After two days of new product announcements, Microsoft took a different tact on the third day of its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) 2008, carting out members of the company research division to show off truly futurist technologies. Microsoft Research lead Rick Rashid showed off advances like the Microsoft Surface software development kit (SDK), a new version of the Microsoft Worldwide Telescope, and new hardware sensors that will help regulate and reduce energy consumption in datacenters. But the hit of the keynote was Boku, a Microsoft Research project aimed at getting kids excited about programming.

"Advances in software hold the key to progress in multiple fields," Rashid told the PDC audience. "The modern world generates massive data sets: online search, astronomical phenomena, the climate, particle physics, and the human genome, to name a few areas. With software, we can capture, analyze, and make sense of this data to help combat global warming, develop life-saving vaccines, and enrich our kids' education."

Other advances shown off during the keynote include the Microsoft Concurrency & Coordination Runtime (CCR) and Decentralized Software Services (DSS) Toolkit 2008, which enables developers to create loosely coupled concurrent and distributed applications; the DryadLINQ parallel application programming environment; the SecondLight rear-projection technology for the Surface table; or the RoboChamps student technology competition.

In related news, Microsoft also showed off its Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4.0 developer tools, and provided a sneak peek at Windows Server 2008 R2, the next version of its server OS. The company also introduced a set of extensions to Windows Server, codenamed "Dublin," that will ship after the .NET 4.0 release.