Microsoft made a formal announcement about BizSPpark today. From their web site: Microsoft® BizSpark™ is a global program designed to help accelerate the success of early stage startups by providing key resources when they need it the most: Basically, Microsoft is doing a solid for startups by providing them with a bunch of full-featured, licensed development tools (including VSTS and TFS Standard Edition to say the least), the MSDN library and a whole lot more. What do you need to do to qualify? Actively be engaged in development of a software-based product or service that will form a core piece of its current or intended business, Be privately held, Be in business for less than 3 years, and Generate less than USD $1 million in annual revenue.Since that pretty well represents the little guy (including my own business in it's first three years) - I imagine a lot of people are really going to benefit from this program. Kudos to Microsoft for recognizing their social responsibility in growing new businesses. Technorati Tags: BizSpark,VSTS,TFS
This morning's keynote speech started with one of those tingly-feel-good Microsoft Research commercials. You know, the type of advertisement that really makes you believe that Microsoft can change the world. This seemed very suitable, as the first speaker of the day was Rick Rashid, Sr. Vice President for Microsoft Research. If you need to imagine the scope of Microsoft's Research arm, it houses over 850 PhD researchers in 6 different locations -- a larger faculty than the entire CMU, or Brown University. This is the equivalent of making a Berkley Computer Science factory every year for 17 years without a single employee leaving or retiring. Microsoft Research has over 4,000 peer reviewed publications over the past 17 years. Mr. Rashid says "If you go to any major conference in the field of Computer Science, Microsoft will have between 10-30% of all papers at the conference." It's not all just fun academia stuff -- much of the research from this group become products in Microsoft. Need some example? Many parts of Vista, ClearType in Windows XP, Natural Language and Speech in Microsoft Office, Windows Media audio/video codecs, the Tablet PC, Datamining in SQL Server 2000+. There's also some new products -- take Microsoft Robotics Studio -- that are really, really cool and come out of MSFT Research. So, what's next? There's a continued push on Voice, Video (gesture), Ink and Tablet inputs. As you dive deeper in to application layers, you'll quickly see that Microsoft's Research arm is trying to solve problems from data storage and optimization to new challenges posed by Cloud Computing. But it's not just all technical challenges, some of the challenges Microsoft aims to solve with this research arm are related to compliance, governance and financial. The role of Darpa has changed over the past 20 years, government grants aren't as available as they used to be and it's critical to maintain the drive for innovation. Microsoft is committed to working on this problem as well, not just the technical challenges that can be solved because of this work. We also saw some concrete examples of what Microsoft Research is doing now. How about applying Bayesian analysis while analyzing the mutation rates of HIV strands -- you know, that same logic that's used in many popular span filters including the one in Microsoft Office Outlook? Perhaps the coolest thing I saw from Microsoft Research this morning was the Worldwide Telescope project. This completely awesome 3D model analyzes thousands of gigabytes of data from telescopes and satellites all over to make comprehensive and compelling 3D models of the sky. Take a tour of galaxies far away or our own solar system. How about a sophisticated, interactive virtual landscape that teaches children the basic concepts behind software development? Boku is just that -- and it runs on your existing Xbox 360. This thing was awesome, and reminded me of a much cooler version of Logo, a simple programming language I learned as a young child. I'll be putting my 7-year old nephew on this next year when it comes out. And there was more. The next version of Microsoft Surface, called SecondLight, contains 2 layers of interactive screens, one on the table surface, and one projected onto any porous element you put on top of it (such as a piece of paper or a plastic disc). And then there's all that fancy stuff being done in robotics by this group. Yes, 850 PhD researchers really can put together some pretty cool tech -- the type of tech that will likely change the world. Technorati Tags: Microsoft Research,Boku,Surface,WorldWide Telescope Project
Ray Ozzie opened PDC day 2 with a second keynote presentation -- today it's all about the PC, Windows and how much the Desktop has changed daily work and life. Ozzie's speech was really about the ubiquity of personal computing, and how Microsoft will continue it's commitment to delivering the best software platform for computers, TVs, mobile devices and the web. Ozzie took time to re-affirm the mission of the PC: Full and high-performance access to displays and peripherals Natural UI and common controls for ink, voice/audio, camera, touch... Local data privacy, portability reliable/fast/full access Use & recombine applications, data, documents media as needed A "personal" environment, trusted and assumed to be under your control Where was all this banter going? 3 simple places: Windows 7, Live Services (super cool stuff) and new super-cool Web tech. About Windows 7There are 20 sessions on Windows 7 at PDC, starting today. Steven Sinofsky started the Windows 7 product tour with a real simple agenda:: 1. Introducing the Windows 7 client2. Software + Services3. Transition from Windows Vista4. API's5. Fundamentals6. Path to RTM7. Call to Action In this agenda there was a whole bunch of cool feature demonstrations in the Windows 7 client OS. Here's what I walked away with. New Taskbar - Start Menu, Quick Launch and Taskbar have been combined creating a simpler user experience for application users Window Management - Windows can now be managed from inside the taskbar, even providing MRU access from the task list. Also, new snap-to-window capabilities are added to the desktop allowing a dock like behavior on the desktop. Users with multiple displays should love this feature! Move applications in the taskbar- Finally, you can re-arrange the order applications display in the Taskbar! Libraries - Libraries bring the capability of search folders to the Desktop. An index is automatically created for each library a user creates on their computer. Home Networking - Home Group simplifies home networking through easy-to-install and configure mesh networks. This new workgroup model is designed from the ground up for secure, reliable home networking. Media Libraries - Libraries are now created and automatically sychronized with Windows Media player between Media Center PC's, portable devices and home PC's through a simple and consistent interface integrated into Windows 7. Device Stage - Integrates media, sync, file management, documentation and more for a device into one simple interface. Gadgets - are no longer confined to the gadget bar, they can exist anywhere on the desktop. Desktop personalization - Over 95% of Windows users customize their desktop. New personalization options allow preview of desktop theme changes, advanced theme management and an increased ability to package and share themes. System Tray - New enhancements allow users to change and customize tray notifications, which tray icons appear and which are hidden. Action Center - Queues messages and notifications until a user is ready to address security, performance and more. New work in Touch, Ink and Speech - New support for multi-touch, new user experience options for touch and ink devices, more space between items making touch access easier. The cool stuff? Mouse commands are automatically re-powered with touch, such as scrolling a document by dragging your finger, without having to change application mode. Also, API's are offered to make enhanced touch access even easier. Ribbon Support - Many Windows internal applications (such as Paint) have been re-imagined and re-worked with Ribbon support. Granular control over UAC - Finally, you can adjust the level of annoying-ness for the User Access Control feature. You can even turn it off and let Windows know not to nag the crap out of you all the time about it. Performance from the ground up - Big, big changes in the memory and IO footprint of Windows. Windows 7 was demonstrated on a 1 Ghz Netbook with 1GB RAM and it ran very smoothly with over 500mb of system memory available. Big effort was made to make sure the start menu, tray and application context menus perform with higher reliability. What's there for developers?For software developers, new API support has been added for: Ribbon User Interface - Now part of the Windows core OS. Jump Lists Libraries Multi-touch, Ink and Speech DirectX - DirectX has now been extended to 2D, animation and enhanced text. Basically, it's the modern version of GDI. I'll be getting pre-beta bits here at PDC and will post screenshots of Windows 7 features in an upcoming post. Technorati Tags: Windows 7,Live Services,Live Mesh
This ought to get the Apple fanboys going. The Libération of France has reported that a smell emitted by Apple's Mac Pro desktop line of computers is caused by a combination of toxins. Turns out after some analysis, one of those is benzene, which is well known to cause leukemia. Of course, the folks at Apple aren't getting bent out of shape over this, instead they've firmly denied such accusations. I decided to do a little more digging after initially publishing this blog post. Since I don't read, write or speak French, I first found a translation of the French article. Then, I went looking for some research in English on the topic, and found a great article on Hardmac.com. While this article doesn't explain how much of the toxic chemicals were detected, it confirms that 7 different (including benzene) toxic chemicals were found in that strange smell coming from a tested Mac Pro. The really disturbing part? Apple was made aware of the situation over 8 months ago and has done a pretty good job of keeping a solid lid on such shenanigans. Who knows if that Mac Pro will actually give you cancer or not -- why chance it, though? Technorati Tags: Apple,benzene,cancer
I'm beginning to think so. I don't actually own an iPhone. After all, I don't write software for any Apple products, and if I did I don't think I'd feel comfortable giving 30% of the revenue back to the mothership. Hell, that feels downright communist to me, so as a developer I choose a mobile development platform that doesn't make someone else rich.
But the iPhone is much more than just a hardware device with an Apple O/S. It's also the integration of that hardware and software into the network. That's a new model for Apple, which up until now has put it's stake in the market primarily as a software company. Really new. Is it possible that Apple is having a really hard time finding ways to monetize their success even though they've gained substantial ground in the mobile device market? After all, if they were actually making money selling the hardware, taking 30% of the little guy's money to write software on their platform would just be downright greedy. I imagine this is probably akin to the gaming industry not making money selling consoles, but instead making money on their interactive services and software.
So, for once, Apple doesn't have their grip on every piece of the platform. For years the company has been releasing device after device where they control both the hardware and the software. Now, they rely heavily on AT&T to pull through with the network, providing the right level of bandwidth (consistently) for their fancy-pants new 3G iPhones. Without bandwidth you've got a $299 shiny brick, because it's the network that makes a mobile device work well. So, Apple, listen up: All the shiny buttons and fancy UI tricks in the world won't save the iPhone if the network isn't just as great.
I imagine the fancy-pants engineers and executives at Apple knew this before getting in bed with AT&T (which IMHO is perhaps the worst cell phone service provider in history). But, as the following video illustrates, I imagined incorrectly:
So, with all the fancy spin from the Apple marketing department about how fast the new iPhone 3G is, I started to wonder if maybe those guys should be working on the Obama and McCain campaign ads. If spin is the game, these guys are spinning all day long, selling over 65 million of the shiny bricks without actually having a fast network to back it up. I know that the iPhone browsing experience demonstrated on this video is not unique to some super-rural geography in Montana, because I've used AT&T's network all over Florida and it clearly trails behind Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile. I'm sure the emails will start piling in soon from the Apple fanboys. Be warned: I've got both Sprint and Verizon's mobile broadband at my disposal, I'm willing to go head to head anywhere in Florida with a download test on the AT&T network to see who's really got the better network.
Technorati Tags: mobile devices,iPhone,Apple