Blogging at Microsoft – Betsy Aoki
RAI Congrescentrum Forum, Amsterdam Netherlands, 14.45 on 6 July 2005

Disclaimer: these are rough, rough notes.
Betsy Begins: "I'm here to tell you about an intranet blogging mechanism for your folks to blog and share with customers."

Over 1500 bloggers at Microsoft Corporation.

What she'll cover

  • Blogging at Microsoft Corporation -- over 1500 bloggers
  • Community Server – Telligent
  • Architecture and Lessons Learned
  • ...didn't catch last two bullets which flew by like...

Microsoft Blog Sites: 2003-2005

  • Blogs initially hosted on blogs.gotdotnet.com (Note: now deprecated despite the fact that we haven't bothered to remove the blogs link from GDN. You can bet that's on our TODO list.)
    • 5-10 bloggers on BlogX
    • 200 bloggers after PDC
    • BlogX wasn’t designed to scale. 1:1 blog app

Migrated to .Text (established ourselves as a corporate blogging powerhouse)

Migrated to Community Server

UK people have been pioneers in the area of podcasts. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Telligent has opened up its source code to the community, “which we think is a good thing.”

Why not MSN Spaces?

  • Timing
  • MSN learned from our experiences
  • Consumer audience is very different. Trust is different.
  • Brand
    • MSDN and TechNet are strong identities.

Blogging at Microsoft Corporation

  • Blog Smart...hm
  • “We don’t tell people what to blog. Just blog smart. … Robert Scoble is evolving Microsoft’s corporate blogging standards.” Eh? Scoble-utionary?  Mesmixsages. IMO, Scoble is playing the all-important and unelected role of coordinating the incremental and collective adjudication of small differences of opinion regarding what is socially and culturally acceptable within the society of Microsoft bloggers. Our PR and Legal folks at Microsoft do a great job of maintaining a hand's-off policy. However, Microsoft bloggers do have peers whose opinions they value, managers who won't hesitate to criticize sloppily written or less than 100% accurate posts, and readers (like you) who demand quality. It has and will take time for Microsoft's bloggercorps to develop a well-defined collective awareness of what it takes to write and maintain a useful blog and how to avoid posting content that might have unintentionally bad effects. I have certainly made many mistakes in my time. Robert Scoble has too. He has also done an decent job providing a voice and face for the endless discussions that Microsoft bloggers are having on the backchannel.

Community Server

  • Architecture: pluggable architecture that extends in to non-blog areas
  • Security: secure by default, group level perms. Runs in .net medium trust.
  • “there’s a certain amount of social trust that I have in my bloggers.” Betsy notes. Sidenote: we have over 1,600 bloggers on blogs.msdn.com and blogs.technet.com. Even Betsy can't cover that much territory.
  • [other stuff I didn't catch...deep in thought]

Smart Components (whoa, presentation morphing from blog engine stuff to syndication stuff.)

Bloglines, Feedster, News Stories, Technorati, MSN Gogle Search

What are Smart Components?

  • Combo of Web services and controls. Not just about blog content. Also about newsgroup posts, MVP bios, and other xml syndicated content.
    • Delivers dynamic lists
    • Internal Regristry of RSS feeds: allows for extending data model with attribution (this post or this feed is about x and y and z)
  • Populated with Feeds
    • crawls and indexes content to expose excerpts and lists
    • Based on registry attribution.
    • Language/Locale, Product, Technology
  • Smart Components work on the proprietary Microsoft.com rendering platform or regular .aspx pages.
  • Logical Flow:
    • Page Load to Server control
    • control calls web svc
    • web svc to data provider
    • web svc returns data to control
    • layout...
  • Smart Component Customers: bloggers/content providers, end users, and MSCOM site managers. 3 constituents makes this a trickier project.

Lessons Learned

  • Even technical people users need time to adjust to user interface changes.
  • Customers notice if comment interface is too complicated.
  • Features in .Text missing from Community.
  • Skins are “absurdly” important

Resources:

Customer Questions

Question: When do Microsoft employees blog? During working hours?
Answer: All the time. It depends on the person who is doing it. [Yup, I'm blogging right now.]

Question: (From our esteemed colleague of the site MSMobiles.com):Will Microsoft support podcasting by the end of the year?
Answer: We would like to do so but can't commit to it.

Question: Is there a conflict between marketing and developers in Microsoft bloggers?
Answer: The answer is no. There's no set policy.

Question: Are there plans for executives to blog at Microsoft?
Answer: Already happening: Soma Somasegar. "Bill Gates has said that he will blog when he has carved out enough time to do so sustainably."