Silence speaks volumes. While there is coverage ad nauseum about what Microsoft did
say at today's opening keynote and following sessions, there is much less attention on what's not
said. True, there is another keynote scheduled for tomorrow, and
presumably many additional topics will be covered (like tooling and
ALM), but certain important topics are conspicuously absent from the Day
1 conversations. The Missing Topics
- Silverlight and WPF?
It's clear after today that Metro
style XAML apps are Microsoft's vision of the future, but what does that
mean for the future of Silverlight and WPF? Of course, SL and WPF as we
know them now will continue to run in Windows 8, but will they continue to evolve? Microsoft
is risking another WinForms-like messaging challenge by choosing to
mostly ignore Silverlight/WPF rather than address them head-on.
- Xbox & Phone
One of the more extreme things rumored to
make an appearance at BUILD was Xbox integration with with the new
Windows Runtime. Or more broadly, a story that tied Windows desktop,
tablet, phone, and Xbox together with one model. Unfortunately, both
Phone and Xbox are no-shows so far, so it's all PC and tablets with Win8
- Shipping Timeline
While not entirely unaddressed, the
"there is no target date" for shipping Windows 8 message is a bit
unsettling, too. Heading-in to BUILD, there was a lingering rumor that
Windows 8 would be near or at beta now, with a possible goal of
shipping Windows 8 tablets for this holiday season (or very shortly
there after). Instead, with a pre-beta Developer Preview delivered,
we're left to assume Windows 8 many not be fully ready for RTM until
mid- to late-2012. So while everything being talked about this week is
cool, it's almost a year away from GA. Which is a bummer, especially as
other tablets march on.
- Expression Web
One of the more interesting tooling demos
in the keynote was a new version of Expression Blend that targets HTML
and CSS design. What wasn't mentioned is how this expanded Blend
focus impacts the existing "web product" in the Expression suite
(Expression Web). Is Expression Web replaced by the new Blend? Pushed in
to a smaller corner for the remaining Front Page-like dev fans? Mums
the word for now.
- Office Apps for WinRT
Given how important Office is to
Windows (it's the 2nd major financial pillar at Microsoft), its absence,
even as a simple preview, is also noticeably missing at BUILD. I guess
the Win8 "cone of silence" extended fully to the Office team and they
haven't had a chance to build Office versions for Win8 yet. Office will
most definitely find its way to WinRT (Sinofsky is an Office alum, after
tall), but its absence this week only signals a longer road to RTM
ahead. Can you really ship Win8 without Metro Office apps?
- Plug-ins in Immersive IE
We know HTML5 is a first class
citizen in Win8, but how does Silverlight carryover to the new Metro
version of Internet Explorer? Early demos of immersive suggests it
doesn't. In fact, no plug-ins work in the immersive IE. Plug-ins do work in
the "classic" view IE9/10, but if you thought you could run a
Silverlight app in Metro-mode via the browser, think again. No Flash. No
- Older Versions of Windows
What older versions of Windows?
If you are at BUILD, apparently there are no older versions of Windows.
Everything related to WinRT and Metro are Windows 8 only. There will be
no backport of the new runtime for Windows 7. It makes sense, but does
that signal a future of multiple app implementations if you want to
support Windows 8 + Windows 7 (and older) + other platforms?
- Steve Ballmer
Quick: Your company is about to
introduce a "bold" new "reimagination" of the your flagship product. Who
do you send to introduce this product to the world? Of course you send
the directly responsible VP, but don't you also send your CEO to make an
appearance? Under any other circumstance perhaps Balmer's absence at
BUILD is a non-issue. But given the long running rumor of Sinofsky as
CEO-in-waiting, no Balmer makes this feel even more like the Sinofsky
Don't get me wrong. There were some great and
exciting announcements today. I covered some in my original keynote blog
post, and the press and thoroughly covered the rest. It's easy to look
at what was said and report it.
But it's just as important to step back and reflect on what we were not
"supposed" to think about in the face of the flashy demos and free
tablets. What do you think? Are all of these non issues? Are there other
important topics missing in the BUILD conversation so far?