Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Windows 7 Multi-touch

Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer appeared on stage at the D: All Things Digital conference and introduced the world to Windows 7, or at least a major piece of Windows 7 functionality. The ability to manipulate Windows applications using touch is an excellent feature but is getting horrible press from people asking, "do we really want to touch our computers?" Now remember when rumours were circling about Apple releasing a touch phone and it was hailed as the greatest invention of all time, even though Microsoft had been using touch technology on it's mobile platforms long before Apple did. I am not arguing that Apple have used touch technology much more succesfully than Microsoft but MS did come up with it first. On the run up to the Macworld Keynote 2008 there was speculation that Jobs was going to announce a version of the iMac with touch technology built in. Once again the web was full of statements of the genius of Jobs and what a fantastic idea this was. Microsoft have actually done it.

I love the idea of Windows 7 having touch capabilities built in. A widescreen touch capable TV with a Windows 7 PC hooked up to it means no mouse, no keyboard but total control. Build similar technology into the next XBox, not for actually controlling games obviously, and you could have control of all living room media without the need for multiple controls. All you need to add is a touch sensitive media remote that displays the menu's that appear on the screen so selection is as easy as possible and you have a fantastic touch driven media suite all from Microsoft. Add the next generation of Windows Home Server, which I imagine will have full media server capabilities built in, and Microsoft can easily beat Apple and Sony to the living room and have it sewn up before anyone realises what's happened.

Apple Keynote Bloopers

With only 19 days to go until the Steve Jobs Keynote at WWDC I thought it would be fun to post video from YouTube covering some bloopers from past keynotes. Bill Gates, enjoy :)

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Steven Sinofsky Interview and Windows 7

CNET is carrying an interview with Steven Sinofsky in which he talks about Windows 7 and the cone of silence that supposedly decended around Windows 7. For anyone interested in the full interview it can be found here. There is also a blog post from Steve to his team regarding the disclosure of information on Windows 7 which can be found here, it's an interesting read. Finally, there's a response from Paul Thurrott to the interview here and here. These posts are all worth a read espeically along with the reaction from Paul.

A few interesting points to take away from the interview are:
1) Windows 7 release is penciled in for 2010, baring that in mind we are in the very early stages of development and this may not actually be a cone of silence just the lack of a hard feature list.
2) The approach now appears to be, under-promise then over-deliver. A good strategy.
3) Windows 7 is a 'manor' release, i.e. not quite a major release but more than a minor release.

Paul concludes by saying:

This makes me wonder: Is the major release wording a hint that major new end user functionality is coming? Or are they simply pulling an Apple and claiming that every release is a major release now?

I think it's a hint at major new functionality being built on the existing code base. The integration with Cloud Computing, altered security (I have to believe UAC will get an overhaul even though I don't believe it should), new UI and a deeper integration of virtualisation with the desktop environment could lead to a feature list that could be argued as a major upgrade.

Another reason i don't think Windows 7 will be a major upgrade is the close relationship between Server 2008 and Windows Vista. The work that went into bringing these two systems closer will not be thrown away. 7 will have the same Core as Vista but it'll feel very different.

Windows Vista Shortcut Keys

Here is a list of Windows Vista Shortcut keys that are listed on the Windows Vista Blog. These are great time savers.

Display Help: F1
Copy the selected item: CTRL+C
Cut the selected item: CTRL+X
Paste the selected item: CTRL+V
Undo an action: CTRL+Z
Redo an action: CTRL+Y
Delete the selected item and move it to the Recycle Bin: DELETE
Delete the selected item without moving it to the Recycle Bin first: SHIFT+DELETE
Rename the selected item: F2
Move the cursor to the beginning of the next word:
CTRL+RIGHT ARROW
Move the cursor to the beginning of the previous word:
CTRL+LEFT ARROW
Move the cursor to the beginning of the next paragraph:
CTRL+DOWN ARROW
Move the cursor to the beginning of the previous paragraph:
CTRL+UP ARROW
Select a block of text: CTRL+SHIFT with an arrow key
Select more than one item in a window or on the desktop, or select text within a document: SHIFT with any arrow key
Select multiple individual items in a window or on the desktop: CTRL with any arrow key+SPACEBAR
Select all items in a document or window: CTRL+A
Search for a file or folder: F3
Display properties for the selected item: ALT+ENTER
Close the active item, or exit the active program: ALT+F4
Open the shortcut menu for the active window: ALT+SPACEBAR
Close the active document (in programs that allow you to have multiple documents open simultaneously): CTRL+F4
Switch between open items: ALT+TAB
Use the arrow keys to switch between open items: CTRL+ALT+TAB
Change the size of icons on the desktop: CTRL+Mouse scroll wheel
Cycle through programs on the “View definition” by using Windows Flip 3-D: Windows logo key +TAB
Use the arrow keys to cycle through programs on the taskbar by using Windows Flip 3-D: CTRL+Windows logo key +TAB
Cycle through items in the order in which they were opened: ALT+ESC
Cycle through screen elements in a window or on the desktop: F6
Display the Address bar list in Windows Explorer: F4
Display the shortcut menu for the selected item: SHIFT+F10
Open the Start menu: CTRL+ESC
Display the corresponding menu: ALT+underlined letter
Perform the menu command (or other underlined command): ALT+underlined letter
Activate the menu bar in the active program: F10
Open the next menu to the right, or open a submenu: RIGHT ARROW
Open the next menu to the left, or close a submenu: LEFT ARROW
Refresh the active window: F5
View the folder one level up in Windows
Explorer: ALT+UP ARROW
Cancel the current task: ESC
Open Task Manager: CTRL+SHIFT+ESC
When you insert a CD Prevent the CD from automatically playing: SHIFT
Open or close the Start menu: Windows logo key
Display the System Properties dialog box: Windows logo key +PAUSE
Display the desktop: Windows logo key +D
Minimize all windows: Windows logo key +M
Restore minimized windows to the desktop:
Windows logo key +SHIFT+M
Open Computer: Windows logo key +E
Search for a file or folder: Windows logo key +F
Search for computers (if you are on a network):
CTRL+Windows logo key +F
Lock your computer or switch users: Windows logo key +L
Open the Run dialog box: Windows logo key +R
Cycle through programs on the taskbar: Windows logo key +T
Cycle through programs on the: Windows logo key +TAB
Use the arrow keys to cycle through programs on the taskbar by using Windows Flip 3-D: CTRL+Windows logo key +TAB
Bring all gadgets to the front and select Windows Sidebar: Windows logo key +SPACEBAR
Cycle through Sidebar gadgets: Windows logo key +G
Open Ease of Access Center: Windows logo key +U
Open Windows Mobility Center: Windows logo key +X
Open the Quick Launch shortcut that is in the position that corresponds to the number. For example, Windows logo key +1 to launch the first shortcut in the Quick Launch menu:
Windows logo key with any number key

Monday, 26 May 2008

Are Apple Relying Too Heavily On PC Sales?

I read an article in the Wall Street Jounal outlining the importance of the iPhone to Apple. I found one paragraph in particular quite interesting:

Mace, a onetime Apple executive, parses the company’s most recent earnings report to point out that iPod unit growth has essentially ground to a halt–up only 1% from the same quarter the prior year. (Mac unit growth was 51%.) He adds that it’s risky for Apple to rely on the relatively mature PC market for such a big part of its growth.

There has been a lot of talk about the move to Cloud Computing and the threat this poses to Microsoft's desktop business. I haven't heard anyone mention the dangers it poses to Apple. If future sales of Microsoft software and Operating Systems are going to be affected by Google and other online services then you have to think that the Apple environment is going to be hit just as hard if not harder and with such a reliance on Mac sales for growth Apple need another major market. With iPod sales levelling and the prospect of Mac sales declining the iPhone is going to be vital to Apple's growth in the future. Looking at the new models in the mobile phone market such as Samsung Soul and Steel you have to think that Apple are going to have to give the iPhone a radical makeover soon in order for it to compete with non-Apple fan boys. Apple need to seriously start considering the future because beautiful but expensive and stuck in the past will not save them when the market shifts. Apple online services?

Friday, 23 May 2008

Does Google Not Like Microsoft?

The Wall Street Journal blogs summed up nicely why Google are looking at a search deal with Yahoo:
The enemy of my enemy is my friend: Google co-founder Larry Page thinks a Google-Yahoo deal is the best idea ever. In further news, he still hates Microsoft with an intensity hotter than a thousand burning suns.

And for those who are interested this earth shattering conclusion is drawn from this article in the Mercury News where he said:

"If you put 90 percent of communications in one company, that's really a big risk, especially one (Microsoft) that has a history of doing bad stuff,"

...

"There are ways to structure a deal with Yahoo that are reasonable, for us and for Yahoo to remain independent," Page said. "We would support that."

Vista Hurt By User Feedback?

Well things are quite quiet on the tech news front which gives me the opportunity to look at the Windows 7 debate again. I read Ed Bott's artcle on Windows 7 here. He makes a two points regarding beta cycles and feedback that I don't agree with.

[Update: After re-reading the post it appears that I misread it. I agree with what's being said in these points. Suppose that's what happens when I post after a late night]

Long beta cycles make better products. Oh really? If you count the infamous “Longhorn reset,” Windows Vista had arguably the longest beta cycle in the history of software development, with tens of thousands of outside testers. And look how well that worked out. Getting advance access to new Windows releases might make some outsiders feel like insiders, but it doesn’t make for a better product.

.......

Users need time to give feedback about design decisions. Microsoft is getting plenty of feedback about the design decisions it made with Windows Vista. I don’t think there’s been any shortage of suggestions on what needs to be fixed in Vista, do you? Presumably, that feedback is being incorporated into components and features of Windows 7, including User Account Control, Windows Explorer, the Network and Sharing Center, and Internet Explorer. But there’s a cold, hard reality with all those design decisions: You can’t please everyone. One of the weaknesses of the Vista beta cycle was that the UI designers kept changing things up until the very last minute. For Windows 7, they need to get the design right (or nearly so) the first time.

I suppose this comes down to how much of a failure you believe Vista is but for those who do believe Vista failed to deliver I ask them to remember that the features you saw in the final release is only a small subset of the features that were supposed to be in it. It was the large amount of public [Update: Not public, private testing] testing that told Microsoft that the new features were too complicated and too far from what the users understood and Microsoft had to remove them. The Vista that would've been released if it hadn't been for the comprehensive testing and feedback might've been a little more complicated but it certainly would've been feature rich and different enough from XP to make it a must have. Microsoft seemed to be saying at the time that the features that were removed would be slowly added over the next few OS versions to make the transition easier on the end user. I don't think added user feedback would help Windows 7, actually the opposite.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Manchester United Champions of Europe!

Congratulations to Manchester United on a fantastic win in the Champions League Final in Moscow. The match itself was a fantastic showpiece for English football. The absolute hell that I went through for the length of the second half and extra-time really was nothing compared to the penalty shoot out. I honestly do feel sorry for John Terry but lets face it Chelsea fans weren't going to have too much sympathy for Ronaldo if his miss had cost United the trophy. In the end the Premiership Champions are the best team in Europe and rightfully lifted the European Cup.

Microsoft Embraces ODF, PDF and XPS

Microsoft announced that it will introduce support for Open Document Format, Portable Document Format and XML Paper Specification in Office 2007 SP2, due for release in 2009. This is another step by Microsoft to support Open Source while at the same time hopefully keeping their critics quiet. As I've said before I now expect other Office vendors such as IBM and Sun will now embrace OOXML. While I don't care about ODF support it is a great addition for education where students can use Office 2007 in school and know that they can work on their coursework at home on their Open Source Office suite without formating difficulties. The ability to open and save PDF's is much more useful to me and lets remember that Microsoft had intended to support PDF in Office 2007 until Adobe forced them to pull support in 2006, not really thinking about users there Adobe were ya? I assume Office for Mac will also get support for these formats at some point in the near future also.
The 2007 Microsoft Office system already provides support for
20 different document formats within Microsoft Office Word, Office Excel and Office PowerPoint. With the release of Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 2 (SP2) scheduled for the first half of 2009, the list will grow to include support for XML Paper Specification (XPS), Portable Document Format (PDF) 1.5, PDF/A and Open Document Format (ODF) v1.1.


When using SP2, customers will be able to open, edit and
save documents using ODF and save documents into the XPS and PDF fixed formats from directly within the application without having to install any other code. It will also allow customers to set ODF as the default file format for Office 2007. To also provide ODF support for users of earlier versions of Microsoft Office (Office XP and Office 2003), Microsoft will continue to collaborate with the open source community in the ongoing development of the Open XML-ODF translator project on SourceForge.net.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

BECTA and OOXML

A week or so ago BECTA referred it's interoperability complaint against Microsoft to the EU Commission. The EU is taking the this referral and adding it to the evidence pile against Microsoft. I do wonder though how much the Interoperability complaint is actually Microsoft's problem. If Office 2007 is able to open Open Office documents and save to the same format then surely it passes interoperability with the Open Office suite. I get the impression from what I've read however that Microsoft is being held accountable for other office suites not being able to open OOXML documents. This is surely a complaint against the other vendors and not against Microsoft. If the documentation on OOXML is available then there shouldn't be a problem. This just seems to be BECTA jumping on the EU Commission bandwagon.

When I asked BECTA whether the complaint against Microsoft should actually be directed at the other vendors now that OOXML is an ISO standard format they replied:



The extent to which OOXML is sufficiently open to allow effective competiton is one of the issues that are the subject of ongoing investigation by the European Commission.

Once the results of the Commission´s deliberations are known we will, if necessary, update our advice on OOXML.



Let's hope the EU makes the right decision this time and forces the other vendors to catch up to the high standard of the Microsoft Office suite rather than trying to drag office down to their level.

iTunes Phishing Scam


Macworld are reporting that iTunes users are the targets of a new phishing scam.

Phishers have targeted users of Apple's iTunes music store with sophisticated identity theft attacks for the first time, a security company said Tuesday.

People began receiving spammed messages Monday telling them that they must correct a problem with their iTunes account, said Andrew Lochart, an executive with email security vendor Proofpoint.

A link in the spam leads to a site posing as an iTunes billing update page; that phony page asks for information including credit card number and security code, Social Security number and mother's maiden name.

The theft attempt is a new twist on the usual phishing attack, said Lochart. "We've gotten used to seeing the usual companies and brands attacked," he said, "like PayPal, eBay and Citibank. But we've never seen Apple as the target."

I received one of these emails myself on Monday. It arrived shortly after I placed an order on iTunes for a TV Show, House, and I initially thought it was legitimate. However a quick look at the url's in the email told me that this was a scam. For those interested I gave advice on spotting phishing scams in an article here.

Microsoft: No Motion Controller....Maybe


Wired interviewed Shane Kim, Microsoft Vice President, and asked him about the rumour that Microsoft were developing a motion sensing game controller similar to the Nintendo Wii's. Shane was sure they weren't, then wasn't so sure anymore. Judge for yourself.
Now, do you think that when Microsoft releases its own motion-sensing controller, that that's going to help you guys out in the console wars?
I don't know, because that's going to be a long time from now,
since we don't have anything like that under development.


You don't have anything like that under
development?
That I can confirm or deny.


That you can confirm or deny, I think that's
the...
You know the stock answer. We don't comment on rumors or
speculation.


At the same time, you're not going to flat-out deny that
it's in development.
If you want to say that that means we're working
on something, that's up to you. Here's my point about hardware: You know that we're investing pretty heavily into hardware, online services, and content. And regardless of what that underlying technology is, we're going to continue to push innovation in a whole bunch of different places. Whether that's in motion-sensing or some other area, we'll see.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Microhoo Back Again, Yawn.

I don't think anyone's missed the news about a Microsoft/Yahoo deal of some sort being back on. On Sunday Microsfot made the following announcement:

“In light of developments since the withdrawal of the Microsoft proposal to acquire Yahoo! Inc., Microsoft announced that it is continuing to explore and pursue its alternatives to improve and expand its online services and advertising business. Microsoft is considering and has raised with Yahoo! an alternative that would involve a transaction with Yahoo! but not an acquisition of all of Yahoo! Microsoft is not proposing to make a new bid to acquire all of Yahoo! at this time, but reserves the right to reconsider that alternative depending on future developments and discussions that may take place with Yahoo! or discussions with shareholders of Yahoo! or Microsoft or with other third parties. “There of course can be no assurance that any transaction will result from these discussions.”

I haven't blogged about it until now because i've been, a) bored with Yahoo/Microsoft deal talk and b) waiting for more information to come out. Now however I'm starting to think that this deal is being underestimated. The best guess so far appears to be that Microsoft is going to buy Yahoo's Search technology and I think they're wrong with more details being due on Wednesday because at the same time as that accouncement was being made Microsoft's President of Platform and Services was emailing his department saying:

[W]e will be announcing a major new initiative... We are getting
better and better with our core algorithmic search, and at the same time, we are investing to differentiate in vertical experiences and to disrupt the current model.

Is this a nice way of saying, "Thanks for the hard work guys but our Search is still seen as crap so it's time to buy in better"? Tell me what you think.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Has The EU Slowed Online Development?

This is something that I've been thinking about since I started hearing about Windows 7 and the closer ties to the Windows Live Services. Basically my concern is based on the EU's investigations into Internet Explorer being built into the Windows platform. For the web to really become an integral part of our desktop there has to be easy and seamless access to the Services we want to use. This is going to mean that the Web Browser will become less of a stand alone application and I would expect it to tie in even deeper to the OS. Under the EU antitrust investigations Microsoft's move to tie Internet Explorer into Windows is unfair and is exploiting their monopoly. The limitation this is going to force on Microsoft and Windows 7 can only limit the innovation that would otherwise be possible if Windows and Internet Explorer were allowed to fully merge.

Windows being able to login in an Online mode where the browser is automatically running as a service, logging you into your favourite sites and treating certain sites as applications on the Desktop. Feeds in the sidebar that show which contacts are online, what they're doing, what they've changed or added to their profiles and any messages you've received through email, social sites or sites such as Twitter. The OS would then automatically connect to SkyDrive, or any other online storage, and map it as one of your Windows Explorer drives making your documents easily accessible. Integration with Live Mesh would allow the system to automatically sync with your other devices and PC's. The built in search would cover all of your social services as well as the net and your file system. The browser would remain but would be used for web browsing and bringing more information to your desktop like web slices which make parts of the page available. The merging of Windows and Internet Explorer would be beneficial to the users which is supposed to be what the EU is all about. If Firefox wants to complete then it must be able to tie into the OS in a similar manner. This is the challenge Microsoft and Mozilla need to try to meet and at this time I can see the EU restrictions limiting innovation on the Web front.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Windows XP A Disaster! Back To Windows 98.

Microsoft today slammed OEM's after the problems some users have had with Windows XP SP3. The issue has to do with the intelppm.sys driver which is attempting to load when the OS boots. While this is essential on Intel based machines it should not happen on an AMD based machine. They should attempt to load the amd8k.sys driver. The problem has been caused by OEM vendors loading Windows XP Intel generated images onto AMD machines. The Register quotes Microsoft as saying:
“Microsoft is aware of a reboot issue experienced by some users who
have attempted to install Windows XP SP3,” said a Microsoft spokesman. “While the root cause of this issue is complex, it results from OEMs improperly placing a Windows XP image created for an Intel-based computer onto machines with non-Intel chipsets. Microsoft issued guidance to OEMs advising them to only load Windows XP images onto like hardware in 2004.”

While this is a perfectly acceptable and correct explanation for what has happened I've decided to turn this into the reaction Vista would get if SP1 had caused problems like this. Therefore I'm now calling for support for Windows 98 to be brought back and I want Microsoft to provide information on how I can downgrade my machine from Vista back to 98 and I want all the software I use to work perfectly with no issues. If there are any problems with 98 I'm fully prepared to go all the way back to 95 and beyond....I will use DOS if I have to!

You might think I'm being stupid but bare in mind that's pretty much exactly what people are asking for at the moment when they demand for downgrades to XP and once again the source of the issue isn't actually Microsoft, it's third-party problems, but I damn sure am going to blame them for it.

Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Sets Record

Microsoft has claimed that Office 2008 for the Mac has been one of the best launches yet and sales continue to outstrip the any version in the last 19 years. I'm not doubting that the Office suite is a massive success in it's own right but I wonder how much of the improved sales are due to Windows users moving over to the Mac and looking for the familiar on that platform. A more important reason is probably due to companies running mostly Windows machines with Office installed. People who buy Mac's will look for the Microsoft Office suite to give them as easy a life as possible when it comes to working on documents at home. Perhaps Microsoft should look to moving some other software onto the Mac, it seems like a mostly untaped market. Either way though it's nice to see Microsoft products thriving on OSX.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Messenger TV adds EMI and Channel 4

Windows Live Messenger TV has signed EMI and Channel 4. The service is now available and through it you can watch music videos as well as clips from shows like Skins. The Live Messenger site states:

Watch video with your buddies

Watching online video is no longer about one person in front of their computer, it's now a social experience. Users can now share a selection of free content and watch it at the same time as their friends through Messenger TV.


Biggest names in entertainment

From MTV favourites including Punk'd, South Park,
Cribs and Pimp My Ride, to a wide selection of videos and exclusive content from some of the world's biggest superstars provided by Sony BMG Music Entertainment. MSN Video has just signed a deal with Channel 4 to provide preview, catch-up and archive clips of shows such as Peep Show, How To Look Good Naked, Grand Designs, Father Ted, Skins and Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.


Other partners include music, sports and games from MoMedia, documentaries and films from National Geographic; up to the minute news and information from Reuters; movie clips and trailers from iFilm and the latest celebrity news from Starlounge and Splash Celebrity.


Friday, 9 May 2008

Better ways to spend the Yahoo! money

Well I was hoping this Microhoo crap was done but no it appears to be back again. Silicon Alley Insider is reporting here that Craig Mundie has basically said that the negotiations are back on.


Here's what Chief Strategy Officer Mundie told Reuters in Indonesia:
"The market may wish that the Yahoo deal may come back
together, but Microsoft at least at this point assumes it's over."



"At least at this point." "Assumes." Those weren't the words Microsoft was using two days ago. And Mundie was just getting warmed up:
"Yahoo could always come back again and say please buy us for $33 (a share) and I'm sure we might reconsider it but we're not assuming that's going to happen," added Mundie, who took over as Microsoft's lead visionary on technology from co-founder Bill Gates in 2006.


Translation: We reiterate our bid of $33. We're done with begging, but
if Jerry is tired of getting his fanny spanked by Gordon Crawford and other huge shareholders and wants to bring the deal papers up to Redmond, we'll sign them.

I honestly cannot believe that they're looking at this deal again. I believe that if they are reconsidering it's down to Google's reaction yesterday to the deal being called off. They basically said that they were glad the deal didn't go through and with all the talk about Google playing a winning role in bringing down the deal it might prick Ballmer's Google hatred nerve. If that happens we could see a deal due to ego.

I sincerely hope that is not going to happen. I'll say it again, Microsoft need to take a few billion and:
1) Buy a social network company like Facebook. One Windows Live ID allowing you to access a huge number of services and social sites but even more importantly think of all those eyeballs looking at Microsoft delivered ads. Even more importantly though would be Microsoft's ability to create applications for Facebook that are actually useful and attention grabbing. Get advertisement for Microsoft software.

2) Buy a true blogger site like WordPress. While Live Spaces are a nice wee profile some people, like myself, wanted a proper blog. I looked for a Microsoft delivered option and there were none. Buy or introduce a blogging service that only does blogging and that can be hosted from a remote site.

3) Bring Live Calendar out of beta and allow people to sync with their desktop mail application for free.

4) Promote the use of their API's and try to enhance the developer community. Tying the API's more closely to Vista's Gadget sidebar allowing the development of one gadget that can work on Live.com and Vista with no alteration needed. NB last time i heard one gadget could not work easily on both but I could be wrong and will need to develop one to confirm.

5) Bring the Live Applications closer together and tie them into Vista more efficiently. For example the ability to map SkyDrive to your Windows Explorer drive list and be able to simply save to it like any local drive would be great and make it much more usable.


6) Split the Windows 7 code into two streams, one for business and one for consumers. This would at least allow them to provide features that a specific to home users and not have many versions of the OS that only have slight differences.


7) It's time to see a Microsoft branded PC. I want to see Vista running on a machine that has drivers and hardware optimised for Windows Vista/7. Bring in proper designers, don't copy Apple's look and produce something stylish and lightening fast.

8) Microsoft really need an ad-sense engine. Google ads are being placed on millions of sites because everyone makes on it and you can place them for free. Again I was looking for Microsoft sponsored ads but couldn't find anything similar. While I'm not keen on copying everything Google does there are still some things they do that are genuinely useful and really do need to be copied.

9) Kill live.com. I'll come back to this in a later post because I'd look to look into this in a little more detail first.

10) Buy Twitter, and 22hundred ;)

Thursday, 8 May 2008

IE8 Beta 1

ie7logo.jpgI've started using IE8 Beta 1 again tonight and was delighted to discover that my own site was working fine with it, with one exception. The Microsoft generated code providing links through which you could create a 22hundred.net account was a bit messed up. I decided to simply remove this from the site, I don't think it added any real feature anyway.

greader in ie8I tried using IE8 to read my RSS feeds in Google Reader and they did not play well together. The image above is a screen shot of what happened. While it looks like a nice piece of art it's not what I want to see when I'm looking for information. I'm interested to see how many major sites like Google Reader are going to change in order to accommodate the new IE or will we see companies complain again about Microsoft damaging them until IE8 is reduced to mere shadow of it's current self.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Will Microsoft Return And Finish The Deal?

Not surprisingly there is quite a bit of talk now about what Steve Ballmer's next move is going to be and more precisely will he now come back to the table and complete the Yahoo takeover. I would say....no. Silicon Alley insider states here what they feel on the matter and I totally agree. In particular they say:

As of Saturday afternoon, Steve Ballmer no longer wanted to do this deal at any price.
That's why the $33 offer seemed "purposely vague"--because Steve
wasn't really committed to it. That's why Microsoft walked just after Yahoo finally came to its senses and started to move on price. That's why Yahoo is now telling this story to anyone who will listen--because the mercurial Ballmer really did get over this deal.
(What Yahoo isn't saying, as it rolls out its global don't-blame-us campaign, is that OF COURSE Steve Ballmer is over this deal. For this merger to have a chance of working, both companies have to charge into it with 100% enthusiasm. For the past three months, however, Steve Ballmer has watched as:
1. Microsoft's shareholders and employees have peed all over the
deal.
2. Yahoo has peed all over the deal.
3. Yahoo has done everything short of auctioning off the furniture to concoct ANY FUTURE BUT the deal.
None of which is conducive to 100% enthusiasm. If you were Steve Ballmer, wouldn't you have lost interest, too?

For Steve and Microsoft this was the deal that could not fail. They were placing all their eggs and the chickens that laid them into the one basket and it had to work out. With Yahoo's woeful handling of the deal it was obvious that this was never going to be a success. There's nothing wrong with using negotiating tactics espeically in Yahoo's position but you better make sure you know what you're doing. The threat of leaving Microsoft with a company that was a shadow of the shadow it was in January when the offer was made was absolute stupidity. Jerry cannot talk about being willing to sell when he was pushing deals with Google a mere days before the withdrawl. Yahoo got what it deserved and I can see much worse on the horizon. Steve needs to look elsewhere on the net for a different style of company. A company that can bring real innovation and enthusiasm into the Microsoft family.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Microsoft Walks

I don't like to blow my own trumpet but it happened exactly as I said it would here. Microsoft offered the $33 increase and Yahoo were nice enough to reject it. This gave Microsoft the opportunity to walk and when Yahoo started talking about outsourcing to Google Steve knew he could without losing face. A Yahoo that's been decimated by Jerry is not worth fighting over. It's become obvious to many that Jerry would rather kill his baby than see it thrive under Microsoft ownership. Make no mistake Yahoo would've become the web brand for Microsoft and would've been allowed to thrive. Steve would have to ensure it did because shareholders would not let them waste such a massive expenditure.


So what's next? Well for Yahoo we might see the end of Jerry. The AGM will probably be called very soon and assuming the shareholders aren't too upset at a management team that put their personal feelings in front of what's good for business then Yahoo will continue as is for a while longer. I can see a Q2 and Q3 full of problems and a possible new Microsoft offer next year after Jerry loses his job at the AGM.


Microsoft now need to seriously consider buying up companies like Twitter and perhaps looking at a deal with AOL. Time-Warner will be happy to get rid of AOL and Microsoft will gain a useful entity, user-base and engineers who will be more open to Microsoft being their masters. I think it's time to get rid of MSN or certainly redesign it. The site needs to start incorporating more things for users to do and start becoming more social. The Live and MSN brands have fragmented Microsoft's offerings too much, it's time to bring them together. Microsoft can use the $44billion to produce a much better product than they would've bought but they need to start now.