Scobleizer Weblog

Today's Stuff Friday, October 10, 2003

Jeremy Mazner's on the Longhorn evangelism team. He works a few doors down from me. I've been very lucky to watch him and the other guys work on demos and figuring out what Longhorn can really do -- someday I hope to show you some of what these guys do under harsh deadlines while figuring out technology that changes underneath them every day or two. I just saw that he wrote a blog entry about "why WinFS" (WinFS is our new storage platform -- built into Longhorn -- that we'll show off at the PDC).

Can't wait to see the "what." :-)

Dave Winer outted the little private shindig I'll be at this weekend. I wish Dave was there too.

This is exactly why I'll never switch to Blogger.

InfoSync has a review of the Orange SmartPhone being sold in Europe. I can't wait to get my SmartPhone. But, I'm still holding out for a camera phone.

Update: this one has a camera. Oh, bring it to the US!

A couple more before I make my 25-minute commute to Microsoft.

Ryan Heaney: "I'm currently a student at DePaul University in Chicago, studying Computer Science. My dream job one day is to work for Microsoft."

Wait a second, wait til Slashdot gets ahold of you young man. Grin.

Then, in the next comment in that thread, Chris Hanson shows an attitude that I certainly don't agree with. First, anyone who says that their customers write crappy code sure shouldn't be allowed anywhere within 50 yards of customers. Second, Apple made a deliberate decision to break with its old customers. Microsoft has done this in the past too, so we're not blameless here. But, in the Windows group we try very hard not to break old apps. In some cases you have to (particularly as we push for more security). But, it's not the ISV's fault necessarily and all efforts must be made to move ISV's on before the platform ships. This is EXACTLY why we're showing off Longhorn so damn early. We want to make sure every customer has a smooth transition. If it takes two years to get Photoshop or Quicken moved to Longhorn after Longhorn ships we've failed.

Pito Salas: "I can say that for me, [Microsoft's webloggers] have had a very positive, constructive effect, as I relate to Microsoft. A humanizing effect."

On that note, see ya Monday!

In talking further with Corey and Chris, I'm just blown away by how smart these young people are. If you ever think our future generation isn't in good hands, you're wrong. Corey, by the way, is the guy who did the PDC countdown clock. Jeff and I are both running it.

Some other things Corey told me:

"Another thing that might be of interest is Project Hurricane -- that's being distributed by MS UK made by Dominic Hopton and Mark Johnston, UI done by yours truly... basically an online community SDK made by students for students."

"Another big P2P client that's popular at uni's is DC++ -- not sure if you've heard of it (I hadn't)."

Corey, I've subscribed to your blog. Keep amazing us.

Another college kid (translation: in Threedegrees target market), Corey Gouker, who turned 20 last month, gives us another insight into the attitudes and technology he's seeing used to share music (reacts to my posts from Chris Putnam last night).

The music industry should take note: both of these kids stuck up for DRM!!! That's huge. They want to pay for music, but they want to do it on their terms, not on the RIAA's terms.

Translation: the music industry is leaving piles of cash on the table cause they can't figure out how to serve this market.

Paolo Valdemarin thinks that many bloggers have switched from Windows to Macs (translation: fired Microsoft). Certainly I've noticed some of this, but when you ask the Windows to Mac switchers, you find out that many were Apple customers in the past. So, in reality they switched from Apple to Windows and then switched back when Apple's OSX came out. Note how Paolo admits to using a Mac since 1984. Exactly. We blog types all grew up together. I can totally relate. Except I gave up my Mac in 93.

Hey, Windows users, a friend is raving about CandyLabs' AppRocket. They have some Mac-based utilities too. I'm in PDC crunch mode, so don't have time to try it out now. Anyone want to give us a report in my comments? Looks awesome and gives Windows users launch-bar functionality that Macs have built in.

Update: I mispoke. It's actually a close copy of the Mac utility LaunchBar. Thanks to Brian W for pointing that out to me. Gotta check these things out a little more before I post them. I'll leave this up, though.

Wallace B. McClure says he's not going to the PDC because he is tired of sales pitches.

First, Wallace, sounds like you need some really hard-core technical information immediately. Before you do anything else, go over to Chris Brumme's weblog and get a hit of tech info without any marketing hype -- go now before you read any more. We'll be waiting for you when you get back.

OK, back now? First of all, PDC is damn close to selling out. So, I no longer need to hype it up. There's something about the PDC that you should know, though. The sessions are all being given by Microsoft's top technical experts. Folks like Chris Brumme that you just read. This is real important: marketing dweebs who don't code, like me, are NOT allowed on stage.

Also, you totally misread why we are doing the PDC. We need you to build applications on top of our platforms. Imagine being at Longhorn's launch event and Bill Gates comes out and says "hey, Longhorn is really cool but nothing will run on it." Imagine if he said "well, we had this PDC and we didn't show developers how to write apps for it. We just had marketing guys on stage talking about how cool it would be."

I can't speak for other conferences, but this PDC is a watershed event for us. If all you come away from the PDC saying is "that was a bunch of marketing hooey" then we've totally failed.

I don't know if you've looked at the speaker list but even our executive list has been hand-picked for the most technical, developer-centric execs.

We've been over the "is it worth it?" argument several times now. It's a moot point at this point cause we're gonna sell this puppy out. Translation: the market says it IS worth it.

But, just wanted to make it clear that we are sending our most technical people to the PDC because we want you to prepare your organization for building apps in whole new ways and to give us feedback on what you like and what you hate. Also, keep in mind that this is unlike any event Microsoft has ever done. I've never seen an event like this. We'll probably never see another one like it again. A new OS. A new SQL Server. A new Visual Studio. All being shown off by the techies who are building these things. 15 days and counting.

Werner (in my comments): "Robert, what you can't see [in the photo of bloggers at BloggerCon] is that I am sitting there (big guy on the right) with my NEC tablet, which drew a lot more attention than all the powerbooks...

Now, who's "thinking different?" Heh, why in this case it's Werner! He's my hero.

OK, I'm off until Monday night. Don't miss the redesigned PDC Blogs and the panel Q&A. Oh, and what's that, a Moblog? Hmmm.

Jim Saghir wrote me to thank Microsoft for making .NET. Why? He said he wrote his own blog tool to do his PowerFrontiers blog. He told me: "It was a piece of cake, and only took me about a week and a half to write. I am impressed with the .Net framework and all the XML and XSL tools it provides. The blog tool uses an XML file to store all the posts and when I publish, it calls XSL files that generate the RSS feed and blog (including archive info and files). I also added spell checking and multiple author capability. .Net rocks!"

Oliver Willis is deflating the blog bubble. Rant about how the hype of how weblogs are changing the world is just that: hype.

Tim Sneath and Benjamin Mitchell wonder if Microsoft is being too heavy handed with its communities. Heh, didn't I say similar stuff back in February before I was a Microsoft employee? Yeah, I did.

Good ideas! But, you did notice that all of the weblog communities are run by the community members themselves and not Microsoft, right?

If I see anyone internally try to change that, I'm gonna go freaking nuts.

Keep the good ideas coming and let's build something fun and useful. Life's too short for anything else.

Well, now that you know that I'm evil, I should point out to PDAntic: you're totally off base. You have totally missed all the cool Tablet stuff (heck, go read whatisnew for the latest Acer announcements). Sounds like you PDA'ers are jealous of Tablets. Why is that?

Oh, more "Microsoft is evil". Who are Linky and Dinky? Oh well, if Linky and Dinky think we're evil then we must be evil. Of course, I'm linking to Linky, not Dinky. Hey Linky, watch out for that Dinky guy. I think he's a little evil too!

PDAntic blog: Prove me wrong Microsoft. The author says Microsoft is blowing it in the mobile market.

Chris Anderson has a goal of being the PDC presenter that has the fewest PowerPoint slides with the fewest words of any presenter. I love Chris already. You know what developers wanna see! Demos with no marketing crap. Heck, we can always post the marketing fluff on my blog. People accuse me of doing that anyway.

Benjamin Mitchell wrote up a pre-PDC preparation guide about Indigo.

Peter has a review of OneNote after using it for a couple of months.

Chris Anderson points to some Longhorn requests. Chris is the right guy to see those, too. He's an architect on the Longhorn/Avalon team.

Jeremy Smith asked me via email: "Are there MS products that Microsoft employees readily admit "suck" and berate themselves whilst standing at the water cooler?"

Um, yeah! Some of us even admit such in our blogs. :-)

Funnily, did you see the Windows team that went to a MacWorld conference a few years back? They wore T-shirts that said "we suck less."

On the serious side, we talk a lot internally about how our products could be improved. Yesterday you saw Ballmer announce a whole bunch of things. That was in direct reaction to us talking internally and saying "this sucks, how can we do better?"

While we're talking about music P2P, Napster is coming back, but this time with Digital Rights Management (I believe they are using Microsoft technology). Chris the teenager says he's excited, even though it's a pay model. You get five free songs if you register by October 29.

Chris just told me in IM that high school is all about P2P and his favorite is SoulSeek. The founder of SoulSeek even has a blog.

His favorite feature is "download containing folder." Users, he says, store their albums in folders, so when you search for an artist ou may see like 100 results from one user alone and there's a column showing the folder it's in. If it's in a folder like c: / john's documents / mp3s / aerosmith - the poo album, it's a good idea to right click the entry and choose "download containing folder." You get the whole album and it creates the folder locally for you. Plus, he says, there are lots of people with fast connections on SoulSeek.

I found that the IM conversation with Chris to be so interesting that I asked him permission to put the whole thing up here as an interview. He agreed. Most of the conversation is just Chris ranting. Because he's 17 and understands the high-school kid's view on the subject, I wanted to give him an extra voice.

"So, Chris" I ask, "what do you think of the RIAA?" Chris Putnam: "They are going about things the wrong way," he answers. "First of all the majority of people that are downloading songs are dumb high school kids with kazaa. Second of all they should just let it happen."

"Most of the people I've talked to are downloading single songs, not entire CDs."

"A lot of time these are singles that aren't available in stores. As singles, that is. So, there's one thing right there. Another thing: if a song is big on the charts, played a lot on the radio, kids get it. They just do. Because it's hot. They WILL buy the CD. Kids want the CDs. Period. They don't like burned copies."

"People like the satisfaction of having CDs. P2P is really just a really nice media outlet, much like the radio. Radio on demand. Almost. Now there are some people who outright take advantage of said outlet, like me, who really don't care about the real CD. But, if I really enjoy an artist, I buy the CD. This is the typical commentary heard from everyone that talks about P2P. I'll say this, the only CD I've ever bought is Ben Folds live. So it's a pretty high standard."

"Media protection is a waste of time. There is a way around it all and then, even if you do protect it, it doesn't take much to get a digital-in to a sound card and just re-record it all. In beautiful lossless format. It only takes one person to propogate to P2P. Quite simply."

"So i think the RIAA is making bad moves with suing people. What I've heard from kids around at school.. is that they are moving their song files out of "My Shared Folder" to another place on their hard drive."

"CDs still sell. CDs have been a declining industry even before P2P became big. They can't blame it on P2P. In fact, there have been improvements in the market and P2P is as large as it's ever been."

"Don't forget though just because they're "kids" means nothing. The RIAA is nailing people with like over 10,000 songs. The big sharers."

"Whether they're 10 or 30 they are key players. There is no reason for the media to hit that damned innocent angle because of the age."

Oh, here's one for the Three Degrees team. Chris Putnam writes "Microsoft is incompatible with teenagers." Chris should know. He's a high schooler. If he can't be convinced to use Three Degrees, then the target market has not been served. He IS the target market.

I was talking today with the Three Degrees team today. They have taken what they learned by shipping their 1.0 product, and are back in the labs trying again. If you're under 24, particularly if you know people who are in high school (net generation, they call them) they'd like to know what you'd like from the team.

They also taught me a new term today: "Cyber Ditching." Seems they've learned that kids don't care about blocking jerks. They just will start a new community, pick up and bring the popular kids to the new place, and abandon the old place.

I also learned that kids today use IM and cell phones much more actively than adults. They've watched their subjects hold conversations on cell phones and with half a dozen or more IM'ers. Hey, I'm 38 and I do that. Seriously. That's what happens when you put your IM and your cell phone info out on the web. By the way, my IM is and my cell phone is 408-314-8233.

Tony Toews has one of the oldest websites for users of Microsoft Access out there. Tons of tips. Great MVP site (MVP stands for Microsoft Most Valuable Professional. Translation: someone who has done an extraordinary job of helping our customers for free). I've asked MVPs to tell me about their sites because some of them just are a treasure trove of great information. Here's another example: Sue Mosher's Outlook and Express site.

Andrew Watt: Have you ever wondered why Microsoft doesn't produce a blogging tool?

Andrew is thinking along the same lines that I am. But, I asked this last weekend, why does Microsoft need to do it all? I see tons of innovations happening in the blogging space. Look at News Gator. It's a Windows-only thing that runs in Outlook. It has totally changed my life.

Look at .TEXT or Das Blog or Text America. All bleeding-edge blogging toolsets that are built on top of .NET.

I'm heartened to see that Microsoft is putting its energy into fixing its security problems and building a great platform (.NET). It's absolutely fundamental that we nail those two things and rebuild the economic ecosystem that lives on top of Windows. I wanna see a bunch of entrepreneurs get rich while building on top of Windows. A platform is only as good as the software written on top of it.

So, while I want a OneNote blogging tool, or a SharePoint blog system too, I would rather those teams build rich APIs that would enable other developers to build products and services on top of them.

How are we going to win the hearts and minds of all those Mac-based bloggers? By having tons of independent developers building great apps and services on top of our platforms.

Joe Wilcox, over at Microsoft Monitor, digs into yesterday's security announcements. I don't know if you all realize just what's going on inside Microsoft. Ballmer called, in his keynote speech yesterday to the Microsoft Partners, our security problems a "crisis."

He also said "I think this issue, this crisis right now, that our customers and our partners are highlighting for us of security is that kind of defining moment."

History will be a judge, but I think yesterday will prove to be as big a moment in Microsoft's history as the day when Gates turned Microsoft toward the Internet.

But, I agree with Joe: customer satisfaction won't go up until we solve the security problem AND get customers to protect their machines (both with the best practices we're preaching today, and the new technologies Ballmer announced yesterday). We're still months away from shipping XPSP2. Years away from shipping Longhorn. Even after we get these things out, many of our customers will wait to load these things because we've lost their trust. We have a lot of work to do.

By the way, I mentioned in that long piece the Microsoft Museum and forgot to point to it. The museum was just recently redesigned -- it's quite an interesting place. Someday I will Moblog it. I finally talked someone in the SmartPhone division to get me a SmartPhone, so that day might not be far off.

If you ever visit Microsoft's campus, the museum is a good place to spend a few hours. You can see all sorts of Microsoft and industry history and even email home a picture of yourself.

Why do Bloggers prefer Macs?

As a guy who has worked in lots of different places in the technology industry, I always wonder what makes certain groups of people buy a certain type of technology.

Michael Feldman posted the picture above of bloggers at the recent BloggerCon that made it look like the overwhelming majority of bloggers use Macs. First I thought to myself "well, that might have been true at the BloggerCon, but I bet I'll be able to post quite a different blogger photo because the PDC will have more bloggers than the BloggerCon did."

But that photo wouldn't tell the truth either.

I'll be honest, I've been at quite a few blogger events lately and for some reason there are a ton of Macs at all these things. "Why is that?" I asked myself? Does that mean that if you use PC's you are less likely to blog? If so, why is that?

So, I've theorized a few reasons why BloggerCon attendees overwhelmingly were Mac users.

1. Corporate culture. (The early days at Apple and Microsoft and why it matters even today).

2. Attendees came from certain self-selected niches. (Press, creatives, academics).

3. The "think different" factor (Apple vs. Microsoft marketing).

4. Apple's "sharing" culture (donations to schools).

Corporate Culture. Apple was started by two high school students who belonged to a user group in Silicon Valley. Microsoft was started by two high school students who built a business in New Mexico.

Apple's first real product was the Apple II, a bleeding edge machine that brought innovative product design (the case and monitor are still among the best designed products I've ever seen) along with bleeding-edge technology like a color screen and a speaker. Remember, back in 1976, the personal computer industry was the Altair, a boxy looking thing with a row of switches and lights on it (if you ever visit Microsoft, our museum has both the Altair and the Apple II displayed in it -- how many companies display their competitor's products in their company museums?)

Microsoft started out building developer tools and didn't even want to do operating systems. Even after Microsoft got into operating systems, no one bought a "Microsoft computer." We called those things "IBM PCs."

Think that history doesn't matter? It does. I grew up two miles from Apple. I always cheered them on and evangelized them to my friends. Even today, even after I work for Microsoft, and have a Tablet PC that lets me use my computer in ways that Apple's customers are still dreaming of, I find myself jealous of the webloggers who have Macs. The brand identity among the Apple generation +is+ that strong.

That brand identity for many of us was born back in the late 70s and early 80s. Now, look at the picture again. What else do you notice? I notice a lot of gray hair. These are folks who've been using computers for a long time. Think that early corporate culture doesn't matter?

Self selecting from the niches.

I noticed a trend among BloggerCon attendees. They came from mostly these backgrounds: publishing and/or journalism, creative types, and academia. Those are huge Apple strongholds. Publishing and journalists (which I identify with) went to schools that had all Macs -- the journalism schools in California, for instance in 1992 were almost wholly Mac-based. So were all the leading newspapers (the Chronicle, Examiner, and San Jose Mercury News all use Macs today -- a reader of my blog works at Poynter Institute and he says almost all of their member newspapers are predominantly Mac). All you need to do is take a tour of San Francisco's various art and photo studios, or New York's advertising or magazine industries, and you'll see that those are overwhelmingly Mac. Finally, Academia is still pretty strongly Mac based, particularly among art, publishing, journalism, and other liberal arts-based departments.

I believe most of the BloggerCon attendees (if you discount all the .NET Webloggers or PDC bloggers) come from mostly those three backgrounds.

Certainly when I watched the videos and listened to the questions, I heard a bias in that direction.

The "think different" marketing exposed. Apple's ads used to tell you to "think different." Before that they told us how 1984 wouldn't be like 1984, because Macintosh users would "bring down the Orwellian machine."

I believe these are themes that particularly resonate among bloggers. Why? Bloggers see themselves as exploiting a new medium. They see themselves as new voices that previously were unheard. They believe they are the ones who are on the current vanguard of thought and intellectualism. We heard these themes over and over at BloggerCon "blogging will change the world." Translation: blogs are different than what came before.

Now, if you look at Microsoft marketing, what was that about? "Where do you want to go today?" Or, look at today's Microsoft ad campaign "your potential, our passion" Not quite the same as "being different."

Apple's culture of sharing vs. Microsoft's culture of owning markets.

What is my first memory of experiencing a computer? Sitting at Hyde Jr. High in 1977 as they unboxed two Apple II machines that were donated by Apple Computer to the school (it was a Cupertino school).

What is my first memory of IBM PC's? Apple's ad in the San Jose Mercury News welcoming IBM to the personal computer market.

That branding is still strong in my mind today -- about 20 years later.

Apple for me always stood for sharing and giving computers to schools. Even today after I know that Microsoft is the sixth-largest corporate giver in the US I still can't shake my early school experiences.

Bloggers are self-identified sharers. To be a blogger (particularly a successful one) you must enjoy sharing information and stories and links. Those are traits that I believe Apple has done well over the years to identify with. Certainly Microsoft has, in the past, done many anti-sharing things that you read about in the news every day.

So, why does this matter? Well, because bloggers have influence far beyond the numbers of people who read them. Just look at my blog. Only a few thousand read here every day. But, the readership here includes all sorts of journalists. Analysts. Executives. Etc.

How does Microsoft win the hearts and minds of the blogger market? Easy: innovative product. The Tablet PC at least gets looks from the Mac-heavy side of the fence. It hasn't gotten many to switch, but at least the Mac users are jealous whenever they try my Tablet out (although they'd almost never admit it on their blogs).

I'll be thinking more about this topic this weekend, since I'll be amongst the Mac-heavy crowd again. Oh, I hear Beth Goza is camping with us too! Cool, at least us Tablet freaks will be able to sit in the corner showing each other the cool tips we've learned.