Remarks by Allison Watson, corporate vice president, Worldwide Partner Group, Microsoft; demos by Dave Karle, Jameel Khalfan, Erik Helgerson, Trandy Tower, Jonathan Fay, Microsoft
July 8, 2008
ALLISON WATSON: A fresh year, and clearly it’s not Saturday today, but it is time to get on with one of the most interesting segments we have this week.
Last year, we started a segment called the A-List, which was the most exciting pieces of innovation that I’ve found around Microsoft this year, coming from groups that are still developing their products that will release to market either soon or in the future.
So, at this point, I’d like to get along with A-List, which is my set of favorite things. Let’s go ahead and get started.
All right, we’ve got Dave Karle. Dave has information from the .NET group today.
DAVE KARLE: I do, I do. Well, welcome to Houston, everybody. What I have here for you is that we’re going to be talking about Windows Presentation Foundation. Now, Windows Presentation Foundation is part of the .NET Framework, and actually version 3.5 Service Pack 1 is currently in beta, and it’s going to have some great enhancements. What I’m going to show you today is some of the applications people have been writing on Windows Presentation Foundation so that you can take it back to your companies and get those developers working on some great rich applications.
Now, the first thing that I want to show, and what I have up here on the screen is I’ve got what’s called Family.show. Now, this application was created by one of our partners called Vertigo. What I’m going to show you on this application is how this application skims over the top of a very complex database, and allows you to interact with it.
So, typically when you think about interacting with a database, you think about a static Web page. Now, what I have here is a page I can zoom in and out of, move around, and you’ll actually see that this is a genealogy program that allows me to look at the British Royal Family.
So, here I’ve got Queen Elizabeth, and I can do things like click on here and get all of her information, including her picture, her entire life story, and I can go in and edit it.
I can also go down here and pick one of her sons. So, let’s see, we’ve got Prince Albert, we’ve got Prince Edward. Well, here’s an unusual one: Dave Montenbatten. I don’t believe we’ve ever heard of this guy. Hey, he looks just like me. I can actually go in here, click on Mr. Montenbatten, and edit him directly in the Windows Presentation Foundation interface.
So, you see how easily I can interact with a very complex database with this very rich UI. And let’s face it, folks, if you create rich UIs on the applications you have today, your users are going to love them, they’re going to recommend them, and you know what, your products are going to get more reach.
The second thing I want to show you here when we talk about WPF is this application. Now, this application was created by the British Library, and what they use is this is a viewer for very rare books. So, if you imagine some of these libraries around the world, they have books that are hundreds if not thousands of years old. This is Alice’s Adventures Under Ground. Now, I could just go ahead and open the cover, and work my way through the book, and this is actually Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript. So, you’re seeing it as the author wrote it in 1865. This book is 143 years old.
So, I can actually go in and share this really, really rich book, read it myself, share it with my family, and get other functionality like be able to click on this, read and get it in text, or even listen to it.
Now, the last thing I’m going to show you in Windows Presentation Foundation is this stock viewer. Now, we all have lots of charts, right? We see charts every day. And again they’re typically static charts. Now, this is obviously one where we’re looking at the stock price that started here at $31, ended up over here right around $39, and you could see how the stock actually performed on certain days. But if you think about stock, not only is there the price and what that price was on any one day, but it’s how many shares traded, the volume, and how much it changed on any one day.
Well, guess what, by using a viewer, I can actually put this into a 3D perspective in real time, go in and change the height from the change to the volume for each day, repaint it in real time, and if I wanted to see, for example, there was a really heavy volume on this day, I can even go in and get the details for that particular day.
So, in the end what I really want to get across to this crowd, Allison, is WPF helps developers and designers create highly usable, easy to understand interfaces, for very complex, real world problems. And you know what, with .NET 3.5 SP 1 beta already available on your MSDN link, we’re hoping that you get your teams up to speed on WPF and really skin those applications, those great applications you’ve been working on to create really rich user experiences.
ALLISON WATSON: So, tell me the difference, Dave, between Silverlight, which we’ve heard a lot about, and Windows Presentation Foundation. I think it’s a really important point and part of an important part of our software plus services strategy.
DAVE KARLE: Well, I think the way to really view Silverlight versus Windows Presentation Foundation is where you’re talking about consuming it. Silverlight is primarily a Web-based technology, whereas WPF literally does the same thing but with a richer set of tools and controls, and it’s really for skinning those applications that you have on the desktop.
ALLISON WATSON: All right. So, sounds like the call to action then is not only around Silverlight but Windows Presentation Foundation, which is just another three-letter acronym for this week, that we need to invest in and get the developers focused on, that will really differentiate the Microsoft software plus services strategy from the others out there in the marketplace. Thanks, Dave.
DAVE KARLE: Thank you very much. Enjoy Houston! (Applause.)
ALLISON WATSON: All right, Jameel Khalfan from the Online Windows and Services Group, what do we have here today?
JAMEEL KHALFAN: Well, Allison, we have the Replaceable PC. So, I’d like to show you your ThinkPad right here. It’s your personalized PC. It has your personalized background on it. We have BitLocker to protect your data. And we’re just going to pull up an Excel graph. We’ll make a graph over here. So, let’s say you’re doing some work. You decide, you know, you make a graph.
ALLISON WATSON: This is my forecast I think for Q1. These guys are all going to help me make it.
JAMEEL KHALFAN: Exactly, exactly. And they can make it by building these types of solutions. So, we’re just going to go ahead and we close the graph, we’re going to go and logoff. So, we’re going to logoff the PC right now, and it’s going to have all of our settings saved, and all of that. But I think the best part now is what I’m going to show you.
ALLISON WATSON: Okay, so what happened?
JAMEEL KHALFAN: I’m going to need a little bit of trust here.
ALLISON WATSON: All right.
JAMEEL KHALFAN: Okay.
ALLISON WATSON: I work in a high trust company.
JAMEEL KHALFAN: There we go. So, here’s your PC.
ALLISON WATSON: Oh my God!
JAMEEL KHALFAN: And there it goes.
ALLISON WATSON: You just threw away the PC in the trash can.
JAMEEL KHALFAN: I just threw away the PC.
ALLISON WATSON: Okay, so you said this is a high trust environment. How am I going to get through the week?
JAMEEL KHALFAN: Well, I’ll show you. It’s called the Replaceable PC for a reason. So, we have the replacement PC here.
ALLISON WATSON: This doesn’t look like my PC.
JAMEEL KHALFAN: Well, that’s because it’s a brand new PC from IT with nothing on it.
ALLISON WATSON: Gosh, this is going to take me till the end of the week to configure.
JAMEEL KHALFAN: Well, let me show you show to make it very easy.
So, all you have is the administrator account. Let’s go ahead and switch to you. So, we just simply switch the user and log in as you. So, just like that, it’s going to pull down dynamically all of your settings, your background, all of your applications are going to be streamed to you via Microsoft Application Virtualization.
ALLISON WATSON: It’s that fast? It happened that fast?
JAMEEL KHALFAN: It’s that fast. Your background is here, your documents are here on your desktop, and the applications get streamed down through application virtualization.
ALLISON WATSON: I see it’s launching Microsoft Excel over here in the corner.
So, now tell me what’s going on here, because this looks a little bit like magic, and I’ve told the folks here today that we’ve got to focus on Windows Vista deployment. So, there’s also going to be a lot of conversation about Hyper-V and Microsoft’s virtualization strategy this week. So, walk me through what just happened on the back-end of suddenly starting to get my desktop up and running again.
JAMEEL KHALFAN: Sure. So, what happened on the back-end is when you log in, we have profile virtualization that records all of your settings for your background and all of that, so that gets sent down. Your documents will also get sent down through folder redirection, so they get replicated on the desktop. And then lastly the applications are actually streamed down to via Microsoft Application Virtualization, formerly known as SoftGrid.
ALLISON WATSON: Oh, excellent. Great. Well, thank you very much, Jameel. I appreciate it. That’s a wonderful opportunity for all of us to participate with the Replaceable PC.
JAMEEL KHALFAN: Thank you.
ALLISON WATSON: Thank you very much. (Applause.)
All right, Erik Helgerson, what do you have for us from Windows Mobile?
ERIK HELGERSON: Well, Allison, mobile advertising is a hot new topic, and people nowadays are starting to wonder how is it going to be implemented, what’s the experience going to be like for the end user.
Well, Microsoft has been combining interactive gaming and location-based services and e-couponing in new and exciting ways. So, I’d like to show you some of what we’ve been working on in the labs, and this is a little bit out in the future, just want to keep that in mind, all right?
So, what I’ve got here is my Hotmail account. At the top you’ll see what looks like a familiar banner ad. But when I click on this banner ad, it takes me to a new mobile site promoting Paramount’s Iron Man. So, here at the site I can get some more information about the movie, I can watch a mobile trailer on my phone, I can get some more information about the release date, or I can even go so far as to find a theatre in the area that the movie is playing at.
Now, another scenario that we have here — let me back up here into my e-mail account — has to do with e-mail coming in. So, here I have an e-mail from Zune Social. So, if I go into this e-mail, here I’m being prompted to play a casual game to win. Now, I like winning things. So, I want to click on this and see what I can win here. So, it’s Doritos Fight for the Flavor game.
Now, casual gaming is wildly popular, and it’s ideally suited for mobile phones. We’ve been working on a concept that blends ads, gaming, instant win gaming, and location-based services into a single branded experience.
So, in this case we did it using Microsoft Silverlight Mobile. Because we used Microsoft Silverlight Mobile, the application is very lightweight and downloads to the phone very quickly over the air.
So, here it’s already loaded up, it’s already come down to my phone. So, I’ll simply click on it here, give it a better push, to start the game.
Now, what this is, is this is a takeoff of the old Asteroids game that I used to play a lot as a kid. There’s Clippy, too. I was wondering what happened — oh, I was never very good at this game when I was a kid. I have to shoot the little Doritos chips that fly around, and the game timed out there really quick.
Now, what it’s done is it’s brought me to a new screen. So, here I have a virtual scratch and win game. So, all I have to do is simply scratch off the top here, and I won a bag of Doritos chips.
ALLISON WATSON: Excellent.
ERIK HELGERSON: Now, you’ll notice what it did is it gave me a barcode. Now, I can save this barcode and take it with me to a store later, and it can be scanned in, just like a paper coupon, so I can redeem it for my bag of chips.
Now, we didn’t stop here. What we did was we actually combined this with Windows Live Search for Mobile. When I select to find a location near me here at the bottom, it brings up a map highlighting my location here at the Toyota Center, and it gives me a couple of stores that are participating in the promotion already located on the map.
So, if I simply click on one of the stores, number three there looks like it’s close, it brings up the name and the location and the address.
I can also go another step, and say, take me there. Then it gives me turn-by-turn directions, because it’s also using the GPS sensor that’s built into my phone. If my phone doesn’t have a GPS unit in it, it will also use the towers that are in the area that I’m using to try and triangulate my location.
ALLISON WATSON: It’s pretty amazing to think — I mean, get the imagination going about where we can take applications with Windows Mobile. This is incredible to reach out to the millions and billions of consumers out there. We’ve got two partners that are award winners today that we’re talking about the wine industry. I’d love to get coupons on everybody’s mobile phones to buy more wine around the world, and pump up our wine industry; just personally I think that would be great. I think it’s fantastic.
Now, when can partners — you know, Andy just talked to us about some great business applications. When can partners start to take advantage of the things that will help on the consumer side?
ERIK HELGERSON: Well, Silverlight Mobile will be released within about the next nine months, and it’s going to be released for multiple platforms. So, what that means is that creative teams can actually build an application only one time, and then deploy it across multiple mobile platforms.
ALLISON WATSON: So, my call to action for partners around here is really start the creative energies flowing, because you can get together with the ideas and the concepts so that when the technology is available, you’ll be able to take advantage of it right away.
ERIK HELGERSON: You bet.
ALLISON WATSON: Now, I think you have something else to show me.
ERIK HELGERSON: You bet. Well, I just showed you some great new mobile advertising scenarios. Now I’d like to take a quick look at some great Windows Mobile 6.1 phones.
So, I’m going to zoom in here on a Blackjack II from AT&T. Now, this is running the new Windows Mobile 6.1 update that we announced in April. I just want to take a quick minute here to show you the new interface that we have on the phone.
Now, you notice the sliding panel interface here. I can move up and down through the interface, and it gives me all the information I need at my fingertips, at a glance. So, with a glance I can see the time and date, I can see that I’ve missed a call, I can check on any voicemails, messages, text messages, and e-mails that might be waiting for me. I also have a view of my upcoming appointments right there available to me. So, at a glance I can see what I need to take action on, and I can simply move down and scroll through these things as I need to get to them. So, I have Messenger, I have access to my music, access to my photos, my settings, all right from the home screen.
ALLISON WATSON: It all looks simple and sort of one-click enabled, one-hand enabled.
ERIK HELGERSON: You bet. Yeah, the nice thing is I can do this all with one hand. I don’t have to use two hands to control my phone.
Now, I’d really quickly like to show you a new phone that’s coming out right now. This is the HTC Touch Diamond. Let’s see if I can get this to zoom out a little bit.
Now, this is also a very small, elegant phone. It has a different user interface that they’ve built on it. But also what it does is it makes it very easy to use one-handed. So, with a simple swipe of my finger, I can move through experiences, I can flip through my speed dials, my photo speed dials, I can grab and just move along, and check out the weather somewhere like in Hong Kong here. Great animation, a really great phone, and we have these phones, as well as a lot of other Windows Mobile 6.1 phones available at the Microsoft Mobile booth back at the show floor, and I encourage everybody to stop by and check out what Windows Mobile 6.1 can do for your business.
ALLISON WATSON: Great, thanks very much, Erik.
ERIK HELGERSON: Thank you, Allison. (Applause.)
ALLISON WATSON: Okay, we’ve got Tandy Trower here with us —
TANDY TROWER: Hi, Allison.
ALLISON WATSON: From kind of a special place, Microsoft Robotics.
TANDY TROWER: Microsoft Robotics. Well, you know, Allison, after watching you in that video, I could tell you’re a very busy person. It’s hard to be in multiple places at the same time. So, I’ve been working on something. In fact, I packaged it up for you. I’ve been working on something to help you be in more places in one time. So, let me just give you a quick demo here.
ALLISON WATSON: It’s a present on WPC; that’s never happened before.
TANDY TROWER: So, let me introduce to you here the A-Bot. You’ll notice it has a somewhat familiar face to it, and maybe even a familiar voice.
ALLISON-BOT: Partners, partners, partners. (Laughter.)
TANDY TROWER: Or —
ALLISON-BOT: I love you, partners!
TANDY TROWER: Or perhaps you want something a little more subtle.
ALLISON-BOT: Microsoft is the innovation leader.
TANDY TROWER: So, this kind of technology is really indicative of the advances that we see in hardware coming right now in the robotics space.
This robot is from Yujin Company, a Korean vendor, who has packed it with a Pentium-based processor. It has a set of speakers, microphones, camera, touch screen, everything that you would find in a typical laptop or even a desktop computer.
Now, in addition to that, it not only has those kinds of capabilities, but because it has Wi-Fi, it can connect up to the Internet, and have all those capabilities of connecting into services that may be up in the cloud as well.
Now, to help people develop applications for this emerging technology, we’ve created a development toolkit specifically for that. It’s called Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio, and it consists of three elements of software. It’s a very powerful runtime system that provides an asynchronous services-based platform. It also has a number of tools that are specialized for this purpose, and also a number of tutorials and samples to help people get started.
So, to give you a demonstration of that, I’m going to pilot our Allison-bot over here, and we’ll just show you how you and everyone else here can develop applications like this for this robot or many of the other robots that are out there.
So, I’ll just park her over here for a moment, and we’ll walk over here to my demo station here. What I have up on the screen right now is our Visual Programming Language. Now, Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio actually works with any of the languages that are provided in Visual Studio, so they can use the standard .NET platform, but we wanted to make it even easier for people to get started with developing applications.
What you see here is something that looks very similar to the interface that you would find in Visual Studio. What we have over on the left-hand side of the screen is a series of services that have been configured specifically for programming robots. When you drag them out, as I have already here, is I’ve dragged out two services, one which will provide the notifications that come out of a standard Xbox controller, wired Xbox controller, and also I have a differential drive sitting over here.
Now, a differential drive is just a service that allows you to take the motors that are on most of these robots, and control them very simply. What I’ve done is I’ve linked them together with a link that provides a message communication between them.
Now, Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio, even if you don’t have a robot yet, as the A-Bot there, allows you to get started because we have a number of simulated robots to get you started. I’ve configured this particular application to let us run that.
So, what this is going to do is configure our simulation environment with a sample robot. Here we see it right here on the screen. I’ll zoom it up so we see it a little larger. What we see in this screen — I’ll pick up this controller, just like it was controlling the A-Bot a minute ago, and we see that I can control this robot here on the screen.
This happens to be a mobile robot P3DX. This robot, if you were to try to go out and buy it, in this particular configuration, would cost you about $20,000. Not everybody has that kind of money. But with Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio, people can have the experience of programming this kind of robot without having to make that purchase.
The great thing about it, too, is that the software that you write for this robot in simulation actually can be applied to the actual robot.
Now, this virtual world that we’ve created for this robot is actually not just this beautiful virtual world, but I can actually interact with the objects in it, because we have simulated physics.
So, when I start to interact with objects in here, you’ll see that the simulated physics starts to take over, and we can see the activity of things going on in this world.
Now, this was a very simple programming sample that I showed you here. Now, some of the folks in the audience here might be ready for something more advanced, and so let me give you a sample, go back to my slides now for a moment, and show you a sample of RoboChamp.
Oh, I’m sorry, before I get to that, let me talk about the fact that this allows you to program with a wide variety of robots, everything from simple educational robots up to industrial types of applications. In addition, if you were impressed with the A-Bot that I showed you a minute ago, I want to show you an even more advanced robot that’s coming out.
This is a robot that’s come out from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. It is a research-based robot. This robot has the ability to not only balance on two wheels like a Segway, but as you see in the video here, it can even throw a ball; or maybe if you need to, even throw an egg.
You know, a lot of people expect that robots would be able to gather beverages for them, but the other side of that is you’d probably want the robot to clean up after you. Here you can see this robot even has that kind of capability to it.
So, this kind of hardware advances is where things are going in the future, this kind of capability.
So, we can move onto the next slide here, which I will show you now the RoboChamp simulation that I was talking about.
In RoboChamp people can compete in a number of series of different simulations. There’s a simulation for a simple maze that’s just rounding up right now. There’s an urban challenge, so you can drive a vehicle through a cityscape. There’s even a Mars rover simulation.
And the best part of this simulation competition is if you don’t have a robot, and you compete in this simulation, which is the same one I showed you a minute ago, you can actually win actual robots with this simulation.
Now, the last thing I should probably talk about here, if people want to get more information about RoboChamps or about Microsoft Robotics Studio, it could be that people in this audience say, well, robots are not really relevant to their business right now, but actually there’s a secret I want to tell you and them that I think they will find very interesting. The runtime platform, this advanced runtime platform that’s inside Microsoft Robotics Studio is actually an advanced programming platform that Microsoft is preparing for many other uses. In fact, many customers already like MySpace are using this to run their entire Web site. In addition to that, we have the folks at Tyco that are building security systems using this runtime component.
So, I invite everyone here to take a look at this runtime platform, and see what’s inside, lift the hood up, even if they’re not into robotics yet, and they possibly find something they can use as well.
ALLISON WATSON: All right, that’s pretty amazing, the magic of software changing the world again and again. Thanks, Tandy, very much.
TANDY TROWER: Thank you. (Applause.)
ALLISON WATSON: All right, Jonathan Fay, the last stop on the A-List this morning, tell me about Worldwide Telescope as a member of our Microsoft Research team.
JONATHAN FAY: Well, Worldwide Telescope is a rich 3D application built using Microsoft Visual Studio and the .NET Framework using the software plus services model. Basically an 18 megabyte download gives you the whole universe at your desktop.
As we start moving around and panning and zooming here, Worldwide Telescope is going to over the net to user Web Services to get all this data from terabytes of data and from billions of objects in SQL databases, and lets us explore the universe here.
We also have the ability to come in here and discover more information about what’s nearby. For instance, here as we zoom in, we see different object that are in the area nearby. We also, with a right-click, can bring up what we call the Finder Scope, and it gives us more information about what we’re looking at. Here is the Andromeda galaxy, and the Andromeda galaxy, we can find out more information by just clicking on research, and we can look up professional publications or even a Wikipedia article on it. So, this is like a great tool for kids to explore or even professional researchers to use.
You know, in 2009, we’re going to be celebrating the international year of astronomy. Four hundred year ago, Galileo pointed his telescope up at the sky, and saw something really incredible looking at Jupiter. Now we can look at Jupiter in a way that he could never have conceived.
In fact, as we look here, we can see a couple of dots that look like stars, but by moving time forward, we can start realizing that these are not stars, but they’re actually other worlds orbiting around Jupiter. Just imagine Galileo seeing those moons moving from night to night and how it completely changed the way that people viewed the universe.
Well, Worldwide Telescope, unlike Galileo’s scope, is not limited to seeing in the visible light. We actually can look at other bands of light, all the way from microwave to look at the cosmic background radiation, which is the afterglow of the Big Bang, or we can look at faint dust clouds in our galaxy, or we can look at distant infrared light from glowing stars, or the highest energy events in the universe, supernova, seen in x-ray.
For instance, here in the constellation Taurus we’ll zoom in here, and you can see this huge x-ray signature. So, what is this? Well, by cross-fading into the visible, we can see what’s called the Crab Nebula. This is the result of a supernova explosion a thousand years ago. By clicking on this Hubble image and cross-fading in again, we can see the amazing detail that the Hubble space telescope captured. This is like over 500 megabytes of data, but you can instantly go anywhere in this image without any delay.
But beautiful images alone without some sort of context isn’t enough for education, so we’ve created and collected a bunch of tours from some of the world’s leading astronomers to really explain what people are seeing in the sky, and they can take you on a tour of the night sky, and really let you understand what’s going on.
You know, if you find something that is really interesting in the Worldwide Telescope, you don’t just have to keep it to yourself. You can use the built-in authoring tools to create tours of your own with rich multimedia, and share them with your friends. It’s easier than PowerPoint even.
In fact, I’ve got one from a pretty precocious young man that I’d like to play for you right now.
JONATHAN FAY: You can just imagine how this is going to stir kids’ imaginations to go and explore the universe; in fact, kids of all ages.
Have you ever like any astronomical objects that you’ve been interested in?
ALLISON WATSON: Yeah. You know, my favorite object in the whole sky is the North Star, and that’s because for me and for Microsoft, partners are the North Star. So, I’d love if we could go see the North Star.
JONATHAN FAY: Well, you know, we have some actually interesting imagery that we’ve collected about the North Star that I think will shed some light on this subject.
ALLISON WATSON: Ah! Very nice.
All right, Jonathan, you’ve covered a lot. You started this whole thing by saying it’s part of the Microsoft software plus services platform, and this is just a fairly amazing thing to try to take all in. Tell me again why it’s software plus services, and why it’s important for these guys to think about it.
JONATHAN FAY: Well, Worldwide Telescope shows you how you can create an application that gives you rich access to the 3D capabilities of the machine to all of the local resources, as well as making use of lots of information that’s stored over the network. Because of that, you can also take Worldwide Telescope, unplug it from the network, and everything you’ve already seen you can take with you to the top of a mountain and observe the sky and have the guide with you there.
But the most amazing thing about this is that this isn’t just a research project; this is available right now for everyone to download at www.worldwidetelescope.org, and I hope everyone here will get a chance to explore the universe with their family with this tool.
ALLISON WATSON: All right, thanks very much, Jonathan.
JONATHAN FAY: Thank you very much. (Applause.)
ALLISON WATSON: I hope you all got a chance to enjoy the A-List with me. There are hundreds of projects going on in Microsoft through Microsoft Research and through the labs in each of our product groups that have committed to changing the world with software, and I’ll continue, based on your feedback, to bring the best of the best to you every year.
Thank you for a wonderful opening this morning to our annual WPC conference. We will be starting the next set of keynotes which are in the George Brown Convention Center, precisely at 11:15. We have keynotes specifically set up so that you can pick the two focus areas that are most important for you to grow your business.
Please, tomorrow morning, Wednesday and Thursday will be just as exciting as our first two mornings, you want to be seated by 8:20 or 8:25, that would be great.
Thanks and have a wonderful day. (Applause.)