Remember we were at the David Allen "get things done" seminar? Well, I'm still cleaning up my life, but as a result of participating in the seminar, I've been talking with Jason Womack, who works as a coach for the David Allen Company. I evangelized him on blogging and RSS. He told me that he read blogs until early in the morning last night and got so fired up that he started his own blog.
Cool. I'm looking forward to having a productivity coach online. Now, if only I could have Jason help me keep up with my email and my comments.
Jason Mauss asks: "What goes on in Microsoft research?"
Well, I was over there this morning meeting with the social computing researchers. And Kevin Schofield gave me a tour a few weeks back.
First, they look at the trends in computing. And they make some guesses about where things might go. For instance, you might say "hey, in 2008, how many people will be weblogging and what will they need?"
There are teams that play that kind of "what ifs" with multiple monitors. Social software. 3D graphics. Etc.
Then they come up with tons of ideas that they might want to explore. Keep in mind these are smart people. Everytime I walk in the room the IQ quotient goes down by at least 30 points. Two guys I talked to with Kevin had worked at Xerox PARC.
So, they come up with a bunch of ideas. Then they build some prototypes. And they do user testing to see if their ideas have any validity.
They learn all sorts of bizarre things in this user testing. I wish I could give you some examples, but then I'd be helping our competitors out.
One thing they did learn, though: the average human is about 15% more productive if they have two screens to work at.
Anyway, hopefully Kevin will share even more about what it's like to work in Research.
Misanthropyst: my goal is to banish Redmond from my life forever.
Personally, I have egg on my face because of this issue that Misanthropyst is frustrated about and I'm gonna stay out of it if I can. I've talked with a dozen or so employees here in the hallway and no one stuck up for this behavior (if it really is true, so many stories are flying I don't know what to believe anymore).
One thing. Microsoft is 55,000 people. We don't act and think and believe the same thing. On the other side, I've gotten called by several VCs this year alone asking me what they should invest in (for some reason they think I know something about the blogging space). I've told them to invest in Technorati and Feedster and Six Apart.
When eWeek called, I let them use my quote in support about Kinzan (they make a Java tool right now).
When I was on stage at Demo, I told everyone that NewsGator had changed my life and that I use Feedster and Technorati (Feedster runs on Linux).
When I was interviewed about search engines, I gave Feedster and Technorati and Google some pretty nice plugs. They all run on Linux.
On my blog I frequently talk about my love of Tivo. That runs on Linux.
So, if you're going to hold the recommendations of someone here at Microsoft against me, you also gotta consider the good we do in the industry as well. How many Linux evangelists do you know that recommend Windows to VCs, the press, and to readers on their blogs?
Martin Spedding: All these product delays are making it harder to sell .NET to businesses.
I see a lot of frustration on the .NET weblogs today (there are a series of stories that the ship date of Visual Studio .NET codename Whidbey has slipped). I'm frustrated too. I've been interviewing people over on the Whidbey teams and they are frustrated too.
Why? Developers want to see their work used. Many of the people who are working on Whidbey have been doing so for years. They want to see you get the benefits of their work. Imagine being a photographer and having to keep the photos you shoot today secret for another year.
Anyway, the last time I tried playing PR guy, I lost credibility with my readers. So, let me talk from my perspective and heck with the PR spin.
Whenever you see a slip and a bunch of rumors, first thing to remember is you're probably not getting the whole story. How could you? Even Mary Jo Foley probably only talks with a few dozen people every week (and that's probably in a busy week) I am interviewing lots of people over in the Whidbey and Longhorn groups this month and every interview I do I learn something more about why dates and strategies shift. Almost always the answer is: the quality isn't good enough.
One of the things is that weblogs are changing how teams think. They see the concerns over product quality, feature set, and security and so team leads are trying to raise the bar in those two areas. It'll be interesting to see how they react to the frustrations shown today.
The idea that Whidbey is being slipped just because it needs to tie up with Yukon isn't wholly correct, but what if it were? Whidbey (next version of Visual Studio and the .NET framework) being tied to Yukon (next version of SQL Server) is pretty darn interesting. Why? For that you need to understand how Microsoft is organized internally. These are like two separate companies getting together on a single project.
By having the Yukon team using Whidbey technology inside SQL Server that forces the .NET team and the SQL Team to work together to really make sure that .NET is high performance, secure, and does a hell of a lot of work (marketing dweebs like me call that "robust").
So, do you want something that the Yukon team has worked on, tested, and improved? Damn straight you do. Do you want an interim build between now and then? Yeah, but at what cost? And I'm not talking money here.
Today I walked around parts of Microsoft's campus. It's a pretty big place. But, you still get the sense that there's a finite resource here: people. It takes me 10 minutes or so to walk from one end of campus to the next. Inside each of the buildings I walk past is another team, working on another project (actually, most buildings hold several different teams). If you want releases faster, then the test teams need to be taken off of what they were doing, and test the interim releases. Same for other human resources.
So, if you want us to ship more often, you are asking us to ship lower-quality stuff. It's just human. There's only so much testing one human can do in a day (and, keep in mind that even though we have tons of computers running tests 24-hours-a-day a human still needs to fix the problems found). There's only so much testing that can be done. Only so many bugs that can be fixed in a day.
Anyway, I'm frustrated too. I wish Microsoft were run more like a startup, but startups don't have to meet the quality bar that customers expect now from us. Translation: if it ain't good enough for the SQL Server team, it ain't good enough for you yet either.
Any press folks who want the official PR story? The PR folks here would be happy to talk about this stuff (just drop me a line at email@example.com and I'll introduce you). I just wanted to acknowledge the frustration I'm seeing on the various blogs out there.