Ok, I have to admit it, I'm posting this entry from a machine running Windows Vista.
And on top of that, I have to admit that Microsoft SQL Sever 2005 seems pretty cool. SQL server is not comparable to Oracle by far but it's certainly improved over the 2000 release. I've even fiddled around a bit with C# and OLDEDB providers in Vista. It's pretty sweet, using something like the Vista search API is peanuts, it's easy and clean, all the basics is there and easy accessible.
After using Vista for about a week (No, I did not download the torrent, I'm using a developer licensed copy from MSDN) I quite like most aspects of it, the new aero interface is quite fast, it's "cute" without getting annoying and slow. My favourite feature is the basic search functionality which works pretty much everywhere, you can sort of filter the result set in all views. If you type "Comm" in the Start-menu Windows filters the selection to the Command Prompt, so instead of classic browsing you can just type the first few letters of something and just hit enter, sort of like we have done in Unix for the last 15 years ;). Anyway, without a doubt, I feel more productive using Windows Vista than I have felt in a long time.
I've been quite distanced from the Redmond scene for a while, the "2003 kit" did nothing for me, but as a technologist I have to admit that there are one or two quite interesting things coming from the Redmond campus in the next six months (and I'm not talking about the Zune here.
Another thing that comes to mind here is that Microsoft is in a way shifting away from it's core customer base and trying to gain the interest of Unix shops and "the bigiron people".
Take a product like Exchange 2007, it's a pretty solid mail server (if you pair it with a couple of Postfix releays), but deploying a quite basic Exchange installation is getting pretty tricky, I have to admit I've only seen the beta2 release so far so the final version is probably better, compare that to the super simple and straight forward Exchange 5.4 deployment. Sure, you had a few gotchas in 5.5 and you always swore about all it's shortcomings, but the installation was done in 45 minutes or so. A company with say 100 employees and perhaps 3-4 servers can't just have "the IT guy" any more, not unless he is a pretty good and dedicated IT guy. Microsoft product deployments almost require consultants or at least a decent support channel. Things you previously associated more with larger and more back office deployments like an Oracle database, SAP or IFS.
They are adding all this great functionally, but are they abandoning the ease of use and simplicity of their server products?
Myself I don't mind the added complexity as long as the new features can help me get the most out of my deployment, something that Oracle has done an excellent job of. While it is a very complicated product, it is also the most powerful database on the market. Can we have it both ways? Probably not.
So what's cool?
- Vista in itself isn't that cool, but I think what people will do with it will be pretty cool. Both developers and end-users will benefit. I think we'll see the same thing we saw when the MacOS X revolution started. Innovation from all corners of the market.
- SQL Server 2005 - pretty cool. But not great, it'll kick some more Sybase butt and perhaps excite a few more developers to give up their Access MDB databases.
- .NET framework 3.0 - same as the two above. Managed code is here to stay, .NET, Java and python. Now when you can have managed code in unmanaged code (confusing yes) I think we'll see a more rapid adaptation.
Enough of this silliness, I need to sort myself out, cat some files, pipe some stuff.
Seriously, I'll stick to my motto, use whatever tools are best for the job and don't be afraid to try new products. Homogeneous environments and all that is nice, but when it all comes down to providing the service your clients require you have to look at all the options. Web 2.0 is all about providing a better service than the competition. If that's Microsoft or OpenSolaris, so be it.