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November 24, 2006

Microsoft Weekly Miscellany, November 24, 2006

Posted by David Hunter at 11:27 AM ET.

No good deed goes unpunished – Mapuche Indians in Chile are suing Microsoft for delivering Windows XP in their native language, Mapuzugun, without getting their permission. This is Microsoft’s Local Language Program which is supposed to sweeten up the locals.

Speaking of international relations – French MPs dump Windows for Linux, but Microsoft denies sinking a Linux project in Birmingham UK by slashing the price of Windows XP.

Also with a non-USA flavor – Google Sites (not including YouTube) edged out Microsoft Sites in October to become the most-visited Web property in the UK for the first time according to comScore.

And speaking of Google, Nicholas Carr spots Google CEO Eric Schmidt talking tough about open Internet services overtaking proprietary desktop software for office and other use. Coincidentally, Microsoft rebuts the idea.

Meanwhile in Windows Live Land, Windows Live Local has apparently had a stealth renaming to Live Search Maps. Similarly the often renamed Windows Live Search Center has been renamed to Windows Live Preview, but that’s OK since it seems to have been “indefinitely postponed.”

It’s OK if Microsoft’s Zune isn’t charging out of the gate, but Microsoft doesn’t need Zune PR like this:

Last Friday, the second-most watched clip on YouTube was about Microsoft’s long-expected, if not necessarily anticipated, attempt to take on Apple’s iPod digital music player. It showed a riff from late night talk show host Craig Ferguson who, if not quite a tech visionary, managed to strike a chord that resonated with some 225,000 online viewers.

“It has all the features of the iPod, only it’s not as good, and it’s five years too late,” Ferguson said. “The name just makes me want to buy it,” he added with clear sarcasm. “I think the market research guys said, ‘What’s going to appeal to the young people? Zune! It sounds good!’ I’m gonna go on MySpace: ‘Hey, the new Zune, it’s really crack-a-lackin!’”

Just how accurate Ferguson’s scenario is depends on how you define “crack-a-lackin.” If you mean, as Ferguson did, a bit of recent slang that already feels stale — well, that sort of applies to the Zune.

But the initial reactions to the Zune are negative enough that they will not only affect the holiday sales, they may also taint the brand for years to come.

The Ferguson video is here. However, Microsoft is getting help on the Zune from folks who are posting instructions on how to get the software running on Vista (it’s still unsupported, of course) and how to use it as a USB drive.

Meanwhile, the early report of problems with the new Xbox Live video sales was apparently an indication of widespread problems.

However, you’ll be glad to know that Business Week thinks the folks at Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices division are The Soul Of A New Microsoft. Personally, I’d hold off on the beatification until some of their products actually make money.

Filed under Advertising, Argo, Coopetition, General Business, Google, Governmental Relations, Linux, Live Search Maps, Microsoft, OS - Client, Office, Office 2007, Online Services, Open Source, Public Relations, Windows Live, Windows Live Search Center, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Xbox, Zune

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August 24, 2006

Windows Live buzz – August 24, 2006

Posted by David Hunter at 1:50 PM ET.

According to Techlog, a beta of Windows Live Connection Center Wi-Fi has opened for selected beta testers of Office 2007. The Center offers a Wi-Fi client that helps the user identify and connect to local Wi-Fi networks and a HotSpot Locator (HSL) Web site that provides a searchable list of public hotspots.

Required Hardware / Software: Operating System – Windows XP, (Vista compatibility be added with RC1, currently scheduled for September 2006) and access to wireless hotspots. Note: the WLCC Wi-Fi Suite Beta will not run on handheld devices such as Pocket PCs or BlackBerries.

The Windows Live Connection Center Wi-Fi Suite beta will begin August 22, 2006 and continue through early 2007.

All this is swell, but it’s not clear what Microsoft is really bringing to the table. The client really isn’t an online (i.e. “Live”) application since it installs on the user’s PC and every maker of Wi-FI adapters already ships a client with similar functionality which contends with the native Windows support for control of Wi-Fi configuration. If Microsoft wanted to spiff it up, why not just spiff up the operating system support instead of adding a 3rd player to the mix?

As for the HSL Web site, a search on your favorite search engine for “Wi-Fi hotspots” will yield an number of Web sites that provide equivalent functionality as well, including the mapping that HSL gets with a tie to Windows Live Local.

Meanwhile, the curtain was lifted a little bit on Windows Live Drive:

Microsoft has confirmed further details of its forthcoming Live Drive service, which will offer free online storage that can be mapped directly from PCs running the forthcoming Vista operating system.

Speaking at a blogger’s breakfast prior to the opening of Tech Ed in Sydney, Microsoft Australia technical specialist John Hodgson said that the basic Live Drive was likely to include around 2G of storage for free. Additional storage capacity would be available for purchase, though pricing schemes and final release dates haven’t been announced.

Hopefully, this was some sort of miscommunication as there is no obvious reason why Live Drive, unlike current competitors in online storage (e.g. Xdrive, which is offering 5GB free), should be saddled with a Vista only restriction for drive mapping.

Finally, there was an interesting beta of the Windows Live Contacts Gadget which:

… enables end users to use their Windows Live contacts (from Windows Live Mail/Hotmail and Messenger) with third party (non-Microsoft) web sites, conveniently and securely. The gadget works with any web server, most browsers, and doesn’t require reams of license or partnership paperwork with Microsoft. You don’t have to assimilate your web server into the Microsoft collective in order to play with Windows Live contact data.

Very clever! There are more details by following the link, but I have to reiterate my caveat from when Windows Live Contacts was first announced: Windows Live Contacts is just one of many places where users can and will store contact information. Thereby, the utility of the gadget is limited and probably always will be as application developers within and without Microsoft resist giving up control of “their” contacts.

Update: Windows Live testing video search.

Filed under Hotmail, Live Search Maps, Microsoft, OS - Client, Windows Live, Windows Live Connection Center Wi-Fi, Windows Live Contacts, Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Search Center, Windows Live SkyDrive, Windows Vista

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July 14, 2006

Windows Live name changes

Posted by David Hunter at 1:05 PM ET.

Mary Jo Foley at Microsoft Watch – Microsoft’s Worst-Named Product Ever Gets a New Lease on Life:

When Microsoft announced in May that it was naming a new search application “Windows Live Search,” a number of bloggers (including yours truly) noted the stupidity of that choice.

This is the desktop search offering. Microsoft already had a product with the same name – their leadership Web search replacement for MSN Search.

Microsoft subsequently changed the name, but seemingly forgot to tell anyone until CEO Steve Ballmer mentioned a new “Windows Live Search Center” during his Worldwide Partner Conference keynote this week.

It’s not like it’s important or anything, I guess. Also per LiveSide, Windows Live Mail Desktop is now Windows Live Mail Center.

Filed under Microsoft, Windows Live, Windows Live Mail Desktop, Windows Live Search Center

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June 8, 2006

Windows Live Messenger to go gold on June 16?

Posted by David Hunter at 1:15 PM ET.

That’s the buzz at with the observation:

Windows Live Messenger is the first software package to be released out of Beta in the Windows Live range, Windows Live Search (Desktop), Windows Live Mail Desktop and Windows Live Toolbar are expected to follow this year.

Filed under Microsoft, Windows Live, Windows Live Mail Desktop, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Search Center, Windows Live Toolbar

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