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 :)

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.

Upgrading

“If you upgrade your version of Windows and an application breaks, it’s Microsoft’s fault. If you upgrade your version of OS X and your application breaks, it’s the ISV’s fault. If you upgrade your version of Linux and your application breaks, well, that’s your own damn fault.”

Found on the Linux Hater’s Blog.

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, …

New power to Powerpoint

I seriously start thinking that the various Microsoft labs are getting up to speed lately. There’s one innovation after the other, see that new 3D viewer I blogged about some days ago, but know that there’s even a lot more than just that: Sphere Surface, Touchwall, Popfly, DeepZoom, … etc etc.

It aren’t always big-ass tables though ;) A couple of days ago I noticed pptPlex on my buddy Steve Clayton’s blog. pptPlex offers an interesting way to make slide decks less linear and makes it possible to add visibly very small data to slides that can easily be shown by zooming in and out of slides while in a slideshow. I had to see this for myself first of course and it really is quite an interesting add-on for Powerpoint. Download it and let pptPlex do some of it’s work on an existing slideshow and you’ll quickly discover what the possibilities are once you really build a presentation to make the maximum use of this.

See it in action:

pptplex

More videos and download of course at Office Labs. Check out the other projects while you’re at it ;)

Photo tourism: stunning!

Remember Photosynth? About 2 years ago Microsoft Live Labs release the tech preview of Photosynth and I hasn’t lost any bit of coolness ever since. It was presented at TED Talks by Blaise Aguera y Arcas (together with SeaDragon) and is one of the most watched videos of the complete TED video collection (which on itself is pretty awesome already). Watch that first if you haven’t done so already.

Long Zheng at istartedsomething.com reports on a new 3D photoviewer that was created by Microsoft Research and the University of Washington:

“The collaborative research team from the University of Washington and Microsoft Research who only two years ago in 2006 published their paper “Photo Tourism” and their technology demonstration “Photosynth” have again pushed the boundaries of what can be achieved by intuitively processing the abundance of digital images shared on the web. This week at SIGGRAPH 2008 they’re sharing with the world some even better technology they’ve been working on which they call “Finding Paths through the World’s Photos“. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s damn cool. If you’re not much of a reading person like me, take a look at this video demonstration.”

Here’s the video, pretty stunning indeed:

Inspiration, Anyone?

When we launched ‘The Break-Up’ about a year ago we were impressed with the feedback we got on it. Yes we thought it was good, but still we never expected it to be as big as it became. And feedback was good, people like how we portrayed the changed relationship between consumers and advertisers. The second most common feedback was what we would do about it. We showed we understood the shifted relationship, what does Microsoft Advertising have to offer that work this changed situation?

In the second installment the advertiser is at his agency trying to figure out a way to solve his problem. This one is about inspiration… but just check it out for yourself.

Check getinspiredhere.net

Coming soon

… to a computer screen near you. I hope you have seen / remember this little movie that was launched about a year ago? ‘Bring the love back’ or ‘The Break-Up’ as it was officially titled. Today the sequel to that is almost ready and Geert – my colleague responsible for all this – made a little teasing trailer of it. Hope you like it.

Nice little detail, the voice over on the trailer is done by Don Lafontaine, who is an American voice actor famous for recording over 5.000 movie trailers, etc… so you might recognize that voice ;)