I had this crazy idea that I might write something about the Microsoft Professional Developer's Conference (PDC) while the PDC was actually going on. However, between nine-hour jetlag, the all-day training sessions, the Irish contingent who ensured that I never got to bed before 2 a.m. each night, the mysterious blue liquid that turned a bunch of jetlagged geeks into disco-dancing, cigar-chomping, shop-talking (heck, we're still geeks) party animals, and other events I'll leave to your imagination, I'm lucky I'm not dead.
The PDC is a bit like sticking your brain in a taffy pull, both in terms of knowledge absorbed and the unnatural things you do to it. I'll leave meeting deadlines to people who actually get paid to write this stuff.
A PDC is where Microsoft tends to announce the technology that will shape development within the company for the near to medium-term future. In 2000, the PDC was all about .Net, at the time a product about as far from release as Longhorn, the next major version of Windows and the subject of this year's PDC, is from its shipping date.
Longhorn beta one is slated to appear in summer of 2004, which means a release version won't see the light of day until at least early to mid-2005. Releasing the code early, however, is particularly important for a product as ambitious as Longhorn. Not only is it a massive upgrade on core Windows technologies, such as user interface rendering and access to data on a file system, but it is the culmination of the .Net integration I've discussed in past articles.
In short, Longhorn is the .Net version of Windows which finalises the replacement of the WIN32 API with a managed system, as well as a massive rethink as to the way developers write applications for Windows and consumers interact with their computers.
.Net, .Net and more .Net
A year ago, I wrote a three part series (part one, part two and part three) where I argued that one of the reasons .Net would conquer the world was that Microsoft would convert its entire product library into .Net applications. Well, based on the PDC roadmap, it turns out I was right, so ha, ha, ha, ha. (Pay no attention to that, it's my jetlagged alter-ego talking.)
Longhorn will be the first operating system where ALL functionality is designed to be accessed through managed code. WIN32's reign as the Windows API has ended, replaced by managed .Net APIs.