Microsoft is seeking to grow substantially the group it defines as "developers" by making available to them new tools and interfaces that it is hoping to convince them to use in building their next-gen applications.
The traditional Microsoft Windows and Visual Studio developers are still squarely in Redmonds sights. But now, so too, are Office developers, MSN Virtual Earth developers, MSN Messenger developers, and professional graphics developers.
Can Microsoft build momentum around these other developer constituencies, without neglecting its tried but true developer audience? And from where will these additional developers emerge? Will we see Apple switchers, Adobe and Macromedia refugees and Google groupies suddenly get the .Net religion? Or will Microsoft find a way to attract, train and win over a whole new audience, namely, individuals who never considered themselves developers before?
Those questions will be top of mind for me as Chairman Bill Gates, Windows VP Jim Allchin and Office honcho Steven Sinofsky outline Microsofts future strategies at the sold-out Los Angeles confab.
The least common denominator on which Microsoft is counting to appeal to all of these groups is Windows Vista. Microsoft execs are expected this week to distribute a new post-Beta-1 Vista build (rumored to be 1592) to attendees.
Officials are set to show off more of the Vista user interface, possibly including the prodigal "Sidebar" task pane, according to sources. And execs are on tap to expound upon not only the existing Vista pillars, like the Windows Communication Foundation (a k a, Indigo) and Windows Presentation Foundation (Avalon), but also one new one, Windows Workflow Foundation, sources close to the company say.