Sunday, March 02, 2008

Mix-08 - Open is a four-lettered word

Everytime I have been to a Microsoft event, mentioning "open" has been like swearing in church. Now, Marc Canter, blogs about his invitation to the Microsoft Mix-08 event in Las Vegas, which despite the 1295 price tag, has apparently sold out. Marc has five great suggestions, which no doubt will be difficult to share on his panel session which has 45 minutes and 7 speakers alotted to it. So, before he runs out of time, here are the suggestions

. A lot has been made lately of Microsoft joining the OpenID foundation board and in supporting So my first suggestion is easy: “we need extensive testing and compatibility labs setup to make sure that OpenID inter-operates between various implementations!” Nobody can do testing labs as good as Microsoft. They practically invented bugs. So I’m hoping that they’ll do the right thing and fund these sorts of labs, which of course will then force Google to fund some labs as well. Nothing like dueling testing labs to make sure an open spec is solid and that end-users can guarantee a seamless experience!

2. How ’bout connecting Windows mobile to Google’s Android, the iPhone and ALL the existing handsets in the world today? Instead of thinking of these other handset OSes as the competitors, the way we do things in the open world, is embrace and sing Kum-Bah-Yah! Wouldn’t it be totally coolio to have a windows mobile device inter-operate with data devices and smartphones from around the world - and not be told “sorry we are not compatible with that device?” Wouldn’t it be coolio for MS to exert some of its famous industry manipulative skills to get the carriers to open up more and inter-operate more? Remember - open is the new black.

3. and then there’s the XBox. If there ever was a lesson in how to lose $5B and buy market share - its the XBox. How can MS turn its popular game console into a game changing device? I love the notion of the XBox set top box. And I love XBox live, which clearly needs to be completely open and allow anyone to run their own contests, tournaments, IM systems, etc. on it. The XBox is a gateway to the living room (see below) as well as a kickass real-time rendering device (see Second Life and all the opportunity of creating 100 Second Lives…..) Then there’s the reality of media downloads. How are ANY of these musicians and movie makers ever gonna stay in business as the new distribution channels which are just eating their lunch. Well the one thing an XBox can do - really well - is be a media player. You figure out what happens when the world’s largest computer company gets open and has this device out there that costs $250 and is connected to the Internet …… and it’s really smart too and knows about my digital lifestyle, what I like and is tied into targeted ad platforms. And monetizes attention.

4. With all the talk of being open, I wonder what MS thinks its enterprise customers will do when they’re told “go open old man.” Its time for a change, here’s the documentation for Windows and how to reverse engineer Office. I wonder what happens to their $25B a year in profits nest egg? This whole open thing smells like…… teen spirit. How does this all translate to the enterprise? I bet it doesn’t. I bet they’ll just forget to talk about it. “Oooops - did we forget to talk about the open office of the future. Oooops.” Sorry that wasn’t a suggestion, just me falling back into being cynical. I still don’t believe all this!

5. My favorite suggestion (which I’ve actually been making to Jeff Sandquist for several years now - ever since Scoble and Len Pryor invited me to the PDC on Lomnghorn in 2003) is that Microsoft needs to get open data flowing into the Windows Home Media system. That (by all accounts) is the leading Living Room platform and a place where families, singles and seniors can all unite together while gathering around the hearthfire of American life - the TV set. Sure videogames are hot in the living room, but most of those are relegated to the kids bedroom or family room downstairs. The Living room is the holy place, where new episodes of Lost and March Madness are consumed like so many buckets of koolaid propaganda. How ’bout doing some mashups around events or reviews? How ’bout establishing some shared, public XML servers filled with Event or Review data on it - so that a whole generation of family oriented Home Media apps can be built that tie into mobile, enable doctors appointments, shopping lists and TV guides? How come we don’t have apps that understand what my favorite TV shows are and notify me when my fav shows have been recorded successfully or download my fav playlists of jams onto my car MP3 player (oh that’s right - MS still does DRM.) Then there’s the whole bevvy of APIs and inter-connected issues which will arise when we try and gateway open standards and shared platforms, like Twitter or OpenSocial? How’s this all gonna work?

Would be great if my X-box console did more than play games...

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