A Visit to Microsoft

Filed Under Mindjet

Mindjet

by
July 9, 2006

Because of MindManager’s extensive integrations with various Microsoft (msft) products, keeping close ties with the Microsoft is a priorty for Mindjet.  On June 29th a small group of us went up to Redmond, Washington to visit this important partner.  Here is my report:

The Microsoft Visitor Center
Anthony Roy, Gerelee Goltsev and I had some time to kill before our first scheduled meeting so after a drive around the huge Microsoft campus, we went to the Microsoft Store and Visitors Center.  After browsing the store and making some small purchases (we couldn’t buy the really cool stuff), we went to the Microsoft Visitor Center.  This is a really cool mini-museum of the history of Microsoft.
Postcard from the Microsoft Visitor Center

After really scaring my boss and wife with a digital postcard sent from the museum, I saw the coolest exhibit, a 36" digital map that you used gestures to pan and zoom.  I was able to navigate to my house by just waving my hands around like the Karate Kid (wax on, wax off).  After testing my driving talent on an XBox game (I’m horrible) we went to our first meeting.  I was driving and I’m glad that neither Anthony nor Gerelee saw me playing the game. 

Windows Workflow Foundation
Richard Barber, our VP of Engineering, joined us for our first meeting where we met with members of the Windows Workflow Foundation team that I met at Tech Ed two weeks earlier.  I am exploring how to integrate this powerful activity-based workflow engine into MindManager.  Our customers and partners have expressed an intererest in using MindManager to both define and track business processes and workflows so this is very exciting.  I really like this technology because it is scalable, in that it could be run on either a desktop client or a server, it will be part of Windows Vista, it will be a free add-on to Windows XP and it comes with a workflow designer that developers can add to their applications.  Stay tuned….

Windows Vista
We then met with one of the evangelists for Windows Vista who gave us a walk-through of the things that ISVs like us should be doing to get ready for Windows Vista.  They really have their messaging down and we should take a page from their playbook in how they communicate with partners.

A MindManager User Group at Microsoft
In my opinion, the highlight of the day came at then end when we hosted the first meeting of a MindManager User Group at Microsoft.  After a brief introduction, I gave a talk about all of the integration points that we have with Microsoft products, from those in MindManager Pro 6, to those developed by our partners, to those we developed in the Mindjet Labs.

Click to view with the Mindjet MindManager Viewer
Click on the image to view with the Mindjet MindManager Viewer (Internet Explorer 5.5 or greater required)
Download This Map  

I was happy to see such an interactive talk where about 25 Microsoft employees asked questions, gave feedback and suggestions and discussed amongst themselves about how they use MindManager at Microsoft.  Then Richard Barber gave a talk about our plans for Windows Vista and Office 2007 (yes, we will support them when they are released).  Two Microsoft employees then shared their maps on the projector showing how they have been using MindManager. What was exciting for me was to see the spontaneous discussions between various Microsoft employees about how they have used MindManager.  The meeting ended with two Microsoft employees volunteering to lead the group and create an internal email alias and wiki for the group’s "meeting place."

The common theme that we saw in the user group discussions was best practices, or how best to use MindManager, what works, and what does not.  Because there was a wide variety of user experience from power users who were looking how to customize and extend MindManager to new users who were just learning how to use it effectively, the meeting was a success and we hope that the seed that we planted will grow and grow.

Do you want to start a MindManager user group at your company?  How can we help?

8 Responses to “A Visit to Microsoft”

  1. Walter Logeman

    Do whatever your need to do with Microsoft but please ALS0 support Firefox Thunderbird and other standards Such as ODT files.

  2. Owen Watkins

    Microsoft as devil incarnate: I don’t play that game. Microsoft as a company that seeks to enforce its own will on the marketplace, stifling competition & restricting innovation and pays lip service to security issues: you can decide for yourself. I know that MindJet’s position is governed by hard commercial reality. Mine is driven by emotion as I have grown to love the product through successful use over a number of years, both at home and at work.

    There seems to be some great thinking going on at MindJet, some of which will in time evolve into product enhancements, new products or whatever. Delivery can be tied in to proprietary technology or achieved through open standards. If I was a software developer and publisher I would strive to use open standards and inter-operability on principle. This would provide my users choice and maximise the potential of my product. Michael’s comments are reassuring. If I was in a position to suggest any alternative technologies I would have been in touch long before now :-(.

  3. Roger Cavanagh

    I cannot find myself having much sympathy for Owen’s point of view: Microsoft as the devil incarnate. Ensuring that MindManager interacts effectively with the leading office productivity package is an entirely sensible and understandable commercial decision.

    And if you’re going to produce a free plug-in, why wouldn’t you choose the browser that the majority of people still use? An “enormous sin”? Give me a break.

    In closing, let’s remember that Mindjet have only recently produced a Mac version.

  4. Michael Scherotter

    Owen,
    Thank you so much for your feedback. We continue to grow our Microsoft partnership because of the importance of the platform and applications to our product and customer base (both current and future). But that is not our only strategy, as exhibited by our Mac product. If you can suggest a free non-proprietary technology for workflow management and inking, I would love to see it because we should be exploring those option as well as technologies such as Windows Workflow Foundation and Microsoft’s Tablet PC. I agree with you 100% about the Internet Explorer, and I see technologies like Autodesk’s Freewheel (http://www.dwfit.com/) as better avenues for viewing maps than our current ActiveX control.
    What technology directions would you suggest that Mindjet pursue?

    Michael

  5. Owen Watkins

    I am saddened by the continuing infatuation MindJet has with Microsoft. MindManager has been a great tool for years, and has the potential to develop further. However, implementing features, or changing existing ones, which only work with Microsoft products or depend on Microsoft technology could be tantamount to throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    Cosying up to Microsoft and using its proprietary technology is not necessary to move the product forward. The company surely recognises this as it has already uses open standards with its data format.

    Two illustrative sins to date are launching the “Mindjet MindManager Viewer” which only works with Internet Explorer (an enormous sin) and using the IE logo as the default icon for an internet hyperlink (minor, but highly irritating).

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