Joel, and others, give us hell for Live.com

Joel Spolsky gives us hell for Live.com. Tags us with “Marimba effect.”

I don’t think it was clear. This was the beginning of a major rudder turn on Microsoft.

This was Bill Gates and Ray Ozzie and others (Steve Ballmer internally) yelling at all of us to “turn, turn, turn.”

Yesterday will be remembered not because of what we announced. But because of the direction we’re now headed in.

Microsoft is no longer an applications company. It is a services company.

Don’t get caught up in the badly-pulled-off demos yesterday.

There is something a lot deeper happening inside Microsoft than that.

Yesterday I talked with Jenny Lam. You might not know her. But she’s one of Microsoft’s new leaders. To me, she’s the face of where Microsoft MUST GO.

She’s an experience designer. She designed the visual experience for the PDC. She does lots of the graphics you’ll see on the desktop of Windows Vista.

Everytime I see her touch a project, it turns into something interesting. She adds emotion. Art. Humaness. Romance. Kindness. Playfulness. And a distinctly female touch. No, stupid, not pink or flannel sheets (you’re missing the point). But the kind of touch that my wife adds to my home.

Joel: you’re right, if we just announced only Live.com it’d be tagged with its unusable and broken state. But you’re all paying attention to the wrong thing. What really was happening is Bill and Steve and Ray are saying “it’s a new day at Microsoft and everyone here better pay attention.”

Oh, I’m paying attention, all right. This whole thing is ALL about attention.

76 thoughts on “Joel, and others, give us hell for Live.com

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  6. So why doesn’t Steve or Bill come out and tell us what we are supposed to pay attention to? Do people really care if the ship is turning? How does MS turning the ship affect me today? I care about cool products that are available today!

    BTW: I finally gave MSN Desktop Search a try and it’s pretty cool. Regardless of what direction the ship is turning.

  7. So why doesn’t Steve or Bill come out and tell us what we are supposed to pay attention to? Do people really care if the ship is turning? How does MS turning the ship affect me today? I care about cool products that are available today!

    BTW: I finally gave MSN Desktop Search a try and it’s pretty cool. Regardless of what direction the ship is turning.

  8. Very often displaying one kind of cluelessness provides us with a window the reveals others.

    In your case, Robert, we see in your condescending tone regarding the “woman’s touch” which Jenny Lam brings to MS products, and which (lucky her) your wife brings to your house a very important clue as to what you think about the work you do.

    All it needs is a “touch.” A restyling. A staging, even. And then we’ll automagically and finally “get it.”

    But maybe it’s crap from the beginning? Maybe it’s founded on crap assumptions, a desperate response to a situation which is evolving away from your control? I can’t even decide which of your twinned displays of ignorance is more offensive to me…although if I was a MSFT shareholder the answer would be crystal clear.

  9. Very often displaying one kind of cluelessness provides us with a window the reveals others.

    In your case, Robert, we see in your condescending tone regarding the “woman’s touch” which Jenny Lam brings to MS products, and which (lucky her) your wife brings to your house a very important clue as to what you think about the work you do.

    All it needs is a “touch.” A restyling. A staging, even. And then we’ll automagically and finally “get it.”

    But maybe it’s crap from the beginning? Maybe it’s founded on crap assumptions, a desperate response to a situation which is evolving away from your control? I can’t even decide which of your twinned displays of ignorance is more offensive to me…although if I was a MSFT shareholder the answer would be crystal clear.

  10. I hear the presentation by Bill Gates was a major cock-up! You’d think he’d get things right. He should learn from the master

    Oh my god…that’s what MS’s corporate graphics team turns out? What, you hire 7 year olds? Pale white text on a light blue background?

    Christ, when it’s Bill Gates, you’d think you’d want it to look professional.

  11. I hear the presentation by Bill Gates was a major cock-up! You’d think he’d get things right. He should learn from the master

    Oh my god…that’s what MS’s corporate graphics team turns out? What, you hire 7 year olds? Pale white text on a light blue background?

    Christ, when it’s Bill Gates, you’d think you’d want it to look professional.

  12. I have to agree with Jason Lefkowicz (http://www.jasonlefkowitz.net/blog1archive/2005/11/microsoft_live.html).

    I didn’t know about the existence of start.com until I read his post, but as far as working, useful and customizable portals with a good user experience, start.com is far more appealing to me than live.com.

    If I were looking for a customizable portal, I might use something like this. But I’m not looking for a customizable portal. Portals are lame. Google’s portal is lame. I don’t want RSS feeds on a webpage — what’s the point when I have a newsreader? And is going to a webpage to read news directly really that much of a hassle? Is it going to kill me to load boingboing.net rather than just look at the feed, especially considering how feeds often lag?

    Del.icio.us might be the closest thing to a portal that I’m ever going to use, but it’s giving me something else: community, and the opportunity to discover and explore my interests.

  13. I have to agree with Jason Lefkowicz (http://www.jasonlefkowitz.net/blog1archive/2005/11/microsoft_live.html).

    I didn’t know about the existence of start.com until I read his post, but as far as working, useful and customizable portals with a good user experience, start.com is far more appealing to me than live.com.

    If I were looking for a customizable portal, I might use something like this. But I’m not looking for a customizable portal. Portals are lame. Google’s portal is lame. I don’t want RSS feeds on a webpage — what’s the point when I have a newsreader? And is going to a webpage to read news directly really that much of a hassle? Is it going to kill me to load boingboing.net rather than just look at the feed, especially considering how feeds often lag?

    Del.icio.us might be the closest thing to a portal that I’m ever going to use, but it’s giving me something else: community, and the opportunity to discover and explore my interests.

  14. I don’t care if it’s a rip off of someone elses idea if it works better. I don’t care if the launch demo’s didn’t go very well, I wasn’t there, I didn’t want to be there. I care about how it works. If it works and I find it useful, I’ll use it. If not, I won’t.

    So I’m a little confused that after you make a big thing about posting http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/2005/11/01/ross-doesnt-trust-microsofts-approach-to-web/ Ross Mayfield’s problems with MS, you then wonder why people are less than enthused about a new service which breaks number 7

    “On clients, they want to choose the highest-reach platforms. That doesn’t mean a Windows app. Or even an app that runs only in IE. It must run on every variant of Linux and Macintosh too.”

    very badly. “Coming soon in Firefox” is a load of crap, you’ve just announced to the world that once again you only really care about IE. Firefox will probably come in 6 months or something, while us Opera users are still left in the dark, are we going to get supported or not? I’ve read around to see if it works in Safari or anything.

    So after trying to say that you want to do something about the list of problems, people are then nagging at you because this big new thing you’ve launched breaks “5) That Microsoft doesn’t care about small businesses(markets, those browsers with less market share for example)”, “7) On clients, they want to choose the highest-reach platforms.”, “10) More security.”, and they are jsut the easy to argue ones.

    I ignored gmail untill it worked in Opera. I’ll ignore this until it does as well.

  15. I don’t care if it’s a rip off of someone elses idea if it works better. I don’t care if the launch demo’s didn’t go very well, I wasn’t there, I didn’t want to be there. I care about how it works. If it works and I find it useful, I’ll use it. If not, I won’t.

    So I’m a little confused that after you make a big thing about posting http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/2005/11/01/ross-doesnt-trust-microsofts-approach-to-web/ Ross Mayfield’s problems with MS, you then wonder why people are less than enthused about a new service which breaks number 7

    “On clients, they want to choose the highest-reach platforms. That doesn’t mean a Windows app. Or even an app that runs only in IE. It must run on every variant of Linux and Macintosh too.”

    very badly. “Coming soon in Firefox” is a load of crap, you’ve just announced to the world that once again you only really care about IE. Firefox will probably come in 6 months or something, while us Opera users are still left in the dark, are we going to get supported or not? I’ve read around to see if it works in Safari or anything.

    So after trying to say that you want to do something about the list of problems, people are then nagging at you because this big new thing you’ve launched breaks “5) That Microsoft doesn’t care about small businesses(markets, those browsers with less market share for example)”, “7) On clients, they want to choose the highest-reach platforms.”, “10) More security.”, and they are jsut the easy to argue ones.

    I ignored gmail untill it worked in Opera. I’ll ignore this until it does as well.

  16. I follow how live.com is a shift to delivering applications in an open and standarized manner (IE via Javascript and HTML), but I don’t follow how it represents a change to a services business. Is it because the goals of Microsoft (the software company) and MSN (the user community services) are now aligned?

  17. I follow how live.com is a shift to delivering applications in an open and standarized manner (IE via Javascript and HTML), but I don’t follow how it represents a change to a services business. Is it because the goals of Microsoft (the software company) and MSN (the user community services) are now aligned?

  18. Robert, I agree with a lot of the comments here–the announcements yesterday were premature, MSFT should have waited until there was more meat–and I’ll go one further.

    Can you fix what already ships today? I have Hotmail accounts that are sucked down to Outlook using a 3rd party utility (since MSN rudely shut off the direct feed) and I have the junk mail filters turned on for both systems. How come Hotmail lets through messages that Outlook marks as spam? If anything Hotmail’s filters should be fresher than Outlook’s.

    If you want me to move to new online services instead of desktop apps, show me you can make them work as well first.

  19. Robert, I agree with a lot of the comments here–the announcements yesterday were premature, MSFT should have waited until there was more meat–and I’ll go one further.

    Can you fix what already ships today? I have Hotmail accounts that are sucked down to Outlook using a 3rd party utility (since MSN rudely shut off the direct feed) and I have the junk mail filters turned on for both systems. How come Hotmail lets through messages that Outlook marks as spam? If anything Hotmail’s filters should be fresher than Outlook’s.

    If you want me to move to new online services instead of desktop apps, show me you can make them work as well first.

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