Microsoft Archive

Keeping the cloud open

I really like Matt Asay’s article on why we need to focus on keeping the cloud open and less about keeping the operating system open. If you think of the cloud as an ‘array’ of applications and less of a hosting solution it starts to open up the aperture on it’s true potential. Imaging the ability to stitch together applications across the cloud like you can stitch together data. Basically a yahoo pipes for applications not just data.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

SharePoint Conference 2009 - Day 1

I’m at the SharePoint Conference in Vegas this week. Registration and Exhibit Hall started Sunday night, but sessions officially started Monday. I am tweeting all day during the conference, follow me (@mmdeluna) if you are interested. You can track tweets using #spc09. I will be posting daily summaries. Stay Tuned!

Registration and Exhibit Hall

This year’s conference is SOLD OUT. Compared to last years 3,800 attendees, this year’s 7,400 attendance is a testament to how big SharePoint has been adopted in the enterprise. Registration was pretty well organized and the badges are smart cards that are being scanned (optionally) by vendors for mailing list subscriptions and contests; and are also scanned by event managers for session attendance. Most of the vendors I saw in the Exhibit Hall are from Document Management Services - scanning, annotating, encrypting, converting, etc. And then there are the normal partner vendors: ISVs, SIs, Training, Data Recovery, Content Migration and Professional Services. Having said that - the give aways were a bit lame :)

Keynotes

There were 2 keynotes scheduled on day one, which lasted the whole morning. You would think that it wasn’t smart to have 7,400 attendees to sit still for almost 3 hours but Kudos to the presentation team, they pulled it off. Steve Ballmer did his FIRST SharePoint Conference keynote, one of the last few things Bill used to do that he hasn’t done yet. Tony Rizzo and the others did a great job on the demos doing enough to whet the appetite of all the geeks (like me) in the room. Here are the items that “struck” me during the keynotes. I am hoping to attend some of the sessions that show these in action.

  • There’s a HUGE emphasis on SharePoint and Internet facing sites. So much so that MS has renamed their products and services to emphasize this. Expect licensing prices to reflect this change

    • Intranet Products: MS Sharepoint Foundation 2010 (formerly known as WSS), MS SharePoint Server 2010, MS Fast Search Server 2010 for SharePoint

    • Internet Products: MS SharePoint Server 2010 For Internet Sites (STD, ENT editions) and MS Fast Search Server 2010 for Interet Business

  • Oh yeah - Steve Ballmer features Kraft Foods on his keynote - Nice! I wonder if this will drive attendance on our session (Wednesday, 1021 @ 1:15 pm)

  • SharePoint 2010 goes on public beta in November - don’t forget to download

  • SharePoint Online (SharePoint in the Cloud)

  • SharePoint Workspaces (Groove Makeover)

  • SharePoint Composites - I need to know more about this.  Interesting.

  • Developer tool integration in VS 2010. One-Click build, deploy and debug >> AWESOME!

  • Powershell Scripting - say goodbye to STSADM

  • New External Content Type / BCS (formerly BDC) - opens up possibilities with integration to backend systems. I’m very excited about this

  • SharePoint Service Applications - say goodbye to SSP

  • Improved List Performance and Caching - taxonomy navigation (tags and labels)

  • New and Improved Central and Site Admin UI - it’s AJAX yo!

  • Built in Spell Checker - it’s the little things…

  • Our PLDs and PLAs will like the improved support on standards specially WCAG

  • Some Social Computing features out of the box - ratings, notes/comments, blogs, wall (My Network)

  • VS 2010, SharePoint 2010 running on Windows 7 - 64 bit mobile development machine. yay!

Steve made a point by saying he didn’t think there’s any software out there that competes directly with SharePoint. Jeff Teper implies the same when he compares SharePoint to a Swiss Army Knife. Both videos are available online for viewing at the SPC09 website.

The list just goes on and on! There are way too many things to get excited about in 2010. I am hoping to get into the details of a lot of these in the upcoming sessions.

Day 1 Sessions

For the breakout sessions on day 1, I selected a couple of SharePoint overview topics.  One was SharePoint 2010 Overview and What’s New and more specifically for developers, Visual Studio 2010 SharePoint Developent Tools overview.  These sessions give me enough information on the overall features available so I can make a more informed selection in the coming days.

Microsoft talking about a private cloud?

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr... Image via CrunchBase

Just a couple of weeks after Amazon’s announcement of their private cloud offering it looks like Microsoft is starting to open discussions in that direction. What’s interesting about Microsoft’s discussion is that are coming at it from two directions. They are a provider to the data centers, hosting providers and enterprises building these offerings as well as a provider directly to the consumer.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Razorfish Technology Capabilities Differentiates

It’s great to get some market recognition for all our efforts. In this post Forrester recognizes that technology differentiates and our addition to Publicis will help strengthen their market position. This captured our attention

‘_“What about _Razorfish? The firm has much stronger design capabilities, both for user experience and what we call “brand image”. Plus – and this is just my opinion because we did not evaluate them on this – it has stronger technology capabilities as well. ‘

And validation of what we’ve been saying from the start

Because ultimately, a great design has to actually work in order to deliver a great customer experience.”’

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Windows : Mac :: Google : (?) - It happens to be "bing"

Believe it or not but Microsoft’s newly evolved search engine bing is nothing less than the answer of the above analogy question. You must have solved many of these analogy questions during your SAT exam. When I apply my knowledge and understanding to the question“Windows : Mac :: Google : (?)”, my answer is “bing”.

Remember when Apple release it powerful Mac OS X operating system, almost every single pundit in the industry agreed that Mac may not be the most powerful system for productivity but it is certainly the coolest and the best for creativity. Young people care more for creativity and less for productivity. Windows simply felt old and outdated. Mac operating system took off since then and market share for Mac is still increasing at a growing rate. This time bing hits a home run. After the launch of fully revamped bing search engine (or as they call it decision engine) Google search kind of feel old and out dated.

Some people say bing = “But it’s not Google”. I could not agree more. As Windows can never be Mac, bing can never be Google. In fact this time it is better for Microsoft to craft its own path and define its own destiny in search engine. The cool informational home page imageand vibrant brand colors have some kind of enigmatic charm. The creativity of bing may not appeal to mass population yet but as I know it many young kids simply love bing. They think bing aligns more with their taste.

While there are many features that make bing cool (and I will let you find out most of them yourself), I believe for me following are the best:

  • Home page image: Everyday bing has a fresh new vibrant image that simply amazes me.

  • Image search: Image search has never been so good. Every single query provides with an option to pick an image and do “find similar”. Additionally the in-browser searching and navigation of the images is absolutely next generation thinking.

  • Video search: This is where despite the ownership of “You Tube” Google has failed to show value. Thumbnail preview in bing is simply outstanding.

  • Shopping: Oh the cash back program. Spend 1,000 on a gadget and get some money back to go have a ice cream this summer. J

  • News: Google has a strong lead in this field but bing has gone a step further by adding ability to search only blogs… I love that feature. People’s opinion matter more than journalists’ won’t you agree?

The list is simple but shinny. bing’s appeal to my creativity (which is not abundant) is noteworthy. I am an avid Google user but nowadays I go to bing for more than ½ of my search queries. It is fun and engaging. Google search results are still the best. So when I am searching for something very critical (items on which my job is dependent on :)) I still believe in Google but for everything else I go to bing…

If you have not already then just start “binging it”…

– Salim Hemdani

Brand experiences and MOSS

All the video’s for the 2009 MIX conference are posted online (http://videos.visitmix.com/MIX09) and they are interesting for anybody developing on the Microsoft platform. One of the session posted is about developing consumer facing brand sites, presented by Tony Jones, Technology Director for Razorfish. It touches on the unique challenges that an user experience driven company like Razorfish faces when leveraging MOSS for their web experiences, and outlines approaches on addressing these. Highly recommended. How Razorfish Lights Up Brand with Microsoft SharePoint

Cloud interoperabiltiy

Image representing Google App Engine as depict... Image via CrunchBase

It’s great to see cloud computing pushing for deep interoperability. This MSDN post covers some interesting topics around the manifesto and also speaks a bit about some interesting demos showing integration between Google’s App Engine and Azure. Very excting.

“At MIX, we highlighted the use of our Identity Service and Service Bus with an application written in Python and deployed into Google App Engine which may have been the first public cloud to cloud interop demo.”

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

OpenCloud Manifesto = Skynet

The Terminator album cover Image via Wikipedia

Exciting to see folks pulling together some Cloud Computing standards to help us live seamlessly across the different cloud vendor offerings. I heard it first on the This Week in Tech podcast, it’s starting to sound a lot like the Terminator’s version of Skynet. Get it, clouds, skynet… Anyway, iIt seems like this should be a requirment for redundancy, not to mention the ability to move based on feature needs. Yes, sure, Cloud Computing is inherently redundant, but only across one vendor. It’ll also help us realize the best value and features quickly. I think the other thing it shows is that there is a lot of room for competition. It won’t just be the big players out there.

The manifesto itself was also interestingly absent of any of the big players. A quick glance at the manifesto and it’s refreshingly light, which is good. It seems to think more standards are on the way, which may or may not be a good thing. I think there are lots of lessons to be learned from standards like Corba or ws-deathstar. All in all good news and a recognition that the clouds are moving quickly.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

CMIS - will it revolutionize the CMS industry?

Last year three major CMS/ECM vendors IBM/Microsoft/ECM came together to propose new standards that will change the CMS landscape the same way SQL 92 did for the database industry.  Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) standards cover services that allow interoperability between content stores. These standards cover the three basic areas of Content Management Systems:

  • CMS basic operations - CRUD (Create, Retrieve, Update and delete) services, versioning and workflow

  • Content discovery - query services, search including a SQL like query

  • Domain model – object types, folder hierarchy, document, relationship and access rules

Previous interoperability proposals such as JSR 170283 have not gained traction because they were purely Java based and were too function rich, forcing the vendors to make substantial investments with little or no market driven need.    Another standard WEBDAV, was too simple and relied solely on HTTP protocol, it had no concepts of content types or content relationships.

CMIS supports both a SOAP based interface and REST based interface, the latter is much easier to implement.  Last month EMC, Microsoft, IBM and Alfresco were able to implement a draft CMIS and test it on Sharepoint/Documentum/Filenet and Alfresco.

The proposed CMIS query supports SQL like terms and clauses such as SELECT, FROM, WHERE and CONNECT by clause.  The query can include based terms and clauses based on content metadata and property such as size, date etc.  Example query:

_SELECT * FROM DOCUMENT WHERE ((CONTENT_STREAM_MIMETYPE = ‘MSWORD’) AND (CONTAINS ‘Razorfish’))

This new draft CMIS standard creates a clear firewall between applications and content stores.  It will cut application development and integrations costs, and eliminate time learning vendor specific content access APIs.  Imagine being able to design an application that can access and manipulate content from any content and change the underlying content store by merely changing an entry in some property file.   For the vendors the outlook may be murky initially, it is possible that the number of competing CMS/ECM products may shrink.  Nevertheless, the market penetration of CMS products will increase dramatically and CMS/ECM may be as ubiquitous as databases.  Microsoft’s involvement brings up the possibility that all MS Office products may support direct check in/check out from CMIS based repositories.

The CMIS draft was submitted in September ‘08 to the standards body OASIS for public comment.   It is expected to be approved by middle of 2009.  The draft is also being backed by Oracle and SAP.

Resources

CMIS charter

The draft may be accessed here as a zip.

Google Chrome - Why it is different?

Yesterday, Google launched its first beta version of open source web browser called Chrome. Some people consider this launch as Google’s attack on Microsoft’s IE and some regarded this launch as yet another browser to choose from. Google indirectly claims that market needed a fresh web browser. A browser that is written from scratch with a next generation thinking even though Chrome is built on WebKit an existing open source web browser engine. Google’s long term strategy behind this product is unknown but I believe it is the move Google should have made long time ago.

One of my old college used to say “Do not go under the spotlight if you cannot control the outcome on the stage”. Google’s business is solely based on internet and its growth. Google is under the spotlight on the stage of internet play from the beginning but it had zero control on the way people got to the internet and the way browsers interpreted the web pages. With Chrome, for which I predict it will have a substantial market penetration soon, Google will gain some control on the outcome.

Apart from the business strategy aspect, Chrome browser does have some neat technology advancements. Chrome has done every effort to make browser more stable, faster, clean, simple, efficient and safe. Few things that are specifically noteworthy are:

  • User controlled multi process browser which creates independent browsing environment making it fast, stable, scalable and safe.

  • Platform independent JavaScript Virtual Machine called V8 which converts JS source into native machine code for faster processing.

  • Smart conservative garbage collection methods for fast JS interpretation speed.

  • Open source Gears for development community to create additional features.

  • And lastly search feature for your browser history, suggestions integration on address bar, incognito mode for private browsing, sandboxing of plug-in controls, pop-up blocker, phishing sites security warning etc

Google launched Chrome only for Windows which forced me to restart my Mac in boot camp mode with Windows Server 2003. I am eagerly waiting for a Mac version which Google has promised to launch shortly.

– Salim Hemdani

Microsoft adds new features to .NET

Microsoft has introduced new features in .NET with their Service Pack 1 (SP1) release of .NET Framework 3.5 and Visual Studio 2008.

Most of the stuff included in the service pack releases is new features and functionality rather than bug fixes and updates to existing feature-set. For example, .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 adds a new concept called the .NET Framework Client Profile, which enables an application to be delivered with just what is needed to install and run the app, rather than the whole framework. This can reduce the size of installation files by 86.5 percent, according a Microsoft spokesperson. Other major features in .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 include a 20 to 45 percent improvement in Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) applications and changes to the Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) to change the way data and services are accessed.

The changes in the Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 are listed here.

Google Gears and the offline/online trend

With Google Gears, Adobe Air, and Microsoft WPF there’s definitely lots of exciting changes in the desktop application area. Using the openness of the web to crack open the ‘closed’ nature of regular documents that we use today. At the recent Avenue A | Razorfish Enterprise Solutions summit, Andrew McAfee asked the audience who works on documents alone. Only one person in the room of 70  people raised the hand (still not sure why:)). The point is that we collaborate on everything we do and the traditional method of document revisions and changes is much slower than real-time changes and updates ala wiki style technology. The challenge is applying that to all the tools we use on a daily basis. How can we make code changes more collaborative and less of a check-in, check-out, merge model?

Syndicated Client Starter Kit

When doing WPF development, a good source of information is http://windowsclient.net. One interesting download on that site is the Syndicated Client Starter Kit . It is a Starter Kit designed to make it easy to create rich, syndicated multimedia and content client applications. It has built-in ad-serving capabilities, and includes the sync framework that takes care of syncing, local storage, subscription management and the safe caching of authentication credentials. The MSDN reader sample application, and the starter kit itself, are available for download including source code.

Reviewing the source code is a great way to gain insight on how WPF applications can be structured, and some of the architectural patterns that are used within the code, such as the Command Pattern.

Another interesting aspect of this starter kit is that it uses SQL Server Compact Edition for storing data client side, and I think this is a great alternative to SQL Server Express. Even though both are free, SQL Server CE has a benefit of being more lightweight, and easier to deploy with your client application.

News Corp., AOL Pursue Yahoo Deals

Yahoo Inc. and Time Warner Inc.’s AOL are closing in on a deal to combine their Internet operations. But Microsoft is recrafting its assault plan by talking with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, about mounting a joint bid for Yahoo, people familiar with the matter said. Microsoft and News Corp. have yet to reach an agreement on joining forces but one person apprised of the plan described the discussions as serious. Such a deal would combine three of the biggest Internet properties: News Corp.’s MySpace, Microsoft’s MSN and Yahoo.

The AOL-Yahoo deal under consideration would include the repurchase of some Yahoo shares at a price above Microsoft’s offer. Taken together with a possible search advertising pact with Google Inc., the plan could give Yahoo an alternative to a Microsoft takeover – although many analysts and investors believe Microsoft will ultimately win out. At the least, Yahoo’s efforts could give it more leverage to negotiate a higher price from Microsoft.

Surface Launch

As mentioned in an earlier post, we worked with AT &T and the Microsoft Surface team to build a Surface application for AT &T retail stores. It was demo’ed 2 weeks ago in Vegas, and will be going live April 17 in stores in Atlanta, New York, San Francisco and San Antonio. See also the video below :

Microsoft Sends Letter to Yahoo! Board of Directors

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) sent the following letter to the Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) Board of Directors:

Dear Members of the Board:

It has now been more than two months since we made our proposal to acquire Yahoo! at a 62% premium to its closing price on January 31, 2008, the day prior to our announcement. Our goal in making such a generous offer was to create the basis for a speedy and ultimately friendly transaction. Despite this, the pace of the last two months has been anything but speedy.

While there has been some limited interaction between management of our two companies, there has been no meaningful negotiation to conclude an agreement. We understand that you have been meeting to consider and assess your alternatives, including alternative transactions with others in the industry, but we’ve seen no indication that you have authorized Yahoo! management to negotiate with Microsoft. This is despite the fact that our proposal is the only alternative put forward that offers your shareholders full and fair value for their shares, gives every shareholder a vote on the future of the company, and enhances choice for content creators, advertisers, and consumers.

During these two months of inactivity, the Internet has continued to march on, while the public equity markets and overall economic conditions have weakened considerably, both in general and for other Internet-focused companies in particular. At the same time, public indicators suggest that Yahoo!’s search and page view shares have declined. Finally, you have adopted new plans at the company that have made any change of control more costly.

By any fair measure, the large premium we offered in January is even more significant today. We believe that the majority of your shareholders share this assessment, even after reviewing your public disclosures relating to your future prospects.

Given these developments, we believe now is the time for our respective companies to authorize teams to sit down and negotiate a definitive agreement on a combination of our companies that will deliver superior value to our respective shareholders, creating a more efficient and competitive company that will provide greater value and service to our customers. If we have not concluded an agreement within the next three weeks, we will be compelled to take our case directly to your shareholders, including the initiation of a proxy contest to elect an alternative slate of directors for the Yahoo! board. The substantial premium reflected in our initial proposal anticipated a friendly transaction with you. If we are forced to take an offer directly to your shareholders, that action will have an undesirable impact on the value of your company from our perspective which will be reflected in the terms of our proposal.

It is unfortunate that by choosing not to enter into substantive negotiations with us, you have failed to give due consideration to a transaction that has tremendous benefits for Yahoo!’s shareholders and employees. We think it is critically important not to let this window of opportunity pass.

Sincerely, Steven A. Ballmer Chief Executive Office Microsoft Corp.

Yahoo!'s Board of Directors Responds to Latest Microsoft Letter

The Board of Directors of Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO), a leading global Internet company, today sent the following letter to Steve Ballmer, Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft Corporation.

Dear Steve:

Our Board has reviewed your most recent letter with regard to the unsolicited proposal you made to acquire Yahoo! on January 31, 2008.

Our Board carefully considered your unsolicited proposal, unanimously concluded that it was not in the best interests of Yahoo! and our stockholders, and rejected it publicly on February 11, 2008. Our Board cited Yahoo!’s global brand, large worldwide audience, significant recent investments in advertising platforms and future growth prospects, free cash flow and earnings potential, as well as its substantial unconsolidated investments, as factors in its decision.

At the same time, we have continued to make clear that we are not opposed to a transaction with Microsoft if it is in the best interests of our stockholders. Our position is simply that any transaction must be at a value that fully reflects the value of Yahoo!, including any strategic benefits to Microsoft, and on terms that provide certainty to our stockholders.

Since disclosing our Board’s position with respect to your proposal, we have presented our three-year financial and strategic plan to our stockholders, which supports our Board’s determination that your unsolicited proposal substantially undervalues Yahoo!. Those meetings with our stockholders have also provided us an opportunity to hear their views.

We have continued to launch new products and to take actions which leverage our scale, technology, people and platforms as we execute on the strategy we publicly articulated. Today, in fact, we are announcing AMP! from Yahoo!, a new advertising management platform designed to dramatically simplify the process of buying and selling ads online.

Finally, our Board has been actively and expeditiously exploring our strategic alternatives to maximize stockholder value, a process which is ongoing. All of these actions have been driven by our overarching commitment to maximize stockholder value.

Our Board’s view of your proposal has not changed. We continue to believe that your proposal is not in the best interests of Yahoo! and our stockholders. Contrary to statements in your letter, stockholders representing a significant portion of our outstanding shares have indicated to us that your proposal substantially undervalues Yahoo!. Furthermore, as a result of the decrease in your own stock price, the value of your proposal today is significantly lower than it was when you made your initial proposal.

In contrast to your assertions about the effect of general economic conditions on our business, Yahoo!’s business forecasts are consistent with what we outlined in our last earnings call. As you know, we recently reaffirmed our Q1 and full year guidance, which is a testament to our ability to perform in line with our expectations despite the current economic environment. In addition, our three-year financial and strategic plan which we have made public demonstrates significant potential upside not previously communicated to the financial markets. This plan has received positive feedback from our stockholders, further strengthening the view that Yahoo! is worth well more as a standalone company than the value offered in your proposal, and would be even more valuable to Microsoft. Your own statements have made clear the strategic importance of Yahoo!’s substantial assets and capabilities to Microsoft.

We regret to say that your letter mischaracterizes the nature of our discussions with you. We have had constructive conversations together regarding a variety of topics, including integration and regulatory issues. Your comment that we have refused to enter into negotiations to conclude an agreement are particularly curious given we have already rejected your initial proposal, nominally $31 per share at the time, for substantially undervaluing Yahoo! and your suggestions in your letter and the media that you are considering lowering the value of your proposal. Moreover, Steve, you personally attended two of these meetings and could have advanced discussions in any way you saw fit.

As to antitrust, we have discussed with you our concerns. Any transaction between us would result in a thorough regulatory review in multiple jurisdictions. As a follow up to a recent meeting among our respective legal advisors we had on this topic, and at your request, we provided to you on March 28 a list of additional information we would need to further our understanding of the regulatory issues associated with any transaction. To date, you have still not provided any of the requested information.

We consider your threat to commence an unsolicited offer and proxy contest to displace our independent Board members to be counterproductive and inconsistent with your stated objective of a friendly transaction. We are confident that our stockholders understand that our independent Board is best positioned to objectively and knowledgeably evaluate our Company’s alternatives and to maximize value.

In conclusion, please allow us to restate our position, so there can be no confusion. We are open to all alternatives that maximize stockholder value. To be clear, this includes a transaction with Microsoft if it represents a price that fully recognizes the value of Yahoo! on a standalone basis and to Microsoft, is superior to our other alternatives, and provides certainty of value and certainty of closing. Lastly, we are steadfast in our commitment to choosing a path that maximizes stockholder value and we will not allow you or anyone else to acquire the company for anything less than its full value.

                                             Very truly yours,

           Roy Bostock                          Jerry Yang 
           Chairman of the Board             Chief Executive Officer

Microsoft partners with social networks for contact data portability

Microsoft has partnered with some of the world’s top social networks on contact data portability. Starting today, Microsoft will be working with Facebook, Bebo, Hi5, Tagged and LinkedIn to exchange functionally-similar Contacts APIs, allowing them to create a safe, secure two-way street for users to move their relationships between their respective services. Along with these collaborations, Microsoft is introducing a new website at www.invite2messenger.net that people can visit to invite their friends from their partner social networks to join their Windows Live Messenger contact list.

The collaborations with Facebook, Bebo, Hi5, LinkedIn and Tagged will make it easier, safer, and more secure for people to have access to their contacts and relationships from more places on the web. These networks will be adopting the Windows Live Contacts API instead of “screen-scraping.”  Starting today, you can visit www.facebook.com and www.bebo.com to find your friends using the Windows Live Contacts API.  Hi5, Tagged and LinkedIn will be live in the coming months.