There is absolutely no insight in saying that Microsoft has a long uphill road to try and wrestle the loyalties of designers and creative types away from Apple and Adobe. It is one of those things you would think is impossible until you look at what they did with the Xbox and how they now have long time gaming front runner Sony in their rear view mirror.
I liked their first move of introduced Silverlight to give Adobe some well needed competition in the online rich media space but I was curious to see how they would engage the creative community after it’s launch. Early last week I receive a postcard for them that had “Phizz Pop – Now agencies have place to call their own” scrolled across it. That simple line made me abandon almost all hope that this was going to be anything but a clumbsy ploy to make me believe Microsoft understands what I do. Let’s start by breaking down that headline and the use of “PH” in the fizz like some hideously sappy Disney movie where parents are trying to be cool by saying phat with a ‘ph’. That coupled with the line of “Now agencies have place to call their own” that just rings of what you just know will be nothing more than a hollow over promise. Never the less I went to the web site to see if my initial perception would be wrong. Sadly it wasn’t. The site houses a thin collection of Silverlight techniques and a gallery filled with sophmoric design work displayed only as screenshots with no working samples or links. It feels like a site that was created in a weekend by a junior designer and not the engaging and challenging experience I had hoped for.
I put the site behind me and moved on down the road but Phizz Pop reared it’s head again later that week when I attended the Future of Web Design Conference and Sean Siebel the new User Experience Evangelist from Microsoft took the stage. Like when I read “PhizzPop”, seeing his title and how hard it was trying to be creative and cool had me thinking this was going to be as hollow as the site he was there to promote. It was even worse than any of us expected. He used 3 of his 5 minutes to talk about PhizzPop before the big finish where he showed the nearly two year old video ‘Microsoft designs the iPod package‘. It got no laughs or any reaction from the crowd and it was painful to watch someone fall so flat.
I walk away from these experiences with the hope that Microsoft wakes up to the fact that when you are talking to a group of people who create trends and embrace constant change for a living you need to have something real to say because hollow actions will get you into the history books with Adobe LiveMotion.