

On the event’s end: End-of-event giveaways were paltry; a notebook charging station (not the laptop rumored earlier), three copies of VS 2010 and some trinkets, for 500+ attendees.

Not to sound greedy or childish, but that’s pretty cheap. If Microsoft can’t afford to seed its new products by giving away some of its software to those who were motivated enough to spend an entire day learning about it, that’s a sad, sad commentary.

Overall, I rate Launch 2010 a major disappointment. The afternoon sessions were good, but I have a feeling the Roadshow event being held in Augusta in two weeks will be effectively the same thing.

Overbooking the event, providing little more than glorified commercials for half the day, sending me home with garbage, hosting a mixer after they  wore out my patience and making me look like a fool for talking up this event has put a seriously sour taste in my mouth, one I won’t easily forget.

3:45 PM:

I have never been so glad to see the back of two guys’ heads as I am right now.

Apparently, everyone was here to listen to the ASP.NET 4.0 presentation, because there was a significant exodus immediately following it. About a third of those in attendance left.

That’s good news for me but bad news for Microsoft, which saved Windows Phone 7 for last. If what makes a smart phone a success is lots of good software, I don’t think the clearing out that just took place here bodes well.

That said, Chris Bowen is right now going over basic functionality of the phone OS. First feature of note: It integrates closely with XBox Live.

3:10 PM:

Jim O’Neil is speaking on ASP.NET 4.0, and it’s clear that just as I am petering out, this event is getting good.

The new ASP.NET and VS 2010 contains a number of useful enhancements: Native support for jQuery; an improved MVC model; more control over caching, targeting ViewState and the ability to assign client IDs to Web controls, which surely will help overcome the primary impediment to DOM scripting.

It also appears ASP.NET 4.0 is taking a more responsible view toward Web best practices and standards-based HTML coding / CSS. That’s about three years too late, but better late than never, I suppose.

There are still too many people here, so I can’t easily find a seat in the room and the nearest one outside barely allows me to hear O’Neil’s presentation.

I really resent Microsoft allowing this overflow. It’s not only making it impossible to find a new seat, it’s seriously impeding every attempt to network or meet people. There’s a human crush at the door at every break.

Overall, this has been a severe disappointment, especially compared to the VS 2008 launch.

2 PM:

I moved my feet and lost my seat — that’s how crowded this event is. And it appears they are still allowing walk-ins, even this late into the game. Next time, Microsoft, let’s set a firm attendance limit and start time. What’s going on right now is only punishing those of us who took the time to plan ahead.

That left me largely having to eavesdrop on Bob Familiar, he of the Northeast MSDN Roadshow, which is unfortunate — as his was the first presentation that really got into the traditional development technologies as they apply to VS 2010.

I wish I could have heard more or retained more. Suffice it to say, from the little I did hear, VS 2010 is fundamentally like VS 2008, with additional enhancements in team code management and Intellisense.

1:20 PM:

ZOMG, it’s another presentation on SharePoint! We were supposed to get a Partner pitch but apparently, SharePoint 2010 is Microsoft’s brave new Web 2.1 technology. (And if that’s the case, say goodbye to another hefty chunk of market share and relevance, Bill.)

So, I’m taking a break. Let’s look through the bag o’ swag for this event, shall we?

Unfortunately, the images in this post were eaten by a server crash.

Here’s the bag itself. Plastic, festooned with the uninspired logos of the launch sponsors.

One black T-shirt, size XL. The front has a design that I am going to call “the LGBT rainbow surf wave.”

You can’t tell from my crappy cell phone camera pic, but the top is the event logo, which is like road signs on posts, and the rest are the same sponsor logos that are on the bag.

Needless to say, this is going to Goodwill, or maybe the first homeless guy I see here in Boston.

The majority of the bag o’ swag contents: Sponsor fliers. Lots of them. There’s also some fliers from Microsoft. No white papers, just ads for things I guarantee 90 percent of the people attending here will never buy.

A major reason for coming here was hope that Microsoft would give away fully functional copies of VS 2010, and maybe even copies of Windows 7. No such luck.

Instead, there’s a disc called “Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance,” whatever that is; and we were handed a 90-day trail of VS 2010 Ultimate, which I suppose spares me the effort of having to download the same exact thing, which anyone can get from microsoft.com.

Finally, a note pad with half the page taken up by printed sales pitches and a Bic disposable pen round out the take.

Apparently, Microsoft will draw names from a hat to win some copies of VS 2010, a Toshiba laptop, and the like, at the end of the event. I’m not sure I want to stick around for that, as the seminars so far haven’t been very informative and there are too many people in attendance.

We were told this morning that Windows 7 is Microsoft’s fastest-selling OS and SharePoint 2010 is its fastest-selling server technology. But I guess Microsoft’s gonna keep that money, rather than plying developers with gifts.

12:20 PM:

It’s lunch time and thank the Heavens for it. The SharePoint presentation was absolutely brutal.

It appears there have been a number of improvements to SharePoint development, especially in terms of using business objects for data and in directly relating ASP.NET code into SharePoint structures. But that could have been covered in 10 minutes, and it took nearly 40.

As a result, the entirety of the demo for programming Office plug-ins was the presenter simply opening a prewritten Excel add-in and running it. That took all of three minutes.

Maybe I’m cranky from lack of sleep (I had to get up at 3 AM to get here on time). I know the worst position to have when speaking is the guy just before lunch or the end note. But I wish they had simply stuffed the swag bag with a white paper.  That would have been better, and I wouldn’t be suffering a MEGO hangover now.

More on swag in a bit.

10:50 AM:

Microsoft just went over application lifecycle management under VS 2010. It appears the integration tools for joining testers and developers’ efforts are a lot tighter. For example, if a tester spots a bug, after he flags it and the dev team corrects it, VS 2010 notes only those tests that need to be rerun as a result of the changes.

We couldn’t get into it very far, but it appears reporting is also heavily improved,  leveraging SQL Server 2008’s reporting tools.

On an event note, today officially marks the first time, other than at the horse track or ball field, that I’ve seen a line for a men’s room. That happens if, of about 1,000 people in attendance, three are women.

Also of note: The check-in staff  handed most of the developers who arrived on time the wrong schedule. The ones who came late got the right schedule.

This is a mild annoyance, but one consequence is that half of the room now has bag lunches in hand and are munching away during the SharePoint presentation, since it’s time for the IT decision makers — the ones who should have got the schedules the developers actually got — are on lunch break. It is also causing a cacophony that makes hearing the speaker difficult.

Actually, I am sitting next to someone who has sinus problems, so his every-five-minutes snorting isn’t helping matters.

10:05 AM:

So I’m at the Westin Copley Place hotel’s America ballroom, hearing Microsoft’s launch event for Visual Studio 2010. Initial impressions:

  1. The way to go to Boston from Augusta is the Concord Coach bus. Without question, it’s the most convenient and pleasant method. Clean, spacious buses with wifi and very courteous employees; plus, at $25 round trip, it’s cheaper than driving a car.
  2. The Westin is a lovely hotel and puts on a very nice continental breakfast.
  3. Microsoft has nothing of value to say about its product so far.  The essence of the keynote was that VS 2010 is a great way to work as a team and has new, useful tools to program for Azure (cloud) , SharePoint and mobile. A couple examples were provided, but they were so cursory as to be at best pointless, and (to this observer) somewhat confusing.
  4. Wifi support is nonexistent. I am using my Droid and PdaNet. Memo to Microsoft: Free wifi next time. Seriously.

4 Comments

  1. Why not use Adobe products? I use Dreamweaver CS4 for my web programming and have used VS 2008 in the past. The only web development software by Microsoft that I like is my SQL Server. I guess you could call me an Adobe fanboy =)

  2. @Billy: Thanks for checking in. I use Dreamweaver to help with establishing a basic site design; when I get designs from others who built their mock-ups in Adobe products; when I am specifically asked to use it (for example, if I am contributing some small part of the overall project, and the primary development team is using Dreamweaver); and if I have a quick-and-dirty Web site or page to knock out.

    When I am working on a major Web project built in PHP, I use Notepad++. If I have a basic design in hand, I find it’s far easier to simply code longhand. Dreamweaver tends to have some bad habits, such as changing spacing / line breaks, or insisting on injecting code / using coding patterns I don’t like, and barfing in general when it sees jQuery. I’d just as soon do things myself.

    I find Visual Studio is the easiest way to work with ASP.NET, and it’s pretty much the only tool for writing desktop applications and libraries, which I admittedly don’t do all that often. It is easier to test and deploy ASP.NET Web sites written in Visual Studio, and Visual Studio generally has superior code suggestion / formatting and toolbox support for ASP.NET. Also, Dreamweaver CS4 doesn’t support the MVC model for ASP.NET sites, doesn’t really work well for AJAX-enabled ASP.NET sites, and doesn’t support the full range of ASP.NET solutions.

    That might all be supported in Dreamweaver CS5, but I am of the mind I may not upgrade. I am still thinking about it.

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