Monthly Archives: August 2008

Microsoft to launch “Skymarket” applications marketplace for Windows Mobile 7

If one of the most compelling features of the iPhone are the third-party applications then it’s a sad fact for Microsoft since Windows Mobile has supported third-party applications since the last ice age.

Side by side, there’s an impressive 18,000 applications (hopefully at least a 1:5 gem-to-crap ratio) for Windows Mobile compared to just over 2,000 for the iPhone. The exception being there’s only one iPhone marketplace and about a bazillion WM marketplaces. Personally I’ve avoided purchasing any WM applications because of this.

Probably realizing they’ve been down the wrong path and missing out on a couple of millions from revenue sharing, Microsoft is looking to roll out its own centralized marketplace codenamed “Skymarket” as soon as 2009 with the release of Windows Mobile 7 as a couple of job postings indicate.

Job Title: Senior Product Manager – Skymarket
This is a unique opportunity and time of rapid change in the mobile industry for a Senior Product Manager in the Mobile Communications Services team to drive the launch of a v1 marketplace service for Windows Mobile.

Key Responsibilities include the following:

  • Definition of the product offering, pricing, business model and policies that will make the Windows Mobile marketplace “the place to be” for developers wishing to distribute and monetize their Windows Mobile applications
  • Responsibility for the business model and key elements that will drive the optimal experience for developers and monetization of the service by Microsoft
  • Preparation and driving the cross group collaboration for the initial launch of the marketplace offering to the developer community this fall
  • Preparation and driving the cross group collaboration with stakeholders in the commercial launch of the marketplace service with the launch of WM 7
  • Define and mange the consumer, developer and mobile operator value proposition and supporting materials for use by PR, MCB’s developer outreach organization, and other teams across Microsoft
  • Working with multiple stakeholders (product team, product planning, developer outreach, business operations, legal and more) in definition on the process, policies and terms of use through which developers and consumers take part in the marketplace
  • Work closely with product planning on prioritization of consumer, developer, and mobile operator scenarios
  • Support business development on engagements with mobile operators and integration of the marketplace offering into broader Microsoft services offerings or discussions
  • Work closely with the Mobile Communication Business developer outreach organization
  • Management of KPI’s for the service post launch

Product Manager – Commercial Integration

This is a unique opportunity for a Product Manager in the Mobile Communications Services team to drive the commercial operations and infrastructure integration for the v1 launch of an applications marketplace service for Windows Mobile 7.

Key Responsibilities include the following:

  • Drive the commercial operations and infrastructure integration that will enable the Skymarket service and enable revenue collection from consumers of the service and payments to 3rd party developers selling applications/content through the marketplace
  • Drive the cross group collaboration for the commercial operations and infrastructure that enable initial launch of the marketplace with the launch of WM 7
  • Benchmarking 3rd party mobile marketplaces for commercial integration options for consumers and developers, generating a set of best practices as input for the app market planner
  • Working closely with product teams and potentially 3rd parties on mobile operator commercial integration
  • Define the processes and KPI’s for measurement of the performance of the business
  • Define processes for the on-going operation of the business including unds collection, payment, reporting requirements
  • Oversight of 3rd party developer payments, tax issues, and funds management
  • Work closely with product planning on prioritization of consumer, developer, mobile operator integration, and internal commerce integration scenarios
  • Preparation and driving the cross group collaboration for the commercial operations and infrastructure that enable initial launch of the marketplace with the launch of WM 7
  • Working with multiple stakeholders (product team, product planning, developer outreach, legal and more) in definition on the process, policies and terms of use through which developers and consumers take part in the marketplace
  • Support business development on engagements with mobile operators and integration of the marketplace offering into broader Microsoft services offerings or discussions

If global warming hasn’t yet screwed up our seasons then “this fall” would translate to the next couple of months – when developers should get an early look at the marketplace and hopefully to start adopting like newly-wed Hollywood couples. As of last sighting on a blurry HTC PowerPoint slide, Windows Mobile 7 along with “Skymarket” should be an early 2009 release.

Microsoft makes Internet Explorer 8 unboxing parody

Here’s a fun video Microsoft’s Internet Explorer team has produced and recently uploaded to Facebook as a promotional video for Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2. The video is a parody of the popular gadget unboxing videos featuring a fictional techno-critic and professional unboxer by the name of “Roland Wacker” who has a rather sophisticated taste. He however does get a little emotional with his nemesis Eugene.

[flv:ie8-unboxing.flv 600 340]

In the spirit of fun, there is also another video parody of a classical documentary on the subject of “slicing” which serves as a analogy for WebSlices. Even features “awesomeness of samurai words”.

[flv:ie8-webslice.flv 600 450]

Finally, they’ve also published a series of showcase videos which demonstrates how Internet Explorer 8 can be used in various scenarios. In comparison to most “product demos”, they’re quite upbeat with a pretty out-there rock soundtrack. This one is titled “Keeping up with the Election 2008″.

[flv:ie8-election.flv 600 340]

The Internet Explorer 8 is definitely on a roll with this second beta.

Hands-on review with the Palm Treo Pro

No backlight

I’ve been looking for a new mobile phone for a while now – from iPhone 3G to Samsung i780 and even the almighty HTC Touch Diamond – but whenever it came the moment to buy, I could never go through with it because of some particular shortcoming. Touch typing on the iPhone, bulky style of the i780 and again touch typing on the Diamond. After a couple days’ worth of playing with Palm’s recently announced Palm Treo Pro which is not only QWERTY but also stylish, I don’t think I’ll need to look any further.

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See you at TechEd Australia Student Day 2008

If you live in Sydney Australia, are a tertiary student and need a good reason to avoid school on Tuesday the 2nd of September, then come to TechEd Australia Student Day. It’s just like watching a movie in the cinemas except there’s no explosions or romance and the audience is full of geeks. The event is not yet rated.

Understandably all uni students are broke so Microsoft is not only hosting a free half-day event from 1-4pm packed with XNA game development, robotics, web development, Olympics and some career advice (no event is complete without), but there’s also a female geek celebrity called Ms Megabyte (apparently not her real name) and the worldwide Imagine Cup winners. The rumor is apparently they’re from Australia and one member even writes some inconspicuous blog.

On the day, Joe Wilson of Microsoft Academic Evangelism will also be officially launching Microsoft Dreamspark in Australia – the program for full-time tertiary students to own a wide range of Microsoft developer and designer tools for the best price of free.

To get in, you’ll need to register first on the Microsoft website. You can also stalk some of the other attendees on the event’s Facebook page. Finally a pro tip – if you see me on the day, please don’t ask me to link to your blog. Harsh but fair.

Synthesizing artificial worlds

You’ve probably all seen or even made Photosynths of computer desks, living rooms and scenic locales all around the world, but what about virtual worlds? Photosynth might have been made for the “real world” but it works just as well for virtual worlds like those in games. Granted, regenerating a virtual environment of a virtual environment might be defeating the purpose but the result can be still pretty interesting.

For proof, take a look at this wicked synth of the Halo 3 multiplayer map “Zanzibar” made by AlexOpposite.

Inspired by the above, I decided to take my own stab at making a synth of a virtual world. My weapon of choice was the classic Team Fortress 2 map “2fort”. To get the clean screenshots, I used a few console commands from this machinima tutorial.

Whilst mine has a slightly higher “synthy score” of 100%, the result isn’t as impressive as the Halo one but still looks pretty extraordinary. What I found is that Photosynth was sometimes confused by some extreme angles you can achieve in video games you might not otherwise. Game screenshots also lacked EXIF data like focal length which Photosynth otherwise would have used to make more accurate models.

I’m definitely going to try synth some other game maps, but for fun I’d love to see someone try synthesizing a side-scroller like Super Mario.

The words of Steven Sinofsky

By now you’ve probably all read the required reading material that is the “Engineering 7” blog written by the emperor himself, Steven Sinofsky and silent partner Jon DeVaan. And what a read it is. Sinofsky is certainly a man of many words and he’s not afraid to use it, no surprise why he’s not on Twitter.

In case you were wondering just what he likes to say in the somewhat 4,800 words he’s written, then take a look at this (rather cool) word cloud I generated with Wordle. Easier to read I might add too.

To nobody’s surprise “Windows” is an obvious one, soon followed by “team”, “release” and “major”. Steven is also a big fan of singulars, “folks” and “customers”. Interestingly enough for someone who likes firm targets “might” had a lot of play yet I can’t find “will”. Furthermore, “performance” was mentioned more than “user-interface”, a trend I hope to balance out over time. Finally, nice to see some “developer” love too.