Microsoft TechEd Trip Report: Tuesday, June 19th

by Brian Jepson

The fog machine seems to have kicked in. With the purplish-green
lighting, there is something of a purple haze.

The overhead screens are showing a series of slides, mostly from
TechEd exhibitors and sponsors. Microsoft is letting IBM run one of
their ads for their Unix servers. And the room's pretty
full. Cool.

BillG is on stage now. He's talking about smart devices, open
standards for data exchange (XML, of course). He goes on to digital
productivity: collaboration, brainstorming, screen sharing, finances,
photos, games, music, etc. Looks like he's getting ready to tell us
how .NET will unify all these activities.

Next comes a history lesson, broken down by decade: 70s
(mainframes); 80s (file sharing, PC); 90s (HTML, Web). He says we're
now in the XML era, and that XML is a protocol that can support the
new P2P applications people want to run. Interesting that he doesn't
say we're in the "Windows" era - it's something he would have said a
few years ago. The interop story is still being told here.

On to another slide with more chronological progressions: platforms
and languages. He starts with the PC and MS-DOS (BASIC), next is the
GUI and Windows (Visual Basic), and finally the Internet/Internet
Explorer/IIS (Visual Studio, Visual Studio .NET).

Donkeys on the Hood

Time for a cutesy demo - they're running the old QuickBasic href="">DONKEY.BAS.
BillG hits a few donkeys, and then it's on to the latest version, href="">Donkey.NET. There
are two important improvements over the original: Donkey.NET is
rendered using the Revolution3D
graphics engine
, and the goal is to hit as many donkeys as
possible instead of avoiding them. BillG doesn't hit so many donkeys
as he did in DONKEY.BAS, and it's time to use web services to download
different target models: Bill chooses the Pirate over the Rabbit as
his target. So, instead of running over cute bunnies, he's
running over peg-legged pirates desperately trying to flee him on
their one leg... quite gruesome. I can't wait to play it.

Next, we see a timeline of the XML standardization. The interop
message comes through again, but he makes a point to tell us that
Windows will compete to be the platform of choice.

Web Services

Another web services demo. Can't get enough of those web
services. We're seeing how to build an app with Visual Studio .NET - choosing "Add Web Reference"
leads to an option to search for published services using Microsoft's
UDDI directory. Then you get a look at the WSDL, and can add it to your program. After you
add it, you can invoke it as though it were something you imported via
"using" or "Imports". Intellisense kicks in since you added the Web

Dim wsFlight as New net.scandinavian.FlightService
myResult = wsFlight.GetFlightStats(FlightNo, DayOffset)

That was simple. Cool.


Aside from a few interesting announcements and
a video game, there wasn't much in the way of new information in Bill
Gates' keynote. It was encouraging to hear the interop story repeated,
but we still need to wait and see. The big unanswered question is
will non-windows platforms be first-class players in Hailstorm? Wait
and see, and give them hell if it doesn't come to pass.

Read about day two here.