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)

CES Venues: North Hall, Las Vegas Convention Center

Here’s a quick CES video summary of what you can expect in the North Hall which is between Central Hall and the Hilton at the Las Vegas Convention Center Complex. Note that the South Hall is (I think) the largest of all the key exhibit areas as it contains two floors of exhibitors, where it seemed to me from the past years that Central often has the largest display setups from the biggest CES exhibitors such as Microsoft and Intel.

Microsoft may buy Yahoo = a good idea.

Wow, I’m liking my Yahoo stock which just jumped over $5 per share,but Microsoft couldn’t you have announced the possible bid to buy Yahoo about a month back when I had my 2000 YHOO 30 calls? With Yahoo at $33.34 I could have sold that 1000 investment for a cool $67,000!

WSJ Story (paywall)

NY Post Story

Henry Blodget thinks it’s important to spin off a new company rather than just suck Yahoo up into the borgness of Microsoft.

But hey, I do think this aquisition/merger is a good idea. Yahoo is very different from Microsoft. However, to the limited extent I interact with MS and Yahoo it seems to me that both of those corporate cultures have become bureaucratic, sluggish, and uninspired when compared to Google’s freewheeling yet very productive approaches. Yet very importantly, the people I meet from Yahoo and MS are often as impressive as those at Google, and certainly capable of great things as all these folks reinvent the online world on a regular basis.

If Microsoft can pool the innovations of the LIVE project with Yahoo’s superb developer support programs, and hire and inspire more people to have the evangelical zeal of Googlers, it could be a whole new online ballgame.

Update:  Om Malik’s reporting that WSJ’s reporting the talks appear to be off already.

MIX06 in Las Vegas

Looking forward to Sunday’s trip to Las Vegas to attend the Mix06 conference at the Venetian Hotel.   Thanks to MS and Scoble I got a free ticket to the convention saving me $995.   With airfare at 300 and the Imperial Palace for only $65 nightly this will be a cheap trip and hopefully a very informative look into the future of Microsoft.    At other conferences the Web 2.0 pecking order seems clear – Google and Yahoo are getting it and MS is not.   However I think people are really underestimating Microsoft in both the search and the Web 2.0 space.

Google is conspicuously absent at MIX06.  Yahoo, Amazon, Ebay, and others there, though I think this is going to be a very Microsofty experience.