"How to benefit from custom development on the Microsoft Platform" was the session title, and the speaker was Doug Seven, Director of Product Management for Visual Studio. In his talk, Doug made it very clear that the client was not going away any time soon as it is the primary platform in every enterprise. They do recognize the browser and the mobile device as target platforms and have tools to let developers target their applications for all three.
There were a few statements made in this session that should get developers' attention. First is that Microsoft is changing the way they approach developers. They see two separate groups as targets for their developer's tools: those that build consumer applications and those primarily involved in enterprise development. The motivations of these two groups are different and require different tools to help them do their job better.
For the enterprise developer they recognize the need for process and rigorous testing to support line-of-business applications. This has been addressed to a large part with Microsoft's Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) offerings. The next version of Visual Studio will have even more tools to help better manage "real-world" work scenarios such as when a new high priority task comes down causing one or more developers to stop working on the current project and deal with the new task.
This type of crisis management happens all the time and makes estimating and tracking of projects difficult. Visual Studio V.Next will have new tools to help with this scenario from both a management perspective in terms of scheduling and planning the actual work, and with a "pause and resume" feature for the developer to make it easier to pick back up where you left off once the crisis has been handled.
The biggest takeaway from this session was Microsoft's continuing commitment to client-based application development. This means you won't have to give up on your C# or Visual Basic skills any time soon. Windows 8 will still support these applications, and there will still be a need for developers to create them.