So, in a little less than a month Microsoft has done
three four things that I consider interesting and dare I say innovative.
First was the announcement around Silverlight, which I think marries the best that traditional software development and Web development have to offer in a new model that can extend the skills and reach of both disciplines (procedural code versus or used in conjunction with scripted code) and for good measure, gives professional des
I'm also pleased with Silverlight because I think it's one of many competitive and valuable offerings in the RIA space along with Apollo (and Flex/Flash, Gears, JavaFX and OpenLazlo). The industry is quickly coming to a vision that RIA spaces represent a new and vast market where a variety of technologies and platforms can coexist.
Popfly is interesting because much like a tool like Yahoo Pipes enables developers to quickly develop mash-up style Web applications and services I think Popfly will enable consumers to do much the same thing. In some ways I think of Popfly as the iLife of Web mash up tools and I think it demonstrates that if markets are 'conversations' that perhaps software is too. I think technology like Popfly is also going to continue to push the expectation of user experience in software from the bottom up. CEOs, CIOs and users of crappy enterprise software are going to start asking why the enterprise spends so much and delivers so little in making applications enjoyable, easy and useful to use. (But also rest assured that all mash-up and RIA technology will go through a blinking text phase too. We see this with WPF applications already with the carousal interfaces that seem to be used everywhere).
Finally, Surface has the possibility to take us in directions we've only seen in the movies and it's technical underpinnings are already a core part of Microsoft's technology stack. It's just a start but it's a powerful start because it's not just smoke and mirrors or a black box, it's a solution focused on hardware, software and development tools that should be familiar to many developers. It's a next generation computing paradigm that's built on the same technology many of us use today or will use in the coming months (Vista and WPF).
In addition, the applications that you build for Surface hardware will be able to take advantage of the tool sets that exist for both developers and designers to create these experiences, Visual Studio and Expression Studio. WPF, when used in conjunction with the rest of the .NET 3.0 framework will provide some powerful tools to figure the new dynamics of social networking, security and privacy that will be enabled by Surface. Much like the Mac OS and Windows commercialized the work of Xerox Parc and the Star operation system I think will see in a few years that Surface does the same for a new paradigm of computing.
Lastly, we need to understand that if we truly believe that the 'network' is the new platform and that browsers, desktops, phones, TVs and game consoles represent 'channels' into that network and that in many cases those channel experiences will be facilitated by software that takes advantages of services that 'live in the cloud'. A key way these services will be supported is through advertising. Having the technology and people driven insight to understand that world is smart (Although you can see my previous posts about some of the cultural legacies that the advertising must recon with as it moves fully into the digital age--not to mention the normal but considerable nuance this integration will require of both Microsoft and aQuantive.