Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Don't kill your customer's baby

I found this tale of Opera expanding their server base hilarious. It highlights the one-size-fits-all approach many major vendors have, where they just ship stock along for a quick evaluation without checking how well it fits the customer's needs. In this case, they dismiss the customer's flagship product as a configuration error. Not to spoil the ending too much, but they missed out on millions in revenue...

I guess the big story here is, to sell something to a customer, you should ensure you understand their business enough to ensure your product offering is appealing to them, and not repellent! Regardless of who wrote the offending code, the sales team (and in particular SE if any involved) should be right on top of things like this.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bill Gates on Google Chrome OS

Bill Gates is one of the sceptics on Google Chrome OS. For him, the vagueness of Google's announcement makes the OS look more interesting than it actually is.
Steve Ballmer goes a bit further, saying that a browser-centric OS is not the best path, as people spend most of their time on their computer not using their browser. 
However is this changing? For most of my daily work, I open a browser. To read my email, I open a browser.  To check the news, I open a browser. To give a product demo, I open a browser! (ok, sometimes I run a VM, and open a browser in the VM...). Even non-browser applications often will gather their data using web services (or browser APIs).
 Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. Later this year we will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010. Because we're already talking to partners about the project, and we'll soon be working with the open source community, we wanted to share our vision now so everyone understands what we are trying to achieve.
They also say, that it is separate from Android, multi-platform, and is there to support Google's web-based applications (which will continue to work cross-platform themselves). A major change is that the minimum system required will not need Microsoft any more. However we need to see what percentage of people are happy to depart from using MS Office applications. If that happens, I can see an exodus from the MS centric home computer as a real possibility.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Demo PC rebuild

It seems this happens to me periodically that I have to rebuild my demo laptop. Usually I play around with my laptop with different OS options, different attempts to optimise all of the dependant apps and ensure that I get my email and other apps working on it without interfering with my demo.

This time I have gone through about 3 iterations, and ended up with 3 options.

  1. Windows 7
  2. Windows Vista
  3. Mac OS X( !?) - maybe not, my Macbook is ancient...

Right now I am leaning towards Windows 7, but I have a bit of work to make the actual demo work quicker on that platform. If I can't succeed, I will have to fall back to Vista or XP, as much as I like the look and feel of Windows 7.  The other advantage is of course the wow factor that Windows 7 has at the moment, but I also don't want this to detract from the actual presentation.

My standard platform for demo is running a VM as Windows Server. When I run the demo, I have a kill button that gets rid of everything unimportant to the demo to conserve resources. I fit the laptop with as much RAM, the fastest storage and go through all the possible OS hacks I can find to speed it up. I basically want to get to a demo that only has what I want the customer to see. I think of this as the Zen of Demo systems ;-)

I am sure some other options exist such as using UBUNTU and VMware, but I am not convinced that my customers would be distracted by less usual platforms, and it would probably raise more questions than I want. I want the demo system to not distract but to appeal to the general product audience.