Report from MIX08

where were they?

Now that the conference is so well underway that its almost over, I thought is was high time to share some general thoughts and observations.

I tried really hard to get lost in the mix. Maybe I didnt understand what that really means. I could not find the attendees in the picture. Perhaps they were off with the stock photo ladies from small company web sites. There were 4 or 5 women with conference badges but they were speaking German or French.

As you would expect from a Microsoft event in a Las Vegas hotel, the Keynote was a grand production with live entertainment (albeit, no animals), huge video screens, booming sound, fancy Powerpoint presentations, subliminal messages, and lots of paparazzi. I was in the front row and still have a little blind spot from the guy taking pictures of the stage but curiously aiming his flash at me. Alas, sometimes all that glitters is not gold. In this case though, there were definitely some nuggets.

Ie8_nbcFor me, there were two highlights in the keynote. First was the demo of Internet Explorer 8 represented here by the red circle. The second was a demo from NBC Sports showing how video from this summers Olympics available online using Silverlight.

Ie8One of the things that I think Microsoft has really started to get right is figuring out that they need to play nice with others. The main thing I really like about IE8 is its embracing of CSS standards. Having spent umpteen hours making code “cross-browser” compatible (meaning IE crack-patible) , this is a godsend. Eventually anyway. When everyone is using it instead of IE6 and IE7. There are also some cool innovations, namely Web Slices and Actions. Check out the IE8 section of the keynote video starting at about 0:27.

NbcI cant wait to watch the Olympics online this summer without having to see a single gymnastics event. Note to my bosses: I will be needing the whole Olympics off. One of the questions that I had before coming to MIX08 was – what is Silverlight good for, really? Now I know. The new NBC site blows away what was available last time. Users will be able to choose from a crazy number of live simultaneous events. Watch 2 events at a time with picture-in-a-picture. Chose from multiple shots of the same event, with alternate cameras live on the side. See events that happened while you were sleeping. Stop, start, and rewind the action. Damn. Its kind of like how I bought a Tivo for the 2002 World Cup and watched all the games every morning from the night before fast forwarding until the score changed – only way way better. Check it out in the keynote video starting at about 1:17.

Finally, suggestion for next year. Skip the Ray Ozzie and similar “we are excited about the cloud” speeches. Skip the charts breaking everything into distinct sets of three colored circles and just hire Vegas home-town heros Panic at the Disco to play for an hour. Then show the good stuff. That would be better than a whole pitcher of Kool-Aid.