David Chappell


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Notes from Microsoft Build 2013  
# Sunday, June 30, 2013
Microsoft's Build conference, the renamed Professional Developer's Conference (PDC), is always interesting. Last week's event left me with a bunch of thoughts:
  • The level of change we're seeing right now is extraordinary. Both servers and clients are changing at the same time: On-premises datacenters are moving to cloud platforms, while phones and tablets have become important clients alongside desktops and laptops. (This isn't the post-PC era--desktops and laptops will matter for a long time to come--but it certainly is the PC+ era.) It's hard to think of another time in our industry's history when so much was happening at once. It's a great time to be in this profession, isn't it?
  • The era of big-bang conference announcements is waning. There wasn't much new here, largely because of the nature of the world today. Rather than a bunch of big changes announced once every couple of years, new things are announced every few months. The move to a cloud/mobile world makes it possible to update software more often, and so the vendors are doing it. Apple still manages to pull off the Big Reveal periodically, but every other vendor seems to be moving away from this. 
  • Windows 8 is a long game. The right metric isn't success (however it's measured) in the next three months--it's the next three years. Windows on clients will be a fundamentally important technology for a long time to come, and so what Microsoft does here really matters. Given the magnitude of the change, though, it's going to take everybody a while to work out how that change should look, which is what's driving the updates in Windows 8.1 and the rapidly morphing form factors of Windows 8 devices. We're sure to see more change before things settle down.
One more interesting point: The attendees at Build were pretty evenly spread across all ages. There was plenty of gray hair, but a good chunk of attendees were in their twenties and thirties. Given the global university norms that bias most new graduates toward Linux, this is a good sign for the broad Microsoft ecosystem.

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