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We’ve just discovered a new Windows 7 ad by Microsoft featuring a little girl, Kelly, talking up the new OS. In the ad, Kelly finds Windows 7 reviews on her dad’s Sony Vaio notebook and proceeds to make a slideshow about the awesome new operating system, complete with a unicorn, a kitten, and a piggy with huge ears. If you look closely, the slideshow displays four quotes from positive Windows 7 reviews (Gizmodo, Maximum PC, CNet, and ZDNet) all to the tune of Europe’s The Final Countdown.. The ad concludes with Kelly saying, “I’m a PC and more happy is coming.”
Perhaps that last part is referring to the Zune HD and a the much-anticipated Windows Mobile OS?
Back in 2008, Microsoft announced Office Web Applications – the web-based version of its ever-popular productivity suite – Microsoft Office. We’ve come across more details recently, with the beta release of Office 2010: the online suite will be made up of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, will be capable of synchronizing with the desktop, will be platform and browser-independent, but will contain less features than the desktop versions of those programs. That should not be an issue, however, since most Office users use very few features in Office.
The suite will be available to everyone for free via Windows Live and to corporate users through different distribution channels. Since the announcement, such questions as “How would this affect Google Docs/Apps and the Zoho office suite?” have been widely discussed topics. Let’s take a pragmatic look at what we should really expect from Office Web Applications. Read more »
Microsoft posted under-construction photos of its new retail stores to its Twitter account late Friday night. The shots don’t reveal any details about the interior of the stores, but we have already received some information on that front. The company says it is hiring for both locations (Scottsdale, AZ and Mission Viejo, CA). As we discussed on yesterday’s TNR Weekly Recap, we believe that Microsoft is gearing up to release its own PC hardware to be sold at these stores. Listen to the show to find out why (we will publish it shortly).
Democratic lawmakers are calling for states to ban texting and emailing while driving. The movement comes in light of recent studies that show the practice is more dangerous than drunk driving.
Since 2005, texting has grown eleven-fold – from 10 billion to 110 billion text messages sent per month in December of 2008, according to CTIA – the cellular phone industry’s trade group. As such, an increase in overall use of text messaging would naturally lead to an increase of doing so in the car. A recent study from Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that when drivers of heavy trucks texted, their collision risk increased by 23 times. Dialing a cell phone and using or reaching for an electronic device increased risk of collision about six times in cars and trucks. The researchers said the risks of texting generally applied to all drivers, not just truckers. A separate study by Car and Driver magazine found that texting and driving is more dangerous than drunken driving.
To date, 14 states as well as the District of Colombia have passed laws banning text messaging while conducting a vehicle. States that don’t implement the proposed laws would face highway funding cuts of around 25 percent. The legislation would be patterned after the way Congress required states to adopt a national drunken driving ban. However, some don’t think that the proposed laws would be effective enough.
Steve Largent, a former Oklahoma congressman who leads CTIA — The Wireless Association, said his organization supports “state legislative remedies to solve this issue. But simply passing a law will not change behavior. We also need to educate new and experienced drivers on the dangers of taking their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel.” The Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety agencies, said it does not doubt the dangers of texting and driving but does not support a ban because it would be difficult to enforce: “Highway safety laws are only effective if they can be enforced and if the public believes they will be ticketed for not complying. To date, that has not been the case with many cell phone restrictions,” said Vernon Betkey, the highway safety association’s chairman.
This all looks to be a problem that should be solved by superior technology rather than increased lawmaking. The market should drive the tech industry to develop and improve in-car speech recognition and synthesis systems that would read incoming text messages or emails, and allow the driver to dictate a response to a message – all without having to look at the cellular device. Microsoft’s SYNC system (TNR coverage) is the most advanced in the marketplace in having both features, although it still needs to be improved in the areas of accuracy. Only available in Ford products (Ford, Lincoln, Mercury), the system also needs to become more widely available.
This post is a part of the Yahoo! gets Microsoftified series – where we cover the facts, points of view, and details of the Microsoft-Yahoo! deal. To see all posts of the series, click here. More posts are coming soon!
This morning, Yahoo and Microsoft announced a 10-year search deal that will see the two companies join forces to take on Google. Basically, Microsoft’s technology will power Yahoo’s search results, while Yahoo will be charged with selling ads for both companies’ search sites. Here are the facts:
Yahoo is outsourcing search on its web properties to Microsoft
Microsoft is providing the technology (Bing), while Yahoo will deliver the worldwide sales force for both companies’ premium search advertisers
Ad sales will be handled by Microsoft’s AdCenter sales tool
Microsoft is getting the reach (scale) that Yahoo has with its web properties while Yahoo is getting superior technology and the ability to save by not having a dedicated search team
The companies will share resources and combine engineering efforts
Combined, the two companies make up 30% of the search market, compared to Google – which still controls more than twice that amount
We all love Apple. Well, most of us do. The last few years, especially since the Vista launch, modern media has pushed on us the virtues of owning a Mac. Most of the top names in the tech blogosphere use Macs, and support almost all of Apple’s products. Leo Laporte, Ryan Block, and Peter Rojas are all self-admitted Macs (though they all come clean to using PCs). The “in” thing to do in the industry is to be a Mac. While this may put Apple in a position to become the leader in the PC industry, there are several reasons as to why Apple doesn’t want to and cannot do so.
Apple has long been the underdog of the PC industry. Right before Steve Jobs’ return as iCEO, we can see that this was for a good reason. Apple’s product line-up was a mess and the company was suffering through its worst years ever. Apple started out as a company that was all about the ability to “Think Different.” With Jobs’ return to Apple, this concept was embraced again, and the company started producing computers for the people. The original iMac and iBook are perfect examples: a colored and translucent computer was all about style and appealed to a younger audience. On the other hand, Windows PCs of the day were still considered the computers of choice amongst the tech elite and the business world.
Cut to today
Apple’s lineup of computers is amazing, to say the least. An Apple computer represents the latest and greatest in hardware: processors, graphics cards, RAM, connectivity technology, and enclosure engineering are all top-notch. The Mac lineup caters to both personal and business users and does so with extreme precision. Yet Apple is still the underdog of the personal computer market, having approximately 10% of U.S. market share. And this is exactly where the company needs to and wants to be, give or take a few percentage points.
One of Apple’s greatest strengths is its ability to manufacture both the software and the hardware that combine to make an amazing piece of machinery which outperforms all competition. But this level of performance comes at a price: the company’s second-greatest strength is the margin it enjoys. The last bevy of financial reports have pegged profit margin in the area of 30% or higher. Compared to rival companies such as Dell and HP, that’s an astounding number! It has turned Apple into a company that’s not only debt-free, but one that also enjoys tens of billion of dollars in the bank (and other short-term investments). But why can Apple charge so much more for its computers while other companies try so hard to earn even a 5 percent margin? Read more »
BingTweets is a great idea that lacks a great user interface (UI). This – overall – hinders the user experience (UX). As design-obsessed as I am, I’ve taken the liberty to create a UI of what BingTweets “could” look like. If it were to look like this, then I believe people would take it a bit more seriously.
If you’re not aware of it by now, I’m a twitterholic. So, I wanted to know my followers’ opinions about Microsoft’s BingTweets. After the service was released, I asked my Twitter friends the following question: “What do you think of BingTweets?” I started to receive responses that didn’t make sense to me. One response stated “I don’t have a need for it. Twitter is a better mobile experience to me anyway. I prefer UberTwitter 4 BBerry.” This user isn’t even aware of what BingTweets really is! And that’s a problem. It’s obvious that the point of the site is not immediately clear to users upon first glance. Responding to my question on Twitter, another user stated “[I] Won’t be using it anytime soon.” If the purpose of BingTweets were made more clear, then these users would – obviously – have a different opinion about the product! When a user gets to bingtweets.com, things seem “a bit dizzy” – wrote another respondent.
To get to the chase, users do not see the sole purpose of BingTweets when they get to the site. The user does not see an area for a “call to action,” (except for “search results” – which is not the purpose of the site). Therefore, the site seems a little off and can have a dizzy look associated with it. Some may attribute the service and think that “it’s just Microsoft trying to ride off of Twitter’s coattails to promote Bing.” It’s truly upsetting to me that users think this, because BingTweets has incredible potential that is masked behind 5 content areas of “I’m not sure what the point is here.”
In order to help BingTweets out a bit, I decided to study the design and then mock up a design of my own – using seven key concepts that may help the user experience: Read more »
Project Trident is a new scientific tool kit by Microsoft that aims to revolutionize the way academia deals with the increasing onslaught of experiment data. In the past, as well as today, a scientist would design an experiment, collect the data, analyze the data using some sort of programming, and review the results. The big hang up in all of this was the programming involved to bring the experiment to life: a programmer was brought in to make one-off programs for a specific experiment. Any changes to the experiment would require the programmer to make revisions. If another scientist wanted to perform the experiment elsewhere, there would be another programmer involved to write the experiment code. This became an ever-increasing problem of inefficiencies and wasted time. Microsoft to the rescue. Read more »
Sometime late last evening, Microsoft launched its latest addition to its Bing decision engine. Dubbed Bing Tweets, the new destination is a mash up of real-time Twitter search with Bing web results (something Microsoft apparently calls Bing Insights). Interestingly, the site is a second series of partnerships between Microsoft and Federated Media – the first being ExecTweets. And while there is a plethora of real-time search engines cropping up (seemingly left and right nowadays), Bing Tweets may be that one place that takes real-time search mainstream.
Bing Tweets is described as combining “Twitter trends with Bing search results, enabling you to see deeper, real-time information about the hottest topics on Twitter. You can also search for anything in the BingTweets search box (at the top right of every page) and see Bing search results alongside the most recent related tweets.”
I came across this video on the interwebs and thought long and hard about posting it here. Finally decided to do it. This is not to poke or make fun of anyone or anything, just a very well thought-out video about the inner workings of the Microsof Surface, according to so folks. Enjoy!