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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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SSE to FeedSync; Spec released

Many of us our still waiting to see the positive impact from Ray Ozzie in his role at Microsoft.  Word is that is still coming, but last year we did get something: Microsoft’s Simple Sharing Extensions (SSE).  I wrote about it back then.  Well, SSE has been renamed FeedSync and a spec has been released.  Also, the Microsoft Synchronization framework supports it.

Cool extensions to RSS/Atom, though I wish they hadn’t chosen the “FeedSync” name.  That sounds like a product, not a specification.  I preferred SSE, and would have thought RSS-SE (RSS Sync Extensions) or to be more agnostic, FSE (Feed synchronization extensions) to be even better.

Jon Udell has more details here and links to Channel 9 videos, etc. 

So, who is going to support it?  For blogging applications, I’d like to see . . .

  • FeedBurner (Google)  support the history and tombstone feature right away.  Also, the ability to aggregate feeds with full synchronization would also be cool.
  • How about WordPress?   Support FeedSync directly?

Presumably Microsoft will be using this too in some new Live services.  Other applications?

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Might Softricity enable a real Office Live?

Many people would like to see an online Office product. Bill Gates says that what people really want are online documents. That is, if Office is available everywhere (with a full-desktop license or through some other interface) then the users need to get to their documents from any machine.

Setting aside this storage requirement (and the services to support it) for a moment, making Office available everywhere requires one of two things:

  1. An Office Live strategy that actually includes Office products — meaning re-writing or newly written Office applications for the Web (which is apparently what Bill Gates doesn’t think people want); or
  2. Easy deployment of the existing Office desktop products anywhere.

Isn’t that what Softricity’s SoftGrid product does? From their site:

All applications are instantly available anywhere in the world – from a user’s desktop or a browser . . . whether the machine is the user’s own computer or a device shared by many users; or whether the user is on a high-speed or dialup connection — or even completely disconnected.

In addition, they claim that they can rapidly pull just the part of the application needed by the user (again, from their site):

. . . the Softricity client rapidly responds and “pulls” only the code necessary to start the program from a central Server — typically 20-40% of the total code. This happens without any degradation in functionality or response time; applications launch within seconds, based on application size and connection speed.

So, Office 2007 + Softricity = Office Live?

Is this the real reason Microsoft is buying Softricity? Is this the Office Live strategy? Mr. Ozzie, is this your online strategy? Robert, do I have it right?

Yesterday I wondered about the overlap between Softricity and FlexGo. So, alternatively, Office 2007 + FlexGo = Office Live.

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Ray Ozzie’s Web Clipboard

Similar to his post on SSE, Ray Ozzie’s post on Wiring the Web has generated a lot of chatter.

I see this as really two things:

  1. Solving a major usability problem in Web applications: unbearably limited copy and paste. While we take this for granted in our client applications, we have all gotten by without it in Web applications for way too long. In and of itself this is a big deal.
  2. Then, what I think is the actual big deal: a Web demonstration of something else that most of us have probably ignored outright: the L in OLE (i.e., linking). Sure, this works in our client applications (though I think many of us abandoned its use a long time back), but working between applications anywhere on the Internet? Very powerful. And yes, RSS will already allow us to subscribe and fetch data into our aggregator. But coupling microformats with RSS and a simple link-pasting mechanism gives us (and even the “average” user) so much more.

I wonder how many people are surprised that it ends up being Microsoft that comes up with something like this. This is real Web 2.0 innovation, yes, but also interesting is that it can remove a key usability advantage that smart-clients have over browser UI. Ironically this helps close the gap between the BUI and the GUI (and we know which one wins this fight when the gap is gone). Now, I really wish I was going to Mix06 — maybe there will be more up their sleeves. BTW, I like the fact that Microsoft is working with Dave Winer on these ideas (OK, maybe it is just Ray Ozzie doing that, I don’t know).

Marc Cantor says he loves the Web Clipboard here. I almost misquoted him as saying it was “coolio” — seemed like a safe bet — anyway, it layers well on his work with microformats.

Adam Green asks if Windows is relevant in a Web 2.0 world? He wonders if part of Mr. Ozzie’s motive is to make Windows still relevant. Certainly a valid question; however, the interop that the screencasts show between the OS and the Web may depend on Windows in this implementation (and specifically the Windows RSS Platform), but the underlying architecture does not. It is just XML. So is the question really: is the desktop OS relevant in a Web 2.0 world? Undeniably, yes. I, for one, would like to see the OS vendors fight for their customers on features and not using lock-in. This sounds like a feature, not a lock-in.
Jim Benson uses Mr. Ozzie’s effort of an example of how . . .

We are moving beyond push-blogging to actually sharing information. It’s beyond pull as well. The read write web may well be the push pull web … and all points in between.

I was having this same thought driving home today — though we all have to help make this happen by engaging in microformats and Web Clipboard adoption (otherwise we may end up with a push-me pull-you Web 😉

I’m up for it.

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