LOS ANGELES--After spending much of Tuesday in the clouds, the second day of the Professional Developers Conference on Wednesday is expected to be far more grounded.
On tap is a discussion of the Office 2010 beta as well as the first details on Internet Explorer 9, although Microsoft is not providing code. Microsoft is also talking about Silverlight 4 and releasing a beta of that product.
8:30 a.m. PT: Windows unit president Steven Sinofsky takes the stage.
Sinofsky said that Microsoft approaches Windows 7 like building a movie theater. Microsoft's job is to provide "great seats, great sounds and maybe a concession stand" while developers make the actual movies.
8:35 a.m. PT: Sinofsky is talking about the Windows 7 development process from before the code was publicly released through beta testing and release.
He's hitting on familiar refrains--trying to be more predictable, talking about features only when they are fully baked, and all of the "telemetry" Microsoft uses to get automated feedback.
Sinofsky is talking about the different mechanisms Microsoft uses from Windows Error Reporting, or Watson, to its Software Quality Monitor. Sinofsky notes that the monitoring tools require the user's permission in the final versions of Windows.
During the beta process, though, "we opt you in automatically," he says. (Not to quibble, but technically that's known as opt-out.)
Semantics aside, the shift to automated feedback has had a major impact on the way Windows is developed. In the past, Sinofsky said, bugs got fixed, in large part, based on "whoever screamed the loudest."
Sinofsky said it was basically "testosterone-based bug fixing."
With automated mechanism, Microsoft can see which problems are affecting the most people most often.
8:40 a.m. PT: Sinofsky is sharing some numbers about the Windows 7 beta.
Microsoft got 1.7 million feedback reports, or one feedback report every 10 seconds in the first two weeks after beta. There were 8.1 million installations of the beta, including 4.3 million installations of the release candidate.
There were 10.4 million error reports, which resulted in 4,753 code changes. The start menu was clicked 514 million times in the past six months, while the new Aero Snap and Shake features were clicked 46.4 million times during the same period.
8:45 a.m. PT: Sinofsky is talking about usability studies Microsoft does to test new features, and showing some examples of user feedback on the User Account Control dialog box.
First up, is a mother of a 5 year old who said that when she finally gets time to sit at the computer she'd rather not be interrupted. Instead, she suggested it would be better if there was a place she could go to find all the messages (not too different from the action center eventually included in Windows 7).
Now he's showing some testing of the Aero Snap and Aero Shake features that help manage multiple open windows.
"Get on down... I like that," said one user.
8:50 a.m. PT: If you haven't already, check out CNET's Ray Ozzie interview that posted this morning.
8:53 a.m. PT: Sinofsky brings out Mike Angiulo, who heads up Microsoft's dialogue with the "ecosystem"--folks like PC makers, software, and hardware developers.
He shows off Sony's super-thin, super-light Vaio X. I'm playing around with a demo model of this machine. People are really amazed with this computer. It's so light, some of the people I've shown it to could barely believe it was real.
Microsoft thought it would be good to learn how a laptop is made. It worked with Acer to build a 3.79 pound laptop with multi-touch, preloaded Office, etc.
"It was great for us as members of the ecosystem," Sinofsky said. The best news for those at PDC-- they are making the laptop available to paid PDC attendees for free.
That got the crowd excited. "Not this one, this one is mine," Sinofsky said, clutching the one he is showing off.
The laptops won't be ready for pick-up until 12:30 though. I encourage you to stay here for the rest of the talk."
9:08 a.m. PT: Talk shifts to Internet Explorer.
"There's a balance between standards and real-world," Sinofsky said.
Sinofsky talks about where Microsoft is headed with Internet Explorer 9.
We're about three weeks into the Internet Explorer 9 development, he says.
Sinofsky acknowledges some areas Microsoft needs to do better. One is the Acid 3 benchmark, IE 8 got 20 out of 100 on that test, while IE 9 is at 32 out of 100.
"We're getting very close to basically being a wash," Sinofsky said.
9:14 a.m. PT: Sinofsky shows another feature of IE 9--the ability to easily do rounded corners.
More importantly, the IE 9 rendering engine will shift text and graphics rendering to the graphics chip. That allows smoother text and faster performance. Although some browsers shift a bit of 3D work to the graphics processing units in PCs, Microsoft says IE is the first to tap hardware acceleration for standard text and graphics.
Sinofsky shows a few examples, including Bing Maps, where unaccelerated graphics rendered 14 frames per second, while hardware acceleration in IE 9 allowed upwards of 60 frames per second.
Geek detail: The IE logo on the taskbar for IE 9 was gray, as opposed to the blue logo of IE 8.
9:26 a.m. PT: Developer Division head Scott Guthrie on stage talking about Silverlight and Silverlight 4.
Priorities for the next version include improved media features, such as access to Webcams and microphones on a PC and output protection for those with premium content.
Guthrie demos a photo booth application, including video and still capture as well as different pixel shader effects, such as a crayon filter. The technology probably allows a lot more, but Apple fanboys would be right to point to the photo booth application on the Mac (though this is a concept app and Silverlight 4 is browser-based technology, not a desktop application).
Another focus for Silverlight 4 is improving Silverlight outside the browser.
9:37 a.m. PT: Guthrie's having a little trouble with some of the Silverlight demos, showing IIS server's support for creating iPhone-capable video.
"If someone is backstage and wants to kick the browser, feel free to," Guthrie said. "We'll try one more time."
9:40 a.m. PT: Guthrie is talking some of the technical features of Silverlight 4, including a new text editor that supports Roman fonts, as well as Arabic, Hebrew, and Kanji, among other alphabets.
9:45 a.m. PT: Guthrie shows a Silverlight-based video jigsaw puzzle. Turns out it is a video of the infamous Rick Astley video. "You've all been rickrolled," Guthrie said.
Also, for those who want to see the IIS smooth streaming on iPhone demo that Guthrie struggled to get working, it is on the Web here.
9:50 a.m. PT: It's getting code-heavy now, as Microsoft demos how to create Silverlight stuff in Visual Studio 2010. Meanwhile, there's some more detail on Microsoft's IE 9 plans in this blog post.
9:55 a.m. PT: Microsoft hasn't started talking about the Office 2010 beta yet, but it looks like you can start getting it from Microsoft's Web site.
10:04 a.m. PT: Still no Office talk on stage, but the beta is live and Microsoft has posted an article noting that Office Mobile 2010 is also in beta and available for Windows Mobile 6.5 phones via the Windows Mobile Marketplace.
The beta also adds an Outlook Social Connector, which allows users to bring in Windows Live and other social networking feeds into Outlook. LinkedIn is the first that will take advantage of it--early next year--but there is a software development kit for others to do so.
10:15 a.m. PT: The beta of Silverlight 4 is now available for download, Guthrie says. The final release is due in the first half of next year.
10:17 a.m. PT: Office unit senior vice president Kurt DelBene is introduced to talk about Office 2010.
10:20 a.m. PT: DelBene talking about efforts to bring Office not just to the desktop, but also via hosted services.
10:35 a.m. PT: DelBene notes that the Office 2010 beta is now available, as are betas of the Office Web Apps for businesses as well as office Mobile for Windows Mobile 6.5.
"I hope that you will all download (Office 2010)," DelBene said.
As I note in my story on the Office 2010 beta, though, the Web Apps remain in their current Tech Preview form on Windows Live. There's no time frame for when they will get updated to the beta versions, which include Word editing and the OneNote Web app.
10:45 a.m. PT: Lots of Sharepoint demos. Lot's of coding. I'll spare you the details.