Future vision

Microsoft’s Business Division president Stephen Elop unveiled the latest production from Microsoft Office Labs called “2019″ at the Wharton Business Technology Conference last week. Here’s a video of what our researchers think the future of business might look like:

futurevision

Full story and 5-minute long version of this video ‘i started something’.

TechFest ‘09

Microsoft Research is currently having it’s annual gathering in Redmond, showing the world some of the latest projects they’ve been working on – TechFest 2009.

“TechFest is an annual event that brings researchers from Microsoft Research’s labs around the world to Redmond to share their latest work with Microsoft product teams. Attendees experience some of the freshest, most innovative technologies emerging from Microsoft’s research efforts. The event provides a forum in which product teams and researchers can discuss the novel work occurring in the labs, thereby encouraging effective technology transfer into Microsoft products.”

Basically a lot of geekery, but worth watching. One of the projects that was shown yesterday which I found rather cool is panoramic video stitching software – Qik meets Photosynth as TechCrunch calls it (although it’s probably more Qik meets ICE* but anyway). Check out their video:

*ICE is short for Image Composite Editor, an advanced panoramic image stitcher which is also coming from Microsoft Research and worth a look on its own (free download).

The point cloud

This is so cool, it’s not the first time I’ve written about Photosynth but while I was playing with this new Silverlight viewer for Photosynth I got a little into this ‘point cloud’ views and again, must say that this really is awesome.

So I’m looking at this Photosynth (196 photos and 98% synthy – so a good one) and look at one of the photos in the collection:

synth1

We’ve all seen that right? ;) Then if we press ‘P’ we switch the viewer to this point cloud mode resulting in:

synth

And that – and this is the really cool part – will enable you to look at these objects from an angle that you actually don’t have photos of like this:

synth3

Yes Photosynth remains one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. Go check it out for yourself.

Live Mesh in Paris

Okay so you already know that the Blue Monster is coming to Paris, now I’m also happy to announce that Live Mesh is coming to LeWeb in Paris as well next week. And with a twist:

“We’re pleased to announce that to celebrate LeWeb’08 and Microsoft’s official partnership with the event, we are providing attendees exclusive access to 30GB of free Live Mesh online storage.  To claim your 30GB storage on Live Mesh please stop by the Live Mesh booth in the Microsoft zone and register with either myself (James Senior), Angus Logan or Jeff Hansen.

Attendees will also be getting exclusive access to Live Mesh for Windows Mobile and Mac, again stop by the booth for more info.”

meshparis

Yet another reason to come and see us at the Microsoft booth thanks to the guys from Live Mesh!

All new Windows Live

Last week we announced the all new Windows Live, updating some existing services and adding new ones. Windows Live is basically split up in 2 free rich web services (such as Hotmail, Skydrive, …) and also free downloadable software called Windows Live Essentials. The software has been in public beta for some weeks now, but last week we announced the full story including the web services part. To be totally clear, the web services will be rolled out soon, but here’s what they’ll look like.

Together with the folks from CommonCraft they made a little movie – in the known style – to explain it all a bit more.

winlivefilm

What it all means? It’s almost there, it looks good and I can finally talk about it :) I’ve been using the full set of services and clients for a while now I find it the best release (this on is called ‘wave 3’ internally) so far. Checking on the blogs after the announcement shows that most bloggers, reviewers, … seem to agree. So that’s even better. Hope you will all like it too, here are some quotes:

”My early reaction is surprisingly positive, and I can’t say that the two earlier Live Waves impressed me. Microsoft had the right concepts, but marginally executed on them. Wave 3 feels different and may follow the old axiom that Microsoft gets things right on the third version. The private beta was very fast—surprisingly so. Response was quicker than running desktop applications in Windows.” Joe Wilcox (Microsoft Watch)

“Microsoft’s software plus services strategy has clearly infiltrated Live.com as well as their approach with Office. Live.com users can now access a variety of online services like mail, calendar, photos, online storage, etc., as well as downloaded services that include a mail client, instant messaging, Movie Maker, Photo Gallery, the Toolbar and other services. And now it’s also one big social network. The result is an impressive personal productivity suite that makes me almost wish I wasn’t solely a Mac user.” Michael Arrington (Techcrunch)

“This is Big. Overall, these new services represent a major upgrade to the online part of the Windows Live suite. Microsoft is clearly trying to challenge both Yahoo and Google with its new photo application, while the new profiles and groups tie all the Live services together into a very sophisticated social network.” Frederic Lardinois (ReadWriteWeb)

I hope you all take some time to check out what’s available already and check all of it once it’s out there. With the renewed services, more integrated approach, 25G of free storage, social network partner integration, … I really think it’s worth it.

It’s TIME to change

Yesterday at the SIME conference in Stockholm I was part of a keynote session around the topic: “It’s TIME to change”. The whole theme of SIME is based around change and the DNA of change and in case of our session they had someone from the Telecom, Internet (me), Media and Entertainment sector to talk about this (hence the ‘TIME’). I’ve uploaded my presentation to Slideshare but because it doesn’t really say much on the slides, I’ll outline my talk a bit.

We each had about 15 minutes to talk so I decided not to show videos or anything, but added a slide with a whole bunch of links at the end of the presentation for more info (and credits of course).

There were 2 big elements I wanted to talk about at SIME. I know not everyone thinks about Microsoft right away when thinking about change and innovation so first I wanted to talk a little bit about how I do believe we have changed what we do and how we do that over the last years. Second I wanted to talk about the elements that I think are part of this DNA of change, specifically for digital/online.

I had to start with the Blue Monster on this one (given the topic of change) as an introduction to a few examples of how we are trying to innovate in several areas: WorldWide Telescope, Live Maps 3D, Surface computing, Boku, Photosynth, Deepzoom as used for Hard Rock Memorabilia, SenseWeb, HIV vaccination research, … For Photosynth for instance, looking at Blaise’s talk at TED, it became clear this isn’t just a new way to stitch photo’s but that there are some ideas being researched on how this might change surfing the web in general. Pretty cool stuff, you have to see that video from TED if you haven’t done so already, seriously!

But just like JP replied to Hugh, the world wants Microsoft to change as well (slide 10) and also there I think there are fundamental changes going on the last few years. The latest Silverlight toolkit is open source. I don’t remember exactly where I read this but Microsoft submitted two licenses to the Open Source Initiative in 2004. Now there are 500 and there are at least 80,000 Open Source apps that run on Windows. Another change (slide 12) is a new focus on experience and not just features – or not just about what’s in the box, but also how you take it out of it and use it ;) Think about the Zune, Live Mesh, the new Windows Live, new Xbox Live Dashboard, Office 2007, Windows7, etc.

I often use the analogy of Microsoft being this huge ship on which a whole bunch of people are working hard to make it turn, but as happens with boats of that size it takes time before you see it happen. Therefore Robert Scoble’s quote after the Azure launch was even more interesting to see for me (slide 14).

sime
Photo by http://flickr.com/photos/mathys/

So okay, talk about change in general now. First of all I think it’s important to be aware of what is going on, referring to Patrick McDevitt’s (TeleAtlas) superb talk at Web2.0 in Berlin where he talked about ‘”Detecting change in a changing world” using both research as community input to do so. Check out his talk. This is not only true for maps though. As a business you need to find ways to understand which changes are relevant to you and which aren’t. Using both research and the wisdom of the crowd is valuable for all of us. Trust (slide 16) your consumers. In an age when consumers started to trust strangers, it’s all to bad seeing some companies don’t even trust their own customers.

Another element of change, which I find very important is hackability. Make things hackable (slide 18), give people pieces to copy, to re-create, … and they might change your product, service, marketing campaign, … into something you might not have imagined. In a way the initial IBM PC is a very good example of that. You could by a white label PC, change the parts of it, build your own – and make it look like pretty much anything if you want. Same for advertising – It’s not what advertising does to the consumer, it’s what the consumer does to advertising (sorry for not remembering who said this first).

But while you change, don’t forget to keep focus on the outcome, your end goal (slide 19). Dopplr for instance is extremely good at that, pretty much everything they add to the service, adds value to the service. Not sure if could say the same for Technorati or Bloglines. Focus more on the experience (slide 20), something we might have learned the hard way but it is more important than ever. Why would people care about unboxing if it wasn’t important.

Digital also enables much easier to engage and interact in realtime (slide 21) – thanks Ag8! Take advantage of that, find out in realtime what people think, how they use things, where they are, … whatever adds value for you and your customers. Change the way you talk to your customers, or better talk with your customers. Too bad I couldn’t show the Bring The Love Back video (slide 22), SIME was after all in a movie theatre.

Think about context (slide 23)! And how you have to change the content based on the channel you’re using (rather than for the medium that is used to deliver it). Tom and David at Ag8 are bringing a strong message that is linked to this around metamedia instead of crossmedia. Be sure to check that out as well.

Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine ;) (slide 25). Which aspects about the DNA of change in this digital world do you think I forgot, I’m interested to get your opinion about that. I tried to put in as much as possible within the 15 minutes I got but would love to discuss further.

Windows Azure

Today at PDC 2008 Microsoft announced it’s new Cloud OS named Windows Azure which is all over Techmeme by now. I’ll be doing a write up of the whole event when I’m back but thought you should check that out already. Another significant announcement is that Windows Live ID is becoming an OpenID provider. With currently over 460 million active LiveID users, that is a pretty huge step.

Think Way Outside The Box

I’m a PC

New job, new laptop. After a few weeks of comparing, reading reviews online, watching viral videos (about laptops of course), buying laptop magazines at airports, etc… I finally decided what to get 2 weeks ago what to get and using it since today. Since I’m traveling quite a bit and spending more time away from a desk than on my desk there were a few key features the new laptop needed to have – in short I wanted a powerful lightweight ultraportable with long battery life. I had my mind made up on the Dell XPS M1330 for a while since it got some good reviews but finally decided for this:

Main reason for picking the Dell would have been the price tag, which is more interesting compared to the Lenovo X300 but overall performance and former Lenovo experience made me choose the X300 eventually. And no, I didn’t take the lame Dell-Manila-Envelope ad into account :) Truth to be told, in case I had to pay for it myself, it would have been the Dell XPS M1330 without a doubt.

So now it’s all installed, it’s indeed incredibly lightweight, the main battery gives me +3 hours of juice (and ordered an extra battery which should double that) and last but not least with it’s 4Gb or RAM it’s ultrafast :) Here’s what I installed, programs I need to have on my PC (it runs Windows Vista):

Yeah, I’m a PC. And I’m actually married to a Mac so probably our kids will turn out to be hybrids I guess (although more chance to see them turn into Xboxes or something)… Let’s not go there :)