Crowdsourcing Microsoft Office 2010

Wired has an interesting  article noting how Microsoft “crowdsourced” some of the development of Office 2010.     Although I’m a user of Google Documents and not a fan of the MS Office Suites, feeling they are too big, clunky and overengineered for 99% of the tasks most people need, clearly I’m in the minority because, as Wired notes in the article, only 4% of online users “regularly use” Google Docs where 67% say they use MS Office products.     I think familiarity is a key issue here, and it will take more than a decade for the MS dominance to give way to the online suite tools that probably need another few generations of improvements and visibility to come into widespread use.

Of the 2 million Send a Smile comments, 81,000 included the senders’ e-mail addresses so the engineers working to improve Office could follow up with them.

To their credit Microsoft created a way for beta testers to give feedback and follow up, and hopefully this innovation will result in a product that is superior.    In my view Crowdsourcing is arguably the most powerful aspect of social media, but the science of using it effectively is still in its infancy and we’ll need very clever routines to make sense of human input – much of which is counterproductive, nonsensical, or simply worthless.     For the Office Suite project Microsoft developed relevancy algorithms to process the millions of comments, and it would be interesting to hear more about the approaches that went into the evolution of that  process.
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(Thanks to Ken Kaplan at Intel for noting this WIRED story)

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