Besides what I described before, I also attended sessions on WCF 4.5 and Visual Studio debugging. Changes in WCF 4.5 are relatively minor, the biggest one being support for server-side web sockets. There is also support for UDP multicast, fixed streaming issues with IIS, etc.
The session on Visual Studio debugging did not bring much new. There was an active discussion of the IntelliTrace technology that records program state live and can then replay it in a debugger. I saw a demo of the same about 2 years ago. Unfortunately, it requires Visual Studio Ultimate edition, which is somewhat difficult to persuade employers to buy.
Conference wrap-up was the most interesting session of the day. It was a free-form Q&A session between the audience and the speakers and revolved around the following themes:
What to do with gigantic investment that was made in Windows XP, especially in light of Windows XP support ending soon. The speakers claimed it ends in a few months, Wikipedia says the cut-off date is April 8, 2014, which is almost 2 years away, but will, nevertheless, also come. As far as .NET 4.5 and Visual Studio 11 are concerned, XP is pretty much dead as a development platform. It can linger on as a user desktop platforms for some time more, but when extended support ends everyone will be forced to upgrade, or face increasingly insecure setup, as there will be no more security patches for XP.
What is the best strategy for developing new applications in light of imminent Windows 8 release. Should one use WPF, Silverlight, or maybe something else? What provides the best upgrade track? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. Metro is ideologically closer to Silverlight than WPF. From the other hand, WPF 4.5 will work on Windows 7, and will contain the same .NET 4.5 technology as Metro. There are no current plans to release a Silverlight version with the same framework features as .NET 4.5. In particular, no planned version of Silverlight will support
Whether the dual nature of the operating system (desktop world vs. Metro world) will persist, or one of the sides will take over. It is hard to predict the future, but it seems reasonable to assume that desktop apps will not disappear overnight, and Windows will have support for both technologies for at least 5 more years or maybe more. In particular, there appear to be no plans to convert Office to Metro. There is, however, a possibility that we will see more and more desktop apps with Metro-inspired UIs.