Being the Forest, Forgetting the Trees

Microsoft is on the cusp of shipping a whole forest of new products. Vista, .Net 3.0, Office 2007 and * stuff than you can poke a branch/stick at. All of which presents Microsoft with some tall challenges. How does a single tree get noticed? How does the world find the saplings that are going to be the next Sequoiadendron giganteum? Does the forest work together as a cohesive eco-system?

Today, thanks to Microsoft Australia’s, Frank Arrigo, I attended the Blogger’s Brunch. Great of Microsoft to reach out to a section of the local technology blogging community. None of the attendees (except Angus Kidman and Nic) are famous in the blogosphere, but on the internets – noone knows you are an Australian.

Whilst having been a Microsoft customer since 1984 (Microsoft Basic 1.0 on a Macintosh 128K – and the box is in storage somewhere), I am a relative noob to “marketectural” Microsoft. The speak is strangely familiar to my ears.

The following are some random thoughts and un-expressed questions from this morning’s session:

  • To the Microsoft PR people. Sorry it paralleled Microsoft-Groove/Ray Ozzie history with Apple-NeXT/Steve Jobs. To Frank Arrigo. Sorry I stated that the * people are having fun being compatible with all the versions of Internet Explorer rather than implement Firefox support. Both of these were intended as jokes, not memes.
  • Today’s Australian Financial Review’s IT section has quotes from various large Australian financial organisations stating that they are taking a wait-and-see approach to Windows Vista. Some are only now installing Windows XP. These organisations state they will install Vista in 2-3 years. I find this quite interesting as it has taken them 4-5 years to install Windows XP. Personally, I am concerned if a large financial organisation is not running a recent, up to date, tested and secure OS on all their desktop computers. I’d love to know what features in upcoming products are direct feedback from Australian customers. This would show that the software development process is a two-way street.
  • Sharepoint should evolve into * server for the Enterprise. If Vista has all the hooks, and the connected/disconnected world and new applications are going to be mashed (lashed?) together with live stuff, this seems like a logical move. However, large organizations will be reluctant to put all their data into the world’s cloud for all to stumble upon. I am no expert on Sharepoint and all the positioning stuff, but it seems there might be a little “tension” (not a bad thing, mind you) between these two environments.* is garnering the mindshare as it is new-ish; many of the APIs and licensing models are to be determined. Come to think about it, these are probably the two reasons why they are still separate. Revenue and developer penetration.
  • After hearing about the IT professionals fawned over the coolness of Vista infrastructure deployment … I left the session (both mentally and physically) asking “what are Microsoft’s customers going to do with all these fine trees?”Customers doing meaningful stuff with Microsoft’s software so that they can impress their customers is where it is at. Marketing people might call it Unlocking the value of the platform.
  • Virtualization on the desktop has been one of my “things” for a while, so it’s interesting to hear that VirtualPC is to be included in the Enterprise version of Vista. Whilst listening to the intricacies of Vista vs XP deployment, my mind was racing thinking about the future of operating systems.So here goes: why is the Enterprise desktop so fat? Why not have a Singularity-based OS with .Net 3.0 Framework as the API. Win32 + other legacy apps could be virtualized to the desktop. As the world and work becomes more connected, the smart client at the edge of the network will have a different face.

In summary, I groked that Microsoft groks (sorry, Heinlein) the world as it exists today. Ensuring that no trees are felled in the rush to market is going to be an interesting challenge.

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