I have one word for Microsoft on PDC 2009:
This years Product Developers Conference was much scaled back compared to last years but it had a great innovation in format that allowed people who didn’t attend the conference physically to still interact with it virtually.
And so the good folks at Channel 9 had built up a talkshow like studio at the PDC, with live streaming video through Silverlight, and the ability to viewers to ask questions live on air via Twitter.
This was immensely fun. I had the opportunity to ask questions to at least two technical fellows at Microsoft. Technical Fellow is the highest technical ranking at Microsoft besides of course Chief Technical Architect, a position which is currently held by Ray Ozzie.
I asked a question to Patrick Dussud, Technical Fellow and lead architect of the .NET Common Language Runtime (CLR), designer of the CLR GC and a member of the Windows Core Architechture team. The question was about how how parallel you could make the GC and what possible downsides this had.
I also asked a question to David Campbell, another Technical Fellow, from the Business Platform Division (BPD) where he manages Microsoft SQL Azure and .NET services in the cloud computing space. This question was about whether databases (e.g. SQL Server), programming runtimes (e.g. CLR) and … are merging. David mentiond that MSIL/CIL bytecode execution on SQL Server – “close to the data” – has improved performance of managed code accessing data greatly.
LINQ shows us where things are going: tighter and tighter integration. Erik Meijer, who is perhaps the lead architect of LINQ and whom I was also able to ask a question, also works for David Campbell on cloud programmability. The new Reactive Extensions (Rx) for .NET is a pearl which we’ll see permeate .NET soon. It also builds smoothly on top of Parallel Extensions for .NET (Px), which is Microsoft’s near- to mid-term answer to the manycore challenge.
Parallel Extensions for .NET comes from the Parallel Computing Platform (PCP) team which is the team tasked with the strategic challenge posed by the massively parallel hardware of the future.
It gets better. I also asked a question to the director of NASA’s Mars programme as well as a NASA scientist.
I repeat: Awesomeness!
NASA had a marked pressence at this years PDC because they have offered up data on Microsoft’s new “Dallas” data marketplace. The attendees were apparently given 3D goggles and were viewing stereoscopic images of Mars. Pretty damned cool.
Supposedly recordings of the live Channel 9 stream will be available. I’d certainly like it.
This years PDC will be one tough PDC to outdo.