InsideMicrosoft

part of the Blog News Channel

Firefox? So Last Year. You Need Super-Firefox

What happens when you add 100 of the most popular Firefox extensions to the blogosphere’s favorite web browser? Well, you get Super-Firefox, and you don’t get anything done. Splasho did exactly that, and the results are both hilarious and ridiculous, with a browser that can’t be used realistically by any human being. The screenshots are pretty funny. Even the right-click menu is broken, sprouting horizontal and vertical scrollbars!
(via Ed Bott)

March 1st, 2006 Posted by | Firefox, General | no comments



Free USB Drive From Microsoft

There’s no way this will last, so apply now. Supplies are limited! Eh, whatever.

But seriously, this is a decent deal. Fill out your info, answer four questions, and get a free 16 megabyte USB thumb drive in 6-8 weeks. 16 megs ain’t much, but its free, so who gives.

So, instructions: See that image at right? You’ll also see it on this page (don’t use Opera). Click on it, then follow the instruction. When you get to the questions, the answers are, in order:

  • 2
  • True
  • True
  • True

Its that easy. Don’t fill out fake info, or else you won’t get it. Scratch that. Fill in my info.

Thank Raymond.CC for the tip. Get in before Diggers or Slashdotters kill this opportunity.
(via Findory)

March 1st, 2006 Posted by | General | no comments

Hosting sponsored by GoDaddy

Live.com Crushing All Comers?

Richard McManus notes that Microsoft’s Live.com has exploded with traffic in just the four months they’ve been, uh, live. Now, this is based on Alexa data (insert standard Alexa disclaimer here), but it is still very interesting to note.

I’ve done a comparison of Live.com against other popular websites, namely Bloglines, digg, Slashdot and Memeorandum. Besides the surprising (or not so much, if you think about it) news that Memeorandum gets practically no traffic, you can see Live.com beating all comers, with almost triple the traffic of Bloglines.

Now, its hard to compare Live.com with Google’s Personalized Homepage or MyYahoo, since Alexa only lets you compare by whole domains. Its also made harder by the fact the Live.com hosts lots of services, including Windows Live Mail and now Live Expo, some of which account for a lot of that traffic. Still, that a brand new domain can pull into the top 400 of sites in Alexa just since November shows that a lot of people have found something to like about Live.

Can’t blame them, either. Of all the personalized (or AJAX) homepages, Live.com is certainly the most polished graphically. It just looks good.
(via TechCrunch)

March 1st, 2006 Posted by | General, Live, Windows | 6 comments

Microsoft and Web 2.0 Hype

Mary Jo Foley has a killer article for Redmond Magazine asking “Is Microsoft Buying into the Web 2.0 Hype?” She wonders if the sleeping tech giant has woken up and given into all the hype, starting with its Mix ’06 conference, which might as well be called Microsoft’s Wild Web 2.0 Adventure.

But with the advent of this month’s Microsoft Mix ’06 event in Las Vegas, I’m starting to wonder. While Microsoft doesn’t mention “Web 2.0″ explicitly in its conference materials, the company is undeniably jockeying to cash in on the hot Web 2.0 themes: AJAX development, RSS Monetization; “Conversations” as opposed to “Conferences,” and so on.

There’s even some nice stuff from yours truly:

That sinking feeling in my stomach got a bit stronger when I read some recent remarks by Gary Flake, the head of Microsoft’s newly unveiled Live Labs. And according to Nathan Weinberg who runs the “Inside Microsoft” blog, Flake is prone to use terms like “macro-ization” of computing; “Internet singularity”; and (the dead giveaway of too much 2.0-ism) The Long Tail.

But this is my favorite part:

O’Reilly Media founder Tim O’Reilly attempted a concise definition that goes like this: “Web 2.0 is the network as platform, spanning all connected devices; Web 2.0 applications are those that make the most of the intrinsic advantages of that platform: delivering software as a continually updated service that gets better the more people use it, consuming and remixing data from multiple sources, including individual users, while providing their own data and services in a form that allows remixing by others, creating network effects through an ‘architecture of participation,’ and going beyond the page metaphor of Web 1.0 to deliver rich user experiences.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Web 2.0 is the new bubble. The only question is whether we are smart enough this time around to see the writing on the wall and try to not make the same stupid mistakes. There is so much more innovation, and so many more smart companies than there were in the late nineties, but thanks to our blogs and our much-vaunted conversation, the hype is standing head and shoulders above the substance.

I would just like to beg the people who truly lead this conversation, the bloggers who make or break venture capital funding, to understand that when you continually pump things as cool, you need to try to keep your perspective. This is an industry, and there is a lot of money to be made, and a lot of people are showing you stuff not because they like you, but because the investors they are trying to reach like you. Don’t be their tools; don’t push vaporware.

Try a new rule, a simple one: Don’t point to anything unless its already shipped. If a company hasn’t shipped, they have no product, and more likely than not, they’re using you. Don’t be used. Be smarter than that.

Anyway, I’ve gone off topic, but this is what’s been eating at me lately, so I’m taking my soapbox. Getting off of it, Microsoft is certainly jumping in the Web 2.0 game, jumping in with several billion feet first. Microsoft is jumping in, not because they’ve given into the hype, but because other companies, like Google, have finally made a business out of it.

Microsoft may play the hype game, but they’re throwing untold amounts of programming talent at Web 2.0, not marketers. Sure, there’s the occasional Scoble pushing their offerings, but the typical Microsoft Web 2.0 person is still a coder, and usually a damn good one. Microsoft is doing a much better job, because unlike the open market, they’re emphasizing shipping and shipping fast.

If you spend 18 months developing your “stealth startup”, you’re going to get killed by Microsoft or some other company that actually ships product while you’re gathering hype. The hype may get all the attention, but every second you spend on hype is a second your competitors are improving their products. Don’t waste time that could be spent of features on hype, since not everybody plays that game. It’s a losers game.

March 1st, 2006 Posted by | General, Live, Windows | one comment

Windows Live Local Goes StreetSide

Windows Live Local has added a new feature: street-level images. Now, while Amazon’s A9 has had block images of storefronts for a while, Microsoft’s approach sends you driving down the street in a virtual car.

You choose between a sports car, race car and walking view. You see the street through the car’s windshield, three images (front, left and right) on the top half of the screen, surrounded by the car’s dashboard. On the bottom half of the screen, you see the roads, along with the image of a car. Using the keyboard, you can drive the car through the streets, with the images at the top updating as necessary.

I’m told that, on a fast enough connection, images update instantly, fast enough that you feel like you’re driving down the road, but I guess my connection isn’t enough. I’ve found that the best results are not with the default Hybrid view, but with the Street view, which shows you just the pictures, so you know exactly where to drive, with a decent idea of what to expect.

They won’t say which cities are coming, largely to manage expectations, but also to prevent people from tracking the van and standing on the streets with signs so as to get in the index.

Notice the Xbox 360 controller lying on the dashboard in the virtual cars. It works well in IE and Firefox, and runs, albeit buggy, in Firefox.

Scoble’s video on Channel 9 is pretty interesting. I ran into Robert yesterday at SES, and he was talking up StreetSide. He mentioned that there are a lot more options for the user interface, since the cameras are mounted all around the car. I noted that it would be interesting to point a camera at an upwards angle (in big cities), so as to see the buildings from street level.
(via Emad Fanous)

March 1st, 2006 Posted by | General, Live, Local, Windows | one comment

Paint.Net 2.6

The latest version of Paint.NET is out, version 2.6, it offers full 64-bit support (including an installer that works regardless of 32- or 64-bits and does the work for you), color curve adjustments, seven new layer blend modes, aesthetic improvements, better performance and zooming and support for really high screen resolutions, among many other improvements and fixes. You can, as always, get it here.

Paint.NET is a free image editing tool for Windows systems running the .NET framework. It is extremely powerful, and a viable alternative to Photoshop. If you really love Paint.NET, as I do, you can donate some cash, all of which goes to the University of Washington to help them pay for equipment and curriculum.

To coincide with the release, Betanews has a profile of project lead Rick Brewster. Rick recounts the history of the program, from its early days as a Microsoft-mentored student project to its current state as an unofficial, independently developed product. He also explains their philosophy regarding the goals of the project.
(via Mary Jo Foley)

March 1st, 2006 Posted by | Applications, General | no comments



Button Mashing 360

The Horipad EX Turbo, a new controller for the Xbox 360, lets you button mash, to the extreme! The officially licensed controller, which, according to Kotaku, retails for about $30 (3,500 yen), can be set to repeat the A/B/X/Y buttons at a rate of 13 or 26 presses per second.

At the Ask.com party Monday night, they had wireless original Xbox controllers with turbo options. The things were awful. I don’t know what company made them (they came in black or white is all I can remember), but the turbo controls were unintuitive and got stuck. They had to remove the batteries, replace the controllers, the damn things just got in the way and were really annoying. I hope Hori’s don’t have the same problem. If anybody gets their hands on one, let me know.

March 1st, 2006 Posted by | General, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

Halo 2 For Windows Vista News

Bungie has issued a status update for the coming Windows Vista version of Halo 2. Basically, they don’t reveal much except to say the obvious (Halo 2 PC will run at resolutions other than 480i, since that’s what PCs do), the dissappointing (Halo 2 online won’t use Xbox Live, and you won’t get to play with Xbox players) and the very cool (map customization):

There will also be some kind of map-customization ability. Does that mean you can build your own maps from scratch, pixel by pixel, importing your own textures, scripts and detailed shaders? Or does it mean one empty room and a crate? Well, we’ll have more news on that later this year, but it will be cool, we guarantee that.

Oh hell, there’s one more: They might be working on Halo 2 for the Mac. Maybe. We’ll see on that one.
(via Mac Davis)

March 1st, 2006 Posted by | General, Halo, Vista, Windows, Xbox, Xbox Live | no comments

links for 2006-03-01

March 1st, 2006 Posted by | Bookmarks, General, Live, Search, Windows | no comments

Conversation Threading In Outlook

Peter Jelliffe posts on a feature in Outlook that few people use: Its ability to group messages by conversation, a lot like Gmail does. It doesn’t work exactly the same, but it does make Outlook a lot more useful.

Basically, just add the “Conversation” column to Outlook, right-click and select “Group By This Field”, and make sure “Show in Groups” is unchecked. Then, messages are grouped together in your inbox, and new messages that are part of the same conversation are shown together with previous messages.

Of course, to be truly like Gmail, you’d have to have sent messages placed in your inbox along with incoming messages. Also, Outlook is simply grouping messages by the subject, regardless of how many years ago that message was sent, so you could see some weird groupings.
(via Lifehacker > Findory)

March 1st, 2006 Posted by | Applications, General, Outlook | no comments