Finished now; here are my notes:
First, I think Bill sets the stage nicely by explaining the age of software on your PC is over. There is an explosion of devices, and the only way to tie them together and give the next wave of features that people want is with software as a service. I don’t feel the discussion of this as a “sea change” is very convincing — as he mentions, this vision is a lot like the 1999 company meeting, and the decks look a lot like many of the .NET decks. Maybe it comes from having worked in Netdocs and MSN and seeing lots of “service-izing” of Windows and Office firsthand, but it doesn’t seem all that new to me.
30 minutes in, I agree with Dave. The demos show some cool functionality of Xbox 360, but haven’t yet driven home the point about services in the back. The Xbox demo seemed to belabor the point “we write cool dashboard stuff so game developers can save money and used shared components” — this is completely tangential to the main point, which isn’t coming across clearly yet.
Intro to Windows Live and Office Live. Vague references to profile, people centered. Mentions that both ad and subscription revenues play. Then mentions that all the interfaces will be open — Windows will use services that anyone else can use.
Ray Ozzie talking about trends. Summarized; the proliferation of devices and contexts leads to lots of seams. What people want is integrated, seamless experiences, more now than ever before. This has got to resonate with people. Examples of ipod/itunes and Xbox as seamless experiences weaving hardware, software, and services. OK, the first part was marketing hype, but Ray has a lot of red meat. The discussion of seams resonates more with people now than it did in 1999, since everyone feels the pain.
Ray mentions auto-update (petabytes per month), SQM, etc. Convincing case that “Internet makes software deploy at lightspeed”, is not the same as saying “Web apps deploy at lightspeed”. He’s framing the discussion as software on the Internet, rather than thin-client DHTML.
Discussing ad revenues. Again, nothing new, but he makes incredibly significant points. First, ads are a growth market, and the technology is nowhere near tapped. Second, it’s not our only source of revenue. Third, ad engine on web pages is just a tiny portion of the possibilities. Companies that serve ads only on web pages, or who are dependent on ad revenues, or who think their technology gives them a competitive edge, should be on notice.
So far, it’s still kind of vague. It’s like, “There is a huge problem/opportunity everyone recognizes, we have a ton of assets that can be brought to bear on this opportunity, and we’re flexible about how we monetize it”. All correct, but people will have LOTS of questions.
Now getting ready to do a preview. Repeats mentions that “Windows Live is completely different from Windows”. Couldn’t they just say, “windows live is to windows as xbox live is to xbox”? Also repeats that all interfaces will be open.
Blake Irving, to do demo. Demo not working, connectivity issues. Ouch! Blake goes on to talk about live.com (audience is connecting just fine; demo box not). Mentions gadgets. Explain that you can add flickr photos, other gadgets. Live.com is basically start.com.
Ray takes over. Discusses need for metadata standards to help advertisers share user behavior? Mentions that RSS is the “unix pipe of the internet” (not a bad analogy, as he explains).
Connectivity is back. Showing demo of live.com. Good demo of integrating e-mail, PC health, information, etc. Demo Kahuna (e-mail). Phishing filter, inline spellcheck, etc. Someone is IMing me, “this is all MSN; where is the integration with Office or Windows?”
Now showing live contacts. This is nice; similar to Plaxo, more seamless. This feature is way overdue; please ship it now. First demo of live sharing folders; a very Groove-like feature. Demo sharing photos with mom; similar to how Max works. Demo of Virtual Earth integrated with search (“Windows Live Local”).
Plug for live favorites, ideas.live.com, microsoftgadgets.com.
Rajesh is demoing Office Live now. This guy has been right at center of MSFT “software as a service” since day one. Demo showing some newer bcentral-type functionality; just shifted to talking about small biz. Now talking about application sharing. 22 business apps that can be integrated into the dash; mentions project list, tracking, contacts.
Now RE3W to demo partner app that uses live platform. Demo not working? OK, have a demo. App is a commercial real estate app that “remixes” multiple other services. Find commercial properties based on VE images, pulling up parcel maps.
Wrapup, Q&A, I’m not blogging this part. Good questions and discussions about how partners make money, how we balance user desire for ad-free with revenue.