Microsoft MVP Summit 2008: Days Three and Four

I don’t typically blog about specific technologies, since the focus of this blog is the human side of software development, and whether you use C# or Python is irrelevant. That said, I use .NET on a day to day basis, and this week’s Microsoft MVP Summit has been quite an experience, so I am wrapping up my experience in this third and final post on the subject.

Day Three
Day three included another round of in-depth sessions presented by the product teams who are building the technology. That’s the coolest part – the Q&A portions were highly technical and people who are actually writing the code behind new ASP.NET features were answering our questions.

Highlights included:

  • ADO.NET Data Services (Astoria) – The Astoria team has done some amazing things, including supporting Atom and JSON out of the box using a REST interface. Activate this feature, slap in some security code, and you have a full REST API to your database. Awesome.
  • Building Web Apps with Cloud-based Storage – This talk covered SQL Server Data Services from an ASP.NET developer’s perspective. I’m not sure what rock I’ve been living under, but Microsoft will soon be entering beta with their Cloud-based SQL Server storage service, similar to Amazon’s Simple Storage Service.
  • Looking into the .NET 4.0 Crystal Ball – The ASP.NET product team talked about possible improvements for 4.0 and allowed us to spend 100 Euros between various features (since a dollar isn’t worth much anymore). I can’t talk about specific features due to our NDA, but there are some well thought-out improvements in the works.

The best part of day three was the MVP Summit Party at the Experience Music Project (an interactive museum funded largely by Paul Allen). Talk about a cool place; you have to check it out the next time you’re in Seattle – guitars and memorabilia from every influential Seattle act, with a Sci-Fi museum attached!

We had the run of the music and Sci-Fi museums (I spent a long time looking at one of the flying cars from Blade Runner), open bar, tons of great food, live band karaoke, and a 250-person theater with Rock Band playing on a movie screen. Rock Band is an Xbox game that allows 4 people to play at once (guitar, bass, drums and vocals), and is amazing at entertaining hundreds of intoxicated MVPs.

The quote of the night (said in the style of Jeff Foxworthy):

“If you are freakishly good at playing a fake instrument, you might be an MVP.”

This was no joke – I couldn’t believe how many people were tearing it up at this game. And yes, I am guilty, as Peter Blum pointed out, of singing a few tunes for old time’s sake, including Nirvana’s In Bloom. We were in Seattle, for crying out loud!

Day Four
Today we saw closing keynotes by Ray Ozzie and Steve Ballmer, including healthy Q&A sessions. I’ve never seen either of them speak, and the raw intelligence and understanding of the software industry was evident in both men almost immediately. I was blown away by their ability to answer detailed questions from highly technical people with an obvious knowledge of Microsoft products that I will never have (I didn’t recognize many of the product acronyms MVPs were using in their questions).

Microsoft has made many mis-steps over the years (Ballmer brought this up a couple times), but there are still a lot of really smart people in there working on some potentially revolutionary ideas.

Rob and Peter Blum at MVP Summit 2008
Me (on the left) and Peter Blum at the 2008 MVP Summit

[tags]microsoft, mvp summit, astoria, data services, sql server data services, .net 4.0[/tags]

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#1 Withheld on 04.17.08 at 8:24 pm

When I had my wisdom teeth taken from me I was still really high on the way home. I insisted that my girlfriend drive me to Carl’s Jr. to get a chocolate milkshake. As she was trying to order for me, In Bloom came on the radio and apparently I serenaded (karaoke style) the person on the other side of the drive through speaker in a very obnoxious way that made her mad at me for the remaining two weeks we were together. I blame her for (a) not dropping me off at home first and (b) letting me sit in the back seat.

#2 Nestor Portillo on 04.19.08 at 1:17 pm

Thanks for sharing, glad to see that you had good time during summit.

Looking forward to see you next year

Nestor Portillo
MVP Regional Manager – Americas and Japan Regions