September 30, 2006
@ 05:18 AM

Adam Barr has a blog post entitled Trying to Grok Windows Live where he writes

At the Company Meeting last week, Ray Ozzie stood up and gave a very nice, very inspiring speech about how we have to shift the company to Live (Windows Live, Office Live, etc). He spoke without slides or notes and it's obviously something he cares a lot about and has thought a lot about. I'm entirely convinced that he has a great vision of the future in his mind.

The only problem is, I really don't know what he is talking about.

I'm fully prepared to believe it's because I'm too dense to understand. But when he talks about "betting the company on Windows Live", what does that mean? How does Windows become a service? I understand that there are things we need to do in order to make the Internet a platform; back in 2000 I wrote that I thought that's what .Net was. But I don't see how this involves changing Windows in some fundamental way.

This isn't the first time I've heard someone from Microsoft say they don't understand what Ray Ozzie is talking about when he talks about "Live" software. I feel such a disconnect when I hear this because when I read Ray's "Internet Services Disruption Memo, I was like "Duh" so it is difficult to understand the perspective of people who don't appreciate the power of the Web.

From my perspective, Ray Ozzie's memo and his various speeches have one simple message

  1. The Web has fundamentally changed the face of computing.
  2. The Web is here to stay.
  3. The world's largest software company has to adapt to this reality
A good analogy for understanding what it means for software to embrace the Web is to compare an application like WinAmp 3.0 which plays music on your hard drive or from CD to iTunes 7.0 which plays music on your hard drive or from CD and can be used to purchase music from an online store and can be used to subscribe to podcasts on the Web. One doesn't have to resort to "creating an AJAX version of WinAmp" or whatever other straw man argument usually comes up in this context to turn a desktop MP3 player into "Live" software. iTunes shows that.

What Microsoft needs to do is repeat that lesson across all of its products and think about how they can embrace the Web instead of simply reacting to it or barely acknowledging its existence.


Saturday, September 30, 2006 2:09:37 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I think your commend about iTunes versus WinAmp is a good one. My problem with Microsoft, Google and Yahoo!'s strategies regarding the web is that it seems each one wants to give us crappy versions of software in Ajax rather than create smarter cloud-aware desktop software. The beauty of the Internet is that it gives us the ability to get our data from anywhere.

What I've been wanting forever is zero-footprint applications. I want the ability to have rich applications on the desktop that can be downloaded or carried on a thumb drive that gets all my data from the Internet.

I can't understand why developers and people seem ok with the idea of dumping the SDK's and platforms that have been developed over the last 20+ years in exchange for HTML which is one of the worst application programming platforms out there. My fear is that Microsoft doesn't get it and really does have blinders on. And while it's ok now because everyone else does to, I really hope they snap out of it.
Orion Adrian
Saturday, September 30, 2006 6:40:52 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Is a network manager in a large company and even with my personal computer. I don't want my OS to be part local install and part web. I want to control my data and my software. I don't want to have to buy windows and office, then pay a subscription to be "live". I really hate this whole idea of subscription software. I want to pay once and use my software.
I love the Internet, my wife says I live on it. But I don't want to run my office or OS software from the Internet.
The cost of MS applications is way too high already, I don't want to be required to pay a subscription to continue to use or it get its fully functionality.
Sunday, October 1, 2006 5:37:31 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
That's all good stuff. What I don't get is the part about betting Windows itself on Live. As you quoted me saying, "I don't see how this involves changing Windows in some fundamental way." WinAmp and iTunes are applications, not OSes. On an Internet-connected computer, the vast majority of what Windows does has nothing to do with the Internet connection. It's just a network connection that applications use. How will this change?

When I talk about "Windows" I don't meant a bundled photo-management app or the help system. I mean the core of Windows where the "hard problems" lie.

- adam
Sunday, October 1, 2006 8:56:23 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
You should think harder. I'm not going to speculate to far in the public comments on my blog but I give some general ideas. With Longhorn planning, Microsoft pretty much ignored the Web with the various pillars of Longhorn [WinFS was about building a new proprietary local file system, Avalon was about building desktop GUI apps, while Indigo was primarily concerned with B2B/intranet communications scenarios]. All three of these projects did imply fundamental changes to Windows at one time.

If Microsoft takes the same focus on Web-enabling the entire Windows experience then similar fundamental changes should show up as well. It may just be that you are thinking at too low a level (e.g. will the device driver architecture have to change?) which is why this is so unclear to you.

We can chat over lunch sometime with some folks on RedWest if you like.
Monday, October 2, 2006 7:28:34 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Microsoft still has a major disconnect and it's represented in the label: "Windows Live".

The network-aware apps that are winning are cross-platform (e.g., Skype, iTunes, Adobe, Flash, etc.).
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