Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Europe Surface Training Round Two

I landed nice and early in London Heathrow this morning in order to finish the final setup for the Surface training in the UK this week. I am delivering two courses this week, each one is two days long and today (Monday) is setup day. I was so excited to get in early and have my reserved rental car actually ready and waiting for me, thank you National. I am so pleased I switched from Hertz, who have been useless the last few times; reserve a car online a week ahead and then wait an hour an half for the car to be ready.

Anyway having the car ready was nice, spending 2 and half hours sitting in (mostly) stationary traffic on the M4 was somewhat average. There was a BIG smash on the M4 motorway between London Heathrow and Reading, where I am delivering the training. I guess it was a good welcome back to the UK for me, a reminder of why I don't live here.

Finally I made it the Microsoft campus in the UK and was very pleased to discover the MTC team here are as efficient as ever and the room was mostly setup. The lab machines and Surface units were all waiting for me. I have loaded up the hands on labs and some new demo applications and now the room is ready for 4 days of intensive Surface training. Should be a lot of fun.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

MIX'd up in the economy

Coming way from MIX I have a nagging feeling that all these great new technical previews (CTPs) that Microsoft has released and announced will not get used as much as they might have in the past.
It is clear that the economy is in trouble, attendance at the MIX event seemed to be down and many of the attendees I spoke to told me that last year their company paid for the trip to the event and this year they had to fund it themselves. Some thought it was worth it, other attendees less so.
With the less stable economic situation software developers need to focus on creating software that they can sell. The CTPs announced and released do not have a license which would allow the software created to be sold or commercialized. I am sure that for special cases Microsoft will do one off deals, for the majority of developers this technology is useless until it ships with a license. 
So what should Microsoft do? I think they need to keep the transparency and show case where they are going with the technology. It would be great if they could provide more solid ideas of timeframes in which the technologies will have a license, along with the pricing models.
In the mean time I expect most of the software developer community will focus on building solutions that they can actually sell and use for commercial benefit.

Friday, March 06, 2009

MVP Summit thoughts

This week another MVP summit has started and finished. I spent time with various groups and got the chance to catch up with a number of old friends. For me there was a very different feel to this MVP summit. It is something that I have felt was coming for a while.
Many of the MVPs I spoke to felt that the product groups were not be open with them or telling the MVPs the whole story. Personally I think this is the right thing for the product groups to do. People are now awarded MVP status because they have blogs, twitter too much (more than not at all) and are generally loud mouths in the online world. If I had something secret I wouldn't share it with this group either. During the evenings when MVPs of different technology areas gathered I overheard many conversations between MVPs where they were sharing the things they had learned that day. The point of signing an NDA as an MVP seems most questionable. I would suggest that the MVPs really need to be reminded of the meaning of the NDA.
I have also been doing some _real_ work this week and having meetings with some of the Microsoft product groups. This is the first time that when a Microsoft employee asked if I was here for the MVP summit I cringed as if I felt I didn't want to be associated with the MVP group. MVP status used to be something I was proud of, something that helped differentiate me as a person that adds value. Now I feel that being an MVP associates me with a bunch of Microsoft fan-boys (and some girls) who want to be the first ones to break the news that Microsoft is releasing product XYZ. Of course there are still many MVPs who do the right thing, and understand the business value. Yet I do not get the impression that MVPs overall are perceived to be adding great business value, and in some cases are presenting a hindrance to the progress of Microsoft products.
This is a great challenge going forward and I really hope there are some folks within Microsoft thinking through how to address these issues.