Bill Gates on Silverlight, Velocity, Oslo

Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates kicked off the annual
Tech-Ed Conference yesterday with a keynote that took an
opportunity to look back, as well as provided a glimpse into the
future.


Gates, who is giving up his day-to-day role with Microsoft on
July 1, took to the stage one last time to take the wraps off a
grab bag of developer-related technologies and updates. Among them
were new details about the next betas of Silverlight 2 and Internet
Explorer 8 (IE 8), as well as new enhancements around Visual Studio
and SharePoint.


Also launched'but not touted in Gates' keynote'is an
in-memory cache platform for distributed applications. Codenamed
"Velocity," the project aims to boost the performance and
reliability limits of enterprise applications.


Speaking to an audience of more than 5,000 developers in
Orlando, Fla., Gates waxed nostalgic as he recalled three decades
worth of computer development.


"When I think back on the early days of development when we were
all programming in DOS, and then take a look at what we can do now
with technologies like the .NET Framework, it simply amazes me how
far we've come," Gates said.


Appearing on stage with Microsoft Developer Division Senior Vice
President S. "Soma" Somasegar, as well as technical fellows David
Campbell and Brian Harry, Gates demonstrated a number of Microsoft
development solutions aimed at enabling enhanced user interfaces,
more capable data-driven applications and better management of
enterprise-scale software projects.


Gates also gave a plug for SharePoint Server development,
revealing that Visual Studio 2008 extensions for Windows SharePoint
Services 3.0 v1.2 will provide a simplified development environment
for shops looking to extend their WSS and Microsoft Office
SharePoint Server (MOSS) deployments.


Data Layer


Joined by Harry, Gates discussed new tooling to help developers
model and architect applications. New architecture tooling in
Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) lets developers check application
flows, drill down into the architecture layer and validate program
code against the architecture design. Harry also noted that VSTS
will let developers automatically check for architecture design
violations at check-in.


As part of the demo, Harry showed off an upcoming IBM DB/2
database connector, which will allow developers to do DB/2
development directly within the VSTS Database Edition IDE.
Developers can refactor DB/2 database code directly from within
VSTS-based projects.


"You no longer have to manage two IDE environments for doing
your application development," Gates said. "This is a big step
forward."


Gates also trumpeted the Oslo project, the ambitious application
modeling and repository effort first announced in November of last year. The
first Oslo CTP is scheduled to arrive at the Professional
Developers Conference (PDC) in October.


Microsoft also announced a new CTP of the Microsoft Sync
Framework for Windows Mobile. The Sync Framework enables
collaboration and offline functionality for devices, services and
applications.


Gaining Velocity


One of the notable surprises at the conference was Project
Velocity, which aims to streamline and enhance access to disparate
data sources for high-performance applications that are spread
across large clusters of computers. Microsoft has released the
first community technology preview (CTP) of the forthcoming
distributed in-memory application cache platform.


Also announced during the keynote was the release of Silverlight
2 beta 2, available for download this week. The latest cut of
Microsoft's cross-platform rich Internet application platform is
now available under the Go Live license, enabling dev shops to
start working on public-facing Silverlight applications.


Somasegar demoed Silverlight 2 applications, including the
Crossfader music video app that showed advanced interface effects
and streaming low-bandwidth video playback. He also demoed
integration with Expression Designer, showing how developers can
tune application design from the Expression tooling.


Microsoft has updated tooling for Silverlight developers,
announcing both the Expression Blend 2.5 June 2008 Preview and
Microsoft Silverlight Tools beta 2 for Visual Studio 2008.


Finally, attendees also learned that IE 8 beta 2 will be
available Aug. 20. IE 8 will usher improved support for Web
standards, as well as two new features Gates emphasized:
"Activities," which lets users gather things they do on the Web in
a single place, and "Slices," which enables Web site owners to
drive focus to a specific portion of their pages.


This article was originally publinsed June 3 at RedmondMag.com, an affilate Web site of GCN.com. RedmondMag.com and GCN.com are 1105 Media Inc. properties. Michael Desmond, former editor at large of Redmond magazine, is the editor in chief of Redmond Developer News magazine.

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