part of the Blog News Channel

Microsoft Took A Look At Buying Revver

Greg Sandoval reports that last month Microsoft met with executives from video sharing site Revver, looking to see if an aquisition of Revver would make sense. Microsoft is strongly producing its own MSN Soapbox service, which has been very well received, but Revver has a system for inserting and tracking advertisements within videos.

Microsoft decided not to pick up Revver, but it does show they are looking into bringing in some advertising technology from the outside to help out Soapbox, possibly because they haven’t developed, or are having trouble with their own system. Soapbox has some excellent technology, but providing a way for uploaders to make some cash could be a nice hook, especially if they tap the advertiser base of MSN AdCenter. Also, Revver’s userbase, while nowhere near YouTube’, would provide a running start to Soapbox as it tries to compete.

February 28th, 2007 Posted by | General, Google, MSN, Soapbox | 2 comments

EXCLUSIVE: New Version Of Windows Live Writer, with Screenshots

I got my hand on a recent internal build of Windows Live Writer, and I’m happy to bring you guys screenshots and info.  First off, the new features/changes:

  • Updated to the Windows Live look and feel, including the Live flair, hidden File menu, and overall more polished look
  • Windows Live “Me” blog switching control
  • Inline Spell Checking
  • Post Synchronization / Roundtrip Post Editing
  • Paste Special
  • Table Editing
  • Extended Entry Support (on blogs that have this feature)
  • SharePoint Support
  • Preferences for Window Behavior
  • Insert Image Improvements: UI consolidation, easier linking to web images.
  • Insert Hyperlink Improvements: Link to Previous Posts, Link Glossary
  • WYSIWYG Template Robustness: No temporary post on many blogs, including WordPress

Now for the screenshots, which will run through most of the new features:

First off, the new interface:

 1 - new interface

Note the blue flair design seen on everything Windows Live, the lack of the File/Edit/… menu, and the new Insert Table and Insert Tags links in the Sidebar and new toolbar buttons.  The View button replaces the old button that listed the current view status, and Tools takes you to preferences or spell checking.  The paintbrush icon is to customize the window color, and that folder icon reveals the File Menu (hitting ALT does it, too).

Here are the other interface elements (File menu and publishing options) expanded:

2 - expanded interface

Here you have the insert image dialog, which has a tab for inserting an image from the web, including previewing it, seeing the dimensions, and setting link options:

 3 - insert image from web

The tag editing UI:

 4 - tag editing

Inserting a Windows Live Map into posts (you can even set and customize pushpins!):

 5 - insert map

Here’s what the map looks like in Writer:

 6 - Maps in post

And here’s the map I created:

The Split Post button, which uses a blog’s “More” or “extended entry” feature:

 7 - Extended entries

The category picker:

 8 - category picker

It’s been moved to the bottom with the other publishing tools (including a way to set the publish date without opening the entire publish pane).  It doesn’t do categories the way WordPress does (where a category can be nested underneath another one), it is improved.

The interface in black, thanks to the color picker:

 9 - in black

I wish Windows Live software would speak to each other, and all use the same colors I choose, but at least they let me choose it in the first  place, which is nice.

I like the new blog picker button, which includes the logo for your blogging service:

 10 - Pick blog

Also, I like switching between post drafts easily:

 11 - Draft switching

It’s not quite tabs, but it works well.


Inline spell checking:

 12 - inline spell checking

And tons of options for tables:

 13 - tables

And finally, the image editing options:

14 - Image options

Verdict:  They’ve gone and taken what might be the best blog editing tool out there and made it better.  It looks better, has a few good new features, works better connecting to your blog (no more Temporary Post For Style Detection), has an even easier and better organized interface.  Great work!

I don’t know when this will be available, or if the next version you see is a somewhat different later build, but it should be great either way.

This entire post was written in the new version of Windows Live Writer.

February 28th, 2007 Posted by | Live, Windows, Writer | 19 comments

Hosting sponsored by GoDaddy

Free One Year Subscription To Games For Windows Magazine

Joystiq is offering 25,000 free subscriptions to the newly renamed official Games For Windows magazine. If you’re into PC gaming, or just into following it, you should totally sign up. I’ve signed up for many free magazine offers over the years, and they’re almost all legit (just don’t use your regular email), and Joystiq’s involvement makes it pretty safe. Hurry up before they run out!

February 28th, 2007 Posted by | General | 2 comments

Where Is Windows Live “Casino”?

Back at Search Champs, 13 months ago, we saw some prototype software called Windows Live “Casino”. Now, CRN has an article on Casino, explaining a lot about the project, which seems to keep changing focus and code names, and god only knows if it’ll ever ship. Originally, Casino was supposed to be an advanced interface for Windows Live Search, bringing the power of a desktop application to online search. Now?

Code-named Casino and referred to as OneView, the new application provides one user interface for searching across the desktop, intranets and the Web, according to Microsoft’s Web site.

… is in beta testing but isn’t ready to ship yet. The application is expected to be integrated with Windows Vista and Windows Live Search.

… “OneView gives you access to Windows Live Search. Windows Live Search indexes the whole environment, including local documents and networked documents, and OneView gives you total access to that information.”

The technology has been referred to as OneView, Windows Search 4, and Windows Search Preview…

So Casino could wind up shipping as the next version of Windows Desktop Search. Considering that Desktop Search is a recommended install on Windows XP along with the Windows Live Toolbar, or for Outlook 2007, it will get quite a good userbase, and if the interface lives up to the hype, it could be a great driver for helping Windows Live Search gain market share. Could be years before we ever see it, though, lending more credence to the belief that, “Microsoft has forgotten how to ship software”.

UPDATE: Turns out the CRN article ignores some newer info from the Shell Revealed blog, where Brandon Paddock explained that the dissapearance of Casino was because it was moved from Windows Live to the Windows group, and refocused as, indeed, the next version of Windows Desktop Search.

What this means is that WDS will get the improvements previously promised by Casino, able to search everything from a single place. No idea when it’ll ship (not soon, that’s for sure), and if it’ll have a swanky UI or something more traditional, or even how it fits into plans for Windows Vista, but at least that hard work should make it into something useful.

Brandon LeBlanc has more thoughts on this. Thanks, tipster, for the heads up! You can provide your own help by heading here.

In other news, Alexa is showing some gains for Windows Live and losses for Google, almost in proportion with each other, since Vista was released. If the Alexa data is to be trusted, maybe Vista really is the Windows Live delivery system Microsoft had hoped it would be. I know I’ve left Windows Live Search as the default on Internet Explorer, mostly because I only use IE a few times a day, but also because I want to like Live Search, and I know my feelings for Google search stem more from familiarity than better relevancy.

Also, Microsoft is acquiring Medstory, which operates a search engine on medical topics. It is geared both for medical consumers and health professionals, with results narrowed by clusters like studies, procedures, personal health info and substances. Could be a great tool in the Windows Live arsenal, I just hope they integrate it sooner rather than later.

February 28th, 2007 Posted by | General, Google, Live, Search, Windows | 2 comments