Friday, June 24, 2005

Longhorn & IE7

For the last 3 weeks, I've been using Longhorn and IE7 on my desktop at work, and it's been KILLING me not being able to talk (or blog) about any of it.

But now, you too can see Longhorn and IE7, because Robert Scoble just posted a new video with a couple really sweet demos over at Channel 9.

Yay. One thing less to bite my tongue on. (Sidenote: This morning I went to a sweeeet demo of Xbox 360. My jaw, and the jaws of about 1500 of my coworkers, were on the floor. All I can say is that it's certainly going to be a fun holiday season this year. I took a picture of the only thing I was allowed to.)


Mike Swingler said...

Absolutely, no creativity at all: IE 7 Screenshots

Microsoft puts the MSN search box in the same place as the Google search box in Firefox and Safari.

Microsoft uses the same RSS logo as Safari in it's toolbar, oh,'s red, not blue.

Microsoft uses the exact same layout for it's "RSS View" as Safari.

It's like they don't even _try_ to be different.

adamjh said...


When Firefox or Google create a clean, simple, intuitive interface, they draw praise. When Microsoft does it, they get criticized for lack of innovation. ;-)

If Microsoft goes off and decides to put the search box in a different location than the user is now used to, or creates their own unfamiliar RSS logo, they draw criticism. If they use the same layouts and logos that users are accustomed to, they draw criticism too.

Seems to me Microsoft finds itself between a rock and a hard place.

Hopefully, the "under the hood" innovation (like the application independent syndication store shown in the demo, along with the gazillions of other additions) will be recognized when IE7 and Longhorn ship.

I'll be honest, my first reaction to playing with the early builds of both products were similar to your reaction to the IE7 screenshots. But after spending 4 months playing with components like Avalon, I quickly realized that innovation in these products isn't about adding 200 widgets and new UIs, it's about providing truly unmatched platform capabilities.

So, we'll see what happens. I'm certainly eager to read some of the first reviews when they hit the streets, but I also have a feeling that it's going to take a lot longer before individuals, developers, and businesses realize the full potential of these products. It's a lot easier to harp on a simplified UI than to gain understanding and harness the power of a new security architecture and other, less visible but certainly innovative improvements.

I also think we'll see some different responses from different market segments. The average geeky, powerbook carrying, power user doesn't care about how manageable the operating system is for a large enterprise organization - and there's a whole bunch of innovation in such areas that you won't capture in a screenshot and that you're never gonna read about on the cover article of Wired.

Mike Swingler said...

If you can't express the "glory and power" of Microsoft innovation, I guess it's just inexpressible.

I could go on and on about the endless customizability and manageability of Linux or MacOS X. I could explain every dock item, every preference pane, and every browser restriction which can be imposed by MacOS X Server's remote administration policy manager. If you think Windows is the only OS that can prevent users from downloading programs or making a mess of their desktops, that's just not true. The OS X desktop is just as manageable as Windows in an enterprise environment.

I can only really concede that Microsoft shipped ACLs in NTFS and multi-framebuffer remote desktop first. But that was Windows NT/2000. Where has 2003 Server taken us where we haven't already been before?

The New Windows Security Model, of using small trusted code which run using specific privileges is nothing new. The Java Security API has been around since '99, and has object level granularity for executing privileged functions, which were required for Java Web Start. Microsoft's One Click will (someday) offer the same ease of use, and the granular permissions model required to do what has already been done for years with Web Start.

I'm sure there is just oodles of invisible innovation under the hood of Longhorn. It will be nice when it finally debuts to the world. Until then, one can't help but notice feature by feature, new model after new model, already exists in the real shipping world right now. Eventually the only real innovation that will be left for Longhorn will be the integration of all these features into the OS itself.

Now the RSS Central Store in Longhorn is a neat idea, but it seems like subscription data doesn't need to be centralized as much as it needs to be organized for each category of application which will consume and produce the data. Your comments about why Plaxo should exist are totally valid, and if the RSS Central Store in Longhorn were done right, Outlook users should be able to not only consume other's scheduling and contact data, but they should be able to publish it for themselves. IIS should export the user's data, or the Central Store needs to somehow synchronize that data between all the Windows machines that user has.

When I update my local vCard data in the address book, it should sync with the central subscription store, which should talk with some web service (presumably the local IIS, or some other IIS), and all my other machines should get that update, along with anyone else who is subscribed to my vCard info. I really don't see why calendaring couldn't be done the same way. True P2P contact and schedule management.

I see no evidence that the RSS Central Store will do anything like this. No publishing, just pulling. Yawn.

They won't seriously implement a real P2P contact and schedule manager, because it would pose a threat to Exchange server sales, and would mean that everyone who has a copy of XP Home could run IIS for themselves (just like every OS X user can run Apache for themselves).

I stand by original intent: "Microsoft needs to try shipping something new for the sake of doing something new, not because they need to 'mitigate the threat' from company X, Y or Z, or protect an existing revenue stream."

adamjh said...

Spoken like a true Apple employee. ;-)

Mike, I believe Microsoft's products express the glory and power of innovation -- as do Apple's, as do Google's, and as do products of the open source community.

I believe that the satisfaction of their customers easily speaks to the quality and utility of their products -- as much, or more so, than the wow factor of a screenshot or the words in this blog post.

I don't believe that Microsoft only innovates to 'mitigate the threat' from company X, Y, or Z, or protect an existing revenue stream. Microsoft Research is always working on, and openly publishing on, amazing new innovations, which often get brought into existing or future products. Where are Apple Research, or Google Research? I think Microsoft's made amazing innovations in so many areas ranging from Media Center to IPTV to Xbox Live to mobile devices and the list really does go on and on. And these are only a few of the areas that might happen to interest us tech-savvy consumers.

I don't think it's fair to claim that there's anything wrong with Microsoft entering existing markets. Google did not create the first engines, or their market(s). Apple did not create the first digital music player, or create their market either. It's okay for a company to enter an existing market, and out-innovate the competition. In fact, I'd argue it's a good thing -- whether it's Microsoft doing the out-innovating or Microsoft being out-innovated.

Mike Swingler said...

This has nothing to do with Apple or myself as an Apple employee. You seem to have some sort of fixation with that.

What I say, I say as a ordinary observer of technology, and it is obvious that Microsoft has a problem with creating new and novel things which don't already exist in other spaces. While Google wasn't the first search engine, and the iPod wasn't the first MP3 player, there are many examples of firsts that were pioneered by Apple and Google and others.

By comparison, it is very difficult to come up with things that Microsoft was truly first to the table with. This is the whole "embrace, extend, and extinguish"'s not new...we've seen it over the course of twenty five years. Windows and the GUI, Java and .NET, Netscape and IE, all the other consoles and the XBox. Whatever Microsoft set's it's hand to, you can be sure there is someone underneath them who they will crush.

Really, what is the logical end-game here? Where does this path logically lead to? Does all innovation really start and end with Microsoft? Does the whole planet really pay the Microsoft tax for every electronic device that connects to a network or has a file system?

By what right does this one company dominate all by it's sheer size alone?

Microsoft has a clear objective to lay waste to open source competitors, Linux in particular. How do you compete with free? Spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

Microsoft's answer to Apple's creation of the legal music download market? Undercut every other player: buy 1, get 5 free. No one else except the bank of Microsoft could fund that for as long as it takes to become the top player.

Microsoft can't even be trusted as a partner. Now with MSN Music, Napster, Walmart, and every other Windows Media "Plays for Sure" partner is now competing head-on with the 800lb gorilla. In retrospect, they probably should have gotten behind Real Player! Ha!

When Steve's company partnered with Microsoft with their CRM software, there came a point when it was clear that if he continued to pursue a target market with their current feature set using MS CRM 1.0, MS CRM 2.0 would completely obsolesce their product.

Something is wrong with this equation. All terms do not carry over to Microsoft's side.

Brad Scott said...

Microsoft likes to play the victim.

Microsoft does whatever it is they want to do, and the moment anyone criticizes what they do, they say something like "Well our customers haven't asked for that feature, so we're not putting it in" as far as standards support goes. Well, I remember asking for a stable Operating System that didn't get slower after every revision but I got that. I remember hoping to get a good firewall without any bias towards spyware, and didn't get that. The list can go on and on. Microsoft will do what they want to do, and whenever anyone say anything, "Well thats not what our customers asked for". Well, since when have they done anything their customers asked for. I don't remember asking for a new way to encrypt video from my video card to my display, or Palladium, or for a yellow talking dog in the search window, or moronic sentence based links for functions because Microsoft can't figure out an intuitive way to let someone create a folder, or rename something, but those things came anyway. The only reason why IE7 is in beta now, is because Firefox did so well in it's first week.

But hey, you are right. Microsoft does innovate. I just hope that when they do finally decide that they want to support something they didn't make, it doesn't come in the form of the sidebar, or a task pane, with a yellow dog leaving yellow spots on the carpet.