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  #1  
Old 10-23-2009, 02:03 PM
Adam Krebs
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Default Impressions of the Engadget Show with Steve Ballmer

<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='http://www.engadget.com/2009/10/22/the-engadget-show-live-with-steve-ballmer/' target='_blank'>http://www.engadget.com/2009/10/22/...-steve-ballmer/</a><br /><br /></div><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/zt/auto/1256264665.usr495.jpg" style="border: #d2d2bb 1px solid;" /></p><p>Yesterday afternoon I witnessed a great interview between Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, and Joshua Topolsky, editor-in-chief of gadget blog Engadget. The event of course celebrated the <a href="http://www.digitalhomethoughts.com/news/show/95681/windows-7-launches-in-nyc.html" target="_blank">launch of Windows 7</a>, but Windows Mobile (6.5 and 7), Zune HD, and Microsoft&rsquo;s cloud computing initiatives were all hot topics, and each were discussed at some length.<MORE /></p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/zt/auto/1256264397.usr495.jpg" style="border: #d2d2bb 1px solid;" /></p><p>While Josh maintained a level of cool collectedness throughout, Ballmer was energetic, apologetic, and at times, seemed like he was having genuine fun in the interviewee chair. A number of the audience members around me mentioned that Ballmer seemed "nervous," but I saw it more as a frustration with consumer markets in general not "getting" the Microsoft message. He showed that the company had made many strides towards products and scenarios that consumers wanted to see, but even still appeared to be quite alright with taking a second place to Apple in mindshare if it meant holding on to the much larger number of sales the company regularly pulls in. Josh asked why we had seen Microsoft-built hardware products for Xbox and Zune and not, for example, a mobile phone. Ballmer replied that game consoles, media players, mice, etc. all had total sales of under 50 million units, while PCs, phones, and TVs outsold those markets several times over, so it made sense to create a platform rather than building something new. He cryptically mentioned that the rumored "Pink" phones would not be made by Microsoft, but likely a hardware partner.</p><p>When asked about the possibility of seeing Zune in the next version of Windows Mobile, Ballmer nodded. "Next version, yes," before jokingly adding, "but that&rsquo;s always the typical technology company response, 'next version.'" It remains to be announced the extent of the Zune feature set that will make it into Windows, as so far the recent <a href="http://www.zunethoughts.com/news/show/93953/zune-video-service-coming-to-xbox-360-in-18-countries.html">Xbox / Zune Video integration</a> has been relatively underwhelming as far as rumored and promised feature crossover. Ballmer claimed he hadn't seen the leaked video of Microsoft's <a href="http://gizmodo.com/5369493/leaked-courier-video-shows-how-well-actually-use-it" target="_blank">Courier tablet</a> concept, but added with a smile that he would be excited to see any company produce something similar to what he had heard was showed in the video.</p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/zt/auto/1256264512.usr495.jpg" style="border: #d2d2bb 1px solid;" /></p><p>Josh pressed the CEO on a number of difficult topics, and gained some good answers, some well-crafted dodges, and a number of somber apologies for high-profile mistakes like the recent Danger/Sidekick data loss. Josh called out Windows Mobile, referring to the platform as&mdash;and I'm paraphrasing here&mdash;less than successful. He asked if Microsoft as a company was heading in too many directions, to which Ballmer replied that as a computer company this size, it would be a mistake <em>not</em> to be in, for example&nbsp;the search business, and companies like Apple simply do not have the market share or penetration in the rest of the world to truly be a threat to the bottom line. Ballmer seemed to approach these seemingly divergent brands as a necessity for a company its size to maintain its position of dominance.</p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/zt/auto/1256264271.usr495.jpg" style="border: #d2d2bb 1px solid;" /></p><p>After the show was over, Josh returned to the stage with fellow Engadget editors Nilay Patel and Paul Miller to discuss news of the week. They spent about 3 minutes on Windows 7 before declaring that enough time had been spent on the topic (huh?) and went on to discuss the Mac lineup refresh, Barnes &amp; Noble's new Nook, and the poor marketing message conveyed through Verizon's "Droid Does" ads.</p><p>At one point, Nilay referred to Windows 7 as "Vista done right," which I&rsquo;ve never been able to understand. Sure at a low-level, it appears as if 7 is merely a slight tweak from Vista (perhaps the taskbar and new Aero features were "add-ons"?), but many of these features would not be possible without a lot of the compatibility breaks Vista ushered in. This includes technological/architectural, interface, and marketing initiatives that have become necessary in modern operating systems. In many ways, I doubt a success like 7 could have come any other way than such a dramatic shift.</p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/zt/auto/1256263491.usr495.jpg" style="border: #d2d2bb 1px solid;" /></p><p>The episode will be available for download today from Engadget.</p>
 
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Old 10-23-2009, 03:34 PM
ptyork
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Good summary Adam (though a quick pass through to remove the wacked out quotation marks and apostrophes would help readability tremendously). I couldn't bring myself to watch it after the abortion that was the interview with Palm's CEO. Was Josh a little more respectful and less tongue-in-cheek?
 
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Old 10-23-2009, 06:09 PM
Adam Krebs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ptyork View Post
Good summary Adam (though a quick pass through to remove the wacked out quotation marks and apostrophes would help readability tremendously).
Whups, good catch. I wrote it up in word and I guess vBullitin doesn't like angled quotes.

Quote:
I couldn't bring myself to watch it after the abortion that was the interview with Palm's CEO. Was Josh a little more respectful and less tongue-in-cheek?
I didn't see the Reubenstine interview, but I can imagine what you're saying. I wouldn't entirely say he was disrespectful this time around, but in a way he was sort of relenting. Every positive comment was immediately followed by a negative remark. To be fair, there's a lot to be desired with Microsoft's product lineup now, especially for consumers, but there's a ton they're doing right, and I wish Josh had let him go a bit more. A bunch of the guys sitting around me in the audience (mostly tech journalists) commented that they didn't think a Steve Jobs type would receive such negative questioning (if he agreed to go on at all).
 
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Old 10-23-2009, 08:48 PM
Phillip Dyson
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Thanks for the summary Adam,
I sometimes I wonder if Vista was Microsoft's version of "New Coke". Not that I'm saying there is a conspiracy theory here.
But I have to wonder whether MS planned Vista as a calculated risk and that they would have to come behind with a huge bang like 7.

Imagine if they put everything that is 7 into Vista. It would have all been lost in the bad press and difficult transition period.

This way they can put the lumps behind them and keep the good stuff seperate under the "we're back on track" image.
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Old 10-23-2009, 09:50 PM
Adam Krebs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phillip Dyson View Post
Imagine if they put everything that is 7 into Vista. It would have all been lost in the bad press and difficult transition period.
Well, it wasn't *all* horrible. A lot of the advances that we can enjoy (like a re-written desktop window manager) mean that we get live thumbnail previews of running applications, and UAC has resulted in a much safer OS. I think a lot of the good stuff was lost in the reviews and subsequent Vista bashing. That said, there wasn't a whole lot of readily apparent feature reasons to jump to Vista in the first place. A lot of it was under the hood stuff.
 
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Old 10-23-2009, 10:04 PM
Phillip Dyson
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Originally Posted by Adam Krebs View Post
Well, it wasn't *all* horrible. A lot of the advances that we can enjoy (like a re-written desktop window manager) mean that we get live thumbnail previews of running applications, and UAC has resulted in a much safer OS. I think a lot of the good stuff was lost in the reviews and subsequent Vista bashing. That said, there wasn't a whole lot of readily apparent feature reasons to jump to Vista in the first place. A lot of it was under the hood stuff.
Agreed. My thought was that it was wise to seperate Vista from 7. Let Vista take the lumps during the transition and make a triumphant return with 7.

I'm not saying Microsoft planned to fail, but as a software developer, I understand that making a radical architectural change will have its pain points during the transition. No matter how well you plan. Vista became the sacrificial lamb and 7 was the resurrected savior.

They got to seperate restructuring and the value add from a customer perception perspective.
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Old 10-23-2009, 10:54 PM
Adam Krebs
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And the video is up.
 
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