If he really wanted to change the way people think about Microsoft and security, Bill Gates should have opened his Tuesday RSA show appearance by introducing the butterfly guy from the company's TV ads. Sure, security's an important, serious topic. But this is an event that has, in the past, opened with the company's CEO singing parody lyrics alongside a well-known rap group.
Security folks may work hard, but they do have a sense of humor. Instead of recognizing that and capitalizing on his first-ever appearance at RSA, Gates let the opportunity float away.
On Tuesday an expectant crowd filled the basement keynote-room at San Francisco's Moscone Convention Center, wondering if Microsoft's leader was going to drop some bombshells. Instead, Gates was cautious and somber, exuding all the excitement of someone doing community service. And his company's security "advancements" were the epitome of under-promising, especially from a company that supposedly made security a major focus two years ago.
Gated did deliver some welcome news about more-robust versions of Windows XP and improvements in spam-blocking and user certification, but it was hardly the stuff that would rise people out of their seats, or change the way IT professionals think about Microsoft and security. Mostly, it was promises to work harder and spend more developing security innovations that would do great things, sometime in the future.
The canned demos, performed by a slightly overzealous Microsoft underling, were pedestrian, and even Gates seemed tired delivering his well-worn jokes about the spam he recieves (get a college degree, refinance your house, etc., etc., ha, ha, ha). The only truly entertaining moment came at his speech's close, when Gates flubbed his goodbye by saying Microsoft was "looking forward to working on you," a slipup that at least let people leave with a smile and a few titters.