Monthly Archives: July 2007

The Economist Audio downloads

Economist Subscribers can now download the whole honking Economist to their PC, Ipod, Zune, whatever for free.  ($8 for non-subscribers.)

That’s a huge benefit.  The Economist is thick and weekly–nearly impossible to read through the whole thing cover to cover.  Having the ability to listen to it now when I’m on the train or whatever, what a help.

I’m downloading for the first time now–130MB.  Is taking it’s own sweet time.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

The Economist Audio downloads


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Ray Ozzie is a big stud, part 2

Many people have been asking questions or taking a look at the quick post I wrote on Ray Ozzie’s key note at MGX.  The core ideas that I think he left me with were these:

In a world of amazing price drops in the broad PC ecosystem–storage, processing, and even bandwidth are all getting so cheap–there is a big question as to where the ‘innovation’ will live.  Some will say that all these low prices mean it will just work on the web.  A developer just builds on the web, write once, works on any device.  No brainer right?

Ray’s perspective is that with all that storage and processing and capacity available on a PC, that these are resources that are setup to be well-used in combination with great Internet services.   In other words, the opportunity around Software and Services is all around fusing the best of the Internet with the best of what the PC can do. 

I think what he was able to do in his speech specifically that made this a more compelling vision (versus just a MSFT-centric view of the world) was he was showcasing great examples of start-ups or new services that are looking to make their offerings even richer by getting software onto the PC.  Examples would be Pownce, Joost, and Skype. 

So sure, while a message of “yes the PC has an important role to play” is an inherently MS-centric message, I saw it delivered in a way that is far more customer focused than I’ve seen it.  This is good–for customers (business and consumer), for entrepreneurs, and yes, for MSFT.

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Tech Sales Surge, But Low Pricing Cuts Into Profits –

I read this yesterday, Tech Sales Surge, But Low Pricing Cuts Into Profits –, and this quote really struck me:

Bill Watkins, chief executive officer of Seagate Technology, the biggest maker of disk drives, says the rush to the Internet and the demand for products such as personal computers, iPods and digital-video recorders has for the first time pushed the total capacity of disk drives in homes beyond that of businesses. “Consumers are just gobbling it up,” he says.

Home disk drive capacity exceeding that of business?!?  Holy cow.  I’m going to post this without adding in a bunch of info on how many petabytes of data, blah, blah, blah, but I will look that stuff up.  In the meantime, I think this quote is very interesting, and I want to express what’s going on, why is it interesting, and what does it mean?

I think what’s going on is that the power of web and software development tools, broadband proliferation, and easy brain-dead connectivity of devices  have come together to deliver powerful simple consumer solutions.  This simplicity and usefulness drives customer usage.  Customer usage drives capacity increases. 

Why this is interesting is not that consumer scenarios are getting simple enough for consumers to enjoy.  In fact, my view is that most of these scenarios are still not simple enough.   Photos are easier to share than ever before, but they’re still not easy to share.  Video still has a long way to go.  Ipod with the music scenario is quite good, as is XBOX Live.  

To me, the first thing that’s interesting is that there is going to be even more growth in consumer-driven storage demand, as more apps come online and as more broadband capacity is taken on.  This good news for the high tech industry over the long-term, as it means more stuff to back-up, more stuff to manage, more stuff to share, etc.  Good for entrepreneurs, good for big vendors, and great for consumers.

The more important thing though to me is the statement that this is the first time ever that more capacity exists in homes versus businesses.  The interesting thing here is why this would be so.

By my way of thinking, businesses are always starved for storage.  It’s kind of crazy to read that consumers could ever have more storage capacity than businesses.  Think about it–in a world of increasing GDP, continuing globalization, digitization of commerce, Sarbox, etc.  Basically there are tons of drivers in business that can and will continue to drive storage capacity  in the business space.  Surely, storage consolidation with things like SAN/NAS etc. will help businesses manage and get more efficient, but the core drivers for storage proliferation in business are there, and they’re understood.

So sure, consumers have Ipods, a digital camera, a broadband connection, and Flickr, but how does this translate into more storage capacity in consumer than in business? 

The answer is simple.  Or rather, simplicity.  Specifically, the simplicity of the consumer offerings and solutions that are available relative to the simplicity of the solutions and offerings available to business users, or information workers.  Put bluntly: consumers have simpler, better stuff to work with right now for what they want to do than information workers do for the stuff they want (have) to get done.  As I said above, simplicity drives usage and usage drives capacity.  Consumers are on the winning side of this right now; information workers are looking to catch up. 

Businesses are struggling with IT–have been for decades.  There’s a quote in the IT industry that 70% of an IT Departments budget is generally used to just keep the stuff that’s already running functioning.  Only 30% gets to go to new capacity, new solutions, etc.  Well, if only 30% gets to go to new stuff, then the cool new things that business people will get to do with technology gets watered down a lot.  Further, because the stuff that they do get that’s ‘new’ has a Frankenstein-like feel to it (cobbled together based on existing legacy stuff), the new stuff has that old stuff scent.  Not simple, not easy, not great to use.  The result?

Not simple drives minimal usage drives slower capacity drivers.  This is what’s happening in business relative to consumer storage capacity.

What to do?  Well, my view is that this is a temporary inverse.  The driver in the next 5 years that will flip it back to business storage capacity outstripping consumer will be Business Intelligence (BI) and continuing CRM progress.  Both categories — BI and CRM — are poised for breakthroughs in the simplicity and scale to which they’re available to business people or information workers.  When these powerful tools hit in scale, business people won’t know what hit them–it will be like being a college kid and getting your first Ipod. 

BI and CRM tools are poised for that kind of simplicity for Information Workers.  With the simplicity comes usage.  With the usage comes capacity.  This is great news for businesses, the high tech industry, and information workers themselves.

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Ray Ozzie is a big stud, Part 1

(See also Ray Ozzie is a big stud, Part 2, rest of blog at:

Today at MGX, Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect, gave his keynote to around 8000 MSFT employees.  I think Ray Ozzie is the MAN–visionary, clear-thinking, thoughtful, and optimistic.  Of course, with Bill Gates retiring and shifting his focus to philanthropy, there is the question of how you replace him.  Bill is to a large degree irreplaceable, a unique unique soul. 

But IF you had to fill Bill’s shoes, Ray Ozzie is the guy.  Here’s what I find so great about Ray:

  • Importantly, he embraces the internet and the web as our friend.  He fundamentally ‘gets’ what it means to be a software+services company.  He is not faking this.  This bodes well for MSFT, as the opportunities we have in front of us are quite strong.
  • He is an optimist and he is pushing us to embrace this journey.  MS is a self-critical company.  Too often, I think we’ve let ourselves criticize some of our efforts (e.g., Live Search) and we point out problems.  This is the easy thing, right?  The hard part is figuring out the solution.  Ray gets this.
  • Ray uniquely combines a great vision for technology with a great vision for what a sales force needs to do.  Big thoughts packaged in digestable, easy to understand statements.
  • Ray is the man.
  • (See also Ray Ozzie is a big stud, Part 2, rest of blog at:


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Windows Live Writer

I downloaded and have started using a beta of Windows Live Writer from Microsoft, my employer. 

I think this product rocks.  Super simple and straightforward.  Snappy and responsive.  And most impressive useful and intuitive features.  Snaps for the WLW Team.  Great job, can’t wait for RTW.

As I’ve said in other postings on other blogs, I find the WordPress blog sites the best for my using.  It also is simple and straightforward.  Good responsiveness and also very useful intuitive features.

Download Windows Live Writer Beta here: Link

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Could Facebook Become The Next Microsoft?

The article below describes the ‘positive feedback loop’ that MSFT achieved with Windows, Dev Tools, and Office in th early 90s.  MSFT was able to establish a common platform that drove developers to one platform, which in turn drove users to the same platform.  Rinse, repeat, and reap.

Facebook is now in a very similar situation, as this post below describes.  I couldn’t agree more.  The evolution and adoption of new developer technologies in the next 12-24 months will do much to shake out which and how the key web destinations take hold.

Facebook’s move sets them up well–how MSFT, Yahoo, and other SNS sites respond will do much to determine who wins the war.   

Could Facebook Become The Next Microsoft?

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Sucking less in economy class

Yesterday, I made the journey from Tokyo, Japan to Orlando, FL for Microsoft’s annual Microsoft Global Exchange (MGX) meeting.  This meeting is great, very well done.  With me leaving Microsoft next month, I’m looking forward to this meeting–a great chance to see friends, say goodbye, and so forth.

The big downside is that the travel from Tokyo to Orlando is a hike.  A real hike.  

Now, MSFT may have >$40B in the cash account, but we’re a frugal place.  Flying to MGX is a mass group flight affair–flying business on the Corporate dime is strongly frowned upon.  If you want to sit up front, you better be ready to pay up miles or dollars.  

Now full confession, I’d tried to pay up, but the Travel Agency (AMEX Travel, Japan) basically blew me off, said there was no way.  This led to the very uncomfortable situation of me arriving in coach and seeing most of my team sitting up front in business.  So Amex Travel Japan has a bit of answering to do to me, but I”ll get to them later.

 Anyway, I have to report that United’s Economy Plus is not so bad for a flight that long.  The leg room is fine.  The movies were decent. 

 When I start my company, we’ll be coach all the way for sure. 

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