Last week I popped on over to Redmond to have a chat with the guys at Microsoft on the future of
Visual C++, MFC, and the new .NET world. Instead of presenting a point list of what we can expect
in the future, I wanted to give you guys a taste of what a visit to Redmond is like, and I'm dead
keen on having feedback from you on your own personal experiences.
A quick Thanks goes to Dundas Software and Microsoft for making this trip possible.
Part 3 - The Microsoft Team
Microsoft rolled out a bevy of Managers to talk us through .NET and the future directions
of the company. Those we met with included:
- Product Unit Manager for VC++
- Group Program Manager for VC++
- Lead Program Manager for MFC/ATL
- Program Manager for VC compiler
- Group Product Manager for Visual C++ and C#
- Program Manager for VC/VB/C# and customer "delightment"
- Program Manager for Visual Studio
- Technical Evangelist (Tech champ) for .NET
- Kent Sharkey, SOAP Evangelist
- and Eric Gunnerson, Visual C++ QA and author of "A
programmers introduction to C#"
Some names have been withheld to
protect the innocent, but also mainly because the they
change jobs so quickly that the correspondence between titles and names is fairly fluid.
Actually, the teams at Microsoft are changing so rapidly that even people working closely
with some of these teams need to look up the latest listings to see who they should be talking
The thing that became very apparent while talking to these guys and girls was that they
know their stuff. To the core. Not only were they intimately familiar with what they were
working on, they knew what was going on in other projects. But not only that. Not only did
they know their stuff, they were passionate about it. These guys really enjoy and
believe in what they are doing. It's contagious. You come away from a meeting with these
guys thinking 'Yeah - this stuff is great!', and it takes an effort to refocus and regain
perspective on the whole initiative and look at it impartially.
The thing is, everything that has been done has been done in an effort to make life
easier for us. There
was a constant reiteration that the core purpose of their efforts is to make
life as enjoyable as possible for us developers at the coal face struggling to
get apps developed in an increasingly complex environment. Sure - making a
product as failsafe and simple to use is a good thing from a marketing point of
view but so what? I can think of worse alternatives.
The first, and most important thing we got out of the meeting was this: Visual C++/MFC is
alive and well. PDC 2000 was a launch of the new technologies surrounding .NET, and unfortunately
the message that was delivered was a little murky on the future of C++/MFC. The guys at the meeting
fully admit that in the post PDC analysis it became clear that while the message of .NET,
including C# and ASP+ etc was disseminated effectively, there was an oversight in regards to
telling the unwashed masses about the future of the old technologies - stuff like VC++ and ATL.
I'll talk more about specific technologies in upcoming instalments, but for now you can
rest assured that Microsoft have made a major investment in the future of Visual C++, ATL
Anyway, back to the gossip on the Microsoft team.
They are great guys. No, really. They are the sort of guys you would definitely want to
hang around after work and have a beer or 3 with - and I'm not just saying that because they
make way more money than me and I could guilt them into buying. And I'm also not saying this
because they bought us lunch.
The Microsoft cafe is something else. It must have a
dozen lines of different food: Mexican, Italian, Healthy Green Stuff, Tasty Fried Stuff,
plus whatever else an overactive stomach could want after a hard days Empire building.
Problem is (so I'm told - this would not be a problem for me) the diet starts to, well,
wear a little thin. They called the way they eat "The Microsoft Diet" and supposedly after
a year of facing the same choices each day, week in week out, it starts getting a little
tiresome. This was being patiently explained to me as I tore into a huge Calzone (with a
chocolate brownie surreptitiously stashed for later inspection), and Troy was scoffing
down Pizza, Extra Large. They were talking to the guy for whom 2 Minute Noodles are still
considered a hearty lunch.
Anyway, we wobbled back to the meeting room, temporarily replete, to continue the chat.
Eric Gunnerson gave us a rundown on C# and I even managed to score an autographed copy of
is book "A programmers introduction to C#". I'm such a groupie. Again, another cool guy
who loves the new language. He's the QA for Visual C++, but the author of a C# book, so
I threw him the question "What language would you prefer people to be writing in, C# or
VC++?" He thought that was amusing.
Later during the chat a couple of likely lads wandered in, and after doing the business
card handshake one of them (Craig) looked at me, looked at the card, then did the "Oh - you're
the...". You have no idea how cool it is to be recognised inside Microsoft. So anyway, they
are fully aware that we are here, and that we are dead keen to hear what they have to say.
And the great thing is that they are extremely keen to help us all as much as they possibly
can. They have seen what we have at CodeProject and think it pretty cool that we've all
come together in this way.
While in the meeting they bought up the "I've-gone-to-Redmond-got-any-questions??" page and
went through the questions with me. It was eerie seeing the site up on their huge 26" screen.
Mmmm - need to get me one of those babies...
And the answers to your questions were...
Your .NET questions answered - Visual C++.