Microsoft Tech Summit: The 'non-fanboys' descend on Redmond

Summary:Microsoft is big on inviting not just its customers and partners, but non-believers, too, to visit the Microsoft campus and discover for themselves that Softies are people, too. This past week, about 50 "non-fanboys" (and a couple non-fangirls) participated in what's become an annual event: The Microsoft Technology Summit. Here are some observations from the blogs of the invited guests.

Microsoft is big on inviting not just its customers and partners, but non-believers, too, to visit the Microsoft campus and discover for themselves that Softies are people, too.

(And who better to ask than Java, PHP and Linux developers -- as Microsoft execs seemingly did several times during the Summit -- "How we suck"?)

This past week, about 50 "non-fanboys" (and a couple non-fangirls) participated in what's become an annual event: The Microsoft Technology Summit. Microsoft rolled out some big guns to address the invited guests, including Bill Hilf, General Manager Platform Strategy ;Sanjay Parthasarathy, corporate vice president of developer and platform evangelism; dynamic language experts John Lam and Jim Hugunin; SOAP creator Don Box and .Net platform developer Chris Anderson.

Among the invited guests:

* Dion Almaer, founder and CTO of Adigio and a J2EE, JDO, AOP, Groovy expert

* Yakov Fain, a senior architect with a consulting company a contributing editor at Java Developer's Journal

* Dianne Marsh, co-founder of SRT Solutions and an organizer of the CodeMash conference

* David Strom, an Internet/networking expert and journalist

* Travis Swicegood, a key PHP community member

From various blogged accounts of the Summit from some of the participants, it sounds like Microsoft got what it wanted: critical feedback on everything from its Ajax platform, to its open-source strategy (or lack thereof).

No one was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), meaning no new secrets were spilled. But many of those who blogged the summit seemed quite interested in what Microsoft is saying and doing, especially around dynamic languages.

Some interesting observations from the invited guests:

Strom: "They (Microsoft) are trying to regain Web thought leadership with IE7 and IIS7, but the open source group (or at least the group that was assembled) has moved on to Firefox and LAMP."

Marsh: "Do we want to run the CLR (Common Language Runtime) in IE (Internet Explorer)? Killer fast Javascript and Ruby in the browser would be compelling. Performance is the big thing. Testing, running javascript on IE. As we create more sophisticated apps, there’s no visibility in the CLR. But, would you put it in Firefox too?"

Swicegood: "We got an apology from Box for all of the statements that (CEO Steve) Ballmer makes that scares people. :-)"

Fain: "Someone asked (Hilf) about incompatibility of the MSWord 2007 format with previous versions of Word. Bill was trying to give a soft answer, but someone from the audience said 'No one having a half brain would believe your last statement… Did MS expect this kind of a feedback?"

Almaer: On the topic of Microsoft's Ajax implementation -- "Why create your own client side library instead of working with one of the other libraries. (Program Manager) Joe (Stagner) felt that the language extensions were necessary for commercial development on Ajax. The customers want the synergy of the client and the server side. I think that it is all about control ;)"

Tough crowd....

Topics: Microsoft

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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