Archive for June 2008
What APIs would you want to see for SkyDrive?
Store documents created using traditonal desktop software (e.g. MS Office) directly to cloud storage
Store documents created in other online software (such as Google Docs) in cloud storage
Embed cloud storage viewers into social networking sites and other websites
Access cloud storage from rich clients on a mobile phone
Synchronise traditional hard drive storage with cloud storage. This includes the hard drive on my smartphone.
Play media stored in cloud storage in the media players I have on my PC
Sync my Zune directly with media store in cloud storage
The ability to write a plugin to backup Windows Home Server to cloud storage
Would like cloud storage to act like a normal drive in My Computer
Have a sync tool like Groove
Very important to support 64 bit
[N.B. In all of these cases I have substituted the term "SkyDrive" with "cloud storage" because that encompasses both SkyDrive and Mesh which is what I am comparing in this blog entry]
The question I now find myself asking is "How much of this list will be provided by a Mesh API?" Even writing as I am prior to the release of such a thing I strongly suspect that a Mesh API will encompass all of the above requirements. Equally, I believe that SkyDrive will be exposed as a "virtual" device within Live Mesh thus SkyDrive effectively becomes the publicly-available portion of Mesh and http://skydrive.live.com becomes the window into it. Hence, the Mesh API will be all we need to interact with SkyDrive – the need for a SkyDrive-specific API has disappeared.
So, my supposition is that we will never see a SkyDrive API. Do you agree?
About 6 weeks ago on 16th May I posted a blog entry about Windows Live for Windows Mobile where I said that it didn’t work on my phone. Today I was told (thanks Mike) about a blog that the team building Windows Live for Windows Mobile have set up at http://blogs.msdn.com/wlfwm/ (RSS feed) where it was stated on 24th June:
With more people using the client we received few reports from people who ran into problems on their devices especially newer ones with faster processors. Basically the device appears to hang after installing the client.
Since we cannot let our users run into these issues, we decided to pull off the package from the download site and investigate further.
You are not going to wait much longer to get the new version of the client! Wahoo! We are in the final stage of testing and expect to be ready to make the client available for download by early July.
Great news. And they are keeping their users informed via a blog as well – great to see.
"If [Twitter] can get the platform stable, I believe they will eventually become as ubiquitous as email, instant messaging, sms and other forms of communication." – Mike Arrington
- 10GB on Hotmail
- 5GB on Skydrive
- 5GB on Mesh
- 5GB on Office Live Workspaces
That’s a total of 25GB of storage in the cloud. Instead of segregating that storage over different properties would it not make sense to just give me a single 25GB cloud storage space which is then shared between all the different properties? I would then want to know how much was being used by each of the properties so I can envisage something like this:
That makes much more sense to people that have been brought up on Windows. I have a desktop computer that has a finite amount of total space on it but I’m not limited to only using a certain amount of it for (say) Excel files. Should the same not be true of the cloud as well?
Can we have this Microsoft? Will it make a difference if I ask really nicely?
When I think of success on the world wide web I think of two companies that, as far as I’m concerned, have come to define it. Google and Amazon. I know others have had massive impacts too (e.g. Yahoo, Salesforce, AOL, MySpace) but those are the two that I would always hold up as being beacons of the first decade of the web. They have both pioneered their particular fields:
- Google make money by showing you advertisements pertaining to what you are looking at be it via Google Search or AdSense. For example, search for a kettle on Google (http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=kettle&meta) and I see advertisements from people that want to sell me kettles. Simple but effective.
- Amazon make money by flogging you stuff and a large part of that success is down to their recommendation engine which shows you products you will probably like based on what you have bought before.
Both are great models and both have brought tremendous success and at a higher level we can see some important commonality between them. Both Google and Amazon are successful because they deliver to you web pages that are based on what YOU do on the web. Keep that in mind next time you’re browsing the web because its a very powerful concept.
I believe that in the next incarnation of the web we will see a seismic shift. Online companies will deliver you web pages that are based not on what YOU do on the web, but what your FRIENDS do. Although it may not seem it (and we may not like it) collectively our choice of friends and thus the behaviour of those friends probably defines us just as much as our own behaviour does. Moreover, we will see a shift to the notion of affinity groups i.e. groups of people that are all interested in the same thing. Let me give you an example to show you what I mean.
I’m a big fan of a band here in the UK called The Charlatans; I’ve followed them for years and have some friends that I initially met in online chatrooms simply because we were interested in this same band. If the likes of Google and Amazon knew that I was part of a Charlatans affinity group then they could show advertisements or recommendations to me based on the behaviour of other people in that group. Say if the band released a new DVD and some other people in the group bought it Amazon could be pretty sure that I’d want it too (and they would be right) and that could become one of my recommendations. Amazon can now know things about me without me even visiting their site and that is really powerful.
That is why all of the social networks du jour all offer the ability to define groups to which we can subscribe. Facebook do it. Google are surreptitiously doing it with Friend Connect. Amazon don’t do it yet but they will – expect an announcement about an Amazon social network before the year is out. Groups are going to big business in the next few years of the web and there is a huge opportunity for whoever manages to leverage groups better than the next guys.
If you read regularly then you’ll know I’m very interested in Mesh and Zune and have talked a lot about both in isolation so today I turned my thoughts to what benefits Mesh could bring to my Zune experience if the two were working together. As a result I posted some suggestions up on the Zune forums. Here they are for anyone that may be interested:
I would like the whole of my Zune experience to work atop the Live Mesh infrastructure that is currently getting implemented. Given that Live Mesh is a synchronisation platform there would be many benefits over and above what we have now:
- Ability to see (and administer) my media collection on any device (e.g. Zune, computer, Media Center, XBox, Mac)
- Currently to subscribe to a podcast I have to go to the computer on which I have Zune software installed. That’s not good because that computer is at home and I encounter podcasts that I want to subscribe to throughout the day. If the Zune experience were running on Live Mesh then I could subscribe to the podcast there and then and have it sync to my Zune device next time I plug in.
- Zune software is very CPU intensive, especially when syncing. Mesh syncs in the background during CPU idle time
- Plays by my friends can get synced to my Mesh even when I’m not "online". So, I can browse to the Zune application running on my Mesh at any time and see what all my friends are listening to in real-time
- I can buy songs on Zune Marketplace (or, in fact, anywhere) and save them to my media collection no matter where I am – just so long as I’m online.
- If my media collection is "on the Mesh" then it will be accessible to other applications as well, not just Zune. So, perhaps my media collection could end up on my phone as well, or be used by my Sonos system etc…
- Mesh should make it easier for me to view my friends’ playlists as well. If they existed on the Mesh then they just have to share those with me just as we will do with anything on the Mesh.
What do you think? Any other ways that Zune can leverage Mesh?
I’ve recently become interested in Live Search xRank, principally because I’d like to see xRank info in Zune Social. I happened upon the xRank site today and got a pleasant surprise – they now chart bloggers as well. Check out xRank for Dilbert creator, Scott Adams:
Looks as though they are going after Technorati’s space although they’ve got some catching up to do. Both my blog here on Live Spaces and my work blog are listed on Technorati, whilst neither are on xRank (currently).
Let’s see how Technorati and xRank compare at the top of the chart:
One things for sure though, I definitely prefer Live Search’s presentation of the information. To get the top 20 as per Technorati I have to scroll quite a way down, with xRank its right there in front of me above the fold. I know which I’ll be going to if I want a sneak peek, it’ll definitely be xRank.
P.S. Robert Scoble beat me to talking about this publicly because he has already twittered about it. I guess I should have posted my blog entry before I told him about it in a comment on Fastcompany.tv!!
Some inane waffle for a Friday evening….
Back in March I posted a blog entry of constructive criticism entitled What’s with Windows Live URLs? where I bemoaned the lack of consistency and intuitiveness in Windows Live URLs. I wasn’t sure at the time whether it was worth posting about because to most it probably seems incredibly insignificant but I think its very important and I got some positive replies which made me think that perhaps I wasn’t complaining about nothing.
I heard this exact same argument all the time when I was working at Yahoo! – the secret weapon is the hundreds of millions of Yahoo! Mail users. It’s no good just saying you have the users; you need to execute well as well. I have yet to see evidence of Microsoft executing effectively on the web. It’s 2008 and they still don’t even know how to design a decent URL!
I feel slightly justified!
As regular visitors know I’m a big proponent of the various Windows Live Services and one of the ones I’ve been using recently is Windows Live Events. I’ve been using it for a pretty serious event as well…my upcoming wedding to my lovely fiancée Helen. Here’s a screenshot of my Live Event:
I’ve used the Live Event site to provide loads of information to my guests such as:
- Date and time of the wedding (very important)
- The wedding venue address
- An aerial shot of the venue from Virtual Earth
- Information about local hotels and taxis
- Local weather (that’ll mean more when we get near to the big day)
Additionally the site has a discussion forum where I’ve asked people to suggest songs for the DJ to play, and a guestbook where guests can leave us a message.
Best of all though -and in these days of ubiquitous digital cameras this is invaluable- all of my guests can upload their photos after the event. No more disposable cameras left on tables, Helen and I will have a lifelong online album of our special day.
My wedding day is going to be a special special day but Windows Live Events is helping to make it just that little bit better.