The way that Channel9 is structured today is like an one-way communication. The Channel9 team chooses topics and unfortunately they are usually topics that advertise more about future technologies than ask for suggestions for software that is on the market
today. True, users can sometimes interact with the person who gave the video interview, but even then it is the Channel9 Team that mostly answers questions on the forums and not so much the other Microsoft Employees and especially the product managers that
are directly responsible.
Therefore, I want to suggest a more direct way by which we can communicate with Microsoft staff. The Channel9 team should set up a forum or a wikie where every month let's say, all users would be able to post their questions and their complaints with a specific Microsoft product/technology. Then, the Channel9 team should filter and choose the best questions and organize an interview with the product manager of the technology concerned or a knowledgable representative. The manager or the representative would then answer the questions that we users had posted. In this way our voice would be heard louder in practice and not just in theory.
The way that Channel9 is structured today is like an one-way communication. The Channel9 team chooses topics and unfortunately they are usually topics that advertise more about future technologies than ask for suggestions for software that is on the market today. True, users can sometimes interact with the person who gave the video interview, but even then it is the Channel9 Team that mostly answers questions on the forums and not so much the other Microsoft Employees and especially the product managers that are directly responsible.
Just some random thoughts...
Some of the videos do borderline advertising. But not all of them. The interviews with Anders Hejlsberg, the video from TechEd Europe and a bunch of others just kicks *!
There are too few Microsoft employees involved in the forums. And a real lack of "developers" that are neither managers on some level nor evangelists. I would like to focus more on the technology and less on the products themselves. There also seems to be a real lack of interest in monitoring the forums. I'm all for freedom of speech but there should be some limit on how much slander is accepted. It looks to me like C9 is slowly losing momentum. We need to find a way to focus more on the cool technology within the Microsoft products, and not just get stuck on the lack of CSS support in MSIE.
More random synapses firing...I would also like to hear more from the Research area...although I realize there may be limits on what they are willing to discuss for competitive reasons. I want to hear more about the cutting edge, rather than rehashing upcoming product releases. To me at least, it is sometimes equally interesting to hear about what doesn't make it to market and why.
I also came to the conclusion early on with this site that there would be a certain amount of "evangelizing" going on no matter what, but you more or less have to recognize it when it is happening and tune it out. As a professor of mine once said, "Consider the source."
I do see some monitoring going on, as I have had questions readily answered by Microsoft employees, although I cannot speak for everybody of course. Will that lead to product changes? Hard to tell at this point. There are so many internal battles going on in any given company and so many other forces outsiders will never get a handle on anyway, so I don't expect my ideas to get immortalized inside of a product (although it would be nice). The key will be to see a tangible reaction in some form for at least somebody on this site, whether it comes in the form of a product change or whatnot. Unfortunately, then there is the possibility someone could turn on the whole process and say, "hey, they stole my idea." And if it turns out that Channel 9 is simply a way of diverting ideas from the open source community as a means of defeating it...well, that may drive nearly everybody away.
MS most popular phrase in posts and videos:
"Its what keeps me coming to work each day"
JSRFC58 (and others): great feedback.
Earlier this week I got a really long tour of Microsoft Research. They didn't hold anything back that I could tell. Look for those videos to come in a week or so. We just walked the halls with the camera. Got an interview with Gary Starkweather, who invented the laser printer.
I've been behind the camera on about 75% of the videos. I'm trying to get you a diverse look at Microsoft. Yeah, some are a bit marketer-oriented, but I've tried to keep too much of that stuff from happening here. Yeah, see Ward, or Anders, or Christopher's interviews.
Tomorrow we're going over to see the XBox Live team.
If there's something you want to see (or someone you want me to interview) definitely let us know. I'll make it happen.
Will Channel 9 improve products? I think so. But our product cycles are at least 18 months long (and, some, like Windows, are far longer) so it can take a while to see change.
Keep it up! This feedback is great.
Hey guys, thanks for starting the thread. This is the stuff we live for and what we come to work for every day ( LOL w/Jamie). Let me share a little background on where we came from and where we are going and shed some light on some of your issues from the perspective of the guy who conceived the idea for Channel 9 and manages the team. Afterall you want to hear more from the people who are responsible for things around here
Channel 9 was conceived as a rogue project at Microsoft by a few evangelists, it was not a company wide initiative, it was not rolled down from management, it was an idea that formed from the rank and file out. When we launched it, we were not sure how it would be received or if it would have value to you the developers who keep us in business. The idea was two fold, create a mechanism for customers to learn more about who we are, what we do, and how we think and to provide a safe and open forum for honest dialogue and discussion.
We knew there would be challenges. Why? Because this is hard stuff for big organizations to digest and internalize into its culture, it is not just a Microsoft thing. When you think about it, business has been running on a cycle of build, market, sell, repeat for a century or more now. How many companies do you interact with at all that operates in a many much different than this? Why, because it is hard to do. It is risky to let each of your employees have a voice, it is risky to talk about your products early, it is risky to show people who you are as a company and how you operate. Most companies like to stay in control, on message, and limit exposure of their internal details to the pro's. It is a natural pattern for business to operate under.
Despite these challenges we pushed ahead. Why? Because we think that the benefits outweigh the risks and Microsoft has always been a business innovator. If anyone can adapt to a more open culture and new ways of working with customers and developing products, it is Microsoft. So we pushed this site out to the world. The only people who knew about it were a handful of people that we interacted with internally. There was no memo from Bill, there was no internal initiative to get everyone on Channel 9. Change happens from the bottom up in this company often. This was truly a grassroots effort and still is growing from the bottom up.
Since we have launched the site, we have been trying learn quickly, make mistakes quickly, and move on quickly. Somethings have worked well, somethings have not. Channel 9 is more two way in many senses than anything else at Microsoft I would argue. But what I hear from you is that is not enough. Through our internal awareness efforts, we have managed to attract hundreds of Microsoft employees to the site. Some have registered and participate actively, but it is not represented equally across products. The IE team is here, the VS team is here, Security Response team is here. They try to get on the site in between building products and we are grateful for that. But I hear you ... you want more. Afterall you rely on this company a great deal for your livelihood.
Did any of you see the MSDN Product Feedback Center? This is another experiment in openness from the company. You can see every open bug against VS.NET 2005 (Whidbey) and file your own and track status. How many software companies let you do this? We are trying to see how well this works and are going to scale it to other products in the coming months. We have Wikis on the site for product feedback that are monitored or sometimes even started by Microsoft employees. This is a hard problem, we hear you loud and clear, and we are trying to figure out the best way to solve it. We can't have every product manager here all day, and we can't build every feature that is requested but we can improve this dramatically from where we are today.
I have a mantra that I live by ... inch by inch. That is how change happens. I apologize if Channel 9 is not living up to your expectations in the area of two way communications. I am pushing this everyday and it is catching on. Even Bill Gates is aware of Channel 9 now and is a fan. But hey .... If a video sucks, tell us. If something doesn't make sense email me email@example.com . There is a wave of change crashing over the company as I write this, I know it can't come soon enough for all of you who are out there working hard building on Windows, I know it is not always aparent to you ... but it is happening. Inch by Inch.
Keep the faith and keep talking.
great post lenn
more grassroot things are the way to go
Lenn, first off channel 9 HAS lived up to my expectations. I mean emoticons and search are nice but these are extras and even if only 1/20 of my questions ever get addressed by someone at Microsoft that is more than would have been otherwise.
I would please like you to address (at some point) my suggestion that you make C9 open-source and allow people to submit patches to it? I'm sure you have bigger fish to fry right now but when things settle down a little more maybe you could give it some consideration.
I am also aware that I have posted a lot of rubbish lately and am going to stop posting stuff late at night or early in the morning. Only thought-out posts from me from now on.
I also am one that believes Channel 9 can be a force for change...I don't know if I want to get into a disucssion of "expectations" only because with something as experimental and evolving as this site, it is difficult to have preconceived notions of the way it should run. Nor I am not going to jump on the "it's a one-way street" bandwagon like Channel 9 is some massive black hole inhaling information from every corner of the globe. To borrow/extend (misapply?) a concept, I think things are still in the "storming" stage ("Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing"), which is a good thing. I'm sure, too, for some the newness factor of this site will wear off after a time...but hopefully it will not become the Land of Misfit Toys or worse ("Nobody wants to play with a Charley in the Box").
Re: seeing the Research area...can't wait for that. What I found interesting, though, is that when I would look around at other Research areas/departments in places such as MIT (and others) so many roads seemed to lead right back to...um...DARPA.