Scobleizer Weblog

Daily Permalink Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Marc Canter defines "relevant" by "who is leading the pack." OK, but, how do you define the leader? Was beta video tape the leader, or was VHS?

He also says "But Mr. Red Pill himself has to go and defend the world's largest corporation - somehow implying it has the RIGHT to dominate all categories."

Um, how do you define "biggest?" NEC has twice as many employees. We certainly pale in comparison to Wallmart's numbers, for instance. IBM has 300,000. We have 55,000.

More from Marc: "Just one word - network boxes. How come Microsoft got into the network hub and wireless box business? Did that invent that? Provide any innovation?" Actually, we listen to the complaints of our users. They told us they wanted a box that was distributed by someone who had a technical support division and with a manual that could be easily understood.

Yet more: "So unless Microsoft starts INNOVATING - their contributions are the filler." Ahh, now we're getting somewhere. Between now and 2005, Microsoft will ship more new operating system APIs than we have since 1995. Is that innovation? Yes! Will that open up new opportunities for guys like Marc Canter? Yes! Will it keep us, um, relevant? Yes!

Mike also challenges me to learn about how businesses perceive Microsoft: "Find out why they are upset about upgrading from ASP to .Net with little business benefit. Upgrading Office has also wasted much money."

Believe me, we are smack dab in the middle of trying to turn around that perception and it does, indeed, start with understanding businesses and how they use technology. Mike: let's talk after the PDC and see if you think we're making any progress on this issue.

Mike Sanders: "I don't believe in the document-centric future and if you are telling me that Microsoft is going to try that again, I will unload all my Microsoft stock ASAP."

Heh, what we're doing goes beyond documents, so don't worry about that. But, you might rethink your stock investment strategy. Adobe is making a billion a year off of its document-centric approach. They are in the process of building a third skyscraper smack in the middle of Silicon Valley, thanks to the profits from their Acrobat line.

Dan Shafer: "Who needs analysts?"

I used to attack analysts too. But now I have access to all their work, and some of them really do a nice job of explaining something new in a way I can learn about it quickly. I'll try to find some examples that I can share publicly.

Yeah, there are a bunch that don't add value too.

Put July 23 in your calendar. It's the day when IPv6 arrived in a big way at Microsoft. Today we released the Advanced Networking Pack for Windows XP and a Peer-to-Peer SDK.

What is IPv6? A new addressing scheme for everything connected to the Internet.

For instance, today, your computer is hooked to the Internet with a number. It looks something like this: Every computer connected to the Internet has one (computer geeks call these "IP addresses").

One dirty little secret, though. There aren't enough addresses to go around. So, many of us sit behind a NAT (Network Address Translator). For instance, at home, I have a NAT that can make one IP address support more than 100 computers (I have three).

NATs suck.

Why do NATs suck? Cause, let's say you wanted to do a video conference with me. I'm behind a NAT. I don't really have my own addressable IP address. So, when you try to connect to me, you'll get my NAT, not the computer I'm currently typing on.

The situation gets worse.

Did you know that the entire country of India has fewer IP addresses than MIT does? Whoa, India has a billion or so people. And it has fewer IP addresses than a college in the US?

So, that means that nearly everyone in India is behind a NAT. Makes it hard to really do interesting new Internet apps that haven't been possible before.

So, along comes IPv6. Here's an interesting way to look at it, from the IPv6 FAQ: "If the address space of IPv4 is compared to 1 millimeter, the address space of Ipv6 would be 80 times the diameter of the galactic system."

Anyway, our world changed today, and you probably didn't even notice. Just thought I'd call that out to you.

Whoa, that's a LOT of IP addresses.

Joi says that Microsoft will become less relevant (I talked about that yesterday). Today, I wonder, just what does "relevant" mean? How do you measure "relevancy?"

For instance, is your company more relevant if its sales go up? If so, I think Microsoft will win. Maybe some startup's sales will increase faster, though. So, is the startup more relevant?

How about mentions in the press? If, say, the New York Times mentions Microsoft 15% more this year than last year, does that mean that Microsoft has become "more relevant?"

Finally, how about weblog mentions? Let's say weblogs discuss Microsoft 15% more this year than last. Does that mean Microsoft is more relevant?

Why am I asking? Cause, I'd like to bet Joi that Microsoft is more relevant in 2005 than it is today and I need to have some solid metric upon which to judge who wins the bet.

CBS MarketWatch Opinion: "How Microsoft should spend its cash."

Seattle Weekly: "Microsoft has trouble whenever it tries to grow outside of this core competency."

Yup, but, what is our core competency? If you ask Bill Gates, he'll probably answer something like "software."

Good evening from the "less-relevant-than-yesterday" weblogger!

Jeff Jarvis dreams of a world without editors. Amen to that! But, there's always the wife and the boss to worry about. Not to mention mom, my son, Dave Winer, all my readers, and my co-workers. Of course, none of them have treated me as badly as the editor that took apart Jeff.

Yes, Richard Giles, I am a blogalite!

On Saturday night, I took all the geeks to Cold Stone Creamery. While there, we learned they are giving away free ice cream on Thursday (and collecting donations for a charity). Details here.

RSS.NET: An open-source .NET class library for RSS feeds.

Joi Ito, in a must-read rant about microcontent trends says "Microsoft will continue to dominate the desktop, but it will become less relevant as consumer electronics companies embrace open standards and use Internet web services and applications to make consumer electronics devices rich with content."

Um, Joi, did you have some bad sushi before you wrote this?

Let me explain why you're wrong.

First of all, Microsoft is investing a LOT in "non PC devices." So, even if you're right that the desktop will become less important (hint: you're not), I don't think you can count Microsoft out, or say it'll become less relevant.

Second of all, TONS of people are getting camera phones. What's the first thing they do? Post them on a web site, right? OK. So far, camera phones + server means that the desktop is outta the picture, right? But, where do people view those camera phone pictures? I'll tell you where I look at Chris Pirillo's moblog, for instance: on my Tablet PC.

So, how again did the new device that came along decrease the relevance of the desktop?

Now, I predict Joi's answer will be that Japanese kids don't use PCs and they just use cell phones for everything. Well, sorry. Viewing a photo off of one of those new Nikon multi-mega-pixel pro cameras on a small cell phone screen just isn't my idea of fun. And trying to type ASCII characters into a weblog on a cell phone's keypad ain't my idea of fun either (and, yes, I've played with the latest in phones -- a co-worker just brought a bunch back from Tokyo). The fact that some kid somewhere is doing that, doesn't prove a thing.

But, I've been corrupted. I can predict the future a bit since I've seen a ton of secret stuff inside Microsoft. I certainly don't think the desktop becomes less relevant. In fact, to a whole raft of users, the desktop (or, the Tablet top, if you will) will be more important in 2005, not less.

Oh, there's a Web Design World in Seattle this week too. Sounds like fun! Anyone up for a sushi dinner?

I'm bummed, but I can't make it to Gnomedex this weekend. This is really a conference I wanted to attend. Why not? I don't have the cash and I have a ton of work to do on the house. Grrr.

To everyone going, please weblog it and/or show up on Joi Ito's IRC chat room. At least I'll be there in spirit.

Danny O'Brien: "Also the Microsoft stuff continues to have its head stuck right up the ass of corporate America."

Heh. I'm sure the Xbox division will enjoy knowing that its products are aimed at corporate America. Oh, and the SPOT watch division. Or, MSN. Or Windows Media Center.

Not to mention, the Windows Media Bonus Pack. The Windows Media Player.

But, nah, Danny's right. We only make stuff for corporate users here at Microsoft.

Hooray! Maryam and I are now the proud owners of a new house in Bothell WA. Let's compare:

My old house in Silicon Valley. Median neighborhood in Santa Clara, CA. 980 square feet. Yes, you read that right. Built in 1955. 20 minute commute to Apple Computer. 30 minutes to Hewlett Packard. 50 minutes to Oracle. 60 minutes from downtown San Francisco.

Sold last month for $490,000.

Our new house in Seattle. Median neighborhood in Bothell, WA. 1836 square feet. Twice as many square feet as the house in Silicon Valley (nicer yard too). Built in 1986. 30 minute commute to Microsoft. 30 minutes to Boeing. 20 minutes from downtown Seattle.

Sold today for $295,000.

And folks around here tell me that Seattle is horrendously expensive when compared to the rest of the world.

Some other facts: the house we bought was on the market less than 24 hours and they received three offers (all for the same amount, but ours was first -- our agent was good. It was a Friday night and he said "you gotta bid on this one tonight, it's one of those that'll be off the market in the morning." It was owned by an associate pastor at a Kirkland-based church. Heh. Evangelist buys from evangelist.

Yes, we've already made our first Home Depot run. And, yes, I've already done yardwork, despite owning the thing for less than 18 hours. How the heck did I get talked into this again?

Oh, Maryam and I visited IKEA last weekend. Wow. Now THAT is an experience. I hear I missed the best part, too. The Swedish meatballs. We're going back soon!

Last week I missed that Steve Cellini and his team of content planners posted a preliminary listing of session titles for Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference (aka the PDC). Only about 20% of the content will be about Longhorn -- the rest will focus on Whidbey (next version of Visual Studio) or Yukon (next version of SQL Server).

Cellini also read over some of the weblogger's concerns that the PDC is too expensive and we chatted about that today (yes, Microsoft's execs DO read weblogs religiously). He tells me that Microsoft probably won't make a profit on the show (it's not a goal of management, although they'd like it to come close to breaking even). He also told me they are doing a sizeable number of additional sessions this year when compared to previous PDCs, and also that there are a number of additional "frills" this year, when compared to last year, as well (I can't disclose what the frills are, but they range from some interesting software projects to wireless access to parties, etc).

By the way, program managers from around Microsoft have told me "I'll definitely be available at the PDC." For instance, check out Brad Abrams' weblog, where he's talking about PDC sessions and getting feedback about what folks would like there.

Or, Joe Beda. He's a Program Manager on the Avalon team. Avalon is the code-name for the graphics APIs in Longhorn.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. This is literally Microsoft's most important conference this decade. Of course the execs don't want to play it up that way, but come on, when again will we see a new OS, a new SQL, a new VS, and a few other secret things announced at the same time?

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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; 2:45:30 AM.