November, 2007

  • Steve Clayton

    Andaz hotel checks in with a Tablet



    A new hotel in my hood (well, sorta) that's using Tablet PC's to check guests in

    Andaz (which apparently means personal style in Urdu) Describes itself as a ‘personalised casual luxury hotel experience’, and has replaced the traditional check-in desks with what they call dedicated personal hosts; title-less staff who use Tablet PCs to check you in, respond and cater to your personal tastes and preferences, and aim to build a one-on-one host and guest relationship- rather like a personal butler

    Groovy. Must wander on down there to check out the vibe and see what Tablets's they're really running. I can't tell you which other hotel chain took me to lunch recently to see if I could get them on the Surface program for the UK. Now that'll be a cool checkin process.

    Hat Tip to PSFK

  • Steve Clayton

    Change your Vista logon screen



    I came across the little product whilst watching Jeff Sandquist show us around his home and was delighted to find it was a free download on the Stardock site. It does one job and does it well so I now have a dark aurora as the background my logon screen on Vista which suits by black Vaio nicely!

    Download for XP or Vista

  • Steve Clayton

    My new gig


    "This transformation from software to software-plus-services is a very, very big deal for our company," - Ray Ozzie

    Today I started a new gig at Microsoft that has a lot to do with the image above. Hugh kindly drew this a few months back and I was quick to snag it as I knew it would become my new card. Basically I'm working in a part of the organisation known as Microsoft International and helping to shape how we talk about Software + Services internally and externally. It's a big new adventure and I'm really looking forward to it. It means I'm no longer managing the PTS team which I'll miss as they're just a great bunch of guys doing outstanding work, but the opportunity to be involved this deeply with S+S was something I couldn't pass up. I'll have involvement in a few other projects I can't talk about but S+S will be my main schtick.

    Given that, it's probably a good time to clear up some confusion on what Software + Services is (and isn't), so here goes...

    • Software + Services is not Microsoft's answers to SaaS
      Or Web 2.0 or SOA. In fact, S+S encompasses all of those things. The best explanation of this comes from Sanjay Parthasarathy at our Worldwide Partner Conference this year when he discussed the notion of S+S. He thinks about Web 2.0 as the experience, SaaS as the delivery and SOA as the composition and federation. So if we think about something like Exchange it uses SaaS as a delivery model (for OWA) and is a Web 2.0 experience in it's use of data presented with AJAX.
    • Software + Services is not a Microsoft only thing
      It's an industry thing and when you step back and look this becomes increasingly obvious. Lets take a few examples to explain this point.
      • is probably the most oft quoted example of SaaS and initially they were a pure play SaaS vendor with a no touch (assuming a browser) client impact and service which is hosted in the "cloud". Salesforce now offer a client for their service. There are scenarios which demand it, not least offline.
      • Google Gears is a good example of the darling of Web 2.0 providing Software + Services. I can now take Google Reader offline and read it when I don't have connectivity - on a plane for example.
      • XBOX Live is a good Microsoft example of the combination of local software connected to a cloud service to provide mutliplayer gaming and a marketplace.
      • Exchange is possibly the best Microsoft example where you can have an email server that his "on premise" (in your office), hosted (by a partner) or even provided by Microsoft. You can then access that service from a rich client on a PC (Outlook), a pure web client (Outlook Web Access) from a mobile device using a rich client (ActiveSync) and now even a voice interface with no client (Outlook Voice Access).
      • Apple is also a great proponent of S+S, though you'd never hear them call it that. iTunes + iPod = Software + Services. Perhaps even more so with the iPhone which makes much of the fact it connects to YouTube and the iTunes music store from a rich client on a device.
      • eBay TurboLister and eBay Desktop are two rich clients that connect to one of the worlds most popular Internet services.
    • Software + Services is a pretty big thing for Microsoft
      Ray Ozzie isn't known for hyperbole so the statement at the top of this post should be taken at face value. The breadth of Software + Services is vast. It encompasses everything from Zune (note iPod above), XBOX Live, Live services (such as Virtual Earth), Biztalk Services, Microsoft Online and more.

      Ray's talk at the Financial Analyst Meeting earlier this year gives you an indication of the breadth, and the depth of investment. Basically it touches almost all of Microsoft and I'm struggling to think of one area it doesn't affect. However, much as I'd like to think I'm going to work on all of these products and services that simply isn't true or indeed feasible. What I will be doing is helping make this understandable both inside and outside of Microsoft. That's what I think I'm okay at - synthesizing lots of inputs on technology and turning them in to something an audience can understand.That's where the Geek In Disguise thing came from after all (thanks Sarah) and to quote Charles Mingus:

      Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.

    I'm not saying I'm creative (more simple) but the quote does capture why I try to do.

    Anyhoo, that's probably enough for now but this is what you'll hear a little more about from me over the coming months. Rest assured though, this blog will continue to be home to an eclectic mix of technology, design, gadgets, Microsoft, industry and other random stuff I find. I hope you keep coming back and if you have question on S+S, fire away!

    Your loyal blogging servant, Steve...

    [update #1 with new image from Hugh and link to high res version]
    [update #2 good chinwag with the Hughmeister today and decided to print out the high res as a poster and plot companies/products]

  • Steve Clayton

    What Do You Buy The Man Who Has Everything?



    That's me apparently...according to my family anyway. Not sure I agree of course as I don't have Ferrari Scuedria in the stable or a Trilby hat. Regardless, I need your help. What do I need for Christmas this year? Bear in mind I have most of the stuff you may obviously suggest such as an XBOX 360, Zune 8gb, LG Viewty phone, Sony TZ laptop, nice car etc etc....and of course all the things money can't buy. But lets just get consumerist for a few moments. What do you think I neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed?? :)

    Answers on a postcards or to make life easy, in the comments section!

  • Steve Clayton

    A raft of Microsoft concept PC's


    cobalt oxygen

    argon zinc

    I stumbled across ammunition group's website recently following a link from a Wired article and decided to browse their catalogue of designs. Imagine my surprise when I found a few Microsoft concept PC designs in there...and my further surprise when I found out that Long hadn't already posted them

    Not sure I like any of them too much anyway but hey, nice to see something differently

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