Things got kicked off this in true Vegas fashion with an artist performing Johnny Cash songs.
Ray Ozzie came on stage and spoke for a short time about Microsoft’s vision for the web going forward. To sum things up, Microsoft sees the web as a hub that will connect all your devices together, from your PC to your zune, to your media center pc. Nothing new here in this message. One interesting technology that was puts the rubber to the road is SQL Data services. This is an interesting one. I’m curious to see how willing corporations will be to put their data outside their own hosted machines.
Scott Gu & Company
Scott Guthrie took the reigns over from Ray and began his 3 ring circus, not the least of which was his endearing juggling audition for cirque du soleil.
- Interop The number 1 point of IE8 was its dedication to interoperability. In a complete about face, IE8 will be standards-compliant right out of the box. They will be supporting CSS 2.1 by default and have been working with the WC3 to clear up the standards with 702 specific test cases they are supporting.
- Performance IE8 has improved upon IE7′s script performance. I hope this turns into a real-world experience boost. I have my doubts that it will render HTML as quickly as currently Firefox does.
- HTML5 IE8 will support HTML 5, which includes some nice hash functionality that will hopefully not break that back button for AJAX-based web sties
- IE8 Dev tools – There was an interesting demo of debuggig support within IE8 to inspect how and where styles are being manipulated, even if they are being manipulated at run time. I didn’t see much intellisense support in the debugging experience, but this will be a great help to developers.
- IE8 Activities – Some neat demos showing how you could highlight an address in a web page, right click on the selection and see a windows live map of it inline with the page. You also get the option to open the map in a separate tab. Developers can easily modify their web pages to allow their activities to be integrated into the web. They showed an example of viewing ebay listings inline.
- WebSlices – Think of these as small pieces of the web that sit in your quick link bar. They showed how you can view all your facebook updates in the quick link bar. I wonder if this will get used much. Do people still use the quick link bar?
Scott gave the overview of the vision of how Silverlight 1.0 and 2.0 sit in the market place. 1.0 was meant to drive adoption of the plugin. 2.0 Beta 1 was announced and was aimed at improving the media experience, reducing the TCO of Silverlight, and better leveraging Silverlight for monetization. Scott mentioned how Silverlight 1.1 was a 4.3 mb download. I didn’t hear how large Silverlight 2 will be when it ships. They aim to improve the media experience through adaptive streaming of Videos. Silverlight will select the best bitrate based on the current network conditions. If network conditions deteriorate,it can switch bitrates inline without a hiccup. They are aiming to reduce the TCO through Windows Media Services 2008. This is a free product that can be installed into Windows Server 2008. It allows administrators to burst video down to the user at the beginning of the video,then only buffer only 10 seconds ahead of what they’re watching. This lessens the likelihood that the user would download the entire video, only to close it half way through watching it, thereby throwing away half of the server’s bandwidth. Scott lastly talked about monetizing the internet. Scott and team showed off a Silverlight Add template that does sets up some of the plumbing for creating banner adds in silverlight. Expression Encoder also supports burning in adds into the bottom of a video that overlays a portion of the video. The ad can be a bitmap, video, or even xaml.
Microsoft really lowered the bar for entry to develop Silverlight applications with the introduction of controls for silverlight, including textbox, button, slider, a datagrid amongst others. I went into a breakout session that went deeper into this and impressed me even more with the controls. The controls are all open source and free for people to extend. The datagrid seemed pretty well featured and customizable. New layout controls such as the StackPannel were also introduced to help speed up laying out a Silverlight app. Microsoft also mentioned that you can now write Silverlight controls as web parts for Sharepoint. Silverlight also has some cool physics effects, such as a wave effect that a developer can apply to a video. All the rendering is pushed to the GPU, so CPU usage is low.