Last week I had a whirlwind trip to Seattle to attend the Microsoft Technology Summit, which was intended as a gathering of a small group of technologists to discuss today’s technology issues and opportunities, as well discuss Microsoft’s role & future direction.
Overall the experience was pleasant and reasonably educational. The three most enjoyable parts of the conference were:
- Hallway conversations with Program Managers for IE and IIS 7, they’re genuinely interested in helping improve the experience of Rails users on windows.
- Informal conversations over meals or drinks with the other attendees.
- Spending time with the team in the Microsoft Open Source Lab
It was great to see the new web.config file in IIS7, it seems like the MS guys really paid attention to what people liked about apache. Jim and John’s talk about dynamic languages on the CLR, was pretty interesting too, they’re both clearly sharp and some cool things are probably in the pipeline.
I was really impressed by the powershell demo, it’s like an REPL with classes and methods for almost everything on your system. I just can’t understand why they decided to take $_.
The conference did have its downsides though, some of the sessions were clearly targeted more at people who were either currently using .NET or were likely to switch. This meant we often got demonstrations of IDE interaction rather than an explanation of the underlying technology.
Some of the speakers also seemed to think that if you were an ‘open source guy’ (or gal) you were some kind of foaming at the mouth lunatic. Myself and all of the other attendees are far more pragmatic than that, and it was annoying to be treated as some stallman-esque extremist.
The most frustrating session would have to be Don Box and Chris Anderson on “Why Microsoft Sucks”. Several of the funnier quotes from that session have already made their way onto the web, but there were others, such as:
“But if youâ€™re Matz, or DHH, or Larry Wall, youâ€™re screwed, because you donâ€™t have time to build out this stack and then make it interoperate”.
Of course that’s not the real reason we don’t have a WS-* stack. The reality is that the entire set of standards is a steaming pile of complexity with an infinitesimally small value-add which manages to make even the most simple interactions an enormous engineering effort.
Don and Chris are clearly passionate, intelligent guys, but their talk came across as unjustifiably self-assured given how late Vista was, and the huge disaster that WS-* and SOA have inflicted on our industry.
All in all I’m grateful to Microsoft for inviting me to the summit, it was a great opportunity to meet relevant people within the company and the wider community. For more detailed coverage take a look at Ben Galbraith’s MTS07 articles or check Technorati
Full Disclosure: Microsoft paid my way to the summit and gave me some stuff while I was there. If you think that makes me a shill, you’re nuts but welcome to your opinion.