Day one of Ignite 2015 and I have to say I was a bit surprised at how low key the keynote presentations were. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t looking for a return of the patented Ballmer ‘Monkey Dance’. I know that current MS CEO, Satya Nadella, is inherently more reserved than Steve Ballmer. Really though, look at it, this is a BIG year. Microsoft just didn’t make me feel it.
- New Windows (Mobile, Server and Desktop)
- New Office
- New SQL Server
- A New SharePoint, delayed or not, around the corner with Office 365 leading the way.
- Operations Management Suite
- Azure Stack
This is some cool stuff! So why didn’t it make more impact? I think there are two reasons. First, Microsoft hasn’t been very quiet about these things. We knew about a lot of the coolest bits way before this week. Steve Jobs would have guarded this information like it was the U.S. Nuclear codes and sprung it on us with some fanfair, but Micrsoft has been too busy getting things done to bother with “controlling the message”. Second reason? Because flying cars don’t sound cool anymore.
Let me explain.
Flying cars have become a symbol of technologies that we’ve all thought about, that never seems to get to production. These concepts are always 5 to 10 years away and in the case of flying cars, everyone thought we would have them long before now. Every year you see a new story about someone who “finally” created a flying car and the news is met with…boredom. We’ve all seen the flying cars. On the morning news, on the Discovery channel, in 40 year old copies of Popular Mechanics, flying cars exist! They just suck, and we all know it. It isn’t the car that’s the problem. Take off and landing space, fuel economy, having drivers who wouldn’t kill each other, these are the real problems. Flying cars were an easy problem to solve; practical flying cars still elude us. But still we wonder.
Microsoft may be on the edge of giving us a boatload of flying cars. Phones that can legitimately be used as desktops. Management tools that work across cloud and on prem infrastructure. Tools for private cloud that can be scaled and managed elegantly. Useful (if still very limited) voice activated assistants for business. All cool stuff. We’ve just been so beaten down by the hype from past attempts we may be about to miss it when some of these things actually work outside of a demo.
I’m not a prophet, and I have never been a big Microsoft fanboy. I’m sure some of what they are bringing out this year won’t meet expectations. But everything I mentioned in the paragraph above has a real chance of actually being delivered within the next year. I just hope that when the first practical flying car comes out we actually notice.