Heroes Happen {here} in Montreal

Yesterday, I went to the Montreal edition of the Heroes Happen {here} launch event by Microsoft. This is the launch tour for Microsoft’s next-generation server platform Windows Server 2008, Microsoft SQL 2008 and Visual Studio 2008.

I always enjoy going to these launch events because you get to see the actual products and their features in real life and in fairly accurate representations of the real work environments. This one was no exception, but I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to see. The event was split into two different “tracks”, namely the IT Pro track and the Developer track. I usually attend only the IT Pro sessions because they are much closer to my every day occupations, but I decided to go to the last dev session because I wanted to get a good look at Silverlight. The word “Silverlight” was not even mentioned one single time during the final session I attended which was the Web Developer’s session!

The first session was an overview of the new features implemented in Windows Server 2008 and that will certainly be tomorrow’s article because there are quite a few things to cover. The most interesting one for me is the ServerCore feature which allows the installation of a server without any GUI at all. This allows to run a server on less powerful hardware and still benefit from the product’s features. They also covered the new features of SQL 2008 and VS 2008 briefly. This session was the best one because there was a lot of attention to the new features and how they can be implemented quickly and easily in many businesses.

The second session was a more technical look at the Server 2008 specific features and a few live demos so that we could see them in action. The only problem is that a few of these demos didn’t work as planned. Granted the problems were not necessarily because of the software but mostly because of the presenters, It’s not as convincing as when you get to really see it work. The ones I was most curious about worked for the most part, but I’d still have liked to see a bit more polished demos for a launch like this. I went to the Windows Vista and Office 2007 launch last year and, let me tell you there was a huge difference in the style of presentations and depth. You can’t blame them since it’s not for the same crowd… Yesterday’s presentation was for a much more technical and forgiving crowd when it comes to software and scripts not working the first time you try them.

For the final session, I was supposed to see the Hyper-V products, Microsoft’s virtualization environment for Server 2008, but I opted to go on the Developer’s side to see the web developer’s features in SQL2008 and Visual Studio 2008. That session was very interesting for me because I do not have a chance to use these tools as much as I would like, but I can see they have listened to what users have been asking for. The new CSS management tools and the javascript/AJAX capabilities alone are worth an upgrade, no questions asked.

Overall, it was a very good day and it was pretty much what I expected. Interesting presentations, free lunch and a day of learning and seeing lots of geeky stuff with a couple of friends… Can’t go wrong with that. Microsoft has some great products coming our way and I look forward to them.

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