Last week Microsoft divided and conquered. In one corner, the Sharepoint Conference, hosted by Bill Gates. The other, MIX08 weighed in with Steve Ballmer. I attended the Sharepoint conference but something tells me I was in the wrong place.
The Sharepoint Conference
Given the frequency we hear about Sharepoint, I was excited to attend this conference. I wanted to check out, first hand, how Microsoft was taking advantage of the buzz around enterprise collaboration. And without question, from the time I arrived, it was clear I had landed on planet Microsoft. While the keynote went on, I kept thinking, “what language are these Microsoft people talking in?” I had forgotten that Microsoft creates an entire language and then spits it out at you as if you’re supposed to think, “of course, the enterprise vault, duh!”
I looked around while this went on expecting everyone else to have the same WTF-face. Except they didn’t. Nope, they nodded. Throughout the rest of the conference, people just spat the language back at each other. I then realized that Microsoft had attracted their perfect audience. A ton of Microsoft-zealot IT people. Yup. Almost four thousand IT people who have had decades to learn the English-to-Microsoft language and they spoke it fluently. It was me that was the alien.
The downer was that no one else seemed to noticed the ton of recycled content. Their PPT slides were exactly the same as two years ago. The product was the same. Even the video that Bill showed of his last day at Microsoft was the exact same video he debuted at CES in January. It was as he thought all these IT people lived in a closet and wouldn’t have seen it. I caught up with a USA Today reporter and told him him what I thought of the whole thing. In the meantime…
Microsoft announced five things:
1. Hosted Sharepoint and Exchange
2. GEAR up (help companies make the business case)
3. Sharepoint Internal Buzz Kit (help IT train/get users excited about Sharepoint)
4. Silverlight Blueprint for Sharepoint (Silverlight is Microsoft’s Flash-like application)
5. Solution accelerators
So what really has changed in 2 years?
I wanted to see if there were any trends since the first year Sharepoint had a conference (2006). Lucky for me, Microsoft provides the text transcripts of their keynotes, so I (yes) uploaded all the test to Many Eyes and created clouds for both conferences to see if there were any differences. Here’s what stood out:
1. Enterprise search is now important. Gotta find all those Microsoft files. Maybe they’re in the “enterprise vault,” which showed up as a word.
2. Microsoft Online and Sharepoint Online. So, “Online” (head over to Mix08 if you want to know more about that).
3. “Contoso rocks” is big. At least I thought so. Microsoft sure touted them and all the innovative things that company was doing. That is, until I found out it’s a fictional company they use for demos. Duh.
4. The following important things from two years ago are no longer important: internet explorer, collaboration platform, structure, excel services, and business data. That’s SO 2006.
While all us Sharepoint-loving techies hung out in the Seattle Mall (Orange Julius anyone?), Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and our friend Guy Kawasaki were laughing it up at the MIX08 Conference in Vegas
Now I wasn’t there, mind you, but I did catch up with it online. Obviously, all the cool kids were there, while meanwhile I chatted with Sharepoint vendors who tried talking to me about “web parts” and “kpi’s.” At MIX08, Microsoft announced all sorts of stuff like:
- IE8. Guess if “online” is the future, Microsoft better get back in the browser war.
- Silverlight2. Microsoft’s Flash-like application. I think they should slap it on the UI of all their apps.
- SQL Server Data Services. Thanks Amazon, great idea.
Given the seriousness that Microsoft has with Online advertising/product delivery and their competition in other space I wonder if future conferences might focus on:
- Sharepoint Conference.
- Xbox Conference.
- Microhoo World.
- Some sort of Operating System conference (Ouch, Vista).
- Mix (everything Online. But isn’t that nearly all of the above?).