Please welcome the XAML platform team to Windows!

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I got word of a leaked email early yesterday that confirmed what I had been told in passing gossip – the XAML team being disbanded.

This morning I awoke to not just one email but five of them from my various sources all attached with mixed opinions on what it means. Here is my famous (internally in Microsoft, I would send these style of emails about Adobe and their competitive threats) "What Just Happened" response.

We’re pleased to announce the transition of the XAML
platform team from the Developer Division to the Windows team.  While the
team has been working side-by-side with the Windows team for the entire project,
this step brings them into our team formally. 

It is time to start moving the battleships into the attack formation. In that time to start the consolidation into the new ux platform we are about to remake again.

On the upside it means you have a consolidated outcome likely to hit our hard-drives in the next 2-3 years on the downside you have what I would call a technology freeze in effect. If the new iteration of WPF or Silverlight does not comply with the vNext vision, do not hold your breath for a new announcement anytime soon that does not involve Windows 8 future(s).

The team will continue their work on Windows 8 as planned
and will join our Developer Experience (DEVX) team. This transition allows us
to bring together our platform development team in a single-management
structure.

That doesn’t sound to bad, I mean on the surface its just a single management restructure. A day in the life of a Microsoftee where every fiscal year or often more than once you are given new managers because the strategy – scratch that – tactics have changed. That in itself is probably your biggest hint of all around the word commitment, this is not just a case of waiting for a restructure to occur once every 5 years – it happens often.

To clarify, do you keep swapping your generals around in war to the point where the troops effectively stop caring who they are reporting to? Probably not a smart idea but nonetheless.

The dev, test, and pm leaders who will be leading the
team reporting to AlesH, YvesN, and LindaAv are:

• Sujal Parikh, Development Manager 
• Eduardo Leal-Tostado, Test Manager 
• Joe Stegman, Group Program Manager

The leads and individuals joining our team are receiving
this mail and have received communication on next steps.

If most of you who have been involved in the Silverlight ethos are reading then the name, Joe Stegman will probably stand out the most. Joe’s background in the .NET space goes back a ways but in the end Joe’s really been one of the guys under the hierarchy crust of commitment pledges keeping things in the development side of things in check. Officiating his role further in this equation for me is a bit puzzling as it’s kind of the same thing different org tree?

These changes in leadership and organization are
effective today.  For the purposes of finishing out the fiscal year and
the performance review process the team will operate under the existing
management structure.

That is a swift maneuver. Nothing surprising though.

Now onto Soma’s email to the troops which kicked the previous email off (Notice how VP’s etc all pile on from one another with "what he said was.." like somehow being apart of the thread is being seen as a role of importance. Classic Microsoft Victory Email formula, just once I’d like them to send out just one email outlining the change. This is what I’m talking about when I say Microsoft Culture is retarded.

I digress.

MICROSOFT CONFIDENTIAL

Over the last couple of years, our Client and Mobile team
has done a fantastic job of building a number of XAML related technologies that
have been a huge value add to the Microsoft client platforms and an
instrumental part of delighting our developer customers.  The agility and
customer focus that the team has demonstrated over the years has been a
pleasure to watch.

Ooops. Btw this was supposed to be confidential. So do not tell anybody.

Over the last couple of years? From memory, I recall WPF being around for more than a couple of years? Never mind, I keep forgetting everyone internally has forgotten about WPF.

Soma is kind of saying, "thanks for the hard work troops, you managed to outpace most products in Microsoft with your constant brilliance around the word agility, which being said here comes the but to that placating statement.

Today, we are making some organization changes to bring
our platform technologies under a single management structure.  These
changes are centered around three focus areas:

• The team working on XAML technologies for Windows will
move to Windows.

• The team working on XAML technologies for Windows
Phone, Xbox and browser plugin will move to Windows Phone. 

• The Client and Mobile tools teams, including Windows
Phone tools and XAML tools, will stay in DevDiv.

These changes are all effective immediately.  From a
performance review perspective, we will do this year’s performance review under
the DevDiv organization model.

"Today marks a new day troops, for we storm a new beach" is kind of the response to that next piece.

Firstly you have parts of the XAML team(s) parked inside the Windows organization. First impressions on twitter are that "Way to go! Means XAML and Windows are finally going to get along and create awesome XAML experiences"

Have I not shown you the Annie video? Moreover, have I discussed the Orphan Syndrome? "My dad’s going to come for me, he’s rich you…you..you just wait and see"

To me that read as being a case of cherry picking parts of the team to socket into the windows division and their new coding charter will come next. If it involves XAML it will be based around what XAML vNext is likely to be – HTML5 meets Jupiter.

Same with the Phone team, it is what I would call "please standby for further orders" moments.

As for the tooling teams, well you got Cider and Expression Blend team is what that really comes back to. Given most of the Client employees have left, I am not sure what that means suffice to say I am not holding out for a new release for Sketchflow for starters and I am guessing that the Blend teams are not exactly getting high fives for poor sales and download rates to date. If I were in that team, I would be updating my LinkedIn account quickly.

I want to thank Kevin Gallo and the team for all the
great work that they have done over the years.  Moving forward, I’m very
excited to bring the client platform efforts closer to the platform
teams.  There is a lot of very exciting and critical work underway as part
of our next wave of platform releases and I am very eagerly looking forward to
seeing the team’s work in the hands of our developers and customers.

Remember when Mary Jo posted a while back on how Kevin Gallo would be taking over the reins of Scott Guthrie. That’s probably the quickest promotion and I’m not ready to say demotion but I’m not ready to say continuance either – that I’ve seen?

The positive part there is the "next wave of platform releases" that sounds a lot like a continuation of what we have in front of us. Make no mistake there will be a Silverlight 5 and a WPF vNext released next fiscal, its already got most of the code done and it would be foolish to not release those when they can – especially after MIX2011.

Releasing those two would also buy you time for the next 2 fiscals at most. As by doing this you create this calming effect around "see, we’re still working on it..honest" to placate the developer hordes.

That is up to you, you can buy into that sure, and it is hard to debunk given there is not much visibility behind what we are likely to see next – especially given this is tradition within the Microsoft roadmap(s).

For me personally, I’d like to corner Microsoft If I could into giving more concrete assurances that whatever the next wave of bets are that they are either backwards compliance or have parity around what we have today in terms of conceptual features today.

Features for me are not will I be able to still hit F5 without changing code. Features for me are the concepts that are on the table today, around how one manages the out of browser and in-browser functionality – everything from casual gaming through to enterprise ready features (printing, isolated storage, data binding etc).

Going forward.

I think what has happened in this email is the equivalent of me saying "I really like this car, now can we take the wheels and put them over there. In addition, can you take the steering wheel and dashboard and put it over there. Lastly, can you take the engine and well. Just leave it in place for second; I’ll get back to you later on where we can put that next"

It’s clear there is a consolidation happening that I think we can all agree on early. How will the consolidation impact the average .NET developer is likely to be dramatic enough to warrant some applications having to have code refactored down the track – you will not escape that sorry.

Does this mean .NET is dead? Who actually knows what .NET vNext will be so it is hard to simply say "yes" and it could very well be a reset of .NET to fix a lot of pent up frustration in the way it sticks together today.

What I am certain of is WPF is definitely officially done. The chance of WPF going beyond what it is today is slim. Some journalists etc. will gloss over this as its not news but let me be clear in saying at Microsoft we really had no clue just how deeply seeded this product became.

In Australia it’s used quite heavily and it’s something I personally noticed whenever I used to travel around the country meeting Microsoft customers (both as an Evangelist and Product Manager). I used to send emails internally stating "I think we underestimated is usage, as it definitely appears to have more devs using than Silverlight" which was later brushed aside as being "Not realistic".

I think post September the announcements that are to follow will give these warnings probably some second thoughts around what parking WPF in the retired bay is likely to mean for Microsoft when it comes to the words "trust" and "commitment"

The product and developer satisfaction surveys for the last few years haven’t been something you’d brag about internally which for me indicates a strong sense of "fatigue" within the ranks of our beloved .NET developer communities.

It’s now one thing to announce what the next version of .NET will be its entirely different thing to convince and sell these fatigue customers that this is defiantly the bet this time. Silverlight, WPF and WinForm are available today and millions are shipping software solutions using them.

Microsoft now has to figure out a way to convince the millions that the "Windows 8" wave of vNext will fix all of these problems and more – and – will not require a reduction in feature parity along with extra boost in tooling.

If I know, my Microsoft and I like to think I do, good luck J

Full email below:

From: Julie Larson-Green
Sent: Monday, June 20, 2011 9:35 AM
To: Grant George; Jon DeVaan; Julie Larson-Green; John
Cable; Yves Neyrand; Craig Fleischman; Bambo C. Sofola; Scott Herrboldt; Greg
Chapman; Julie Bennett; Jeff Johnson; Ales Holecek; Mohammed El-Gammal; Chuck
Chan; Michael Fortin; Eric Traut; Jensen Harris; Linda Averett; Alex Simons
(WINDOWS); Gabriel Aul; Dennis Flanagan; Iain McDonald; Samuel Moreau; Dean Hachamovitch;
Michael Angiulo; Antoine Leblond; Tami Reller; Chris Jones (WINDOWS LIVE);
Jonathan Wiedemann; Ulrike Irmler; Adrianna Burrows
Cc: XAML Team; Kevin Gallo; S. Somasegar; Terry Myerson;
Sharman Mailloux Sosa; Brad Fringer; Steven Sinofsky
Subject: Please welcome the XAML platform team to
Windows!

We're pleased to announce the transition of the XAML
platform team from the Developer Division to the Windows team.  While the
team has been working side-by-side with the Windows team for the entire project,
this step brings them into our team formally.  

The team will continue their work on Windows 8 as planned
and will join our Developer Experience (DEVX) team. This transition allows us
to bring together our platform development team in a single-management
structure. 
The dev, test, and pm leaders who will be leading the
team reporting to AlesH, YvesN, and LindaAv are:

• Sujal Parikh, Development Manager 
• Eduardo Leal-Tostado, Test Manager 
• Joe Stegman, Group Program Manager 
The leads and individuals joining our team are receiving
this mail and have received communication on next steps.
 
These changes in leadership and organization are
effective today.  For the purposes of finishing out the fiscal year and
the performance review process the team will operate under the existing
management structure.

There will be an informal Q&A session today to
welcome everyone and answer any questions that folks might have.
• XAML team welcome – 2:00-3:00 in building 37/1701

Please join me in welcoming these folks to our
organization!
Julie
 

 

From: S. Somasegar 
Sent: Monday, June 20, 2011 9:16 AM
To: Client and Mobile Team
Cc: Developer Division FTE; Steven Sinofsky; Julie
Larson-Green; Terry Myerson; David Treadwell
Subject: Bringing together client platform efforts

MICROSOFT CONFIDENTIAL

Over the last couple of years, our Client and Mobile team
has done a fantastic job of building a number of XAML related technologies that
have been a huge value add to the Microsoft client platforms and an
instrumental part of delighting our developer customers.  The agility and
customer focus that the team has demonstrated over the years has been a
pleasure to watch.  

Today, we are making some organization changes to bring
our platform technologies under a single management structure.  These
changes are centered around three focus areas:
• The team working on XAML technologies for Windows will
move to Windows.
• The team working on XAML technologies for Windows
Phone, Xbox and browser plugin will move to Windows Phone.  
• The Client and Mobile tools teams, including Windows
Phone tools and XAML tools, will stay in DevDiv. 

These changes are all effective immediately.  From a
performance review perspective, we will do this year’s performance review under
the DevDiv organization model.

I want to thank Kevin Gallo and the team for all the
great work that they have done over the years.  Moving forward, I'm very
excited to bring the client platform efforts closer to the platform
teams.  There is a lot of very exciting and critical work underway as part
of our next wave of platform releases and I am very eagerly looking forward to
seeing the team’s work in the hands of our developers and customers.  

The follow-up emails will provide more details on the
changes to those impacted.  Please join me in wishing Kevin and the team
all the very best as we move forward.  If you have any questions about
this change, please let your manager or me know.

-somasegar

Related Posts:

UXCAST: DataGrid or should it be Data Visualization.

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I am working on a secret squirrel application. Can’t say much suffice to say I had a situation where a bunch of clients connect to a network – like most apps I guess.

In this situation, I needed to inject a listening app to the overall network in that it needed to keep a pulse check on how the clients within the network are doing. This listening application needed to show the information in a meaningful way but at the same time; I do not want to have to inspect every single one of them each time they connect/disconnect.

I needed to visually show the connection states but I wanted it to be more reactive to me vs. me reactive to it.

Armed with problems like this, I now draw your attention to my biggest pet hate – DataGrids. A developer and you know who you are – would often take a situation like this and go "Ok, got it, what we need is a datagrid and the columns show machine name, state and blah blah metadata – easy peasy!!"

If you are that developer, I want you to do me a favor, remove yourself from the screen design team as you are hereby in a time-out.

Again, the problem is that I want to have a sense of all things are ok but I want to be alerted when things are not. I want to put this UI onto a large screen and just let it sit there keeping an eye on things and the moment something’s amiss – tell me!

Here is what I came up with. It is a hexagonal grid, each tile represents a new client connection and what it does is when a client activates it pulsates (the tile also gets added randomly in the grid). Yes, it pulsates but slowly, so it gives the impression that the "grid" (i.e. network grid) is breathing just like an organic machine.

When something bad happens, the tile flips to a red alert state and if there is a massive network outage the entire screen flickers with red pulsating tiles all yelling "help me, help me".

If more than 10x tiles fail an overall, alert text flows over the top giving you the old "Warning will Robinson, warning" alert.

The point here is simple. I could of easily just taking a data grid and view model, bound the two together and walked away. I actively choose not to do that as it’s a case of thinking about the problem creatively and trying an approach that makes sense but at the same time underpins an important principle – We work with software. We shouldn’t just use software"

That’s why I hate datagrids.

Related Posts:

Is Adobe’s new HTML5 Edge tool Expression Blends replacement?

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In October 2010, Steve Ballmer met with the CEO of Adobe the apparent discussion was around how to compete with Apple head-on.

Having been an internal lead on Adobe competes within Microsoft, it got my wheels turning and I tried as much as I could to get some insight into what that meeting was actually about. It was a very weird meeting given the heated competition both Microsoft and Adobe have had over the past 5 years (almost as big as Apple competes).

Adobe have lost some staff to Microsoft so my first thoughts were that maybe the ex-employees are looking to patch a bridge and discuss some ways to work together in terms of how Flash and say XBOX etc. could work together (there’s a huge casual games market up for grabs that uses Adobe Flash).

Today however my spidey senses got all tingly when I saw the new Adobe HTML5 Edge tool sneak peak via Adobe Labs.

This tool is the missing piece in what I call the HTML5 all up story – i.e. it is fine to hack together add-ons to existing tools for HTML5 coding compliance but it needs a designer story.

The more I looked at the sneak the more I started to think about that meeting and how it could have possibly gone down.

If Microsoft wants to sacrifice Silverlight on the web to gain momentum in the mobile device market than overall, the threat matrix for Adobe drops quite significantly. In that, really the only threat to Adobe Flash is around how it sockets into a mobile device such as Android, Windows Phone 7 and so on.

If I was in a meeting with an executive again and I was talking about the SWOT for an Adobe, partnership I would lead in more with opportunities that lead to strengths rather than threats / weakness in this partnership.

Firstly Adobe Flash is likely to be the continues user experience platform for mobile devices – if and a big if – the company can fix performance issues on all.  Creating a universal user experience on all devices is no easy trick in HTML5/JavaScript and having the tooling and cross-compile functionality that Adobe’s been making waves about lately could be a very important technology intersection.

Flash has always thrived at being a parasite on many hosts so it is not as if this is new dangerous territory for it to take such technical dependencies on.  The product also as I stated before has a lot of already existing Casual Games / Widget Apps already made today that could be ported over.

Downside is they do not have the developer base – design yes, developers no.

Secondly, Microsoft has failed at attracting the design market. We spent millions and came up short every time as whilst I use Microsoft Expression Blend daily its one hard cumbersome tool that even most .NET developers won’t touch let alone designers. It just failed.

The Expression Blend team is now parked in the archive bay and I wager Silverlight 5 additions will likely be its last shipment for the product. If that being the case, sure the tool failed at its charter in attracting the devigner audience to the .NET codebase(s) of tomorrow but the problem didn’t go away – if anything it just got worse.

If you are going to then tell designers of tomorrow to build HTML5/JS or even Silverlight vNext solutions for Windows8 and beyond – how do you get them to combine design and development skills?

Adobe.

Adobe have the design audience locked, it’s the only company in the world where in every design agency there is a design tool owned by them either bought or pirated. They make a tidy profit from it as well.

Flash now can produce iPhone and Android based solutions and it would not actually take much to get that solution into Windows Phone 7 given the Silverlight/XAML parity – in fact, some devs in Microsoft have shown that getting Silverlight to cross-compile to a swf isn’t farfetched, as it would seem.

Putting Adobe Flash or at the very least using the same iPhone cross-compile methodology for Windows Phone 7 is a massive win for both. You get a new developer audience on both sides for one and lastly the design audiences can also play their respective roles within the tools they feel the most comfortable with.

Winning as the Sheen would say.

That all being said there’s a flaw in this theory, it positions Adobe to be way to powerful in the device discussion and the last time Adobe/Macromedia held dominance in this space it took Silverlight to wake them up – you don’t want that again, trust me.

How do you keep Adobe in check whilst competing with Apple at the same time as if you create a universal app that works on all devices then this if anything can fuel iPhone’s appstore submissions more so.

The answer is you put your hopes on forking the API’s beyond the HTML5/JavaScript purity. You essentially embrace and extend (yay, it’s so fresh and new right?). Everyone can keep the entire tech on the same playing field initially but with Windows Phone 8 & Windows 8++ it sort of takes on a completely new adoption curve.

That is a good thing as it fuels competition for one and both Apple and Microsoft do not have to necessarily fund large amounts of dollars in both tooling and marketing. Adobe wins because it gets more hordes adopting its tooling but at the same time, it cannot survive unless there’s competition between Microsoft and Apple. Google is the cream on the cake, as it then has to dovetail into the same competition stream – thus a forcing function for their Android story.

All Microsoft has to do is sacrifice Silverlight for the web (video will always be a big problem for both to contend over just like QuickTime vs Windows Media Player) and Expression Blend.

Did I mention XAML team is disbanded and the Expression Blend team has been put in park?

If you can get developers & designers working in both HTML5/JavaScript as well as proprietary platform specific technologies universally its less investment in language / runtime research & development more in terms of differentiation of hardware specific features.

It rather works that way for the console market.

Note: I have no inside goss on this one so this is me just spit balling based of my own conspiracy theories.

Related Posts:

The mission to land a .NET developer on Jupiter.

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Ask not what Microsoft can do for you but what you can do for Microsoft. That’s really the inspiring quote that President of the new colonization group – aka Windows  – needs to say to the unwashed masses of tomorrow.

Microsoft is taking on a mission that looks to go beyond the moon, they want to land on Jupiter and it will be done with Apollo. Still confused?

If you’ve not paid attention to all the codenames flying about the place you’d be forgiven to be confused as there’s a space theme happening and with these code names its quite interesting to see how the objectives for the next generation of Microsoft is likely to shape up.

Jupiter is rumored to be the reset button to Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Silverlight. A reset is the latest suspicion as just yesterday I found out that the XAML ethos within Microsoft has been disbanded and set to various corners of the company.  Some went to Internet Explorer team, some went to Windows teams and others went to Google, Amazon and Facebook.

Why disband the teams? It is time for pencils down folks, let us stop piling on code for the existing stuff but now let us set our sights for the future, let’s be bold. Let us be daring. Why land on the moon when you can land on Jupiter floating on a cloud of Azure? (Ok, I lost myself in that metaphor as well).

Ok fine, I have gone through the seven stages of Silverlight/WPF grief and I am at acceptance I think.

The Mission.

In order to better prepare for the mission ahead, let us think about the various things we need to account for prior to launch (September).

Replace Crew Members.

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Inside Microsoft there is a lot of toxic turmoil going due to internal re-orgs (which is fairly common) that fueled with how the Global Financial Crisis has affected employees etc. it’s no secret that Microsoft are losing some quite influential and dare I say, hard to replace staff to places like Google, Facebook, Amazon and so on. I personally know of three employees who have hated working for Microsoft for quite some time but have been stuck due to housing prices in Redmond etc not being ready enough for a resale – that is – until Google, Adobe, Facebook and soon Amazon have campuses of their own in Seattle.

Now the super geeks have alternative employment options. Microsoft is now on notice, treat me better or I will leave. The later choice has been winning in my opinion and the more the new found employees have sent me messages of "Omg, its way better over here than Microsoft" which has to be salt in some current employee’s wounds whom are likely staring down the barrel of uncertainty in the company given its end of year commitment scoring mixed with the demise of what we used to call the Silverlight/WPF & Blend ethos. What to do!.

Reaching Parity. 

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A gentleman and fellow .NET scholar Jose has done the best he could in reverse engineering Direct UI (rumored to be the leaked incarnation of Jupiter). He has some insights that are both great and disappointing at the same time. The great part is it could very well be the next iteration of what has to come in the landscape of C# and XAML for tomorrow’s UX Pioneers.

The downside is its 3-5 or maybe more steps backwards in the current feature parity you have all eagerly waited for over the past 4 years. There are some fundamentals in the room whilst there are concerns around some of the other features that may or may not make the cut for version one.

If I know Microsoft and I like to think I do, this is likely to be yet another one of those traditional "version 1" moments whereby the team(s) behind the product eventually stumble across the finish line, exhausted but barely breathing enough to shout "Give me feedback on what you want in version 2, it will be better I promise" followed by some metaphor about how it’s a marathon and not sprint to the finish line (We got great mileage out of that with Silverlight and I dare say you could get a few more products out of it yet).

The tooling is likely to be not in place during this version 1 lifecycle as my sources tell me that the Blend Team aren’t cranking out the vNext improved world of Microsoft. I know Steve Sinofsky has had a few ambitions about what the Tooling should look like in the perfect world of Windows vNext frontier and I am guessing he did not play well with others in the Devdiv team(s) to share such ambitions.

That being said, either there is a skunk works tooling team hidden in some random building in Microsoft that others do not know about or the tooling story behind this next frontier is unlikely to be in place before Sept or for whenever this next version of our beloved Silverlight/WPF ethos occurs.
What I mean to say is welcome all to Microsoft 2005. Hold onto your Winforms or ASP.NET MVC  for a little bit longer and for those of you in Silverlight/WPF investment land(s) – try to not focus on the future but the now (best to keep your code base as lean as possible and not to tightly wound in client-side logic).

Put vital organs into Escrow.

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Microsoft are quick to throw technology at a problem first and then ponder as to why the problem existed. I’ve often personally seen strategies – wait, that’s not correct, strategy requires forward thinking – tactical decisions (better) made around trying to grow developer audiences.

The assumption are

"ok, we’re not making our tech palatable enough, lets steal stuff from Ruby On Rails, Apple or Oracle to make it better".

The absolute harsh reality is often a lot of non-Microsoft customer(s) etc. just don’t like Microsoft (Ever liked a girl/guy and they don’t like you back? You try changing your clothes, hair, car etc. and still nothing. Welcome to the Microsoft Developer outreach program, you will fit right in).

The other side of this coin I guess is those of you who adore Microsoft for what they are. You spend thousands of your own dollars to go to various events to listen to Microsoft confuse the absolute crap out of you. The problem is lately, they seem to be a company you just cannot bet on for the future.

Grandiose plans to land on Jupiter may be bold, daring and exciting but is it dependable? Can this company commit to a master plan and is this a plan or just a tactical political brain dump mixed with a lot of Microsoft experimentation.

Is it a case now of not waiting for the next Service Pack but now waiting to see if a product can get past version 3 and 5 before you really consider it as a viable option of the future?

In order to prepare for this next mission, someone has to donate some good will to the fans of Microsoft technology. That means you cannot stick to the ye olde "need to know information" mentality. You got to bring your roadmap(s) for the future and you got to show us that you’re telling the truth that you want to aim for Jupiter and not some closer planet or worse – the unknown void beyond Jupiter.

Commit and stop being assclowns.

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Commit to us so that we may commit to you. No more lies, No more "I’ve got a secret, can you guess!" and lastly no more internal political child play spilling over and into the blogosphere. It’s time to be a big boy company and use big boy strategies with big boy plans mixed with a lot of big girl personality (somehow that did the ladies no favors).

If we are to take on this mission, it’s time for a smarter playbook around transparency and if Steve Sinofsky is willing to bring the "come to Jesus" moment for the company around consolidating the entire product lines into a consistent continuous experience across all devices with a developer/designer experience to boot. Great, I personally will print out a t-shirt that says "I’m back in team Steve" (heh my old team inside Microsoft was called Team Steve…Steve the manager though was a arrogant jerk, different story, different time).

Right now its just a case of me holding up a really sick puppy that others have kicked and telling you all about the neglect its owners have given it. (If I quote that metaphor I was given last night by a friend).

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Windows Phone 7 – Can we get 200k signatures to highlight the marketing teams’ fail?

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Frustrating point needs to be made. I personally love the fact that a fan – yes there is one or two out there – of Windows Phone 7 took the time to create what I would call a fresh perspective on what the phone has to offer via  what I call a delicious amount of pixel candy.

Watch these video(s).

Original – What kicked all this off.

Follow-up – MIX11 Version (I’m guessing someone in Microsoft said “more app focus!!!” – DUMBASS!!).

It simply is punchy and simply zeroes in on the Metro User Interface that I hate, but at the same time am willing to live with provided it has seeded to the audience differently than it has today.

The current media in play around the world for the Windows Phone 7 is all over the place. Just last night I saw a new show in Australia that is sponsored by Windows Phone 7, the advertisement that accompanied the TV show was lack luster at best. It did little to draw out the selling points on the phone and more to the point, it had no personality.

I can honestly say that about all the commercials I’ve seen for the Windows Phone 7 they simply lack personality and are more along the lines of an Adult version of Barney & Friends (everyone is smiling, everyone looks plastic and it represents unreal situations that maybe if you’re in Upper Suburbia it would make sense?)

The author of the above video has to audition for a spot in today’s TV advertisement. He’s got to get around 200k hits on this video before the wisdom of that which is Windows Phone 7 marketing agree to put that into your local TV station (assuming they’d agree to let it go beyond the online advertising where its much lower risk).

Here is why it is stupid to do that:

  • Free PR. If when they first saw it simply grabbed it, did some minor editing and then put it out into online campaigns it would have been a Lotto style good work story. If you had the right PR ingredients, you could have spun a bit of good will in most art magazine / websites etc. – headlines like "Single Intern designs Microsoft’s biggest TV Ad". It is a fresh interruption for one, it is NOT Microsoft’s style and lastly it is something you can get media agency style talent worldwide to read about (Designers are the future people remember that).
  • Better Differentiation. I am on record for my dislike for WP7 version of "metro" that aside, if that is the selling point on why this phone is different from the iPhone or Android. Then freaking sells others on it and I am not talking about a single screen with the usual tiles. Provide an audience a visual inspection in the comfort of their own homes on the said UI, highlight that its different – the phone hardware looks like an iPhone rip off but the UI is different. That is realistically the main differentiator and focusing in on features or apps the phone has in this early stage of the game is not going to get your users hooked.  Reason – They expected that anyway!!
  • Avoid Metrics. I feel like slapping the WP7 Marketing Team upside the head. You have a phone that is new and I want you to learn a harsh lesson from the entire Silverlight vs Flash experience. STAY AWAY FROM NUMBERS – that is to say, until you have a large mass of people adopting your product keep the hell away from any mention of any numbers.

    The last time the team put out the numbers around adoption of the phone, it didn’t take guys like me long to do the basic math and come to the conclusion that while the numbers initially look impressive the reality is the adoption rate from downloading the SDK to selling an application is significantly quite low.

    Asking for around 200k in visitors to click "I heart Ad" for Wp7 is stupid as it is clear that the video will not get the hits in time and lastly it just told the market "not that many people care". The only people that are likely to know about this audition are developers firstly (thanks to MIX11 etc). So now you have just told us all that approx. there are less than 150k developers out there who care about Wp7. It’s a loose number yes, but it’s another piece in the establishing a baseline of what the sizing of the mindshare is around this phone.

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    (Note: Notice the personal response vs. “You’re wrong, the math means blah”.. focus on the point not the person!)

If the video had gotten 500k+ in the first two weeks, boom you have a great story and the bet paid off. The reality is the original video has more hits than the follow-up, which is when it is likely at its interest peak.

Brandon has unique eye for the phone and in my opinion, this video should have gotten legs from day one. Microsoft failed and the moment has passed.

My frustration is this is a constant theme with Microsoft – they are given these rare opportunities and they constantly ignore the obvious signs of success.

I am looking at you Courier Tablet.

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Mad Product Management.

I almost always am asked "What does a Product Manager do?" whenever people read my previous title.  It is one of these titles within the industry that depending on which brand you belong to has different meanings.

The industry way.

Inside Microsoft it varies, you could be the source of power or you could simply be a reactive title that is less Management and more Marketing. What I mean to say is, inside Microsoft a Product Manager can often simply be a Product Marketer whereby they wait until the Program Manager’s decide the features and then the Product Management / Marketing team go to work in communicating the features to the masses.

It takes on a somewhat reactive role as in the end the Product Manager’s main priority is to convince the Program Manager(s) to add xyz features to their engineering "things I need to build list". If that can’t succeed then you try alternate routes by going to concepts like Product Unit Managers, Vice Presidents or General Manager(s) – basically from my own experience inside Microsoft it can be a game of "Lord of the Flies" – figure out who has the conch and do as much as you can in terms of convincing them with data / opinion sooner rather than later.

Outside Microsoft, I have found that to be different, for example recently I have had some chats with Apple around how they do product management and it was interesting to hear that the person(s) in that role (kind of) are the one-stop shop of the power seat. Engineering don’t do a thing unless there is a market to sell the features to in that the Product Manager(s) role is to figure out what’s basically a sellable feature based on market data (need vs. want, differentiation and so on). I have also heard rumors that this is how Adobe does things as well (be curious to see how Google run the show, but given their strong DNA of ex-Microsofties me thinks the Microsoft way of life may propagate upstream).

I am yet to really pin down specifically how the correct formula works here as again, each brand has their own unique perspective on the role. My thinking, mainly because I am arrogant – you are doing it wrong.

The Barnes / Mad Men way.

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A colleague of mine had this brilliant way of explaining how he’d setup a team for his start-up and he called it "Mike’s Eleven"  (aka Ocean’s Eleven). Each person brings a unique attribute to the team that helps you rob people. You do not bring in a person to the team unless they can really contribute. I like to think of this in much the way of my favorite TV show – Mad Men.

The Don Drapper (aka Director)

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This person is like Mad Men’s Don Draper, smooth talking has brilliant insights into the way marketing engines work and lastly knows how to keep a steady but calming influence over the others. I’d highly recommend this person at least have an MBA – whilst as douche as that sounds – but this degree isn’t as easy as people think to get and lastly it brings a lot of Wikipedia of marketing to the table (whilst mostly theory based). If this person is marketing your product as if it was Soup and not Software, you may get some left field thinking into the equation. Hiring an ex-engineer to be your Don Draper is useless, as they cannot think creatively / laterally most of the time – given the OCD / problem solving skills they have already tuned.

The Roger Sterling (aka Community / Client Liaison)

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This character in Mad Men has a famous quote in the TV series – "Let me put it in account terms, do you know how many hand jobs I have to give to fix what you’ve just done?"

That is a quote worth remembering when it comes to your Community liaison person(s). These people have one goal and that is to figure out what the client(s) or customer(s) want the most. They play a game of contact sport, whereby they are rarely in the office and are constantly out in the field getting insights into how the product is shaping up each version you produce.  This role is expensive, but worth it provided they are steered in the right direction (it’s not all about hotels and bar tabs).

The goals for this person is to firstly create rock stars, do not be the one in the room on stage find others to put on stage to evangelize your product(s).  They also need to avoid conferences as much as they can and instead meat businesses at their front door.  You do not learn a lot from meeting the same people repeatedly at the same conferences but you do learn a lot when you sit in on a technology decision-making meeting inside a random mining, finance, medical or start-up company in blah country.

They are your socialite and spy in one.

The Lane Pryce / Paul Kinsey (aka Domain Experts).

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You need someone in the room who is your in-house engineer. This person will work with your non-technical minds to come up with a simplified way of approaching the set of features you want to build. Let us face it some features in most software are left field in either complexity or mickey mouse go no-where thinking. The Technical side kicks figures out ways to make the feature work kind of your early prototype but more so they are looking at it from a pragmatic perspective.

Say the Don Draper & Roger Sterling want to build a concept whereby the software can do facial recognition to avoid Security logins for PC’s of tomorrow. Now their job is to determine if there is a market for it and you trust that they have done their homework. The technical sidekick now needs to look at the feature from the developers perspective, they need to sit down and dream up the idle way a developer should approach this (so it’s kind of part User Experience Imaginer as well). They look at it from the angle of setting goals for the engineering team to meet the marketing team half way on.

No more over complicated API that go nowhere and lastly no more tooling that makes you want to scream at the product(s) and you soon forget the benefits of the feature (I’m looking at you Deep Zoom, WCF and a whole heap more).

Having this equation also stops science projects spilling over online, where everyone is looking confused and thinking "oh must be for someone else as I so don’t need that feature at all" from occurring. It’s a balance struck much like rock paper scissors (each role trumps the other).

The Salvatore "Sal" Romano (ak Artist).

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This person should have a portfolio of design that makes you dreamy eyed with envy. The point is this person is your polish to the spin you put out and it’s their job to figure out what looks good and what isn’t. Once you figure out what you want to build and how you want to market it, you need a person in the room who can manage your media / design agency vendors and with an attention to detail the goes beyond color preferences.

Most of Microsoft’s "viral videos" look cheesy, over worked, over bought and under delivered. The reason being is you rarely have someone in the room who thinks creatively. This person goes to art galleries because they want to see art or they like the Apple iPhone because of its Industrial Design characteristics and not because it has Angry birds.

This person keeps your presentation skills in check and through the guidance of the team will make sure you come off looking polished.

Look at World of Warcraft’s website; this is a amazingly well designed site for a game. Now look at other game websites, the difference is the experience.  The point here is someone in the room is keeping a close eye on design decisions being made and ensuring the brand is putting best foot forward.

The same can be said for Apple vs. Microsoft. Apple have a centralized polished look to the way their make products online – Microsoft looks like someone figured out how to remake Geocities but for corporate reasons.

Just like in Mad Men, Sal is the person who knows good design when he sees it.

The Peggy Olsen (aka PR / Copywriter).

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This can be an important but healthy addition to the team(s). If you are going to manage a product, make sure you have someone in the room who can write a sentence that does not look like my blog – full of spelling and grammar errors.

This person’s job is to make sure you do not screw up online and say stupid stuff – especially when dealing with your competitors. They also handle your press and announcements with keen focus on what needs to be said and when/how. They work closely with Art & Technical to ensure the message they position is correct and is not full of fluff / waffle that goes nowhere.

They also need to be edited as much as they can by the Don Draper’s & Roger Sterling’s to ensure that the message / copy they produce is not talking at the audience(s) but with them.

Recently Microsoft said Windows 8 and HTML5 in the same breathe which lead to a lot of questions around .NET’s future. Had a Peggy been in the room this would of not happened, as letting a VP go on stage like that solo is just showing off. You need to get that person on stage, do their message drops but also have an entire campaign of media ready to drop in behind it to underpin the messages and points you want made across the globe.

Steve Jobs gets on stage does his thing but the moment he drops announcements there is media everywhere to support it at the same time in parallel.

Having a good PR person working closely with press is important as well and they need to be devoted and focused to a product (not someone you bring in on/off again).  They are also your lawyer in a room full of press as you let them figure out the ways to handle aggressive and passive journalists (News flash, sometimes Journalists are so lazy you can almost write the story for them whilst some are the ones you try as best you can to play a game of high stakes poker with).

In conclusion.

That is my thinking of how Product Management should work, it is not really one person it is a team of entities all working in a tight unit much like a game of rock paper scissors. You need to market a product to the masses but you also need to figure out what the masses need vs. want whilst at the same time coming up with features and ideas that they aren’t expecting.

There is no such thing as a separation between Inbound and Outbound marketing, its bulls**t.  It is both directions at the same time and engineering need to listen up and listen well. Your jobs are to take the bright crazy dumbass ideas and figure out ways to make it happen, as you now need to reverse engineer the imagination it took to think up.

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How much would you invest in a pixel?

I am a massive fan of World of Warcraft again; yes, it is sad isn’t it? Last night I was playing my usual allotment of time watching pixels update on a screen vs. interacting with real humans and something I witnessed struck a chord with me.

The ‘flash of genius’ for me was when I was playing a typical Player vs. Player (PVP) round of Battleground(s). This is a part of the game that essentially randomly aggregates a group of people spread throughout the entire WoW realm(s) into a 10vs10 etc match.

It’s basically unbridled chaos and it really highlights some components for me that I find fascinating as to watch the herding mentality of us humans in an avatar driven game is kind of predictable. For instance, I was the first out of the gate when the match started, I rode my horse towards a spot that was the second closest and because I was the party leader, many other players followed me. I arrived at the spot and just waited. Out of the six other players, three stayed after 20sec has or so of making decision whilst the other three grew what I can only imagine as being bored and rode off in search of a fight.

imageWhat is so profound about this is how easily I convinced others to wait beside me in a place that had no real plan other than "well, if the sh*t goes down, we defend with our lives" as the core plan. We had no vision of what was about to happen beyond that and we had no clue as to how we would all work together as we just met each other in game only 5mins beforehand. Here we are armed ready to fight and hoping we can figure it out as we go.

We died.

This is much like most teams I’ve been in over the past few years, I keep hearing about a good team is one that is in sync with one another but in the end that only lasts for the first flag/waypoint as beyond that a lot of variables occur that in turn causes a de-synchronization from occurring. 

In the above example had I been paired with a healer and another tank/dps (tank or dps are basically characters whose sole job is to hit hard and often as a healers job is to keep everyone alive while they do so) we may have stood a chance of survival. As we all had a role to play and whilst the plan was distilled into a core class structure, we still have a series of objectives that must be upheld.

A healer must be protected at all cost, as well that character is your tipping point between living and dying but at the same time a healer must keep back from the fight – as much as possible. A tank/dps job is to draw fire and get deep into the melee as much as possible and the more you can tie up your enemy’s focus the greater the chance of a win.

In software, this concept has not entirely lost, as a UX/UI person(s) job is to figure out how to keep this software from dying of bad usability death. The coder’s jobs are to underpin it with large amounts of code to keep structural integrity intact if they do not do their jobs rights, it can in turn create more work for the UX/UI person to go fix. If the UI/UX person does not do their jobs, right they can in turn suffocate the work of the coder – so it is a partnership.

A great software release respects this partnership to the end. Good UI/UX and Good Code = Good software.

If you randomly put together a team of mixed classes and pin your hopes on the agile a way of life then well you are no different to my WoW example. An assumed leader leads a group of you into a spot that has no agenda or plan other than "don’t die please".

How you live or die is based purely around how fast you can communicate with one another about what tactics you can deploy to uphold this basic principle of preserving one’s life.

All it takes however is one person to break ranks, to be the Leroy Jenkins (See Video below) and well it comes unstuck and fast. We all die of a horrible humiliating death – (aka miss our deadlines etc.).

 

Agile is not enough, is my overall point. I think agile works if you are solely focused on being a tank/dps class (coder). If you mix in UX/UI then that is where it keeps coming back with mixed results, there appears to be no right or wrong formula here.

The one concept I think – and it’s only a theory – is that you need to at times stop fighting the code and give enough time for the healer (UX/UI) person to catch their breath, to drink some mana potions if you will to figure out how to navigate the next fight.

Lost in my metaphor?

What I am trying to say is that UX/UI in a sprint equation needs to occur every other sprint, meaning at some point in the process you need to arrive at a point in time where you the coders will have to refactor your UI / UX to accommodate the new direction in the design.

It sux.

It is however, the realistic way to accommodate the reactive design you have put in place and to be clear it has little return in investment other than user efficiency and satisfaction levels.

Now comes the question – how much do you invest in a pixel?

Answer that and you will have a better understanding of Agile, UI/UX + Code than I currently have.  As you now need to think in terms of how it all comes together and what value you place on the UI/UX component. Agile won’t necessary work in the way you think when it comes to intgerating your healer (UX/UI Person) into your battle group. At times you may not need them – that is until your hitting a wall and soon realize it would have been better to have them at the start of the fight vs end.

I can think of some rebuttals here – ‘well you are doing agile wrong’ or ‘your team sounds like it wasn’t assembled correctly’ to which I simply respond – welcome to reality. Sometimes you have to play the game with a randomly aggregated team and it is not always a case of Greenfield project management.

Now, your move, how do you accommodate these variables.

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Windows 8 : Making new friends, Ratcheting Momentum and influencing anger.

After just having a discussion with a journalist today, a question was put to me that I felt I should share some more information around – Why do you think the developers appear to be angry with Windows 8?

It is not that I think developers are angry about code name "Windows 8" being well HTML5/JavaScript friendly in fact it is probably one of those situations where you would easily go "great, not for me but hey who knows how things turn out down the road". It is also not the fact that Microsoft have come out and hinted strongly at the idea of dropping marketing support for .NET going forward in favor of HTML5/JavaScript cocktail of weirdness.

I think what’s happening is developers across the globe in what appears to be millions now (currently on Silverlight.net forums there’s a few threads ratcheting around 11million views – which is 11x the traffic per month that site gets) all basically releasing a lot of pent-up annoyance at the communication blackout – yet again.

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I think this is a case of "the last straw" and it has been lurking for quite some time about Microsoft and a consistent amount of failings around corporate communication 101. To some this appears on the surface to be some idiot in PR being asleep at the helm again (keep in mind often Microsoft outsources its PR to companies like Waggener Edstrom) and so it could be a case of a room full of people pointing at one another for the "what do we say" moment(s). I highly doubt that, I’d wager this is an executive decision and its likely driven by the concept of ratcheting customer momentum for a final reveal in September.

Note: I recently had the VP of Corporate Communications for Microsoft follow me on Twitter post the Windows 8 Fallout(s)…. Why?

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Creating a disruption in the market with the sole intended purpose of getting people around the world to talk more about you in mixed emotions isn’t a brilliant new tactic – it was done in the Windows 7 launch with the Jerry Seinfiled ads that Microsoft bet around $300million on.   Realistically this strategy can often work (we’ve used this formula a few times with Silverlight in the early days) but at the same time it’s what I’d class as a high risk strategy given you could scare people too much.

This is of course speculation as at the end of the day the more Microsoft staffs I talk to internally about this the more I get the growing sense that majority of the staff internally are also in a complete blackout as well. Insiders within Microsoft are telling me that they are both concerned and frustrated at the lack of information coming from Team Sinofsky to the point where they are not interested in whether or not .NET lives or dies but how the heck they are going to clean up after this reveal occurs.

I probed further and asked what kind of convincing points are needed in order to illustrate to the presidential overlords that having 11million+ views all seeing the words ".NET" and "Dead" is probably not a smart play here and short of announcing .NET 5.0 at //BUILD/ you’re digging a very large hole. The response that I later got forwarded to me was one from an executive that stated that unless they see major accounts being withdrawn all that really is happening is interest and group of developers getting emotional about it all.

Yeah, my first impression was "what a jackass" but having sat in similar meetings like this when Adobe AIR was first considered a major threat to Microsoft, all I can say is that’s exactly how the company thinks at a higher level. It’s a numbers game, and hearing stories like "my friend just told me they are moving away because of this" small stories don’t add up to situations like the US Govt calling Microsoft to say "Yeah, the whole .NET confusion thing is something we aren’t happy with and so we’ll be moving to Java/Oracle – thanks bye" moments aren’t flowing just yet or likely to.Measuring account losses due to an event is somewhat hard as deep at your core you can see that the potential is definitely there despite the deafening "the sky is falling!!" emotions running high.

The reality is its unlikely to create havoc for at least a few years should they come out and say tomorrow ".NET is dead, thx" as looking at Windows XP & Internet Explorer 6 its obvious that Microsoft technology is very hard to kill of even with official announcements.

What is the TAX then? What is the one thing you can beat Microsoft around the head with that will send some sense to Redmond?

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Developers, Developers, Developers is that answer.

Microsoft are losing a battle in replenishing the .NET developer share, it’s alleged that for every 1x .NET developer that departs the Microsoft ecosystem there should be at least 2x more to fill their shoes. The reality it’s the opposite – allegedly.

Ok, so we highlight the depletion of the ranks and state "..if you continue scare the kids with the comms blackout that number will increase! And so you be able to control the depletion rates.."

That will not work either, as HTML5 and JavaScript is a nice big juicy cake to sink ones potential teeth into. As the big bet is that if you can convince the world’s developer base – the ones NOT using .NET today – to jump onboard with the new Windows8 concoction called Metro meets HTML5/JavaScript across all screens. Bing! (No pun intended) you just got a completely new market share you did not have yesterday.

That is the bet at the moment, win hearts and minds with a unified platform the world has agreed upon across all languages – HTML and JavaScript.  Sadly, the .NET developer base is being used right now as collateral damage and is considered acceptable loses.

This is dangerous game being played and all the years I’ve been involved in Microsoft this is by far the most interesting and distracting time for the company. In under 48hrs in my opinion Team-Steve managed to undermined and undo a total of three years work by the various people within the Silverlight teams so should the reveal in September be a case of "Look we were just kidding, here’s our roadmaps going forward.." it would still set Silverlight back quite a lot in terms of regaining what marketing momentum is left for the product.

The reality is Silverlight’s marketing & evangelism has been severely reduced from where it once was and the products are now in auto-pilot mode (aka "they are now matured" which is code word for being bored with it).

Evangelism efforts are going to have to dig deep post reveal on September and to be openly honest their record lately for influencing the influencers has been murky if not non-existent. It’s a contact sport Evangelism and I’ve noticed in the past 2-3 years more so that the steam it once had has diminished quite significantly (due to budget cut-backs and basically VP of DPE – Walid Abu-Hadba driving the entire practice into the ground).

It is not that people are angry, they are confused and disappointed.

Let’s hope this bet pays of Team-Steve as the guy before you made a big bet as well. The last we heard of him now is that he’s trying to make it into the music scene so one hopes you’ve learnt to play guitar Mr Sinofsky 😉

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Understanding “Why would Microsoft do that?”

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There is a consistent theme that I often see when I have been invited into conversation(s) regarding Windows 8 and the whole HTML5 saga. The main undercurrent is "Why would they do that?" and it is a perfectly valid question that often gets lost in the whole opinion / news pieces that are floating around.

Understand the metrics first.

Inside Microsoft you are really goaled around a metric that involves the words "market share" in that somewhere along those lines your entire reason for drawing a pay cheque distills down to that. You have to help Microsoft grow its market share across all battlefields and there are multiple battlefields in play.

Battles are what are happening in today’s software industry. It is quite competitive and cutthroat in many places and often mercy is for the weak.  Companies on both sides often play by the rules governing ethics but often more so than ever it is not the case under the covers or behind closed doors. There are often many tactics at work that the audience(s) and customer(s) do not always see.

For instance, when Silverlight/Expression was heating up in the early days the battle between Adobe and Microsoft was quite intense (I myself was caught up in it quit easily). You’d have situations where Adobe would threaten to shut down a conference if Microsoft Staff showed or you’d have Adobe specifically target Microsoft showcase wins the next year and spend large amounts of $$ to win the customers back to create the perception that these customers had buyer’s remorse.

Apple, Google, IBM and Oracle all suffer from the same somewhat software industry driven guerrilla warfare style tactics. It is a competitive sport and staff within get quite emotional and aggressive at times about it – like a thunder dome of super geeks.

Tactical approaches and competitive aggression is what fuels Microsoft often. It has also to answer the question you have around "Why would they do that" simply put; it is about building an army primarily.

Understand the Tactical Programs

You have programs in play like BizSpark – an idea to give the software away for free in order to seed start-ups into adopting the Microsoft technology stack. It is the old heroin addiction formula at work, in that the first hits free but the second and third will cost you. Ensure an addiction takes place then the monetization will follow.

HTML5 + Windows 8 are no different. The prospect of enticing never before heard of developer hordes – also known as the Alternatives to .NET development into adopting Windows 8 platform(s) via the HTML5/JavaScript route is worth the risk to Microsoft.  It is about socketing these peeps in early, get them acclimatized to the Microsoft technology stack and from there you can bleed the monetization models outwards into channels that you can declare internal victory over.

Understand the Compete motions

The thing though is this playbook or this strategy is in no way different to the days when .NET was first created and it is again a rinse/repeat formula being played out.

The motivation is growth around developer share (that is an obvious objective around winning) the other objectives are also around competing head to head with Google & Apple. Google is the main focus though, this company is taking bodies from Microsoft staff lines often and if you were to look at the past two years around who’s left the .NET development teams as well as the Internet Explorer teams for Google it’s almost alarming.

Google don’t need to compete with Microsoft, they just need to re-hire their staff and I often giggle about this as I once wrote an internal memo regarding Adobe compete whereby I said "We should make a $300k a year offer to their entire evangelism staff to work for us, we say here’s $300k now go sit in the park and enjoy life for the next 2 years as it would be cheaper than what we spending on compete for Adobe".

Google are kind of doing that in many ways.

Understanding the gullibility.

Google are also provoking Microsoft into adopting their tactics and more importantly forcing the companies hand into moving Internet Explorer closer towards a HTML5 Future(s) than before. For instance they punk’d Microsoft into fixing the JavaScript engine within Internet Explorer because they had the company convinced that this was their biggest fear around how Microsoft could beat Google. Microsoft took the bait and the funny part is the person who worked on that engine is now working at Google today.

Google played Microsoft and it is this small random pocket of competitive insights that often go unnoticed in the industry. These small little gems of "hah that was funny" all add up to the situation we see before us today around why Windows 8 looks and is likely to act in the way it is.

There is no real strategy here, just tactical competitive reactions played out that do not often give pause to the massive impacts it places on the hordes of developers who wear the Microsoft logo on their blogs / resumes etc. with pride.

Microsoft is doing a terrible job at corporate communication(s) and the most frustrating part of all is that it is the actual fans of the brand that are noticing the most.

That is probably a small glimpse at how a competitive situation can motive product lines into making snap decisions the way they have been in the past five years.  The reality is you the customer out there who use the technology actually play somewhat a smaller role than you do think around feature selection and roadmaps for product designs.

It’s often a competitive influence that drives the most decisions and sure compete leads to innovation right and that’s something we should all embrace – except if the tax is instability.

Summary.

For a deeper insight into this topic around “Why” Listen to a podcast I did list week titled “Windows 8 Round Table” via TalkingShop DownUnder.

http://www.talkingshopdownunder.com/2011/06/episode-58-windows-8-round-table.html

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HTML5? Ok, so let’s also deploy Microsoft Silverlight onto Android then…

imageAfter finishing a podcast discussing  Microsoft fumbled future developer story, has sparked a few threads in my warped perception of all things developer platforms.  Please go out on a limb with me here and let this one swirl around in the ol noggin for a moment or two (it’s Friday).

Let’s for arguments sake state that Microsoft bets quite large on HTML5 / JavaScript as being a pull-through for net-new developers of tomorrow. It is an easy asks, as most developers on the planet can code in HTML or JavaScript without an issue per say – whether they like to or not is a different story.

Assuming this is correct and assuming you have a solution where developers can conjure creations under the wing of ye olde HTML/JavaScript then my question to you all is this. Why not put Silverlight runtime on Android.

I know it’s been a question above most people’s heads inside Microsoft as to why they shouldn’t put the mutation of that which is a x-browser, x-plugin and x-device original story onto a competing phone platform? You are about to do this anyway the moment you unleash the HTML5 & JavaScript story unto the world. Developers will hack your garden walls and find ways to push out to the multiple devices so at best all you can really do as a company (Microsoft) is retain Tooling and Server Share(s). Operating system share is going to obviously tank because of a unified development platform such as the ye olde web browser on steroids – aka Windows 8 Covershow – aka Sidebar Gadgets on steriods – aka..wtf do you call it?.

That is until you decide to fork the HTML5/JavaScript story and start introducing your own additive components to the equation that allow developers to touch deeper into the Operating Systems thus bolting down the developer base back onto your platform.

Ok, so assuming that was the guess of all guesses, then why abandon.NET as a preferred approach? As now you not only have to keep the .NET oxygen flowing in a healthy direction to 6million+ .NET devs world wide – but – you also need to put in place sugar pragmatic coding trix such as JavaScript/HTML translative (is that a word?) instructions to a common language runtime….ie CLR????

The upside by putting Silverlight onto Android is you get to part of the two horse race – let’s face it Android and iPhone have the developer markets attention more so than WP7. Enabling developers to play in both streams could energize your base more and you can potentially regain net-new developer share the other way. If you are going to give your farm away, at least fight for a good price is my thinking.

The reality is this, the Silverlight teams are grabbing some pine right now, they’ve been benched until further notice so we are unlikely to see Silverlight move past version 5 until the dust settles on Windows 8 that is code-named Windows 8 (brilliant marketing guys, seriously, brilliant).

Its’ that stalling posture and that sense of “hang on this equation doesn’t add up” that is ultimately causing ripples in the Light-force (ie Silverlight/WPF/WinForms etc Communities).

Just my thoughts – but what do I know, its not like i use to Product Manage Silverlight…oh wait.. doH!

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