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Technology CompaniesIntelWhat I'd like to hear announced at the next PDC

What I’d like to hear announced at the next PDC

Robert Scoble and others are pointing to Microsoft’s recent notice that this year’s PDC (previously planned for the fall) is being postponed.

To me, it’s no big deal whether PDC is postponed or not, but PDC does have the tradition of standing out among Microsoft conferences, as the one event to attend if you want hard-core information about where Microsoft technologies are going for not just this year, but for years down the road. For this reason, PDC is an important event to keep an eye on.

Some are speculating that Microsoft is postponing PDC because there isn’t much new to talk about. Others are suggesting that the timing simply isn’t right, because several products (Silverlight, Orcas, etc) will be about ready to launch and PDC is traditionally about new technologies rather than products just being released.

Whatever the reason, this has sure helped to establish Mix07 as the Microsoft developer event of 2007 (where several new major technologies, most involving Silverlight, were announced)–especially for developers that want to stay on the edge of forthcoming Microsoft technologies. This makes it even more unfortunate that Mix07 was unable to handle the numbers of developers that wanted to attend. I imagine that if Microsoft had known that it was going to be postponing PDC, it would have opened up Mix more–at least I hope so.

So what would I like to hear about at the next PDC?

* Bring C++ libraries up to the level of the .Net platform in terms of ease of use. I’m not talking about leveraging managed code. I’m talking about higher-level, easy to use libraries.
* And, of course, improve the C++/XAML story too.
* Enhance the programming model of the Office Ribbon so that it not only restores capabilities that were available before, but goes beyond them.
* Additional commitments to mobility in Windows. Even faster boot times. More efficient use of processor(s)–especially while on batteries.
* Even better networking support in Windows–particularly for ad-hoc networks and the like.
* Multi-processor programming strategies and support
* XAML debugging
* Better design tools within Visual Studio, ranging from icon development on up.
* Even better productivity through editing/refactoring tools in Visual Studio
* Silverlgiht on Linux
* Optional handwriting recognition download for Silverlight–calls local Vista recognition engine on Windows machines and Apple’s InkWell techology on OS X, and leaves open hooks for Linux developers to add their local own recognition engine.
* Scaling and rotation of windows (frames and all, although it would be OK if this feature is only available for frameless windows). Fixing the .Net platform and Windows itself to better handle DPI would be OK too.
* Improved startup time for Vista speech recognition engine
* Ability to access or programmatically supply a video stream in Media Center
* Better support for lower resolution displays running Vista. It would be great if all Vista dialogs fit within 800×480 resolution, which is standard on many UMPCs.
* I also wouldn’t mind seeing C# change its tune on destructors and its garbage collector, but that’s just me. I won’t hold my breath for this though. 🙂
* Added: A vision library. Cameras are now standard equipment in cellphones. They should be an integral part of the computing experience too. Some companies have started filling in the gaps, but there’s nothing like a cohesive, stable core with an easy to use API to make the market sing.

I can think of many more things I’d like to hear at the next PDC, but this is a good start. I’m sure Microsoft has a good number of surprises up its sleeve too.

Loren Heiny (1961 - 2010) was a software developer and author of several computer language textbooks. He graduated from Arizona State University in computer science. His first love was robotics.

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