Scobleizer Weblog

Daily Permalink Thursday, November 20, 2003

Kasia: "it would make me happier to hear that Microsoft is working on a better security model."

We are, believe me, we are. Windows XP Service Pack 2 is a good step in the right direction. There is a lot of work taking place right now on security. In fact, it's very probable that Longhorn will be delayed because of this work. We have a limited number of developers and they are very focused on fixing security. Thomas Lee, on his blog, talks about some of the security stuff that was discussed at the PDC.

One reason I don't like promising fixes, though, is cause we don't have much, if any, credibility left when discussing security. So, any promises would ring hollow. Let's just meet back here again when we are shipping service pack two and take up the issue then. In the meantime, let's get your friends and family protected over the Thanksgiving weekend. Have them visit If you did that it'd really help everyone out, even non-Windows users.

Robert Cringley says "EVERYTHING Microsoft does -- has to do with profitability and market share."

Hey, has Cringley been reading my weblog? Sounds like it.

I'm uncomfortable about that statement, even though it's true in some sort of meta sense. Why? Because it's how I used to look at Microsoft before I worked here. It's the "black tank view" of Microsoft. That Microsoft is one huge machine, controlled by two guys at the top, that does whatever Ballmer and Gates do. That was my view of Microsoft before I came here. That view is wrong.

Now that I've worked here for six months "inside the tank" I see that it's not a tank at all, but 55,000 people all trying to simultaneously serve customers, investors, bosses. Just like at every other company.

It's a lot more like an anthill than a tank. But, I've said this before.

By the way, this is a capitalist system we're working on here. Do you want us to NOT care about profits? Tell that to our investors. I keep meeting investors. They tend to be average people. I met a DJ in a bar a few weeks back. He said "I have 2000 shares of Microsoft, keep up the good work." (he bought them back in the early 90s and he says he's done astoundingly well with his Microsoft shares).

Also, how does a guy like me get a promotion? Work on a product that grows. Heck, let's look at how you get to be an executive here. Anyone know Tom Button? He's one of Microsoft's top executives. How did he get there? By working his behind off. On a product (Visual Basic) that way way way outstripped expectations.

I remember calling Tom in the mid-90s one night at about 8 p.m. He told me they were just having "lunch." Translation: they were in the middle of shipping and pulling an all-nighter.

But, why did he get to be an executive when many many other employees haven't gotten to a building 33 address? 1) He worked on a small team no one had heard of before. 2) That team exceeded its WILDEST goals by several times. Think about that. Usually when you start a business you have two revenue numbers. The one you think you can reasonably reach and the one you think you could reach if literally everything went astoundingly well. Tom's team did several times better than that.

So, these stories are now part of Microsoft's corporate culture. We all know that if you want a corner office in building 33 (which is where many of the execs reside) you gotta execute on your business plan astoundingly well.

The capitalist system tells us what to do. Customers focus our attention by either trading money for our product and services or taking their money and going elsewhere. Why do you think we're so paranoid? Cause we're focused on what are customers gonna do next. We know intimately that we can be fired. Heck, our great competitors are even giving away its product for free!

Listen, we've watched companies become irrelevant nearly overnight. Look at Kodak. They were sitting high just 15 years ago. On top of the world. (I know, I bought hundreds of thousands of dollars of their product every year for my camera store) No one could do them any harm. Today their business isn't as robust. Why? Because they weren't paranoid. Cause they weren't focused on what the market (er, customers) would do with their money.

Investors in Kodak certainly are not happy.

But, it isn't so simplistic to say that everything we do is wholly focused on profits and business fundamentals. Our employees just gave $30 million to charity. More than 50% of our employees participated in that effort. Is that something we did because we're focused on only profits and investor relations? Nope.

Not to mention there's a whole lot of people here doing things that aren't focused on profits and business fundamentals. But, you'd never believe me anyway. It's too hard to put your mind around an idea that a corporation is made up of people -- all acting on their own behalf -- and that it isn't a single entity.

The Tablet PC team did something very smart. They got Lora to point out "the changes to Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition will be free upgrades to existing Tablet PC owners." That's awesome cause it means it's safe to buy a Tablet PC now and get the free upgrade later.

Sometimes when I get nostalgic I miss those two-hour taxi lines at Comdex. Lora takes us to Las Vegas so we can experience it all -- well, everything except for those taxi lines and all the "adult" entertainment fliers that Comdex attendees always get handed when they come out of the hall. She has one of the best writeups on this year's event.

OK, want to make a ton in the conference business? Here's something to do:

Put on a Camera Phone Conference. Require that all attendees must have their camera phones. Get AT&T Wireless or some cell phone carriers to sponsor it.

Sell phones outside. Just in case someone doesn't have a cell phone yet.

Inside have all sorts of fun things to take pictures of. Yes, naked people. Have you ever been to a Consumer Electronics Show? They have an entire "porn industry" hall. No one will ever admit that's why they go to the CES, but my brother and I went to a CES in the 80s and it was hard to get into the porn hall.

Have sports figures. Movie stars. Big-name CEOs. Line up to take your picture. Have someone there to run the camera phone for you.

Then, hire Alan Reiter to run a series of conference sessions and panel discussions. Instead of putting a microphone in the audience, have people call in on their phones.

Have all the big players there. Nokia. Microsoft. Motorola. Etc.

Who knows? Certainly couldn't do much worse than the enterprise-focused shows I've been a part of.

I've just subscribed to Girl Hacker (Lilly Tao). She's been doing a blog a month longer than I have (four years now). Looking good. She works on the Placewhere (er, LiveMeeting) team at Microsoft.

Greg Reinacker's NewsGator (the RSS aggregator I use) has competition! IntraVnews is free for home users. Lockergnome has an early review on its RSS Resource blog.

Joshua Hoover crosses one thing off of his "things that would make me feel better about Microsoft" list. He asks me "does this mean that Microsoft sees value in opening up their formats from a shareholders perspective?"

I honestly don't know what got this decision made. Maybe it's cause Microsoft executives read the weblogs and saw Joshua's list and wanted to increase customer satisfaction scores? I hear that now they are incented to do just that.

Dare Obasanjo (gives me heck about my rant about RSS the other day): ...your post was silly.

OK, I hear that my weblog has gotten passed around to folks in the Spot Watch team. Hi guys! Love the watches. I want one. Can I get one for a week to review? I'll post pictures. I'll make sure you get 18 new hits on your website. Or more. Heh.

Oh, and yesterday Robbin Young, who runs, came around and added some thoughts into my comments. "I don't think that the infrastructure is like an old dog that can't learn new tricks, it's like a federation of many many dogs, all needing to pull together at the same time in order to prevent chaos, to mix metaphors," she says.

It's always amazing to hear that all these important and cool people are reading and listening to me. All cause I write a freaking weblog. Think about that for a moment.

Sounds like Alan Meckler is disappointed with turnout at his cdXpo in Las Vegas. Heck, I and conference industry expert Doug Fox nailed Meckler early on for not doing something truly original and different.

I think the cards played out and Meckler didn't differentiate his show at all. It certainly never made me want to attend. He'll probably argue with me about it, but the only thing that made me slightly jealous of not being in Vegas was Lora Heiny's party where she got a ton of industry VIPs to come. Real coup for her and for Christopher Coulter, who I hear helped Lora get the big shots to show up. Hey, Alan, you should have paid them to bring the Tablet industry over to your side of the strip. I hear they had all sorts of important Tablet PC industry types except Bill Gates at her shindig.

I said earlier this year that kitchen-sink conferences with boring enterprise-focused content (what the heck is that?) just ain't gonna do well (although a specific company-focused event like an "SAP Administrator's Conference" probably would do quite well). I haven't seen any reason to change my mind -- I've been burned on Enterprise Conferences more than once and I never will be again. Certainly neither Comdex nor cdXpo was as exciting as the PDC this year. I hear even Bill Gates was boring at Comdex, while he was on top of his game at the PDC. Heck, maybe next year we should just kick Comdex out to Los Angeles and expand the PDC. Heh.

Rob Zelt has some great ideas on how Microsoft can help user's groups be even more successful. Hey, I'm doing my part. I've been to four user groups this week alone. Tonight I went to the Seattle Meetup where I met some interesting people and talked tech and blogging and stuff all night long. Thanks to Anita Rowland for inviting me.

I think Chris Pirillo has been using "AntiSocial Software" lately. Is there something called "" out there? Heh. Or, maybe it's all that Peet's coffee going to his head.

Matt Smith's blog looks, oh, so Windows XP'ish. Can't wait to see him try for a Longhorn look. But, wait for Aero. The current builds are just ugly and the Windows XP look is distinctive.

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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; 3:20:14 AM.