WPF/E to Star at Microsofts Mix 07 Show

WPF/E, Microsoft's solution for delivering rich, cross-platform, interactive experiences, will be one of the star attractions at Microsoft's upcoming Mix conference.

REDMOND, Wash.—Microsofts upcoming Mix 07 conference is expected to be a coming-out party for the companys WPF/E technology.

In an interview with eWEEK here recently, S. "Soma" Somasegar, corporate vice president of Microsofts Developer Division, shared bits of the companys overall plans for the technology code-named WPF/E—which some refer to as Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere.

WPF/E is Microsofts solution for delivering rich, cross-platform, interactive experiences including animation, graphics, audio and video for the Web and beyond, the company said. The technology is a subset of Microsofts WPF, or Windows Presentation Foundation.

"We talked about WPF/E for the first time at the last Mix conference," Somasegar said. "And we shipped the first CTP [Community Technology Preview] of it back in December. We shipped another CTP in February. And at Mix this year well talk about WPF/E a lot."

Indeed, Microsoft may do more than talk about WPF/E at this years Mix conference: The company may deliver bits to attendees to test.

"We actually are hoping that we will have some bits that we can show, demo, and maybe even put out a CTP there or give people to play around with," Somasegar said, speaking of the Mix 07 conference, which runs April 30 to May 2 in Las Vegas.

"There are three scenarios we want to think about" regarding WPF/E, he said. "One is content, delivering media content. The second one is interactive applications. And the third is rich Internet applications. We want to talk about the road map for how we think WPF/E is going to evolve from one scenario to the second scenario to the third scenario."

As for Microsofts broad strategy regarding WPF/E, "Think about it this way," Somasegar said. "There is a growing shift among a class of developers who say, I want to build a client application that has the following attributes: I need to be able to deploy friction-free. I need to be able to get to a broad reach soon. I want to have functionality that is good enough—it may not have all the functionality that I need, but its good enough."

Different people call it different things, he said. "You can call it a Web client or Web application or rich Internet application—you can call it whatever," Somasegar said.

Yet, "there is part of the world that is moving toward that," he said. "And we want WPF/E to be a platform or run-time that enables those scenarios."

Somasegar reiterated that WPF/E is going to be cross-platform and cross-browser, and is going to be lightweight and enable friction-free deployment.

"The current set of Expression tools is built to target WPF, and were working hard on a version to target WPF/E," said Eric Zocher, general manager of Microsofts Expression line of tools.

Zocher said Microsoft Expression Studio—made up of Expression Blend, Expression Design, Expression Web and Expression Media—will be available in the second quarter of this year.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead here eWEEKs interview with Forest Key, the man behind Microsofts Expression.

Using a subset of XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language), WPF/E will enable the creation of content and applications that run within multiple browsers and operating systems, including Windows and Macintosh, using Web standards for programmability, Microsoft said. Consistent with Web architecture, the XAML markup is programmable using JavaScript and works well with Microsofts ASP.Net AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), the company said.

Microsoft officials said WPF/E will be broadly available for customers in the first half of 2007 and will require a lightweight browser plug-in made freely available by Microsoft.

At the recent AJAX World event in New York, Brad Abrams, group program manager for ASP.Net AJAX, demonstrated WPF/E running on the Mac. He also demonstrated Microsofts AJAX library working on a PHP server on Ubuntu Linux.

In a blog post, Abrams explained more about his series of demonstrations at the New York event. He gave "an early peek at how we are making it easy for AJAX developers to use their existing skills to incrementally take advantage of WPF/E. … In this demo, I show how easy it is to manipulate the WPF/E DOM [Document Object Model] from JavaScript running on the page," he said.

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