All Things D Wednesday Morning Session with Ballmer and the Surface Table


I'll be filtering for interesting gadget news. Mossy wore the funny hat today. And Ballmer is on fire with the weirdness.

8:14 Mossberg and Swisher take the stage, after some WSJ intro by the former and current managing editor

and their (not) opponents later tonight...IMG_9400WM.JPG

8:17: Showing a video of the "dark side of D" IMG_9403WM.JPG 8:26 Jill Sobule on stage playing a few songs...D is like Mossberg's US Festival (google Woz). IMG_9408WM.JPG

8:31 Back to work. Ballmer shows up. I see the Surface table on the right. IMG_9410WM.JPG 10:33 4 out of 30 of the original MSFT people are great. Mossberg takes a shot at Paul Allen, saying he isn't good. Crowd laughs. 10:35 Let's talk about Vista, for some reason, it's taken five years to get it out. You've said you'll never take that long again. How?

SB: We have to learn from our mistakes, we've got the will, the determination, we tried to do too much incubation into a new tech, and make it dependent on itself, and exponentially increased the complexity of the project.

8:37 WM: What's the schedule, 2.5 years?

SB: Windows Live will get into a predictable rhythm, and some stuff will be faster [whatever that means]

WM: Some of Windows Live seems to be rebranding, some of it is new. I thought Virtual Earth was a better name than the new one. Is there anything in common to all the new ware other than the name Windows?

SB: Windows Live software marked by frequent updates. Some of the eco system, we haven't moved as quickly as we like. We like to state it first, and then go there as quickly as we can [contrary to Apple of old]

8:40: SB: Talking a lot of fluff, but basically saying some will, some won't.

WM: Talking about software, and new business models. Advertising.

SB: We're coming and coming. Microsoft's unique thing is that we're trying to have multiple muscles.

WM: One can't help but notice that you have to do that, if you're going to compete with Apple, Google, etc. Building a factory to build Zunes?

SB: No, it was just a subcontractor, everything is subcontracted. Hardware is only a method of delivering services.

WM: But hardware is a part of that formula.

SB: Yes.

WM: And you have the market cornered on brown gadgets.

SB: Yes, high market share, too. It's what Dirt Bike Riders want! (giggle)

SB: We're getting stuff at DEMO

WM: This is D.You have to pay to show your stuff at DEMO.

Unveiling the Suface table

WM: This is real, right? Because someone [hp]unveiled something like this and never sold it. IMG_9411WM.JPG

MSFT: Multitouch... WM: I thought another company had that tech? MSFT: This is massive multitouch

MSFT: Inside, 5 cameras, and a DLP system.

WM: How long does it take to boot up? Crowd laughs. MSFT: It's always on. [updated timestamps to the right time.]

MSFT: Easy, and there won't need to be a Dummies book. WM: But there will be

MSFT: Can detect devices, so it can read RFID and recognize people.

They're dragging multliple photos at once. And dragging videos while playing. IMG_9414WM.JPG

8:56 Showing automatic wireless sync with the table. They put the camera on the table,and photos flow out from it on to the Surface table. IMG_9416WM.JPG

8:57 Walt does a Caesars Palace scratch card. Great, maybe he can win enough cash to buy the table. (Microsoft keeps talking about the consumer, but isn't this for business?)

8:57 WM: Can this be bigger? MSFT: Yes, we found that 30 inches is ideal, but it will scale. We will have thin versions, paintings that you can hang on the wall.

SB: Educators are interested.

WM: The highest use isn't to lose money in casinos? (WM is funny this morning.)

WM: T-Mobile...can this device make T-Mobile not terrible? Can you see an exec saying "Why not make it not terrible?"

MSFT showing T-Mobile demo with the phones, for in-store comparison.

8:59 WM: Now these have large steel cables attached to the phones, right? MSFT mumbles SB: Mockingly repeats WM, in jest. [Three stooges up there] IMG_9420WM.JPG

Sheraton music app being shown.

WM: Because when you think "Sheraton," you think Music, yea? WM Wait, I can't change the queue of songs?! MSFT Sorry. [just for D] IMG_9423WM.JPG MSFT: This is a Vista PC underneath it all.

Video pieces that move on the table (physical bricks playing video) for a video jigsaw puzzle. Cool. IMG_9425WM.JPG Table demo over. Mossberg and Ballmer continue to chat...

WM You just spent a lot of money on search. Why are you still losing market share to google.

SB Market leader has momentum. We're well down the learning curve, the relevance of our search results go up, Search innovation, stagnant for 6 years, so there's room for innovation. We're in the game.

WM But you were in the game 2 years ago, and you're continuing to lose

SB We've wallowed, not lost.

WM You hoped or expected this?

SB No, but it doesn't stop our determination.

9:10 SB...the market leader...

WM: You can say google, you know.

SB: No, I can't! I have to say market leader!

WM:...You're scaring me.

9:17 WM Are you going to stick with Zune.

SB We don't drop things. There's a short list of things we back off on. We choose to get in at one price point, with a device not too revolutionary. This Xmas, we'll have something better.

9:18 WM Will you do a Phone?

SB No [LOOKS LIKE HES LYING TO ME, IMO]The notion of market share is nice for phones. But phones run software, and the question is, will it be our software or from others.

WM So Samsung shouldn't be worried you're going to screw the phone guys like the music guys got screwed by their partner?

SB They have their own situation there....[tapered off into jibberish]

9:21 Rahul from Voodoo gets the big first question (Rahul from HP) "making some cool products". Something about simplifying products

WM Thanks for that commercial.

SB: We all should. [long fluffy answer.]

[Editing heavily for fluff at this point] 9:25 [microsoft has both research and R&D labs, did you know that? Both. Separate. There's something wrong with that.]

SB...PCs for low income houses in our China research center...

WM You're still more local than, say, google. Do you need to move to a more distributed model.

SB: It's inevitable, for talent. But our people are flexible. Say you want to work on "fu" one day, and "bar" the other day, you can. [Did he just say that they're working on FUBAR?]

9:34 Question from someone: Most of the innovations come from leisure and entertainment. But you're a big company that has the power to do things like help organize, say, medical records. I wonder why you put some resources towards something like that years ago, but it seems like you could genuinely impact the world in that way.

SB We're doing that. The least automated and fastest growing area of the economy is health (one could argue).

Session Closed.

All Things D at Giz [Gizmodo]

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