Tech Ed 2006: Power to Microsoft People

Well, your intrepid ST hack made it (almost) all the way through the opening 2.5 hour – yep read’em and weep – keynote. It was a tough 130 mins, and reminded me more than anything else of the oft-asked question: “Has Microsoft forgotten how to talk to its developers?” Certainly there seemed to be little for them to get their teeth into here – the dev next to me left after about an hour saying that he’d rather “start eating his own toe-nails than sit through any more of this”.

The central narrative of the keynote was provided by Bob Muglia who kicked things off with the assertion that people were at the heart of all business and then set up the framework for the presentation with Microsoft’s “four key promises” to its users. These were 1) managing complexity, 2) making everything secure, 3) providing IT solutions, and well I forget exactly how the fourth one was worded, but it was something to do with “amplifying the power of the people”.

Ray Ozzie then came on stage and gave what basically seemed to be a precis of his well-published thoughts on the “Internet Services disruption”  and how MS would deal with it by relentlessly adhering to a serviced-based model. After that it was back to the promises. With each promise came demos and Chloe from the TV show “24”, who wandered on stage at various intervals.

As part of “Manage complexity” promise, virtualization was a key theme, with mention of application virtualization and the recent acquisition of Softricity, as well as a brief demo from Bill Anderson on Windows Server virtualization, including managing multiple workloads (64-bit, RedHat etc) and the dynamic allocation of memory to virtual machines.

For promise 2 we got a preview of the “forefront” security initiative (my notes are hazy here). Promise 3 ushered in the new database professional tool for VSTS. I sat up in my seat for this bit, but the effort went rather unrewarded – there was a very brief tour of how you could use the tool to push schema changes from one server to another and use of the new source code version control tool. It was all a little flat, but I’ll definitely be looking out for more info on this.

As your tired and in-need-of-beer reporter exited stage right, the “power to the people” promise was in full flow, with some announcements on the new Office Enterprise 2007 suite and Sharepoint Server (both due in Q4 this year). I’ll report back on these as I pick up further information.