Posted by: gregboyko | December 5, 2020

Cultural Crisis in America

A perspective on morality and the strength of a nation
by Greg Boyko, December 5, 2020

America is facing a cultural crisis. It has been brewing for years. It is a clash between value systems; a clash between worldviews; a clash of independent thinkers against group-think; and a clash against those in positions of power who attempt to define and control the thoughts and behaviors of the masses.

Nations are nothing more than ideas. And nations are strong only when the people of the nation are united in ways that transcend the borders of the nation; when there are common beliefs that go beyond the authority of the government in power. A nation is viable only when the people of the nation, in aggregate, identify as a common people. But when the people begin to identify themselves into smaller and smaller groups, and when each group’s primary sense of identity is derived from ideas and concepts that are fundamentally opposed to the other groups’ ideas, the nation begins to disintegrate. America is no exception. And America is falling apart.

All governments are given their power and longevity by the consent of the governed–even authoritarian governments. If the governed do not consent to be governed (whether it be willingly, begrudgingly, or apathetically), the government will fail. When the governed do not consent to be governed, we see rebellion. And ultimately, rebellion leads to war. This is how America came to be when the colonists in the “New World” rejected the unjust rule of Great Britain in the 1770s.

Consider the ideas upon which America was built: Freedom, Independence, Inalienable human rights, Representation, Division of Power, Decentralized authority, Frontier spirit, and Entrepreneurialism, to name just a few. When a government becomes oppressive, “when a long train of abuses and usurpations … evinces a design to reduce [the people] under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” (US Declaration of Independence, 1776).

Fortunately, in America, our form of government allows us to eradicate our oppressors without resorting to violent rebellion or war. We live in a democrat republic, and we, the people, choose our leaders.

But this is where it gets tricky. The people of America are no longer united in belief and purpose as we once were. While Americans have always had differences in culture, language, and religion, we are more divided in 2020 than we have been since the Civil War. On America’s founding and throughout the 1800s and most of the 1900s, the majority of Americans were united in the belief that every citizen, no matter their background, was created equal and endowed by their Creator with the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Indeed, it was disagreement over these freedoms that led to the Civil War. Again today, there are large factions who deny these basic rights through word and action.

Contrary to what many believe, the blame does not lie with any one political party. Insidious ideas whose origins are fundamentally opposed to all that is Good, Right, and Moral have wormed their way into both sides of the political aisle. Ideas that claim a woman’s “right to choose” outweighs an unborn child’s right to life. Ideas of extreme nationalism that claim America is all that matters, all other nations be damned. Ideas that the governed should depend on the government for a universal income. Ideas that would deny refuge to non-citizens seeking asylum because granting refuge would be bad for American citizens. Or ideas that local or state governments can and should have the authority to lock down their jurisdictions, limiting commerce and livelihoods “for the good of the community” to slow the spread of an illness.

Like the positive ideas upon which America was founded, these negative ideas can transcend borders and political parties. But unlike the ideas that founded America, these ideas are borne of selfishness, greed, power, and pride. They are fundamentally at odds with the ideas that are enshrined in the founding documents of the United States of America and with the tenets of basic morality.

Founding father and second President of the United States John Adams wrote that “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion….Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” [1] There is a battle for the heart and soul of America (and indeed, of the world), and there is a significant contingent of people whose human passions are unbridled by an objective morality. As Adams warned, if and when this happens “this Country will be the most miserable Habitation in the World” (ibid).

In 2020, there is clearly a cultural division of worldviews. One worldview claims that there is an objective moral standard against which all thoughts and actions can be judged. Another claims that universal objective morality does not exist, and that morality is defined by the society in which we live; that individuals and communities decide for themselves what is just and moral, and that those in power are free to impose their morality upon others. These two philosophies are diametrically opposed. They cannot coexist in a strong nation. [2] This is the cultural and moral crisis that America faces. This is what will tear the nation apart (again). And this is what will lead to the oppression of American citizens, perpetrated by fellow citizens and by their own government.

But what of the protections afforded to American citizens as enshrined in the Constitution, and particularly in the Bill of Rights amendments? Certainly, these protections must guarantee that Americans will remain free and unoppressed by those in power? Sadly, this is not true. Laws get interpreted by the judiciary, and interpretations can change. New laws (sometimes conflicting with prior law) are enacted by legislators whose turnover rate can be significant every few years, and who may be morally corrupt. Policies and procedures are enforced by the executive branch and the countless unelected bureaucrats at the federal, state, and local levels. In short, the protections afforded are only as sound as the moralities of the people interpreting and enforcing those protections.

Morality is the linchpin that holds a nation together. That is why John Adams so famously wrote that “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.” It is said that it is impossible to legislate morality. So, do we give up on government altogether? While legislating morality is not possible, the laws and the people we choose to enact and enforce our laws do have significant impact on our society. As Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently put it, “while it may be true that morality cannot be legislated, behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless.” [3]

No. We do not give up on government. Instead, we participate in government and public policy fully. We represent the objective morality that is universal. We align ourselves with the Giver of the universal moral code rather than with a particular political party. We call out (and drive out) practices, thoughts, and behaviors that are antithetical to the universal moral code, while at the same time affirming those practices, thoughts, and behaviors that are Good and Right (understanding that Right and Wrong sometimes occupy the same mind). We make the difficult decisions to support leaders who are deeply flawed, not because the leaders always represent what is Good and Right (they don’t), but because we are able to discern the ultimate ends of the policies they support.

Those familiar with Christian teachings know that there is a current battle between Good and Evil. Between God and Satan. Between Light and Dark. But this is a universal truth and not unique to Christianity. It is an idea inborn in every person’s heart. Indeed, Christianity teaches that “God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” [4] and that “when [unbelievers], who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law … they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness…” [5]

In the end, every individual will at some point in their life need to align their worldview with one that acknowledges a universal morality higher than themselves. Otherwise they align with a worldview that affirms the only morality is the one upon which they decide. And when morality is defined by self, you end up with a morality that is selfish, which is no morality at all.

A strong, united America is a moral America. A moral America acknowledges a universal morality. To deny a universal morality is to embrace chaos and evil. This is America’s cultural crisis.

Choose a side.

[1] “From John Adams to Massachusetts Militia, 11 October 1798,” Founders Online, National Archives,

[2] Abraham Lincoln and the states of the Union believed in a universal morality. The states of the Confederacy believed that morality should be defined by the states themselves. The result was Civil War.

[3] From “Martin Luther King, Jr.’s address at Western Michigan University,” December 18, 1963

[4] Romans 1:20

[5] Romans 2:14-15

Posted by: gregboyko | December 14, 2012

The only explanation is Pure Evil

Every once in a while somebody does something that is so unthinkable, so terrible, and so wrong that it leaves the entire World asking “Why?” Today was such a day.

There have been school shootings before. And clearly they were awful. But today’s mass murder at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut is unlike any other I can remember. While it’s not the deadliest school shooting—that unpleasant distinction belongs to the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech—it is perhaps the most senseless act of violence unleashed at a school in recent history, primarily due to the ages of the victims. This was a school that served Kindergarten through Fourth grades. That’s roughly ages 5-11. Of the 28 people killed in today’s incident, 20 of them were precious, innocent children attending this school. And this fact leaves everyone asking “Why?”

This is not a situation where the shooter had been bullied by his victims. The shooter was 20 years old. This can’t be a case of “revenge”, for how could innocent children have wronged the shooter? What, then? What can possibly explain the actions of Adam Lanza this morning?

How about mental illness? Clearly, anyone who could commit such a crime is not “right in the head.” So, yes, mental illness likely played a part. But it goes beyond this. Lots of people suffer from various mental illnesses, but it takes a special type of person to do what was done today.

Psychologists, criminologists, and in fact people of every profession and walk of life will try to understand and explain the motives and thinking that led to this shooting. But everyone will be left unsatisfied. This is because the only explanation for Adam Lanza’s actions is this: Pure Evil controlled his mind today.

I am a Christian. I believe in God and Satan. Good and Evil. And while that doesn’t lessen the hurt and the pain when something like this happens, it does at least provide an explanation. The only explanation that is satisfying for me. This world-view provides the only framework that makes sense to my logical, analytical mind.

Non-believers may try to explain the shooting as the actions of a sick man. Perhaps some gene contained a mutation that predisposed him to violence. Perhaps his childhood was traumatic due to abuse of some kind. Perhaps he was under the influence of drugs. Any or all of these might be true, but it doesn’t really matter. These issues plague many people on a daily basis. Yet it is only when someone submits his or her will to the Evil One (perhaps even unknowingly) that events like today’s take place.

This is sad and painful. But because I am a believer, and because I know that Good and Evil are engaged in a great conflict of epic proportions, I also know that the ultimate outcome of this conflict will be victory over Evil. Oh, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. The Bible is very clear on that fact. But the Bible is also clear that Jesus will soon return to this earth victorious. That when He does, the Dead in Christ (including those innocent children slain today who are now resting peacefully and awaiting His return) will rise and be reunited with their loved ones and their Savior. That we who believe in His saving grace will return to Heaven with Him, and that 1000 years later we will come back to a new Earth where He will utterly destroy Satan once and for all.

This is what I believe. This is what I know. Where there is Evil, there is Good. Where Sin abounds, Grace abounds more. This is they only explanation that makes sense.

Posted by: gregboyko | September 14, 2011

Thoughts on the Windows 8 Strategy

I’ve been watching the news coming out of the BUILD conference pretty closely for the last two days (like most technology enthusiasts). While I may be a Microsoft employee, I’m not on the Windows team and I don’t have any “inside” info when it comes to Windows 8. I’m hearing the news and trying to make sense of it all just like everyone else. I eagerly downloaded the developer preview last night along with 500,000 others (according to Ballmer’s keynote appearance earlier today).

There is a tremendous amount of information to digest! But I think the most important part of what has come out of BUILD so far has nothing to do with information or technology directly. Rather, what’s coming out of BUILD is emotion and excitement for Microsoft unlike anything since Windows 95. Developers love this stuff. There’s a feeling of wonder and discovery surrounding Microsoft today greater than at (perhaps) any other time in the company’s history.

But back to some of the hard info that’s been shared. First, and most obvious, Windows 8 brings a new metro-style UI. But what isn’t obvious without seeing architectural diagrams is that Windows 8 brings a whole new Windows API (called WinRT) to the table. And what’s perhaps most striking is that this new API has no (zero!) dependencies on the Win32 APIs that have been the heart of Windows for so many years. Brand new applications need to be written against the WinRT API to take advantage of the metro-style UI paradigm. One problem: a new OS API that developers are just now seeing for the first time means an OS without apps.

The solution, of course, is to get developers to create the new apps. That’s what BUILD is all about. The other obvious solution (and one that Microsoft has used for a long, long time) is that Windows still needs to support the millions of applications written for it over the years. It does so by letting “Desktop Applications” (the classic Windows apps we all use today) run side-by-side with the new metro-style apps that are now being developed. If it runs today on Windows 7, it will run on Windows 8.

Critics have severely criticized Microsoft for keeping legacy compatibility. And in the past, I would have conceded that placing such a strong emphasis on backward compatibility was a compromise that limited what could be done to move the platform ahead. Critics argued that the only way to truly move forward was to make a clean break with the past. They argued that Windows could never be an appropriate OS for the new tablet form factor that is just now becoming so popular (almost entirely due to Apple’s iPad). They argued that using the same OS for desktop and for mobile just can’t work. But this time it’s different! The WinRT API is a clean break from the past. And that it does make Windows appropriate for tablets.

In watching the reactions to Windows 8 in the tech press and in the blogosphere, it’s fair to say that the overwhelming majority of feedback is highly positive. But there are still those who think Microsoft is making a terrible mistake. In digging into the reasoning, the primary criticism seems similar to that described above: that a converged OS simply isn’t appropriate for different use cases (desktop apps vs. touch-based mobile apps). The argument is that they want to use special dedicated devices (with dedicated OS’s and software) for dedicated tasks. But I just don’t buy that. Was using MSDOS for some apps/games while starting Windows 3.1 for others a better world? Was running Windows 98 at home while running Windows 2000 at work a better than running Windows XP for both? NO! A converged OS is a better solution! And consumers will benefit from this convergence in real ways. Devices and peripherals that you’d like to use on your tablet will work the same as on your desktop. In fact, depending on your computing needs, your tablet might actually be your desktop.

Often discussions around competing products/technologies turn into holy wars, with fanboys on either side more or less blind to the benefits the competitor brings. And that is clearly happening now; just read the comments on any high-profile article reporting on Windows 8. The debates are raging. But let me circle back to one of my opening thoughts: what’s coming out of BUILD is raw excitement and emotion. Technology enthusiasts of all kinds are talking about Windows and about Microsoft. Once again, Microsoft is doing something that no one else is doing. Taking an approach that at least some in the industry think can’t work. Getting to market far too late to win. But if history has shown us anything, its that Microsoft is formidable when they have a goal in mind.

To me, this is clear: Windows 8 is a bold new step for the future of computing. Windows 8 truly is Windows Reimagined. I can’t wait for 2012!

Posted by: gregboyko | September 13, 2011

Managing your hard disk space

With hard drives now commonly 2 and even 3 TB in size, I sometimes wonder how anyone could ever run out of disk space. But then again, we’re doing more with our computers and creating and storing more digital data than ever before. Our photos are all digital. Our entire music collections are on our drives, available instantly. And the real source of disk space usage is video. Home videos, recorded TV, purchased shows, ripped DVDs, etc. It all adds up. And we do sometimes run out of space. And add fast (but low-capacity) SSDs to the mix, and it’s not hard to see why we still run out of disk space.

So what’s the best solution if you find yourself out of space? There are several, but there’s one that should almost always be your first course of action: delete the junk you don’t need. But how do you know what you don’t need? And how do you find the largest files to delete (so you get the most bang for your buck)? One of the best answers I’ve found so far is a great tool call WinDirStat ( This utility provides a graphical representation of the files on your disks, as well as a conventional tree view. The UI makes finding the largest folders and files easy, and then all you have to do is decide if you need the files anymore. If not, just delete them. Chances are you’ll be able to recover many gigabytes with only a few minutes of work.

WinDirStat is simply awesome, and definitely worth downloading if you want to find out why you’re out of disk space!


Posted by: gregboyko | May 10, 2011

A “World War” in the Technology Industry

Ladies and Gentlemen, if you’re watching the tech industry you may have noticed that we’re entering a new age. And not just any age. This is reminiscent of what we saw play out in World War 2. There are a lot of similarities. It’s just the battleground and the combatants that are different. Let me explain.

Today’s announcement that Microsoft is going to purchase Skype for potentially as much as $8.5 billion is a big deal, and triggered me to think about the tech industry as a whole. There is an ongoing war (“World Tech War 2”) for thought leadership and mindshare going on right now (with market share lagging mindshare by only a short time). It’s being fought on several fronts, and in reality it started with a few minor skirmishes several years ago. The early battles were fairly minor, and in many ways weren’t even “battles”—rather they were warning shots that few heeded:

  • Apple entered the digital music market in 2001 with the iPod
  • In 2000, Google (still a very new company) began selling ads based on search keywords
  • In 2004, Facebook was founded
  • In 2006, Amazon announced a public beta for the Elastic Compute Cloud
  • In 2008, Apple release the App Store for their iPhone OS
  • In late 2008, Google released an unpolished Android OS for mobile phones
  • In late 2008, Microsoft announced the Windows Azure cloud computing platform and provided an early developer preview
  • In 2011, Microsoft announced it was porting Windows to the ARM architecture. (Note that the ARM architecture currently dominates the Intel x86 architecture when it comes to mobile devices)

At the time that each of the above events occurred, very few people understood how significantly they would affect the technology landscape. But today, with the benefit of hindsight, it’s pretty clear that each of the above events were key turning points that changed the face of computing and technology forever (although it’s too early to ascertain significance of the Windows ARM port and probably still a little early with regard to Windows Azure and Amazon EC2, but I’ll argue that case). The “warning shots” have now developed into full-fledged war.

This war is for control of the dominant computing platform that will power applications for the next 15 years. The battles are being fought along three key fronts:

  • Cloud-based computing
  • Search and advertising
  • Mobile devices

These three fronts are actually very closely intertwined, but control of just one front will not win the war. Win two, however, and I think the third is likely to follow.

The combatants are many, but generally line up in camps around three (maybe four) large “nations”:

  • Google
  • Apple
  • Microsoft
  • (maybe Amazon)

While this is a bit of an over-simplification, it’s fairly close to reality. So how do things look as I write this today?

Cloud-Computing Search and Advertising Mobile Devices
Google Google is weak here, actually weaker than would be expected. While they have some strong services, they’re pretty weak at the platform level Google owns this, but faces strong competition from Bing Strong, but facing very serious competition
Apple Apple is weak, too Weak. In fact almost non-existent outside digital media Strong, but facing very serious competition
Microsoft Strong, with Azure being the key strategy at the platform level Fairly weak, but Bing is taking territory every month. This is going to be an interesting battle front Currently controls very little territory, but the war machine is firing on all cylinders now, and may gain territory quickly
Amazon? Strong, perhaps as strong as Microsoft, but the tools store is a bit weak Not traditionally strong, but Amazon has some strength when it comes to the important vertical of product data Weak, but don’t count them out. They have Kindle and I’d expect a tablet play from them soon


Folks, the outcome of this war will solidify the next tech industry super powers.

But what does this mean to the consumer? The answer is similar to what we saw in the history of the real second World War. It was a time of invention. A time of engineering efficiencies never before seen. And when the war was over, there was a baby boom that changed the course of America for the next 50+ years. In internet-time, the effects will be compressed, but make no mistake: there will be a technology boom unlike anything we’ve seen before. Yes, the decade between 1990-2000 (which I could conceivably call “World Tech War 1”) was important, but this will be bigger. I believe we will see innovation (brought about by competition) that will surpass anything seen during the dot com boom.

Honestly, I’m not sure which “nations” will be the big winners. I have a few ideas, however. I think Apple will slowly lose prominence. They’re too closed off and simply don’t have what it takes on two of the three key fronts (cloud computing and search/advertising). I think Amazon will end up being less of a platform player and will be relegated to a pure infrastructure-as-a-service provider. And I think we’ll see a battle between Microsoft and Google for many years to come. Keep in mind that there may be room for two big super-powers…

It’s too early to choose any ultimate winners, but ask me again in 2015 or 2016. Things should have cleared up a little by then. But no matter what, this is going to be an exciting next few years, and consumers are going to win.

P.S. What does this all have to do with Skype? Well, Skype is basically a social network, and social networks are a wild-card in the above mix. They might even be considered a fourth front, but I think they’re actually just a key component of each of the three fronts I identified, possibly with the power to sway victory toward whichever “nation” has the strongest social play for the front. To that end, Microsoft is looking pretty good on the social network front. With the combination of Skype and Windows Live Messenger, they’ll have the largest IM and voice/video call network in the world. Don’t forget that Microsoft has a pretty strong relationship with Facebook and that Windows Live also interoperates with Facebook Chat and Yahoo Chat. Windows Live also aggregates many of the most popular social sites (e.g. Flickr, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Yelp, and dozens more).

Skype is important, because I don’t think there’s a lot of overlap between Skype and Live Messenger users. I also believe Skype is so useful from and end-user’s point of view that users will go where the service goes, making it a powerful weapon in the war currently being fought. This will be an interesting mini-battle in the overall war.

Posted by: gregboyko | March 11, 2011

Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and God

The 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan on March 11, 2011 is one of the largest on record in the last 100 years. Anyone who’s viewed the photos and video footage coming from Japan has seen a brief glimpse of just how devastatingly violent this planet Earth can sometimes be.

With an official death count in the hundreds, and which will undoubtedly climb into the thousands, Japan is experiencing a natural disaster of massive proportions. Lives have been lost, and the lives of many survivors will be changed forever.

And amidst all this, many people ask questions like “where is God?” or “how could God let this happen?” Big questions, and the answers could have a dramatic impact on one’s life outlook.

I happened to see a tweet today that summarized how a lot of people view God and Christians:

Hey guys, just got back from Japan… they are STOKED about all those prayers. Totally fixing everything.

Now I don’t know the individual that posted this tweet, but clearly he believes prayer is useless, and I can also speculate (fairly safely) that he doesn’t have much respect for Christians or for God. But he has a point: what the people of Japan (or any other people suffering from a devastating disaster) need right now is to see God through the actions of His people. While it’s nice to know that someone is praying for you when you’re hurting, it can be even more important to have one’s immediate needs met.

A faith that is not strong enough to influence one’s actions is no faith at all.

When Jesus ministered on this same violent earth nearly 2000 years ago, His ministry was one of caring, expressed not through prayer (although that was part of it), but primarily through meeting the needs of the people he encountered. He asks us to do the same.

In Matthew 25 Jesus said:

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Jesus could just as well have said “My home was destroyed by a Tsunami, and you helped me get back on my feet”.

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

The bottom line is that we as Christians need to follow Christ’s example—we must meet the needs of those who are are in need.

In James 2, we read:

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

This passage in James conveys the same sentiment shown in the tweet I quoted above. If James had been more sarcastic, and had he lived in our time, he might have tweeted something similar.

James also says in Chapter 4, verse 17:

17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

My point is that no one—not even for a moment—should think that because they are “praying” for someone in need that they are not also responsible for doing what they can to meet those needs.

A faith that is not strong enough to influence one’s actions is no faith at all.

So when someone asks, “where is God?”, the answer is that He is seen through the actions of His people.

Do you have a faith that matters? A faith that is strong enough to influence your actions?

A faith that is not strong enough to influence one’s actions is no faith at all.

Posted by: gregboyko | March 31, 2010

Windows Phone 7 Series

One of the things on my mind in recent weeks is the new Windows Phone OS that Microsoft will be bringing to market later this year. Much has already been said both by mainstream media and by bloggers and other tech enthusiasts, but I have a few thoughts of my own that are worth sharing. We’re now several weeks beyond the first official announcements at Mobile World Congress in February, and a couple weeks beyond the Developer-related announcements at MIX10. With these significant events behind us, now is a good time to reflect on what this will all mean going forward.

I am very excited about this release! There is a very good chance that I’ll buy one of these phones on release day, or very close.

The Name

First, I want to address the name. There has been a lot of criticism about the name Microsoft chose, with most of that criticism being about the length of the name and how difficult it is to say. I must admit that I initially had these feelings as well, however I’ve come around, and I think the name is actually quite good. The key point I want to make here is that the full name (“Windows Phone 7 Series”) will rarely be used. It will be used when initially introducing a topic, and on official communications, but when it comes to conversations in context, this will almost always be shortened to something much more manageable. I’ve heard “Phone 7” a lot in context, as well as “7 Series”. Both of these are short and sound good. Even just dropping “series” helps a lot, so expect to hear a lot of “Windows Phone 7” references as well.

I’ve also heard people try to say the whole name in conversation (e.g. in podcasts), and it is quite awkward, so I don’t recommend it. But used in context, the shortened names are very good.

Finally, the full name makes a lot of sense:

  1. Capitalize on the Windows brand
  2. Identify the product (“Phone”)
  3. Identify a version (“7”) (and probably not coincidentally, capitalize on the goodwill that the Windows 7 desktop OS has earned)
  4. Indicate that the OS will be available on many different devices (“Series”)

The Product

From what we’ve seen about the OS so far, devices with the Phone 7 OS are going to provide some excellent user experiences. The UI is beautiful, simple, and clean, with an emphasis on usability and providing at-a-glance info to the user. Conceptually, it is very different from anything else out there today, doing away with the app-centric view and putting integrated experiences front and center, pulling in data related to what the user is doing from a myriad of sources (including popular web services and social networking sites). This approach is so different that it’s going to be difficult to compare these phones to what’s currently on the market. I argue that this is good, and from a user standpoint, Phone 7 is going to make everything else look antiquated. It’s going to be so much easier for users to get access to the info they want in Phone 7 as compared to other smartphone OS’s that the productivity improvements should be dramatic. HTC has started down this path with the Sense UI, but to have these concepts built into the OS from a philosophical standpoint will make it work in ways that no one can touch.

From a hardware standpoint, we know that the minimum hardware will ensure a great experience. It will only get better as technology improves. But from pure hardware capability, all 7 Series phones will be quite excellent.

Much as the iPhone broke the mold when it was introduced 3 years ago, Phone 7 similarly breaks the mold, providing a revolutionary new view of how usable and useful smartphones can be.

The Development Tools

Development Tools, perhaps more than anything else, will set the Phone 7 platform apart from competitors. I’ve started playing with the tools, and they are excellent. Basing the platform on Silverlight and XNA is brilliant. These are platforms that some developers are already accustomed to, and have a low barrier of entry for those who are just learning the platform. Silverlight is powerful and makes it easy to create compelling, beautifully designed applications with relative ease. XNA (which I’m less familiar with) is the same platform that is used for developing Xbox games. All of this gets wrapped inside the mature, powerful Visual Studio 2010 development environment, which is a delight to use compared to just about any other IDE on the planet. The development tools are excellent, and as a result I expect many new developers to develop for Phone 7.

Additionally, the tools (including a version of Visual Studio) are free. This opens up the platform to the hobbyist developer as well as the pro, and I expect we’ll see a lot of activity with people wanting to create applications for these phones.

The Major Criticisms

The biggest criticisms so far are that Phone 7 won’t have multitasking for third party apps, won’t initially have cut and paste, and won’t allow development of “native” apps. Honestly, who cares? Regarding multitasking, it will be there where it makes sense (e.g. music playing in the background) and notifications combined with the ability to return to your app in the exact state you left it will deal with most other scenarios. Cut and Paste? Well, it’s probably coming. The consensus seems to be that MS just didn’t have enough time to get it right and still meet the deadline of having phones in market for the holiday season. Finally, the need for “native” apps is pretty limited. Silverlight and XNA provide easy-to-program, high performing platforms while at the same time keeping things safe, secure, and reliable. Will lack of “native” apps be a limitation for some developers? Perhaps, but not for very many.


It’s really too early to say much here, but I expect Microsoft will market Phone 7 pretty hard. Initial “ads" (if we can call them that) from Mobile World Congress and MIX seem to be off to a good start. With the expectation that mobile phones (combined with cloud services) looking to be the most important computing platform of the next decade, expect the investment to be big.

The Carriers and Ecosystem

The mobile phone industry is complex, and the carriers (like Verizon, AT&T, etc.) play a huge role. What’s going to be nice about Windows Phone 7 Series is that it will be available through multiple carriers, with phones from multiple manufacturers. The consumer will have choice, and that’s a Good Thing. My hope is that all companies involved will be left to focus on what they do best. Microsoft will focus on the software, the carriers will focus on the network, and the manufacturers will focus on the hardware. This all has to come together into a single, unified experience for the end customer, and to date no one has done it right. Apple punted with the iPhone, making it available through only one carrier in the U.S., although that may change a few months from now. Google and Android looks like it will have the same problem with fragmentation that Windows Mobile 6.5 (and earlier) had. This is an area where we’ll just have to wait and see.

The Summary

Overall, the potential for Windows Phone 7 is tremendous. The smartphone market is still rather young compared to the potential size. Microsoft will be a big player in this market, and needs to be. It’s hard to underestimate how important smartphones will be in the coming years, and this is not unrecognized by the company. I’m personally extremely excited about Windows Phone 7. It will be my first smartphone purchase. Yes, I know I’m behind the times here, but from everything I’ve read about existing smartphones, and from playing with them in stores, they just have too many shortcomings. I hope and expect Phone 7 to address most of these, and believe it will be the first smartphone that won’t be painful for me to use.

Posted by: gregboyko | December 17, 2009

Bing vs. Google and the Search Engine Wars

It’s interesting to watch the marketshare numbers for the search engine market. These numbers are released monthly by several tracking firms, and one thing is clear—in each month since Bing was introduced, its marketshare has increased. Often it is at the expense of Yahoo and/or other lesser-used search engines, however in the most recent month’s reports (as reported here), some of Bing’s gain may be at the expense of Google.

I’ve been watching Bing’s market growth since its June launch. When Bing launched, it inherited the marketshare of its predecessor, Windows Live Search, which was about 8%. Depending on which tracking firm’s numbers you look at, Bing’s marketshare is now somewhere in the neighborhood of 10.5-11%, so on average, Bing is growing at a monthly rate of roughly .4% or .5%. Now, this may not seem like much, but what if the trend continues? If Bing were gain say 6% marketshare per year, that would be 30% in 5 years. Add to this the growth that can be expected from the Yahoo deal, and it’s not unreasonable to think that Bing could have marketshare of somewhere in the neighborhood of 50% within 5 years. And if Bing has 50+%, that means that Google will be the number two search engine, rather than the #1 position that they now enjoy.

If anyone thinks that Microsoft is not in search for the long haul, or is not willing to continue to invest heavily in search for 5+ years, they are mistaken. Microsoft does look at the 5+ year timeframe, and with a business a lucrative as search-based advertising, the investment should be well-worth it.

So there you have it. My prediction that Bing will be a strong contender, and may potentially overtake Google as the #1 search engine by December 2014. Of course, Google is not going to be standing still. They will also have to innovate as a result of the threat that Bing presents. The technology will get better all around (both from Bing and from Google). Searches will be more relevant and easier to conduct. And in the end, the consumer will win.

Posted by: gregboyko | May 17, 2009

Microsoft Research AutoCollage

A while back, Microsoft Research created a product called AutoCollage. It’s really quite impressive how well it works. The software (as the name plainly indicates) is used to automatically create a photo collage from a set of input photos. It began as a research project, but at some point they decided it would make sense to release it as a product. They’re onto something here. It’s the easiest to use photo collage software I’ve ever used, and the results are very good, even when run in fully-automatic mode. If you spend a couple minutes to provide a couple extra hints, the results are excellent. It’s definitely worth downloading the trial version to see what it can do.

If you use Windows Live Photo Gallery, it’s even easier to select and create collages using AutoCollage, due to the integration into WLPG. You can select you photos based on tags, or any other criteria available to you in WLPG.

Here are a couple samples of what it can do:

Posted by: gregboyko | March 28, 2009


This video is making the rounds, and does an awesome job of conveying the sense of community in the Fargo-Moorhead area right now. Take a look if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s awe-inspiring. There are five parts so far, so check for related videos if you want to see more from the same producer.

Talking about YouTube – 2009 FARGO/MOORHEAD FLOOD

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