MIX07 - Labs and Day 2 Keynotes

I’ve run late all day long today for some unknown reason so I ended up coming in on the tail end of lunch and missing my last session because it was overbooked. Instead, I spent some time with the hands-on labs and got some experience working with Silverlight.

The labs they have are good and really do illustrate the concepts behind working with Silverlight. I ran into a couple of snags because it’s all running in Visual Studio “Orcas” so some of the debugging experience was a little flaky, but generally it’s a pretty decent platform. Writing the XAML is easy as it is, but working a product like Expression Blend into the mix makes it super-simple.

I believe they’re going to put these labs up on the web for folks to download and run through. I recommend doing the one where you build a Silverlight clock application and the one where you build a Silverlight image viewer.

Oh, and for some decent insight into Silverlight, check out Barak’s blog - he’s the PM for Silverlight and I have a feeling there’s going to be good stuff showing up there.

The afternoon keynote started out with Robbie Bach, President of the Microsoft Entertainment and Devices Division. So, basically, he’s over Xbox, Zune, Media Center, and that sort of thing.

The talk focused a lot on the marketing aspect of creating a good media experience. It felt a little like the same “how to get eyeballs on your product” sort of talk, and I know there’s no free lunch - someone’s got to pay for things, and advertising is huge revenue because you’ve got to sell product, but I felt sort of… well, dirty. I mean, I find things like in-game advertising annoying, but that was one of the big key things shown as a great way to go moving forward.

The overall notion is that a media experience should be personal (relevant to the user directly); interactive (let the user engage themselves in the experience); and social (let the user interact not only with the content but also with other users). To do that, new marketing efforts need to excite (make people excited to interact with it); attract (invite the user to gravitate toward the content); and engage (have a two-way interaction with the user).

Following Bach, Gayle Troberman, General Manger World Wide Branded Entertainment at Microsoft, came out and led a discussion with some marketing folks - Andrew Rashbass (Publisher and Managing Director, The Economist), Jonathan Hsia (Associate Marketing Director, Starcom MediaVest Group), Carol Kruse (Group Director, Interactive Marketing, Coca-Cola), and Winston Binch (Executive Integrated Producer, Crispin Porter and Bogusky).

By that time, I’d heard pretty much enough about how to interactively engage people to sell products in new ways in a digital fashion. I get it, it’s just not my bag.

Back to the lab.