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The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

When iPhone + Silverlight?

Onstage during his keynote at MIX08 yesterday, Scott Guthrie said they’ll be bringing Silverlight to “everything with an SDK”.  Yesterday, I suggested this was a dig at the iPhone with its lack of an SDK. 

Of course, that was yesterday and today we expected an announcement from Apple on the new SDK.  I also surmised that the SDK wouldn’t be deep enough for Silverlight, but reports are that I was wrong.

So, my guess is that Scott was hinting at Silverlight for the iPhone.


So, Scott, when we’ll we see it?

And Ray Ozzie, please get the Office Team onto .NET, specifically the Office Mobile Team onto Silverlight.

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Ozzie @ MIX08

This is the first of three posts on the MIX08 keynotes.  This is like live blogging without the live, since I’m writing this in Oakland.image  You can follow my comments at

Ray Ozzie

Ray Ozzie opened the MIX08 conference keynotes talking about the overall Microsoft strategy.  He said all the right things about the transition to the cloud.   Talked about three principles (social device mesh, business, fabric of small pieces).  No surprises here. 

In the context of the world of connected systems, he said (paraphrased) . . .

Magic of software to bring them all together into . . .a mesh

I love the expression “the magic of software”.  Of course, we developers are not magicians, but when things are done right there is a real feeling of magic.  This is especially true when disparate systems begin working together through elegant and open standards.

He spent most of his time talking about 5 scenarios . . . here are some thoughts.

1. Connected devices

His vision of bringing your different devices together reminds me of the Blackberry Enterprise Server, but for consumer devices.

2. Connected entertainment

License media / collections (playlists) / subscriptions  once, use any device for playback.  This is kind of a holy grail, I think.  If this is managed through a SilverLight runtime we may have a hope that it is across devices.

3. Connected productivity

Office PC, Office Mobile, Office Live — seamlessly allow users to work across devices, using the right tool at the right time.  No info on licensing costs, or on the details of Office Mobile.  If the Mobile story requires Windows Mobile, then this isn’t so compelling.

4. Connected Business

Exchange in cloud.  Other services too.  Good.  Very good. 

5. Connected Development

Of course, .NET + Silverlight, Expression, . . . Good stuff.

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To Office 2007

Tuesday, I had lunch with J. LeRoy. 

He probably doesn’t remember it this way, but he convinced me to make the switch to Office 2007.  It went something like this:

Jim (All paraphrased):

  • I have finally given up on Outlook.
  • I’m sick of waiting for five minutes for it to start.
  • It never closes when you click on the ‘x’.
  • Business Contacts Manager constantly asked me to reinstall its database.
  • Which database is that?  I remember installing a database.

and the one that convinced me:

  • It does some really cool things with tasks (and follow-up).

That was it.  I had to install it.

Having the tools to manage my to-do list efficiently is kind of my Holy Grail. I have tried various tools and not been happy with any of them.  So I have fallen back to using tasks in Outlook which are synchronized with my Treo.

This works okay, but Outlook 2003 treats tasks as some kind of afterthought.

Outlook 2007 is a much better job with providing a usable UX integrating tasks (and the calendar) across many different views.

And for me, it doesn’t take very long to start.  It also closes when I click on the ‘x’.   I suspect that Jim is having add-in trouble.  Something (probably Business Contacts Manager) is keeping Outlook alive when it shouldn’t.

Now, I’m using the entire Office Ultimate suite.  More on that as I actually start to use it.

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Vista / Office Launch

Some thoughts I had during the keynote at the SF launch today:

Much different than the last big launch event: VS2005/SQL Server/Biz Talk.  No Cheap Trick, but the CEO of Sierra Nevada Brewery spoke.  That was cool: their Pale Ale is a real winner.

Things I like about Vista:

  1. User Account Control (UAC).
  2. I like the new UI and search capabilities.
  3. Microsoft Application Compatibility Manager.
  4. Reliability Manager

I am excited about this upgrade, but I’m still waiting for the final VS2005SP1 for Vista patch and the Netgear VPN driver upgrade.

About Office

Office looks cool and certainly offers the enterprise real benefits, but I’m just not personally excited about the upgrade.  The main reason, compatibility: I just don’t want to be bothered with making sure my files are compatible with co-workers, partners, family members, etc.

I left the launch a bit early — too much actual work to do.

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.NET 3.0 Ships

Office 2007 RTM’ed this morning so I’ve been looking throughout the day for news on .NET 3.0.

And, yes, it came out too.  Here.   

I got what I wanted: the release of .NET 3.0 has been decoupled from Vista.  Of course, Vista is in escrow and will RTM within a few weeks so it isn’t that decoupled.

Anyway, congratulations to the teams for getting this done!  

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Time is on our side

Steve Gillmor posts provocatively about attention, standards, timing, and Office, in Time is on our side.

I posted before that the work that the AttentionTrust is doing is very interesting with powerful connotations.

One valuable, pragmatic, insightful (and inciteful) thing they’ve done is to put together a way to track attention without standards bodies. Sure, those can come along, but nothing revolutionary happens through standards bodies. First you show it is interesting by doing real work (e.g., the AttentionTrust Extension, ATX; or ROOT Markets). Then let the interested (and threatened) get involved. Even in this case, the first format for attention data will soon be superceded by OPML.

I do want to point out, though, that I wasn’t slamming Steve for saying office is dead, exactly. It was I who brought up Office at the TechCrunch party. I was trying to poke fun at Steve about Office “already being dead”. This came from our earlier argument at the Berkeley Geek Dinner. He has been arguing this and Robert Scoble refutes it. I think what it comes down to is that Steve is saying that Office is dead (see Office Dead) meaning that the writing is on the wall for Office. I don’t think he isn’t saying people won’t upgrade to Office 12 (though he probably doubts that the numbers are significant); however, I see plenty of sales and opportunities for Office for both Microsoft and ISVs regardless of the Office Live strategy. In the mid+ enterprise.

Anyway, I think that Steve’s post supports that he views time differently then many. For example:

. . .when someone tells you how long something is going to take to make a difference, divide by 10. 10 years, 1 year. 5 years, 6 months. A year, a month and a half.

Most of us think in opposite terms: we tend to under-estimate how long something will take to make an impact. And I think the difference is, again, that Steve is talking about the implication of the “something” versus the practical, mass adoption of that “something” (or irrelevance of the alternative). I’ll leave that to him to refute, agree, or ignore.

And, I wish I hadn’t brought up Office, because we were having a much more interesting discussion about attention . . .

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Dave Winer’s Geek Dinner for Scoble

Last night, Dan and I went to the geek dinner Dave Winer hosted for Robert Scoble. While I’ve been to many parties and dinners full of geeks, this was my first “geek dinner.”

There was an interesting mix of people: entrepreneurs from Web 2.0 startups, various software developers, many bloggers, and other assorted geeks.

The highlight of the evening for me was the discussion that started just before the restaurant closed. We adjourned to the parking lot to continue until it became too cold and too late (although, apparently Robert and Steve Gillmor kept it going for another hour and a half, see Geek dinner Gillmortastic). It was a little challenging to get Steve Gillmor’s entire point, although I guess Robert finally got it after we all left.

The conversation was, I think, a typical one: why Microsoft doesn’t get Web 2.0 (i.e., how Google will beat Microsoft). Steve Gillmor has some pretty strong views about the mind share that Google has regarding applications. Yet he believes that Office will lose (or has lost) the battle. It appears that he wants to see AJAX-enabled interfaces to everything. All browser-based, all thin-client.

I think the major point of disagreement between Gillmor and many others in the crowd had to do with the utility of browser-based software models. For example:

  • Gillmor wants to do all of his RSS reading on the Web. I don’t. I prefer a model with the advantages of a smart client (rich UI and disconnected operation) that also allows me a surely Web-based interface. Newsgator is a perfect example of this. Both Robert and I use NewsGator in Outlook and from the Web. I also use it from my WM5 device. Even better, they are all synchronized.
  • Gillmor wants to write all his articles in e-mail. He said something to the effect of “e-mail will supplant the use of Word in the next six months”. This comment nearly resulted in a wager. I believe he is talking about a very small group of technologically-savvy early-adopters.

If Gillmor prefers Web-only, then more power to him. And he is right, there are many like him who feel the same way. But there are also a huge number of people (and these are not just corporate users) that prefer the installed-software model.

Google has enjoyed a great deal of popularity as an answer to Microsoft’s dominance. They have a stockpile of goodwill and trust from people simply because they are not Microsoft. This is not permanent. The bigger they get, the more profitable they are (if that’s possible), the more people they piss off with their own kind of over-reaching, the more this is going to wane.

And Microsoft is not standing still. Certainly, they’re concerned about Google (and I hope more concerned about supporting different models of user interaction than just Google). Next year is going to be a big year for Microsoft. I am not ready to count them out of this “Web 2.0” market.

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Ode to cool names

After my last post on some of the cool Microsoft technologies at PDC05, I started thinking about acronyms and product names, and product positioning. Specifically, I started to miss some of the old Microsoft code names.

Indigo is now WCF.
Avalon is now WPF.
Longhorn is now Vista.

It feels so generic, so corporate, and so stodgy. While never having talked to anyone in Microsoft branding / naming, it seems like this is intentional. Microsoft is making a terrific push into the breadth of the enterprise. No longer is Office the solution to every problem and C++/VB the only tool. Microsoft is serious about serving this market beyond the OS/Office and, I think, the products names reflect this.

Of course, Microsoft doesn’t have an easy job on their hands – I don’t mean to imply that they do.

But, I miss the old names. At the very least, I wish Longhorn had kept its name. Or had taken the name of Indigo. Now that is a cool name.

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