Microsoft postpones PDC

Mary Jo Foley (she’s been covering Microsoft for a long time) has the news: Microsoft has postponed the PDC that it had planned for later this year.

The PDC stands for “Professional Developer’s Conference.” It happens only when Microsoft knows it’ll have a major new platform to announce. Usually a new version of Windows or a new Internet strategy.

So, this means a couple of things: no new Windows and no major new Internet strategy this year.

Contrast this to Google who is holding a huge developer day next week (it sold out, so I won’t even bother linking to it). Or Facebook, who held a big developer-centric shindig today.

Some other things I’m hearing about the next version of Windows? There still is a ban on .NET code in core parts of Windows. They aren’t getting enough performance yet from .NET to include code written in it inside major parts of Windows. This is a bummer, because .NET is a lot easier to write than C++ and letting Microsoft’s developers write .NET code for Windows would unleash a bunch of innovation.

The person who told me this (who works at Microsoft) told me .NET still takes too long to startup and load into memory and because Windows is now being compared to OSX they can’t afford to ship components that would slow down Windows.

Before every MVP jumps me in the alley yes, I know the .NET runtimes ship with Vista. But almost no Vista code was written in .NET (if any, actually). Microsoft tries to keep this secret because they know it gives a black eye to .NET. After all, if Microsoft is unwilling to use it to develop Windows or Office, why should the rest of us base our life on it? Easy, it’s a lot more productive for the rest of us to write code in .NET and now Silverlight, which uses .NET’s compiler and part of its framework at heart, than to fall back to C++. Pick the right tool for the job and all that.

It also means that Ray Ozzie’s team probably doesn’t have anything dramatic to announce yet and they aren’t willing to have live within the bounds of a forcing function like the PDC (PDC forces teams to get their acts together and finish off stuff enough to at least get some good demos together).

The last few PDCs haven’t exactly been huge successes, though. Hailstorm was announced at one and later was killed. Longhorn was announced at another and later was delayed and many things that were shown off were later killed too.

Now that Google, Amazon, Apple, are shipping platforms that are more and more interesting to Microsoft’s developer community Microsoft has to play a different game. One where they can’t keep showing off stuff that never ships. The stakes are going up in the Internet game and Microsoft doesn’t seem to have a good answer to what’s coming next.

Some other things I’m hearing from the Windows team? That they are still planning out the next version of Windows. So, I don’t expect to see a beta until 2008 (probably second half of the year, if we see one at all) and I don’t expect to see a major new version of Windows to ship until 2009.

Anyway, this is sad cause I was hoping to see Microsoft make an all out push for developers this year.

What do you think it all means? Am I reading too much in between the lines?

159 thoughts on “Microsoft postpones PDC

  1. “Not even the games were written in .NET.”

    WTF?!?!?! What kind of excuse do they have for *this* one?

  2. Are you kidding me? how could that hurt,OSX may be a nice OS, but fast isn’t something that comes to mind.

    Wake-up call: it’s 2007 now. We’re talking versus Vista, not XP.

    I’ve run OS X on an old G3 with 512 MB of RAM. It’s certainly not fast, but it’s actually usable (for basic stuff – e-mail, web browsing, Office, etc.). I dare you to try using Vista on a Pentium II/366 with 512 MB of RAM and an old ATI Rage card. Even just using IE or Office would be an incredibly painful and slow experience (ignoring the fact that you probably wouldn’t even be able to get it to install or boot).

  3. Are you kidding me? how could that hurt,OSX may be a nice OS, but fast isn’t something that comes to mind.

    Wake-up call: it’s 2007 now. We’re talking versus Vista, not XP.

    I’ve run OS X on an old G3 with 512 MB of RAM. It’s certainly not fast, but it’s actually usable (for basic stuff – e-mail, web browsing, Office, etc.). I dare you to try using Vista on a Pentium II/366 with 512 MB of RAM and an old ATI Rage card. Even just using IE or Office would be an incredibly painful and slow experience (ignoring the fact that you probably wouldn’t even be able to get it to install or boot).

  4. I’ve long been a Windows user (don’t think I’ll go so far as fan) and developer, creating both client and Windows applications. The purchase of a notebook with Vista was the impetus for buying my first Mac. The speed of the mac prompted the purchase of a macbook three weeks later.

    Why is any of this relevant? Microsoft should be treading lightly with any new announcements as Vista is causing many long-time Windows users to throw their hands up in disgust and high-tail it the Apple Store to buy a computer that boots in 30 seconds and doesn’t run the hard drive incessantly for thirty minutes for no apparent reason. Was Vista really ready for primetime or did they just need a fresh influx of cash that quarter?

    I think .NET wasn’t used in the OS because they were already battling speed issues and .NET was only going to contribute to the problem.

  5. I’ve long been a Windows user (don’t think I’ll go so far as fan) and developer, creating both client and Windows applications. The purchase of a notebook with Vista was the impetus for buying my first Mac. The speed of the mac prompted the purchase of a macbook three weeks later.

    Why is any of this relevant? Microsoft should be treading lightly with any new announcements as Vista is causing many long-time Windows users to throw their hands up in disgust and high-tail it the Apple Store to buy a computer that boots in 30 seconds and doesn’t run the hard drive incessantly for thirty minutes for no apparent reason. Was Vista really ready for primetime or did they just need a fresh influx of cash that quarter?

    I think .NET wasn’t used in the OS because they were already battling speed issues and .NET was only going to contribute to the problem.

  6. I well remember the 1996 PDC, where almost every keynote announcement (including Microsoft signing a licensing deal with Sun for Java) was greeted with wild applause. And there was Jobs on stage as a speaker, 100% uncomfortable and insincere, but … THERE.

    The “100 Days into the Internet” vibe of that PDC just made it an extraordinary event.

    Cut to the 2005 PDC, where virtually the whole of BillG’s and Allchin’s keynotes were received in stoney silence (Speakers has to resort to begging for applause: “Oh, so you’re not impressed by that, huh?”).

    No fun for anyone, CTPs and MSFT blogging had already pre-empted most of it. Old news, all of it … at $4K a pop.

    A PDC in support of bit of Orcas (already beta’d at MIX) and a bit of Katmai would fall even flatter. Forget about it.

    In fact the whole PDC thing may even have run its course in favour of more lightweight gigs like MIX.

    We’ll see.

  7. I well remember the 1996 PDC, where almost every keynote announcement (including Microsoft signing a licensing deal with Sun for Java) was greeted with wild applause. And there was Jobs on stage as a speaker, 100% uncomfortable and insincere, but … THERE.

    The “100 Days into the Internet” vibe of that PDC just made it an extraordinary event.

    Cut to the 2005 PDC, where virtually the whole of BillG’s and Allchin’s keynotes were received in stoney silence (Speakers has to resort to begging for applause: “Oh, so you’re not impressed by that, huh?”).

    No fun for anyone, CTPs and MSFT blogging had already pre-empted most of it. Old news, all of it … at $4K a pop.

    A PDC in support of bit of Orcas (already beta’d at MIX) and a bit of Katmai would fall even flatter. Forget about it.

    In fact the whole PDC thing may even have run its course in favour of more lightweight gigs like MIX.

    We’ll see.

  8. Using an app framework for an OS isn’t the right tool for the job. There are .Net apps coming from MS,and there are apps that have a good deal of legacy code to work with that make more sense not using .Net – idealism shouldn’t run project management.

    We are far from the days of MFC where Microsoft wrote only Notepad in their own framework. It’s also wrong to say Microsoft is only out to sell Vista – that’s no different than saying Google is only a search engine.

    DevConnections and other conferences are still coming, and with MIX just over (and SilverLight running a .Net CLR on Win and Mac is a big deal) it can simply be there isn’t a need for PDC this year. Microsoft is doing excellent by developers with Orcas, .Net 3.5, LINQ, and the Expression lineup. As a blogger, it’s cool to talk about what’s coming – but as a developer it only matters what is here. This stuff may be old news to some, but to developers it’s real now – and that’s a big deal.

  9. Using an app framework for an OS isn’t the right tool for the job. There are .Net apps coming from MS,and there are apps that have a good deal of legacy code to work with that make more sense not using .Net – idealism shouldn’t run project management.

    We are far from the days of MFC where Microsoft wrote only Notepad in their own framework. It’s also wrong to say Microsoft is only out to sell Vista – that’s no different than saying Google is only a search engine.

    DevConnections and other conferences are still coming, and with MIX just over (and SilverLight running a .Net CLR on Win and Mac is a big deal) it can simply be there isn’t a need for PDC this year. Microsoft is doing excellent by developers with Orcas, .Net 3.5, LINQ, and the Expression lineup. As a blogger, it’s cool to talk about what’s coming – but as a developer it only matters what is here. This stuff may be old news to some, but to developers it’s real now – and that’s a big deal.

  10. Robert, quite with the “whyt isn’t Windows written in .Net”.

    Let me ask you a question, what cool language that Google/Technorati/Flickr/Twitter (or whoever is “hip and happening” in your world today) uses should Windows components be written in? Javascript? Ruby? Python? Java? What are you trying to say exactly? What language/platform should they use in your highly esteemed opinion?

  11. Robert, quite with the “whyt isn’t Windows written in .Net”.

    Let me ask you a question, what cool language that Google/Technorati/Flickr/Twitter (or whoever is “hip and happening” in your world today) uses should Windows components be written in? Javascript? Ruby? Python? Java? What are you trying to say exactly? What language/platform should they use in your highly esteemed opinion?

  12. And, David, maybe you should do some research into what I did at Microsoft. Go and look at this video of Anders Hejlsberg. It was where he announced LINQ to the world. I was behind the camera. http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=115010
    Oh, that was September 2005. So, where’s the “new” stuff? That’s what the PDC is for. When Microsoft decides not to hold a PDC it’s an admission that they don’t have enough “new” stuff to talk about.

  13. And, David, maybe you should do some research into what I did at Microsoft. Go and look at this video of Anders Hejlsberg. It was where he announced LINQ to the world. I was behind the camera. http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=115010
    Oh, that was September 2005. So, where’s the “new” stuff? That’s what the PDC is for. When Microsoft decides not to hold a PDC it’s an admission that they don’t have enough “new” stuff to talk about.

  14. OSX starts up fast, especially off of sleep mode. I have a Mac and it starts up faster than my Vista machines (and is more reliable on startup too).

  15. You’ve got to be kidding if you think the keynote with Mike Arrington and Ray Ozzie at Mix07 was any more developer focused than what Steve Jobs does at the WWDC.

    I’ve heard the .NET startup time problem from a range of developers across Microsoft’s Windows team. It isn’t a big deal to wait for Silverlight to startup, but it IS a huge deal to delay Windows starting up by a few seconds.

    Ask yourself: why isn’t any code in Windows written in .NET? Not even the games were written in .NET. That’s a fact and is one that I hear probably won’t change, even in the next version of Windows.

  16. OSX starts up fast, especially off of sleep mode. I have a Mac and it starts up faster than my Vista machines (and is more reliable on startup too).

  17. You’ve got to be kidding if you think the keynote with Mike Arrington and Ray Ozzie at Mix07 was any more developer focused than what Steve Jobs does at the WWDC.

    I’ve heard the .NET startup time problem from a range of developers across Microsoft’s Windows team. It isn’t a big deal to wait for Silverlight to startup, but it IS a huge deal to delay Windows starting up by a few seconds.

    Ask yourself: why isn’t any code in Windows written in .NET? Not even the games were written in .NET. That’s a fact and is one that I hear probably won’t change, even in the next version of Windows.

  18. Geeze.
    They JUST had a very successful MIX conference, which was a *real* DC. Scoble wants “DCs” like Apple’s WWDCs, which, despite the “DC” in the name, are aimed at consumers rather than devs. (Just compare the MIX07 keynote to a Jobs WWDC keynote, and see which is a real “DC”.) Scoble, you say you want announcements of new Windows and Office? New versions JUST now came out.

    And the notion that Microsoft is doing nothing for devs this year is more foolishness. Ever heard of Orcas? Ever heard of LINQ? Ever heard of C# 3.0 and 3.5? You should read Wes Deyer’s MSDN blog for some of the cool C# features that are coming this year (whcih will put Java more behind than it already is, feature wise).

    Lastly, your “informants” are pulling your leg. OSX isn’t known for its speed, so why would anyone be worried about speed comparisons with OSX?

    And this “.NET takes too long to load” is bull. Once the first app loads it, all other apps that use it load very quickly. The entire Expression sweet is WPF for crying out loud. So Microsoft is using .NET for new apps (expecting them to rewrite Office in .NET is idiotic).

    I don’t know where Scoble is getting his info; either from people taking advantage of his gullibility by pulling his leg, or from the malcontents at minimsft.

  19. Geeze.
    They JUST had a very successful MIX conference, which was a *real* DC. Scoble wants “DCs” like Apple’s WWDCs, which, despite the “DC” in the name, are aimed at consumers rather than devs. (Just compare the MIX07 keynote to a Jobs WWDC keynote, and see which is a real “DC”.) Scoble, you say you want announcements of new Windows and Office? New versions JUST now came out.

    And the notion that Microsoft is doing nothing for devs this year is more foolishness. Ever heard of Orcas? Ever heard of LINQ? Ever heard of C# 3.0 and 3.5? You should read Wes Deyer’s MSDN blog for some of the cool C# features that are coming this year (whcih will put Java more behind than it already is, feature wise).

    Lastly, your “informants” are pulling your leg. OSX isn’t known for its speed, so why would anyone be worried about speed comparisons with OSX?

    And this “.NET takes too long to load” is bull. Once the first app loads it, all other apps that use it load very quickly. The entire Expression sweet is WPF for crying out loud. So Microsoft is using .NET for new apps (expecting them to rewrite Office in .NET is idiotic).

    I don’t know where Scoble is getting his info; either from people taking advantage of his gullibility by pulling his leg, or from the malcontents at minimsft.

  20. “This is a bummer, because .NET is a lot easier to write than C++”

    Though this statement is incorrect in a strict sense(you can’t write IN .NET) it is also very true in another sense.

    irrespective of the language you use(VB,C#, Managed C++ …) programming with the .NET FW and targeting the CLR is easier than writing native code using C++.

    The general statement “Writing apps using .NET is easier than C++” is still very valid.

  21. “This is a bummer, because .NET is a lot easier to write than C++”

    Though this statement is incorrect in a strict sense(you can’t write IN .NET) it is also very true in another sense.

    irrespective of the language you use(VB,C#, Managed C++ …) programming with the .NET FW and targeting the CLR is easier than writing native code using C++.

    The general statement “Writing apps using .NET is easier than C++” is still very valid.

  22. LayZ: I used to work as an editor at Visual Basic Programmer’s Journal so I know the difference between C++ that compiles to native code and VB or C# that runs on the .NET compiler/framework/ecosystem or whatever you want to call it. But, you’re right. Most of this post comes from what other people who know a lot more than I do tell me.

  23. LayZ: I used to work as an editor at Visual Basic Programmer’s Journal so I know the difference between C++ that compiles to native code and VB or C# that runs on the .NET compiler/framework/ecosystem or whatever you want to call it. But, you’re right. Most of this post comes from what other people who know a lot more than I do tell me.

  24. Brandon: “According to the post on Microsoft’s PDC site it says the event is being re-scheduled (aka postponed) and not cancelled. ”

    Uh, yeah. Ranks right up there with “I still want to be friends” and “the check is in your mouth.” If you say “cancelled” I bet you have to give back all the money from the sponsors and exhibitors. I bet you have to actually admit that you couldn’t put on a meaningful show and that customers would rip you a new one. I bet that you’d have a great platform to promote Live! and for some reason just don’t want to do it.

    Lines. Read between. Proof is left for the student as an exercise.

  25. Brandon: “According to the post on Microsoft’s PDC site it says the event is being re-scheduled (aka postponed) and not cancelled. ”

    Uh, yeah. Ranks right up there with “I still want to be friends” and “the check is in your mouth.” If you say “cancelled” I bet you have to give back all the money from the sponsors and exhibitors. I bet you have to actually admit that you couldn’t put on a meaningful show and that customers would rip you a new one. I bet that you’d have a great platform to promote Live! and for some reason just don’t want to do it.

    Lines. Read between. Proof is left for the student as an exercise.

  26. Regarding the C++ practices of memory cleanup carrying over to C#, sure if you’ve never had to craft your memory allocs to use more stack allocs vs. heap allocs for auto-cleanup or pay attention to delete’ing your new’ed vars, you can still code leakless C# apps. However, the aforementioned practices are still valuable in .Net as a whole. Think about the use of the “using” statement in conjunction with IDisposable for the former scenario. And for memory leaks, you may not get those if you aren’t accustomed to cleaning up your own allocs, but you can still get leaks of other, non-GC’ed resources, such as database handles and COM object references. You can effectively orphan these things even with the GC’er.

  27. Regarding the C++ practices of memory cleanup carrying over to C#, sure if you’ve never had to craft your memory allocs to use more stack allocs vs. heap allocs for auto-cleanup or pay attention to delete’ing your new’ed vars, you can still code leakless C# apps. However, the aforementioned practices are still valuable in .Net as a whole. Think about the use of the “using” statement in conjunction with IDisposable for the former scenario. And for memory leaks, you may not get those if you aren’t accustomed to cleaning up your own allocs, but you can still get leaks of other, non-GC’ed resources, such as database handles and COM object references. You can effectively orphan these things even with the GC’er.

  28. “This is a bummer, because .NET is a lot easier to write than C++ ”

    You obviously don’t know this from experience. Aren’t you basically repeating things that others have told you? You DO understand the differences between Ç++ and .Net, right? The fact that one is a programming language and one is a development platform? Perhaps you meant to compare the differences between C++ and C#?

  29. “This is a bummer, because .NET is a lot easier to write than C++ ”

    You obviously don’t know this from experience. Aren’t you basically repeating things that others have told you? You DO understand the differences between Ç++ and .Net, right? The fact that one is a programming language and one is a development platform? Perhaps you meant to compare the differences between C++ and C#?

  30. The cancelation has more to do with Ray Ozzie and Steven Sinofsky’s desire for secrecy more than anything
    else.
    The days of MSFT giving the longview of their coming products is over.

  31. The cancelation has more to do with Ray Ozzie and Steven Sinofsky’s desire for secrecy more than anything
    else.
    The days of MSFT giving the longview of their coming products is over.

  32. When Steve Sinofsky ran the Office team, it was difficult if not impossible to get information out them. They ran a tight ship with little leaks. Why are we surprised at not hearing much about the next Windows now that he runs that group?

  33. When Steve Sinofsky ran the Office team, it was difficult if not impossible to get information out them. They ran a tight ship with little leaks. Why are we surprised at not hearing much about the next Windows now that he runs that group?

  34. That shows you how much confidence they have in silverflash!

    They’re going down, down, down…

  35. That shows you how much confidence they have in silverflash!

    They’re going down, down, down…

  36. You are off on this one.

    PDC is about *developers*. There is a huge new release of Visual Studio coming in the fall (“Orcas”), and a huge new release of SQL server (“katmai”).

    These things are the bread and butter of PDC. This is the PERFECT time to have a PDC. There is absolutely no reason for MS to cancel it unless they are really floundering.

  37. You are off on this one.

    PDC is about *developers*. There is a huge new release of Visual Studio coming in the fall (“Orcas”), and a huge new release of SQL server (“katmai”).

    These things are the bread and butter of PDC. This is the PERFECT time to have a PDC. There is absolutely no reason for MS to cancel it unless they are really floundering.

  38. What I meant about C++ is that, over years of doing c++ little techniques to manage the complexity become second nature. Things like ‘oh, I just created a heap object here, before I write the code that uses it I’m going to jump to the disposal spot and write the delete call’. Or ‘hmm, there is no one place to put the delete call. That’s a bad idea, let me redesign this.’ There are dozens, if not hundreds of things like this that any seasoned decent c++ guy will do automatically, because he’s had to spend time fixing the code that didn’t do them.

    Guys who’ve never spent time in the trenches in a non-GC language don’t have this. So if they do end up having to work in c++, even if they’re now experienced developers I’m going to have to treat them like entry-level guys.

  39. What I meant about C++ is that, over years of doing c++ little techniques to manage the complexity become second nature. Things like ‘oh, I just created a heap object here, before I write the code that uses it I’m going to jump to the disposal spot and write the delete call’. Or ‘hmm, there is no one place to put the delete call. That’s a bad idea, let me redesign this.’ There are dozens, if not hundreds of things like this that any seasoned decent c++ guy will do automatically, because he’s had to spend time fixing the code that didn’t do them.

    Guys who’ve never spent time in the trenches in a non-GC language don’t have this. So if they do end up having to work in c++, even if they’re now experienced developers I’m going to have to treat them like entry-level guys.

  40. We have dual core processors on our laptops today, in a year we’ll have quad core and soon after eight core.

    Multi-core, multi-threaded managed code is our developer platform destiny.

  41. We have dual core processors on our laptops today, in a year we’ll have quad core and soon after eight core.

    Multi-core, multi-threaded managed code is our developer platform destiny.

  42. Thanks for sharing this info with us Scoble.

    Its funny both Java and .NET are byte code based languages and Sun on onther hand is trying they can to push JRE as platform but doesnt seem to have lot of success except some success in mobile phone market, which in my opinion is already crowded. I do not have any benchmark on how well Java performs but given how far .NET has come (specially with 3.0 and 3.5) I am still betting my horses on .NET

    I recently talked to one of the CLR team members and they certainy are aware of this issue and my impresssion was that they are close to solving the loading issue. We have to wait and see how things folds in next 6-12 months.

  43. Thanks for sharing this info with us Scoble.

    Its funny both Java and .NET are byte code based languages and Sun on onther hand is trying they can to push JRE as platform but doesnt seem to have lot of success except some success in mobile phone market, which in my opinion is already crowded. I do not have any benchmark on how well Java performs but given how far .NET has come (specially with 3.0 and 3.5) I am still betting my horses on .NET

    I recently talked to one of the CLR team members and they certainy are aware of this issue and my impresssion was that they are close to solving the loading issue. We have to wait and see how things folds in next 6-12 months.

  44. Are you kidding me? An OS built with .net? Why would you think that an app framework could be used to build an OS? Man, take the time to understand what you’re saying here. An OS is not in any way, shape or form like some garage-based web 2.0 project built by a 4th grader. An OS is serious stuff and has different and special requirements that plain old apps don’t.

  45. Are you kidding me? An OS built with .net? Why would you think that an app framework could be used to build an OS? Man, take the time to understand what you’re saying here. An OS is not in any way, shape or form like some garage-based web 2.0 project built by a 4th grader. An OS is serious stuff and has different and special requirements that plain old apps don’t.

  46. >>The person who told me this (who works at Microsoft) told me .NET still takes too long to startup and load into memory

    This is one of the big reasons why many of us are still supporting asp and com based web applications.

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