Yes, I know that Microsoft is the enemy…. or are they? I attended the MIX08 conference at the Venetian in Las Vegas, March 4-7, 2008. It changed my perspective of Microsoft. Now I know the difference between old Microsoft and new Microsoft. The new Microsoft has a new attitude towards open specifications. They’re working with Zend Technologies to make PHP work better in IIS7. They’ve opened the .NET framework specifications so the folks over at Mono can port .NET to Mac, Linux, Solaris and Unix. They’re opening the specifications for Silverlight so the same Mono group can deliver Moonlight. The Windows Live line: Live Search, Live Hotmail, Live Spaces, etc., all have open APIs that developers can use to create mashups in their own sites.
Many of the developers have blogs, where you or I can interact with them. This is now encouraged at Microsoft. It’s nice to know that us developers have access to Microsoft developers. A good place to start, to find MS dev blogs, is the Silverlight Community page.
You can get your Windows Live ID at http://home.live.com/ – but you don’t need a new one if you already have an MSN, Microsoft Passport, Hotmail, or Messenger account – as this is your Live ID. I like how they’re tackling the “Single Sign On” problem and making a single entity that you can use on the Internet. Although, I don’t understand why they are not supporting the OpenID movement. I don’t think it would take much for them to make Windows Live ID also be an OpenID. If I have email@example.com – why couldn’t davidkoopman.live.com also be my OpenID? I think they want the world to be dependent on Microsoft. It’s a losing battle, if you ask me. The world will be better when Microsoft also embraces OpenID.
I was amused by HardRock’s Memorabilia site that demonstrated Silverlight’s Deep Zoom technology. I was thoroughly impressed with AOL’s demonstration of their Silverlight enabled webmail program. The program isn’t available yet, but you can sign up to be notified when it is. Internet Explorer 8‘s Web Slices feature seems cool, and they promise to follow the HTML and CSS specifications more closely, which means your site will look the same in Firefox. SQL Data Services look much like the Amazon EC2 and S3 – service on demand model. This is the next generation of web services – we should see more and more of this type of service coming up. Other topics included Windows Presentation Foundation, Windows Live platform, and a number of Design related topics. All of the recorded sessions are available for you to view at the Mix08 sessions site.
The main theme of the conference was Silverlight, Silverlight, Silverlight. It’s Microsoft’s version of Flash, but much better. You haven’t heard of it yet, because Silverlight Version 2 Beta 1 just came out. They announced it on day one at the conference. It’s going to take over the way we view the Internet. Just wait for the 2008 Olympics, which will broadcast online via Silverlight in a way you’ve never seen before. Imagine 4 camera angles for every event, available for you to watch live, or pre-recorded, with Picture-In-Picture (PIP) capabilities for keeping tabs on other events. If you have high speed Internet, I’d suggest hooking up your desktop or laptop to your HD (or Blue Ray) TV. You won’t want to watch the Olympics via TV, like you used to. The Internet streaming via Silverlight will be a much more dynamic experience.
Ballmer’s keynote speach was refreshing. He has a “Crush the competition and have a heck of a lot of fun doing it” attitude that has an obvious downflow effect on the whole organization. I was impressed with Ballmer’s real world grasp on the wide range of Microsoft product lines. If you’re interested in seeing the “Monkey Dance”, see the keynote at about 0:56:00 into the interview. A Microsoft employee asked him for some love, and he gave it. It was great. The guy gets mucho respect, and he’s fun at the same time.
I also enjoy’s Ray Ozzie’s keynote speach on day 1. He introduced the concept of a world of devices, with the Internet as the Hub. Think of all the devices we have that are connected to the Internet: PDAs, DVRs, Video Game consoles, Desktops, laptops and much more. The Internet is a lot more than just Web sites now. It’s a brave new world, with the Internet as the hub.
If you want to discuss MIX08 further, please start up the conversation. I spent 3 days going from session to session. I have a lot more I could say, but this nutshell should be a good start for conversation.