MIXing It Up: Day One

Wyatt Barnett
Wyatt Barnett

MIX 08 kicked off this morning with a multi-headed keynote that had loads of “wow” factor. Far and away the biggest takeaway: Microsoft is very serious about connected systems and open standards. The old embrace-extend-extinguish model is largely dead. Ray Ozzie kicked the thing off, but his buzzword density made me want to puke. If you watch the video, feel free to fast forward until you see Scott Guthrie. Unless you like watching senior executive types babble. Once we got past that, we got into the good stuff: IE8 and Silverlight 2.0.

IE8 highlights include:

  • IE8’s main focus is on improving the life of web developers. Unlike IE7 which was focused on user experience and security.
  • Full CSS 2.1 support. Moreover, Microsoft will be releasing a BSD-licensed CSS 2.1 test kit with more than 700 tests.
  • Significant performance improvements in the javascript stack.
  • The kernel of HTML 5 support. Demoed improvements were improved handling of the back button with AJAX requests and taking advantage of HTML 5’s connection event model to let the browser more gracefully handle losing the server.
  • It includes a debugging tool that is on par with firebug if one takes the net monitor features off the table and remembers those are more than covered with Fiddler2.
  • Activities—think office smart tags in IE. They are based on the new OpenServiceSpecification which has a Creative Commons license.
  • WebSlices—basically favoritelets that allow for more direct delivery of content. Specification is also under a Creative Commons license of sorts.
  • Check it out for yourself—Beta 1 has been released.

SilverLight 2.0

  • Overall—very, very cool. Almost too cool for school.
  • From a developer’s perspective, the key improvements are the new WPF-compatible controls, with source availability, and an improved networking stack including the ability to make cross-domain requests.
  • Adaptive Streaming is very slick. Basically, Silverlight clients can detect network speed issues and switch streaming speeds on the fly. Aside from this feature, it is pretty clear that there is heavy integration with Windows Media Services running on IIS7.
  • They demoed a few very impressive applications to show off the capabilities. NBC’s 2008 Olympics website will be amazing, with over 2200 hours of live online content that behaves in a connected manner. And the Hard Rock Memorabilia site ain’t to shabby. I can’t really do them justice here—check out the webcast [thanks for the direct link ionix5891].
  • Beta 1 has been released, along with accompanying Visual Studio Templates and such.

Scott Guthrie also mentioned that there was an ASP.NET AJAX update in the works and hinted that an updated drop of the Dynamic Data Controls is coming soon. Finally, an updated ASP.NET MVC framework has been released.

I also took the chance to check out the Open Spaces. Very, very cool concept and it was great talking to a few unnamed ‘softies about things I can’t quite repeat here. I did get the chance to meet fellow SitePoint blogger Ian Muir as well as my co-author Phil Haack. Speaking of networking, the party is starting at TAO, so I gotta run to the open bar.