Microsoft Technology Summit Recap

Last week I had the honor of attending the 2006 Microsoft Technology Summit up in Redmond.

The meeting brought together tech, product, and business folks, many of whom who make a living in the open-source or Java worlds. The goal of the conference, as I understood it, was to engage in conversation with folks who hadn't drunk the Microsoft Kool-Aid, to learn how MS can make their org and products better.

I felt that the summit suffered from conversations that were too narrow; the agenda planners held sessions on everything from the common language runtime (not interesting to me) to a fascinating talk by Sanjay Parthasarathy, who introduced himself as heading up Microsoft's evangelism group, and then for emphasis, added that he was Scoble's boss. Dividing the conference into tracks for product, tech, and business folks could likely have steered the conversations in more interesting directions.

Many of the presenters were very forthcoming about problems that Microsoft had with its products or reputation. There were a few, however, who seemed defensive about some of the design decisions they made, which seemed counter-productive. These people went beyond explaining the rationale they used to make a decision, to justifying the decision in the face of what seemed like candid, earnest feedback.

That aside, I think it's great that Microsoft is reaching out to folks from all over the world (there were people at the MTS from Russia, Brazil, Japan, India, etc.) to understand ways to make their business and products better. While much of the feedback seemed bang-on from where I sat, I'm interested to see what changes, if any, are made by Microsoft.

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Comments (Post | Latest)

1. Brian Ivanovick said on Apr 16 2006:

First of all -- what was Sanjay's talk about? I'm curious.

Second -- did you learn how MS's products can help you or your org? What products/services interested you? Is MS doing anything exciting right now? (For you haters out there -- I'm being serious.)

Finally:

I don't really think Microsoft is positioned for growth in the next few years. Their cash cows (Office and Windows) should maintain their market share among business users because: (1) switching costs and (2) interoperability issues. But maintenance doesn't equal growth. (Unless that's new market growth i.e. China)

I don't think their position is as solid when it comes to the consumer market. Google (or someone else) will come out with a solid online word processor (and spreadsheet and presentation software) in the near future. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft fends off these new competitors.

Windows seems like it should be around for a good while longer -- but with all of this innovation -- one can't help but feel (in the pit of one's gut) that there is another way and it's only a matter of time.

This initiative (and the Small Business summit as well) just seem to be MS reaching out to try and find some direction. Am I the only one who senses that there isn't a strong strategy there right now?

Just my 2 pennies.

2. Scott Berkun said on Apr 18 2006:

Ahhh! You were in my neck of the woods and I didn't even know - Next time you're in town give me a buzz, I could have showed you around.

What did you think of the campus? Or did they hold the summit somewhere else?

3. kareem said on Apr 19 2006:

@Brian- Going to blog my notes on several of the talks shortly.

I got the most out of the R&D talk (because it was really cool stuff), Sanjay's talk (about how and why they're becoming more open / transparent), and the IE7, Smartphone, and Infocard talks--basically the consumer technology products. It was helpful to hear about the MS plans for these products, and to understand how open (or not) there were going to be.

I'm not sure MS is yet well-positioned to be a leader on the web, but they're trying like hell to learn (and they seem to learn lessons well) and products like Live.com are moving in the right direction.

@Scott- Grin... I will def. give you a call next time I'm up in the Northwest! The schedule was pretty packed, so I unfortunately didn't have any time to check out Seattle & environs. I've been a couple times before, and hit up the MS campus when I visited a buddy back in 99. I liked the greenery and Northwesty feel of the place. The campus itself was massive, but the buildings were pretty nice inside... I'm going soft though, the weather was at times 45 and rainy, and it was a shock to my system :) See you in NYC!

k.

About

Hi, I'm Kareem Mayan. I co-founded eduFire, an online video tutoring company.

I've done time at ESPN and FIM.

I advise WorldBlu, helping them build democratic companies.

I moderated a council for Creative Good.

And, I helped bring Barcamp, a technology un-conference, to LA, which is where I live. I am now living and working in cool cities around the world.

More about me.

Opinions stated here are mine alone.

Contact: blog -at- reemer

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