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. @Diego – You are talking about things (red/blue) which weren’t even planned properly when Longhorn was heading into beta. If you know anything about what happened for the Longhorn reset (I do and most commentators I’ve seen do not) you would know there were both political and technical reasons for the mandate against managed code.

    Incidentally, Robert is completely correct that startup times (working set goals not being reached, among other things) and versioning (servicing and of the CLR and of libraries, especially for platform features) were key technical issues, though there were others. It is also true that managed code itself was not always the main problem, and that many solutions to the problems had been considered.

    @.Net versus C/C++ – this is a religious debate to some extent but it is very true that C# managed code development of libraries is of higher quality and quicker turnaround than C++ development. I would say undeniable but that is too strong. This is not just for buffer overruns and memory leaks, though those are the poster children. Debuggability and code analysis, in fact maintenance in general is much easier and quicker for managed code.

    There is a cost for using managed code however.

    @Robert – I do agree with your overall sentiment that Microsoft should be learning from the embarassments of the Hailstorm and WinFS announcements / followed by cuts, for example. I do think that comparing Microsoft to Facebook and finding it wanting is kind of an overreach on your part, though you are I guess narrowly focused now on the Web 2.0 development sphere or whatever you hip folk are calling it now :)

  2. @Diego – You are talking about things (red/blue) which weren’t even planned properly when Longhorn was heading into beta. If you know anything about what happened for the Longhorn reset (I do and most commentators I’ve seen do not) you would know there were both political and technical reasons for the mandate against managed code.

    Incidentally, Robert is completely correct that startup times (working set goals not being reached, among other things) and versioning (servicing and of the CLR and of libraries, especially for platform features) were key technical issues, though there were others. It is also true that managed code itself was not always the main problem, and that many solutions to the problems had been considered.

    @.Net versus C/C++ – this is a religious debate to some extent but it is very true that C# managed code development of libraries is of higher quality and quicker turnaround than C++ development. I would say undeniable but that is too strong. This is not just for buffer overruns and memory leaks, though those are the poster children. Debuggability and code analysis, in fact maintenance in general is much easier and quicker for managed code.

    There is a cost for using managed code however.

    @Robert – I do agree with your overall sentiment that Microsoft should be learning from the embarassments of the Hailstorm and WinFS announcements / followed by cuts, for example. I do think that comparing Microsoft to Facebook and finding it wanting is kind of an overreach on your part, though you are I guess narrowly focused now on the Web 2.0 development sphere or whatever you hip folk are calling it now :)

  3. “For years, OSX’s Finder wasn’t written on top of Cocoa’s API.”

    It still isn’t.

    ” Did that mean that Cocoa sucked?”

    No, it means that the Finder sucks.

    Seriously, the Finder is the saddest example of political compromises in Apple’s entirety of software offerings. I hope they’ll finally take it out behind the barn and shoot it in time for leopard, but I’m not holding my breath.

  4. “For years, OSX’s Finder wasn’t written on top of Cocoa’s API.”

    It still isn’t.

    ” Did that mean that Cocoa sucked?”

    No, it means that the Finder sucks.

    Seriously, the Finder is the saddest example of political compromises in Apple’s entirety of software offerings. I hope they’ll finally take it out behind the barn and shoot it in time for leopard, but I’m not holding my breath.

  5. “Apple’s WWDCs, which, despite the “DC” in the name, are aimed at consumers rather than devs. ”

    What are you, stupid or something? You’ve obviously never attended Apple’s developer conference. Take a look at the session descriptions, and then try to tell me that WWDC is for consumers.

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