Notes on the Company Meeting

The Microsoft Company Meeting was held on Wednesday (Sept 5) in Seattle, and along with paper airplane throwing, BillG’s last company meeting, some stuff about busses, and the waving around of a phantom Zune, there was some interesting Windows Live information, as well.

(Before the black helicopters start circling the house, no I wasn’t there.  But you can glean some interesting information by going through Mini-Microsoft’s comments, which is exactly what I just did)

Some Windows Live-ish information came from Ray Ozzie’s speech, where he continued to prophesize the vision of the future of software + services.  Still pretty high level, and the natives seem to be getting a bit restless as to how this is going to all play out, the general feeling from the Mini-Msft commenters was that Ray is a good guy, on the right track, and will be a good leader post BillG.

Then came the demos, and apparently things didn’t go too well for Windows Live.  Chris Jones demoed Windows Live Photo Gallery and the photo import tool, but since the photos had already apparently been imported once previously, they (by design) didn’t import (again, but would have, if Jones had checked some boxes to select them).  Jones reportedly didn’t handle the whole thing too well, calling out the GPM of Photo Gallery onstage, which came across as embarrassing.  A couple of snippets from Mini’s comments:

This happened by design because Chris had already imported the images, probably in a walk-through prior to the demo. The checkboxes are checked when the app detects that the images have NOT already been imported from the camera. If the images HAVE already been imported the checkboxes are unchecked, and the app reports “no images to import” (although the images still are actually on the camera). The message should be “there are no images to import that you haven’t already got on your system, and no, I haven’t deleted them from your camera so don’t worry”. The sad thing is that this was a known issue, but blown off by the “we know better” gang in the DMX(?) team.

Maybe that Eric dude will point out to Chrisjo that in order to complete the photo importing action, he needed to check the boxes next to the groups of photos he defined. Which is retarded UI design, but it’s not like the software had a bug. It was user error. Chrisjo came off looking a little silly. “Why can’t I complete the operation? Eric?” When in fact he hadn’t checked some check boxes. If I were that Eric dude, I would be embarrassed for Chrisjo, who came off looking like an air head.

The guy who Jones called out (something having to do with a white phone, go figure) actually responded in Mini as well:

I’m the Eric dude who Chris “railed” against in the demo. :-)

It was actually pretty funny, I thought. As the GPM of the team who built the Photo Gallery, I thought it was totally fair for him to give me a hard time when he hit a snag. It’s true that it wasn’t a bug per se – when you import stuff we are “smart” and don’t import it again. This is most noticeable in demo scenarios where you’ve already imported before, but the wording of the wizard could be way clearer. It’s tripped me up in demos too!

Anyway, I thought it was hilarious. My only regret is that I’m probably destined to be “white courtesy phone guy” for the rest of my career.

But what is most interesting in gleaning the Mini-Msft comments is how impressed the commenters were about the new Live Search demo.  Here’s some snippets:

  • Good …
    Search demo
  • The big surprise was the Live search (I think that’s who) team’s presentation — they seem to be doing some real innovation, innovation that will likely provide real competition in the online space. (No, I don’t work for Live, and have been pretty cynical about Live in the past). Color me impressed here, and possibly the high point of the meeting.
  • Search really impressed me. Selberg’s people really did a good job, they’re on the right path. 
  • The new Live Search. It rocks!
    – Ozzie’s keynote. I hope this sends some groups scrambling to figure out their Live strategy. 
  • I was extremely impressed with the changes in Search. Now can we get some marketing people to actually publicize the fact that we have a great service?

Erik Selberg was in Mountain View the other day eating sushi with Sanaz, and we expect to see them (we hope?!) on the 26th for Searchification (yes I’m making plans to go, and hope to bring you a whole bad motel, economy car, San Jose traffic, and Searchification expose!).