Gates: " should get the information you want when you want it..."

Tucows: "Share what you want, with whom you want, when you want."

Hmm. :-)

But while we're on the subject, I'd like to know what Microsoft's strategy with weblogs/personal publishing actually is.

I can see a lot of synergy between RSS and Microsoft's various client applications (RSS into Excel? Yummy), but that's just the consumption side of things.

What about the supply side of the equation - the creation of content. Creating it, shaping it, forming it - making it compelling enough that RSS users *want* to "consume" the content. Microsoft's tools just aren't there yet.

Microsoft has a dismal track record producing content publication tools that "get the job done" for users. Look how painful Word makes it to create compelling Word documents - never mind the internet-centric functions like "Save as HTML". Word, FrontPage, Powerpoint - none of them make it easy for end-users to create great web content.

Would Microsoft put an XML-RPC connector into Outlook that allows Outlook users to publish to the web via something like the metaWeblogAPI? Might make some sense - but where do these users publish to?

Hotmail? Ick.

IIS? Icky-ick.

Exchange? Ickety-Ick-ick-ick.

Sharepoint is a potential candidate, but this is a seriously business-centric set of applications... 

"SharePoint Products and Technologies facilitate collaboration
within an organization and with partners and customers."

In order for Microsoft to get to the kind of lock-in that they want (c'mon, you know you want it!) they have to get adoption to the point where users of all stripes have embraced their solution. Not just business users - but *all* users. Customers from all of the important segments need to wrap their heads around whatever it is that Microsoft is going to release. My limited understanding of Sharepoint leads me to believe that it just won't scale in the direction it needs to. Not technical scale, but market scale. Can it rise up to meet the demands of a 14-year old that wants to publish some pictures to a website? My 23 year old brother isn't going to want to deal with the intellectual overhead of Sharepoint just to "share stuff with other users". But I think he will use the first *easy* application that comes down the turnpike - it just won't be Sharepoint - its too locked into business workflow and not accessible enough for the average Joe.

"It had better be easy as pie!"

So what *is* Microsoft going to do?

Scoble says that  "syndication is where the action is". I'd agree, but I can't imagine that Syndication (yes - a capital "S". We're talking about Microsoft here and no matter what they do in this space, it deserves to be capitalized until their marketing department comes up with a better name for it.) is lucrative enough to catch their attention for any appreciable amount of time. Syndication is just the the means to move bits from (a) to (b) so that users that aren't exposed to the content at (a) might be at (b) regardless of what "(b)" is - another web site, something like Bloglines or Newzcrawler, Outlook - whatever. And let's not even consider stretching the definition of "syndication" to mean "web broadcast". If they couldn't do it with WebTV, they're not going to do it with Syndication. No, the real money lies with *Publication*, not *Syndication*. The money associated with owning the creation of the bits far outweighs the money associated with owning the transport of all the bits.

The phone companies are struggling with this right now - it turns out that owning the devices at the edge of the network was way more important that owning the network itself. Now, some smartass has invented a network that runs on top of theirs and they can't make a nickle from it. Turns out, there's no real money in the wires. Meanwhile, EdgeCompanies like Cisco, eBay and their kin are cleaning up. AT&T did $8 billionish in Q1-04 - a steady $3 billionish slide down from Q1-01. Cisco? Up a cool $1 billionish to $5.6 billion in the same period of time. Both got slammed by the telco/dotCom meltdown, and yet one of them seems to be doing remarkably well regardless. (eBay? A cool $750 million quarter - up seven fold since pain there.)

The difference is that Cisco doesn't need to own a network to be successful. AT&T *is* a network company. You can see the effect of this in these numbers.

But is Microsoft a NetworkCompany? Not yet, although I suspect that they would like to add this to their resume. They're doing remarkably well as an EdgeCompany ($9 billionish in Q1) and tying everything together into one platform - in effect making the application at one with the network - is a strategy that's certainly worth examining from their perspective. The problem with this is that it doesn't solve any clear market need. My brother isn't pining for an end-to-end application/network infrastructure provider. He just wants to crop some pictures and get them onto his website without soaking up valuable hours that he could otherwise invest in his real life. He wants applications that he's grown to love over the years to work better with one another and now he wants them to work with his choice of networks as well. Someday, he might care whether or not someone else can repurpose these bits for their own purposes, but he - the market - isn't there yet. His needs are much simpler today and the likelihood that Microsoft is going to nail this with a Grand Unified Syndication strategy is essentially nil.

And the odds are even worse if they don't get waaay better with Publication first.

So I guess my question for Mr. Gates is this.

"When will Word be able to effectively publish to Blogware?"