Robert Westerlund

A developer's blog on code, technology and tools in the Web, .NET and other development areas.


TechEd 2009 Keynote - Problem Steps Recorder and BootManager support for booting from VHD

At the TechEd 2009 keynote today, Bill Veghte, VP for the Windows Business, announced that Windows 7 will be released before holidays (Christmas) this year (subscribers will probably get it before that). The same goes for Windows Server 2008 R2, which means that we will see both these systems making great Christmas presents for geeks everywhere.

When Mark Russinovich took over, he presented two things I found very interesting regarding Windows 7; the Problem Steps Recorder and the possibility to boot directly from VHD.

The Problem Steps Recorder will make life easier for geeks everywhere when users (be it customers or friends or family) can record when errors happen instead of having a less-than-computer-savvy (not always the case, of course, but at least most often) person try to explain the steps to reproduce the error.

Giving the BootManager support for booting directly from a VHD really seems like a great thing. I often suggest doing all development within virtual machines since this will isolate environments and keep new projects from messing with the environment of old projects. Being able to boot directly from the different VHDs would mean that the performance loss of running the development environment as a guest OS in Virtual PC or VMWare which in turn is running on a host OS would be gone. The isolated development environment should also be able to benefit from all the real hardware of the computer, instead of relying on the virtualised hardware. There are of course drawbacks to this (e.g. installing drivers to specific hardware makes the VHD more damaged by a move between computers), but I think that eliminating the need to run two OSes (running HyperV or ESX or <insert own favourite here> could of course also be a viable solution, but it would take a whole lot more setting up and managing, I would guess) makes it all worth it.

When it came to the server side, Iain McDonald mentioned (among a lot of other things, of course) a small but still nice feature of Windows Server 2008 R2, the File Classification Infrastructure. Also a nice addition to this is the addition of OCR-technology into Windows Server 2008 R2 which allows it to search even in text within images.

No state machine in WF4

I attended a TechEd pre-conference session today, in which one of the presenters, Zoiner Tejada, said something that surprised me. There will be no state machine workflows in Workflow Foundation in .NET 4.0.

However, we need not despair in its absence. WF in .NET 4.0 contains a hybrid workflow, which lies somewhere between the still existing Sequential Workflow and the late State Machine; the Flowchart.

I had planned on writing a short introduction to the Flowchart, but I found a nice introductory article to the Flowchart workflow and realised that linking to that article might be a better idea since it spares me the job. :)

As a side note, Mr Tejada also hinted that Microsoft might release an out of band release which would contain the State Machine workflow for .NET 4.0, but he was very specific that as of yet, nothing is certain in that regard.