Came into Redmond yesterday morning for a few meetings on the Microsoft campus. Today I attended the first day of the Platform Strategy review which is held every so often by the Developer and Platform Evangelism group. The last one I attended was in 2003, which it turns out was the last one that was held. It was an NDA event, so I won’t be blogging any of the details. However, there were a few interesting thoughts that occurred to me as I listened to the presentations:
- Microsoft understands more about Web 2.0 than a lot of people give them credit for. They have a firm handle on why users are so interested. They have a pretty good developer story. They even have some interesting offerings. The question will be whether they can find one or two things to make them really different from the offerings that are out there and maybe more importantly overcome the momentum that is with their competition. Given their heritage coming from the desktop and their message about everyone living up to their potential, they could make some bold moves hear to empower the users of their web 2.0 apps to be in control of their own data.
- Microsoft is less worried about Office 2.0 than I thought they would be. I’m not sure if its wishful thinking, true belief or detached from reality. I heard more mentions of Linux than I did of Google docs and spreadsheet, Zoho or any of the other browser based office apps. What I did hear was subtle shift of focus from the core things that used to define Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) to the new things that they want to sell (Search, Portal, Content Management). While this certainly has to do with the features they need to sell, I think its no small coincidence that these are the things that many of the Office 2.0 players don’t have solutions for (at least not by name…for example, I need to think more about whether a CM system is required when its all in the cloud…).
The day ended with a ‘fireside chat’ with Ray Ozzie. I have to say I was a little underwhelmed. There were a few opportunities for him to really demonstrate the superiority of Microsoft platform and strategy and he didn’t take them. He is obviously a very smart guy, but he also seemed to be a half notch down from Gates. I’ve heard from others that he actually ‘gets it’ more than Gates, so maybe he was just having a bad day.
Heading back to Cincinnati tomorrow, so I will miss day 2, but the first day was definitely worth my time.