So Microsoft have announced that there will, after all, be a Platform Developers Conference this year. It will however, be an austerity PDC, chopped down to two days, held on Microsoft’s campus rather than in a big conference city, and with a much narrower focus. This is billed to be a Cloud Conference. And I think I know what Mr Steve “Developers, Developers, Developers” Balmer is going to be announcing.
Think about what Microsoft have revealed over the last couple of weeks:
- WebMatrix, a new streamlined IDE aimed at enthusiasts wanting to produce web applications. And skipping hand-in-hand with WebMatrix comes Razor, a new syntax for creating web views.
- SQL Server Compact Edition 4, a new version of the embeddable, in-process edition of SQL Server that has been enabled to run inside ASP.Net
- IIS Express, a version of IIS 7.5 with full support for the new IIS Integrated pipeline, SSL, etc. but capable of running in a locked down environment with no admin privileges.
Then there are the rumours about KittyHawk, a tool aimed a tech-savvy business users wanting to produce Silverlight applications without any coding.
Add all this up, and what do you get? Hundreds of enthusiasts with shiny new web applications, eager to share them with the world – but not wanting to go through the pain of ftp-ing their creation to a web host.
Hence my prediction: At PDC 2010 Microsoft will announce free hosting for enthusiast-scale web applications within Windows Azure. And they’ll throw in tools to publish web applications from WebMatrix and Visual Studio Express to Azure at the click of a button.
Take a look at the top two feature requests on mygreatwindowsazureidea.com (the official feature request list for Windows Azure): Make it less expensive to run my very small service on Windows Azure and Continue Azure offering free for Developers. Microsoft seem pretty serious about addressing issues on such lists just recently.
Google have a head-start in this arena: they’ve been offering this kind of free hosting in their AppEngine for years. But with their Visual Studio tooling, I think Microsoft could clean up.