So, I've posted a bunch more to my experimental aggregator blog. Including an article about a new Macintosh OSX virus and a funny video from Adam Curry.
Now that I've been doing it for a few days, what do you think? Is this useful? It's useful to me, if not to any of you. Why? Because now I have a way to search for my favorite items on Google.
Because of that alone I'll probably keep doing it.
It is amazing what you find when you read 1400+ blogs.
Today I got Chris Sells to give me a tour of MSDN. I was filming him and we were popping into Sara Williams' meeting and visiting MSDN developer's offices (we even went into Sara's office and pretended we ran the MSDN world for a few minutes). In the middle of the tour Chris Kinsman popped out of the kitchen. That was funny. He's not even an employee. Just was visiting for the day.
Of course, that made his blog. Oh, a new meme: where on campus is Channel9?
Of course I'm keeping Kinsman in the video. That'll be up in a week or so. Got more of Beda and Kam Vedbrat and many others to get up first.
Michael Gartenberg in ComputerWorld: Perfect storm brewing for Microsoft?
Michael's thesis is that Microsoft is headed for tough times due to Longhorn slipping, lack of upgrading activity to Windows XP, and not having good enough evangelism/marketing for the current OS.
Michael's right. At least he is if you frame the argument that way.
There's a few things, though, that Michael didn't mention. First, the Tablet PC. We're about to release a fantastic and major upgrade to the Tablet PC as part of the Windows XP Service Pack 2. This release dramatically improves the Tablet PC experience. And customers are starting to notice. I'm starting to see more and more Tablet PCs in the airplanes when I fly, and it's not just Microsoft employees either. Even at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology conference I noticed more Tablet PCs this year. Since most people really haven't considered (or even seen) a Tablet PC, the new version that's coming this summer will let us start a new conversation with many customers.
More people are like Lisa Williams, who says "she gets it," after thinking I was nuts for constantly pushing the Tablet PC.
Second, Michael doesn't give credit to Windows XP Service Pack 2. This isn't just a bug fix like most service packs. It delivers major new functionality that customers are clamoring for: security and wireless and Bluetooth support.
Third, I've seen an ear-to-the-ground approach I haven't sensed in years. I sat in on many MVP meetings this week and the teams are engaged, listening, and delivering things they've asked for. Watch for hot new products from MSN, Windows Media, Tablet PC, and many other groups this year.
Fourth, we've been very open with Longhorn. That's going to pay off next year with a beta that's going to incorporate lots of the feedback we got on newsgroups and blogs after the PDC.
But, don't take my comeback incorrectly: Microsoft's evangelism and marketing efforts +are+ coming up short in many areas. We'll have more to say on that front soon. Channel9 was just the first attempt at changing that problem (and it won't really hit stride for a month or so, despite its early success).
Microsoft Monitor amplifies my point about "the thrift culture" here at Microsoft.
This is what I hoped would happen with the Wiki built into Channel9: a directory of Longhorn blogs.
Now, why not start a directory of other things? For instance, the C# MVPs could start a directory of C# blogs. The FoxPro guys could start a directory of FoxPro sites. Etc.
Larry O'Brien thinks that webloggers at Microsoft are being controlled by PR. Er, told to talk about certain issues.
Actually, in reality it's the other way around. I have noticed a couple of times that things I've written have shown up a day later in executive speeches. Methinks they are reading me and taking the stuff that makes sense (which is probably why it only happens occassionally). Also, if a customer calls me and complains about our stance on something, that generally means there's a bigger issue at work here. The PR guys here tend to be very smart and very connected into what's going on.
There's is another part of Microsoft's culture, though, that could be to blame. We have internal mailing lists. Often times folks here will be emailing back and forth on a specific topic. Usually these emails are interesting and sometimes even heated. Where there's conflict, there's an interesting blog post. So, I blog, and then PR does something too. Looks real coordinated and sinister, even when it's not.
What's really funny is that PR folks here very rarely talk to me. Seriously.
It's even worse than that. Today I was interviewing Chris Sells of MSDN for Channel9. We were doing it in the lobby of building 5, one of the older buildings on campus. Just me and him and a video camera. Talking to tens of thousands of people. Maybe hundreds of thousands by the time the interview will get on Channel9 (I have several weeks of videos already in Channel9's inventory). There were no PR people around. No lawyers. No execs making sure we're "on message."
We were joking about this about Microsoft's culture (I can't imagine being able to do this kind of work at any other company -- most seem to want to control their messages too much to let five guys put videos out on the Web without much, if any, official oversight). It was one of the things that most blew Sells away when he came here. Before he worked here he thought everything ran top-down and was controlled. Instead, he found, people are expected to do their jobs and do them right with very little oversight. It's chaotic inside the beast, and not controlled at all. But, we communicate rapidly and share tons of stories internally in our networks. That's why to the outside world it looks very controlling and synchronized.
By the way, Anand M. who runs one of the largest .NET user groups in India was just in my office taking us to task for "pulling back from discussing Longhorn." He says we've gone too quiet on Longhorn and that's sending mixed-messages to developers around the world.
So, if you see me discussing Longhorn more in the near future, you have Anand to blame. :-)