# Friday, 15 January 2010

Have a startup? Want free software? The Microsoft BizSpark Camp is for you. You have to sign up by Monday. See below for more details.

Via Sanjay Jain

BizSpark Camp

With several successful Microsoft BizSpark Incubation Weeks (Azure Atlanta, Win7 Boston, Win7 Reston, CRM Reston, CRM Boston, Win 7 Irvine, Mobility Mountain View,), we are pleased to announce Microsoft BizSpark Camp for Windows Azure in New York, NY during 28–29 January 2010. Based upon your feedback we have made several changes including offering cash prize, compressed time commitment, and much more. We hope you're tapping into the growing BizSpark community.

The current economic downturn is putting many entrepreneurs under increasing pressure, making it critical to find new resources and ways to reduce costs and inefficiencies. Microsoft BizSparkCamp for Windows Azure is designed to offer following assistance to entrepreneurs.

· Chance to win cash prize of $5000

· Nomination for BizSpark One (an invitation only program) for high potential startups

· Learn and build new applications in the cloud or use interoperable services that run on Microsoft infrastructure to extend and enhance your existing applications with help of on-site advisors

· Get entrepreneurs coaching from a panel of industry experts

· Generate marketing buzz for your brand

· Create opportunity to be highlighted at upcoming launch

We are inviting nominations from BizSpark Startups interested in Windows Azure Platform that target one or more of the following:

The Microsoft BizSparkCamp for Windows Azure will be held at Microsoft Technology Center, New York, NY from Thu 1/28/2010 to Fri 1/29/2010. This event consists of ½ day of training, 1 day of active prototype/development time, and ½ day for packaging/finishing and reporting out to a panel of judges for various prizes.

This event is a no-fee event (plan your own travel expenses) and each team can bring 3 participants (1 business and 1 – 2 developer). It is required to have at least 1 developer as part of your team.

To participate in the BizSpark camp, you must submit your team for nomination to Sanjay or your BizSpark Sponsor. Visit Sanjay’s blog for details on how to submit your nomination by Monday, January 18th, 2010. Nominations will be judged according to the strength of the founding team, originality and creativity of the idea, and ability to leverage Windows Azure Scenarios.

You may want to enroll into Microsoft BizSpark, an exciting new offering that enables software startups to leverage Microsoft development and platform technologies to deliver next generation web and Software + Services applications. For details see here.

posted on Friday, 15 January 2010 04:41:18 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, 14 January 2010

After a round of hacking attempts that apparently were supported by the Chinese government, Google announced on Tuesday that they are removing the censored results displayed for a google.cn search in China. If you take a look now, you can see photos of the tanks in Tiananmen Square during the massacre 21 years ago. This violates the laws of China and Google will most likely be shut down by the Chinese government and exit the Chinese market.

Here in Hong Kong the local media is going crazy. Hong Kong, while part of China, is autonomous and has a free press. Bloggers, twitter, and some media outlets are applauding Google for “standing up to censorship.” (Google’s decision on Tuesday does not effect Hong Kong.)

This was a nice play by Google. They are removing the censorship and forcing the Chinese government to shut them down, which they may well do soon. It is a move that gets a lot of blog love. Former Microsoftie Robert Scoble said that China is so important economically and: “That’s why this move today impressed me so much.”

If Google has such problems  with censorship and a corporate mission to and “don’t be evil” why did they agree to censorship in the first place when they entered China in 2006? Why would Google operate in China for four years while censoring their search results?

If Google was #1 in search in China and making boat loads of money, would they just pack up and leave? They are a business at the end of the day, so my bet is no. Google has not been making money in China and its revenues in China are “truly immaterial” according to Google. According to the Economist, Google has high expenses in China, including 700 people in the Google China office. Google is way behind Baidu in China, which has well over 300 million users (that is more than the entire population of the United States, the world’s third largest country by population…)

While I applaud Google for standing up to censorship, I feel that Google is exiting China due to business reasons and picked a fight with the Chinese government to get the automatic love of technology luminaries (who love Google anyway) and political rights activists who need a big powerful poster boy. If you think about it, it is a brilliant move, you hide the fact that you failed in a market and get tons of good press for poor business performance. Compare these headlines:

“Google exists China after years of poor performance. Fires 700 employees.”

or:

“Google stands up to censorship! Google on the side of freedom and democracy. Love live Google!”

Maybe I am wrong and if I am, I apologize in advance.

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posted on Thursday, 14 January 2010 03:35:22 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback
# Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Over the past week I have been making predictions on .NET, mobile devices, and digital content. Last year I made some predictions on my  blog. Since I made some predictions last year, I figured it would be fun to go back and evaluate how I did.

Prediction #1 for 2009: Windows 7 will ship and it will not be a flop.

Not the boldest prediction, but  hey have to start off with an easy one to build credibility. :)

Prediction #2 for 2009: C# innovation along the lines of the DLR

I said that Microsoft has the “second mover advantage” where they innovate based on what is already going on in the marketplace. Last year I predicted that C# will continue to evolve based on what is going on in Ruby. I think that when you look at C# 4.0 and the support for the DLR you will see this as being true and will continue moving forward.

Prediction #3 for 2009: MVC will have low adoption

I have no way to gauge how popular MVC is, but it is more popular than I thought, so I clearly got this prediction wrong. I think that MVC is good technology, however, overkill for some classes of application.

Prediction #4 for 2009: Marketing Hype around Azure

I thought that the Windows and SQL Azure marketing engine would go into full swing in 2009. I was wrong, but we will see it go into full swing in 2010.

Prediction #5 for 2009: The LINQ to SQL users will feel betrayed

I thought that the LINQ to SQL users would reject the Entity Framework and start a movement for Microsoft to support LINQ to SQL. Back when I wrote this prediction, Microsoft recently announced that LINQ to SQL was being passed over in favor of EF. Wrong again, no petition.

Prediction #6 for 2009: I poked some fun at Alt.net

I would say that while this one prediction was meant to provoke (and provoke it did!) it also had the theme that alt.net would evolve into a mature voice for their way of thinking. This is true since alt.net has been engaging in dialog and contributing to the community.

In summary I did not do all that bad. We’ll see how well I did in 2010 next year at this time.

posted on Wednesday, 13 January 2010 06:10:19 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Last week I made some technology predictions in the Microsoft space. Yesterday I spoke about the mobile space as a whole. Today I will conclude my 2010 predictions with a look into digital content.

2010: Digital Content-The Empire Strikes Back

Already more music is sold online via iTunes then on physical CDs. Add in piracy and there is even more music in digital format. 2010 will be the year where we start to see movies and books move digital. Not much of a prediction. My predictions is that the movie and publishing industry will spend most of 2010 fighting back and in denial much like the music industry and the RIAA did 5+ years ago.

Today Netflix will sell you a device that will stream movies down to your HD TV without a computer involved. You can get unlimited movies for about $9 a month. The problem is that there are only 18,000 movies available and most of those movies are older. That is because Hollywood is stonewalling Netflix and not selling them a license to stream. Actually it is much worse than that. Hollywood is also holding Netflix hostage for new release DVDs. The studios are now planning to withhold new release DVDs for 28 days before they sell them to Netflix. Warner Brothers just inked a deal with Netflix that did just that. Now all new Warner Brothers movies released on DVD will be available for you to buy or rent at your local video store, but not available at Netflix for a month.

This is exactly the type of behavior that the RIAA and music industry would be proud of. Warner Brothers is now actively encouraging its customers to pirate the new release movie instead of getting it legally from Netflix.

Hollywood 1-Netflix 0.

But this is just the beginning.

Seeing what iTunes did to the recording industry, the technology phobic world of publishing may soon follow suit. Amazon is getting some pushback from publishers over pricing of titles for the Kindle. It is only a matter of time before the publishers “Netflix” Amazon. I suspect you will see something along those lines before the end of the year, especially that for the first time more Kindle books were sold on Dec 24th and 25th than “real” books.

Just like Darth Vader in the Empire Strikes back, the movie studios and publishers may win the battle in 2010, but they will lose the larger war. (Yes I am saying that Netflix and Amazon.com are Luke Skywalker and Han Solo.)

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posted on Tuesday, 12 January 2010 04:13:13 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, 11 January 2010

Last week I made some technology predictions in the Microsoft space. This week I will venture outside and look at the mobile space. 2010 will be remembered as the year where the mobile device hits critical mass, where we rely more on the smart device for Facebook, Twitter, email, TripIt, YouTube, etc, than an actual computer. With the device so important lets take a look at some mobile predictions.

2010: Google v Apple

With the introduction of the Nexus One phone from Google last week, Google just stepped on Apple’s toes. While Google is pushing its Android Mobile operating system to hardware manufactures, Google teamed up with HTC and built the Nexus One to sell as an unlocked GMS phone (and a TDMA version on the way for Verizon users.)

This represents a two pronged attack by Google. First Android is now considered an alternative to the iPhone by manufactures watching their market share disappear to the iPhone, just look at the Droid by Motorola. Second, by offering an unlocked phone directly from Google, while a risky move since they don’t want to annoy Android adopters like Motorola, Google is taking a page out of the Apple playbook-control the entire experience: software and hardware.

Apple will be concerned since it relies on apps by Google on the iPhone such as Gmail and YouTube. Concerned, but Apple is apparently not intimidated. On the same day as the Nexus One announcement, Apple announced that they would acquire Quattro Wireless for $275 Million. Quattro is an ad company, so Apple is basically saying that if Google is going to play in the iPhone world, Apple is going to play in the advertising world-Google’s largest source of revenue (say 90%) .

I won’t predict how this will end, however, I will predict that 2010 will have a lot more “Google v Apple” headlines as new devices and services are announced.

2010: Carriers lose control

One thing to think about is that while the Google v Apple battle is fun to talk about, let’s not forget about the carriers. 2010 will be remembered as the year the US Mobile industry changed. Before the iPhone, the carriers had full control. We bought a phone and service from them. They sold us crappy locked phones. You could not buy a different phone unless you traveled abroad and saw one and had a GSM carrier at home. If you did not travel and saw a cool phone and were lucky enough to have your carrier offer that phone, you could buy it from them and the carrier would brand the phone and remove several features. This was so common that many people did not even realize it was happening.

Apple made a device that everyone wanted. AT&T wanted it so bad that they let Apple do just about anything they wanted to. So while you still buy your locked iPhone from AT&T, it is the exact phone Apple designed, not the carrier. Sure AT&T had some influence over what was in the AppStore and that caused some problems last summer, but the iPhone was the first shot in the revolution.

This year represents the next step in the battle: removing control of the handset from the carrier completely. While the iPhone was a step in the right direction, if you wanted one you still had to deal with AT&T and it was basically impossible to get the iPhone anywhere else other than AT&T.

The Nexus One is the first “must have” phone that is not tied to a carrier. You buy your phone first at Google.com and then take your chip and put it into your phone and it works. While there are exceptions to this (AT&T 3G frequencies are currently not supported, defaulting you to EDGE, etc) it is the first step of removing the control the carriers have. Other vendors will follow suit. Fast forward a few years and Americans will do what people do in most countries, buy the phone first and then buy the service. This will lead to bigger and better innovation in devices.

2010: The year Microsoft comes back from the dead

Let’s face it, Windows Mobile has been left for dead behind the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. A lot of people are counting Microsoft out. While it is late in the game for Microsoft, the iPhone showed that you can build an awesome device and grab huge market share in just 2.5 years. Microsoft has been working on Windows Phone 7.0 for well over a year, if not much longer. They have not given us “insiders” any info (very Apple of them.) That allows me to speculate wildly and make the prediction that Microsoft will do something bold in the mobile space in 2010.

Microsoft will do two things in 2010. First they will release the long awaited Windows Phone 7.0. We may see an announcement as early as next month at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. This would work well since the MVP summit is the same week in Redmond, so they can make the announcement in Barcelona and then offer MVPs more technical details. We should see Windows Phone 7 ship in 2010 and it will most likely be based on the Zune HD with a healthy dosage of Silverlight on top for application development. Will it succeed, that I can’t predict, but I will predict it will be good enough to keep Microsoft relevant.

Speaking of Silverlight, that is going to be Microsoft’s next big mobile move: position Silverlight as a cross platform mobile application framework. While Adobe and Apple don’t get along, Microsoft will start to position its Silverlight platform to work with Android and the iPhone. It will be a way to get the Microsoft footprint onto those devices.

Will my predictions be right? I hope so. But if not, it sure will be an exciting year in the mobile space!

posted on Monday, 11 January 2010 04:31:24 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [3] Trackback
# Sunday, 10 January 2010

Last week I started to made some predictions on the future of Microsoft development for 2010. I said 2010 will be remembered as a “tipping point” year for three things in the Microsoft developer space. I am not saying that on December 31st, 2010 you will sit back and say I am right on all of these, but I am saying that by December 31st, 2011 or 2012 you will. That said, 2010 will be the tipping point for:

Last week I talked about moving beyond .NET and BI for the masses, today, I will talk about the cloud.

2010: Windows and SQL Azure Launch

January 1 ushered in a  new year as well as the availability of a new service from Microsoft: Azure. With the Windows and SQL Azure services available commercially, one could predict that 2010 will be the year of the cloud. While I don’t think that developers are going to push .NET applications up into the cloud in masse in 2010, I do suspect that adoption will be higher than most people realize, but the ultimate customers who adopt the service may surprise you.

In 2010 the early adopters of Windows and SQL Azure will be large corporation’s “departmental” applications. Sure we will see a bunch of startups begin to use Azure, however, there will only be significant traction after the platform is out a little longer and maybe after a potential billing policy change. Applications built under the radar of the corporate IT department by external consultants and departmental programmers will lead the way, just as Access and Visual Basic did almost 20 years ago.

The reason why is obvious. Business men and women at large companies (companies over 200 people) always groan when they have to deal with their IT department. They think that IT is slow and costly. Azure will be an end run around IT. The cost of Azure is well within the budgets of the folks requesting these applications, actually quite lower than what the internal IT department will charge back to the department to host an application. Windows and SQL Azure will be secure enough to host these non-mission critical, however, extremely important line of business applications. Since almost all of these applications are used at the office and broadband is available at every office, it is a no brainer.

Rewind back 20 years ago and this is how Microsoft conquered the enterprise. (I am not saying that Microsoft “owns” the enterprise, but 20 years ago they had no presence in the back office and were counted out in the the server/enterprise space. Now look: SQL Server, SharePoint, Exchange Server, etc, not to mention Windows Server.) Microsoft used the desktop to extend to the back office. Windows and Office were so popular that developers were willing to give the Trojan horses Access and Visual Basic a try. The rest is history.

So 2010 will be a tipping point year for the Cloud, or at least the Azure platform. Microsoft will gain some market share and also make some mistakes and continue to rev Azure. I can’t predict at this moment when it became a critical mass, but just like with Silverlight and BI, we will all look back one day and say it all started in 2010.

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posted on Sunday, 10 January 2010 03:11:33 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, 08 January 2010

A few days ago I started to made some predictions on the future of .NET for 2010. I said 2010 will be remembered as a “tipping point” year for three things in the Microsoft space. I am not saying that on December 31st, 2010 you will sit back and say I am right on all of these, but I am saying that by December 31st, 2011 or 2012 you will. That said, 2010 will be the tipping point for:

  • Moving beyond .NET
  • Business Intelligence for the masses
  • The Cloud

Earlier this week I spoke about Silverlight and the future of .NET. Today I will talk about BI.

Business Intelligence for the Masses

There is an insatiable demand for BI in the marketplace, yet few developers “get” BI. When I talk to CIOs of large companies about their software needs, they always say to me “do you know anyone who does BI?” BI is seen today as something that end users want more and more of, but IT departments are having a harder and harder time actually delivering.  BI is considered complex and expensive.

Later this year (I suspect at TechEd US in June), Microsoft will launch SQL Server 2008 R2. This version of SQL Server is focused mostly on BI and along with PowerPivot will deliver “Self-Service Business Intelligence.” I have written about PowerPivot before on this blog, but in short it allows users (or developers) to connect to a data source (or data sources) and download data, take it offline in their Excel spreadsheet, slice, dice, and manipulate the data how they see fit, as well as create very powerful Pivot Tables and Charts in seconds. PowerPivot ships with a data engine as part of your workbook, so you can have a self contained OLAP cube inside of your XLSx file. It compresses super well, but you don’t have to email it, PowerPivot also integrates nicely with SharePoint for collaboration with your co-workers.

Let me be clear, this is game changing technology. Out of the box data visualization tools are complex and clunky (and expensive!), so we force ourselves into Excel for BI. Microsoft has done something brilliant, they have taken the world’s number one BI client (Excel) and taken off the training wheels.

While end users may not be able to build OLAP cubes or write TSQL queries like I did in this PowerPivot example, SQL Server R2 and PowerPivot drastically lower the barrier to entry for BI development. (Note, PowerPivot works for many databases, not just R2.) Developers will spend time building the Data Warehouse and ETL on the back end and setting up simple queries in PowerPivot on the front end and the users will then turn and build amazing drill downs and pivot tables and charts. A golden age of BI development will begin where BI apps are simple and plentiful, including “Self Service”. While 2010 will not be the year where we reach this, we will look back at 2010 as the starting point of the golden age of BI.

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posted on Friday, 08 January 2010 03:54:29 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Thursday, 07 January 2010

As you may know Telerik has built into most of its products support for Windows and SQL Azure. While at the PDC last November, Ben Riga interviewed me on what it was like to build a commercial product on top of Azure. I give a sneak peak at how we developed the software and how we leveraged SQL Azure. I talk about some of our pain points as well as where it was easy. The video is here, complete with my cell phone’s battery dying in the middle of our interview!

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Enjoy!

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posted on Thursday, 07 January 2010 03:31:11 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback