Bada Bing!

I’ve seen a few of the new commercials. I think they are interesting and clever commercials until the end when they reveal what the commercial is for. The first time I saw one it certainly got my attention but I had no idea what the point of the commercial was until the very end, which is likely what they were after. Then they reveal the service and it sort of makes sense, but my question is what exactly is “search overload”? Is this a real concern for people? Or is it a solution looking for a problem? (Just in case, I started a support group for those suffering from search overload on Facebook). And I also question the idea of a “decision engine”. Honestly, I can’t say I’m often looking for a search site to make a decision for me. I’m usually searching for information, not decisions. If I am looking for information to make a decision, the decision comes after I have enough information. Does make decisions for me? If so, do I really want Microsoft making decisions for me?

Regardless, the commercials, reportedly part of a $100 million campaign, will serve the purpose of introducing the site to people and likely getting them to at least try it. The question is will be compelling enough to break people’s Google habit?

In testing the site a few times, my initial impression was that it wasn’t that much different than Google. In fact, it has a downright similar layout. The things that made different than Google seemed superfluous and a little confusing. Perhaps with a little more practice I could take advantage of Bing’s features a little better, but if the point of those features aren’t brain-dead obvious and simple to use, then people are going to miss them, ignore them, or worse be confused by them. And as they say, you never have a second chance to make a first impression. If people don’t get excited by immediately, they will likely not think again to leave their familiar search engine.

Is it just me, or does anyone else think of that annoying Janice character from Friends when they hear “bing”? Also, will it flow off the tongue to use “Bing” as a verb, as we do now with Google? I googled it – I binged it. Go google it – go bing it. I’m not sure.

Seth Godin posted an article on his blog about Microsoft trying to become the next Google. It’s a good read.

Windows 7 Release Date Confirmed

A post on the Windows Team Blog states that Windows 7 will be on store shelves October 22nd. Additionally, the “release to manufacturing” or RTM date will be sometime in late July. RTM is basically a term for the final production version of a software project, or the version that will be pressed onto discs. Basically, Microsoft partner companies will have access to the production version of Windows 7 about 3 months before it is released to the general public. Companies that will receive the RTM code are usually PC manufacturers, software developers, and large corporations.

It is interesting to note that while this blog post seems to come from an “official” Microsoft source, there has not been a truly offical press release from Microsoft yet on this. Why, I’m not sure. Perhaps they will hold a press conference soon and just wanted to float the news via the blogosphere first.

So assuming this info is true, Microsoft will have Windows 7 available in time for the holiday shopping season, which should make PC manufacturers happy since they should see a surge in sales. Microsoft was not able to make this happen with Vista, which in hindsight, was probably for the best.

So we will now see what will come of Windows 7. Will it be simply “a stripped down version of Vista” that brings nothing new to the OS table, or will it be well-received and bring some credibility back to Microsoft. It should be an interesting last quarter of 2009.

One More and We’ve Got Steak Sauce

I was checking my e-mail this morning and saw I had a message from one of my friends on Facebook. As usual, I click on the link within the e-mail to take me directly to that message on Facebook’s site. However, this time my web browser didn’t open up to Facebook. It took me to some strange site with a numeric address. After a few seconds I realized I had been the victim of a malware attack. Lucky for me, I use a Mac so the attack was useless on my computer. I noticed that a Windows EXE file had been downloaded, so out of curiosity, I scanned the file using ClamAV for Mac and it identified it as the Koobface worm. A little research on Google found that a new variety of the Koobface worm had just started making the rounds the day before. One article stated that this was the 56th variant of the Koobface worm. An astute commenter noted that one more and we’d have 57 varieties, just like Heinz. Heinz 57, of course, is their famous steak sauce.

More importantly, this latest example of a Windows vulnerability highlights just how risky it is to use a Windows-based computer in today’s world. If my computer were running Windows, I could have easily gotten infected this morning. It would have depended on whether or not my anti-virus software was completely up-to-date and/or if other security measures in place were able to stop this worm. Apparently, enough users out there aren’t well protected enough for this worm to be spreading like it is. Those that consider themselves technical “elite” will chide me for falling for this e-mail, and I probably should have noticed that the message was a little suspiscious. But honestly, why should I have to ensure that my computer has constantly updated multiple layers of security and always be viligant that the next e-mail message I open may hold impending doom? I shouldn’t – and long ago I made the conscious decision to not put up with it.

Which brings us to the crux of this article. Increasingly, it seems more and more people are making the decision to not put up with it anymore and switching to the Mac (including, today, that poor Facebook friend who sent me the worm). After the unmitigated disaster that Windows Vista has been for Microsoft, the company has quickly moved to bring out the next version of their operating system as soon as possible. They’ve also spent a lot of money on advertising trying to distance themselves from the “Vista” name and simultaneously undo the momentum that Apple’s “Get a Mac” campaign has generated for Macintosh sales.

This is curious, given that Microsoft still holds approximately 90% marketshare vs. Apple’s approximate 10%. True, Apple’s share is currently about double of their previous historical best, but the desparate nature of Microsoft’s ad campaigns seems out of place here. It’s as if they know something we don’t know and have a reason to be scared. Perhaps Microsoft feels their future hangs in the balance with the release of Windows 7. Regardless of what they really think, they are doing a great job of developing the perception that they are betting the farm on Windows 7. And as the old saying goes, perception is reality.

The problem is that as much as Microsoft tries hard to distance itself from Vista, every time a new virus or malware hits the news, it’s yet another reminder that Windows is not secure. And similarly to many political races, it could be this issue and this issue alone that determines the final outcome. Microsoft claims they are shooting for a Windows 7 release by the end of this year. So until then, we shall see …

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