Scobleizer Weblog

Daily Permalink Thursday, July 17, 2003

I have some spyware on my home system. Every so often it pops up a Window with an advertisement. It does this at random times. It's a Win32 app, so doesn't even use the browser and pops up on top of that, even though I have Google's pop up ad blocker running. I was talking with folks at work today about how much this really really sucks. I leave it on my system just to remind me of how much it really really sucks. Yeah, I know I can run Ad Aware to remove it, but, what happens if a "normal" customer gets spyware at home. Think they know how to remove it? No way. So, they suffer. And, so do I. I wanna remind myself that this really really sucks and I wanna suffer with them until we fix this problem. Have I used enough "really's"? Grrr.

Michael Gartenberg, over at Jupiter Media, is someone I want to meet. His weblog always has stuff I find interesting on it. Any other analysts out there you like?

Folks like Amy Wohl? Or any of the folks on WatchingMicrosoftLikeAHawk? "Is Adobe targeting Microsoft's InfoPath?"

Thanks to Macromedia's John Dowell for that. His weblog is great.

CALLING ALL SILICON VALLEY WEBLOGGERS! Meet us Saturday night at the Premier-Pizza at the Rivermark location at 7 p.m. They have the best pizza in the valley and the owner is a cool dude too (he was on Johnny Carson's show spinning pizza). Decent salad bar too.

If you didn't know, there's an underground "influential" network of people who trade information. Sometimes I get pinged by that network of people. Today, a few of those people told me "you shoulda seen the virtual interaction at the Always On conference." Unfortunately I didn't have time to check it out, but I see Joi wrote about his part in it.

I had lunch this week with Mitch Ratcliffe. Very interesting guy. Nothing notable came out of our lunch, I just enjoy being around smart people. He told me lots of stories about covering Microsoft for Ziff Davis.

Telephony Online: Blog and Tackle. "People know everything about me [Robert Scoble] from my blog. It's like a business card. Even if you're a plumber and you do a Weblog, I imagine you're going to get a lot of different job offers."

Oh, cool, there are some new SQL Blogs coming. I've LOVED Scott W's .NET Weblogs. I can't wait until I can hear all about Yukon (the next version of SQL Server). Awesome awesome awesome.

Now, we're just missing a couple of things: Longhorn Blogs and PDC Blogs! But, I hear that either Scott W or Mike Amundsen will do those. Our customers are the best.

DataGrid Girl was on campus today and I didn't get to meet her. Bummer. But, my wife would probably have raised eyebrows if I had. ;-)

Yeah, I noticed AOL's new weblogs and RSS feeds. Cool!

Doug Thews did a VB.NET project that does RSS feed consumption and puts results on your Windows ActiveDesktop. He did it just for grins ... source code & graphics available.

MSN Messenger 6.0 was released today. Update your IM clients.

Wow, some schools really are going with Tablet PCs, like Cathedral Prep. I would have loved a Tablet back when I was in school.

Pete Cole: "I know he's an evangelist but Scoble is loosing touch with reality."

Dude, yes, you will be able to talk to tons of program managers and they'll be easy to find at the PDC. How do I know that? Well, you'll just have to show up to the PDC. I could tell you before then, but then I'd need to have you sign an NDA. And, I really don't wanna do that.

Heh, how do you deal with Bozos? You "set the BozoBit" says Jim McCarthy.

Oh, wait a second, the bozo on my team is me. I hope my coworkers don't get any ideas.

Heh, Alan Bailward is feeling some angst over me pointing to him. He's afraid that Bill Gates will get mad that he mutilated and abused a Microsoft-branded toy.

Um, this is the new, nicer, Microsoft Alan! We don't get mad. We don't have goons. We just are happy that you gave us a few bucks. After all, that helps us in the Microsoft monkey vs. Linux Tux sales race.

Hey, Joi, Frank and I wanna have a "borg rave." Whadda ya think?

You Mac fans will love this: Macboy.

Windows users, please update your systems. We found a major security hole today. We've built a patch for it. If you leave the hole open, someone could come and take over your computer. Not good. I won't speak on behalf of the anthill here often, but sorry about that. We're working real hard to find these weaknesses in our systems and close them up.

Laszlo caught my eye today. Folks over on the .NET Weblogs were talking about Laszlo's launch. Looks awesome.

I've been talking to Tantek a bit lately. For those who haven't been keeping score, Tantek is the Microsoft employee who was a key player in the development of IE for the Macintosh.

Anyway, Tantek is considering his future. No matter what he decides, I know he'll make a huge impact on whatever he does.

I'm trying to get him to come to my weblogger dinner on Saturday night. It's a bit of a trek, I know.

Chris De Herrera says that the Windows CE HPC documents have been put back online. Hmm, maybe there are some Microsoft executives reading the weblogs.

Oh, SCO has another investor: Sun Microsystems, Slashdot says.

This sounds like a Longhorn joke in USA Today: "Farmer offers rental cows."

Employees at Microsoft speak a different language. For instance, today I was alpha testing an app that the team I'm a part of is building. It wouldn't start up correctly, so one of the guys who's developing it, sauntered down to my office, played around with a few things on my system and answered definitively:

"We need to put MSHTML into your GAC".

GAC ryhmes with "pack."

I thought that was funny. The GAC is the Global Assembly Cache. .NET programmers put things in there. It's like a registry of stuff that can be shared across programs. Or so I'm told.

But, today, I just couldn't get the "GAC" outta my mind.

Yeah, I'm easily amused, but whadda ya want me to talk about? The weather?

It's boring. Totally blue skies. Just like California. Except cooler and nicer scenery.

Hey, I'll be down in Silicon Valley this weekend. How about a weblogger dinner? How about at Premier Pizza at Rivermark? At 7 p.m. on Saturday?

Adam Barr: "Red pill, blue pill, $*(^ that @&@%, it's just STUPID. In fact the whole exchange between you two was so pointless, so inane, so unworthy of the hard drive platter space it is occupying, that surely historians will judge it to be THE moment when blogs tipped and began their inevitable decline into irrelevence."

Tom Lee: "What I want to know is how Scoble thinks he acutally had source code access as an MVP since the programme has not really started yet. I can't help wondering if Gates, Ballmer, or Alchin actually read his stuff. Personally, I find him embarrasing - and if this is the level of people MS is now hiring, it's time to sell more stock."

Hmmm, got the regulars pissed off. OK, I think it's time to start just talking about the weather up here. :-)

I usually don't write about politics here, but Doc Searls and others' coverage of Howard Dean has me paying attention. Sounds like something big is underway here (see Doc Searls post about Howard Dean). 80,000 people donating money to a political candidate? Yeah, in the meta scheme of things, that's not a lot of people, but, dang, it is a big deal to see that kind of movement from grass roots. OK, Howard, I'm paying attention now.

Richard Tallent has a great article on the pros and cons of browser-based and smart client applications.

Joshua Hoover was one of the respondents to the long "what should Microsoft do" comment thread on Sunday here. He said, what has Microsoft done about these issues?

He asked those things on 2/23/2003, back before I even knew I was coming to Microsoft.

He was asking Microsoft to do things for the Mac platform. Obviously we're not gonna treat that platform as well as we treat Windows. Sorry, that's just a fact of life. But, we have done some things.

For instance, IE and Microsoft is definitely more secure today than it was back in February, especially if you're running Windows Server 2003. So far only one critical patch has been released for Server 2003 and that's after several months of it being used by a LOT of people.

I think we've made some strides in consumers rights. We went after spam producers, for instance.

We've straightened out the mess that is MS Licensing 6.

.NET components are .NET components. They work equally well in all .NET apps. Not sure what he wanted there.

We've shipped a SmartPhone. That's a big bet that the company has made that isn't "PC Centric." But, not sure what he wants there.

He asked us not to create products or services for the Mac unless we are gonna make it a first-class citizen. I think our pulling out of the Mac browser thing is an answer there.

On video games, Sony and Nintendo want to continue their own "locked in" platform. That isn't going to change. Sony is kicking our behind in the games platform. They don't want to make it easy for us to come in and take their market away from them.

Our "shared source" initiatives would probably let him get a look inside our APIs (as an MVP I had access to the Windows source code). If you really need a look inside our source code, let me know, and I'll see what I can do to get you onto that program.

As to the other stuff, I'll repeat my question again. Give me a business reason to do all this stuff. Think like a Microsoft executive. Pretend you're a Microsoft employee and you have a meeting tomorrow with Jim Allchin, or Steve Ballmer, or Bill Gates. How you gonna convince them to do something like "making Exchange the platform that runs on open standards."

I personally don't believe most of what you're asking for is good for Microsoft's business. If you can't sell ME on the idea, what chance you gonna have to sell Bill Gates on it?

Remember, my first priority as a Microsoft employee is to provide value to Microsoft shareholders. How do I do that? By getting and serving customers.

This is business fundamentals 101. Tim Bray calls it "sharecropping." Dave Winer calls it "building a trunk." Macromedia calls it "Flash." Adobe calls it "Acrobat." Microsoft calls it "Windows." Intuit calls it "Quicken." Borland calls it "Delphi." Apple calls it "iPod." Sony calls it "Playstation." The SF Giants call it "Barry Bonds." Wall Street calls it "revenues and profits." Mom and dad call it "stock price went up."

No matter what you call it, if you have a ton of happy customers using your stuff and paying you money, your shareholders (er, investors) get happy. So, show me how your requests will help me get more customers. And help me keep the ones I already have.

SecurityFocus' Scott Granneman: "Blogs: Another Tool in the Security Pro's Toolkit."

Heh, someone told me in the hall "why don't we just hire Marc Canter, wouldn't that be a trip?"

It's just the kind of non-linear thinking that goes on around here. But, would Mark Canter be able to be an ant in an ant farm? I don't know. But wouldn't it be a trip?

Speaking of which, I really need to get the ant metaphor out of my head. I was driving along 520 (the highway that runs alongside campus) and the Microsoft buildings started looking like ant hills. They are low. They are red. I think I'm not getting enough sleep.

I started having a dream that I was in an ant hill, and it was raining honey from above. The ants were harvesting the honey, and storing it away to use on future expansion projects.

The ants couldn't see where the honey was coming from, but they knew it was "raining" regularly, so they were able to plan. Then I had a vision of the honey dripping from a bee hive up on a tree branch that was overhead of the ant hill.

What are the bee hives? Third party developers. In my vision, Marc was a bee. I was an ant. Now, in Marc's post, he says that the ants figured out where the bee hives were, and they killed all the bees.

My vision is that it's far better for the ants to leave the bees alone. Why?

Ever see an ant colony try to develop its own honey?

See, if Microsoft kills off all the developers (or, as Tim Bray says, makes everyone a sharecropper), then we effectively shut down the symbiotic system that's made a lot of people in this industry a lot of money.

That's a lot like what it's like to be a platform vendor. You wanna make more bee hives (Macromedia, Intuit, SAP, Adobe, SAS, Siebel, PeopleSoft, AOL, etc) which will drip more honey onto the ant farm. The bees, by the way, need the ants. We churn the ground so that more flowers grow, which generates more pollen, which makes the bees able to make more honey.

Some specific answers to Marc:

Q: "How's that losing money?"

Well, it's not, if you take all the ant farms together here at Microsoft. But, for better, or for worse, we don't look at it that way. We look at each business unit separately. It's like several hundred individual companies up here, all loosely coordinated.

Q: Microsoft hates developers.

Wait a second, Microsoft has made more developers OUTSIDE THE COMPANY rich than probably any other company. Or, did you not notice Microsoft grows by acquiring companies. Let's go down the list. FrontPage. Acquired. HotMail. Acquired. PowerPoint. Acquired. WebTV. Acquired. Placeware. Acquired. Visio. Acquired. And on and on.

Go and look up how much Microsoft paid for each of these companies. In some cases the bill ran above a billion. Some of that money went to developers. That trend continues today.

Q: To do business in this industry you MUST understand that Microsoft will eventually copy what you're doing. If you prove it works.

Really? Microsoft recently acquired Placeware. We didn't copy what they did. We bought them. Dude, the company (Microsoft) has changed. It's not the same company it was five years ago. Five years ago, the execs were telling employees not to write anything on public forums. Today, they are encouraging the kind of open conversation I'm having with you.

Don't make the traditional Silicon Valley mistake of assuming you're competing against (or dealing with) the same company that existed five, 10, or 15 years ago. There's a reason Microsoft hired me. It's to try to figure out how to get a healthy farm system going again where it's safe to acquire companies and make developers rich. Right now, if you notice, no one is getting rich. Microsoft's stock isn't going up. New employees like me aren't getting rich. And, there's not a healthy way for Silicon Valley to grow developer-centric companies.

You think employees like me aren't looking for ways to make a "big win" for Microsoft? Of course we are! How will we get promoted if Microsoft just continues along as it has? We need to have some big wins of our own! And, how do we get big wins? We figure out how to serve developers and customers in ways that haven't been done before.

Look, think that Microsoft can't be wacky in its acquisitions? Placeware's technology is almost completely Java-based.

That proves that Microsoft doesn't have a litmus test of "only developed on .NET" for acquisitions.

Anyway, that's the view of the ant for tonight. The ants are still looking for food. Start raining honey on us, and we'll worship you for life.

SilverStr was on campus yesterday. I'm not sure I should identify him, since he doesn't seem to on his weblog. Really great guy. Hard-core security expert. I suspect he's even played the part of a white-hat hacker. Hard-core Linux guy too. But, like he says about me, he's rational about it (and, he's coming over to the Microsoft side of the fence occassionally anyway), so we could have some really interesting conversations about what's going on in the industry. I'd love to have more conversations with him, and people like him.

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Robert Scoble works at Microsoft. Everything here, though, is his personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. No warranties or other guarantees will be offered as to the quality of the opinions or anything else offered here.

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© Copyright 2004 Robert Scoble Last updated: 1/3/2004; 2:44:30 AM.