Moving on…

… to a new role at Microsoft. During my 4 years at Microsoft, first as the Belgian Consumer Marketing Manager for MSN and later as the Marcom Lead for MSN and Windows Live in EMEA, I’ve been experimenting with social media. Remember the Windows Live Sessions we did all over Europe (e.g. Brussels, London, …), inviting bloggers to events such as MIX, sponsoring and attending Barcamps or Girl Geek Dinners and bigger events such as Le Web for instance, the adventures with Steve and Hugh around the Blue Monster, speaking at events, getting the word out on ‘Bring The Love Back‘, engaging on blogs and twitter, etc… Although it was only a small part of my job (the main part was setting up online marketing campaigns), I’ve always been very passionate about it.

Since October 1st that has all changed. Since then I’ve started working in a new role as Digital Media Communications Manager for all Windows Consumer brands – PC, mobile and online – as well as MSN and Live Search in EMEA. I got to say, it’s like getting paid to do your hobby just like Steve seems to think about his job as well. And it’s also the reason why this blog has gone silent for a bit, as I’m still transitioning stuff from my old job to other people. Also our fiscal year started on July 1st so I got to get my new plans ready asap, expect more about that here soon.

Anyway, I’ve been waiting for the moment I could tell you all this, wish me luck and if ever you have ideas on how you think I should run this… let me know in the comments.

Zune 3.0

Ever since I started using the 30G first generation Zune (yes that brown one) I’ve become quite fond of both the device and the software. And now you’ll probably say ‘sure, you work for Microsoft so that explains…’ etc. but I actually bought an iPod first (yes I already worked here). I’ve never been much of a fan of the navigation on the device, let alone of iTunes. Huge catalogue and all but I just don’t like it.

zunecard

Yesterday the Zune team released the 3rd generation of the Zune and I updated both my 1ste generation 30G Zune as well as the 2nd edition 8G Zune, which is the one I use most. And I got to say, seriously. I think the Zune software is worth installing even if you don’t have a Zune. The visualization is very nice, and especially (which is new in this release) how you can go into the MixView which shows similar artists (similar music or influenced by, …) and other Zune users that listened to this music. A nice mixture between recommendations from the music engine underneath as well as the social… hence the ‘Welcome to the social’ slogan for the Zune. Here’s what Wired had to say about MixView’s recommendation engine:

“Microsoft showed us a sneak preview of the Zune 3.0 software it plans to release on Sept. 16 with the latest generation of Zune devices, and what we saw made iTunes’ simple Genius feature look like a blast from digital music’s past. While iTunes serves up a text list of recommended songs within your library and from the iTunes store, adding to the more basic recommendations its MiniStore feature used to make, Zune reinvented the recommendation concept by collapsing artists, albums and fans into the same recommendation engine, more accurately mirroring the way people think about music.”

There’s just one thing missing though and that is  access to the Zune Marketplace. Since I live in Europe the only way for me to benefit from the all-you-can-eat monthly charge of $14.99 is to get a US credit card unfortunately. The new MixView makes me want that even more, since you obviously want to buy the music you’re discovering right away. So bring the Zune to Europe guys!

Photosynth: it’s here!

I can’t count the number of times I’ve written about Photosynth anymore, but trust me when I say the number of times I wanted to say even more is even bigger. I remember how the first reactions (the oohs and aahs) were quickly followed by questions about the computing power that would be needed to create synths your own. Well, we’ve been having access (I work for Microsoft) to the tool that allows you to create your own Synths for a while and yes your personal computer will do just fine. And since yesterday, you can all give it a try for yourself (only on Windows for the moment though).

Synther

Explore the nicest Synths right here or start creating your own right away. Here’s how to do it. Read more about this fascinating technology on the Photosynth blog, or read some of the reviews that are popping up: Mossberg, Scoble, Webware, O’Reilly Radar, …

MIX08 (Part 1)

There’s always one difficult part about going to conferences and blogging and that is that you hear so many interesting things you want to talk about, but no time to do so because you’re paying attention. I do have some time right now though before going to the official MIX party at TAO in about an hour or so I thought I’d share some first thoughts on the conference.

Together with most of the European invites of Microsoft to MIX, we arrived in Vegas on Monday night as we had a pre-conference scheduled in on Tuesday, the day before the official start of MIX. The pre-conference is a unique opportunity to get up close with some people that will present at MIX later as well but given we’re with about 200 people it makes it more accessible to get into a conversation. In the afternoon we had the choice between some activities, for which we chose to go for the “High Rollers” – a training basically on gambling, to get you started ;) This training took place in the Stratosphere Tower, a nice enough opportunity to take some pictures and stitch them all together in this panorama.

Las Vegas Panorama

Today MIX officially started. We had the keynote in the morning with Ray Ozzie and Scott Guthrie which got covered pretty good live by Duncan Riley at Techrunch. I’d say check out their post to get an idea of the keynote, or watch the video. There’s one thing that struck me the most and that was the Hard Rock Memorabilia demo, using the Seadragon technology within Silverlight. You can see it right here, make sure you check it out. Really cool, trust me.

hardrock

After the keynote (and the following lunch) I went out to see Lou Carbone again. I saw him at MIX07 already and found it a fascinating speech, reason enough to go see him again. Unfortunately, his MIX08 speech was the same as last year. Still very good, but been there done that.  Too late to go anywhere else so and my next session was in the same room anyway. Next up, David Armano with the Fuzzy Tail. David and I have been in touch occasionally through the AoC and on Twitter but here in Vegas we finally met in person which was good. The Fuzzy Tail wasn’t new to me as I followed the development of the presentation on his blog a couple of months ago, still good to see it presented by the man himself.

Other than that we saw some cool stuff related to the new IE8, we had again some demo on the Surface – always fascinating – and finally we joined the other MIX attendees for the official MIX party in TAO.

I know that guy

More images from MIX can be found on my Flickr account, and for more news and videos you should check out the MIX website.

New from Microsoft: Tafiti

Today Microsoft launched Tafiti, a new demo/experiment showing in a cool way what you can do combining Live Search with Silverlight. I hear you thinking: not another search, or Microsoft, huh!, … but I think you should take a look at it.

Tafiti, which means ‘do research’ in Swahili apparently, allows you to search the web like any other engine when it comes to the results themselves. But the way these results get presented and the way you can drag into ‘shelves’ where you can collect them is quite interesting.

tafitibeta2

I did a search on ‘silverlight’ and the view on top is where you see the news results of it, nicely presented in ‘newspaper’ style. In the carrousel on the left you can choose other verticals (web, images, …) and on the right you have the ‘shelves’ I mentioned earlier with some results stored on the first ‘shelve’. You can actually open up the results on a ‘shelve’ which shows all of them in one view and which has a blog it & email it buttons so you can send them through right away.

I’m going to play around with this a bit more myself, but make sure you do as well. I think it’s an interesting exercise. You can see a video of Tafiti in action at On10.

Windows Live Folders

Windows Live Folders is a new Windows Live service (that is only in beta in the US now) which offers password-protected online storage. Since the password projection is done through your LiveID (aka Passport) you have your Hotmail contacts or Live Messenger buddies linked to the service as well.

Folders comes in 3 ways:

  1. Storage for yourself which you can use when you want to access files from multiple computers
  2. Sharing files with friends is where you can store files that you want to share with one or more friends on your Messenger buddy list. In addition to that you can add ‘reader’ or ‘contributor’ permission to each folder you set up this way
  3. Sharing files publicly

Now I’ve just set up my Live Folders and I’ll share my experiences with it later. If you want to give this a try as well, make sure you sign up for it quickly as the team is only expanding the beta for a limited time now.

Here’s what you see once you’re logged on, I didn’t have any files up there when I took the screenshot hence the 500MB is still available which isn’t the case anymore now :)

WLFolders

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Age of Conversation: Out Now!

aocoutnow

Finally it’s here. Congrats to Drew and Gavin for setting this all up! I’ve written about the project before on a few occasions so I’m not going to bring that all up again, the book is here, so just get it now ;)

My fellow countryman Luc ‘Mindblob’ Debaisieux has a good wrap up on the project so far with some key links:

  • Drew McLellan’s latest words on the ebook.
  • Gavin Heaton’s latest post.
  • Arun Rajagopal’s description of all the authors.
  • Matt Dickman’s Google Map locating all the authors.
  • The Age of Conversation site.
  • Age of Conversation alphabetic list and info.

The book was also featured on AdAge, with a preview and an interview with Drew and Gavin. Don’t forget to take a look at my special Age of Conversation page where you can find all the authors again.

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