Weekend at Microsoft's

There was a Microsoft event today. Here are my snarky bullet points:

  1. Windows 10, which will run on all devices or something.
  2. A web browser. In 2015.
  3. A giant touchscreen TV thing you could probably use to collaborate with another middle manager in another airless conference room in some other mid-sized city.
  4. Holograms, with vague implications for gaming or something and someone said Google Glass or something mumble mumble.

Stephen Hackett at 512 Pixels has a more measured, even optimistic, reponse:

Like many who have been in the Apple camp for a long time, my natural tendency to dismiss Microsoft as old and boring, reserved for people stuck in the enterprise, but the truth is that Redmond is more relevant than they have been in years, and today's event proves it in several ways.

Color me excited about what Microsoft is doing for the first time in a long time.

Sure, me too! I'm excited about the practical, sensible changes Microsoft has made under Nadella (Dropbox integration) as well as some of the harder-to-parse ones (Minecraft).

But I want to inject a note of caution here. This, as an event, is conceptually unfocused. To me, this looks like elements of the keynotes from two or three other companies all mashed into one. Microsoft simultaneously nods at the yearly iterative OS announcements from Apple, the weird self-driving car shit from Google, and the plain old boring Microsoft shit (the giant TV thing) all at the same time.

Microsoft's biggest challenge will be to unseat the dullardry and perniciousness of licensing models it implanted. It will also have to do something to change the mentality of "stuck in the enterprise" Microsoft diehards, or even just the emotionally checked-out IT, development, and management groups that are its own supporters. At this very moment the Microsoft faithful are probably still nursing their Bud Lights at a sports bar and worrying about whether 10 will be compatible with their legacy SharePoint connector or whatever it is. Microsoft's biggest challenge is changing their own users' minds about Microsoft.