6 posts categorized "Microsoft"

A Sassier Bill Gates on C-SPAN Last Week

Times I've seen the mature, philanthropic Bill Gates on video - particularly in tandem with Warren Buffet - he's seemed so bland, it's like he's made a deliberate decision to show zero personality in public.

Picture 27But that wasn't the case with the half of a C-SPAN program that aired last week.

Partial credit may be due to the interviewer, David M. Rubenstein, Co-Founder and Managing Director of The Carlyle Group. Rubenstein makes a great straight man. He played dumb so earnestly, Gates perhaps felt less need to keep up a guard.

This particular video, the C-SPAN site says I'm not supposed to embed; so, here are links to four segments I thought were particularly revealing and funny. Each is about a minute long. I'll include the relevant time markers in case you want to browse the full video rather than follow each discrete link.

And here's a longer, four minute bit, about the origins of Microsoft. 

Winfun with Winphone

When, yesterday, I finally attached my new Winphone to a PC running Windows, I got a funny dialog box that the device was not recognized and that Windows recommended against installing it.

At that moment I decided my post for today should be a "ha ha" screenshot of that message.

But the laugh was on me. The path to finding all the plug ins and updates and service paks necessary to run the software necessary to connect the Winphone was arduous. And my computer didn't make it. I experienced the blue screen of death and basically forfeited an afternoon of productivity.

I'm chagrined, but also oddly appreciative of the machine and the people supporting it and all it connects me to.


The blue screen of death, not mine, in Polish. Image from Wikimedia.

Winphone v. iOS

I'm going to regret floating this chart, because Jason Thane just got a Winphone and he's started to tweet his likes (few) and dislikes (mounting). But I promised Ken Winnick that I'd follow through on his suggestion that I compare my ten day old Winphone adventure with the iPhone experience I'm used to.

Winphone chart

Jason's a pro, Ken, so follow his tweetstream for the next few days and get a wider, deeper take on coming to Winphone with iPhone expectations!

"Montage" from Microsoft's Fuse Labs

Here's a screen shot of a kind of Flipbook I put together last night, on the subject of startups, using a new tool called "Montage" from Microsoft's Fuse Labs.

Picture 3

And here's a link to the live Montage-Startups site. Presumably the live site should look considerably different, as the different feeds pulled into the site are updated.

I haven't put this publishing/curation tool quite nearly through the paces it deserves, but already I like it. My first impression is it won't default into mass media or consumption the same way other tools do. (I suppose, long term, how Montage fares in this respect will depend on Bing's developing priorities.)

Right now the tool lets you pull RSS feeds, Twitter searches, and news and images found by a search term you specify. Oh, and maps and video and "text," but I haven't tried those fields yet. If Microsoft uses its influence with Facebook to access pictures, updates, fan pages and other feeds, I can imagine many Facebook users would consider shifting attention to this more personalized, scrapbook-like activity.

Permission as Weapon

All lawyers trained in the US take a real property class in school. Whether or not a lawyer specializes in real property in her later practice, she's likely to use concepts from real property law in any number of other practice areas.

Take the opportunity or problem (depending on your point of view) of adverse possession. This is a doctrine by which someone may acquire legally enforceable rights in a piece of land, without the consent of the record title holder. Students like me chuckled to learn that one way a titled landowner might defeat a potential claim of adverse possession from ripening would be to simply give permission to the potentially adverse use.

So it's awesome to read a post by Brad Smith, General Counsel for Microsoft, announcing what sounds to me like essentially the same thing, the granting of a blanket permission, in an effort to protect political dissidents in Russia.

It seems that Russian authorities were using software anti-piracy concerns as a pretext to raid and confiscate the property of NGOs "and others engaged in public advocacy."

Mortified, Smith seems to have assembled his resources from around the world and arrived swiftly at a trumping move:

"To prevent non-government organizations from falling victim to nefarious actions taken in the guise of anti-piracy enforcement, Microsoft will create a new unilateral software license for NGOs that will ensure they have free, legal copies of our products."

It will be interesting to read the license once written and to track whether the unilateral nature of it may have unintended consequences. But you can't help but applaud a big corporate entity acting as swiftly and humanely as a startup organization might.

Old Enterprises Don't Fade Away, They Just . . . Become LLCs?

Last year I posted on how the LLC structure is being used by certain, select types of Internet ventures. Not most new Internet businesses, but some. Some of my early stage clients do business this way.

So naturally a recent post by Larry Ribstein, titled "Microsoft LLC," caught my eye.

Commenting on the decade of "dead money" Microsoft has left its investors, Ribstein proposed:

"Microsoft should become an LLC. Like a traditional highly leveraged private equity target, it should become a cash cow regularly producing milk rather than trying to stay a virile bull siring calves. Only it shouldn’t wait for a private equity buyout that probably won’t come in the current environment. Instead, it should adopt an uncorporate governance structure that enables it to commit to regular distributions to its owners. Think Sears Brands, LLC and Chrysler Group LLC."

Pretty wild!

I'll pair that with the qualified prognostication I've heard Todd Bishop utter once or twice on the Techflash podcasts, about Microsoft splitting itself up into different operating companies.

Todd's recipe would address the widely perceived dysfunction that results when upstart ideas within Microsoft have to pay obeisance to the established, flagship product groups that continue to generate a ton of revenue (a phenomenon famously pegged in the Dick Brass NYTimes editorial from earlier this year, and well reflected in the Marcelo Calbucci episode of Entrepreneurs' Prior Lives.)

My feelings about Microsoft are admittedly parochial. However frustrating the company's performance may be to its investors and however infuriating its culture to the would-be innovators from within, Microsoft is the lifeblood of Seattle's economy and a key shaper of the regional culture. It may not be possible to imagine the Seattle startup community without the people who've used Microsoft as a training ground or springboard, not to mention the angels who made their wealth at the company a generation ago.

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