IE 8, Silverlight 2 and more from MIX 08, Day 1

Microsoft's third annual conference that explores its plans for the Web kicked off on Wednesday with a keynote speech

from Ray Ozzie. (A nice, color-coded version of the full transcript can be found on Ryan Storgaard's blog. and a streaming video version of the speech can be found here.) Ozzie outlined a more detailed version of Microsoft's Software-plus-Services vision. He offered a pragmatic view of how long it will take Microsoft to shift from its old (and still extremely profitable) client/server roots to a service-provider-in-the-cloud role.

He said (in reference to the IT world in general, not Microsoft specifically):

Over the next five years, the way we write code on the back end, the way we deploy it across a grid, the way we debug it remotely, the way we maintain it and service it will be fundamentally transformed by our progressive shift to this utility computing model in the cloud.

He reiterated the standard line we've all heard from Steve Ballmer as to why Microsoft has its fingers into every kind of technology that seems to be turning a profit for someone somewhere. In other words, the shift from fat clients with local software to cloud computing relies on four areas. Ozzie called them, "Connected Devices, Connected Entertainment, Connected Productivity and Connected Business."

If one conglomerate can control all of those areas ... well you can just imagine how the eyes and hearts of the Microsoft elite would light up at the thought. Sarcasm aside, Ballmer and Ozzie do recognize that the world is changing underneath them. They are doing their best to articulate a vision that shows how Microsoft will move from where it is today to something that resembles a utility computing model, profits intact.

Turn the page for a quick roundup of the announcements from Day 1, that essentially covered four products.

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 - Microsoft released the beta version for developers. The company has been promising IE 8 will offer better interoperability with Web standards and early reports indicate that Microsoft will meet its promise. The browser will support Cascading Style Sheets 2.1 (CSS), the latest version of the standard still in development. That presumably should solve most of IE's compatibility problems. Then again this is Microsoft we're talking about and skepticism is required. For instance, the company is also developing its "Adobe Flash killer" Silverlight software. It wants to prevent Adobe from maintaining its status as the de facto standard for rich multimedia. Will IE do a better job with the presentation of Silverlight graphics than Flash graphics? Will Microsoft find other little ways for IE to give preference to Microsoft's technology over its competitors'? Time and many rounds of beta testing will tell.

Also at the show, the Silverlight 2 Beta was formally released.

Plus, Microsoft showed off ...

The Expression Studio 2 Beta: A Visual Studio add-on for Web development that includes PHP support, among other features.

SQL Server Data Services: A SaaS version of SQL was announced, with show attendees invited to partake of a special beta of the service. Read the full article on Network World here .

Microsoft fan Robert McLaws also notes that a few more announcements show off Microsoft's Web plans. Deep Zoom, formally called SeaDragon - a Silverlilght application that gives users the "zoom" capability when viewing a tiled montage of images.Silverlight's support for XAML, will allow ads to be embedded into streaming video. Another way for commercial users to use multimedia to make money.  

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(If you have Siverlight installed, you can see it in action at http://memorabilia.hardrock.com/)

(Flash supports zooming, too. A giant image can be posted, with users zooming in to see specific parts, similar to the kind of rendering used by Google Earth.)

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Go to Microsoft Subnet for more news, blogs, opinion.More Micronet blog posts:

Bill Gates, rich, but not richest

Ray Ozzie -- doing good work afterall?

Windows on a USB stick and Microsoft storage unification

Marvelous March giveaways from Microsoft Subnet and Cisco Subnet

All Micronet blog posts

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