Thursday, October 20, 2005

Steve Sinofsky Talk

Yesterday I went to hear Steve Sinofsky talk at MIT. He was a very good and entertaining speaker, and 90 minutes flew like it was nothing. Before the talk even started, I was able to pass the hour I waited talking with Paul B. and Robbie. That hour also flew.

Robbie always takes really great notes, so I will wait for him to post his (yes I'm lazy). The highlight of the talk was a preview of the next version of Office. It really looks excellent. It seems as though Microsoft is trying to step up its effort in order to show that paying for software has something over Open Source.

Ooo! And this was funny: some guy in a Google shirt sat slouched a couple rows behind me. I think his only purpose in coming was to ask Sinofsky when Microsoft would open source its components. Sinofsky responded "no time soon," and the student walked out minutes later. Hysterical.

Anyway, the project called Office 12 looked really good. As a prisoner of PowerPoint due to my work in defense, I am excited for its new ease-of-use features.

Dude, now this is written, I feel dirty. Extolling the virtues of a Microsoft project as a Java and Open Source-type developer? Inconceivable! (Sorry watched Princess Bride the other night =D)


Yoav said...

Cool. I don't think Office will be open-sourced soon: it will be replaced by Writely and the like before that happens. But M$ is making some big strides in open-sourcing a ton of other products they have. See

Mane the Mean said...

Yep . I agree with Yoav.

I cannot see what new stuff one
really needs in Powerpoint.
It has everything one needs already,
at least if one believes presentation experts. They say that most of the existing features are just distracting and not adding any value to business presentations.

steven_sinofsky said...

Well I bet we don't agree :-)

Imagine if Apple would have listened to people who thought we didn't need anything better than a walkman (or better than the original iPod).

Mane the Mean said...

Or: what if we would have listened those, who said that we are good enough in killing people and should not develop nuclear weapons (relevant question even right now).

I consider PPT a nuclear weapon agains logical and rational thinking. It is no wonder, that so many businesses and wars are going so bad - all planning in this country seems to be done using PPT. I just learned,
that even McKinsey is using just PPTs, no full documents.

About iPod/Walkman. The real comparison would be something like. "Do we need a Walkman, which is just a walkman, but has a lot of extra moving parts and flashing lights attached, is heavier, and breaks easier."

steven_sinofsky said...

Gosh I consider a walkman a nuclear weapon against music :-)

I think the notion of blaming a tool for poorly constructed thought is pretty irrational. I mean people wrote dumb things before the invention of even a typewriter.

And of course the challenge with the argument you are making against improving the walkman is that a lot of people said it was good enough. Some lame person just didn't listen and believed they could improve the product. All innovation comes from people who believe that the status quo is not good enough, even if conventional wisdom says it is good enough. Great innovation looks obvious in hindsight.

When we came out with PowerPoint, corporate america was more than satisifed with having "professional" designers create "overheads" for people and display them on projectors. In fact, the product took years before it even caught on because most people felt it was a step backwards to try to express your own ideas.

McKinsey created overheads long before powerpoint. In fact they used to have designers strategically placed in time zones around the world so you could get your overheads made no matter what time of day it was where you are.

Anonymous said...

I've come to the morbid conclusion that you can't have an intellectual conversation with anyone who uses the acronym "M$" instead of Microsoft or MSFT or just MS. What are you, a republican?