Day #3 Summary from Build 2011

There wasn’t really a lot of new news today–it was mostly a day for catching up with what had been unleashed the prior 2 days and drilling deeper.
Today I found someone to talk to about Microsoft’s event messaging bus technology and also spent some time skimming a hands-on developer lab on the topic. Microsoft calls this Azure Service Bus, but it’s also sometimes referred to as AppFabric. This technology enables 2 apps/services to have a 3rd party mediate messages between them–or what’s called loosely coupled interaction. That 3rd party specializes in messaging, which improves the resiliency, and also removes issues caused by timing dependencies. UW-IT has been working with the ActiveMQ stack, which is what Amazon uses to drive their marketplace. But the idea of moving this kind of functionality to the cloud is intriguing for a variety of reasons. From what I can tell, this MS technology appears sound. It supports any authentication provider that Azure will support, all communication over the wire is encrypted via https, the technology supports both queues and topics (filtered views of a queue), and in addition to the .Net framework support, it has a RESTful API which means it’s a cross-platform player. And this cross-platform support is a big deal for this technology. So technically this looks viable. Whether it makes more sense than an on-prem solution remains to be seen.

Windows To Go was one of the few things that was new today–nothing on it had been presented previously. With Windows 8, Windows now supports booting from a USB drive. This is a pretty significant development, but it’s the details that make it significant. A Windows To Go USB drive can be used on any x64 hardware and roam between them. Windows will do hardware detection and drive installation the first time it boots any particular computer, but after that initial boot, all subsequent boots are speedy and without interruption. The USB drive is used for all the usual Windows boot drive stuff including the paging file, and for this reason Microsoft has some strong recommendations about the specs. Bitlocker is supported by this new feature, but it sounded like there were some restrictions.

In the short term, Microsoft sees this enabling a variety of scenarios:

  • Managed workstation builds from work running on home/personal hardware
  • “Roaming” workers that use drop-in spaces. Or re-imagined in the University setting, students that use drop-in labs

But in the longer-term, with USB3 performance, this may replace traditional hard drives. For example, you can imagine how much easier it’d be to upgrade a user’s operating system by just handing them a new USB flash drive.
If you do remove the USB drive while Windows is running, the OS is immediately suspended. If you replace the drive within 60 seconds, the OS resumes where it suspended without any loss. But after 60 seconds, the OS shuts down. And depending on what was happening at the time of removal, there is the possibility of corruption on the drive.
Microsoft was unwilling or unable to discuss the licensing implications of this development today–but with our campus agreement that’s not really a big deal.
Oh … and yes, you can use this with virtuals, but only if your virtual technology supports boot from USB. HyperV now does. Virtual PC and most others don’t. Which reminds me. HyperV now runs on the Windows 8 desktop–I don’t think I’ve mentioned that before. Oops.

On the developer side of the house, there’s been a lot of confusion around the new architecture for the various languages on Windows 8. There seems to be some clarity emerging, which this post does a good job of explaining:
As a follow-up on the dynamic ACL functionality, today I verified that AD doesn’t support the new “additional conditions”. I talked with a Principal Program Manager Lead in the Microsoft Identity & Access team and learned that Microsoft has no plans for Windows 8 to extend the dynamic ACL features beyond the file server. I explained the Education sector’s needs here, and he seemed to get that we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, so hopefully something will come of that.?

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