Archive for July 2008
I am interested to see what will constitute Windows Live wave 3. Microsoft’s success is built upon providing platforms and that is exactly what Windows Live now is – its a platform. A platform for what though? Well clearly Microsoft want third parties to build upon that platform but I wouldn’t mind betting that Microsoft themselves will be providing their own applications on top of this myriad of services and that’s what I think wave 3 will be all about. This is what I like to refer to as vertical offerings on the horizontal platform.
I’m sat on my train home listening to last Friday’s (25th July 2008) episode of The Gillmor Gang; for those that don’t know The Gillmor Gang is a conglomerate of technology pontificators based in Silicon Valley that are headed by Steve Gillmor. On this particular episode they’re talking about what they think Microsoft are doing and are going to do in the online space – well worth a listen if you’re interested in such things (as I am).
They talk a lot about Mesh, XBox, Ray Ozzie, Live Search and the relative relevancy (or not) of each. They didn’t come to any conclusion about any of it but it was fun nonetheless although I do think they missed an important point about Mesh and search. Its something that’s been rolling around my head for a while and the point is this. If Mesh is a success (and I believe that it will be) then there is going to be a lot of information (gigabytes worth) per person stored in the cloud and across a multitude of devices that crucially only Microsoft has access to. And what is the best way of making sense of information of that magnitude? Search, that’s what!
Hence I predict that we will see a new kind of search engine from Microsoft. One that shows information from the web alongside and interspersed with your own content and that which your friends have chosen to share with you. If you are logged into http://search.live.com then Microsoft can return to you search results of YOUR OWN STUFF and that is a game changer in search. As Joe Wilcox said earlier today “Search should be about what’s important to you.”
Let’s take an example. Imagine you remember that you had recently been reading a Word document about balaclavas; you don’t know whereabouts you have the document but you know its in your Mesh somewhere. Instead of hunting around for it you head for http://search.live.com and search your Mesh from Microsoft’s own search engine. In your results you find the document that you’re looking for and also get back helpful information from Live Search including where you can buy the cheapest balaclavas and all the information you ever wanted to know about them too. Ever wonder why in Microsoft Office 2007 all the documents are saved as XML files? Simple…it makes it easier to search them.
Want another reason? How about being able to search through all of your Messenger conversations from http://search.live.com.
There are other ways that Mesh and Live Search can be mutually compatible too. As my colleague at Conchango Paul Dawson points out in his blog entry Live Services – Social Search – Collaborative research social search is evolving:
it’s what we’ve been talking about for many of our clients. You can see this being used for a group, or a couple, planning a holiday or a trip, sharing their early research, and testing ideas on where to go with each other.
Paul and I have spoken about this a lot lately as we try and cook up some ways that we can use Mesh in the future. Mesh presents a great opportunity for conducting your research via a search engine and “shelving” your search results so that you or someone else can view them later.
Live Search and Live Mesh– a winning combination. You heard it here first.
Windows Live Photo Gallery – the main new feature in the current M1 build is facial recognition. Photo Gallery will automatically recognise people’s faces in your photos, and users will be able to add tags to each person
…wouldn’t it be better if Windows Live Photo Gallery suggested tags to us and we just pick the ones that we want. For example, I take a lot of photos of my fiance, Helen. It would be useful if, when importing more pictures of Helen, Windows Live Photo Gallery were intelligent enough to realise that one of the faces appearing in my new batch of photos were similar to those I had already taken and thus infer that any tags from those existing photos might be applicable to some of the new ones
Update: Marcus has made a podcast feed available: http://marcussc.web.officelive.com/Documents/winlivemp3feed.xml
I’m on a Live Messenger tip tonight.
I’ve been checking out the Inside Messenger bot (otherwise known as a Windows Live Agent) and having a lot of fun with it. As you can see below I’ve been checking out the new House of Cards video from Radiohead. Its hosted on Youtube but I’ve no need to go to Youtube to watch it because I can watch it right from within Live Messenger using Inside Messenger and, not only that, I can twitter about it at the same time. All from the same conversation window.
If you want to do the same then its dead simple, just go and add email@example.com to your Messenger buddy list and you’ll be away.
In terms of minutes spent online, what do you suppose is the UK’s most popular web-based website or service? Google? Facebook? iTunes? eBay? Maybe Second Life? MySpace perhaps? Well if you said one of those you’d be wrong on all counts, its actually Windows Live Messenger….and by some distance too.
Check out the latest standings as gathered from a report by Nielson Online.
I was quite shocked when I saw that, I never expected Live Messenger to top all that lot but I’m happy that it does. I’m a big believer that Messenger is an incredibly underused tool and I said so in my blog post I believe that Agents are our future… back in December 2007:
I look forward to the day when I am able to view my bank balance, pay my bills, purchase things from Amazon, book flights, view live flight information, update personal details that people may have about me and do countless other things that I haven’t thought of yet all from within my Live Messenger window.
Better still, it wouldn’t just do this with typed conversations. My audio and/or video conversations would be recorded too. And THEY become searchable as well.
I think this is a pretty exciting possibility. What do you think?
Yaron Goland doesn’t say very much on his blog but when he does its usually something well worth reading. Today he wrote one such blog What is Microsoft’s Cosmos service?.
I don’t pretend to understand all of what Yaron is talking about (his brain is on a higher plane to mine) but as a data guy by trade I’m fascinated by Cosmos which is, according to Yaron:
…Microsoft’s internal data storage/query system for analyzing enormous amounts (as in petabytes) of data
…the architecture Microsoft uses to store and query petabytes of data
…a very successful system that is growing at a breakneck pace both in terms of the number of customers we support and the size of the clusters we run
I don’t want to jump to too many assumptions but I wouldn’t mind guessing that Cosmos is the infrastructure that is underpinning the massive amounts of data that Live Mesh will need to store.
Yaron mentions that Cosmos runs upon Dryad which is a system from Microsoft Research that runs computationally heavy processes over parallel architectures. Dryad is particularly interesting to me because its first outing was as a means for speeding up the processing of massive data volumes using SQL Server Integration Services (otherwise known as SSIS, the product for which I gained my MVP award and earn my corn). I previously talked about SSIS and Dryad here: http://blogs.conchango.com/jamiethomson/archive/2007/11/13/Dryad.aspx where I pick out the following quote:
Dryad is an infrastructure which allows a programmer to use the resources of a computer cluster or a data center for running data-parallel programs. A Dryad programmer can use thousands of machines, each of them with multiple processors or cores, without knowing anything about concurrent programming
Fascinating stuff. The worlds that I inhabit (SQL Server and Windows Live) are growing closer and closer together. When you read about infrastructure of this magnitude then you start to realise why there is only a handful of companies in the world that have anything like the capacity for building a tool like Live Mesh. Just to put it into context for you a petabyte is 1,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. Or 1,000,000 gigabytes. Whichever way you cut it words can’t really describe the enormity of “petabytes of data”.
2 days ago the Live Mesh team released an update to Live Mesh that enables us to sync files peer-to-peer (i.e. device-to-device) without syncing them to the cloud. I’ve produced a video that shows how this manifests itself in the Live Desktop which I’ve embedded below.
Let me know your thoughts. Do you want more of these types of short show-and-tell videos? If so I’ll see what I can do.