PDC Preview

Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference started today, and lots of goodies are to be unveiled. Topping the list is pre-release Windows 7 code given to all attendees. Microsoft is calling this code "pre-beta" (isn't that what the word "alpha" refers to?).

Microsoft promises improvements to the Windows kernel, but I'm still waiting to find out if there is, in fact, a new kernel altogether. I'll report back on what I learn.

At the show, developers can bring their own code and see if it'll work with Windows 7. I hope all the hardware guys bring plenty of drivers to try!

Microsoft will also promote multi-core (dual to eight cores) and many-core (lots and lots of cores) programming. This way, apps can fully exploit the amazing gains made by processors. The trick is that it takes a new approach to programming and an awful lot of effort. Basically, you have to rewrite your apps from scratch to use all of these cores. Here's what I learned about multi-core after a month of two of research.

Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie Photo: (C) Michael Domingo
Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie reveals Windows Azure during his keynote speech at Microsoft's Professional Developer Conference in Los Angeles. (See more images here.

Surprise Patch
Late last week, Microsoft put out an out-of-cycle patch that fixes Remote Procedure Call (RPC) problems in some older software including Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003 and XP (XP may be old, but it clearly ain't going anywhere soon).

Hackers can exploit these RPC holes to run code remotely and, unfortunately, is the perfect platform for a worm. It just might be time to fire up Shavlik, WSUS or your patch system of choice.

Microsoft OK for Now
Our economy is clearly messed up -- and the overseas market is crashing again as I type. The weird thing is that stocks are tanking more based on what's going to happen than what is happening. The real impact of frozen credit will be felt when giant retailers go under and millions lose jobs.

That's why it's not surprising that in this latest quarter, Microsoft had its normal stunning results. Revenue came in just north of $15 billion and profits nearly hit $6 billion, margins any self-respecting capitalist would be proud of. And for the current quarter Microsoft expects things to get even better -- maybe hitting close to $18 billion. That's a lot of Christmas Xboxes.

Windows wasn't the dollar driver. Instead, Office and SQL Server did a lot of the heavy financial lifting.

Still, Microsoft is bracing for a tougher future and will take a hard look at expenses. They can start by yanking those "I'm a PC" commercials! What are you doing to prepare for what could be a brutal economy? Advice welcome at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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