Mix07: A Directed Conversation

Microsoft bills its takeover of Las Vegas hotspots for three days as Mix07 – a 72 hour conversation.
Conversation, n. 1)colloquial discourse; 2)oral exchange of ideas and observations; 3)informal dialogue.
A conversation means it takes two to tango – ideas of equals are exchanged; and no one party sets the agenda of what is being discussed or what topics are allowed or not allowed. Clearly Mix07 is not a conversation – it is a declaration and a series of pronouncements of the latest Web directions and intentions from Microsoft. It might appear to be a conversation because Microsofties will be asking you questions – but those questions are designed to sample how well their ideas and intentions have been communicated and absorbed by you the attendee or observer. Nothing personal – but this is business.

Mix06 was all about Internet Explorer 7 and what that was going to deliver in Web browsing. If Mix06 was a conversation, then Microsoft would have “discussed” why it took 7 years to update IE. They would have discussed why they took a 7 year halt on adopting W3C and other web standards not just in IE but across the board in all their application development tools. Redmond would have talked about why it still was dragging its feet on CSS, JavaScript 2.0 and E4X extensions, and DOM rationalization in IE 7, failing again to fulfill promises 10 years old. Redmond would have discussed why it was bypassing standards such as SVG, XForms, JPEG2000, and the like. But Mix 06 was a declaration – “we want a return to a leadership role in Web browsing and Web development even though a)we wreaked security havoc on the Web-based industry from 1998 to 2005 because we used relaxed defaults and ActiveX controls which we knew going in starting in 1997 presented security hazards; and b)we thwarted and stalled adoption of any Web standards from 2000 to the present day. But hey this is a business – a monopoly business. And you developers and users, you have given us a continuing monopoly on the browser and desktop OS marketplaces of 80%or better. So live with it.”

Mix07: The Pronouncements

So in Mix07 of course the “conversation” does not need to continue from Mix06 and be about IE 7 or its service pack or successor, IE 8. Yes, Bill Gates and the IE team promised rapid updates, every 8-12 months for IE – but Bill promised Trustworthy computing at least three times as well. So the Directed Conversation at Mix07 will have virtually nothing about IE7 or a service pack or IE 8 – it will be about the leadership position Redmond wants to attain with WPF/E-Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere now called SilverLight. Lets see if we can Read Redmonds lips.

“We are concerned that Adobe is getting so far ahead in the RIA game with the trifecta of free display engines: Flash, Acrobat PDF, and now Apollo; we want mindshare and leadership in that space with our cross platform version of Standard SilverLight. First lets understand, Cross Platform and Standard mean:
a)it will run best in Windows;
b)the primary development tools for SilverLight will run in Windows;
c)though major portions of SilverLight will be ISO and/or ECMA standards, Microsoft will steer future directions;
d)so dont look for any of that Java Community Process nonsense;
e) SilverLight will not run in any browser – just our approved set of browsers – Safari, IE7, and Firefox. And we are not too sure about Safari. And we may not support SilverLight in all versions of Linux, just some of the favored ones – like Novells Suse Linux.
f)because we have still an 80% browser share and 90% PC desktop share, you can bet Silverlight is going to take major chunks of market share out of Adobes hide, and you are going to give it to us, so pay attention!
g)finally we reserve the right to change our minds and our “SilverLight-so to speak” promises just like IIS being perpetually free. It is no longer available as a free download because we had to make it the critical value add in Windows Professional.
And we have precedence to stand on in these promises: COM/DCOM was never really delivered to Unix despite DEC and then Software AGs tries; ASP never got beyond what Chilisoft was able to deliver to a few OS platforms and limited in capabilities; and now Novell is doing us a huge favor by making .NET and SilverLight appear to be cross platform – and it is in smatterings of parts. But you and I know it runs best on Windows. So now lets see what Flickr, Technorati, and the few leftovers from the once vibrant VB plugin market are promising with SilverLight. “

So Mix07 is at best a Directed Conversation – okay, okay, okay Mix07 is really a series of Royal Regal Redmond Pronouncements on where it thinks it should be in the Web development world. And why not ? You and I have given them the browser and OS desktop monopolies to allow them to “enforce” their position in the market. So Vista is a clunker, IE7 just barely good enough, security a schizophrenic mess, and the Web still the enemy until Microsoft has equivalent SilverLight control or dominance in the market. Live with it – you and I gave Microsoft the de facto power to make it “just good enough” so.

Final Word

Lets be crystal clear, this is not an evaluation of the technical prowess of SilverLight. I have commented elsewhere about this – and have been positive about some SilverLight components. Rather this is a comment upon Microsoft Management. Why do they continue to employ Machiavellian and Monopolistic practices when they really no longer need to do so? The development community has spoken unequivocally: the legalistic restrictive application of EULA and monopolistic pricing practices by any vendor, not just Microsoft, are not acceptable. Likewise Open and Standards adherent are preferred development paths going forward. So why does Microsoft continue with monopolistic pricing in the BI and Business App markplaces? Or shill Software Assurance for which you have to read carefully every nuance of every pargraph? Why does Redmond continue to bend, distort, or just thwart Web, Graphics, and other standards ? Why does Microsoft insult the community with WormTongue campaigns like WOW, People Ready, and Get-the-Facts with their sponsored and carefully “cultured” reports/studies ?

I thought when Ray Ozzie took over there would be a breath of fresh thinking in Redmond. However, when Craig Mundie was appointed Chief Strategy Officer, the writing was on the wall. Ray Ozzie would bring collaboration and advanced Web practices – the technical savvy. But Ballmer and Mundie would crack the marketing whip – and that would continue to be old style, monopolistic and heavy-handed. In contrast, when Lou Gerstner took over at IBM in the early 1990s, he and successor Sam Palmisano changed the mainframe and heavy-handed IBM management style to a much more Open culture. Now to be sure, IBM is still a fierce competitor, just ask Dell and Sun. But IBM still has win-win as part of its vocabulary. For Microsoft the words are there too, but they mean zero-sum because Microsoft is out to establish 90%++ monopolies in all its markets. And of course that means when Microsoft wins, practically everybody else must lose.


(c)JBSurveyer 2007 If you liked this, let others know:
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