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November 18, 2009

Windows 7 and the opportunity for Developers – PDC09

Developers! Developers! Developers! Greetings from the Microsoft PDC in LA – it’s Mark Relph from the Windows Ecosystem Team. I hope everyone is enjoying PDC this year either here in person or watching the stream at I wanted to give you a sense of what the Windows Ecosystem team is doing at PDC and the conversations we are having with our amazing developer community at the show. I just walked out of the Day 2 keynote that featured Steven Sinofsky, President of the Windows & Windows Live Division and it was fantastic! (for a couple of big reasons)

A Hallway Discussion about Building Windows 7

Steven’s keynote began as a “hallway discussion” about how we developed Windows 7. We learned a lot from the Windows 7 development process. Steven described the engagement we had with beta testers, partners and the developer community across various channels including the “Engineering 7” blog and the Windows Ecosystem Readiness Program. These programs helped us to make sure developers had the resources they needed to be ready for Windows 7. We also found that a disciplined release and disclosure cycle was invaluable. Everyone wants to get code sooner, but having API complete and feature complete code that is actionable is far more valuable. This extended to our disclosure by ensuring all information was accurate and actionable to ensure we provided the ecosystem with correct information.

One of the key highlights from Sinofsky’s keynote was the role of telemetry and research in developing Windows 7. Telemetry is the broad set of tools we use to assess the engineering “integrity” of the Windows platform and how Windows is performing in the real world. This real world data has been incredibly valuable for us in enhancing the product. Without customers opting in to participate and send us real time data- we would not be able to make some of the improvements we made. Beyond the telemetry is the qualitative view—the type of research we do to gain an in depth understanding of how people use their PCs and what problems people would like to be solved. As developers we often feel “we know” what customers want. These are some of the tools that help us to remove our observer biases and to walk in the shoes of real customers.

The Windows 7 Ecosystem – Great Hardware Powered By Great Software

Steven then shifted to a focus on Developing for Windows 7. Steven’s keynote highlighted how vibrant the ecosystem around Windows 7 is. Along with Mike Angiulo, they demonstrated the opportunity developers have to take advantage of the range of hardware devices that run Windows. The ecosystem around Windows is really amazing. Think about the install base – there are more than one billion users who use Windows.  Those users want great applications and there are 3 million programmers building applications around the world and 90 percent of those developers target Windows.   You could also look at our telemetry from the beta cycle which shows more than 800,000 unique applications (which includes multiple versions, 32/64 bit & languages) running on Windows 7 during the beta timeframe.  From packaged ISV software, shareware and custom applications the number of applications available for Windows 7 is measured in the hundreds of thousands. Only 3 weeks after the launch of Windows 7 we know that over 25,000 applications from our partners in the Microsoft Partner Program have a public statement of support for Windows. Even more partners are striving for a higher quality bar by earning the “Compatible with Windows 7” logo. Today, 1700 hardware and software companies have delivered over 9,000 logo’d products.  Many partners are also coming out with public statements of support. One way to measure that is the Windows 7 Compatibility Center which provides compatibility information and upgrade path for some of the most commonly used products on the market. We have had 2 million visitors to the site since its launch on October 20th. Today, there are over 25,000 products listed on the site with both 32-bit and 64-bit compatibility status and our database that is constantly growing. Finally if you take into account market impact, over the last several years, NPD data tells us that the top 4000 applications generated $4 billion in sales. This speaks volumes to the strength of the software ecosystem.   As I post this blog, it is clear that the Windows ecosystem is growing and thriving.

Speaking Of Hardware….

Steven spent a few minutes talking about what it takes to build a laptop. The decisions about processors, memory, inputs, video and the drivers the make the experience great. He talked about working with our friends at Acer to really experience what it takes to build a great PC. Speaking of hardware, there was one really big surprise…….

For all the full conference attendees of PDC09 we giving away a “PDC Special Edition” laptop!! It’s a cool machine and Brandon will be posting a full review on the machine to this blog very soon.

Finally, Steven talked about the future of IE. I won’t cover the details here, but my colleague Dean Hachamovitch will speak to the news over on the IE Blog.

Announcing the Winners of The Code7 Contest

Another way to look at the health of the ecosystem is individual innovation. Over the last few months we gave developers around the globe the opportunity to show the world their talents in the Code7 Developer Contest. Developers across multiple countries answered the call and we had finalists from around the world join us at PDC to show off their work for the final judging. I had the pleasure of hosting the final event during the pre-PDC Windows Developer Bootcamp. I’m pleased to announce the grand prize winner is Benjamin Bondi from the Middle East & Africa for his application called “Notes Everywhere” a WPF client that enables you to manage desktop notes everywhere by leveraging Windows 7 and Windows Azure. Benjamin will receive $17,777 and the accolades of his peers in the developer community!


The momentum of the ecosystem and excitement of developers has made PDC an amazing event to be a part of. Sinofsky’s movie theater analogy from the keynote is the best way to describe it. We’ve built a great theatre with awesome sound, a great projector, good snacks, and comfortable seats – but the theatre is only as good as the movie that brings it to life. The same can be said about Windows 7 – it is a great OS supported by amazing hardware & software. If you are a developers and want to bring your application to life on the big screen then think about building the modern Windows application by building on – the Ribbon User Interface, Jump Lists & Progress Bars, Libraries, Multi-touch, Ink, Speech, DirectX®, High Definition Audio/Video, sensors and a connection to the cloud. Check out a few of the resources available to you at the Windows Developer Center and watch for the Windows specific sessions from the PDC as they become available online at