Microsoft researchers make me cry

It’s not often that I see software that really changes my world. It’s even rarer that I see software that I know will change the world my sons live in. I can count those times pretty easily. The first time I saw an Apple II in 1977. When Richard Cameron showed me Apple’s Hypercard. Microsoft’s Excel. Aldus’ Pagemaker. And something called Photoshop, all in his West Valley Community College classroom. Later when I saw Marc Andreessen’s Netscape running the WWW. ICQ and Netmeeting which laid the ground for Skype.

Like I said, these things don’t happen often.

Yesterday was one of those days. Curtis Wong and Jonathan Fay, researchers at Microsoft, fired up their machines and showed me something that I can’t tell you about until February 27th. I’m sure you’ll read about his work in the New York Times or TechCrunch, among other places. It’s too inspiring to stay a secret for long.

While watching the demo I realized the way I look at the world was about to change. While listening to Wong I noticed a tear running down my face. It’s been a long while since Microsoft did something that had an emotional impact on me like that.

Why torment you with a post like this? Because it’s my way of making sure that stuff that really is extraordinary gets paid attention to. And because I wanted to get down the emotional impact of what I saw before that feeling totally wears off. I also wanted to get down some lessons that others at Microsoft might learn from so that they can have this kind of impact in their own work. Imagine if Microsoft did 10 things a year like what Curtis and Jonathan showed me yesterday? If the innovation engine at Microsoft were working that well there wouldn’t be any pressure to buy Yahoo. Heck, and if there were a constant stream of stuff like what I saw yesterday Yahoo wouldn’t be resisting going to Microsoft. They’d +want+ to go to Microsoft. Yesterday is the first time since leaving that I wish I were back working at Microsoft.

Now, I can hear Christopher Coulter in my head. The thing these two guys did won’t have a business impact the way, say, Microsoft Office did. There isn’t a business model here. But does every damn thing need a business model? Does a scientific paper that changes the world need a business model? Does it need more audience than just the other 50 scientists in the world who care about that topic? No.

But back to that tear.

Note that it wasn’t a team of 100 people who did it. Two guys with a supporting cast of maybe a dozen. I’ve noticed a trend at Microsoft: that the coolest stuff is done by small teams without a ton of resources. Down the hall from Wong and Fay was researcher Andy Wilson. When I walked into his lab he was working on another cool surface computing technology for Microsoft’s upcoming Tech Fest (which happens March 4). He, and another researcher, were playing with a cool round screen. You might know of Andy’s work: it was his research and demos that convinced Microsoft to build the Surface device which you touch with your hands.

No need for big teams. I never sense a lot of bureaucracy or politics in either of these two guys’ offices.

Back to Wong and Fay’s work.

Could they have done this at a Silicon Valley startup? I doubt it. Venture Capitalists won’t see enough business value in what they are doing. Plus they would need to build a team around them, work out a business plan. Invest their own capital and time building a prototype so that people “get it.” If I told you today what they were doing, without showing you the video we’ll have up on March 3, you’d tell me “that’s lame Scoble.” But when you see it face-to-face everyone I know who’s seen it say they’ve had an emotional reaction to it. Buzz Bruggeman, CEO of ActiveWords, was the first to tell me about it and said it was the best thing he’s seen in years from Microsoft.

Maybe it could be done, but they’ve been traveling all over the world working with researchers from other institutions and getting data for their new thing. It’s a lot easier to get access when you say “I’m a researcher at Microsoft” than when you say “I’m building a startup.”

Other lessons? Keep up to date on the latest things happening in your industry. In Wong and Fey’s work you’ll see techniques that lots of startups are using and, even, that the Google Map team is using. This isn’t stuff that was possible in 1995 so it requires 2008-style Web services and data centers.

Anyway, I’m getting all geeky on you (today Rocky and I are heading to Amazon to talk with Jeff Barr of the team that built its S3 and EC2 services, among others, so that’s probably why I’m ramping up my geek level) but that shouldn’t take away that these two guys got me to cry yesterday.

And that was a good thing. Two guys working inside a big company still can change the world. Can’t wait to talk more about what they’ve done. They’ll have a bunch of press on February 27 and our video will be up on FastCompany.tv on March 3.

UPDATE: I’ve updated this post with a few additions here.

Comments

  1. Th goal of your post is achieved.
    I’m happy to see that the big MS can let people work on cool stuff. It would be interesant to know if is an exception or if there are many projects like this one at Microsoft.
    Small teams is the best way to go ;-)

  2. Can’t wait to see/hear/read about this… whatever it is :) Hey, that’ll get awfully close to Apple’s iPhone SDK deadline too… hm.

    I love to hear about small teams or even an evangelist within one large co. making amazing things. I love it more when those things are productized without the sould being ripped away from them (ala Golden Compass).

  3. Th goal of your post is achieved.
    I’m happy to see that the big MS can let people work on cool stuff. It would be interesant to know if is an exception or if there are many projects like this one at Microsoft.
    Small teams is the best way to go ;-)

  4. Can’t wait to see/hear/read about this… whatever it is :) Hey, that’ll get awfully close to Apple’s iPhone SDK deadline too… hm.

    I love to hear about small teams or even an evangelist within one large co. making amazing things. I love it more when those things are productized without the sould being ripped away from them (ala Golden Compass).

  5. Robert…

    …congrats on the tech peak experience…

    I experienced it once…I was a “temp” for the “thinker” at Lockheed Martin corporate headquarters in Bethesda, MD. A new beta test product called “Netscape” arrived and they wanted us to look at it. As the thinker invested corporate money 5 years out, he was too busy so he tossed it to me.

    I installed it and sat transfixed for 3 days as the world opened in living color on the screen.

    At the time, I was typing 3 lines of difficult code into “Sailor” the Maryland library online network for online access in dreary, black and white letters.

    Then I found out Brown & Co. was the IPO agent. I called to invest in Netscape. The broker laughed and me and asked if I was a “serious” investor. I said, “Serious as a heart attack.” He replied, “No…I mean can you raise $400,000 cash in 15 minutes if I need you to.”

    Needless to say, I was not able to invest in the Netscape IPO…but I did have the thrill of seeing the wonder of it months before it launched.

    Not often those centers in the brain blaze…writing poetry, picking up a newborn, finding love…but they’re grand when they happen. Glad to hear you found such a moment.

  6. Funny you should say that Robert, Microsoft products tend to make me cry……..with rage – generally about 3 or 4 times a day.

    Windows XP – takes ages to start up and shut down
    Outlook – takes years to start up and stabilise, tends to crash about twice a day
    Word – annoys me generally

    I don’t use IE as it’s a total piece of junk but I guess I get along with Windows Live Messenger and Excel OK, but it doesn’t make me emotional.

  7. Robert…

    …congrats on the tech peak experience…

    I experienced it once…I was a “temp” for the “thinker” at Lockheed Martin corporate headquarters in Bethesda, MD. A new beta test product called “Netscape” arrived and they wanted us to look at it. As the thinker invested corporate money 5 years out, he was too busy so he tossed it to me.

    I installed it and sat transfixed for 3 days as the world opened in living color on the screen.

    At the time, I was typing 3 lines of difficult code into “Sailor” the Maryland library online network for online access in dreary, black and white letters.

    Then I found out Brown & Co. was the IPO agent. I called to invest in Netscape. The broker laughed and me and asked if I was a “serious” investor. I said, “Serious as a heart attack.” He replied, “No…I mean can you raise $400,000 cash in 15 minutes if I need you to.”

    Needless to say, I was not able to invest in the Netscape IPO…but I did have the thrill of seeing the wonder of it months before it launched.

    Not often those centers in the brain blaze…writing poetry, picking up a newborn, finding love…but they’re grand when they happen. Glad to hear you found such a moment.

  8. Funny you should say that Robert, Microsoft products tend to make me cry……..with rage – generally about 3 or 4 times a day.

    Windows XP – takes ages to start up and shut down
    Outlook – takes years to start up and stabilise, tends to crash about twice a day
    Word – annoys me generally

    I don’t use IE as it’s a total piece of junk but I guess I get along with Windows Live Messenger and Excel OK, but it doesn’t make me emotional.

  9. hitting google we get this description of the research group that these guys belong to:
    “Microsoft Next Media Research group focuses on exploring what new consumer media experiences are possible with the growth in computing power, connectivity and storage in a compelling, elegant and transparent way in the 3 to 10 year timeframe. The group envisions consumer information and entertainment experiences not available today and builds or combines technologies from other Microsoft Research groups and crafts intuitive user interfaces and compelling scenarios to deliver that experience. Rather than focus on old media or new media, the group attempts to develop working prototypes of the Next forms of media possible from new convergent technologies, hence the name.”

  10. hitting google we get this description of the research group that these guys belong to:
    “Microsoft Next Media Research group focuses on exploring what new consumer media experiences are possible with the growth in computing power, connectivity and storage in a compelling, elegant and transparent way in the 3 to 10 year timeframe. The group envisions consumer information and entertainment experiences not available today and builds or combines technologies from other Microsoft Research groups and crafts intuitive user interfaces and compelling scenarios to deliver that experience. Rather than focus on old media or new media, the group attempts to develop working prototypes of the Next forms of media possible from new convergent technologies, hence the name.”

  11. this is a link where two guys present together last year http://www.tmspa.com/Speakers_Talks.html

    How you can use the WorldWide Telescope”

    Jonathan Fay

    The WorldWide Telescope project will open up astronomy education and exploration like never before. Jonathan Fay, a Principal Research Software Engineer on the project, will discuss how you can use the WorldWide telescope to explore, create and share educational narratives and even register your own astronomical images so they can be viewed in the context of the virtual sky. An interactive demo of the WWT Virtual Sky and authoring tools will be presented. There will also be a discussion of the technical challenges involved in bringing together the data necessary to open up the universe over the Internet.

    Are we talking about astro-browser? I hope not.

  12. this is a link where two guys present together last year http://www.tmspa.com/Speakers_Talks.html

    How you can use the WorldWide Telescope”

    Jonathan Fay

    The WorldWide Telescope project will open up astronomy education and exploration like never before. Jonathan Fay, a Principal Research Software Engineer on the project, will discuss how you can use the WorldWide telescope to explore, create and share educational narratives and even register your own astronomical images so they can be viewed in the context of the virtual sky. An interactive demo of the WWT Virtual Sky and authoring tools will be presented. There will also be a discussion of the technical challenges involved in bringing together the data necessary to open up the universe over the Internet.

    Are we talking about astro-browser? I hope not.

  13. I wonder if it has anything to do with Computational Photography, such as my latest effort here in Chicago…

    http://flickr.com/photos/–mike–/2264482503/

    It’s supposed to be a jaw dropping photo showing the Chicago Cultural Center in perfect clarity, with the trees that obscure it blurred away… but… the focus is wrong… oops. Those 100meter frames of virtual film are so touchy about focus ;-)

    After your interview with Mark Levoy in PodTech, I got very interested in experimenting with my camera as a sensor, and learning more about lightfields.

    I hope some day to be able to automatically generate a 3d model of things, like the folks at Microsofts have been doing, but with open source tools.

  14. I wonder if it has anything to do with Computational Photography, such as my latest effort here in Chicago…

    http://flickr.com/photos/–mike–/2264482503/

    It’s supposed to be a jaw dropping photo showing the Chicago Cultural Center in perfect clarity, with the trees that obscure it blurred away… but… the focus is wrong… oops. Those 100meter frames of virtual film are so touchy about focus ;-)

    After your interview with Mark Levoy in PodTech, I got very interested in experimenting with my camera as a sensor, and learning more about lightfields.

    I hope some day to be able to automatically generate a 3d model of things, like the folks at Microsofts have been doing, but with open source tools.

  15. Robert,
    Given that the researchers are part of the “Next Media” group at Microsoft, it wouldn’t surprise me if they’ve come up with something earth-shattering that’s related to way people commune with their media. They work with concepts for broadcast and museums, so their work could offer endless educational possibilities; which is what I hope it is. I also agree with “Andre” in that statement.

    I look forward to what they’re doing. They have many impressive projects coming out of there and beat many competitors to the punch – they just don’t market them all! Sadly, sometimes…

  16. Robert,
    Given that the researchers are part of the “Next Media” group at Microsoft, it wouldn’t surprise me if they’ve come up with something earth-shattering that’s related to way people commune with their media. They work with concepts for broadcast and museums, so their work could offer endless educational possibilities; which is what I hope it is. I also agree with “Andre” in that statement.

    I look forward to what they’re doing. They have many impressive projects coming out of there and beat many competitors to the punch – they just don’t market them all! Sadly, sometimes…

  17. Googling the two names seems to offer some support to Gaspar’s comment. If so, I look forward to seeing what they’ve done. I reserve the right not to shed tears though. You bally Yanks are far too emotional anyway…

  18. A master of link bait you are. When you are a business and spending your shareholders money, YES everything has to have a business model. Given your track record of predicting the next big thing few of us will be holding our breath

  19. Googling the two names seems to offer some support to Gaspar’s comment. If so, I look forward to seeing what they’ve done. I reserve the right not to shed tears though. You bally Yanks are far too emotional anyway…

  20. A master of link bait you are. When you are a business and spending your shareholders money, YES everything has to have a business model. Given your track record of predicting the next big thing few of us will be holding our breath

  21. Yawn.

    Change the world. Yea right.

    Remember the hype around Segue – Jobs and Bezos said it would revolutionize urban humanity.

    Whatever.

    C’mon robert, you have been out of the Redmond reality distortion field long enough not to fall for this stuff. It might be cool, but I can go to Ford’s ‘research’ department and see 1000hp sports car probably…doubt I will ever be able to buy one from them though.

    We shall see if:
    1) This really is that cool
    2) It can be either its own standalone product or incorporated into an existing product in a meaningful way
    3) That it can be released/incorporated within say 5 years.

    Otherwise, while it may be cool, it may not matter.

  22. Yawn.

    Change the world. Yea right.

    Remember the hype around Segue – Jobs and Bezos said it would revolutionize urban humanity.

    Whatever.

    C’mon robert, you have been out of the Redmond reality distortion field long enough not to fall for this stuff. It might be cool, but I can go to Ford’s ‘research’ department and see 1000hp sports car probably…doubt I will ever be able to buy one from them though.

    We shall see if:
    1) This really is that cool
    2) It can be either its own standalone product or incorporated into an existing product in a meaningful way
    3) That it can be released/incorporated within say 5 years.

    Otherwise, while it may be cool, it may not matter.

  23. The things you saw were probably independent of Windows or any of their other poorly-managed products that have sent many of us to Open Source, Apple and Google for relief.

    Recently, Apple’s recent products and Amazon Web Services made me cry with happiness.

  24. The things you saw were probably independent of Windows or any of their other poorly-managed products that have sent many of us to Open Source, Apple and Google for relief.

    Recently, Apple’s recent products and Amazon Web Services made me cry with happiness.

  25. I can’t say I’m fond of posts like this. I can appreciate your sense of awe and eagerness to share it, but it provides zero value to me as a reader. You might as well have posted this in a foreign language and I’d have gotten the same value out of this post. Keep me posted when the news breaks and you can actually talk to the source of your excitement.

  26. I can’t say I’m fond of posts like this. I can appreciate your sense of awe and eagerness to share it, but it provides zero value to me as a reader. You might as well have posted this in a foreign language and I’d have gotten the same value out of this post. Keep me posted when the news breaks and you can actually talk to the source of your excitement.

  27. Robert, have you not given away the secret by saying “on another cool surface computing technology”

    its not their table PC thing by any chance is it?

  28. Robert, have you not given away the secret by saying “on another cool surface computing technology”

    its not their table PC thing by any chance is it?

  29. It’s a program that collects all the YouTube videos of John Edwards campaign speeches and automatically edits them to old Journey ballads.

    Scoble would eat that right up.

  30. It’s a program that collects all the YouTube videos of John Edwards campaign speeches and automatically edits them to old Journey ballads.

    Scoble would eat that right up.

  31. I’ve seen it and Scoble is not even being hyperbolic in how good this application is. Gaspar is onto something, is all I will say. Jonathan Fay is genius.

    BTW I’ve seen Googlers faces drop seeing this. You do have to be a geek to appreciate it, and it will have immense educational AND research value.

  32. I’ve seen it and Scoble is not even being hyperbolic in how good this application is. Gaspar is onto something, is all I will say. Jonathan Fay is genius.

    BTW I’ve seen Googlers faces drop seeing this. You do have to be a geek to appreciate it, and it will have immense educational AND research value.

  33. I don’t know if this has anything to do with what Robert is talking about, but its interesting to note Wong and Fay worked on this:

    The WorldWide Telescope (WWT) project is designed to be an extensible learning and exploration environment which integrates hyperlinked rich media narrative with a seamless multiple survey virtual sky to enable guided and unguided exploration of the universe.
    http://www.tmspa.com/Speakers_Talks.html

  34. I don’t know if this has anything to do with what Robert is talking about, but its interesting to note Wong and Fay worked on this:

    The WorldWide Telescope (WWT) project is designed to be an extensible learning and exploration environment which integrates hyperlinked rich media narrative with a seamless multiple survey virtual sky to enable guided and unguided exploration of the universe.
    http://www.tmspa.com/Speakers_Talks.html

  35. Ok is it me or does:
    “When I walked into his lab he was working on another cool surface computing technology ” have duel meaning?

    Either a) Wong and Fay is working on cool surface technology
    or b) Andy Wilsonor is just another group doing surface computing tech in parallel with the Surface main group.

    Curtis Wong is manager of the Microsoft Next Media Research Group, whose focus “spans the linear and interactive media spectrum from television, broadband, ..

    Adobe’s bringing out AIR by the end of the month. Mozilla’s Prism is beating out there too. Microsoft will need to counter, and this might be it, some Silverlight related info. If it ain’t a phone, then TV and media related. That’s both of their areas. Surely the Olympics involvement isn’t just a generous offer – it’s a play to get beyond the XBox medica centre, and get people onto a Microsoft (Vista enhanced perhaps) entertainment package.

    Or it could be something completely different… (or tangential to the MediaBrowser papers/photo=-triage for all media)
    I think some of what was in the keynote might roll out soon- they’re going to push it. I’d imagine the video clip eye candy is nearly ready. That or Gates’ “last keynote” really was that lame (bindings on the board upside down, and a silly recycled demo of Surface tech anyone?)

    Maybe it’s to push collections and search to replace heirarchy.

    Of note – why is it that on the Microsoft site, Wong, the primary contact doesn’t have a link through on details like the rest of his team? (Jonathan (no h) Fay is also absent of details) http://research.microsoft.com/nextmedia/ ?

  36. Ok is it me or does:
    “When I walked into his lab he was working on another cool surface computing technology ” have duel meaning?

    Either a) Wong and Fay is working on cool surface technology
    or b) Andy Wilsonor is just another group doing surface computing tech in parallel with the Surface main group.

    Curtis Wong is manager of the Microsoft Next Media Research Group, whose focus “spans the linear and interactive media spectrum from television, broadband, ..

    Adobe’s bringing out AIR by the end of the month. Mozilla’s Prism is beating out there too. Microsoft will need to counter, and this might be it, some Silverlight related info. If it ain’t a phone, then TV and media related. That’s both of their areas. Surely the Olympics involvement isn’t just a generous offer – it’s a play to get beyond the XBox medica centre, and get people onto a Microsoft (Vista enhanced perhaps) entertainment package.

    Or it could be something completely different… (or tangential to the MediaBrowser papers/photo=-triage for all media)
    I think some of what was in the keynote might roll out soon- they’re going to push it. I’d imagine the video clip eye candy is nearly ready. That or Gates’ “last keynote” really was that lame (bindings on the board upside down, and a silly recycled demo of Surface tech anyone?)

    Maybe it’s to push collections and search to replace heirarchy.

    Of note – why is it that on the Microsoft site, Wong, the primary contact doesn’t have a link through on details like the rest of his team? (Jonathan (no h) Fay is also absent of details) http://research.microsoft.com/nextmedia/ ?

  37. i remember the last time Microsoft made me cry. it was when it drove my hard drive into the ground. If they were planning on doing 10 or so of these “great” things every year, they’d be out of ideas by the first one. How many of you reading this wants to set up a betting pool on how much this brand new shite necrosoft’s got is going suck harder than an open door on a space shuttle?

  38. i remember the last time Microsoft made me cry. it was when it drove my hard drive into the ground. If they were planning on doing 10 or so of these “great” things every year, they’d be out of ideas by the first one. How many of you reading this wants to set up a betting pool on how much this brand new shite necrosoft’s got is going suck harder than an open door on a space shuttle?

  39. I think it’s a new handheld device called the “Man Bag.” That would bring tears to anyone’s eyes….

  40. I think it’s a new handheld device called the “Man Bag.” That would bring tears to anyone’s eyes….

  41. i was going to go with something called the “spreadsheet,” which would kick ass, but i am deferring to my other idea — a virtual universe / solar system map (think: skies not streets).

    baby, you’re a star.

  42. i was going to go with something called the “spreadsheet,” which would kick ass, but i am deferring to my other idea — a virtual universe / solar system map (think: skies not streets).

    baby, you’re a star.

  43. I think it’s a new Zune… with a limited edition Halo/Vista color scheme… CAN’T WAIT FOR 2/27!!!

  44. I think it’s a new Zune… with a limited edition Halo/Vista color scheme… CAN’T WAIT FOR 2/27!!!

  45. The problem isn’t that Microsoft employees don’t innovate…the problem is that the suits don’t see the value. Hence the huge flood of former Microsofties to other companies and startups.

    can’t wait to see what it is

  46. The problem isn’t that Microsoft employees don’t innovate…the problem is that the suits don’t see the value. Hence the huge flood of former Microsofties to other companies and startups.

    can’t wait to see what it is

  47. Microsoft makes me cry everyday. I too think this is world wide telescope related. The WWT is educational, useful in research, and does not have a business model.

  48. Microsoft makes me cry everyday. I too think this is world wide telescope related. The WWT is educational, useful in research, and does not have a business model.

  49. One of my best times I had was working at Microsoft on a skunk works project with a rag-tag team of 6-7. Turned out our IHPC was the future while a huge team worked on what the business people thought was the future. (Codename Iceberg or something like that)

    No tears but definately stars in my eyes looking forward to this announcement.

    Bill

  50. One of my best times I had was working at Microsoft on a skunk works project with a rag-tag team of 6-7. Turned out our IHPC was the future while a huge team worked on what the business people thought was the future. (Codename Iceberg or something like that)

    No tears but definately stars in my eyes looking forward to this announcement.

    Bill

  51. It’s Microsoft Universe. And through it you can see the face of God. Funny, though, He looks more like Steve Jobs than Bill Gates.

  52. It’s Microsoft Universe. And through it you can see the face of God. Funny, though, He looks more like Steve Jobs than Bill Gates.

  53. I worry about you, Robert, when you’re at your new job, what a week? And here you are, sending a Valentine to your old job. I feel like you should focus on your new job.

    BTW, I just got an offer to get the magazine for only $5. Is that from your Facebook scrape? I don’t mind, it’s cool, just wondering.

  54. It was two researchers (actually classical musicians) working in a closet who created the first color slide film. It turned out they were leagues ahead of the work being done by the corporate giant, Kodak. So Kodak did the logical thing and hired them. The result was Kodachrome. It ruled the world of color film for decades. Maybe your guys have pulled off something similar.

  55. I worry about you, Robert, when you’re at your new job, what a week? And here you are, sending a Valentine to your old job. I feel like you should focus on your new job.

    BTW, I just got an offer to get the magazine for only $5. Is that from your Facebook scrape? I don’t mind, it’s cool, just wondering.

  56. It was two researchers (actually classical musicians) working in a closet who created the first color slide film. It turned out they were leagues ahead of the work being done by the corporate giant, Kodak. So Kodak did the logical thing and hired them. The result was Kodachrome. It ruled the world of color film for decades. Maybe your guys have pulled off something similar.

  57. Yikes, so now I am supposed to make Robert cry? That’s a pretty tall order but I’ll see what I can do. Perhaps I can get some raw onions from our cafeteria ;-).

  58. Yikes, so now I am supposed to make Robert cry? That’s a pretty tall order but I’ll see what I can do. Perhaps I can get some raw onions from our cafeteria ;-).

  59. Twinkie replicator add-on for Vista? Big guy… food remark… see what I did there? *squints at you while walking away*

  60. Twinkie replicator add-on for Vista? Big guy… food remark… see what I did there? *squints at you while walking away*

  61. OK, Robert, I’ll bite…

    I have two questions that you may or may not be able to answer at this point in time:

    1) Is it going to be a free offering?
    2) Is it going to be available to the general public?

  62. OK, Robert, I’ll bite…

    I have two questions that you may or may not be able to answer at this point in time:

    1) Is it going to be a free offering?
    2) Is it going to be available to the general public?

  63. Uh, I’m not particularly excited… :-/ Microsoft has never impressed me with pretty much any software. When Windows 95 was released, Mac OS was already pretty mature for the time, and so on. Sure, it’ll be interesting if they’ve actually achieved something cool for once, but I can assure you tears won’t run down my face as they have never done so far hw or sw before. Jeez. :-p

  64. Uh, I’m not particularly excited… :-/ Microsoft has never impressed me with pretty much any software. When Windows 95 was released, Mac OS was already pretty mature for the time, and so on. Sure, it’ll be interesting if they’ve actually achieved something cool for once, but I can assure you tears won’t run down my face as they have never done so far hw or sw before. Jeez. :-p

  65. And no, if it’s about the WorldWide Telescope, I’m already damn impressed by the free tool Celestia, recently released in version 1.5. Our part of the galaxy at your fingertips already.

  66. And no, if it’s about the WorldWide Telescope, I’m already damn impressed by the free tool Celestia, recently released in version 1.5. Our part of the galaxy at your fingertips already.

  67. I sense that it is going to involve some sort of distributed computing. I recall reading something about this last year… it sounded pretty amazing, and is the only thing that I can think that would take 2008 technology to pull off properly.

  68. I sense that it is going to involve some sort of distributed computing. I recall reading something about this last year… it sounded pretty amazing, and is the only thing that I can think that would take 2008 technology to pull off properly.

  69. Dollars to donuts whatever it is will require that you be a user of some other Microsoft product, Windows, IE, Silverlight, that is, unless the product itself costs $400 or so.

  70. Dollars to donuts whatever it is will require that you be a user of some other Microsoft product, Windows, IE, Silverlight, that is, unless the product itself costs $400 or so.

  71. Great that you got this part of the story down first. This is the wonder and amazement that drives many people like me to work at innovative companies. Possibilities and seeing how innovations can really change how we live. Thanks for sharing. Bravo, Robert!

  72. Great that you got this part of the story down first. This is the wonder and amazement that drives many people like me to work at innovative companies. Possibilities and seeing how innovations can really change how we live. Thanks for sharing. Bravo, Robert!

  73. Point of no return.

    Once you hate M$ you never use any of their products again.

    As #52 said, I won’t pay for that and I won’t install silvershit to run M$ crap.

    If they find the cure for cancer, I’ll happily die smoking my lungs off till they’re charcoal instead of giving my money to them.

    So, fuck em!

  74. Point of no return.

    Once you hate M$ you never use any of their products again.

    As #52 said, I won’t pay for that and I won’t install silvershit to run M$ crap.

    If they find the cure for cancer, I’ll happily die smoking my lungs off till they’re charcoal instead of giving my money to them.

    So, fuck em!

  75. [...] Microsoft researchers make me cry « Scobleizer — Tech geek blogger It’s not often that I see software that really changes my world. It’s even rarer that I see software that I know will change the world my sons live in. I can count those times pretty easily. The first time I saw an Apple II in 1977. When Richard Cameron showed me Apple’s Hypercard. Microsoft’s Excel. Aldus’ Pagemaker. And something called Photoshop, all in his West Valley Community College classroom. Later when I saw Marc Andreessen’s Netscape running the WWW. ICQ and Netmeeting which laid the ground for Skype. [...]

  76. Robert,

    Okay, you got us to pay attention. But if whatever M$ is doing is really going to change the world (that’s a huge, huge thing), then I expect it to get plenty of attention anyway.

    Having said that, let me add that things that change the world usually do not require eyeball-counts to do so.

  77. Robert,

    Okay, you got us to pay attention. But if whatever M$ is doing is really going to change the world (that’s a huge, huge thing), then I expect it to get plenty of attention anyway.

    Having said that, let me add that things that change the world usually do not require eyeball-counts to do so.

  78. Damnit, Scoble, you’re having wayyy too much fun! I can smell the excitement and passing leaping off of my LCD — I’m getting chills just thinking about it all.

    Your work is what gives my passion for people, knowledge, information and inspiration validation. Thanks, Rob.

  79. Damnit, Scoble, you’re having wayyy too much fun! I can smell the excitement and passing leaping off of my LCD — I’m getting chills just thinking about it all.

    Your work is what gives my passion for people, knowledge, information and inspiration validation. Thanks, Rob.

  80. Nothing would make me happier than for Microsoft to resume paying rent on their corner of the world. They’ve been a parasite for far, far too long. I’m dubiously hopeful.

  81. Nothing would make me happier than for Microsoft to resume paying rent on their corner of the world. They’ve been a parasite for far, far too long. I’m dubiously hopeful.

  82. I’m suprised no-one has mentioned Sea Dragon. Google/YouTube it. If that made our blogsmith shed a tear, I completely understand.

    It all makes sense after you see the TED videos demonstrations of it’s amazing capabilities. I have great hopes.

  83. I’m suprised no-one has mentioned Sea Dragon. Google/YouTube it. If that made our blogsmith shed a tear, I completely understand.

    It all makes sense after you see the TED videos demonstrations of it’s amazing capabilities. I have great hopes.

  84. If it’s anything like what they demo’d at Ted, then it will be awesome. Microsoft is starting to throw some heat. It’ll be interesting to see how many innings they can go with this stuff. Maybe they have Clemens’ trainer…

  85. If it’s anything like what they demo’d at Ted, then it will be awesome. Microsoft is starting to throw some heat. It’ll be interesting to see how many innings they can go with this stuff. Maybe they have Clemens’ trainer…

  86. OK. I’m just guessing here, but I had a flash of inspiration where I saw Photosynth integrated with genealogy data. An app where you can search/find your ancestors and retrieve images from the past and/or an interactive, graphic timeline/family tree of your family. My vision was typing in my name and seeing a photo (and documents) of my Finnish grandfather standing in line at Ellis Island (which brought a tear to my eye when I saw it). If I’m not correct, I don’t want to know what the app is. If I am correct, I’d love to join the team of Curtis Wong and Jonathan Fay.

  87. OK. I’m just guessing here, but I had a flash of inspiration where I saw Photosynth integrated with genealogy data. An app where you can search/find your ancestors and retrieve images from the past and/or an interactive, graphic timeline/family tree of your family. My vision was typing in my name and seeing a photo (and documents) of my Finnish grandfather standing in line at Ellis Island (which brought a tear to my eye when I saw it). If I’m not correct, I don’t want to know what the app is. If I am correct, I’d love to join the team of Curtis Wong and Jonathan Fay.

  88. Christ. Tears running? This really turns my stomach, sorry. This is software, not the second coming. Feeling well?

    Are we talking about Microsoft? You know, the software-maker that mostly makes mediocre software like Office Word (attempt any formatting and watch yourself FAIL)? Innovative? Come again? Wake up. The only piece of software I think is of high quality is SQL Server (solid piece of engineering that is).

    Vista? Spectacular. Wow.

    I look forward to this nonetheless just because anything new is worth considering. But please, get outside of your cubicle and watch the alternatives.

    Best regards,
    SV

  89. Christ. Tears running? This really turns my stomach, sorry. This is software, not the second coming. Feeling well?

    Are we talking about Microsoft? You know, the software-maker that mostly makes mediocre software like Office Word (attempt any formatting and watch yourself FAIL)? Innovative? Come again? Wake up. The only piece of software I think is of high quality is SQL Server (solid piece of engineering that is).

    Vista? Spectacular. Wow.

    I look forward to this nonetheless just because anything new is worth considering. But please, get outside of your cubicle and watch the alternatives.

    Best regards,
    SV

  90. Robert,
    I love and hate this kind of stuff. I so want to know what could get you emotional over at Microsoft. It must be something extraordinary. I hope you get the scoop and post it before big media breaks it. – Allen

  91. Robert,
    I love and hate this kind of stuff. I so want to know what could get you emotional over at Microsoft. It must be something extraordinary. I hope you get the scoop and post it before big media breaks it. – Allen

  92. And… How much will it cost? How many patents involves? Do you really think it will change the world? I doubt, whatever it is, unless it involves free access to the tecnology itself too.

  93. And… How much will it cost? How many patents involves? Do you really think it will change the world? I doubt, whatever it is, unless it involves free access to the tecnology itself too.

  94. I can almost guarantee that what ever “it” is it is the proverbial “let’s move on people…there’s nothing to see here”.

    If it was I’m sure something would have leaked earler and not 2 weeks before its unveiling.

    Call me when it’s over, I have to go watch my Oprah marathon that I TIVO’d.

  95. I can almost guarantee that what ever “it” is it is the proverbial “let’s move on people…there’s nothing to see here”.

    If it was I’m sure something would have leaked earler and not 2 weeks before its unveiling.

    Call me when it’s over, I have to go watch my Oprah marathon that I TIVO’d.

  96. JDA: really? Did anyone leak about the WWW before it was out? No. Did anyone leak about ICQ before it was out? No. Did anyone leak about the iPhone was out? A little, but they didn’t get close to telling us just how cool it was.

  97. JDA: really? Did anyone leak about the WWW before it was out? No. Did anyone leak about ICQ before it was out? No. Did anyone leak about the iPhone was out? A little, but they didn’t get close to telling us just how cool it was.

  98. Quote
    “Note that it wasn’t a team of 100 people who did it. Two guys with a supporting cast of maybe a dozen. I’ve noticed a trend at Microsoft: that the coolest stuff is done by small teams without a ton of resources.”

    This reflects how startups often work, just a small team of talented guys/gals making something incredible happen that would otherwise have been managed to death by upper management / product management / sales / marketing, etc.

  99. I reckon it something similar to the holographic personality called Dr. Know in the film ‘AI’. The fact it draws up so much emotion indicates that it is communicative on a human level. I reckon.

  100. Quote
    “Note that it wasn’t a team of 100 people who did it. Two guys with a supporting cast of maybe a dozen. I’ve noticed a trend at Microsoft: that the coolest stuff is done by small teams without a ton of resources.”

    This reflects how startups often work, just a small team of talented guys/gals making something incredible happen that would otherwise have been managed to death by upper management / product management / sales / marketing, etc.

  101. I reckon it something similar to the holographic personality called Dr. Know in the film ‘AI’. The fact it draws up so much emotion indicates that it is communicative on a human level. I reckon.

  102. I got it… Someone in MS collected all of your articles and made you read your own drivel. God… I would cry too.

  103. I got it… Someone in MS collected all of your articles and made you read your own drivel. God… I would cry too.

  104. WEB3D.0! BABY!!

    I’ve put out a few Pleas + Cry’s for Help to do this over the Past year but alas to no Avail*

    If Anybody wants to do it – just give me Shout!

    The Fact that MicroPOOP are already doing something similar but in typical MicroPOOP fashion will be totally lame* Unless Wong + Fay are Smoking Pot without the knowledge of their Evil Superiors!!

    U can bet Google or Yahoo or NewsCorp will Pony Up HUGE $$$ for a competing platform*

    + Luckily for all of us i have it*

    Crying with GLEE!!

    ;PPP

  105. WEB3D.0! BABY!!

    I’ve put out a few Pleas + Cry’s for Help to do this over the Past year but alas to no Avail*

    If Anybody wants to do it – just give me Shout!

    The Fact that MicroPOOP are already doing something similar but in typical MicroPOOP fashion will be totally lame* Unless Wong + Fay are Smoking Pot without the knowledge of their Evil Superiors!!

    U can bet Google or Yahoo or NewsCorp will Pony Up HUGE $$$ for a competing platform*

    + Luckily for all of us i have it*

    Crying with GLEE!!

    ;PPP

  106. [...] Robert Scoble posted about a Microsoft product that he couldn’t disclose in the works that brought tears of joy to his eyes. He wrote: Yesterday was one of those days. Curtis Wong and Jonathan Fay, researchers at Microsoft, fired up their machines and showed me something that I can’t tell you about until February 27th. I’m sure you’ll read about his work in the New York Times or TechCrunch, among other places. It’s too inspiring to stay a secret for long. [...]

  107. [...] Microsoft researchers make me cry – Scobleizer It’s not often that I see software that really changes my world. It’s even rarer that I see software that I know will change the world my sons live in. I can count those times pretty easily. The first time I saw an Apple II in 1977. When Richard Cameron showed me Apple’s Hypercard. Microsoft’s Excel. Aldus’ Pagemaker. And something called Photoshop, all in his West Valley Community College classroom. Later when I saw Marc Andreessen’s Netscape running the WWW. ICQ and Netmeeting which laid the ground for Skype. [...]

  108. I predict it’s a web/file search interface but all visual and 3d and swooshy and zoomy and futuristic.

  109. I predict it’s a web/file search interface but all visual and 3d and swooshy and zoomy and futuristic.

  110. Am I maybe being too optimistic in thinking that it might actually be something useful?

    Or were the mentions of Netscape and Photoshop just red herrings to imply practical usability, and it’s really just a novelty prestige project like GoogleEarth, but with Space instead of Earth and Microsoft instead of Google?

  111. Am I maybe being too optimistic in thinking that it might actually be something useful?

    Or were the mentions of Netscape and Photoshop just red herrings to imply practical usability, and it’s really just a novelty prestige project like GoogleEarth, but with Space instead of Earth and Microsoft instead of Google?

  112. WOW, the stupidity of MS haters never ceases to surprise me. Sorry lotus-eaters MS is going to spank the crap out of johnny’s-come-lately like Google. Google’s days are numbered – Jeez, they are trying to shovel bastard office software down everyone’s throat! Enough with Goo-suck-my-*-gle.

  113. WOW, the stupidity of MS haters never ceases to surprise me. Sorry lotus-eaters MS is going to spank the crap out of johnny’s-come-lately like Google. Google’s days are numbered – Jeez, they are trying to shovel bastard office software down everyone’s throat! Enough with Goo-suck-my-*-gle.

  114. [...] Robert Scoble had a cry over a demo two developers over at Microsoft Research gave him, but because we’re normal people and aren’t special enough, we have to wait until February 27. “Yesterday was one of those days. Curtis Wong and Jonathan Fay, researchers at Microsoft, fired up their machines and showed me something that I can’t tell you about until February 27th. I’m sure you’ll read about his work in the New York Times or TechCrunch, among other places. It’s too inspiring to stay a secret for long. [...]

  115. [...] 消息筋によると、Microsoftは2月27日にカリフォルニア州Montereyで行われるTEDカンファレンスで、「Worldwide Telescope」という新しいデスクトップソフトウェアを公開する。われわれは、これが先週Robert Scobleが話していた、Microsoftによる、彼が涙を誘われたプロジェクトのことだろうと考えている。 [...]

  116. Sorry Robert (and M$ fans), but if you’re going to write about something seriously, then you also have to give serious credits. And if this mystery project is indeed Photosynth, I’m sorry, but the real credits go to (taken from M$’s site, http://labs.live.com/photosynth/):

    “Photosynth is a collaboration between Microsoft and the University of Washington based on the groundbreaking research of Noah Snavely (UW), Steve Seitz (UW), and Richard Szeliski (Microsoft Research).”

    If you look at the actual technology used in this program and the research that went into making it possible, I think you’d also come up with Steve Seitz (and colleagues) and SeaDragon. I’m not so clear which part of the puzzle Microsoft played, other than the big ol’ bank (which I’d do too, if I was a big ol’ company).

    Steve Seitz: you’re awesome! Love the afro too! :-)

  117. Sorry Robert (and M$ fans), but if you’re going to write about something seriously, then you also have to give serious credits. And if this mystery project is indeed Photosynth, I’m sorry, but the real credits go to (taken from M$’s site, http://labs.live.com/photosynth/):

    “Photosynth is a collaboration between Microsoft and the University of Washington based on the groundbreaking research of Noah Snavely (UW), Steve Seitz (UW), and Richard Szeliski (Microsoft Research).”

    If you look at the actual technology used in this program and the research that went into making it possible, I think you’d also come up with Steve Seitz (and colleagues) and SeaDragon. I’m not so clear which part of the puzzle Microsoft played, other than the big ol’ bank (which I’d do too, if I was a big ol’ company).

    Steve Seitz: you’re awesome! Love the afro too! :-)

  118. I was really PUMPED to SEE something/anything NEW + EXCITING!!???

    I hope it’s not just some LameAss announcement that MicroPOOP is embracing Open Source?

    Hero Hack Pack of Free Trial Copies???

    Just what i need more Useless Bloated FREE Crap Software from MicroPOOP clogging my Puter*

    This is sounding more + more like the Vaunted World Changing SEGWAY Scooter + Cold Fusion combined*

    Please Tell Us what U saw!!!

  119. I was really PUMPED to SEE something/anything NEW + EXCITING!!???

    I hope it’s not just some LameAss announcement that MicroPOOP is embracing Open Source?

    Hero Hack Pack of Free Trial Copies???

    Just what i need more Useless Bloated FREE Crap Software from MicroPOOP clogging my Puter*

    This is sounding more + more like the Vaunted World Changing SEGWAY Scooter + Cold Fusion combined*

    Please Tell Us what U saw!!!

  120. it give shame me, by echo of a so cheap and false publicity as this. This program is not going to change nothing to nobody safe to which they like astronomy, I thought that he was something more important. Frankly you have disappointed to me. I erase of my list of contacts and the news to you. Your credibility has fallen by the grounds and I am not the unique one that think thus.

  121. it give shame me, by echo of a so cheap and false publicity as this. This program is not going to change nothing to nobody safe to which they like astronomy, I thought that he was something more important. Frankly you have disappointed to me. I erase of my list of contacts and the news to you. Your credibility has fallen by the grounds and I am not the unique one that think thus.

  122. This is not a great deal…… more usefull is Google Earth….. so much noise and poor reallity… you cry for this?…… well I understand…. you cray for everything from Microsoft…. it’s suck

  123. This is not a great deal…… more usefull is Google Earth….. so much noise and poor reallity… you cry for this?…… well I understand…. you cray for everything from Microsoft…. it’s suck

  124. [...] 但是他还是禁不住在博客上写道,”what make me cry?“,文中提及多年来IT业界曾经让他激动流泪的几个产品,如苹果电脑二代,Photoshop等。这次到底是什么又能够让他如此激动呢?他说让他从一个更新的角度上来看待这个世界,看待我们生活的地方,于是有人根据一些信息就猜测说很有可能就是Worldwide Telescope,很多人就开始议论纷纷。Scoble提到微软会在27日的TED大会上进行预演。所以昨天他有了新的Blog,终于说出了就是大家猜测的Worldwide Telescope。而且官方网站也于昨天已经开放:http://www.wwtelescope.com/。 [...]

  125. [...] Acaba de ser presentado en la TED Talks: Science educator Roy Gould and Microsoft’s Curtis Wong give an astonishing sneak preview of Microsoft’s new WorldWide Telescope — a technology that combines feeds from satellites and telescopes all over the world and the heavens, and weaves them together holistically to build a comprehensive view of our universe. (Yes, it’s the technology that made Robert Scoble cry) [...]

  126. [...] 話說2月14號情人節那天,Robert Scoble在他的Scobleizer上高調大談一件會讓他痛哭流涕的事情,那就是他在被邀請看過M$即將發表的新產品之後,讓他激動的不能自己呀,於是既感性又賣關子地寫了一篇Microsoft researchers make me cry。之後數天此舉掀起了一股臆測熱潮,大家都在猜到底M$能有什麼能耐讓Robert Scoble痛哭流涕。 [...]

  127. [...] TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a conference that brings together some of the great minds in all three of those fields and runs talks, showcases and demos. I’d love to go someday! Until that day, over on http://www.ted.com they put up some of the highlights for free viewing and that will have to do me! When you’re finished here pop over there and have a look at the biggest item on the front page right now… I can’t believe I nearly missed this; thankfully Claire Dillon pointed it out on her blog and I got the heads up on the thing that “made Robert Scoble cry“. [...]

  128. Did Microsoft researchers actually make anybody cry on February 27? I failed to find any announcement.

  129. Did Microsoft researchers actually make anybody cry on February 27? I failed to find any announcement.

  130. [...] March 13, 2008 · No Comments Wow. I just watched the TED video of Jill Bolte Taylor’s talk. It’s absolutely incredible. After she describes her background in brain research, she describes her experience as she progressed through a stroke. It’s scary and fascinating and may make you do a Scoble. [...]

  131. [...] om dette temmelig spennende prosjektet fra Microsoft da überblogger Robert Scoble proklamerte at han hadde sett noe hos microsoft som fikk ham til å gråte. Det er snakk om et program man laster ned og bruker for å se på universet. Man vil fort tenke [...]

  132. [...] Endlich der offizielle Launch. Das World Wide Telescope aus unseren Research Labs ist nun online (http://www.worldwidetelescope.org/). Wie in der “Blogger Szene” bekannt war, ist dieser Dienst der Grund, warum der “Scobelizer” Robert Scoble wieder mal geweint hatte (http://scobleizer.com/2008/02/14/microsoft-researchers-make-me-cry/). [...]

  133. [...] Microsoft has released its Worldwide Telescope software. This software can be used by astronomers and non-astronomers alike to explore the heavens with a desktop client much like Google Earth.  I have a vested interest in this after having working on some Observatory Simulation Software and my life long love of astronomy. I am excited about spending my evenings exploring the cosmos. Long Zheng has a good review of this product here: http://www.istartedsomething.com/20080513/capturing-screenshots-from-worldwide-telescope/.  I am very exciting about this product.   It’s one of the coolest applications I have seen in a long time.  Supposedly, it a video of this product even made Robert Scoble cry. [...]

  134. Platforms like this are part of the reason I own Microsoft stock. That point notwithstanding, I hope (all the way down to my core) that this impressive addition to the sum of human knowledge will enable us as a species to develop a greater reverence for our planet and the fact that if we render it uninhabitable through unsustainable behavior such as the burning of fossil fuels, we will have no observation station to ponder the night sky.

  135. Platforms like this are part of the reason I own Microsoft stock. That point notwithstanding, I hope (all the way down to my core) that this impressive addition to the sum of human knowledge will enable us as a species to develop a greater reverence for our planet and the fact that if we render it uninhabitable through unsustainable behavior such as the burning of fossil fuels, we will have no observation station to ponder the night sky.

  136. Hello. I am so angry right now over something so tupid and I’m sorry I have to vent. Microsoft, are you stupid? I have played video games all of my life and can beat anyone in a fighting game, You pick. Microsoft has the console war in the palm of it’s hand, however you can never, ever play a fighting game on any x box because of it’s d-pad. THIS IS CRAZY. IF THEY OFFER A NEW CONTROLLER NOW THAT HAS A FUCKING PLUS SIGN FOR A D_PAD THEY WILL DOMINATE THE MARKET. I AM GOING TO KILL MYSELF NOW IN A RITUALISTIC WAY TO SHOW THAT THIS RETARDATION HAS HAD AN IMPACT ON SOCIETY. OR AT LEAST THIS NEARDY PROGRAMMER!!

  137. Hello. I am so angry right now over something so tupid and I’m sorry I have to vent. Microsoft, are you stupid? I have played video games all of my life and can beat anyone in a fighting game, You pick. Microsoft has the console war in the palm of it’s hand, however you can never, ever play a fighting game on any x box because of it’s d-pad. THIS IS CRAZY. IF THEY OFFER A NEW CONTROLLER NOW THAT HAS A FUCKING PLUS SIGN FOR A D_PAD THEY WILL DOMINATE THE MARKET. I AM GOING TO KILL MYSELF NOW IN A RITUALISTIC WAY TO SHOW THAT THIS RETARDATION HAS HAD AN IMPACT ON SOCIETY. OR AT LEAST THIS NEARDY PROGRAMMER!!