Setting the Stage
Microsoft opened its Day 1 keynote by showcasing 16 year old yo-yo champion, Sterling Quinn. He performed several routines while the crowd finished filing into the keynote ballroom. The conference sold out yesterday and I overheard someone in the keynote comment that the room was “twice as big as last year”. By 9:00am, the room was full… and buzzing. There were rumors floating around Twitter and some websites yesterday that Microsoft would be giving away Windows Phones to MIX10 attendees. That rumor was put to rest late in the evening yesterday by a member of the Windows phone team:
Rumor mill off track. Still early days for Windows Phone 7 Series, so NO free phones at #MIX10. Plenty of other news & free stuff, though!
The final preamble to the keynote was a video featuring Microsoft Bing Maps. The video demonstrated how they have integrated their panoramic street level view with geotagged photos on Flickr. In addition, they have ensured that only photos licensed under Creative Commons are used in Bing. It creates a stunning and rich experience. Currently this feature is in beta and available only in Seattle, San Francisco and Mountain View, CA.
‘The Gu’ - Talking Silverlight
Scott Guthrie opened the keynote in his trademark red Polo shirt. The first topic: Silverlight 4. He went through a quick summary of the recent history of Silverlight 3 and the Silverlight 4 beta. After a video montage about the use of Silverlight video streaming during the Winter Olympics, Guthrie announced that the Silverlight video player used for the Olympics is going to be made available as an open source project. Silverlight 4 has a host of new features including:
- Hardware Support
- WCF RIA Services
- Toast Notifications
- Silent Install
There were a few previously unannounced features discussed. One is the ability to view full-screen streaming Silverlight video on one monitor while using applications on other monitors. The second is Microsoft Pivot, which provides tools to visualize data. Silverlight 4 will ship with controls that embed this Pivot functionality.
The first big announcement is that the Silverlight 4 Release Candidate (RC) is available for download today. Along with it come preview releases of Expression Blend 4 and tools for Visual Studio 2010 RC. Visual Studio now has full Silverlight support, including WYSIWYG designer and XAML IntelliSense. Blend 4 will support Silverlight 4 development and it was revealed that customers that bought Blend 3 will get a free upgrade to v4. Silverlight 4 is almost ready and will be released next month.
Most of the buzz around MIX10 is around Windows Phone 7 Series. Microsoft took the wraps off their new mobile UI last month at the Mobile World conference. There are some Windows Phone developers I have talked with who are concerned about the shift. Those developers have customers that use Windows Phones with business apps and are concerned that Microsoft is abandoning them to try and capture some of the consumer market from Apple and its iPhone family.
Joe Belfiore presenting the Windows Phone portion of the keynote. He announced the availability of a preview release of developer tools for Windows Phone development. Phone development will be in Silverlight for apps and XNA Game Studio for games. All of the tools will be free for developers including:
- Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone
- Expression Blend 4 for Windows Phone
- XNA Game Studio for Windows Phone
Scott Guthrie returned to the keynote stage to introduce the series of Windows Phone demos. First Guthrie himself wrote a quick Twitter app using Visual Studio 2010. He launch the app in a Windows Phone emulator, which is included in the Windows Phone SDK. He said the emulator is a full VM image of the phone operating system. Developers with a multitouch monitor will be able to use that capability to test the phone UI via the emulator.
The second demo was created in Expression Blend 4. Jon Harris built a PhotoDiary app which illustrated the power and flexibility of databinding in Silverlight and Blend. The app also used the PivotStrip and PivotListBox controls, using databinding and context to link the two controls. All the controls in Blend and Visual Studio are automatically styled with the Windows Phone look and feel.
Next was a series of showcase apps. No source code was shown for these demonstrations. Here’s a quick rundown of what was shown and the features showcased in each app:
- Netflix – Adaptive, smooth streaming video
- Graphic.ly – Deep Zoom support
- Foursquare – Geolocation and Bing Maps integration
- Shazam – Hardware (microphone) access
- Major League Soccer – Push notifications
- Marionette – Multitouch and accelerometer
- Seesmic – Code reuse between desktop and phone apps with Silverlight 4
- Coding4Fun : Cannon – Hardware, interop and accelerometer
- Goo Splat – XNA app quickly ported from ZuneHD version
- Battle Punks – quickly porting a Silverlight for Facebook version
- The Harvest – Same game on Windows Phone, PC and Xbox 360
During the Seesmic demo, founder Loic Le Meur emphsized the power of plug-in support in Seesmic’s Silverlight desktop client application. This was something he also mentioned during his demo of the desktop app at PDC09. After the keynote, I spoke with Glenn Block. Glenn is Program Manager on the Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF) team at Microsoft. The MEF team is now part of the .NET Common Language Runtime (CLR). The goal of MEF is to support composable applications. A plug-in model within an application is a typical use case for MEF. Glenn told me that after he saw the PDC Seesmic demo, he immediately pinged the team at Seesmic to make sure they were using (or planned to use) MEF. They indeed are using MEF to support their pluggable architecture today.
The demos were followed by an overview of the new Marketplace for Windows Phone. It will be a one-stop shop for music, apps, games, videos and more. Customers will be able to buy and download apps in two taps. Developers who sell their apps on Marketplace will be able to specify which features will be available during the app’s trial period. No separate trial binary file will need to be created.
The day 1 keynote provided a big bang to kick off MIX10. I am looking forward to getting a closer look at some of the new technologies during some of the sessions later today.