Monday, March 20, 2006

Mix06 Keynote

A fascinating keynote speech by Bill Gates at Mix06, without any slides. (He's obviously been reading the blogs about his use of PowerPoint). Some great presentations by mySpace and the BBC, followed by a conversation with Tim O'Reilly.

Tim tried to push Bill into supporting Web 2.0. Can we find some examples of collaborative, bottom-up emergence in the Microsoft/Windows experience? Bill's answers all seemed to be about Microsoft controlling things better, putting in better security features and so on, based on install volume (what economists call "learning by doing") and user feedback. I don't think this was really what Tim was pushing for.

Tim also asked about competition from companies with different business models - Google, Apple - and Microsoft competing with telcos. Bill evaded these questions, and talked instead about Microsoft moving away from a device-centric model of computing towards a user-centric model of software. Your user preferences are available (though services) to any device you happen to pick up - including (if you are authenticated to use it) your friend's phone. This looks like a very important development, which is related to the context-based services I've been talking about on my SOAPbox blog.

This is relevant to the competition with Apple, because the Apple solution remains proprietary and tightly controlled - especially in terms of DRM - and this gives some credibility to Microsoft's attempt to position itself as more open and interoperable. As a representative of a major content provider, the BBC speaker was positive about Microsoft's DRM position.

The keynote lasted longer than I had expected, so I had to leave before the end. I'll try to catch the rest on the Internet later.

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