Keep Trying

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Does Microsoft Listen?

Robert Scoble is a very nice guy and a Longhorn Evangelist at Microsoft. He was kind enough to respond to my post last week on the HTML Future of the Internet. Here are some of my thoughts on his thoughts.

Mike: here's a secret from your big old evil Microsoft employee (me): HTML is a first-class citizen in Longhorn. It ain't going away.

I didn't think HTML is going away - that would by Micro-suicide. But if Microsoft wants to help the HTML fans among us, make your tools generate clean, understandable HTML code. It can be done.

I also don't think Microsoft is evil. If they are smart enough to get individuals and corporations to participate in the "upgrade grind" from 95->98->2000->XP->Longhorn, more power to them. Marketing is the American Way.

That all said, there are places where HTML just simply sucks. HTML was meant to display content. It wasn't meant for applications. So, that leaves the industry with a hole, particularly if Mike is right that HTML is the future of all applications (which I don't believe for one second).

Yes there are places where HTML sucks, but my clients love their simple, easy to use, no install, browser based interfaces and I highly doubt that they are going back. In the corporate world, the database is king and the browser is a ubiquitous and easy to use tool for accessing that information.

Not to mention that Adobe is already showing us a document-centric future and Macromedia is showing us an animation-centric future that goes beyond what HTML is capable of. If HTML is it, then I guess Adobe and Macromedia should pack up and go home too. Right?

I don't believe in the document-centric future and if you are telling me that Microsoft is going to try that again, I will unload all my Microsoft stock ASAP. Please tell me you are smarter than that. There will always be niche applications of those technologies, but not in the mainstream corporate world.

Oh, and think we don't know a thing about this? Mike: you really owe it to yourself to get a good demo of the Outlook Web Application. It runs in the browser. It looks like Outlook. It's a freaking unbelieveable piece of work. Even if you're a died-in-the-wool-Tux-hugging-Microsoft-hating-standards-pusher you should get a demo of that. It's awesome. DHTML pushed to the extreme.

Robert if you want to keep me from switching out of Outlook then I have two suggestions:
1) Give me better integration of my Contacts, Emails, Tasks and Calendar.
2) Open up that closed file structure so I can find my attachments easier and access the database directly through ODBC so I can build my own Outlook extensions in the languages of my choice.

Robert - go into the SMB and Enterprise market and talk to the business people there. Find out why they feel burnt by Microsoft. Find out why they are upset about upgrading from ASP to .Net with little business benefit. Upgrading Office has also wasted much money. Listen to our business problems and we'd love to listen to you.