Has it only been two years since the last PDC? Funny, it seems like five.
Cynics say Microsoft has yet to make good on a whole boatload of promises made back then. Remember Jim Allchin-as-demo-monkey (or was it code monkey?)showing the neat-o interface stuff and 20-year-old VisiCalc running unaltered in a Longhorn window? (Between VisiCalc and Longhorn, anyone wanna guess which is running on more machines lately?)
Others say patience is a virtue and that a ton of infrastructure work has been done under the covers that will enable promises to be kept this time around.
So here are some PDC 2005 expectations and tidbits:
An insider says much of the focus this year will be on the "Longhorn/Vista and Office 12 user experience and Web services, with the user experience getting top billing," says one company source.
Part of the whole UX thang will doubtless be the planned context-sensitive "ribbon interface" for Office 12, sources said.
As for Office 12 timetable, sources close to the company say the current ETA for a limited beta is November with a broad beta due in March. The company officially says fall and spring for these things respectively and that general availability will be the second half of 2006. Office 12 was initially to be a Longhorn release, but because of delays to the OS, it will run on Windows XP and Windows 2000, sources have said.
As Microsoft group vice president Jeff Raikes has said repeatedly, Steve Sinofsky head of Office development, runs a well-oiled machine. They hit their dates come what may and won't be held captive by the OS guys. That's probably good revenue-wise. Only thing is, company sources say not to rule out incompatibilities between Office 12 and Longhorn when it rolls out. Time will tell.
It is unclear how much light Microsoft will shed on its Office Server strategy at PDC because it's still being cooked. The company is hashing out licensing and packaging issues on an array of server-based technologies tappable from the Office clients, sources say. Inside wags say the more infrastructure the team puts into the Office server the less Office overall is reliant on bits and bytes from—you guessed it—the Windows team.
But there's also lots of "apps stuff" going into these servers. For example, Microsoft is planning a server-resident Excel engine to offload intensive Excel tasks from the desktop, said a source familiar with the plans. At one point there was internal talk of a discrete Excel server, then an Excel/SharePoint server amalgam. Another option, an overall Office Server could end up being "one SKU with a bunch of license levels," said another source close to Microsoft
At any rate, the Excel server functionality, would be "be an adjunct to the business intelligence stuff in SQL Server that would let you build models in the Excel desktop but run them maybe against a huge terabyte SQL Server database on the backend," said one knowledgeable source.
As for the licensing and packaging, Microsoft is in a quandary. "They want to drive new revenue, but the harder they make it to understand, the less effort people will make to understand it. Bear in mind, Enterprise Agreement customers will likely get everything, but they have to talk about CAL pricing," said the source.
Microsoft has said it will provide PDC attendees with the same early WinFS code made available a few weeks ago to MSDN subscribers. Quentin Clark, director of program management for WinFS said after the big LA show not to expect any more code drops until next year.
GADJI BERI BIMBA CLANDRIDI LAULI LONNI CADORI GADJAM A BIM BERI GLASSALA GLANDRIDE E GLASSALA TUFFM I ZIMBRA BIM BLASSA GALASSASA ZIMBRABIM BLASSA GLALLASSASA ZIMBRABIM A BIM BERI GLASSALA GRANDRID E GLASSALA TUFFM I ZIMBRA GADJI BERI BIMBA GLANDRIDI LAULI LONNI CADORA GADJAM A BIM BERI GLASSASA GLANDRID E GLASSALA TUFFM I ZIMBRA
One mystery solved, another posed.