REDMOND, Wash. – Oct. 27, 2010 – At Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference (PDC), the company lays out a roadmap for Microsoft technologies and explains why developers should bet on it.
This year, the company will leverage those same technologies to extend its PDC pitch to every corner of the globe via a virtual experience at microsoftpdc.com.
Microsoft’s online PDC player uses technologies including Silverlight, Windows Azure, and Town Hall to deliver every minute of this year’s conference and provide virtual attendees a forum to interact with each other and the presenters.
PDC10 kicks off Thursday, October 28, on Microsoft’s Redmond campus. Previously, the Developer & Platform Evangelism (DPE) event was held at much larger venues such as the Los Angeles Convention Center, but this year the company decided to bring PDC to its own backyard.
While the conference will be smaller and more intimate, Microsoft is using its technologies to bring PDC to developers worldwide.
Created by the same team that delivered the 2010 Winter Olympics and 2009 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball March Madness Tournament to online viewers worldwide, Microsoft’s online player for PDC10 will offer the most robust online event experience in the company’s and the technology industry’s history, said Jamin Spitzer, Microsoft’s director of Platform Strategy.
“We are very determined to push the boundary and the expectation for what an online event ought to look like,” Spitzer said.
Microsoft is doing so to reach an expanding global community of developers, he said. There are now more developers than ever who have an increasingly diverse set of needs; some are looking for new monetization models, while others want to get to market faster and more affordably.
Microsoft’s new online player uses technologies including Silverlight, Windows Azure, and Town Hall to deliver every minute of this year’s conference. In addition to live-streaming the keynotes from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Server and Tools President Bob Muglia, the PDC online player will simultaneously live-stream all session content. The player will offer virtual attendees a forum to interact in real-time with each other and with PDC10 session presenters in Redmond. And, for the first time ever, the keynote will be translated live in Chinese, French, Japanese, Spanish and closed-caption English, with other session content offered on-demand in multiples languages within 24 hours.
With the player, Microsoft is introducing a new way of bringing a live, in-person event to a much broader audience, said Eric Schmidt, Microsoft’s senior director of Developer Platform Evangelism. “The goal is to narrow the gap between audience and speaker,” he said.
In addition to the live event and the online player, Microsoft is reaching a global audience of developers this year by organizing some 200 local PDC watch events worldwide.
Schmidt heads up the team that has helped stream a number of major events recently, including the 2010 U.S. Open Golf Championship, the 2010 Wimbledon Championship, and NBC’s Sunday Night Football. The team’s objective has been to reach large online audiences with immersive and interactive experiences. Along the way, they developed new ways of delivering multi-camera video and built new interactive models inside what has traditionally been just a video player. The team also built out frameworks so that customers and partners can create similar experiences leveraging Microsoft’s platform technologies in a turnkey manner.
With the PDC10 virtual player, Microsoft is doing things it couldn’t have done just a few years ago, said Schmidt. All session content will be available live and on-demand in HD quality, and viewers will have the ability to pause and rewind the video at any point. They also can toggle back and forth between different camera feeds, allowing a viewer to cut between a presenter and the presentation material.
The PDC player has a number of built-in interactive features. Real-time polling will enable speakers to query both the online and in-person audience for live feedback. Live Q&A will help the audience interact with the presenters while they’re delivering a session. And an inline Twitter feed will extend the conversation beyond the online player and into the Twitter domain.
“Microsoft has a long history of being successful by helping developers be successful,” Spitzer said. “By providing developers with the visibility of the platform and key investments that we’re making, developers are positioned to take advantage of our offerings right away way.”
Microsoft also is reaching a global audience by organizing some 200 local events worldwide, said Arthur Yasinski, senior director of Platform Evangelism. PDC has always served as something of a coming-out party for the next generation of its platform, Yasinski said, and when DPE started to plan a smaller, more intimate event in Redmond in tandem with the online experience, it recognized that a more global and more social connection was also necessary.
So the company reached out to DPE evangelists in the field to mobilize support. To date, more than 200 local regional events are planned. Every continent but Antarctica will have an event, and Yasinski said the list of cities is literally A-Z.
“The way we’re approaching this combination of the live event, these regional events, and the online experience is exciting because we’re exploring this up a formula for how we might do broad-reaching events in the future,” Yasinski said. “The fact that you can take the in-person experience that has traditionally been limited and open it up to so many people has the potential to change how people think about events.”