Microsoft tech-ed 2009 India

Overview

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The 3-day Microsoft event was organized at the plush Hyderabad International Convention Centre attached to the Novotel Hotel. The arragement was near perfect: with over 2000 heads moving, there was no wriggling in the corridors or waiting at food counters and washrooms. Each day started with a key note, one technical and the other non-technical {usually arts, by Resul Pookutty & Agnee}, and ended with Demo Extravaganza featuring Live demos of new products like Office 2010, Windows 7, IE 8 & MS Robotics Studio. Sessions under several tracks, well-defined for a individual’s job profile – like developer, architect, IT manager, etc, were held in parallel. Announcements, like the release of new controls in the AJAX toolkit, developer extensions for PHP were part of regular sessions. Several partners like Intel, F-Secure, Polycom, etc were showcasing products, and their integration with the Microsoft product line at their pavilions.

Event Tags
Here are a few buzzwords that dominated the event:

The event kicked-off on 13th May with a solid key note from Steve Balmer. From that moment on, everyone right upto to the event crew was promoting Windows 7, which is said to have the best features from Windows XP & Vista. The Office 2010 preview by Dr. Nitin Paranjape (MS Office MVP) was fantabulous, all the more due to his presentation skills (without a PPT). The crowd was enthralled to see features that were available since Office 97 and embarressed about not using them.

Appreciating ‘The Community’
Microsoft has finally embraced Open Source, and was busy parading their alliance with the community and products that speak to Open Source technologies. IIS 7.5 on Windows Server 2008 offers great support for CGI & PHP along with optimization for multimedia applications. Vijay Rajagopalan from the Interop team at Microsoft spent a whole day talking about the wonderful that his team is engaged in (and I’m sure he cut it short, showing a steep change in MS stratergy). They’re sparing no excuses for developers to use Linux for their PHP deployments with their offering of drivers for MS SQL Server Express Edition. The feedback he took back with him was that several developers avoid IIS & SQL Server (although the Express Edition is available free!) as their hosts work on & offer great support for LAMP.

Beyond the clouds

Sam, programmed using Robotics Studio
Sam

Microsoft was spending a lot on their cloud services product Azure, which mirrors every PC technology on the cloud OS. MS Robotics Studio demo on Microsoft’s bot Sam showed just how much underlying code in C# was abstracted from the developer. All the developer has to do is engineer the logic using drap & drop controls available in the studio. Some time was also spend on old timers like SQL Server 2008 along with its BI features, MOSS 2007, Biztalk 2007. IT Professionals had access to some great sessions on Patterns & Practices.

Partner Showcase
Finally, speaking of partner’s like Intel & Oracle showcasing their products, two things I had never known about these companies (and probably you too didn’t know) are that Intel is into software & Oracle has content management & email solutions as part of their offerings. Yes, its true! Mr. Bhandari (APAC, Intel) spoke about (sadly, only spoke & not demonstrated) their software tools that will be integrated with VS 2010 to help developers analyze the performance of their parallel programs, identify lines of code responsible for slow down and also suggest possible corrections. Intel.com/Software is a must see for those interested in this package called Intel Parallel Studio. I guess we were the first ones to check out the new Intel ad featuring USB inventor Ajay Bhatt thats showing on TV these days.

Sessions that enticed me
I attended all sessions (except the Silverlight ones) on the Web Developer track. Day 1 provided a basic overview of what’s new on the .Net front: .Net 4.0, VS 2010 & Silverlight. Day 2 was dedicated to the web platform along with AJAX, ADO.Net, MVC & Silverlight frameworks that enable rapid development on VS 2010 / .Net 4.0. Stephen Walther was at his best with the AJAX & MVC demos. For day 3 I chose the Interop track that gave me a close insight into Jquery and Microsoft’s association with the Open Source community.

The two things I loved most were the ADO.Net entity framework & MVC Support. The entity framework saves code written for basis CRUD operations and the MVC framework which, based on a standard design pattern. Both of them ensure low coupling & high cohesion of your code. Infact, I have always been in love with MVC ever since I came across Java Struts. VS 2010 with new AJAX Controls, MVV & Entity frameworks, now offers Intellisense for Javascript. Not to forget the Microsoft Web Installer that allows one-click installation of the express (free) product line & other add-ons like WordPress, Drupal, etc.

The Jquery session by Deepak Gulati from CricInfo.com was superb. Surprisingly, the first ever logic I wrote in my life was using JavaScript and since then I been struck several times over with its capabilities. Jquery takes it to the next level, which using Lambda-like expressions allows DOM & CSS manipulation, add animations, make asynchronous calls, handle events, etc. I wasted no time in trying out the library in Firebug, it works great!

Goodies
Free certification was a total surprise at tech-ed 09. Exams were conducted by NIIT which received more registrations that they could cater in 3 days (despite of having around 25 computers). I was lucky to register on day and appeared with zero preparation – not to pass with flying colors, but a mere 700 to pass. The last I worked on .Net for Windows Apps was in 2007 when I wanted to migrate my (legacy) VB 6.0 app to VB.Net. However, what makes is so easy to work with any Microsoft technology (and thus passing certifications) is the underlying .Net framework, Windows OS features & standard nomenclature. A few goodies were being distributed (you shouldn’t expect much anywhere in 2009, even at work :)), I couldn’t get lucky enough for a X-Box though.

Special Attractions

BMW Demo using Surface

There were a couple of very special attractions [I’ll mention them in the order of increasing importance]. Microsoft’s Sam programmed using the Robotics Studio was a show-stopper (for some). It was part of the demo extravaganza and was kept on live display at the Robotics tent. Then it was was VectorForm from Hyderabad with their display of Microsoft’s Surface technology. The idea may not sound great to I-Phone users – but hold on! – this one is the real touch-screen. What do I mean? Well most touch devices sense only 1 or 2 points (although you use all 5 fingers to zoom in & out on your I-Phone). But this one senses up to 52 isolated points, yes 52! So now I could paint a red circle & a blue box with my hands while you play the piano with yours – both on the same screen. Search for the Microsoft Surface BMW Demo and you’re sure to find over a lakh results on Google.

Indias representation at F1
India’s representation at F1

Next was the Force India F1 car that put on display in the banquet area. Signing up with the team meant a professional photo with the car, for which, I guess, most people signed up; even those who don’t know who owns the team. And last but not the least, Fly Kingfisher had set-up a lounge at the South Entrance with 2 stewardesses to welcome all guests onboard tech-ed. Adjoining it were a pair of Chinese masseurs from Leo Juventa offering a free massage.

And if you still believe good things come in small packages, check out all special attractions at once, here.

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