The surprise of the day came to me while listening to Ray Ozzie's keynote - the main thing Microsoft was announcing today is not Windows 7, Visual Studio 10, or even .Net 4. The "new big thing" from MS is "Windows Azure" - a new cloud web services platform (find a definition here).
Welcome to Google and Amazon land, Microsoft.
To differentiate themselves from the competitors offering (see Cloud vs. Cloud), MS is offering full .Net support for the new platform, including VStudio integration, SQL Services layer and other ways to tie you in. They promise a "reasonable price model" to be announce later (probably at 09).
We immediately got to register and play with the new platform (registering and trying it is open to the public, but expect some delays - I've already seen it crash several times, due to traffic). It's nice, but nothing I haven't seen before.
One of the demos they show is called Bluhoo - a mobile app utilizing bluetooth on mobile device to locate friends next to you and present them as likable creatures on the screen - now, how many of those have we seen in recent years, and how many survived? Don't people get the privacy ramifications of leaving my bluetooth open and discoverable at this day and age?
In contrast, the demo of the application built for the Ethiopian Education Ministry, utilizing geo-location seamlessly, made a lot of sense.
I've attended several "Cloud" sessions today. For some reason, they tended to be more demo than theory - which turned them into boring VStudio screencasts. Again, this was a bit of a letdown.
The exhibitions expo this year is much smaller than Tech-Ed standards (did anyone say "recession"?) and was less fun to attend.
My chief hope is that Day 2's keynote will start addressing the new platforms (at this stage, it looks like it will - Microsoft just started releasing Windows 7 videos on their site).
In the meantime, I found the ideal way to blog about a conference: I use twitter to post from my Blackberry (using TwittwrBerry) as things happen. I then go over my twitter stream later, collect my thoughts into a coherent article, and post to the blog. If you look at the lower left side of the screen, you can see my twitter posts. Follow me on twitter to get them in real time.