Personal Service Oriented Architecture

Michael Kanellos from CNET exposes some of the research at Microsoft to make search a greater part of its Windows operating system. The following are some interesting quotes from the article:

“Search in many ways is brute force,” Dumais said. “If the two of us type in a query, we get the same thing back, and that is just brain dead. There is no way an intelligent human being would tell us the same thing about the same topic.”

“Personalization was one of the big buzzwords of the early years of the dot-com era, but many of the efforts to deliver individualized content failed. Software developers, however, are increasingly becoming more adept at using Bayesian models and other probabilistic techniques to insert intelligence into software.”

“Although the underlying calculation in these models is complex, the overriding concept is fairly simple. Software keeps tabs on an individual’s Web surfing habits, interests, acquaintances, work and travel history, work projects, and other data. It also constructs a model that tries to anticipate what a person finds important and what will be irrelevant.”

“Microsoft’s experiments differ from commercial search engines in that the universe of data searched consists of data found on an individual’s hard drive.”

“In demonstrating Implicit Query, Dumais began to type an e-mail asking a colleague about a set of slides for an upcoming conference. Before the message was complete, the program–which appears in a window on the side of the screen– pulled up e-mails, slide decks and Word documents containing the name of the conference and the future recipient. Each hit came with a brief summary of the internal content, date, the type of software the file was written in, and its potential relevance, among other information.”

This is fascinating stuff and I can’t wait to see it in action.

However, based on the article it seems to me that Microsoft’s new search is focused on an enterprise that is still Personal Computing-centric, which is ideal today, but Longhorn is still two years away and it will be at least another year before we see it implemented within larger enterprises.

My concern is how applicable will a better PC-centric search be if personal enterprise computing finally becomes network-centric?

Albeit, we’ve all seen the rise and fall of the “Network Computer”, but I still believe in the underlying concepts that will end our intrinsic relationship with our dedicate hardware. Indeed, I’m talking about an environment where we will finally be able to productively “work” from any network-connected device.

Essentially, if in the coming years before Longhorn, a network-centric IT enterprise landscape becomes more widespread then the benefits of providing a better index to ones hard drive will be diminished.

Perhaps I’m being too close-minded and not including the bigger picture — especially with regard to Longhorn’s Indigo. I expect it’s more likely that Network and Personal computing will merge within the confines of a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA); whereby applications and computing power will come to the user where and when they need it. Of course this must include access to “Stuff I’ve Seen”.

This essentially describes the holy-grail of Network Computing or rather a “Personal service-oriented architecture” as Jon Udell describes.

Further info on Wallop

Mary Jo Foley of Microsoft Watch interviews Microsoft social computing group researcher Lili Cheng, which reveals some more insight (including screen shots) into MSFT’s social-networking software code-named “Wallop“:

“We’ve been really interested in blogs, wikis, authoring and syndication around RSS, and social networking software in general,” Cheng tells Microsoft Watch. “We were imagining how these things could combine. And Wallop is our first experiment in this space.”

“A lot of these ideas (RSS, wikis) are more novel and intriguing,” she says. “They are about aggregating sites and getting more information out. It matches the way people communicate.”

I’d love to be a part of the beta. However, perhaps Lili’s work will inspire the OneNote Product team to take my advice and integrate OneNote as a Wiki (err, Wallop) front-end.

Latest about Longhorn

John Carroll over at ZDNet has posted, IMHO one of the best overviews of Longhorn to date coming off of last weeks PDC.

Here are some good quotes from the article:

“I’ve noticed before that it is much easier to create reasonably complex user interfaces in HTML than in WIN32. For instance, it’s far easier to write a “skinnable” web site than it is to write a “skinnable” WIN32 application. Granted, you could do practically anything you wanted in WIN32, but if you wanted to escape the look and feel imposed by WIN32 controls, you had to perform a bunch of programming gymnastics.”

“Avalon is a complete upgrade to the process of writing Windows applications. In a way, Avalon turns Windows development into a more advanced and feature-rich version of web-style development. This constitutes more than just a conceptual similarity. One of the means by which Longhorn applications can be consumed is by accessing them from a web server using a browser (obviously, Internet Explorer), causing them to run within a “sandbox” managed by the .NET runtime. These downloadable applications act like more functional web pages, as they have access to the full set of rich user interface controls offered as part of the Longhorn operating system. Longhorn also makes it easy to integrate common web-paradigm concepts into desktop applications, such as page forward / page back logic, and “page history” functionality.”

Microsoft pursuit of Google revealed

I was in meetings all morning. So, I missed this report earlier, but Dave just alerted me to the Microsoft and Google news.

“Microsoft approached Google, the internet search engine, two months ago to discuss a partnership or even a merger it emerged today.”

“Google showed little interest in overtures from the company that dominates the market for operating systems.”
(via The Guardian)

This is certainly interesting, yet given MSFT’s track record in this respect, the news is not surprising. My guess is that the initial rejection by Google spured MSFT’s recent MSN Search push.

What is WinFS?

J. Wilcox over at Microsoft Monitor tries to determine if the new file system, dubbed WinFS, in Microsoft’s NG:OS Longhorn, will indeed be considered “new“:

“If Mr. LaMonica’s WinFS description is accurate, then WinFS really is Microsoft database technology running on top of the existing NTFS file system.”

Remote Shutdown

I was just helping out a friend who was trying to remotely restart a server that was somewhat locked-up and I found this gem on the JSI FAQ, which describes a “feature” of the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) on Windows 2000 & XP that will enable you to remotely restart a server.

Q: How can I log off or shutdown a remote Windows 2000 computer? (Quoted from the JSI FAQ)
A: You can do this from your Windows 2000 desktop.

  1. Right-click My Computer and select Manage.
  2. On the Action menu, press Connect to another computer…
  3. Double-click a computer in the list.
  4. Right-click Computer Management (‘server-name’) and press Properties.
  5. On the Advanced tab, press Startup and Recovery.
  6. Press the Shut Down button.
  7. Select an Action:
    • Log off Current User
    • Shut Down
    • Restart
    • Power down (if supported)
  8. Select a Force Apps Closed action and press OK.

Very cool! I didn’t even know that feature existed!!

If that doesn’t work, there’s also a free Remote Shut Down tool from Sysinternals:

You can also get the Kill.exe from the Windows NT Resource Kit.

Oh yea, another cool hack is this one which enables you to remotely install VNC on a server.

SoBig Blackout Blaster!

Via Microsoft Watch from Mary Jo Foley

“Rumors about SoBig and Blaster are propagating almost as fast as the worms themselves. The latest rumor circulating on Bugtraq: Blaster caused last week’s east coast blackout. Some are speculating that Blaster brought down the monitoring and control systems at a power-plant master terminal. Meanwhile, on the SoBig front, Gartner analysts are estimating that damages incurred by businesses from the e-mail worm could top $50 million.”

Doh!

Office 2003 Pricing is Set

Via Microsoft Monitor:

“Office Standard 2003 full version will sell for $399 and the Pro version for $499. Respectively, upgrades will cost $239 and $329.”

However, InfoPath and OneNote will sell for $199 each, which seems a bit steep — especially if they want to get them deep into the enterprise.

I still don’t get MSFT’s strategy with InfoPath. I think they should at least have a stripped down version or “reader” (like Acrobat) that they just give away.

SharePoint 2.0 and Search.Microsoft.com

Over the weekend Microsoft released a new site-wide search engine for Microsoft.com that utilizes the soon-to-be-released SharePoint 2.0 and Windows 2003 Server. (Thanks for the link Martin)

In what I think is a related note, for search results.

Although I can’t seem to find the interface to this yet, but you can customize the query by changing the “search keyword” value after the “q=” in the above link. (via Anil Dash)

Microsoft Targeting Google

Some interesting quotes from this article on CNET News.com about Microsoft new search initiatives:

“The fact that Longhorn is on the horizon raises questions to whether search services will be integrated into the Longhorn experience and what the ramifications will be to other folks,”

“Microsoft’s target will be to create little perceived difference between Web search and local search,”

“Ballmer identified search as one area where Microsoft will offer “new end-user functionality and services.” As part of his “integrated innovation” message, he said the company needs to “reach out broadly” through search, consumer services and other avenues to grow.”

“If Microsoft holds true to form, signs of its custom search engine will soon proliferate. As the company proved with browsers, media players and so many other products, it has myriad distribution points at its disposal and can exploit them at will to increase usage and market share. Already, sources close to the company say that it plans to incorporate a search toolbar into the Internet Explorer browser that will use MSN’s new engine.”

Now that MSFT has much of their core services in check, I think it makes a lot of sense for them to focus on the unification of seach and the classification of unstructured and structured data at the file system level.

Office 2003 beta 2 “refresh”

PCWorld reports “Microsoft is on track to release its “refresh” of Office 2003 beta 2 to testers before the end of the month, a company spokesman said Friday.”

This is good news, because I’ve been having problems with Outlook 2003 freezing occasionally. Otherwise, the other apllications in the Office 2003 beta have been stable.