Microsoft has announced several new features for Internet Explorer 7, features that will be present in Beta 2. One of the biggest moves involves search, with IE supporting all manner of search engines. The IE team says they are working with Amazon to support OpenSearch in IE7, letting users populate IE with oodles of search engines. It will even parse sites without OpenSearch RSS feeds by parsing the HTML. Microsoft describes it like subscribing to your favorite search engines, just like you would to an RSS feed.
OpenSearch compatible engines already include IceRocket, the New York Times, About.com. Wikipedia, Flickr, Feedster, Creative Commons, NASA, Furl, Google search, IMDB, Findory, ESPN, Wired, ABC News, USA Today, The Washington Post, UPS Package Tracking; over 260 in total. That doesn’t mean all of those will let IE7 use their results, but they’d be stupid not to, and Microsoft is throwing a lot of weight behind the OpenSearch protocol.
Why is OpenSearch good strategically for Microsoft? Backing any sort of standard that does not belong to Google prevents Google from taking control of that standard, and gives Microsoft more ability to compete and innovate opposite Google. It also means that, unlike with Firefox, Microsoft is using a standard that develops itself independent of the browser, and can thus let users add many search engines to IE without Microsoft having to code them all into the browser.
Microsoft has also announced a QuickTabs feature, which displays live thumbnails
by the tabs in the browser. This is a good feature present in AOL Explorer, and, so long as it doesn’t affect performance significantly, will only help the browser. If they aren’t already developing it, you will see Firefox copy this feature, no doubt about it.
Microsoft is also Making ActiveX opt-in, disabling all (even trusted) ActiveX plugins by default, and giving the user control over when and how they run. There will also be a web developer toolbar for both IE6 and IE7, just because it makes life easier.
(via Yahoo News)
UPDATE: Ars explains QuickTabs, and apparently they’re more analogous to Expose.
IE 7 has also gotten a bit of a face lift since its initial public beta. It now includes a feature dubbed “Quick Tabbing” which shows thumbnails of all open tabs in a tiled window and allows the user to choose a tab based off the thumbnail. While the idea is intriguing, personally I wouldn’t use it, only because I can switch through the tabs faster than I can browse thumbnails.
The Xbox 360 will hit stores on November 22, just 68 days from now, according to Microsoft’s Mitch Koch (as quoted here).
The machine will go on sale Dec. 2 in Europe and Dec. 10 in Japan, Mitch Koch, Xbox’s vice president for worldwide retail sales and marketing, said in an interview yesterday.
The Japanese unit will cost 37,900 yen, or about $345 â€” slightly less than the $399.99 the company is charging in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Microsoft had previously disclosed the U.S. price, as well as the European price of 399.99 euros.
Microsoft has already begun producing â€œmillions of unitsâ€ at three facilities in southern China, Reid said, although he would not provide a specific number of units that will be available at launch.
Reuters reports that seven games will be available at launch, and another 20 by the end of the year.
The New York Post is reporting that Microsoft is in talks to buy a stake in AOL away from Time Warner and combine the fallen internet giant with MSN. Time Warner would remain a partner in AOL, meaning the real benefit of the deal is that MSN could have access to the same Time Warner properties AOL takes advantage of.
Bloomberg notes the markets are already reacting:
Microsoft, the world’s biggest software company, would pay Time Warner an unspecified amount of cash for a stake in AOL and combine it with its Internet unit MSN, the newspaper said, citing two unidentified people familiar with the situation.
Time Warner shares traded at the equivalent of $18.32 at 12:25 p.m. in Germany, up 2.2 percent from yesterday’s closing price of $17.92 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Microsoft traded at $26.31, unchanged from yesterday’s close on the Nasdaq stock market.
Time Warner, based in New York, also held negotiations with Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo! and Google, which is based in Mountain View, California, according to the New York Post.
UPDATE: TheStreet.com has some more analysis. As they explain, because AOL’s search is powered by Google, and AOL is the fourth or fifth place search engine, MSN getting AOL would cost Google in terms of market share and the payments they get from AOL. It would also increase MSN Search’s market share, giving them a healthy lock on third place.
Additionally, MSN would likely bring the AOL Instant Messenger and MSN Messenger systems together, making them finally compatible. Such a move would ruin Yahoo’s Messenger (giving AIM/MSNM 77 million users to Y!M’s 21 million), and make market penetration extremely difficult for the new Google Talk.
(via Brad Hill)
MSN has added a website at MSNBC that shows flyover views of the damage caused by hurricane Katrina, powered by MSN Virtual Earth. It isn’t as seamless as Google in-Maps Katrina view, but the pictures seem a lot better, and you get to compare them side-by-side. You can really see how the region has suffered, seeing the normalcy of the city at peace right next to the destruction.
The images, provided by Pictometry, are the first public application from MSN taking advantage of the overhead image technology. This early Virtual Earth technology was released ahead of the fall launch date for MSN’s Virtual Earth application in order to help government and aid agencies see the damage and assess priorities, an MSN spokesman said.
The before images were taken on Jan. 11, 2004. The after images were taken between Sept. 6 and 11, 2005, the site says.
Todd Bishop got to interview Bill Gates. I completely agree with Mary Jo Foley that this was the best question in the interview, and one of the better questions I’ve ever heard asked of Gates:
Q: Are there any features of Windows Vista that the U.S. antitrust settlement is keeping you from including, that you would otherwise want to include?
Naturally, Bill wasn’t honest and evaded the question. I’ve got news for the richest man on Earth: Properly worded, an answer to that question could have let you show some backbone and fight for your company. You probably should have.