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September 15, 2004

Company Meeting and Product Fair

I watched the company meeting webcast yesterday from the comfort of my own office. I had the option of going down to the cafeteria to watch it (enticed by free Krispy Kreme donuts), but watching it in my office allowed me to work/email/surf the web during the slow parts.

The meeting was somewhat interesting. The format was Kevin "No Chain" Johnson, Grand Poo-bah of Sales and Marketing, sitting in a fake living room with Bill, then Steve, and finally Bill and Steve together. Kevin was asking questions and Steve and/or Bill would answer them. It was great when Bill admitted...oh wait I can't say that publicly. And then when Steve yelled that...hmmm, that's probably confidential also.

The questions were typical softballs like "How will Microsoft continue to innovate?" and "What are our key strategies to deal with security?". In between the live segments were videos that had been produced by various teams. For example, the MSN butterfly sitting backstage before an appearance, talking about the times ahead for MSN. Or a fake infomercial from the Server and Tools Business (my business!), advertising the record "STB's Greatest Hits". Way back when I used to attend the meetings they would have people come up on stage to do live demos of upcoming products, but this time it was just Steve, Bill, Kevin, and the videos.

A couple of quotes. From Bill: "Software never wears out. That is a challenge and an opportunity." From Steve: "The software written in the next 10 years will have more of an effect than anything else in the whole industrial world. It will change more in the next 10 years than it did in the last 10 years."

Then today (and yesterday) we had a product fair with 100+ booths. The most impressive thing was not so much any individual booth, as just the sheer breadth of what Microsoft is working on. When you realize that each booth has an entire product team behind it, marketing, PSS lining up to support it, etc, etc...it's mindblowing.

The coolest thing I saw there was the fingerprint reader that Microsoft is going to ship soon. You can set it up so each finger can be a different user and when you press the finger for a given user it does a Windows XP Fast User Switch to that user. The other cool stuff was various mobile gadgets, big honking displays and televisions, desktops that combined three flat panels into one virtual display, and a row of Xboxes.

This means the cool stuff was hardware, not software, which doesn't quite jibe with what Bill and Steve had talked about the day before. But I guess it is easier for hardware to make a quick coolness impression.

I asked somebody if they were going to bring back the EasyBall Mouse, which is great for kids. I think he thought I was kidding, but I wasn't. Given how these things always get bid up on eBay, I think there is still a market for them. I have a fantasy that somewhere inside Microsoft is a forgotten closet full of these things in mint condition.

Posted by AdamBa at September 15, 2004 09:24 PM

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