Conference keynote presentations in general can be rather mediocre, forgettable events. So why not take a chance and do something different? At Mix 08 it looks like that's what happened. Guy Kawasaki (who wrote the foreword for the Presentation Zen book) links to a very interesting video from Mix 08 featuring his interview with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer which served as Steve Ballmer's keynote. Choosing Guy to do this was very surprising and a bit risky, but I thought it was great. Guy brought an edge to it and Steve was a very good sport. They make a very odd couple indeed, but somehow it worked. Not all people will appreciate Guy's humor or Steve's, um... enthusiasm, I am sure. But I never enjoyed a keynote by Steve Ballmer more than this one. It sure was not boring.
I know many people think Steve Ballmer can be over the top on stage (to say the least), but I thought this keynote was entertaining, authentic, and even informative. And not one PowerPoint slide was used—imagine that. Go here to download the video. (I did not have to install Silverlight, the video opened up fine and I saved it as a QuickTime movie (I am assuming because I have Flip4Mac installed?).
During the Q&A session, one Web developer asked Steve if he'd show some love for Web developers (like he did for developers in general years ago). Click here to see what happened.
Steve Ballmer gets playful on stage with Guy's MacBook Air. (No, he did not really smash it). A lot of jabs, and joking around during the hour. At one point Steve even barked like a dog (you just have to watch the video).
It was not all jabs and jokes. Steve Ballmer actually had some interesting things to say—mercifully, without bullet points.
Overall I thought this was a really nice—and different—keynote. I much prefer Steve Ballmer doing something like this than his standard one-way PowerPoint presentation that I have criticized in the past.
Here are a few links just in case you didn't get some of the references (e.g., "...don't go 'monkey' on me," etc.).
• Web developers! Web developers! Web developers!
• Original "Developers! Developers! Developers!" cheer.
• Original "Monkey" clip.
• "Developers! Developers! Developers!" Re-mix music video
• Ballmer Monkeyboy iPod Mashup (Hey, it's a remix culture.)
• Don't remember the Odd Couple TV show? (Intro on YouTube)