Working Fast on Office 2.0

Another guy I interviewed yesterday up at Microsoft was Chris Capossela, head of a bunch of Microsoft Office stuff (they call it the Information Worker group). He’s a senior vice president at Microsoft. He told me several reasons why companies aren’t going with the latest shiny object coming out of Silicon Valley:

1. Everyone knows what Microsoft Office does, and how it works. Trying something new in business? Not easy to do when there are hundreds, or even thousands of people involved in the decision.
2. IT wants to stay in control inside corporations. Why? Cause they have many constituencies to serve. Lawyers. Executives. Regulators. Let’s say a company gets sued and the judge asks for all of their communications. Can they provide those if they happen, say on Twitter? No. How about Exchange? Yes.
3. They need to know these services will stay up. Twitter being down for a few hours? It’s a pain in the behind for everyone, but totally unacceptable inside big companies. IT departments get fired if stuff like that happens.
4. They need integration into their other systems. Chris showed me what happens when someone calls his desk phone. The phone call gets routed to his Windows Mobile smart phone and shows up on his desktop’s screen at same time. If he doesn’t answer it, the call goes back into voice mail, but the voice mail shows up as email in Outlook. That requires systems to talk to each other, something that doesn’t happen on, say, Gmail.

Anyway, today we’re interviewing Ismael Ghalimi, founder-producer of the Office 2.0 conference and keeper of the definitive database of Office 2.0 apps on our WorkFast.tv show. I’ll definitely ask him how Office 2.0 (er, Silicon Valley’s newest shiny work tools) are measuring up with Microsoft’s. You can watch that interview live and then participate in our “after show party” where Ismael will take more of your questions in our Kyte.tv chat room.

Microsoft's 320 million anti-Google weapons

Yesterday I was sitting in Brian Hall’s office when the Yahoo/Google news was breaking. Who’s he? The guy at Microsoft who runs most of the non-search Windows Live stuff. You know, Hotmail, Messenger, Spaces, and a bunch of other stuff.

We filmed a little fun cell phone video, but our longer interview will be up sometime over next few weeks.

In that he told me what Microsoft is going to do now that the Yahoo deal fell through. He admitted that he was one of the guys working on that deal.

His number one weapon to use against Google?

The 320 million active users of Hotmail and Messenger. That’s 320 million people who have signed into these services in the past 30 days (which, by the way, is WAY up from when I worked at Microsoft — when I worked at Microsoft they were saying 150 to 200 million). Keep in mind that Facebook looks like they just passed 100 million users, so you can see that these are still very popular services.

The trick is how do you get an email user turned into a user of a larger set of services.

Brian showed me several ways. One of the coolest was that if you try to email a photo to someone, which he claimed was still the #1 way to share a photo with people, it automatically uploads those photos to Microsoft’s photo-sharing service and builds links to those pages right in your email.

What did I take away from our visit to Microsoft? You can never count these guys out. They always have the potential to change the marketplace because of how many users still are engaged with their stuff.

The ties they are building between services are interesting. I think Microsoft needs a social networking component like Google’s Friend Connect, though, which would be used on all these services.

Hmmm, why doesn’t Mark Zuckerberg build them one? Imagine if that happened and the social graph showed up on Hotmail and on Messenger?

UPDATE: tons of people are talking about this post over on FriendFeed.