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MIX 2011: What to Expect

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Tuesday’s agenda is no surprise. Dean Hachamovitch (corporate vice president of Internet Explorer) and Scott Guthrie (corporate vice president of .NET Developer Platform) are going to be talking about all things web. Expected topics include Internet Explorer, HTML5, Windows Azure and “other Microsoft Web platform technologies”.

One such technology that Microsoft is sure to be promoting is the Microsoft Media Platform (MMP). This appears to be a rebranding of their Silverlight and IIS Media Services. The breakout session mentions that it includes “encoding tools, digital rights management components, transcoding services, player development frameworks, analytics tools, content management systems and other tools and frameworks”.

There are several breakout session on JavaScript including one that focuses on ECMAScript 5. Published in December of 2009, this standard hasn’t been getting a lot of attention from developers or the press. Web browsers have been quietly implementing it with many browsers at or near full compliance with ECMAScript 5. Anders Janmyr has a good overview of the new features including the ability to support non-extensible and immutable objects.

MIX is the traditionally the time when Silverlight betas are announced and this year is no exception. Microsoft has already confirmed that the first public beta Silverlight 5 will be made available during the conference. This will most likely occur immediately after Wednesday’s keynote with Scott Guthrie and Joe Belfiore (corporate vice president of Windows Phone Program Management).

On the Windows Phone side there are eleven TBA sessions in addition to the 17 named sessions tagged Windows Phone. Either there was a serious error in the scheduling or there is a huge array of new features/platforms that they want to talk about in depth. There is even a rumor that they may be announcing a C++ SDK for Windows Phone 7. Please note this is not substantiated in any way and the upcoming announcement could just as easily be about any other facet of mobile computing.

Surface 2 is coming out of the shadows on Tuesday during an afternoon session. This is a huge advance over the original Surface with many of the major flaws corrected. Instead of a massive cube, Surface 2 looks like an actual table with tabletop thickness of only four inches. The display area is larger and offers a “full HD display”. What this really means is yet to be seen, but since 1080p HD is still inferior to the resolution offered by most desktop monitors and even many laptops this may be a problem. Many of the developers and designers for the original Surface complained that its 1024 by 768 resolution made implementing their applications difficult or impossible. That may not seem unreasonable until you consider the use case of four people using the table to share photos. Each would be limited to an area roughly 512 by 384 .

A session on Web Forms will cover features expected in the next version including “Routing, Model Binding, optimizing CSS and JavaScript, [and] advanced control templating techniques”. Many of these features are lifted directly from ASP.NET MVC. It will be interesting to see if the new model binding works with expression trees like Razor, uses a WPF/Silverlight binding scheme, or is just a rehash of the limited binding already used in Web Forms.

Can’t attend MIX in-person? Watch the keynotes live from Las Vegas, April 12 & 13 at 9am PDT (4pm GMT), via

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