Ray Ozzie: on Really Simple Sharing — Is There Application for Digital Media as Well?

Ray Ozzie, Microsoft CTO and BloggerRay Ozzie: Really Simple Sharing Microsoft’s Ray Ozzie is out with a post on really simple sharing where he talks about the need to synchronize calendars, directories and other daily organizational tools for families.

“Some of these we edit privately and publish to others. (This itself has posed significant challenges – particularly sharing partial information from confidential calendars.) The most challenging calendars we deal with are those that are “shared”, such as the family calendar my wife and I jointly maintain, or the calendars we share with outside groups – such as the meeting calendars of volunteer organizations.

It’s tough because we use a mix of different email/calendaring systems – corporate as well as non-corporate, web-based as well as client-based. And to each of us it makes sense to want to edit the calendar in our own PIM application of choice where we do all our calendaring and scheduling work – not within calendaring systems on other various websites.”

This is pretty interesting and Ray has definitely identified a problem that needs to be solved. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with in terms of a final product. I’d imagine this might be another thing we can expect to look forward to in Vista or something to use at live.com.

I would recommend that however this synchronization problem is addressed at Microsoft that the final product be integrated into Media Center. Increasingly I am seeing Media Center as being the centralized place to share and host information for the family of tomorrow. A quick check of your calendar by remote would be helpful and useful for the entire family. Even more, a full suite of telephony services (perhaps via Skype) built into Media Center would also be helpful (especially once you turn my remote into a phone).

As XBox 360’s extender functionality turns most rooms in your home into Media Center portals it would seem helpful to look up calendar info, directory info and other things via remote from your kitchen, bedroom, living room, faimly room or car (did somebody say car, hint, hint).

Beyond the integration necessary for calendars and directories though, I’d encourage Ray to also think about the integration work that still needs to be done with Media. Take Windows Media Player (and by extension Media Center, as WMP is the engine behind MCE’s “my music”) for example. Right now I can create a playlist of my 5 star rated songs for play in the living room. But this is very limited. I’m only allowed one rating per song. What if my wife and I have very different musical interests and taste (we do actually)? How about allowing “my music” to serve me up my 5 star rated songs and also allowing it to serve up my wife’s 5 star rated songs depending on who is in the room. And what about having MCE scan both our 5 star lists to come up with a list of songs that we BOTH have rated 5 star for the times that we are in the room together. Now that would be smart filtering and cheaper than marriage counseling as well.

And what about rating photos? This will be an exciting new feature to be offered in Vista next year. But again, while I may think my photo of a trio of garbage cans is contemporary art at it’s finest, my wife may cringe at the site.

And with regards to TV. Do I really need to see the Young and the Restless in my “my TV” choices? Wouldn’t it be cool if on the Media Center main menu instead of your most recent shows recorded to the right of the my TV button it instead had my TV, her TV, our TV and our kids TV?

Integrating media sharing into the digital home of tomorrow will be as important as integrating calendar and contact sharing. Right now Microsoft’s two primary media offerings Media Center Edition and Windows Media Player are not sophisticated enough to assign user preference to media, hopefully this is another challenge that Ray will take on.