Tag Archives: Microsoft

Amazon Ad Targeting Fail: IE8

I just got this ad while shopping at Amazon. This is an ad targeting failure for a number of reasons.

  • I am using Chrome, which is better than IE8
  • I am on a MacBook Pro, which isn’t even supported by IE8
  • I was not shopping for a new browser, I was shopping for video games

I went ahead and clicked on the link for the lulz. I ended up getting to this strange terms page with a bunch of links to download the software for different (Windows) operating systems. How bad of a user experience is that!?

It appears they are after a quick buck with this “partnership” and really don’t give a crap about going about it properly. Too bad for them. At least they have an ad feedback box for me to mock them with:

Windows 7 RC Impressions (on a PC!)

Desktop

I made the switch from PC to Mac a pretty long time ago. It’s been about two years since I started using my first Macbook and a few months since I went exclusively to using OS X (when my PC crapped out). I recently got bored and decided to fix up my PC and put Win 7 RC on it (I think the thing flipped out when I got a new hard drive and it somehow got two Win XPs into the boot registry thing).

I already tried installing Win 7 Beta on my Macbook Pro a few times via Boot Camp and VMWare Fusion. They were both pretty bad solutions. It’s just too much to try and virtualize a modern operating system, and the Boot Camp drivers are just kinda crappy. My main thing was that Win 7 kept crashing in Boot Camp, losing wireless connections and having a really laggy touchpad interface.

You may recall that my opinions of Vista were not the most positive. About a year and a half (and an operating system) later, I think the thing is finally pretty good.

The user experience is nice. I like the fact that I can hit the window key, then type whatever I want and get a list of programs, etc. It’s really useful because the control panel is so insanely organized that it’s impossible to find anything in a hierarchical manner. I guess that’s a mixed complement/critique. I like the desktop backgrounds, and all the apps I’ve installed so far work pretty well. I didn’t have to scavenge for a single driver, which was really nice. When I installed Win 7 on my mom’s laptop, however, it was quite a task getting the video card to work (it was an old Dell 300m).

The only real complaint I have is that file sharing is still really confusing. I found out how to access my shared folders from OS X, but I haven’t figured out how to access my Mac from Win 7. Overall, though, Win 7 is actually looking pretty good. If I actually had a need for this desktop, I might actually use it more often (besides for playing games). For now I’ll stick with my trusty Macbook Pro. I’m thinking the upcoming Snow Leopard upgrade will keep OS X interesting.

Microsoft Bing

bing

So today, Microsoft unleashed its new search engine, Bing. Apparently it was gonna be called “Kumo” before that (which I liked more). Live.com just redirects to Bing now. First thought: Thanks for wasting the four letter URL namespace, Microsoft!

Second thought: Bing.com basically looks like a re-named Live Search. People were talking about the mouse-over video search results starting automagically. I thought I saw that feature at the Microsoft booth at SXSW a few months ago. While I’m not totally familiar with the original features of Live Search, it really seems like this is just an incremental update, if not just a renaming.

Giving the search engine a fair chance, I guess it’s okay. The search results for my name are good! First one is my blog and the second one is my portfolio. Microsoft also recognizes my Facebook profile as the real Hung Truong instead of that other car Hung Truong that Google links to. Another thing that’s kind of nice is that Bing actually links to the website directly in the search results. Try right click copying a search result link in Google and you get something like this:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=2&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hung-truong.com%2F&ei=1ZMkSv3gDonUNNfQvYYF&rct=j&q=hung+truong&usg=AFQjCNGifmoNxXdlqaiytpE2QMgHxLkl6A&sig2=Uj7WesESTLWJEXHkfqK2Fw

The same thing in Bing is just:

http://hung-truong.com/

One more funny thing is that Bing is soooooo biased towards Microsoft, and you can tell already. Type the letter ‘w’ into Bing and the 7th auto-suggestion is “Windows Vista.” Google comes up with nothing MS related. The now famous example is that if you type “linux” you’ll get

  • linux windows
  • linux microsoft
  • linux vista

WTF!? Despite the wonkiness, I hope Bing does well. Because *someone*’s gotta kick Google’s ass for the sake of competition. While I’d rather see it from an independent player, someone’s really gotta step up search and make it better. Actually, Yahoo is doing some neat stuff with semantic web thingies. Maybe MS and Yahoo can double-team Google or something.

Microsoft Cutting Back on Live Labs!

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I just read some bad news that Microsoft is cutting back on its Live Labs group due to the “economy.”

Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake McCredy said the economy had forced the company to rethink the group’s mission. The death of Live Labs as it has existed, combined with Google’s decision to cut some of its more experimental products, raises the question of whether these kind of futuristic initiatives are falling out of fashion among leading internet companies, or are just a victim of this recession.

This saddens me because I got really excited after reading an article in Fast Company about Gary Flake’s Live Labs and how innovative it was going to be. It seemed like a step in the right direction for a company that has a reputation for being boring (see John Hodgman in the Apple commercials).

Microsoft has a ton of money. They should be spending it on research and development. The article mentions that Google is also cutting back on spending on 20% projects and killing off many of its labs projects. This is a situation where Microsoft shouldn’t be following Google’s lead. Instead of having a knee jerk reaction to try and save more money, they should be willing to take at least a few risks with some opportunity for a high return on investment. I’m really sick of seeing companies rationalize stupid behavior by invoking the “economy” as the reason.

Perhaps, as the actual Live Labs Blog indicates, this is a move to focus the projects rather than spread themselves too thin. I’m not quite sure I buy this explanation, even as I notice that many Microsoft Live products seem under-promoted and downright bad. Live Mesh stinks compared to Dropbox, a competing startup. Inexplicably, Live Mesh does not share its storage capacity with another Live product, Sky Drive. Why one of these services hasn’t made the other obsolete is completely beyond me. Bad management? Bad communication? Something else? All of the above?

It’s possible to focus on products and retain people to work on them. I was really excited about the potential for Live Labs. Now, it looks like they’ve been neutered and will be working on search. Yes, search needs work, but why sacrifice Live Labs for it? Hopefully there will still be a place in Microsoft where people can freely innovate and not worry about just the bottom line…

Thoughts on the Microsoft “Cheap PC” Ad

So there was this Microsoft ad that came out during an NCAA game. It featured a cute girl, Lauren, trying to decide which computer to buy. The voice of the ad (some omniscient being?) told her if she could find the kind she wanted under $1000 he’d buy it for her. The computer she wanted at the Apple Store was too expensive. She chose a Windows PC instead for $700.

A lot of people have claimed the ad is a huge success. It hits Apple in its weak point: price. That may be true, but there’s also this thing called “value.” Apple computers have always been about quality. Software quality, build quality, design. While it’s true that the upfront costs of a Mac are higher than a PC, you get what you pay for. There are tradeoffs associated with buying an HP versus a Macbook. The specs are not the computer.

I would argue that the amortized price of a Mac is probably about the same as a PC (or better). They’re built to last (even if Apple forces you to buy a new one every year or face inferiority). I’ve gone through too many Dell, HP and Toshiba laptops whose hinges explode. You can’t use a laptop after the hinge explodes. I haven’t had a Macbook explode yet (though the plastic did start coming off; it won’t happen on my aluminum Macbook Pro). Dell is trying to get into the premium PC market, which is great. But that sorta negates the price argument. In this economy it’s smart to play the price card, and people pay more attention to upfront costs than maintenance costs.

Also, it’s not the best idea to try and sell your product by having a “real” person shop for PCs when the person turns out to be a professional (SAG) actress. It makes it seem more staged; this definitely is not a Pepsi Challenge. But hey, whatever. I think MS got their point across. Plus I forgive Lauren because she’s way cute! I just hope her back can handle lugging around a 17″ computer.

Personally, I would advertise netbooks since they’re super cheap and Apple doesn’t have an equivalent, yet.