Mix’08 Review: How Microsoft Is Fighting a War on Three Fronts

Cut through the flurry of announcements out of Microsoft’s Mix conference this week and what emerges is the Redmond giant’s three-pronged defense strategy: consumer, enterprise and developer. Only by understanding the battles the company is fighting does it become clear where it’s is headed. We’ve broken it out for you here.

Microsoft to Open Source: You Win

Bowing to what Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer called the changing landscape of the IT industry and others call pressure from EU anti-trust actions, Microsoft announced today the release of some of its technical crown jewels: the heretofore secret APIs Microsoft products used to talk with each other.

This new level of openness and willingness to interoperate with other software stressed Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect, is more than either cosmetics or bowing to EU legal pressure. “This is a very important shift in how each and every engineer at the company views what their mission is and what their job is,” said Ozzie. “This is an important announcement for the engineers at Microsoft, for our partners, our competitors and our customers.”

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A Look at Native KDE 4.0 for OS X

OS X - KDE LogoThis week Slashdot (and many, many others) reported that KDE 4.0 has been released for Windows and OS X. KDE (K Desktop Environment) has been a popular GUI for *nix systems and there have been ways of getting it to run (mostly) on OS X prior to this native port if you were willing to use X11 on OS X). RangerRick (of OpenNMS “fame” did much of the heavy lifting for the Mac side of this project, including the package distributions.

To start, you’ll need to grab the torrent download – I picked the one labeled “everything,” weighing in at over 2GB. Once the download eventually finishes (it was slow for me, but I may have been a bit impatient and started mine before all the primaries were seeded), mount the KDE dmg file and double-click on the kde.pkg installer. It will do most of the heavy lifting and put the base packages and applications on your system. One bit of annoyance is that installer stores everything in /opt, so you’ll have to ?-Shift-G (goto folder) in the Finder and enter /opt/kde4/bin to get to the apps (alias this into the /Applications folder for faster access).
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Open Source STB: Wave of the Future or Guaranteed Flop?

Over the past few years, the set-top box industry has been nothing short of a disaster. In addition to Digeo, makers of the Moxi DMR, cutting its workforce in half and ditching most of its products, TiVo — the world’s most popular DVR company — lost almost $48 million last year, easily eclipsing the company’s $34 million loss in 2006. And with cable companies offering the Scientific Atlanta 8300HD for only a few dollars each month, most companies are forced to sell set-top boxes for practically nothing.

With that in mind, AHT has announced the release of its first open source set-top box. Dubbed Tribbox, the device will run you about 310 euros ($453) and can be plugged into any existing home network via Ethernet. But unlike its competitors, the Tribbox is designed with both consumers and OEMs in mind. According to the company, companies can develop a full-fledged set-top box with the pre-installed Linux OS, and because it’s an open-source device, consumers can create a GUI and an “embedded system, media center, car entertainment system or whatever!”

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Dell Thinks Small Biz is Big Biz for VoIP

Dell begins bundling Fonality’s open-source software with its enterprise servers today, its latest gambit to compete in the already-crowded VoIP market — this time targeting companies with 125 employees or fewer.

This is fertile ground: Analyst Alan Weckel of research firm Dell ‘Oro Group estimates annual PBX revenues, including those from VoIP phone systems, will exceed $7.5 billion by 2011. Much of this growth could come from small- to medium-sized businesses. Weckel told The Wall Street Journal in August that he thinks 35 million small businesses will adopt IP phone service before 2010 (about 11 million currently use it), a number that’s likely to ramp up if the economic situation worsens.

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How the ‘CEO-Janitor’ Cleaned Up With Dell

air_combat.jpg Chris Lyman, the founder of the VoIP startup, Fonality, blogs under the moniker Janitor— which he prefers to his other title: CEO. Chris has shared some of his management ideas with us here, too including Startup Math: 1 + 1 = 1/2 and The Power of “I Don’t Know.” We also recommend you take a look at his recent treatise on open source.
Today Chris has some big news: his four-year-old company just landed a deal to partner with Dell to hawk its open source VoIP boxes to the PC giant’s 6 million small- and medium-sized businesses. In four years his own 40 salespeople had netted 5,000 customers. Not bad, but not Dell. In an interview for GigaOM, Chris called the deal “a company defining event.” Something every founder dreams of, in fact.
Chris has written a long post about what he learned on the march to closing with Dell:

This would be a big day for any startup anywhere — struggling to establish its credibility in an aggressive tech world full of behemoths… I can clearly remember almost four years ago – to the day – when [the] four of us working at Fonality back then were sitting around a room and hypothesizing about our plan to revolutionize telephony. (Isn’t that what all founders do when they are staring at the back of a napkin?).

How many of you are nodding right now? Chris’s piece is filled lessons, but here are the key takeaways. Read More about How the ‘CEO-Janitor’ Cleaned Up With Dell

Essay: Internet Killed the Newspaper Baron

I grew up with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the local Journal News in my driveway every morning. Between recycling pickups, the stack of newsprint would be several feet high. Finding something you read a day or two earlier meant shuffling through pounds of paper. Reading the Sunday funnies meant sprawling on the carpet with the colorful pages before you. Doing the crossword meant carefully ripping the puzzle out. The unique tactility, the sectioned physicality, and the auricular malleability made for one of the most satisfying user interfaces possible.

I want a paradigm shift in user interface, and I want it to center on participatory multimedia news. The early applications of multi-touch, through Microsoft’s (MSFT) Surface and Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone, do not seem focused on news. Pro-am journalism and citizen journalism, two distinct ideas, are meanwhile growing quickly due to the enfranchisement of richer media technologies. How will the Fourth Estate move from Gutenberg to Google?

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Park Meadows Apple Store Opening Day

park meadows apple store t shirt

I got there at little after 7:15am and was greeted by this line.
pma store

Then the Apple Laptops came out – great wireless signal from the store apparently.
pma store

Then the Apple Team came out Whooping and Cheering.
pma store

And then the party began.
pma store

This was my first Apple Store opening, and it was really cool. The people are fun, and I had some great conversation with the gents around me in the line this morning. Everyone’s in a great mood and the passers-by wonder what the heck is going on. Then when they find out, they wonder what’s wrong with all of us…

When I left there was a still a line out the doors of the mall, crazy. Great new location Apple – thanks for making one so close to my home!

Let us know if you were there and what you thought of the store.