Mar 312011

One of the great pleasures of my year so far was the recent trip I took last month to Microsoft for the yearly MVP Summit. Microsoft does an incredible job of fostering community among users and, somehow, gets us to support each other when many other companies tend to just not get it.

The MVP Summet was great as usual, with the usual “stuff” we can’t talk about, but I wanted to mention some overall feelings I got this year that won’t take me outside of my Non-Disclosure Agreement:

  • I feel a renewed sense of hope for C++. Microsoft is putting a lot of effort working towards standards and functionality. In the latest version of Visual Studio (VS 2010) we got some great C++ improvements, but if what I heard turns out to be true we can look forward to lots of new C++ functionality in the not too distant future. I feel more than ever that C++ is still a first class Windows application development platform.
  • This doesn’t minimize the excitement around the .NET languages (including C++/CLI) for the near future. There are tons of new improvements being discussed for the next release. I wish I could give more details, but I can tell you the talks were very exciting.
  • I feel a renewed sense of hope in Microsoft as a development platform provider. I am constantly hearing about how great the open source tools are and how Microsoft may be lagging behind, and how MFC is dead, and all kinds of other myths. There are so many uses for native Windows programming skills and I don’t see that paradigm changing dramatically. I felt, however, that the marriage of paradigms may becoming more of a day to day reality. For example, I’m seeing more and more where people are using C#/.NET for the front end GUI and C++/MFC/ATL/CLI for back end parts that need to either get closer to the OS or hardware, or maybe need specific speed improvements. This is true for many technologies, for example, writing games using direct screen access.

Today’s programmer needs lots of tools in their arsenal so they will know the right tool to use for the job at hand. My trip to Microsoft gave me a renewed hope that Microsoft knows this and is planning on continuing making our jobs easier as every new version is released.

I met many great people at the Summit.  Some were from Microsoft and others from over, I think they said 77 countries.  It was an overwhelming experience.  I can imagine that this is a win-win for Microsoft.  They get our attention for a few days and we take their message, what we’re allowed to talk about, out to the rest of the world.  It reminded me that technology is way more than just an industry.  It’s a culture.  Microsoft seems to know that and has done a nice job of incorporating that into their core beliefs.

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