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A Visit to Microsoft

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.

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.

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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.

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