PDC2008 Hard Drives, Services, Windows 7, and More

It's going to be an awesome PDC2008, baby! Before you read the rest of my post, watch this short 4 1/2 minute video that we published this afternoon on Channel 9 for some helpful context. Please forgive my super-reflective forehead...I still remember the "oily" result from when my mom had me fill out a Mary Kay skin type questionnaire when I was a kid.

To start, I get a lot of questions about the overall theme of this year's conference. We've published nearly 140 sessions already, we'll publish many more on Windows 7 later this week, and even more will be published on October 1st (oh, and we'll have a few super-secret sessions that can't be revealed until after the keynote announcements at the event). But what will the catch phrase be for PDC2008? Like we've had "the Longhorn PDC" and "the .NET PDC" of years past, this year's event is all about Software + Services.

For developers and architects who have been around for awhile (have you noticed my gray hair?), the "software" side of Software + Services is the easiest to understand. It's the software that you develop for installation on a PC or device that leverages local computing resources like memory, computation, and storage. Or, it's the software that you build to run on a web site...or maybe even a background process that runs on a server in your company's data center. It can take many forms, whether you're developing using Microsoft platforms and tools, managed or native code, or even software that's built using competitive technologies.

You're probably also familiar with "services." Perhaps your software calls a third-party web service to help track shipments. Maybe it provides data to be mapped with one of the online mapping sites, or maybe it uses something like SQL Server Data Services to store information online. Regardless, some of the work is performed elsewhere using other computing resources. Like a traditional service industry, you pay for the services that are provided (that is, unless they're free).

The combination of software plus services allows you to architect and build software that uses local computing resources where it makes sense and to call remote services to take advantage of additional scale, computing power, storage, location, redundancy, and more. Of course, there will continue to be software that runs completely on local devices, and there will be new kinds of software that run completely as a service...or "in the cloud," so to speak.

At PDC2008, we'll announce some strategic bets that Microsoft believes will shape the future of software and services and explain how you can take advantage of these new opportunities with our help. I have to admit that I was initially skeptical that services, cloud computing, and utility computing would represent a significant shift. But, now that I've wrapped my brain around the possibilities, and I've seen what can be accomplished, I personally believe that this is the start of a new and exciting chapter in our industry.

On another note, we announced today that every attendee will receive a cool, PDC2008-branded, 160GB external hard drive loaded with software! As far as we know, this is the first time that external hard drives have been given out in such large quantities at a conference (8GB thumb drives now seem so yesterday). I don't know about you, but I'd love the drive even if it were blank! The fact that we're loading it with geek candy makes it all the better!

Last, if you haven't been following our weekly Countdown to PDC2008 show, they're all tagged PDC08 on Channel 9. Each episode is 10 minutes or less to respect your time.

I hope to see all of you at the event!

Update: Colleague Tim Sneath also posted on these topics today.