What’s Coming from Microsoft

I attend Microsoft’s Tech Ed conference in New Orleans this week. This is Microsoft’s conference that is primarily aimed at IT Pros, but includes quite a bit of developer content as well. If you want to know what is currently happening at Microsoft with their products, this is the show to attend. I was told, unofficially and unsubstantiated that about 9,500 people are attending this year’s show.

This year’s show seemed to be a bit scaled back in that there is only one keynote session. In this keynote session lead by Brad Anderson, there were a few announcements and the standard demos. While most was again IT Pro focused, there were a few comments dropped for developers. Of course, these were limited most likely to avoid taking any of the steam from the Microsoft Build Conference that is in three weeks in San Francisco.

The most interesting thing stated in the keynote specifically for developers was that there will be a Visual Studio 2013. This will be a version change instead of just an update or service pack release. Preview bits for this should be released at Microsoft Build the end of this month. This makes sense based on knowing that the Windows 8.1 Preview is expected then too. It is expected around June 26th.

There was a lot of additional information presented at Tech Ed. Since most is not really specific to developer, I’ll simply present a few completely random tidbits that you might find interesting:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, SQL Server 2014 as well as updates to Intune are all expected to come later this year.
  • SQL Server 2014 was announced. This aims at mission critical and Cloud performance by targeting things such as In-Memory OLTP, performance and scale, enhanced security, hybrid Cloud, and Hadoop connectivity. For more on the SQL Server 2014 announcement, see Quentin Clark’s bog. He is Corporate Vice President of the Data Platform Group.
  • Focus areas for Visual Studio 2013 include
    • Enabling faster lifecycle
    • Tighter integration with tools like System Center
    • Additional ALM features including extensions to the agile features
    • A new set of ‘overlaid annotations related to what you are currently doing. These “code information indicators” are expected to have as big an impact as Intellisense.
    • Addition of ‘roaming profiles’
    • New collaboration tools
    • Access to a cloud load test service.
    • More on Visual Studio 2013 will come at Microsoft Build 2013.
  • Windows 8 will have a number of UI enhancements. Most of these were expected.
    • The Start button will be back. Don’t be surprised when you dong find the Start menu.
    • Backgrounds can be added to Start Screen. This makes move from desktop to Start screen not seem so disconnected; at least that’s what is being said.
    • There will be enhancements to multi-monitor support.
    • There will be a side-by-side snap mode.
    • More enterprise control over images, apps, the order of apps, and more. Enterprises can control this with group policies.
    • Boot to desktop. (of course)
    • Assigned Access — you can restrict what apps can be accessed. The example fr this is to create a test app. Access can be restricted to just it to avoid cheating.
  • Another Windows 8 enhancement is the addition of Mira cast wireless display support as well as support for using NFC for device pairing.

  • It was stated that Windows 7 is 8 times more likely to be infected than Windows 8. Windows CP is 21 times more likely.
  • Also announced was the Windows Azure Pack. This is to be the easy, single download! It is worth noting that Microsoft has changed its Azure preview from being a 90-day trial with usage caps to a 30 trial with a $200US credit that you can use in a more flexible manner.
  • Windows Azure BizTalk Services went into Preview. It enables B2B integration as well as EAI (Enterprise Application Integration).
  • Brad Anderson commented that Microsoft’s vision of the cloud is “the cloud OS”. This is not an unexpected comment, but it was interesting to hear it actually stated.
  • Going smaller, Asus has announced an 8.1” Windows 8 tablet. Looking larger, Panasonic has a nice 20” touch screen with a 3840×2560 resolution.
  • Interesting stat: There are 70 thousand apps for Windows 8. There are 100 million licenses. It was stated that 250million apps have been downloaded. That’s what was stated. What is interesting is looking at these together…
    • This implies that the average license has only downloaded 2-1/2 apps! If you are running Windows 8, then I’d be surprised if you haven’t downloaded substantially more apps than that. I’d believe that the licenses aren’t getting used, before Id believe that the people using Windows 8 are only averaging less than three app downloads.
    • These numbers would indicate the average app is downloaded over 3500 times. That’s a great statistic; however we know that the downloads skew towards a few that get hundreds of thousands of downloads, which puts the median, substantially lower.
  • When asked why Microsoft is the best Cloud option, the answer was that Microsoft provides consistency across clouds. It was also stated that you need to look at what the breadth of what Microsoft is doing.
  • When Scott Guthrie was asked for information on the availability of Windows Azure Pack, there was no answer to be had.
  • Speaking of Scott Guthrie, it is interesting to note that his newer role in Azure has indeed impacted how he behaves. While he wears the expected red polo on stage when contributing to a keynote presentation, off stage he was generally seen in a more azure blue polo.

Obviously there was a lot more than this, however, there was not really any topics that seemed to push this highly geeky crowd into an excited level beyond getting a good deal on buying a Surface.

Over the coming week, I’ll blog about some of the other tidbits. In the interim, I’ll keep my attention on Build the end of the month. That should be when developers get the good information!

Mr. "Red Polo" - ScottGu

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