A Tale of Two Keynotes (Premium)

Microsoft and Google brought similar messages about responsibility to their respective developer show keynotes. But that was the end of the similarities.

Over 5,000 people attended Microsoft Build 2018, and though there were lingering concerns about the show not "selling out" as it had in previous years, I had previously explained this was by design. In past years, Microsoft allowed internal teams to claim Build tickets, creating the appearance of an instant sell-out; those teams then sifted out tickets back to those on the waiting list as they figured out how much they really needed for themselves. The event was as packed full as it ever was, and if anything, this shows a lingering enthusiasm for at least attending a Microsoft developer event if not using the technologies discussed.

I didn't attend Google I/O, but Google CEO Sundar Pichai noted that there were "over 7,000" people attending the event's keynote address on Tuesday. I suspect their live stream was likewise watched by many, many more people than was Microsoft's. He also remarked that tech events should always be outside. Having spent two days rotting in the sallow tunnel system of the Washington State Convention Center for Build, I couldn't agree more.

Microsoft's show was also notable for its length. An already too-long 3-hour opening day keynote address was running long in rehearsals, and despite cutting some content, it still came in at well over 3.5 hours. (An hour more than the previous year's show.) Add in the over 1.5 hours for day two (I left at the 1.5-hour mark as I had had enough), and you're looking at over 5 hours of nearly uninterrupted chair time, a condition that some countries term a crime against humanity. Google's single keynote, by contrast, was just 1:45. We should all be so blessed.

A note about the complaining.

I received a rather nasty email from a Windows Weekly listener who asked me to reassess my negativity about the length of the Build keynote(s). After some introspection, I have done as he's requested, and I would like to offer the following additional commentary.

I apologize. My initial complaint, made as it was in the stunned aftermath of the day one keynote, was far too polite.

Microsoft needs to seriously rethink how it presents information publicly, both to its developer base and to the assembled press and bloggers. Punishing us with such lengthy and boring keynotes is disrespectful of the time, effort, and expense we all expended to get there. There is no reason to force an audience to watch 90 minutes of "vision" jabber at a developer event by placing it before the real meat of the presentation. These things should have been split up into multiple parts so the audience could decide which they'd attend.

By comparison, Google's presentation was light, airy, and approachable. The jokes, while still somewhat stilted, landed, even when given by Mr. Pichai, who's a similar public speaker to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Wher...

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