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Saturday, September 17, 2005

Screenshots of Office 12 Hint at Radical Interface Revamp

ZDNet has some tantalizing screenshots of the radically improved user interface in the next release of Microsoft Office. Apparently version 12 won't be delivered for a few more years yet, so there's a good chance the new interface isn't locked in.

Still, it's exciting to see MS totally rethink the same old "File | Edit | View" menu nonsense that has infected all Windows applications for the past 20 years.

The new interface will not be as common across Office apps as all current and previous versions were. Instead, they will be task-oriented and specific to each Office app. In other words, the interface for Word will be much more tailored to a word-processing program, and Excel's interface will be geared toward spreadsheet tasks.

Let's hope when Vista is finally delivered next year, it will mark a new era in usable interfaces. Microsoft has a chance to get it right at last and at the same time influence a new generation of apps designed for end users and not software developers.

Posted by Cory | | | Permalink

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Friday, September 16, 2005

No, Really, After You: Second-Mover Savvy

Chatting with some marketing wonks this week, talk turned to how skilful Google has been at hanging back and creating false starts in various areas, with the hopes of spurring competitors to make the first move. Then they come in when the picture is clearer. Classic Microsoft tactic, but it appears that Google has gotten as good Microsoft at this game. Take Skype; eBay blinked and overpaid for a technology that can be built better (or bought and built) by eBay's competition and a user base that will migrate en masse over to whatever the industry standard becomes. This means Google keeps its powder dry for when it really needs it, and eBay now has this questionable investment to manage and pay for.

Turning to rumors about Microsoft being in talks to buy a stake in AOL: is Google considering making a bid as well? They've raised enough cash to do so comfortably.

It seems highly unlikely, but I wouldn't doubt that they might want Microsoft to think Google is interested. Microsoft has a lot of cash to burn, but still, inducing them to jump in and overpay for AOL (where have we heard this song before?) would have to be a source for some satisfaction at the Googleplex.

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Why Blog Search is Better (For Some Types of Research)

So Google has rolled out Blog Search in beta.

Why it's good:

  • Less spam
  • Bloggers adhere to conventions so readers know what type of content to expect
  • Savvy users can subscribe to a feed that will show a result whenever a new blog entry from anywhere matches a specific search query of your choice; that's different and arguably cooler than subscribing to a single feed (and analogous to various news updater services or Google Alerts)
  • For now, no ads! It's like Raging Search (OK, Google Search) all over again!
  • Handy search operators such as "link:" are available just as they are on Google Search proper; new operators such as "inpostauthor:" are available
What we'd like to see:
  • Jazz things up with blogs recommended that suit your preferences; recommended blog of the week; post of the day; some light visuals (photos)
  • BlogRank? Just to drive us all crazy.
Happening soon?
  • Integrating blog entries as a separate type of listing integrated in main Google Search, as they currently do for things like Google News, Froogle, Desktop Search, weather listings, and other types of results, to add structure to SERP's based on guessing at user intent

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Yahoo Goes to War

This is going to be fascinating. Yahoo has jumped into the original content business by hiring journalist Keven Sites to produce "Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone." On this news blog, Sites will chronicle life in "areas of armed conflict" like Iraq, Afghanistan and Kashmir for one year, with all the tools available to a blogger sitting in a comfy living room or office.

Except this dude will actually be a roving journalist trying to blog in some of the most dangerous places on Earth. Imagine trying to pubish a site in a war zone. We have enough challenges making Traffick work when we're not getting shot at!

Keep an eye on this one. The premise behind "Hot Zone" may seem a bit contrived, but it will surely present some unique citizen journalism.

This is probably just the beginning of a bigger trend where the big news outlets try radical experimients that essentially repackage the news to a friendlier format to appeal to them wired youngins. We're already seeing the beginning of that trend with Brian Williams and other journalists blogging in New Orleans after the hurricane.

It's no secret that the general public -- both liberal and conservative -- have lost trust in mainstream media. I predict that this format will dovetail nicely with the rise of blogs and the fall of the evening news. Maybe Yahoo will emerge as a power player in the media biz after all.

Link: http://hotzone.yahoo.com/

Posted by Cory | | | Permalink

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Monday, September 12, 2005

As Daphne Moon Might Say, "I Don't Know Why"

eBay to buy Skype.

For Skype: a much-needed exit strategy, even if much of the deal is performance-based.

For eBay: ????

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Seven Versions for Vista!?

Bill, you have got to be kidding us all. The always-excellent Signal vs. Noise blog says that Microsoft has seven versions planned for its next Windows release, Vista (the OS formerly known as Longhorn):

* Windows Vista Starter Edition
* Windows Vista Home Basic Edition
* Windows Vista Home Premium Edition
* Windows Vista Professional Edition
* Windows Vista Small Business Edition
* Windows Vista Enterprise Edition
* Windows Vista Ultimate Edition

If this is indeed the final product lineup, I think MS is due for big trouble. People have a hard enough time deciding if they need XP Home or XP Professional as it is! And even power users won't know what the hell ot choose.

But we are talking about the same company that actually runs ad campaigns calling their customers dinosaurs for using outdated versions of Office.

Posted by Cory | | | Permalink

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