Windows Vista Sidebar – like MSR Sideshow, only better

Four years ago a wonderful application called Sideshow came out of Microsoft Research. It was the standard docking-bar-full-of-applets-on-the-side-of-your-screen (way before Apple Widgets and Konfabulator), but the part they really nailed was how natural it was to use. Not surprising, since it was created by user interface researchers! MSR Sideshow applets (or “tickets”) used the concept…


A community-based marketing experiment – Microsoft gets on board the Cluetrain!

The Visual Studio 2005 evangelists have created a new community marketing experiment: High Five Wikisheets. Microsoft marketing has taken some flak in the past (ahem), but this wiki seems to be pure Cluetrain Manifesto material. Risky, radical, and all about the conversation. I love it 🙂 I first heard about the idea a couple of…


What’s the longest Microsoft product name?

We’ve done the “silly Microsoft product names” thing before, but in an internal discussion Larry Osterman upped the stakes with the following contender: “Microsoft Windows Server Base Operating Systems Management Pack for Microsoft Operations Manager 2005” One of the reasons I admire Larry is that when something like this annoys him, he immediately blogs it…


I love the smell of a banhammer in the morning

It’s no secret that there’s been an increasing amount of cheating on Halo 2. Evidently when Bungie released the new downloadable maps they weren’t far enough ahead in the developer-vs-cracker arms race, and modded versions started showing up on XBox Live that let cheaters move at Mach 1, get sniper auto-headshot kills of anyone visible, etcetera….


Cultural change at Microsoft, or, "What was the point in keeping quiet?"

In an anonymous comment on “Patch for tcserver.exe memory leak on Tablet PC – at last!”, zzz asks: What was the point in “keeping quiet”? Is there some kind of NDA that stops from stating the obvious thing (holy cow we have a bug in our perfect product!) that everyone knows about? You could have…


If you think Microsoft uses silly product names, you’re in good company

I’ve ranted before about Microsoft product names, so it’s nice to see that I’m in good company: CNET Interviewer: “You made a comment this morning poking fun at a Microsoft product name. Do you think Microsoft is good at marketing?” Steve Ballmer: “Sometimes. Sometimes we’re very good. Sometimes I get tired of hearing, oh, they’re…


New Tablet PC feature on Channel 9 – ink-enabled posts!

Charles and the gang just showed off a new feature for the first birthday of the Channel 9 community site – readers can now post handwritten comments using a Tablet PC! Or a mouse, plus sufficient determination 🙂 Here’s the first of many ink posts in that thread:


Ohhhh, I want Microsoft Forums for my product, too…

Jim Glass just announced Microsoft Forums, the next links in the Microsoft developer division’s “virtuous feedback loop”. The idea is pretty simple – “hey, why don’t we give our users web forums in which to talk, as well as newsgroups” – but Jim does a compelling job of explaining how this will help both Microsoft…


Category feed URLs all changed – sorry

As Josh Ledgard and Brian Johnson have noted, the upgrade of to Community Server 1.0 changed the URL format for all of our category feeds. If you were subscribed to any of my individual categories, those feeds are now failing with no redirects in place. Sorry 🙁 Changing feeds with no redirection is probably…


New comment policy on this blog – thanks to Betsy and Scott!

Congrats to Betsy and her team on completing the second half of the March Blog Massacre: is now happily ensconced on shinier servers running much shinier software (in case you missed it, the first half was the migration of some IT Pro-focused bloggers to I’m taking advantage of Community Server’s new features to…