Thoughts on Microsoft Company Meeting 2009

This past Thursday, I attended the 2009 Microsoft Company Meeting. Here are some nebulous thoughts on the talks and demos I heard, as not to step on my NDA’s toes.

Bing 2.0. This was one of the cooler demos at the company meeting, and as indicated by the tweets that leaked the news, it would seem I wasn’t the only person to feel that way. As part of the dogfooding process, I’ve been using Bing for the past little while for my web searching needs. It feels pretty decent. I don’t find a need to go back to Google, which seems a good enough indicator of its performance. Bing 2.0, which will roll out between now and the holidays, incorporates significantly more multimedia features, especially in the mapping and shopping areas, making the search (or should I say, decision) process faster and smoother. While there is a lot of speculation around tech sites as to when these features will appear, the exact dates weren’t even disclosed to the employees.

Project Natal (not pronounced like the word associated with babies) was also on show at the company meeting. Nothing new was demonstrated that hasn’t been seen in product demos already, but the new interface techniques, which can be used outside of games as well, will make the home theatre more natural and intuitive.

Steven Sinofsky, the head of the Windows division brought together some cool hardware, that drew some ooohs from the crowd. I saw everything from Windows 7 all-in-ones to a liquid nitrogen cooled AMD Phenom system, with a yet-to-be-released DX11 video card, to the Dell Adamo XPS. How they managed to get the latter into a 9.9mm shell is interesting. Let’s just say it doesn’t open up like most laptops.

The company meeting was a very exciting event and the product demos give me a good feeling for Microsoft’s future. In particular, the investment into internet search is producing some seriously cool enhancements to Bing.

UPDATE: If you’re located in the United States, you can try out one of the new Bing features, Visual Search Galleries, which launched earlier today. It requires Silverlight.

Bing Visual Search Galleries

You can scroll through the images, filter by some criteria (in this case, megapixels, zoom, price, so forth), and mouse over the items to see some quick information. Clicking one of the thumbnails will launch a search for the subject. Pretty slick for the more visual search queries, like handbags…

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