free html hit counter Gates at SAS, Liveblogging...News: Sea Dragon... - John Battelle's Search Blog

Gates at SAS, Liveblogging…News: Sea Dragon…

By - May 08, 2007


I’m sitting in a ballroom at the Sheraton, waiting for Gates to come on for his keynote. The scene is pretty standard corporate client conference – vanilla house techno music, hundreds of attendees burbling to each other, Voice of God announcer hushes the crowd and…

The theme is “Inspired” and the conference kicks off with a slick corporate video on that theme.

Bill Gates takes the stage after some sales schtick between Kevin Johnson and Joanne Bradford. His topic is “Innovating in the Age of Engagement.”

His talk so far is pretty broad and tuned for a non-technical audience. His first slide is “Megatrends” – stuff that will not surprise this audience – smaller hard drives enabling video and music on small devices, wireless broadband, SOA, etc. He cites MSFT’s R&D investment as the largest in the industry – $6 billion (that includes work on core products).

He’s moving on to another theme of “customer driven interaction.” I have to say, the slides he’s showing are pretty standard – models looking excited and engaged, etc. But that’s the tuning of this audience – this is a sales conference, not Web 2.0. It’s clear that his role here is not sales guy, or cheerleader for the ad industry, but rather eminence gris, Visionary with a capital V.

Damn. The WiFi just went down. That’s a bummer. Swapping to another network….


“The only sure winner (in the Internet space) is the consumer himself…”

He mentions that MSFT would like to see another billion computers (that’s the current installed base) into the world.

“Reading will go entirely online” the way photography is in the process of doing now.

News and getting news out is changing, uses Microsoft as an example – Channel 9 gets a namecheck – 3mm unique viewers every month on that Channel, wow.

On to the future of video – TV is going from one sized fits all to personalized. Yup! “It’s a dramatic change in TV…”

“There is no way in the next five years that broadcast infrastructure will not be viewed as competitive.”

“Ads will be targeted to the viewer.”

Namechecks Xbox Live. “That’s been explosive in growth” – the games that succeed are the games that drive community. For sure….

Brings out Ed Graczyk, a fellow who will discuss IPTV…oddly, he’s talking about Microsoft’s IPTV platform while showing a fly fishing instructional video, which is pretty cool and distracting me from what he’s saying.

OK, now he’s showing channel tuning done in software, which is neat. A better looking program guide as well. Neat again.

I wonder what Comcast thinks of this. Hmmm, he mentions that the model is OEM – ie ATT uses it. I see now. Comcast is certainly a competitor of this then. I’ve not really grokked this world and I need to.

It does look prety good compared to Comcast. Then he namechecks search in digital TV as sucky. YESSIR. Shows search and it’s really much better. Way to go Micrsooft, I want it!

IPTV on Xbox 360 was announced at CES. How did I miss that? Doh. Interesting. He shows the integration of IPV on Xbox with IM chat, etc. Again, very cool.

“The first example of how social is coming into the TV experience.”

Talks about advertising possibilities in this environment. Yessir.

OK, Ed’s off, Bill’s back.

More from Bill, now focusing on advertising. Targeting is getting better, in the case of someone reading a particular article, “in the future instead of a publication going to a single provider (for ads) it will be a richer thing than that – the publisher knows something about that reader” as do other third party providers … “it’s really a combination of that knoweldge, far more than the article itself…” that will decide the right ad for that reader. A not too subtle jab at Adsense….

Moving on to Silverlight, see here for more on that….Brian Goldfarb is coming up to talk about that….

Where Silverlight shines is in media experiences….strikes me this is really about competing with Flash, no? It’s like Windows Media Player meets web development…talks about contextual advertising using Silverlight…loads of integrated stuff – overlays, etc.. Cool. But very video driven….


Now talking about new ways to work with search ads. Interesting….integrating search and video ads. I’ve talked about this before….He mentions a technology called Sea Dragon which is very cool. Integrated into paid text ads that blow up into very high resolution images that allow advertisers to push tons of info and pictures into paid search text ads. Very interesting…

Gates is back. Now talking about “the Live era” and wrapping up. Overall, I was impressed with the stuff I saw. Sea Dragon in particular strikes me as pointing to where we are heading in search ads, and I bet Google will do something similar soon.

Gates is down now with Joanne Bradford for Q&A….

What in tech is underestimated? TV on the internet is finally happening. Mobile…

What’s next in mobile? Mixed voice-screen interfaces…for sure…

Will the Yellow Pages get wiped out? They will be used less and less. Namechecks TellMe….

What gets you excited about Web2? Education and video…

What are you spending the next 15 or so months on? People don’t want to go to the Internet just to see a list of links (ouch, another hit on Google). We can make that far better. I think what he’s saying here is that Microsoft is all about creating a better interface for the Web. This is consistent with what they showed and ties it up nicely.

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3 thoughts on “Gates at SAS, Liveblogging…News: Sea Dragon…

  1. Mike says:

    Nice reporting, thanks for the post.

  2. nmw says:

    ouch, another hit on Google: People don’t want to go to the Internet just to see a list of links >> does this sound familiar? >> *Are all major search engines link-based? Is it time to introduce a new algorithm for “search”?*

    ;D nmw

    (ps: spell-checked “algo” 😉

  3. Web design site says:

    Good news :O)