Build 2012, some thoughts..

I think you probably read my rant about the logistics at Build 2012, as posted here, so I am not going into that anymore. Instead, let’s look at the content. (BTW If you did read that post and want some more info then read Nia Angelina’s post about Build. I have nothing to add to that.)

As usual, there were good speakers and some speakers who could benefit from some speaker training. I find it hard to understand why Microsoft allows certain people on stage, people who speak English with such strong accents it’s hard for people, especially from abroad, to understand. Some basic training might be useful for some of them. However, it is nice to see that most speakers are project managers, program managers or even devs on the teams that build the stuff they talk about: there was a lot of knowledge on stage! And that means when you ask questions you get very relevant information. I realize I am not the average audience member here, I am regular speaker myself so I tend to look for other things when I am in a room than most audience members so my opinion might differ from others. All in all the knowledge of the speakers was above average but the presentation skills were most of the times below what I would describe as adequate.

But let us look at the contents. Since the official name of the conference is Build Windows 2012 it is not surprising most of the talks were focused on building Windows 8 apps. Next to that, there was a lot of focus on Azure and of course Windows Phone 8 that launched the day before Build started. Most sessions dealt with C# and JavaScript although I did see a tendency to use C++ more.

Touch. Well, that was the focus on a lot of sessions, that goes without saying. Microsoft is really betting on Touch these days and being a Touch oriented developer I can only applaud this. The term NUI is getting a bit outdated but the principles behind it certainly aren’t. The sessions did cover quite a lot on how to make your applications easy to use and easy to understand. However, not all is touch nowadays; still the majority of people use keyboard and mouse to interact with their machines (or, as I do, use keyboard, mouse AND touch at the same time). Microsoft understands this and has spend some serious thoughts on this as well. It was all about making your apps run everywhere on all sorts of devices and in all sorts of scenarios.

I have seen a couple of sessions focusing on the portable class library and on sharing code between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. You get the feeling Microsoft is enabling us devs to write software that will be ubiquitous. They want your stuff to be all over the place and they do anything they can to help.

To achieve that goal they provide us with brilliant SDK’s, great tooling, a very, very good backend in the form of Windows Azure (I was particularly impressed by the Mobility part of Azure) and some fantastic hardware. And speaking of hardware: the partners such as Acer, Lenovo and Dell are making hardware that puts Apple to a shame nowadays. To illustrate: in Bellevue (very close to Redmond where Microsoft HQ is) they have the Microsoft Store located very close to the Apple Store, so it’s easy to compare devices. And I have to say: the Microsoft offerings are much, much more appealing that what the Cupertino guys have to offer. That was very visible by the number of people visiting the stores: even on the day that Apple launched the iPad Mini there were more people in the Microsoft store than in the Apple store.

So, the future looks like it’s going to be fun. Great hardware (did I mention the Nokia Lumia 920? No? It’s brilliant), great software (Windows 8 is in a league of its own), the best dev tools (Visual Studio 2012 is still the champion here) and a fantastic backend (Azure.. need I say more?). It’s up to us devs to fill up the stores with applications that matches this.

To summarize: it is great to be a Windows developer.

PS. Did I mention Surface RT? Man….. People were drooling all over it wherever I went. It is fantastic :-)

Print | posted @ Monday, November 5, 2012 8:57 AM

Comments on this entry:

Gravatar # re: Build 2012, some thoughts..
by peSHIr at 11/5/2012 11:00 AM

I still find it both amazing and annoying that a lot (most?) .NET developers do not seem to know about Portable Assemblies. Or if they do know about them, they still have not used them.

Maybe this is a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem: there are some bumps right now if you do want to use them, and because of these bumps they aren't used as much as they should which hinders them getting more mainstream.

One example: I've been using Portable Assemblies in VS2012 for some years using the separate (in the beginning beta) plugin. Portable Assemblies should be built into VS2012, but I tried to open one of my WP7.1 solutions in the WP8 SDK VS2012 Express, and it told me it did not know the Portable Assembly project that contains my API code to interact with the actual cloud service it uses. This really pisses me off. Still need to find out what exactly seems to be the matter here. Is there Portable Assembly support in VS2012Express for WP8? Is there now more than one Portable Assembly project type? Who knows...
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