Scobleizer Weblog

Daily Permalink Saturday, November 29, 2003

Mike Sax: Is XAML the future of the Web?

Mike's headline is misleading, cause the rest of the article gets it right: XAML is the future of displaying information in Windows. But, I don't expect most of the Web to adopt XAML. Why not? Because the Web is about reach. XAML is about richness.

When you design a site, you're gonna have to make a choice between reach and richness. Just like today. If you use Macromedia's Flash, you reduce your reach. Google doesn't see it, for instance. And some people still don't have Flash players or they turn them off.

As much as I'd love to see a world that's all Longhorn, let's be realistic: that won't happen. So, there's no way that I'm going to say to a Web developer "give up HTML and go with XAML."

But, you will see some business build two sites: one in HTML and one in XAML. Why? Because they'll be able to offer their customers experiences that are impossible to deliver in HTML. Imagine if Amazon could sell 10% more stuff to a Longhorn customer than an HTML one. Now you understand why Amazon was on stage with us at the PDC.

Keith Pleas makes a plea for a Visual Basic that can do stuff that C# can't. The reader comments on his blog are interesting too.

By the way, the interview in Business Week is the first time I've seen Steve Ballmer saying we have more to do on anti-trust matters. "We're farther than 20% and less than 80%. I think we've made appreciable progress, yet I would be the first to say that I know our customers and our industry would want us to still do better."

Steve Gillmor at eWeek: Look Out, Outlook: RSS Ahead in 2004.

Hey, Steve, hear of NewsGator! I already have RSS in Outlook!

Personally I think it's gonna take a lot longer than Steve thinks. A lot of my smart and geeky friends still haven't discovered the productivity power of RSS and even some who have, give me a list of reasons it isn't good enough (feeds don't consistently include all content, feeds don't have comments integrated).

Steve Ballmer talks with Business Week. $12 a year is what he claims Windows costs -- and compares the value people receive from that to $100-per-month cell phone bills. Interesting interview.

Microsoft Monitor talks about the new online demo of Sharepoint. I use Sharepoint all the time internally to share information, documents, and pictures with co-workers.

Tonight I had dinner with someone who works for Werner Ladders. He tells a sad story. They used to sell $600 million worth of ladders. Then they lost their best customer (Home Depot) to a ladder manufacturer in China. Home Depot was buying $150 million per year.

It's a story heard often lately. It's cheaper to manufacture overseas due to lower labor costs.

My host said he doesn't know what the company could do to get that business back. Similar stories are over at Fast Company magazine's article about Wal-Mart.

The other side of this process is that this forces workers to go back to school and retrain, which makes the economy even stronger. Remember one of my high school jobs? Working the assembly line at Hewlett Packard. Today none of that kind of work is done in Silicon Valley. Do we miss those jobs? Not really. I sure couldn't imagine spending my life plugging components into a mother board.

But, it's painful to lose good paying jobs due to commoditization. I wonder, when will my job be commoditized? Probably sooner than you might think!

By the way, what's the alternative to commoditization? Come up with something new! How do you do that? Hint: it ain't by treating your workers like crud and giving them four-year-old computers to work on.

Look at Walmart: they are one of the biggest IT users in the planet. How did Walmart know it sold $1.52 billion worth of stuff yesterday? IT! Are they able to outrun their competition? I think the answer is astoundingly clear.

On Thanksgiving we went over to visit my brother Ben. He runs a Matco tool dealership in Oakland (translation: he's not a geek). He recently bought a new Dell computer. Of course I got called on to do technical support.

So, I went over to and learned he hadn't loaded the latest critical updates (had most of them, though). He also had not turned on his firewall.

Then I noticed his new LCD screen looked blurry. I turned on Cleartype (you can turn that on and adjust it with the Cleartype Web Interface here). But the screen still didn't look good.

So, I started playing around with the screen resolution. I knew that LCDs only work properly at one resolution. His was set to 1024x768. I switched it to 1280x1024 and it became 20 times sharper. Wow, what a difference. Yes, it's lame that the monitor control panel even gives you a choice of resolutions. I hope we fix that with Longhorn. If a monitor only supports one resolution, it should only allow your resolution to be set to that one resolution.

We're going to Merced today. Too bad I didn't arrange a lunch with Rob Fahrni or Richard Caetano. They live near Merced and I've always wanted to see the Pistachio factory that they work at (they run the whole thing with a Tablet PC app).

Maybe next time.

Speaking of Tablet PCs, anyone see Robert X Cringley's opinion that Apple is about to do a Tablet PC? He wonders why Microsoft continues to spend on the Tablet PC despite, what he called dismal sales.

First of all, the numbers I've heard aren't that dismal at all. Second of all, it takes time to introduce a new idea to the marketplace. Doesn't it take the mass market until version 3.0? We haven't even gotten to version 2.0 yet (Lonestar is it, and it's in beta now).

Second of all, Microsoft (and really any company that's involved in the computer world) must grow the market. How do you do that? By making it possible to use computers in places where they aren't possible to use right now. Look at the pistachio factory. Their workers walk around. Before the Tablet PC, their only choices were PocketPCs or Palm style computers. Problem is, those are really underpowered and can't run the full version of Visual Studio.NET -- which makes development much harder and less iterative. Richard and Rob can walk around the factory floor and if they notice a problem they can add a feature right there and recompile. That's pretty difficult to do with a PocketPC isn't it?

If Apple does bring a Tablet PC to the market, it would make Steve Jobs even stronger in my eyes (not that he needs that, of course, since he brought Apple back from the brink of going out of business to being a company that is pushing around markets again). Why? Because it would show me that he's not religious about his beliefs and that he's willing to admit he was wrong. I don't think a younger Steve Jobs would have done that (at least not based on some of the conversations I've had with Wozniak about Jobs).

Arcterex has a story he thinks I will ignore (the Register has a story that we're delaying payment on a Californian class action lawsuit due to getting involved in collecting the payments and giving out Linux software in return). I'm not a lawyer, but I don't think class action lawsuits were designed to put money in the pockets of your competitors. Were they?

Dana VanDen says that mom and dad will never get into RSS. He says they don't care and won't want to load some new software.

If he's talking about the short term, of course he's right. But, what if you take a decade-long view? I'm convinced that 10 years from now most users will use some sort of syndication feed reader to read the Web. The advantages are just too vast to ignore.

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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; 3:25:42 AM.