I was very much looking forward to this session as it involves my main area of expertise. Ryan Donovan was presenting and he pretty much gave a presentation which reminded me very much of the one I do for our customers. With that being said he did provide some cool insights into the future for the product as well as some clarification on stuff I'd missed previously. Lets face it Commerce Server 2007 isn't the hottest development platform yet, it certainly doesn't compare well to stuff like SQL Server 2005, .NET Framework 3.0, so I was left attending a pretty intimate session which was actually very nice. Compared to the pre-conference the day before the conference center was packed full so attending a session with around 50 people was actually very nice and provided for an environment where people were engaged in the talk.
Now we can expect to see a service pack to Commerce Server 2007 in early 2007, you figure out how that correlates to the 2007 version number of the product :) It will focus on providing support for Windows Vista for the business tools, it will contain hot fixes, and quite interesting possibly some new features, although we couldn't get him to divulge any more information on that.
I learned a little something about the StarterSite. It would seem that Microsoft is backing it as a production ready site which should be used as a basis for further development. I guess I have to do some reviews of the code to decide for myself, needless to say that I'm wary based on my experiences with the retail and retail2002 sites of the previous versions. Also quite unexpectedly I learned that the final version of the StarterSite actually includes unit tests. Very cool.
Wishlists is a feature which is new to Commerce Server 2007, but I didn't know what the actual feature behind it was called. Well now I know: Named Baskets.
We all know that the predictor feature was removed from the product. Interestingly enough SQL Server 2005 BI contains a similar feature and what happened is that the feature was moved to the SQL Server team where it was evolved into what we have today in SQL Server. A great little tidbit.
Probably the most exciting piece of information for me personally is that Microsoft will be releasing a whitepaper on how to integrate Commerce Server with Office Sharepoint Server. What I've come to realize is that Commerce Server is only half the story. In order to provide customers with the complete experience a CMS is needed to edit and present the "soft" data should a layouts, images, and so forth. This is what we'll have a whitepaper on in early 2007.
I was very glad to hear the answer to Ute question, "what about pipelines?". To that he simply replied that this will be the last version which includes pipelines as they are working on a new architecture for this part of the product.
Microsoft does not have any plans to release a web based business for say Sharepoint.
Another very interesting piece of information is that they are doing work on enabling Commerce Server as a platform in much smaller scale scenarios which is great for Denmark where not too many large scale opportunities exist. It'll probably revolve around some licensing magic to get that done but that's just me speculating at this point. No further information on it was given.
Some interesting tidbits of information but I wish that Ryan would have gone a bit more into detail with his presentation. Also more real world examples would have been very nice. Unfortunately he was plagued with technical difficulties during the presentation which didn't help at all, although he was very good at handling it. It was hilarious when his demo PC actually rebooted automatically because Windows Update had downloaded updates and was installing them automatically :)