James O'Neill's Blog

March 29, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 5:52 pm

Yesterday was my second day in the new job and I joined a group of Microsoft Most Valued Professionals (MVPs) at Microsoft research in Cambridge MSR is a feels like a University and they look at things that fall outside the normal set of products, and those can get applied in fascinating ways – for example the Machine Learning and Perception group came up with “trueskill” for Xbox live to do a better job matching players against someone of similar skill.

Yesterday I blogged about people who don’t articulate ideas clearly. By co-incidence I got advance notice of an announcement, I’ve hidden the key words because I can’t blog about the content until next week but it said:

“we’ll leverage {this opportunity} to continue to clarify Microsoft’s xxxx commitment and demonstrate how the company has begun to deliver on that commitment. The xxxx commitment is a new concept to the market, requiring Microsoft to continue to proactively message it with products news and demonstrate deliverables against this commitment. From a technology perspective, we’ll announce the general availability of yyyy< along with partners distributing/supporting the product.”

Which is more than twice as long as
“We will announce that yyyy is now available. yyyy is part of our commitment to xxxx, which is new to the market, so we will use {this opportunity} explain it, and our commitment to it”,
but doesn’t say any more.

Here is the first sentence from the question and answer document on this announcement.
xxxx is Microsoft’s commitment to mainstreaming high-end zzzz functionality and delivering zzzz solutions that are built on industry-standard [parts] offered via a multitude of partners and lower total cost of ownership.
The poor reader is left wondering if is the solutions or the industry standard parts which are offered by the “multitude of partners”. Who do this multitude partner with ? The bit about TCO at the end has ring of “We must get TCO in the first paragraph”. Is it Microsoft’s commitment to mainstreaiming xxxx and to lower TCO, or is it Delivering zzzz solutions and lower TCO, or is something like “which offers” missing after the and?

I think it means
“Microsoft and it’s partners are working to deliver cost effective zzzz solutions using industry standard [parts]. The name of this initiative is xxxx, and though it we hope move today’s high-end zzzz functions into the mainstream.

Sean O’Driscoll spoke about communities at the end of the MVP day. One of the MVPs asked if we needed communities simply to explain the stuff that comes out of Microsoft. Ouch. But I know what he means.
I chose to stay and listen to Sean instead of getting home before my children went to bed; his subject was interesting, he knew it well, and he talked about it with clarity. But some of his comments on communities were helpful for me to focus on something. He talked about the benefit of consulting a community before making an important purchase – there was a time when if you went to buy a camera, shop assistants knew more than you: now, thanks to the internet, the chances are you know more than them.
Sean’s a keen barbequer and he went on to explain how an on-line community has helped him to a lot more out of his barbeque. I’ve experienced the same thing through an on-line photographic community I use, the Pentax forum on DP review it gives members inspiration, tips, and ideas of accessories to buy. About 1% of all posts to this forum concern a Russian lens called the Zenitar, which sells for a shade over $100 US. The are a few dozen users who have discovered this lens and get more out of their photography thanks to the community – I used this lens quite a lot on my recent business trip to India 

That’s the essence of the work I’m going to be doing with communities. It’s not about fixing problems as such, or being a PR person for Microsoft. Its about helping people to get more from their stuff – which means happy customers.

Of course there is still work to do explaining the stuff that comes out of Microsoft 🙂

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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