Microsoft blogs

· Weblog Concepts

Adam Barr has posted an interesting thinkpiece about Microsoft bloggers at kuro5hin. He mainly addresses the idea of Microsoft employees blogging and a bit about MS’s attitude toward the blogosphere. He says, for example,

It is highly doubtful that Microsoft is making an official push to dominate blogspace, which would be impossible in any case.

I’m not so sure about this. There are rumors that MSN will offer a blogging tool in its next release, and its clear that the upcoming round of Office and related packages will include some weblog-building templates and wizards. MS recently released a plug-in for its media player to enable posting “what I’m listening to now” to a blog. Coming from so many angles, I wouldn’t rule out a Microsoft attempt to dominate the blogosphere, unlikely as that outcome my feel to us right now.
Barr makes the interesting point that MS bloggers mainly seem to be developer types you’d expect to be interested in the underlying architecture:

[T]he technical architecture that supports blogs, built on top of XML, is current one of the most fertile testbeds for the much-hyped concept of “web services”. Many Microsoft bloggers have a professional interest in blogs: scanning the list posted by comparatively longtime blogger Joshua Allen shows that about half of them either work on XML or .Net – and thus are interested in the technical underpinnings of blogs – or else on MSDN or other evangelism functions – and thus are interested in the communication aspects of blogs.

While Barr doesn’t expect to see a Bill Gates blog any time soon, he does think that, “It’s possible that having a blog that is well-read (either externally published, or an internal one available only on the Microsoft corporate network) may become a way to establish status within Microsoft.”
He even thinks there’s a seed of potential for a user-interface revolution:

The blogs of today might be the inspiration for the company to actually achieve this. If you look at the list of things that blogging, loosely stated, can be used for, it includes almost everything that makes a computer better than a typewriter: scheduling, to-do lists, email, feedback, content management, document storage and retrieval. Could Microsoft succeed in blending all these into a new UI paradigm whose front end looks a lot like the blogging software of today?

A while back Megnut warned us (in Beware the False Blog Software) that bigtime software companies might slap a few existing features together and announce a new blog tool. At the time I had a mixed response. Yes, I would rebel if some lame GeoCities like tool with a post-new-entry buttom was rolled out and called blog software, but I also think there’s a risk of getting into “What is jazz?” type arguments, and that it won’t be so cut and dried that this or that new softare or widget release calling itself blog software will or won’t be false based on an arbitrary feature set. Where I agree with Meg is that a tool that focuses on the unit of the page and not the unit of the post would be a step backwards for blogging.
If Microsoft does release a blog program, or if it embeds blogging habits into some of its other initiatives, this rubric may help determine how successful the attempts will be.