I was a bit hesitant whether I should write about this or not, but hey, I’m all about openness, so here goes…
Last night I and a few other web/media people were invited by Microsoft for a sit-down discussion meeting, with the upcoming launch of Internet Explorer 8 and all. My initial thoughts was a feeling of respect to have the guts to invite someone who’s openly critical about Internet Explorer (in a constructive fashion, I hope), but definitely wondering why such a talk would take place now, and not six months or so ago, when it would have actually had the chance to make any difference.
My expectations of the evening were high, especially since my face was on the front page of biggest IT news web site in Sweden, IDG, most of the day yesterday, talking about shortcomings in Internet Explorer 8 (let’s look past the fact that the picture of me was four years old, and that all quotes were the negative one, and not also the actually nuanced answers I gave…).
I was hoping for an interesting discussion about what is good with Internet Explorer 8 and what is not so good, both when it comes to features as well as different web standards support etc. However, that is not how things went at all.
This is the evening outlined:
- Introduction of the Microsoft staff present, and the attendants.
- 1 minute Microsoft stating “We know IE 6 sucks” (well, don’t use it as a base for the next mobile Internet Explorer then!)
- 1 minute Microsoft saying they think IE 8 is good.
- One and a half hour general discussion about personalization on the web, target groups, making things easy to understand etc.
That last point was only remotely interesting, and maybe could have been in a different context where there would be no expectations to discuss Internet Explorer 8, but overall the evening was a disappointment to me for two main reasons:
- We didn’t discuss any Microsoft products, which we should have.
- There were no summary of any possible action of results or follow-up of the meeting.
And, if I may be a bit cynical, at times it felt like we were treated to dinner and drinks to tell them what we think, since they dont’t have the time to read blogs, articles and such to form an opinion – like it was a low price to have people share their takes in person instead. And it’s not that I think they’re not interested, it’s rather that we see no effect or concrete happenings due to us saying what we think, which takes away the feeling that what we say matters at all.
I have to say, though, that the last 5-10 minutes before I left (after the actual discussion had been concluded) at least gave me something. Me and Emil were standing talking to Michael Bohlin, Product Manager of Windows in Sweden, and I was pleasantly surprised with how open he was about good as well as bad things, and expressing some of the challenges they’re facing. It’s not like he was disrespecting Windows, but it was nice to have a talk with someone with self-distance, who would acknowledge shortcomings, but at the same time standing up for good things with the product he represents.
So, to summarize: if the evening had been like those last minutes with Michael, it would probably have been very interesting and rewarding. As it turned out instead, it was more or less a waste…