Huge news from the Real-Time Communications product team at Microsoft. First, we'll be getting a Live Communications Server client for Windows Mobile devices sometime in the second half of this year. I've been happy using the MSN Messenger client that comes with the Windows Mobile-powered Audiovox XV6600, but being able to communicate with other corporate LCS users will be a huge win-- right now, if I want to IM with someone inside Microsoft's perimeter, I have to dig out the ol' laptop. MS hasn't yet announced pricing or functionality; I think it's safe to assume that the Windows Mobile client will have a subset of Office Communicator's functionality, in the same way that Pocket Outlook is a subset of desktop Outlook.
The other news astonished me: Research In Motion, producers of the BlackBerry line, have signed an agreement with MS to produce a Live Communications Server client for the BlackBerry platform. This is terrific news for the LCS team, and great news for BlackBerry users who want to combine their existing mobile e-mail service with IM and presence. Of course, it raises the bar for the Windows Mobile team, who now have to contend with the loss of what would otherwise have been a significant capability advantage. With Magneto around the corner, though, I bet they have some other tricks up their sleeve.
Amazon has a new feature with which they do various kinds of analysis on (many of) the books in their catalog. One of these analyses is the "statistically improbably phrase" test; this shows phrases for a given book that appear much more often in one book than in the whole corpus of books in their Search Inside program. For my book, here are the SIPs Amazon found:
relaying configuration, antivirus product vendors, relaying settings, archive sink, htr files, perimeter scanner, constrained delegation, check pox, default response rule, mailbox database, key archival, attachment access, perimeter network, message tracking, mailbox administrators, messaging security, retention categories, smart card enrollment station, machine certificates, delegate access, dialog hox, segmentation value, privilege escalation, inbound mail, event sink
Note "check pox" and "dialog hox"; those are probably my favorites. I can't wait to see what the list for the Cookbook looks like!
There's a fascinating thread of comments over at Ed Brill's blog on this post. Ed and Alan Lepofsky, along with various other luminaries in the Notes communities, have been having a generally professional discussion with Cliff Reeves of Microsoft. David Madison of Microsoft may have gotten the last word, though, as Ed has promised to turn off comments on the post. It's his blog, and so of course it's his right to do so, but I'm sorry to see it, since I think the exchange has been very illuminating-- particularly since Ed has (quite fairly) criticized Microsoft in the past for not taking part in strategy debates at various public conferences.
If Cliff, David, or any of the other participants in the thread who don't have their own blogs want to carry this on, I'll be happy to guest-post their comments here.
Another week, another event! This time, I was in DC, where I had a great group of attendees. The highlight was probably during my demo of Microsoft Office Communicator, when I accidentally called Devin. I'd forgotten that the SIP-to-PSTN gateway was active, and I right-clicked his name and used the "Call" context menu to show that his contact information was there, prefilled from my personal Contacts folder. I was quite surprised when Devin's phone started ringing in my computer speakers (and so was he), but we had a short call and the crowd loved it. It's always great to surprise people like that-- I think I may work it into my demo script as a permanent item. Live Communications Server 2005's voice and telephony integration is pretty compelling, and I'm glad that came out in the demo.
Microsoft has established a good pattern: they've been taking tools that they use internally, polishing them up, and releasing them as free tools through their web release (WR) program. This flow most recently brought us ExBPA 2.0, and now a new tool joins the family: the Exchange User Monitor, or ExMon. The cool thing (as Chris points out on the Exchange team blog) is that ExMon can both aggregate data and show you user-specific performance data. If you have a user or two who consistently complain about performance, ExMon gives you a quantitative tool to ID and fix the underlying problem. Check it out.
Wow, that's gotta hurt. This article, by Daniel Lyons, effectively claims that the air is going out of the Notes balloon, citing market share and revenue data from Gartner, IDC, Ferris, Meta, Radicati, and ITRG. It'll be interesting to see how IBM/Lotus respond to the article; with their 2004 numbers not yet released, the public data to refute some of Lyons' arguments may not be available yet.
So, yesterday I was in Manhattan, again. This time it was to attend IBM's "Microsoft Exchange Alternatives" seminar, held at IBM's building on Madison Avenue. I had to get up at 0400 to drive to Detroit and catch the first flight in to LGA; despite that, the flight was delayed. (That gave me time to finish a paper I've been working on, which I emailed from the back of the taxi on the way to IBM. Good news: I can send email from taxicabs. Bad news: sometimes I have to.) As Ed said, the seminar was well-attended, with about 20 folks in the room from a variety of customers.
There were four presenters: Ed did his overview of IBM's collab strategy; Jennifer Meade from ThroughBox IT did a somewhat lackluster review of three customer case studies, Henry Bestritsky from Binary Tree talked about their Common Migration Tool (CMT) and how it can be used to move from Exchange to Notes, and Brendan Crotty wrapped the morning up with a solid demo of the Domino Access for Microsoft Outlook (DAMO) tool.
Overall, I thought it was a good first effort. As I pointed out to Ed when I met him afterwards, there wasn't any convincing discussion about quantified business value. Interestingly, IBM had several Linux sales folks in the audience, and a common theme underlying Ed and Brendan's presentations was that IBM is promoting server OS choice. I'll save my analysis of that meme for another day :) I don't think the seminar content accurately reflected Microsoft's current collab strategy and why IBM thinks theirs is better. In fairness, that's not what this event was intended to cover. IBM did a good job of positively conveying their message, though, and I think mixing in the partners was a good touch.
How does this compare to our "Optimizing Collaboration and Communications" event? We have more demos, including an extended "day in the life" demo that lets me show how I actually use Microsoft's tools to get my daily work done. We also have a lot more quantitative information about the business benefits of extending Notes/Domino infrastructures with MS' tools. We'll see what Ed thinks when he attends our Chicago event.
Unlike Ed, I made it out of LGA before the weather turned bad :)
Getting on the bus well after it's left the station, Symbian announced today that they're licensing the Exchange ActiveSync protocol. With more than 25 million Symbian OS devices worldwide, this is a big announcement for both sides, although no firm timeline was disclosed. Symbian's already got a good mobile connectivity story; this makes it better while simultaneously highlighting Exchange 2003's advantages as a wireless messaging platform.