Is Facebook worth the hype?

Tons of really great analysis is up on my link blog of the Facebook stuff. Plus a ton of other great blogs.

Is Facebook worth the hype? Consider that in the past three weeks more people have joined Facebook than are on Second Life. Second Life has been around for years and got a ton of hype because it makes cool images to put into other media.

Even on Twitter there’s been a ton of posts tonight about folks playing with joining Facebook and Twitter.

Translation: yes.

Microsoft postpones PDC

Mary Jo Foley (she’s been covering Microsoft for a long time) has the news: Microsoft has postponed the PDC that it had planned for later this year.

The PDC stands for “Professional Developer’s Conference.” It happens only when Microsoft knows it’ll have a major new platform to announce. Usually a new version of Windows or a new Internet strategy.

So, this means a couple of things: no new Windows and no major new Internet strategy this year.

Contrast this to Google who is holding a huge developer day next week (it sold out, so I won’t even bother linking to it). Or Facebook, who held a big developer-centric shindig today.

Some other things I’m hearing about the next version of Windows? There still is a ban on .NET code in core parts of Windows. They aren’t getting enough performance yet from .NET to include code written in it inside major parts of Windows. This is a bummer, because .NET is a lot easier to write than C++ and letting Microsoft’s developers write .NET code for Windows would unleash a bunch of innovation.

The person who told me this (who works at Microsoft) told me .NET still takes too long to startup and load into memory and because Windows is now being compared to OSX they can’t afford to ship components that would slow down Windows.

Before every MVP jumps me in the alley yes, I know the .NET runtimes ship with Vista. But almost no Vista code was written in .NET (if any, actually). Microsoft tries to keep this secret because they know it gives a black eye to .NET. After all, if Microsoft is unwilling to use it to develop Windows or Office, why should the rest of us base our life on it? Easy, it’s a lot more productive for the rest of us to write code in .NET and now Silverlight, which uses .NET’s compiler and part of its framework at heart, than to fall back to C++. Pick the right tool for the job and all that.

It also means that Ray Ozzie’s team probably doesn’t have anything dramatic to announce yet and they aren’t willing to have live within the bounds of a forcing function like the PDC (PDC forces teams to get their acts together and finish off stuff enough to at least get some good demos together).

The last few PDCs haven’t exactly been huge successes, though. Hailstorm was announced at one and later was killed. Longhorn was announced at another and later was delayed and many things that were shown off were later killed too.

Now that Google, Amazon, Apple, are shipping platforms that are more and more interesting to Microsoft’s developer community Microsoft has to play a different game. One where they can’t keep showing off stuff that never ships. The stakes are going up in the Internet game and Microsoft doesn’t seem to have a good answer to what’s coming next.

Some other things I’m hearing from the Windows team? That they are still planning out the next version of Windows. So, I don’t expect to see a beta until 2008 (probably second half of the year, if we see one at all) and I don’t expect to see a major new version of Windows to ship until 2009.

Anyway, this is sad cause I was hoping to see Microsoft make an all out push for developers this year.

What do you think it all means? Am I reading too much in between the lines?

Better “lifecasting” with Veodia

Funny, instead of heading up to the big Facebook shindig I went down to Veodia. Never heard of them? Well, Rafe Needleman, who runs the Webware blog, used Veodia to broadcast the Facebook shindig to the world.

Unfortunately the video that Rafe did is totally useless and doesn’t show off Veodia very well. If we’re going to do live cameras we need to have microphones that are directional. They are expensive. The one I used at CES cost about $900 but only picked up whoever you aim at.

Anyway, Veodia is aiming their service more at corporate types than competitors like Justin.tv, Ustream.tv, or the just-announced Blogtv.com.

What makes it better than those? For one, it uses standard MPEG, not Flash. So it works on Apple TV and iPods. For two, the quality usually is a lot better (if you have enough bandwidth to send a decent signal, which Rafe didn’t have).

Also, it does a lot better job at recording what’s being sent than Ustream does (it does it on the server side automatically and automatically replaces the video stream with the recording at the end of a broadcast).

Some cons against Veodia? They aren’t going with an advertising-based business model. That means they are going to charge the content providers if they use more than a preset amount of bandwidth (which hasn’t been set yet). While it’s free it’s a great service (and there will be a free version, even after they come out of beta) but it could get pricey for someone like me who can get thousands of people to watch a single show.

Also, they don’t yet support 16:9 video format so on Apple TV the video doesn’t fill the screen the way that my show, for instance, does. But they are working on that.

Oh, and you can only encode video from a PC so far, they are working on a Mac version.

Anyway, I’m running about three to four week lead times on my show, so this interview will be up in about a month.

It’s Facebook day

Everyone I talk to is interested in Facebook. Every week they are adding about a million new users and growing 3.3%.

Mike Arrington of TechCrunch is at a big shindig in San Francisco and will report throughout the afternoon.

Why is Facebook so valueable? Well, I had lunch with a venture capitalist today and he explained to me just how much information and how much time the average Facebook user is putting into the system. It’s going to let Facebook deliver very targeted advertising, he told me. Much more than many more popular sites. Look at Digg, for instance, Can you figure anything out about the users of Digg? No. So, how will you send targeted advertising to them?

Facebook is one of two services (LinkedIn being the other) where my readers beg me to join almost every day. I’m going to give in soon. Oh, and there are lots of other bloggers at the Facebook developer shindig too. TechMeme already is linking to most of them. Anything else that’s cool will be on my link blog.