Last week I attended a session here in London, where Phil Holden talked about their newest plans.
Obviously they have still a lot to do in most areas where other companies have had a head start, like the Search project. Few new things were introduced, although I found their new Fremont classifieds platform pretty interesting – it’s currently in a Microsoft US only testing phase, so it’ll probably be a while until it’s fit for general consumption. A completely different thing that was stressed was the fact that they are planning to focus on a consistent user experience much more than they used to. Sounds interesting to me, because that’s one thing that’s even worse in online applications of any kind than in native software on Windows. Generally this side of the information that was presented made a good impression with me, although it could have been more in-depth.
The bad thing about the meeting was that it was pretty much marketing only information. Phil actually mentioned something like “currently we’re talking to the marketing guys, later we’ll let the developers in”. Well, what is this about? Obviously selling stuff is very important, I don’t doubt that – but I think Microsoft would be a lot stronger in most of the areas in which the Windows Live team is working if they had had a better technological outlook a long time ago. The details that make a platform succeed over another one these days are usually based on technology. Technology is what introduces interesting features to one platform that the others don’t have. It’s also what provides for integration with competitors’ services – a pretty important thing, as we all know world domination takes its time.
So they’re going to sell the product to the end user first. And then, second, they’re going to let the technical people in, ask for their feedback and use it to provide the product with a technologically sound base and integration with existing technologies. Sounds weird to you? Yes, me too.