SPC 2008 — BillG Keynote

This article was originally posted on March 07, 2008.

1. At this week’s conference, I may have seen the last of three Bill Gates keynotes I have seen (the other two being at past Convergence conferences). Everyone gets a little excited by the “rock star” vibe, and the pre-announcement that flash photos are only permitted during the first 60 seconds of the presenation certainly heightens the anticipation. BillG was on-stage for the opening keynote. His theme was “Business Productivity in the Second Digital Decade,” and it contained a lot of (by now) familiar themes:

  • technology megatrends (stock MSFT speech stuff)
  • next wave of business products (stock Business Productivity stuff such as Enterprise Search, telephony to Unified Communications, Business INtelligence, etc.)
  • Office on desktop ←> SharePoint on the server analogy (Partner Conference 2006)
  • Balance shifting from Enterprise to Individuals, with governance and empowerment balanced (AIIM 2007 presentation)

Then, we got into some meaty (although marketing-specific) data: MOSS momentum, with 100 million licenses purchased by end of Microsoft’s fiscal year 2008 and over $1 billion in revenue. Fastest-growing server product ever.

It was interesting to hear Bill G characterize the initial wave of SharePoint adoption in many cases as a “horizontal” and de-centralized process where IT organizations deploy it and “let sites spring up.” This is very similar to my colleague David’s characterization of a lot of firms’ approach to SharePoint adoption in the 2001 and 2003 waves of adoption: “Let a thousand flowers bloom.”

Also notable was Bill’s expectation-setting about Microsoft’s “Software + Services” vision, how we were naive in the late 1990s with our expectations about SaaS, and the fact that it has turned out to be hard work in software ( my thought: “especially when your legacy is in desktop user productivity applications”).

Big news item #1 of the day followed: Bill’s announcement of SharePoint On-Line and Exchange On-Line, hosted versions of these two immensely popular applications. A demo was shown of the first public demo, a site created for Coca-Cola Enterprises, using the SharePoint On-Line application that was released as beta that morning (Monday, March 3). Microsoft also announced tools for co-existence between its on-line applications and on-premise instances of the same. General availability of these new tools is scheduled for the second half of (calendar) 2008.

After some articulation of Microsoft’s enterprise search strategy (Express for entry level, MOSS Search for internal/infrastructure search, and FAST for a rich, specialized search experience) came big news item #2: the announcement of Microsoft Search Server Express’s availability, effective immediately. Although I disagree with how Microsoft characterizes the time-to-value of Microsoft’s entry-level search tool (“1 hour from download to a configured search engine” — I’m skeptical), Search Server 2008 showed some exciting stuff federated results from both Live.com and an internal (Symantec) Data Vault. More exciting yet was the demonstration of FAST search, featuring a rich Silverlight interface, bells, whistles, and bells, and whistles. Incredibly slick and rich-looking.

Following these two highlights, Bill took a look ahead at future innovations Microsoft is funding and investing in. I took two main themes away from this:

  1. SharePoint will be where information comes together: from structured ERP data to unstructured data in e-mail.
  2. Data structures will support more “natural” computing via user interfaces like pen, surface, and voice.

Following a brief closing/wrap-up, there was a Q&A period with Bill. This is usually my favorite part of a Bill G keynote (x-ref “rock star” factor above). Three great things here:

  1. a quick reference to Microsoft’s storage unification initiative
  2. what I thought was the quote of the day, in response to an audience question about Google Sites, applications released (coincidence? I think not!) the week before SPC2008. I’m quoting this loosely, but it was something like “the day Google’s applications are announced is their best day.”
  3. a reference to one.org, where there is a great comparison among presidential candidates based on their positions on global poverty issues, in response to someone with the gall to ask what candidate(s) he was supporting in the U.S. presidential race

Originally published at https://mikegil.typepad.com.

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Project management, financial management, and knowledge management. Microsoft 365 aficionado. Opinions and Philly attytood are my own.

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Mike Gilronan

Project management, financial management, and knowledge management. Microsoft 365 aficionado. Opinions and Philly attytood are my own.