BUILD Windows, the weirdest conference I have ever signed up for

Ok, so I have finally got myself settled in Stockholm (Sweden) and started my new job at Active Solution. It has started slow, but it is looking very promising after having been here a day and a half. It might even give me a bit more time to keep my dear blog active, which has unfortunately been a bit neglected during the whole move from Sweden.

One of the first things I am going to do for my new employer, is to go to the BUILD Windows conference in Anaheim, and blog and tweet as much of the information I get my hands on as possible…with my personal views included of course (not that they really asked for that)…

So I went to the BUILD website and registered myself, something that went very smooth. I guess that is to be expected. Whenever someone wants you to give them $1595 (or whatever it was), they generally remove any friction from the process.

But that’s when the funkiness starts. And by funkiness I mean the thing that I assume everyone attending, or considering attending, have figured out, there is no information what so ever about what is to be presented at the conference. Well…that isn’t 100% true. They have unveiled that it will be about Windows 8 and Microsoft’s plans for the new OS. Other than that there is nothing! And I mean NOTHING with a capital N. There are no sessions announced, no keynote speaker, and as of late, the pre-conference sessions have been cancelled.

So I guess the conference is going to ba a big surprise, which is quite “Applesque”. I just hope they don’t go all the way to the dark side and tell the world that they have invented a bunch of things that have been around for a long time. And I also hope they don’t show something off, and then hide it again for another year before giving anyone a taste. I would much rather have them say “Surprise, Windows 8 is already done, and all you guys get a free tablet with it installed”, which I assume is fairly unlikely…but it would be cool!

Having that said, I actually enjoy the whole secrecy thing. It even takes some of the pressure off me as an attendee as I don’t have to make a detailed schedule upfront.

But it also makes me think a bit more about the whole thing, and of course create a whole bunch of expectations. What do I expect to see there? What do I expect Windows 8 to do for me? What do I expect will put me off?

Well, I do expect to see a lot more about Microsoft’s vision for the next version of Windows of course. I expect it to be a lot of cool graphics based on the Metro design, as seen here.

I also, unfortunately, expect to see a LOT of HTML5 stuff. I have made my opinion clear several times before, and putting HTML5 in Windows 8 is just wrong. HTML is a web technology, and should stay on the web. It just isn’t up to the task it is expected to do. At least not in my mind… Yes, let IE9/10 support the heck out of HTML5, but leave the Windows apps to a real technology like .NET by letting us build them using WPF or even better Silverlight.

On the other hand, I do still think it is still possible that Silverlight will be the platform of choice. Microsoft has not said anything about this yet, but I still hope that there will be an announcement that they will support both technologies. Something that in my mind should be obvious, which I hope is why Microsoft is not saying anything. But who knows…

Having Silverlight as the “native” technology for the apps, and HTML5 application support for developer breadth would be perfect in my mind.

As for what I expect Windows 8 to do for me, I would have to say that I expect it to make my life simpler. I expect there to be a simplified, touch based UI for tablets and things like that, but also an old school UI for “regular” use. This has been more or less shown in the video, so I expect that. It also makes a whole lot of sense. The Metro UI works fine for tablets and touch based devices, but for a deskjockey like me, it makes no sense at all.

I also expect that simplified Metro UI to come through in an upgraded Media Center, with great remote control usability. It just makes sense… It is already working on Xbox, so I don’t see why they wouldn’t.

I also hope, and expect the media support to be upgraded. Hopefully with better codecs built in, as well as subtitle support (.sub, .srt). And hopefully also good Blu-ray support. But I think these things are a bit shakier. They might be there, and they might not.

Finally I also hope to see the OS very configurable. And by configurable, I mean that I want to be able to add and remove functionality depending on what I need. That way, I can have the same OS to support all of my developer functionality, as well as be trimmed down to give my Windows tablet better battery performance.

I guess I also need to think about things that might put me off. And right now, there is not really anything except the HTML5 thing that I am worried about. Microsoft so far have been great at keeping old functionality available, and simple ways to get back to previous ways of working. But on the other hand, the “ribbon” is there without a way to get away from it, so I might be wrong…

The rumored marketplace might be a bit off putting as well. Not because I don’t like the idea behind a marketplace, but mostly because I think the whole “app” thing is a bit overrated. But it all depends on what API’s the marketplace apps get to play with, as well as what technology is used to build them. But I assume that marketplace apps would have to live in a sandbox, which would make them less usable, and more consumer aimed (in the bad way). But on the other hand, with a good architecture for permission requests on the system, the sandbox could become flexible…

So all in all, I must say I am looking forward to the conference a whole lot. I believe Microsoft is changing a lot at the moment, but the change is fragmented, with some things more open, and some things more closed down, so I hope that this conference with all its secrecy will show a bit more of where Microsoft is heading. I hope they realize that being transparent has some serious benefits as long as it is done right.

Stay tuned for more! I will try to keep my blog a bit more active now that my move is completed. And during BUILD I will blog as much as possible, giving anyone reading more information about what is happening, with my opinions added… (that might scare the people who read this away, but that’s just me - I am opinionated)

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