Microsoft Office Teaser

Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger Scoble says something big, something Slashdotworthy is going to be announced from the Office Team tomorrow. Once again, Thomas Hawk takes the bait. Scoble says he’ll have a Channel 9 interview up on the announcement at 9:00 p.m. tonight.

Update: More sizzle, less steak. Scoble was right, it does appear Slashdotworthy though.

So how is it that Microsoft can do something big like this that while interesting conceptually doesn’t really affect the way that I compute personally, but they still can’t come up with cable or satellite HDTV support after almost three years of Media Center release with no relief in site? I think we need more transparency on what’s going on with HDTV. Chris Lanier’s post was a start but if it’s not something we are going to get personally I’d like to hear a more direct response from Microsoft justifying why they don’t intend on supporting HDTV cable or satellite. At least lay the roadmap out for us. Bill Gates said publicly that it was coming what harm is there is sharing the roadmap with MCE enthusiasts?

Maybe I just don’t fully understand the significance of Microsoft opening up Word, Excel and Powerpoint (these have about as much excitement for me in my life as watching paint dry) or maybe I’m just down these days because it seems like Microsoft is slipping with regards to digital media when all the XBox 360 great news seemed to say they were finally there.

Give me something meaty and meaningful with regards to digital media and I’ll care a little more about that than being able to do my spell checking in XML.

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  1. Shawn Oster says:

    Not having cable or satellite HDTV I haven’t really cared about this subject but I have followed it because while the HDTV user segment is very, very tiny it is also very, very vocal.

    I’m assuming you were just looking for the tiniest spring-board to launch into the lack of HDTV support since opening up an ASCII-based file format in which you (being MS) have complete and total authority over is a far cry from getting all the cable and satellite providers to open up their propriety formats and make it easier for third-parties to undercut their hardware + service bundle packages. In fact it’s like comparing apples to caterpillars… from alternate dimensions at right-angles.

    Again, I don’t really have an investment in HDTV so I probably don’t really know all the ins and outs but I do know business a bit and I know if I was EchoStar or Comcast or anyone providing HDTV content there is no way baring a huge consumer revolt that I’d ever allow anyone else to consume my signal. If I did happen to feel a bit generous I would sure as hell make whomever I opened up my signal to sign a non-compete.

    “Sure, I’ll give you fancy pants CableCard support as long as you can make sure I’m the only provider for HDTV that works with your system.”

    I’m wondering from a reality-based perspective what Microsoft *can* do to actually provide HDTV support since that is all in the hands of the content providers. What would you suggest baring putting pressure on the providers since Microsoft already gets beat up every time it shifts in it’s sleep.

    Again, I don’t have the full picture but what would your advice to Microsoft be? How is it you put the onus on Microsoft since it seems it’s the content providers that have the keys to the kingdom? I’m sure I’m missing something here.

  2. Thomas Hawk says:

    As much as the cable, satellite and telco providers would like you to believe that without their full agreement a hardware solution is impossible, this is simply not true.

    Although Microsoft is trying to play fair with them (and sell them DRM technology and software platforms like Foundation TV).

    Frequently in the past hardware providers have chosen to say to hell with their content partners and go forward with hardware solutions without cable, satellite or media cooperation. Such was the role of the original betamax. Nobody in Hollywood wanted consumers having VCRs. They saw it as a disruptive technology.

    We are dealing with digital bits and bytes and sound and light. If it can get to your eyes and ears, MSFT can record it.

    The whole point of the entertainment losing the CableCARD case in the courts was that Hollywood, telcos, cable operators or anyone else has no right to control disruptive hardware technolgy that can be used for legitimate fair use, their business models be damned.

    I will be a loud and vocal critic of Microsoft’s decision to give priority to business opportunities with cable operators and telcos over giving us the end user the tools that they surely have today in order to improve our digital media experience.

    Microsoft is extremely unlikely to turn it’s back on their established content provider partners who they are selling to, however, I still view it as failure on their part that they can’t convince their partners that they have a DRM solution worth rolling out.

    And before you call the rapidly growing HDTV market very, very tiny, consider that there are already about 12.8 million homes with HDTV in them today… or about 6 times the number of PCs running Media Center today.