Thursday, March 06, 2008

LIVE from MIX 08 Ballmernote

After a hard night of MIX partying it's time to shake-off the hangovers and get ready for the MIX 08 Ballmernote (that's the Steve Ballmer Keynote for the uninitiated). Today's keynote is comparatively short to yesterday's two and a half hour thriller, but hopefully Steve Ballmer and Guy Kawasaki will bring something new and interesting during their hour "Q&A." Like yesterday's event, you can catch all the action live via the online stream, so this post is for those of you that can't watch the stream at work or those of you that prefer not to listen to Steve Ballmer talk for an hour. And with that, on to the live coverage...

12:52 PM: We're all settled in and enjoying the live Johnny Cash performer again (just learned it's Vince Mira). We're about 30 feet from the chairs where Steve and Guy will be talking, so we've got pretty good front row seats again. Things should get started in about 8 minutes.

1:00 PM: Not running early like yesterday, but we did get the 5 minute warning a few minutes ago. Vince is playing his lost song ("The Rock Island Line") now... MIX guys just told us Vince is only 15! That's incredible.

1:04 PM: MIX 09 dates announced: March 18 - 20 at The Venetian again.

1:06 PM: Steve and Guy taking the stage and their chairs. We're on our way. Things are starting weird. Guy (in jest) suggested that Steve didn't hire him back in the day becuase of race...err...

1:07 PM: Guy: "Steve, why do you want to buy Yahoo?" Really?! That's the first question. Answer: Advertising on the Internet is the big thing and the next super big thing. Search is the killer online app for advertising. Steve says Yahoo! can accelerate Microsoft's search/ad business.

1:10 PM: Guy told Steve not to throw any chairs at him or to go monkey on him. Priceless. Question 2: "What about Google?" These questions are really putting Ballmer on the spot. Ballmer reiterates that online advertising is key and the next super big thing and that's why MS wants a bigger piece of the pie.

1:12 PM: Ballmer says Google is nowhere in desktop competition. MS is nowhere (more or less) in online competition. Ballmer pledging to fight to his last breath to make MS successful online. Agrees that MS is the underdog online.

1:13 PM: Ballmer just barked. Literally. It was in response to being asked by Guy if Ballmer thought Apple was a little dog MS just ignores. Ballmer said Apple does a good job, wasn't too harsh on Apple.

1:14 PM: Facebook. More talk about how it plays in to MS' desire to have more online advertising.

1:18 PM: What drives Ballmer? He loves what Microsoft does. Loves Silverlight. Thinks they're at the forefront of changing the world. He love working with Microsoft's customers. Thinks there is a lot of energy in the software industry. Finally, he enjoys challenge and thinks software industry provides a lot of competitive challenges.

1:20 PM: What does Ballmer do during the day? Three kinds of days: 1) Out all day, flying around, meeting customers. He finds it energizing. 2) Doctor in office day. Meetings all day, back-to-back, exhausting. 3) Think and research days. Time to write, research, think. Only gets 60 to 70 pieces of email a day! Really. No assistants filtering. Guy is shocked, can't believe it.

1:23 PM: Time to talk about Bill and his exit. Ballmer says he's not sure what a "part-time" Bill looks like. Says most great innovations at MS don't come from Bill, come from people in Microsoft. Building case for the fact that Bill is not what keeps MS moving.

1:25 PM: Now talking recruiting. How do you recruit young people to Microsoft? Ballmer says recruiting hasn't changed much despite new companies like Google and Facebook. Says they go after people that are very talented and interested in changing the world. Ballmer reminded Guy that most startups do fail. Ouch.

1:27 PM: Guy tells Ballmer Microsoft needs to do a better job of informing young people that Microsoft makes cool products like Xbox and Halo. Steve says the goal is to just keep outputting outstanding products. Says he wants all Microsoft users (1 billion+) to be as passionate users in the Xbox Live community.

1:30 PM: Silverlight talk. Ballmer's turn to talk about the plans for Silverlight. Says that Silverlight is trying to eliminate the compromises developers have to make when choosing between desktop and web development. Quotes the 1.5 million downloads per day stat. Claims WPF is on a "high number" of desktops.

1:32 PM: What's the deal with Vista? Steve disagrees there is an issue. Calls it the second most popular operating system in history. Guys are sidetracked by Guy's MacBook Air. Steve is on the ground looking for the DVD drive in the Air. Funny. Finishes by saying is Tosh is lighter and more powerful than the Air.

1:35 PM: Talking about how Microsoft will stay relevant in future. And we're back to Vista. Guy's not letting this go. Ballmer talking more seriously now about how Vista is better than XP and conceding that they made some choices that hurt compatibility. Overall, thinks Vista complaints are just from a few vocal people.

1:38 PM: Now we're talking Firefox and IE. Ballmer mentions that IE still has lions share of browser market share. Says we should expect a lot of browser innovation from Microsoft. Says it is a core focus for Microsoft. Guy asks where IE for Mac is. Ballmer says it's not a high priority focus- in other words, they ain't goin' there again anytime soon.

1:40 PM: Social networking. What does Ballmer thing of it? Steve doesn't think social networking is a fad. Thinks it is a fundamental change in how people communicate. Doesn't think any one company or product can "perfect" social networking. Thinks continual investment in social networking is key to remain relevant. Views Xbox Live, MSN Communities, and other MS platforms as their push in social networking.

1:42 PM: Guy says Microsoft of today is a different Microsoft. Calls it the "new Microsoft." Giving Steve a rare moment of praise. Says MS has really improved image in Silicon Valley by opening offices there.

1:43 PM: Time for questions from the floor.

1:44 PM: What about Adobe? Ballmer says they're clearly competing on the Silverlight/Flash front, but generally they plan to continue to support and work with Adobe as a Windows ISV.

1:45 PM: Someone wants to know why IE wasn't developed with .NET. Ballmer basically saying IE got lost in the plans for Longhorn whereas .NET had its own development path that wasn't bogged down by the OS. Says they've learned from their past and plan to do better decoupling browser from OS and delivering faster updates.

1:47 PM: A Yahoo! question. What will happen to the PHP apps? Ballmer says clearly some apps will have to be killed. Doesn't make sense to have two of everything. Some will come from Yahoo!, some from Microsoft. Popular apps that are in PHP will probably stay that way for a while. Says he's fine with Microsoft being a PHP shop and a .NET shop. Wants Windows Server to be the best place for running PHP apps in the future.

1:49 PM: Another Yahoo! question. What are the synergies between MS and Yahoo? Ballmer says scale is key in online advertising and search. Gives lip service to the talent at Yahoo!, but clearly the main synergy is the scale factor that a combined Yahoo! and MS would have.

1:51 PM: A Fast Search question. How does the acquisition impact Microsoft's plans? Ballmer says he likes the tech a lot and the company. Can't say much because AQ isn't done, but it sounds like Fast will end-up mostly in Enterprise environments.

1:52 PM: Next is a question about severs and ability to use Windows to compute in the cloud. HUGE allusion to a forth coming announcement about some new Windows cloud support, but won't say anything today.

1:55 PM: Will there be Silverlight on the iPhone? Says there has been a lot of talk about it internally but Apple is not particularly welcome to the idea. Steve doesn't think Apple's approach of charging developers to run apps on the iPhone is a good business model and doubts it will be very popular.

1:57 PM: Another Silverlight question. When will Microsoft start using it more for there own apps? Ballmer says that we'll start seeing it used in coming months, years even. Says it only makes sense to move apps to Silverlight when new versions are introduced. All apps that "make sense" will eventually be running on Silverlight. Live Messenger, Hotmail, etc.

1:58 PM: Healthcare question. Don't think this one will interest many people. Ballmer is excited to talk about how Microsoft will embrace and support the medical industry, but...whatever.

2:00 PM: Bluray question. Will it come to the Xbox? What are MS' plans for bluray? Ballmer says MS will support it in Windows (obviously) and says the world just moves on. Will support bluray in ways that make sense. Ballmer supports the MS conspiracy theory that MS wants download movies to win by saying in 5 years discs may not matter at all.

2:03 PM: We get a little audience requested monkey boy. Web developers, web developers, web developers! Video captured and will share it later.

2:04 PM: Calls social networking in young stage in Enterprise. Not much interesting on this question.

2:05 PM: How will MS move past Dream Spark to support students with infrastructure? More allusions to a Microsoft cloud service for hosting applications. No announcement today, but it's pretty clear some announcement is coming soon.

2:06 PM: iPhone again. How does Microsoft react to Apple's licensing of ActiveSync for the iPhone to deliver Exchange support? Ballmer dismisses it as just another licensing deal. Thinks it makes Exchange more valuable.

2:07 PM: Last question. How will Microsoft work with Ave8 Razor Fish (advertising firm)? Ballmer says it's a hands-off ownership approach.

2:10 PM: That's it. They've left the stage and we're on to more sessions!


Pete said...

"Ballmer resigns!" - That's the suprise I was hoping for ... oh well - Silverlight is pretty :)

Todd Anglin said...

Well, after barking like a dog, screaming "web developers," and getting on the ground to put down a MB Air, most CEOs would be cleaning out their desks...for Ballmer, it's just par for the course. ;)