Microsoft MIX07

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p. More pix of the house bandThe band has packed up it’s instruments, the XBox’s are all gone and the hundreds of purple lighting trusses have all be torn down. Before I move on to the next event, let’s take a look back over the shoulder at what was MIX07.

p. One thing you can say, Microsoft *knows* how to throw a party. MIX07 was billed as a 72 hour conversation. To make good on that promise, there was a liberal sprinkling of panel discussions on the program. Even though the majority of the program was dedicated to their new technology, Silverlight, they did find time to inject PHP in a couple of places.

p. Electronic AvenueThe first thing and honestly, the coolest non-technical thing about the conference was the band that played before the keynote sessions. On a stage 15 feet above the main stage, three guys played an eclectic mix of tunes. It’s really hard to describe them as they were different form just about any band I’ve ever heard. I guess the closest thing to compare them to is Gypsy music. However, even that doesn’t do them justice. You just had to be there and hear them.

p. The opening keynote was all about Silverlight, Microsoft’s new technology that, while nobody woudl officially say this, is being positioned as a Flash killer. Whether is will reach that level of adoption or not is still up in the air but Microsoft pulled out all the stops showing off partners like MLB, Nissan, The BBC and NetFlix using the new technology. Some of the applications they showed off, like NetFlix “share the experience” player in which two people can simultaneously watch the same movie and chat live over the net, were incredible. Others, like Nissan’s answer to the people skipping commercials were a bit disturbing in their reach. All of them however, served to showcase the centerpiece technology of the conference, Silverlight.

p. Elvis is NO Guitar Hero! Moving into the sessions, while PHP was represented, you had to dig a bit to find it. I found and attended 3 PHP oriented sessions during the three day event. The first one was a Panel Discussion on Open Source that included Andi Gutmans. (Disclaimer: Andi is one of the founders of Zend, Zend pays the bills here at DevZone.) This discussion was very interesting but for all the wrong reasons. Microsoft ended up getting a bit of a black-eye. The main bone of contention is that they claim Silverlight is cross-browser and cross-platform. While this claim is technically true, they did manage to only support Windows and OSX, leaving Linux desktops out totally.

p. OpenID panel with Marc CantorTypical of any open source discussion involving Microsoft, there were plenty of calls for them to stop vendor lock-ins and make IE more standards based. There were also a couple questions about open sourcing Silverlight but honestly, I don’t think anyone was too serious about them.

p. The next good session I attended was on OpenID and was hosted by Marc Cantor. I would never EVER want to be on a panel with Marc but I’ll have to admit he’s fun to watch. He and his fellow panelist had a very “adult’s only” look at the current state of OpenID. No real conclusions were reached but it was a fun free-for-all for the audience to watch.

p. Joe and SayjoyTuesday, Joe Stager did a presentation on using PHP. As with all of Joe’s sessions, it was good fun to watch and you are guaranteed to come away with something new.

p. Tuesday evening brought the party at PURE, a nightclub in Ceaser’s Palace. Microsoft’s marketing machine was in high gear preparing for this party and Silverlight was everywhere. From the lights shown on the walls to temporary tattoos on the wait staff, you couldn’t look anywhere without picking up an impression.

p. Wednesday brought the “Why Can’t ASP and PHP Just Get Along” panel discussion. Wez Furlong represented the PHP community on this panel and did a great job of fielding questions. ASP and PHP PanelAt one point there was a rather strange discussion on why the PHP community can’t make certain technologies (i.e. a better SOAP implementation) a priority. Try as he might, Wez couldn’t get the person asking the question to understand that PHP is a community driven effort. He explained at least three times that PHP developers work on the pieces that are important to them, unlike ASP where Microsoft pays for, owns, and drives the road map.

p. All-in-all it was a great conference. Typical of many high-dollar conferences, there were a lot of amenities. The food was good and plentiful, the halls were sprinkled with XBox “Entertainment Stations” and the Elvis Imitators were kept to a minimum.

p. SNACKS!The swag, typical of Microsoft, was excellent, if you like Microsoft products. In addition to a cool T-Shirt, we were given a copy of Windows Vista “Ultimate” and a commemorative copy of Microsoft Expression Studio. This gives them a very high SQId (My custom Swag Quality Index) score.

p. Really, the only downside to the whole thing was that the only power available for recharging your laptops was down in the “Sandbox”. Even there, 2,000+ people had to share 4 power strips.Because of this there were a lot of people camping out in hallways next to outlets.

p. Andi and the Open Source Panel cut up before session.With that, I bid Las Vegas adieu. I plant my battered Fedora firmly on my head, adjust the straps on my backpack and climb the first 737 heading out to the next event.

About Cal Evans

Many moons ago, at the tender age of 14, Cal touched his first computer. (We're using the term "computer" loosely here, it was a TRS-80 Model 1) Since then his life has never been the same. He graduated from TRS-80s to Commodores and eventually to IBM PCs.   For the past 10 years, Cal has worked with PHP and MySQL on Linux OSX, and when necessary, Windows. He has built on a variety of projects ranging in size from simple web pages to multi-million dollar web applications. When not banging his head on his monitor, attempting a blood sacrifice to get a particular piece of code working, he enjoys building and managing development teams using his widely imitated but never patented management style of "management by wandering around". Cal is happily married to wife 1.33, the lovely and talented Kathy. Together they have 2 kids who were both bright enough not to pursue a career in IT. Cal blogs at http://blog.calevans.com and is the founder and host of Nomad PHP