Monday, March 20, 2006

Mix06 - Bill's KeyNote

Like waiting for a rock concert, the theatre hall is alive with a buzz. Massive screens glow with contest entries for website redesign of the mix06 website.

Bill comes out and there's lots of cameras flashing, like it was a new york fashion runway. But with all the money he's got, he's still comes out looking like a big nerd: signature glasses and uncombed hair. Couldn't somebody say, "Mr. Gates, let me take care of your onscreen makeup?" Scary thing is, someone may have already put work into making him look the way he does.

Bill's focus is getting the experience to cross as many devices, and the market is really expanding from high-resolution monitors, to TVs, to xBoxes, to PDAs to mobile phones. The key is to get a toolset that acts an abstraction to assist from large to small screen sizes.

One of the main focuses is Internet Explorer. There are three areas of improvement:

  • streamlined user interface (tabs, print-preview, improved print capabilities)
  • security enhancements (low rights mode, phishing filter - reputation services)
  • enhancements improved css, rss support, native xml, transparent png's

With what they've done for IE7, it's no wonder why Bill sees that RSS usage is going to explode. RSS represents a fundamental shift, the "programmable web". Simple APIs for your website treat your website as a service or component that is consumed elsewhere for other purposes, ie eBay. Much like native XML support for Internet Explorer, IE7 provides built-in support for rendering of RSS feeds which provides the ability to render the RSS with rich data tags. Apparently, Microsoft released a standard for the rich-data tags within RSS about six months ago. Amazon, eBay and others have adopted the standard and are including rich-data tags within their feeds to date.

There's a big buzz about "Atlas", the suite of tools for building AJAX websites. Bill expects that new tools such as Office 2007, outlook web-access and other core applications will leverage AJAX. They're touting Atlas as more than an AJAX library, it's a consistent methodology for building ajax applications.

Bill also mentions it's a big year for Media Center with 6 million units sold. Bill has big hopes for partnerships in this space to take it further over the next few years. XBOX 360 as an extender also plays a big role in the media center expansion. This is the focus of the next 3 days, where we look "Beyond the browser"...

Bill highlighted a few mobile devices, but was very brief... "here's one. here's another. this was is cool, too. Check this one out..." Wasn't anything that exciting.

Showcased in the Keynote are the CTO for and the director of New Media for the BBC. Both had amazing stories to tell. MySpace showed how Microsoft technologies made them the #2 traffic site on the Internet, and the BBC showcased how they're looking to use some of the new features of Vista and tight integration of Microsoft technologies to allow them to find new cost effective means to deliver their content over the Internet.

Regarding VISTA, all I have to say is that at first glance it is really slick. I'm expecting a huge pouty lip from our Mac user friends who'll claim they've stolen all the cool things out of Mac OS X. Transparent toolbars, widgets, slide-in/slide-out windows. Really slick. The registration package includes copies of Vista (among other swag) plus they've got labs set up to play with IE 7, Vista, XBox -- lots of stuff to play with.