Tickets for Microsoft's Developer Conference sold out in just over 24 hours. The event is again being held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco but is earlier in the year - its dates being April 2nd-4th.
Microsoft is expected to provide details of its "Update 1" release for Windows 8.1 at BUILD but, as screenshots of its interface are already circulating, confirming that there little if any change to the interface, this isn't going to be big news.
If the update does keep to its schedule then the delayed Surface mini, that was held back due to the need for the sotware changes, might be the hardware star of the event.
The event is also expected to unveil Windows Phone 8.1, featuring a notification center and a Sir-like personal assistant, Cortana, and perhaps Nokia's first Windows 8.1 phone handsets could be another hardware highlight.
On the software front Windows 9 seems likely to dominate the event according to a rumor that stared to circulate just before tickets went on sale. Currently codenamed Threshold it holds out the hope for a new direction for Windows, perhaps even bringing back the Start menu, or at least a windowed mode start screen and WinRT apps that work on the desktop - the very thing that I Programmer has been advocating since before the launch of Windows 8.
The big question is who will be on stage at Build. With Steve Ballmer gone, will developers get to see the new CEO and if so will he or she manage to convince them to stick with Windows.
Although it might seem inconceivable that Windows could fail the sentiment voiced earlier this week by Paul Thurrott, that
Windows 8 is tanking harder than Microsoft is comfortable discussing in public
Thurrot's claim that Windows 8 is the next Vista in some way paints too comfortable a picture. Microsoft made a reasonable recovery from Vista with Windows 7. However, a much bleaker picture of the damage done to Microsoft developers by the lack of continuity in the Microsoft platform is voiced by former Windows Manager David Sobeski in a post "Trust, Users and The Developer Division" which was posted on Facebook, as well as on his personal blog, Sobe.
Although Sobeski parted company with Microsoft in 2006 he seems to be entirely up to date about the way in which the Windows Phone team lost the trust of developers by allowing Windows Phone 8 to rubbish all the investment made in Windows Phone 7. He concludes a fascinating and detailed account of changes made by Microsot that meant that "Being a developer for a Microsoft platform was insane" by stating:
At the end of the day, developers walked away from Microsoft not because they missed a platform paradigm shift. They left because they lost all trust. You wanted to go somewhere to have your code investments work and continue to work.
Despite responses to Sobeski suggesting that what Microsoft needs is more open source or more web-based facilities like GitHub, this is probably not what is required. Most of the disgruntled developers don't want anything new. As Sobeski concludes correctly, what they want is that their investments continue to work. It isn't that new things aren't nice, but Microsoft doesn't have to dump what has gone before to make the new things. The retreat from .NET isn't strategic, it's vindictive, and in this case one Microsoft product group wrecking the work of another is also wrecking the work of Windows developers.
What are the chances that the new CEO will understand that the failure of Windows 8 isn't because of what it adds but what it takes away?