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microsoft gets it


I think it's about time we dropped the "Microsoft doesn't get web 2.0" meme. Scoble today has a post responding to Kaliya in which she says that to Microsoft we're just "customers". Please. Everyone tries to do what is best for both their customers and company. MySpace may "invite dudes to contribute" but trust me, News Corp. doesn't give a damn if they are called "customers" or "enablers" or "contributors". Microsoft still has some vestiges of its predatory behavior in the past (particularly on pricing of most software that hangs to stratospheric monopoly heights, ever notice that Office and Windows are the only two Microsoft products that are not at lower prices than before? Look at the stuff where MS has competition.) But on the other hand they'd probably be sued by shareholders if they lowered earnings "for no reason". Anyway, that's not really at issue here.

Look at Bill Gates at Mix06, talking to Tim O'Reilly and Mike Arrington. Look at Windows Live, and the stuff they're doing with gadgets. Look at the integration in Vista. Look at Channel 9. Look at On10.net -- whatever that's about, it's certainly not the Microsoft of old. Look at what Microsofties are discussing in blogs, from Ray Ozzie, to Scoble (of course :)), to Dare, to Mini-Microsoft, to hundreds of others (Quiz: Assumming you don't work for Google, how many high-profile Google bloggers can you name vs how many from MS? I'm not saying it's good or bad, btw, really, to each his own, I'm just pointing out the difference in, um, "engagement"). Look at Ray Ozzie's LiveClipboard stuff, which from what I've seen underwhelmed many but it just blew me away. This didn't look like a Microsoft demo at all! It looked like the demo of some dingy startup, three guys just kicking cool stuff around! Is it small, perhaps a bit of a trifle given Microsoft's resources? Maybe. But damn! There it is: A screencast, done on Flash, and running all on FireFox, using standard Internet formats. Three years ago, you'd probably had to endure some insane ActiveX plugin and a demo of how IE and Office could do stuff together using COM or some such.

If anything, that's what tells me that Microsoft as an entity gets that it must adapt, and it gets where it should go, and it's trying, really, really hard. They've opened up the floodgates to some degree -- Microsofties are doing a lot of stuff that may not be necessarily "sanctioned" or perfectly aligned with the different BU requirements of Windows or Office. This was done by necessity rather than out of some high-minded pursuit of "innovation," but that's ok, that's how these things work.

Microsoft may not be out of the woods yet with respect to the threat that web 2.0 (and, let's not forget Google) represent to their "traditional" business. But let's give credit where it's due. They're moving.

And they didn't need an "Internet Tidal Wave" memo to get them going. So hats off to them!

PS: Btw, let's not get hung up on whether web 2.0 is hype or not. Is there some hype in there? Sure. Is there something real behind it? Yep. Does it accurately describe a market space? At this point, yes. Ok. Good. :)

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on March 20 2006 at 6:27 PM

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