Microsoft hits multiple Internet home runs

I just had dinner with a bunch of Italy’s top tech bloggers and technologists and Marc Canter. Plus I’ve been talking with people all day long. Microsoft hit major Internet home runs today with its announcements, based on what I’m hearing from formerly-skeptical developers.

I haven’t heard this level of excitement about Microsoft’s Internet Strategy in years.

While Dean Hachamovitch, head of the Internet Explorer team, and Scott Guthrie, head of Internet development tools teams, were out front parading a dizzying array of new technology, I got a few interviews today and one name kept coming up:

Ray Ozzie.

So, what is resonating with developers today at Microsoft’s Mix Conference?

1. Internet Explorer’s new pro-standards role. Do not underestimate how big a deal this is in winning the hearts and minds of developers. Read the 578 comments on this post that talks about IE 8′s new standards-based defaults. 578 comments. Almost all of them positive toward Microsoft. Damn, I remember the days when it would be 578 anti-Microsoft comments on that blog.
2. Microsoft’s demos. It took me two hours to get from the front door of the Venetian to the Mix registration desk. Usually that would be a 10-minute walk and that would include five minutes of gambling at one of the tables. Why did it take so long? Because I was stopped every few feet by a Mix attendee (or, in one case, Dan Farber) where the conversation went something like this: “did you see the Olympic video demo? Holy s**t is that cool.” Or, “did you see the Hard Rock demo? Did you see that it’s live now and you can go play with it?” Even TechCrunch is fawning over that one.
3. New features in Internet Explorer. Especially something called “Web Slices” which lets you track just something specific on a Web page. For instance, the status message on Facebook. Also something called “Activities” which the IE blog says makes it so “a user can select text on a web page and map it, blog it, look for it, or just act on it without having to copy it, open a new tab, navigate to another site, and paste. We made the OpenService Format specification available under the Microsoft Open Specification Promise and the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license.”

I got some videos with my cell phone that back up all this.

For instance, here’s an interview with Chris Saad. Don’t know him? He’s the one who is heading up the Dataportability.org. Also in that interview is Frank Arrigo, Microsoftie that I’ve known for years.

Here’s an interview with Eric Zocher while we talked in the BlogZone at Mix, who runs the Expression Team at Microsoft (the tools developers will use to build Silverlight experiences).

Here’s an interview with Scott Guthrie, who hosted many of the most popular keynote demos yesterday morning. Sorry for the noise, but we were in an extremely noisy room and I was recording him with a cell phone.

There’s a lot more on TechMeme here and here.

It’s pretty clear that Microsoft’s Internet strategies have turned a corner and now it’s time to go and visit Ray Ozzie’s team up in Redmond.

Another thing that’s clear? Microsoft’s PDC in September (its professional developer conference) is going to be one that’ll generate a lot of news.

Does this signal that Microsoft “gets” the Internet? Well, Microsoft sure made it clear today that you can’t count them out. I’m having to change a whole bunch of my beliefs of how the industry is going based on what I’ve seen and heard today. How about you?

97 thoughts on “Microsoft hits multiple Internet home runs

  1. Scoble is right here.

    I don’t like carrying water for Microsoft, but we have to acknowledge it when they do the right thing. Otherwise we critics turn into hypocrites.

    As a web developer, Microsoft has caused me serious pain with the non-standard rendering of IE4/5/6/7. Developers hate IE with good reason.

    But something is happening. I see the Developer Division in Microsoft as a suddenly clueful insurgency. They seem to be fighting internal battles to break from Microsoft’s past strategy of proprietary lock-in. From reading their blogs, it looks like they are promoting open-source within Microsoft — and you can see the compromises they’ve had to make in decisions like the “shared source” release of the .NET framework. And now at MIX we see Microsoft releasing a few IE8 specs (xml markup for web slices and activities) under a Creative Commons license. A Creative Commons license! We never thought we’d see the day. I expect this trend to continue, and I welcome the new Ray Ozzie/Scott Guthrie generation at Microsoft.

    If you don’t believe me, look at the Silverlight team’s decision to help Novell (the old Ximian team, no less) to implement Silverlight, including giving them the entire internal test suite. When was the last time we heard about Microsoft ACTIVELY HELPING a linux company to port Microsoft software to linux? Mono is GPL’d. That means Microsoft is contributing to a GPL project! Unbelievable.

    Now what about the merit of Silverlight? Expect in the next few months to see head-to-head comparisons of apps implemented in Flash and Silverlight. As anyone knows who’s developed for both platforms, these comparisons are going to be very embarrassing for Adobe.

  2. Scoble is right here.

    I don’t like carrying water for Microsoft, but we have to acknowledge it when they do the right thing. Otherwise we critics turn into hypocrites.

    As a web developer, Microsoft has caused me serious pain with the non-standard rendering of IE4/5/6/7. Developers hate IE with good reason.

    But something is happening. I see the Developer Division in Microsoft as a suddenly clueful insurgency. They seem to be fighting internal battles to break from Microsoft’s past strategy of proprietary lock-in. From reading their blogs, it looks like they are promoting open-source within Microsoft — and you can see the compromises they’ve had to make in decisions like the “shared source” release of the .NET framework. And now at MIX we see Microsoft releasing a few IE8 specs (xml markup for web slices and activities) under a Creative Commons license. A Creative Commons license! We never thought we’d see the day. I expect this trend to continue, and I welcome the new Ray Ozzie/Scott Guthrie generation at Microsoft.

    If you don’t believe me, look at the Silverlight team’s decision to help Novell (the old Ximian team, no less) to implement Silverlight, including giving them the entire internal test suite. When was the last time we heard about Microsoft ACTIVELY HELPING a linux company to port Microsoft software to linux? Mono is GPL’d. That means Microsoft is contributing to a GPL project! Unbelievable.

    Now what about the merit of Silverlight? Expect in the next few months to see head-to-head comparisons of apps implemented in Flash and Silverlight. As anyone knows who’s developed for both platforms, these comparisons are going to be very embarrassing for Adobe.

  3. We’re all going to have to get together in an intervention and take that cell phone / video camera away from you. I don’t think I can stand those bouncy, inaudible interviews with really interesting people one moment longer.

    Please, please don’t torture me any more. It’s time to start the twelve step process.

    1. Recognize that you are powerless.
    2. Believe that better video could improve your sanity.
    3. Make the decision to turn the video over to your editor.
    4. Make a searching an fearless inventory of all your jiggly video.
    5. Admit to Valleywag the exact nature of your wrongs.
    6. Be ready to remove the defects in your videos.
    7. Ask Bill to remove your shortcomings.
    8. Make a list of all of us who have been disoriented by your videos.
    9. Do not injure others.
    10. Continue to promptly admit your jiggles and poor audio.
    11. Pray for the knowledge of Ray’s will.
    12. Carry this message to all of Fast Company Video.
    8.

  4. We’re all going to have to get together in an intervention and take that cell phone / video camera away from you. I don’t think I can stand those bouncy, inaudible interviews with really interesting people one moment longer.

    Please, please don’t torture me any more. It’s time to start the twelve step process.

    1. Recognize that you are powerless.
    2. Believe that better video could improve your sanity.
    3. Make the decision to turn the video over to your editor.
    4. Make a searching an fearless inventory of all your jiggly video.
    5. Admit to Valleywag the exact nature of your wrongs.
    6. Be ready to remove the defects in your videos.
    7. Ask Bill to remove your shortcomings.
    8. Make a list of all of us who have been disoriented by your videos.
    9. Do not injure others.
    10. Continue to promptly admit your jiggles and poor audio.
    11. Pray for the knowledge of Ray’s will.
    12. Carry this message to all of Fast Company Video.
    8.

  5. I get the distinct feeling that if all of these announcement came from any other vendor, they’d be really underwhelming. But, since we’re talking about Microsoft, it’s all reason for the tech media to be abuzz with excitement.

    You set people’s expectations to be low, then when you do something average, they’re amazed.

    Silverlight 2 better have more up it’s sleeve than a novel zoom feature. With the next release of Flash on the horizon as well as Adobe Thermo being added to the CS arsenal, Microsoft can’t afford to make many more mistakes.

  6. I get the distinct feeling that if all of these announcement came from any other vendor, they’d be really underwhelming. But, since we’re talking about Microsoft, it’s all reason for the tech media to be abuzz with excitement.

    You set people’s expectations to be low, then when you do something average, they’re amazed.

    Silverlight 2 better have more up it’s sleeve than a novel zoom feature. With the next release of Flash on the horizon as well as Adobe Thermo being added to the CS arsenal, Microsoft can’t afford to make many more mistakes.

  7. Now if only Microsoft could write a little virus to wipe IE 5/6/7 off the face of the earth and replace them with 8 we could be rid of their past mistakes. Unfortunately we’ll be suffering with those for a few years yet.
    Little hard to cheer too enthusiastically when they light your house on fire and finally show up years later with a firehose.

  8. Now if only Microsoft could write a little virus to wipe IE 5/6/7 off the face of the earth and replace them with 8 we could be rid of their past mistakes. Unfortunately we’ll be suffering with those for a few years yet.
    Little hard to cheer too enthusiastically when they light your house on fire and finally show up years later with a firehose.

  9. Sorry, but IE8 is a POS 1.0. I would fire the person responsible for releasing this lack of quality into the wild. At best it’s alpha or even a dog food build. Moving to some standards is good, but at this point IE8 in IE8 mode renders like crap. I don’t see it getting any better unless every website out there makes changes to their layouts and fixes the hacks they put in there in the first place to compensate for IE6 or IE7 craptastic rendering issues. What a mess that whole thing is. As for the “cool” factor on WebSlices I’m still waiting for something interesting to come out of this. It’s nothing more than a glorified macro to subscribe to a feed. I don’t get it, but that might just be me. Activities looked interesting for a few moments, then I gave my head a shake and realized this is nothing more than SmartTags for the web all over again, and we all know well that played out don’t we? Maybe the Silverlight 2 demos are uber-cool, but I prefer functionality over form and see MS continuously creating new features that eventually nobody will care about (after the hype blows through) rather than fixing their own house first and making it a tight ship. After all, here we are in 2008 and we *still* suffer from 95% of features of Word never being used. Rather than cleaning up the past, MS has decided to build new crap for us to ignore in the future. I am so unimpressed and want to crawl into a hole.

  10. Sorry, but IE8 is a POS 1.0. I would fire the person responsible for releasing this lack of quality into the wild. At best it’s alpha or even a dog food build. Moving to some standards is good, but at this point IE8 in IE8 mode renders like crap. I don’t see it getting any better unless every website out there makes changes to their layouts and fixes the hacks they put in there in the first place to compensate for IE6 or IE7 craptastic rendering issues. What a mess that whole thing is. As for the “cool” factor on WebSlices I’m still waiting for something interesting to come out of this. It’s nothing more than a glorified macro to subscribe to a feed. I don’t get it, but that might just be me. Activities looked interesting for a few moments, then I gave my head a shake and realized this is nothing more than SmartTags for the web all over again, and we all know well that played out don’t we? Maybe the Silverlight 2 demos are uber-cool, but I prefer functionality over form and see MS continuously creating new features that eventually nobody will care about (after the hype blows through) rather than fixing their own house first and making it a tight ship. After all, here we are in 2008 and we *still* suffer from 95% of features of Word never being used. Rather than cleaning up the past, MS has decided to build new crap for us to ignore in the future. I am so unimpressed and want to crawl into a hole.

  11. “Silverlight and .NET are both OS dependent, as well as proprietary technologies–neither of which creates a forward looking, vendor independent future.”

    Yeah, you’re mind isn’t closed.

    Silverlight runs in every major browser, on Windows and Mac. Moonlight, endorsed by Microsoft, brings the same thing to Linux. Currently, Silverlight is proprietary, but again, Moonlight was endorsed. .NET isn’t proprietary, as there is a standard anyone can implement, and Mono did.

  12. “Silverlight and .NET are both OS dependent, as well as proprietary technologies–neither of which creates a forward looking, vendor independent future.”

    Yeah, you’re mind isn’t closed.

    Silverlight runs in every major browser, on Windows and Mac. Moonlight, endorsed by Microsoft, brings the same thing to Linux. Currently, Silverlight is proprietary, but again, Moonlight was endorsed. .NET isn’t proprietary, as there is a standard anyone can implement, and Mono did.

  13. Web slices is a blatant rip off of WebClips in Safari. And now M$ wants to “standardize them in an open specification”???

    WTF???

    It has to be said, if they think this will go unnoticed.

  14. Web slices is a blatant rip off of WebClips in Safari. And now M$ wants to “standardize them in an open specification”???

    WTF???

    It has to be said, if they think this will go unnoticed.

  15. Its a home run that IE8 will (supposedly) do what every modern browser should/has been doing for several years? How exactly does that work? IE8 catching up to Firefox .9 does not a homerun make.

  16. Its a home run that IE8 will (supposedly) do what every modern browser should/has been doing for several years? How exactly does that work? IE8 catching up to Firefox .9 does not a homerun make.

  17. “Ever developer I know with an open mind who is actually working with technology knows how good .Net and Silverlight are. The rest of them…. well, they will do what dinosaurs always do. Pretend Microsoft is too stupid to live and ignore reality till they get crushed.”

    And therefore anyone who doesn’t agree is either close minded, a dinosaur, or both.

    Silverlight and .NET are both OS dependent, as well as proprietary technologies–neither of which creates a forward looking, vendor independent future.

    Ozzie started a conference for developers talking about ads. Ads. That is the face of the new Microsoft.

  18. “Ever developer I know with an open mind who is actually working with technology knows how good .Net and Silverlight are. The rest of them…. well, they will do what dinosaurs always do. Pretend Microsoft is too stupid to live and ignore reality till they get crushed.”

    And therefore anyone who doesn’t agree is either close minded, a dinosaur, or both.

    Silverlight and .NET are both OS dependent, as well as proprietary technologies–neither of which creates a forward looking, vendor independent future.

    Ozzie started a conference for developers talking about ads. Ads. That is the face of the new Microsoft.

  19. “winning the hearts and minds of developers”

    Oh god, M$ has been raping us in the ass for so long, don’t expect us to show them some love just because they give us a candy.

    Fuck em to death!

  20. “winning the hearts and minds of developers”

    Oh god, M$ has been raping us in the ass for so long, don’t expect us to show them some love just because they give us a candy.

    Fuck em to death!

  21. Chris:

    The entertainment devices division (xbox,zune) has been profitable now for 3 months. they also now have ways for ingame,mobile and embedded advertising.

    so i think that advertising will do good

  22. Chris:

    The entertainment devices division (xbox,zune) has been profitable now for 3 months. they also now have ways for ingame,mobile and embedded advertising.

    so i think that advertising will do good

  23. A whole lot of “pundits” (in particular, listen to any episode of TWiT)are locked into the old pattern… bash Microsoft and get knowing smiles from the other cool kids. It blinds them.

    Ever developer I know with an open mind who is actually working with technology knows how good .Net and Silverlight are. The rest of them…. well, they will do what dinosaurs always do. Pretend Microsoft is too stupid to live and ignore reality till they get crushed.

  24. A whole lot of “pundits” (in particular, listen to any episode of TWiT)are locked into the old pattern… bash Microsoft and get knowing smiles from the other cool kids. It blinds them.

    Ever developer I know with an open mind who is actually working with technology knows how good .Net and Silverlight are. The rest of them…. well, they will do what dinosaurs always do. Pretend Microsoft is too stupid to live and ignore reality till they get crushed.

  25. They bought aQuantive, for billions more than it was worth. They paid 6 billion for it. 6 BILLION. Divide that by the number of employees and it comes to roughly $3 million per person.

    Advertising Revenues? Yeah, so? You need profits. Xbox/Game division has “revenues” too.

    Microsoft is turning into an advertising company pretty quickly

    Yeah, if they get Yahoo.

  26. They bought aQuantive, for billions more than it was worth. They paid 6 billion for it. 6 BILLION. Divide that by the number of employees and it comes to roughly $3 million per person.

    Advertising Revenues? Yeah, so? You need profits. Xbox/Game division has “revenues” too.

    Microsoft is turning into an advertising company pretty quickly

    Yeah, if they get Yahoo.

  27. Robert,
    I looked at the MIX keynote online and I have a more mixed review.

    Part of Microsoft is trying to do the right thing with IE8 and making sure that the web remains open and standard.

    Part of them is locked in their past mistakes (WPF and silverlight) and they do not seem to find the courage to do the right thing and cut their losses and focus 100% of their energy on doing the right thing.

    I wish they had done that mistake back in 1995 and try to push both IE and black bird.

    The hardrock demo was cool…but how is it fundamentally different from GoogleMaps? Do we need really need an entirely new monolithic and proprietary stack to create a fun way for people to interact with HardRock cafe?

    Take a look at some of the things webkit is doing with native video, CSS, SVG and you will see that there is a much more simple, incremental and open way to go towards that direction.

    Congratulations on the new show!

  28. Robert,
    I looked at the MIX keynote online and I have a more mixed review.

    Part of Microsoft is trying to do the right thing with IE8 and making sure that the web remains open and standard.

    Part of them is locked in their past mistakes (WPF and silverlight) and they do not seem to find the courage to do the right thing and cut their losses and focus 100% of their energy on doing the right thing.

    I wish they had done that mistake back in 1995 and try to push both IE and black bird.

    The hardrock demo was cool…but how is it fundamentally different from GoogleMaps? Do we need really need an entirely new monolithic and proprietary stack to create a fun way for people to interact with HardRock cafe?

    Take a look at some of the things webkit is doing with native video, CSS, SVG and you will see that there is a much more simple, incremental and open way to go towards that direction.

    Congratulations on the new show!

  29. Christopher: you forget that Microsoft has had tons of advertising revenues for years now, and bought aQuantive, which really was an advertising sales company when you get down to it.

    Microsoft is turning into an advertising company pretty quickly. They don’t have Google’s advantages, that’s for sure.

  30. Christopher: you forget that Microsoft has had tons of advertising revenues for years now, and bought aQuantive, which really was an advertising sales company when you get down to it.

    Microsoft is turning into an advertising company pretty quickly. They don’t have Google’s advantages, that’s for sure.

  31. Maybe it’s because i’m not living in the Microsoft ecosystem, but I was somewhat underwhelmed by the stuff they’ve shown, the interesting stuff like Mesh was just slides without a lot of substance.

    IE8 is interesting (especially because it will save coding time) but as long as they keep everything tied into their own ecosystem it’s hardly interesting to me personally.

  32. Maybe it’s because i’m not living in the Microsoft ecosystem, but I was somewhat underwhelmed by the stuff they’ve shown, the interesting stuff like Mesh was just slides without a lot of substance.

    IE8 is interesting (especially because it will save coding time) but as long as they keep everything tied into their own ecosystem it’s hardly interesting to me personally.

  33. But see, you and all the tech sites, missed the real point, it’s not about the ‘Flash Killer’ Part 2, IE8 and standards wars, the pointless Flockisma, SQL Server Data Services, or the jazzed-up demos, it’s all about the vaguely-defined “advertising platform”. Advertising, something to which, Microsoft being a software tool company, will royally screw-up.

    IE8 goes “standards”, just as Firefox and Opera numbers are sky-high, and so what? As for standards, that’s pointless feel-good developer drugs, marketshare be it’s own standard. Plus, it will take the average person awhile to upgrade. They should have packed it Vista or SP1.

    Just a mish-mash of high-ideals, still in beta. The fever-pitch hysteria reminds me of PDC 2003, Forget not, this is the same company just a few weeks ago, trying to force buyout Yahoo, as their overall web strategy, and now, suddenly, after all the wine and cheese, they are future unstoppable? Please.

  34. But see, you and all the tech sites, missed the real point, it’s not about the ‘Flash Killer’ Part 2, IE8 and standards wars, the pointless Flockisma, SQL Server Data Services, or the jazzed-up demos, it’s all about the vaguely-defined “advertising platform”. Advertising, something to which, Microsoft being a software tool company, will royally screw-up.

    IE8 goes “standards”, just as Firefox and Opera numbers are sky-high, and so what? As for standards, that’s pointless feel-good developer drugs, marketshare be it’s own standard. Plus, it will take the average person awhile to upgrade. They should have packed it Vista or SP1.

    Just a mish-mash of high-ideals, still in beta. The fever-pitch hysteria reminds me of PDC 2003, Forget not, this is the same company just a few weeks ago, trying to force buyout Yahoo, as their overall web strategy, and now, suddenly, after all the wine and cheese, they are future unstoppable? Please.

  35. Scoble, Scoble, Scoble….

    “We’ve decided that IE8 will, by default, interpret web content in the most standards compliant way it can.”

    1. Let’s believe it when we see it.

    2. “The most standards compliant way it can.”

    3. Meanwhile let’s use browsers that *are* standards compliant and have been built from the ground up on W3C standards

    4. For just a second, I was afraid Microsoft tech would have yet another emotional impact on you

    = D

  36. Scoble, Scoble, Scoble….

    “We’ve decided that IE8 will, by default, interpret web content in the most standards compliant way it can.”

    1. Let’s believe it when we see it.

    2. “The most standards compliant way it can.”

    3. Meanwhile let’s use browsers that *are* standards compliant and have been built from the ground up on W3C standards

    4. For just a second, I was afraid Microsoft tech would have yet another emotional impact on you

    = D

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