As we head towards the PDC later this month, Microsoft today pre-announced some of the things you can expect to see there.

To meet the evolving needs of service-oriented applications, Microsoft is extending the capabilities of Windows Server, by adding a set of capabilities, “Dublin”, aimed at making it easier to deploy, manage and monitor WF/WCF applications. For developers creating WF-based solutions, this is great news, because it means you will get an enterprise-grade runtime environment to host your WCF/WF. Prior to this, the only WF host from Microsoft was MOSS, you would have had to write your own host, which is a non-trivial task. Now, Microsoft has solved all those hard problems for you. If you’re a BizTalk developer, then rest assured that you will get a host too that will run in this platform, and that all your investments are protected, BizTalk Server 2009 and the roadmap was announced recently, I blogged about it here.

I’m also excited about the enhancements to WF: workflows become declarative, and are XAML-based. You get a new flowchart workflow style. This is all building towards the future, and gets even more interesting with the Oslo modeling platform. I’ll have a lot more to say about that later, starting after PDC.

I’d also like to clarify something that may be, or could become, a source of confusion for you. There has been a subtle morphing recently of what the code name “Oslo” means. When there was just the vision, “Oslo” was used to refer to the entire spectrum of technologies that needed to be built to support the vision. Now that we are further along in the lifecycle, and bits are becoming real, those bits are naturally migrating towards what will ultimately be their ship vehicles.You can see some of that now, with the enhancements to WF/WCF that will be in .NET 4.0, and the process server capabilities that will be in the OS: these are things that used to be part of what “Oslo” was. So to be clear, when we say “Oslo” today, we are now referring ONLY to Microsoft’s modeling platform. I like this shift, and it makes a lot of sense, although I find myself saying “Oslo and related technologies” a lot now when I refer to the whole vision.

Some early bits will be made available to PDC attendees, with betas to follow some time in the future. You can get an overview here. Steve Martin, Senior Director of Product Management in Microsoft’s Connected Systems Division (CSD), wrote about it this morning here.

We’re in for an exciting ride folks, this is just the start….

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