Keynote #2 at TechEd Europe....

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/07/11 03:01 -04:00, original URI:

This keynote was on Thursday afternoon and was entitled The Future of Software. Ordinarily, I am just as likely as anyone else to give stuff like that a miss. But David Vaskevitch gave it, and I was interested in seeing what was going to be said.

You see, I have done stuff for David in the past. And what i learned back then made me interested in what he was going to say now.

Perhaps I should explain....

A few years back, when I was working for Access, my admin called me and left a message on my machine, telling me that David Vaskevitch's admin would be giving me a call. And that I should give her whatever she asks for.

Now back then I did not know who this guy was so I did a little research. And then I was curious, what would a VP want with a lowly v- like I was back then?

I ended up talking to his admin, and then to him, on the phone, and between the of them, they explained the problem to me....

Basically, he is someone who likes to try to look at the way people use software, and use computers. He ends up doing projects that customers might try to do, and then looks at where things are easy and where they are not -- and many times what the hardware and/or software should do differently when things are not easy.

For example, in the months prior he had tried to upgrade an old computer, the way people would often try to do, and see where problems came up in seeing new momory, new peripherals, etc. And in this most recent period, he had decided to try to use all of the various Office 97 Professional applications for various things. In the case of Access, he decided to build a database to hold his CD collection.

Now for me such a database would not hold too much stuff, but David V. has a lot of CDs. This was going to be a huge database. But he was having problems running one of the wizards. 'No problem' he thought, he could just write the code himself. But the section of the help file he needed also did not work. So he tried calling Product Support (no doubt thinking it was a great oppotunity to get even more information on user experiences!).

The call did not really go all that well, though. After going through all of the basic troubleshooting steps, the rep. suggested that he might want to clean off the machine and  reinstall Office; the configuration appearss to be too broken. At this point, customer David explained who he was, which did cause an understandably fast escalation. Somebody in Access support who picked up the esacalated call apparently saic that if you ever have a problem that realtes to wizards, Michael Kaplan is the man to call. And thus they were calling me. Could I take a look at the install and see if I could figure out the problem?

I admit that I felt a little like Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now ("I took the mission. What the hell else could I do?"), but I said sure, I would take a look.

They gave me directions to his house (I thought he had the machine in the office!).

Anyway, I was able to fix the two problems. They were both setup issues (one with Advanced Wizards and one with the Access VBA help file), and I believe both were fixed in the core product even though they had originally been postponed (there is a principle that the more important the witness of a bug, the less obscure the bug can be claimed to be!).

The thing I was most struck by was that someone who was that important did not mind getting his hands dirty, and did not mind putting himself in the cutomer's shoes. So I was very interested in what he had to say about the future of software because I knew he would probably be talking about in the context of the problems people have today with software. And I knew that he was a person who had spent time looking at those problems, so it promised to be a very interesting keynote.

And David Vaskevitch (now Microsoft's CTO!) did not disappoint.

The keynote itself was covered in many places:

TechEd Europe 2005: 2nd Keynote 'The Future of Software'

TechEd 2005 Amsterdam - Day 4 II

TechEd 2005 - Inspiration Shared

(I had no luck finding a transcript of the talk, i will let you know if I find one)

and so on. And as the coverage indicates, his breadth and depth of knowledge about customer expectations and customer frutrations is tremendous. I am glad that he was able to share this information with us at TechEd, and that he is the kind of person who can and will take the time to look at what we and our customers fundamentally try to do. I think it rocks, as does he in this case....

# zzz on 11 Jul 2005 4:03 AM:

I suppose TechEd isn't such a big deal that they'd have videos/audio of those keynotes?

# zzz on 11 Jul 2005 4:18 AM:

I did found a Steve Ballmer keynote from TechEd 2005 though.

Just incase someone else had missed this.

# Mathias Raacke on 11 Jul 2005 7:40 AM:

I agree. I usually don't like keynotes, many of them are just "bla bla" without any real content, but his keynote was great!

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