Retro is in – all hail to the 80’s! But in software?

I was fortunate to be in attendance as Microsoft kicked off its 15th annual TechEd conference in Orlando, FL with a “Back to the Future” spoof complete with an authentic DeLorean , a remarkably well preserved Christopher Lloyd and Microsoft's Bob Muglia transformed to Michael J. Fox complete with an authentic 80’s wardrobe and hair.

Microsoft was a good sport and poked fun at some of its past predictions including what the world would be like if the once much ballyhooed “BOB” had achieved any market traction. In the keynote, Microsoft opted out of vision and presented reality.

At the start of his keynote, Microsoft’s Bob Muglia said he would not give a “vision talk”. And, he was right, the listener had to make their own judgment about what was visionary or back to the future and formulate their own conclusions.

The crowd of 12,000+ developers went wild when the command line interface of Windows 2008 was shown! It just goes to show that all of the GUIness in the world cannot mask the thrill of THE great C:\>.

Microsoft missed a tremendous opportunity to prove to the world that they have been committed to a single vision for the past several years and are now capable on multiple fronts (technology, process, and people) to deliver real solutions, not just slideware. Instead of communicating its success, Microsoft took the tact of sounding like an IT company. They asserted that IT is broken – OK, we all know this, so give us some hope. Microsoft missed the opportunity to show and tell us how they are enabling their focus points of federated, interoperable, and secure software to deliver real business solutions.

Microsoft has an obligation to lead the industry. They certainly need to communicate that there is an understanding of what the problems of tomorrow are and how Microsoft sees them being solved. This leadership in the industry sparks debate, innovation, and even criticism. But it is necessary for evolution.

The good news about what I learned at TechEd is that Microsoft is working together internally.

Microsoft’s Marketing Machine Revs Up
The big thing to take away from today’s TechEd keynote was Microsoft’s subtle but big swipe at VMware. Microsoft knows virtualization is the key to the future and has plans to manifest it in:
- Presentation virtualization
- Server virtualization
- Desktop virtualization
- Application virtualization

Read this push to virtualization and the conversion of a VMware VM to a Microsoft VM as a way for Microsoft to embrace virtualization yet remain true to its franchise business of Windows.

Virtualization and how Microsoft handles it is going to be *the* event of the decade. Stay tuned for more on this one!

The Future is Today
Microsoft’s Jason Matusow led an informative discussion around Microsoft and interoperability. His insight proves that Microsoft understands the ongoing solutions required for a heterogeneous, global and dynamic world.

Kudos to Microsoft for bringing the issue of interoperability to the forefront and facilitating an open and intelligent discussion on the topic. This is the type of leadership Microsoft needs to exert in the industry.

As always, TechEd is poised to make the industry pause and think. Microsoft has lots of technology pieces. They need a motivational message around their plan to innovate on integration… a message to propel the enterprise to the future. The conversation around virtualization, operating systems and interoperability are a glimpse into the future.