Following the events of SXSW, the MIX06 conference was the next logical step. For the last days the Venetian in Las Vegas has been hosting this eagerly awaited event focusing on Microsoft web issues.

Bill Gates held the opening keynote, announcing the release of another Internet Explorer 7 beta, cleverly nicknamed seven. This one is the eagerly awaited feature-complete version. In other words, the browser is essentially finished in terms of CSS implementation so now it’s a good time to start testing your complex CSS designs and watch them explode. Gates was also chatting on stage with Tim O´Reilly about microformats.

The Venetian, Las Vegas The Venetian in Las Vegas.

Another good thing is that IE7 will be hitting the fan this autumn without waiting for the release of Vista, so it’s about time to try it out. Not even Dave Shea or Eric Meyer seems to hate it anymore. Download at your own peril.

There was also news about the continuing development of WPF/E (Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere), the portable subset of Windows Presentation Foundation (Avalon) based on XAML and JavaScript. WPF is on its way of becoming a Flash-killer even before it is released, and this subset just adds topping to the cake. WPF/E includes a portion of the .NET runtime, enabling it to execute C# and more on other platforms than Windows. It also seems to be really small, only about 2 MB.

With Avalon, XAML and Atlas at their side, Microsoft is soon ready to embark on some serious marketing crusade. IE7 will certainly have native support for WPF in Windows Vista.

Another interesting thing was Microsoft Expression Web Designer (earlier code named Sparkle), an upcoming Windows-only tool for web design based on WPF. This is fortunately not a new version of FrontPage, but a fresh new application with its own rendering engine that allows export to XAML. It is said to be reasonably strict on web standards, I guess we’ll see about that but I think Dreamweaver will face some serious competition. I never use the design mode of web tools, since I don’t trust them to produce 100% valid code (and they don’t). However, if Expression holds to its promises, this could be interesting for a lot of web developers.

For all Ajax lovers out there, the brand new March CTP version of Atlas gives users a license for the framework to be used in production applications.


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