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K. Brian Kelley - Databases, Infrastructure, and Security

IT Security, MySQL, Perl, SQL Server, and Windows technologies.

Interview with Craig Mundie on Channel 9

Channel 9 has posted a 25 minute interview with Craig Mundie, Chief Research and Strategy Officer for Microsoft. You can find the Channel 9 page here:

Microsoft Platform Vision in the Post Bill Era: Meet Craig Mundie

It was an interesting interview on several points, so I'll only summarize the things which made me stop and think for a moment.

Mr. Mundie talked about how Live was a change for Microsoft. When you think about MSN, you might be tempted to say, "They're just expanding on it to compete with Google and others." Yes and no. Microsoft had operated under a business model where folks would buy a perpetual license for a particular version of software. Now they are transitioning to include a platform with deployed services and applications. I think back to a few weeks ago when my pastor brought this up at a men's Bible study. He's in his 60s and I'm in my 30s and we both understood and accepted this change in how computing seems to be going. But what was surprising is the young men of the group, who have grown up around computers, had a hard time wrapping their heads around this idea that they wouldn't be given a CD to install new software but rather would connect and receive the software by connecting online. Those who got Half Life 2 via downloads are probably thinking, "Yeah, some are already doing that so why is this news." I guess it's just a reminder that it does represent a fundamental change in business.

He also commented on changes in the next 3-15 years (that's his range of focus within MS), and one of the ones he saw coming was our concepts on microprocessor architecture are likely to change. Yes, we'll still be able to pack more transistors into the same area, but where we are slowing down is with respect to clock rate (no pun intended). So how do you get more processing power? We get it by going to parallel architectures like we're seeing with dual core. This has an impact on the rank and file programmer because that means design challenges around parallel processing won't be relegated to high computing and large datacenter environments any longer. He also thinks we'll see more specialized architectures and more diversity in hardware. What this means for Microsoft is that Microsoft must develop new programming tools to help developers build highly concurrent applications the right way.

A question came up about length of release cycles and his comments were on how software engineering is not much like traditional engineering disciplines. This is very true. He gave as an example formal composition. Other engineering disciplines continue to build on the work of others and software engineering does to a limited extent. But we don't have very formal structures where we can modularize components, with structures that we continue to re-use. On the other hand, look at bridges and buildings and how certain "patterns" are repeated with just a change in materials. He feels we need to improve on software engineering as a discipline which is, of course, something that has been echoed in the industry for quites some time now.

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