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PDC is Not Just the Windows 7 Show

Microsoft's Professional Developer Conference (PDC) kicks off next Monday in Los Angeles, and all of the attention and interest is on Windows 7, the successor to Microsoft's ill-received Vista.

The thing is, this show is not the Windows Developer Conference. There's more than just Windows 7 on the agenda, which will be discussed in just 21 of the 194 sessions. So what else will Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) talk about?

How about Windows Server 2008? Silverlight? .Net Framework 4.0? Microsoft's software+services strategy? There's plenty to cover, and Directions on Microsoft analyst Mike Cherry believes Windows 7 won't be the dominant topic of discussion because Win7 is not a radical change from Vista.

"If Microsoft is making any significant changes, then they need to give developers some lead time to adopt those changes so they can run their applications," he told InternetNews.com. "Windows 7 won't have that many changes. Vista introduced a lot of change, and they can't afford to have that kind of disruption twice in a row. "

He said PDC is often used to cover big changes well in advance of their introduction. One of the first PDC shows was to highlight the introduction of the Win32 API, since developers up to that point had been writing 16-bit Windows apps on MS-DOS and the move to 32-bit was a radical change.

Likewise, Cherry expects that any changes discussed for Windows Server 2008 will be incremental and not get a lot of play at PDC. He expects software-as-a-service, or software-plus-services, as Microsoft likes to call it, to dominate.

"Microsoft will be trying to convince people that writing for Microsoft's SaaS platform makes more sense than writing for Amazon's or Google's or anyone else's," said Cherry.

Martin Reynolds, vice president and research fellow with Gartner, also expects to see some SaaS-related news. "We know they are investing heavily in the infrastructure and technology to build cloud computing, obviously it's time for people to start using it," he told InternetNews.com.

Ahead of the cloud

Cloud computing requires a different kind of application development, so PDC is the show to give developers that guidance. "These applications don't just happen. They need to be thought out, tested and deployed. So you need to be well ahead of the curve," said Reynolds.

Cherry said Microsoft's commitment will be clear after the conference is over. "You'll know Microsoft is serious about SaaS or Internet delivery service when it's equally available across all of the browsers and you don't need a specific version of Internet Explorer to use it," he said. "Signs like that will tell us how serious Microsoft is about the cloud being a service or just another delivery mechanism for Microsoft software."

Next page: Watch for 64-bit support