Scobleizer Weblog

Daily link Tuesday, January 13, 2004

ZDNet UK takes a first look at Microsoft's Office 2004 for the Macintosh.

11:41:45 PM    comment 

Joe Hewitt wants to be able to mix and match functionality and get rid of standalone applications. Actually, he was more specific: he wants to see the death of the standalone application. Interesting ideas. But I think he's coming at it from the wrong angle. Instead, I'd just like to see software that works together better. When Microsoft talks about "seamless computing" I think this is where we're going.

This is really tough, though, to do. Why? Because everyone has a different idea on how to answer a problem. Heck, look at today's RSS News Aggregators. This is a category of software that didn't exist five years ago. Yet there are already dozens of news aggregators. Many of which work quite a bit differently than the others. Look at Howard Dean's RSS aggregator. It's completely different than the News Gator that I use. And that's completely different from Bloglines, which many of my readers use.

11:40:50 PM    comment 

Here's a page of best innovations introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show.

11:32:33 PM    comment 

Peter Rysavy purchased a SPOT watch and is blogging about it.

11:31:42 PM    comment 

I found it interesting that none of the three teams I talked with today asked me to post anything or change anything I wrote. They just wanted to lay their case out for me and let me decide what I'll put on my blog or not.

That said, I'm incented to give Microsoft more than its fair shot. Why? Cause I have some stock options. If Microsoft does well, I do well. Obviously, too, if I make executives angry at me, that makes life more difficult and makes it less likely that my career will go well.

On the other hand, I am willing to take risks and do consider my readers first when posting. If I have any power, it's cause I have readers. That's you. And I appreciate you being here very much.

11:30:27 PM    comment 

Michael Aldridge, group product manager, of consumer electronics marketing, Windows Digital Media Division, just sent me this link: 500 cool devices now play Windows Media.

10:22:06 PM    comment 

What an interesting day. First, I met with the head of the Internet Explorer team (Dean Hachamovitch). We had a nice talk. I'll talk more after I have some time to think through what I heard. The most important point is that there is, indeed, an IE team, and that they are working hard on the next few versions of Internet technologies here at Microsoft.

Then I had a meeting with the Rotor team. They took me through why Rotor is important. It's a great way for someone to get a look inside how .NET works. They give you most of the source code of .NET, so an advanced .NET programmer can look inside and gain some key insights.

Finally, tonight, the general manager of the Windows Digital Media Division invited me over for a look at some of the more than 500 devices that use Windows Media (yeah, poking a team with a stick here on a blog does get attention).

Are bloggers being taken seriously here at Microsoft? I think all three teams are listening to blogs in ways I never imagined before taking a job here.

It's an incredible time to work at Microsoft. It's an even better time to be a customer of Microsoft. If you think the execs aren't listening, all you have to do is follow me around for a day.

Will this result in better products? It sure can't hurt to tell the product teams what you want. At minimum they are reading your comments and considering what they see. At maximum, they see blogging as a whole new way to communicate and partner with the marketplace.

10:11:49 PM    comment 

Mark Cliggett is now running community efforts for Visual Studio and the .NET Framework. Cool! I gotta take him to lunch.

Mark: how do you answer the "can I get onto the Whidbey beta" questions that I get all the time?

Welcome to community work! :-)

2:34:19 AM    comment 

I was just over at Mick Stanic's blog, and saw that Microsoft Research's World Wide Media Exchange project released a travelogue-authoring tool that will allow you to create your own online travelogue out of photos, text, and optional GPS tracks. Check out Mick's "Melbourne xmas 2003" to get an idea of what you can do.

2:16:50 AM    comment 

Marc Canter is asking what is so cool about .TEXT?

I'm getting that question a lot lately. But asked in a different way "what tool should I use to blog?"

That's a difficult problem, cause there is no "best tool" out there for everyone. Sometimes I answer "Blogger." Sometimes I answer ".TEXT." Sometimes I answer "Radio UserLand." Sometimes I answer "Moveable Type." Sometimes I answer "write your own." Sometimes I answer "TypePad." Sometimes I answer "LiveJournal." Sometimes I answer "Das Blog."

But, usually it takes me a few questions to get to the answer. The questions are key, so I wrote down what I usually ask. Are there other questions I should care about?

1) Do you want to host it yourself, or do you want someone else to do the hosting?

2) Are you willing to pay to blog (even a small fee like $40 a year)?

3) Do you care about what platform the software will run on?

4) Do you care about syndication? (If yes, do you care about formats?)

5) Do you care about quality of HTML and "coolness" among other webloggers?

6) Can you handle a little bit of HTML and/or configuration or do you want something that is super easy?

7) Is there a group of bloggers that you'd like to fit in with? (Sorta the same question as #5, but more from a social point of view than a technical one).

8) Do you care about advanced features like trackbacks or comments?

2:06:10 AM    comment 

On the way to the airport last week I sat next to Andrew Gray. Fascinating guy. I meet the coolest people while traveling. He's a researcher at the Australian National University and was at Microsoft to meet with the Rotor team.

Rotor is Microsoft's shared source version of the .NET Common Language Infrastructure, whichi s an ECMA standard that describes the core of the .NET Framework world.

What's Andrew doing with Rotor? He's tearing out the garbage collector provided by Microsoft and sticking in the JMTk, a Java Memory Management Toolkit. Here's his project's home page.

Here's a few other Rotor resources:

SSCLI community web site
Developmentor's Rotor mailing list
Sam Gentile's Rotor blog
Joel Pobar's Rotor blog
Robert Hurlburt's Rotor blog
Benjamin Mitchell's Rotor blog

I sure do meet the most interesting people while traveling -- thanks Andrew for bringing me up to date with everything happening in the Rotor world.

1:54:57 AM    comment 

Michael Gartenberg talks about Steve Jobs' reactions to suggestions for a video iPod. I totally agree with Michael that Steve is missing yet another potential market (the Tablet PC being the other obvious one).

This is what happens when execs have a billion dollars and forget to visit Walmart to see how the rest of us deal with life. I'm sure that Steve's $40+ million private jet has large screens, but those of us who fly coach often sure would love a nice "video iPod." (Disclaimer: Microsoft just announced one at the CES show called the Portable Media Center).

In my drive from Silicon Valley to Seattle over the weekend, I saw TONS of SUVs with DVD and video game players going. Keeping kids busy in the back seat.

Also, when I fly I am seeing a ton of people watching DVDs on their laptops.

Both trends tell me that folks are willing to watch movies on small screens.

Michael's right, though. Time will tell whether Microsoft has a winner in its Portable Media Center. It all depends on the execution, the price, the marketing, and availability for next Christmas' buying season.

It certainly seems to me that it has the potential for a win, though.

1:39:22 AM    comment 

Interesting, a different controversy is breaking out in the syndication world. This time aggregator producers are asking "should we deal with feeds that aren't done properly?"

Greg Reinecker (the guy who writes my favorite News Aggregator) says he's gonna make his tool work with any crap that's out there.

I can see both sides of this argument, by the way. Both sides are right. Greg is right that if he wants to keep his customers happy he should deal with all feeds, no matter how poorly done they are. Dave's right that that leads to higher costs for future aggregator authors (and lockin for existing ones, since new authors might not understand, or care about, working with all the buggy code that's out there).

Therein lies a condundrum. What's the right thing to do? The engineer in me says "stay strict." The marketer in me says "serve your customers." Which way would you go if you had a similar choice?

1:26:23 AM    comment 

Phil Windley linked me to a report in Science Daily that the Navy is testing weblogging for team communications. Interesting. I need more of these kinds of stories.

Anyone else using blogs inside the corporate firewall? I know Disney is -- they will report on their project at O'Reilly's Emerging Technology conference.

Speaking of which, looks like I probably will be attending that, along with my new boss, Lenn Pryor. Still working out the details.

I'm also very honored to have gotten an invite from Chris Shipley to speak at the famous Demo conference about RSS. I'll be on a panel session about RSS.

Finally, later this month, I'll be on a panel discussion on the RSS Winterfest Webcast about, what else, RSS.

1:16:40 AM    comment 

OK, the kids at MIT have gone too far with their toilet interface. Runs on Windows, though!

1:10:12 AM    comment 

Man, my friends all have opinions on the new SPOT watches. Many are saying "they will not sell well." But many other people that I also trust are saying they love theirs and will never give them up (and, I note, no reviewer has sent their free watch to me in disgust).

Here's just some of the reactions from around the net:

David Coursey: why Microsoft's SPOT is such a dog.

Craig Skibo: "It is much better than I thought it would be."

Scott Hanselman: "The MSN Direct watch is the best PDA-watch I've seen so far."

1:07:56 AM    comment 

I was just over at Slashdot and found that a Microsoft general manager is not happy that HP has partnered with Apple on its iPod and iTunes service.

You know, I've been darn supportive of Microsoft's strategies lately. But, not this time. This strategy of "whine about lack of choice" isn't a winning one.

When someone is beating you in the marketplace, the thing to do isn't to whine about choice (and, if anyone says Apple isn't winning in the marketplace with its iPod then they are drinking far better Merlot than the $5.49 Columbia Crest stuff I can afford). A winning strategy, instead, would be to give consumers a better product and if you believe you have one, tell its story and don't knock the competition! (Hint: Do you see Apple even talking about any competition?)

I'm in the market for a music player, and I'm sorry, but I've looked at the offerings out there, and I like the way the iPod looks and feels and works -- and especially how it's marketed. Apple has killer ads (two huge billboards in downtown San Francisco alone) for the iPod. What do we have? Where's our story? Why aren't we spending the marketing money to help our partners sell our music player? Why aren't we handing players to every single blogger in an attempt to get some buzz going for our side of the fence? Heck, in fact, we should just pick the top 100 bloggers and send them a free SPOT watch, a Windows Media Center machine, a Dell music player, and a Tablet PC. That would cost, what, $4000 or less per blogger. Wanna watch the buzz that comes out of that? Apple spent about $60,000 on just two outdoor advertisements. Don't we have some marketing money sitting around someplace? $400,000 would be far more effective in getting buzz going than talking to Heck, forget the Media Center, the SPOT watch, and the Tablet PC. Then you're down to, what, $300 a piece? $30,000 in marketing funds to get some buzz going?

Does our side of the fence have a better player? Well, then, get out there and talk about it! Do we have better music player software? Then get out there and talk about it!

Start a weblog, for instance, instead of talking to I'd point to it.

Sell me. Tell me why Dell's MP3 player is better than Apple's. I haven't seen it yet. I'm in building 119. Please come over and educate me! Bring an iPod and a Microsoft-based player. Let's do a comparison. I'd even take pictures and report on what I learn.

Personally, I think we have a pretty darn good system. Look, even Russell Beattie (who usually hates Microsoft stuff) says he likes the new Napster. The new Napster is built on Microsoft technologies. I believe we have a good story, but we're losing cause we're not telling the story. Hint: start out by turning on the bloggers.

Forget talking to until you do.

12:52:52 AM    comment 

Do you have a high-resolution screen or TV that's compatible with the new Windows Media 9 player/codecs? Then check out Sean Alexander's blog. He points to the new Windows Media "High Definition" site. The samples there are awesome. But big.

12:14:59 AM    comment 

Jim Blizzard wants to get a Seattle geek dinner going on January 21. Hey, that's Meetup night! So, we should go downtown and meetup with Anita and gang.

12:01:30 AM    comment 

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© Copyright 2005
Robert Scoble
My cell phone: 425-205-1921
Are you with the press?
Last updated:
5/11/2005; 12:44:58 AM.

Robert Scoble works at Microsoft (title: technical evangelist). 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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