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links for 2006-01-24

January 23rd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Bookmarks, Vista, Windows, General | no comments

“Microsoft Cares” Ad Campaign

Microsoft is about to start a new ad campaign, letting everyone know that Microsoft isn’t an evil company anymore; that they do humanitarian work all around the world. Ryan Carter has more:

Many people seem to think Microsoft is a huge, uncaring conglomerate with little use for the little guy… They want people to believe that they care about their customers and want to change the world and make it a better place with their products.

A new ad campaign from Microsoft, to be aired soon during the Olympics, the Academy Awards, 24, ER, and The West Wing will attempt to show that Microsoft cares and tries to help the little guy in many countries of the world.

Bink says:

Come see the softer side of Microsoft? Microsoft’s corporate image is often seen as the big, bullying American software company that gobbles up its rivals and stifles competition. The company is looking to change that image with a $120M USD advertising blitz aimed at showcasing its efforts in education and economic expansion in other countries across the globe.

January 23rd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Corporate, General | no comments

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Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview

So, I got the leaked copy of IE7 Beta 2. Here’s a rundown of the install process and new features, complete with 33 (yes, 33!) screenshots. Enjoy!

01 - Setup intro

Before you can install, you have to validate Windows, so don’t bother downloading the readily available torrent if you stole that, too.

02 - Setup validation

When installing IE7, setup installs any applicable update and checks for malware installed on your system.

03 - Setup install

04 - IconAfter a reboot, you get your happy new orange-highlighted Internet Explorer logo. Clicking it, you are first asked if you want to turn on the Phishing Filter, and are then presented with a runonce “Customize Your Settings” webpage which (redundantly) asks if you want to turn on the Phishing Filter, choose your local, and participate in the Customer Experience Improvement Program. Not only are you asked about the Phishing Filter twice in a row, but if you selected to turn it on the first time, the box is still unchecked the second time!

05 - Phishing Filter

06 - customize start page

So, what’s new in the interface?

07 - blank interface

09 - RSS button08 - tiny iconWell, the new logo is there, as is the newly universal RSS icon. For pages that properly declare multiple RSS feeds, you can select them from a drop-down. You can have a sound play every time you reach a webpage with an RSS feed. I bet Scoble wants a sound for when they don’t have one. :-)

29 - Feed settings

12 - plus sign Add to FavoritesRather than a task pane, there’s a Favorite Center, that comes out from a button on the extreme left, and also manages your subscribed feeds and History. You can revert to the old task pane view by clicking a pin button. Next to the Favorites Center Button, before the tabs, there is a plus symbol that means “Subscribe”, but power users will immediately assume means “New Tab”. Get rid of it, now. Bad choice.

10 - Favorites Center

11 - Feeds and pin button

The actual “New Tab” button, simply a tiny tab next to the last tab, does show a new page icon hen hovered over. Nice touch, but it doesn’t make up for the plus sign.

13 - new tab button

15 - Refresh and StopThey’ve held onto the unified forward/backward menu, which lets you see the most recent sites, in both directions, at the same time, which I love. But, they got rid of the unified refresh/stop button, which isn’t terrible, but I liked it better in beta one when we had only one button for both functions.

14 - back and forward

16 - Search barThe search bar comes with MSN Search only, although if you have a default engine, it’ll keep that, which is why you see Google by me. Clicking “Get Search Providers” brings you to the Search Guide, which we already discussed. Clicking to add a search provider is fast and easy, and you can make any the default. The “Change Search Defaults” dialog lets you remove any, or change the default, but you can’t change the order.

17 - add search provider

18 - search provider dialog

When you have more than one tab open, you get a little “x” in the tab to close it. You don’t get it when you have one tab, which makes sense (but apparently not to some other browsers), and you don’t get it in unselected tabs, which makes it harder to accidentally close a tab, but also makes it too hard to close other tabs on purpose (although it can be done by right clicking on an unselected tab, which produces so little feedback as to be confusing). It also means you might click on a tab twice by accident, hitting the appearing-out-of-nowhere “x” on the way. This is a good idea that is too much trouble to hold onto, and should be at least an option to turn off.

19 - Close Tab button

20 - Quick Tabs selectWhen you have multiple tabs open, besides a quick drop down listing all the tabs, you get access to the Quick Tabs feature. Hit it, and you instantly see large images of all your tabs on one screen, to easily pick the one you want. Quick Tabs vanishes if you click on any other user interface element. It works instantaneously, with no wasteful graphical flashes.

21 - Quick Tabs

22 - Tab right clickYou have several options when right clicking a tab (or right-clicking a page in Quick Tabs). Besides closing the tab in question, you can close the other tabs, refresh that or all the tabs, get a new tab, or restore previous tab groups (which I could not figure out).

Pressing “Alt” brings back the hidden File menus, sandwiched between the Address and Tab bars. This is a nice way of saving space, while leaving the options there quickly. I could not find any way to leave the File menu on at all times.

23 - show File menu

You can save a group of tabs as a favorite, which simply creates a folder with all of those tabs in your Favorites. You can open any Favorites folder, opening all of the items in seperate tabs. You can save a group of open tabs as your home page, meaning you see them when the browser starts, or add any webpage to the set by itself, or type in URLs in the Options dialogue, one per line.

24 - save Tab group

25 - open Tab group

26 - save as home page

27 - save multiple home pages

There are several options for how tabs act, including one to “Let Internet Explorer decide” which popups should open in a new window, or a new tab. You are warned if you try to close the browser with multiple tabs open, although you can turn that on or off.

28 - Tab settings

31 - close program

The Help file is under construction, apparently.

30 - Help file

Easy to miss is the zoom zontrol in the status bar (which seems to be an idea taken from the Office 12 team), that lets you quickly choose different zoom levels, or you can just click it to cycle between 100%, 125% and 150%.

32 - zoom

The printing tools are just great, making it so much easier to print web pages properly, fitting them to paper size on the fly.

33 - print preview

So, what’s the verdict? Microsoft is doing a great job catching up and making Internet Explorer good enough, feature-wise, to compete with Firefox. They’ve also managed to keep the browse easier to use and simpler than their competitors. Still, there isn’t a lot to compete with Firefox’s open user community and extensions, yet, and there aren’t any revolutionary features.

When it comes to usability, Microsoft might have the edge when IE7 finally ships. When it comes to power users, Firefox will likely still have their favor. Microsoft needs to work to get third-parties back into developing for IE if it expects to win, and it’ll be a lot easier to do so with this improved web browser.

January 23rd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Internet Explorer, Applications, General | 47 comments

Microsoft Co-Founder Going To The Super Bowl

Most football fans know that the Seattle Seahawks, winners of a 34-14 thrashing of the Carolina Panthers, are headed to the Super Bowl to face the Pittsburgh Steelers. What many may not realize is that the owner of the Seahawks is none other than Microsoft co-founder and mega-billionaire Paul Allen.

Allen, who also owns the Portland Trailblazers in the NBA, gets a lot of the credit from fans, not just for keeping the team in Seattle, but for signing major players like Grant Wistrom, Walter Jones and, of course, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.

While many cite “The 12th Man”, the fans, as the reason for the team’s success, the Tacoma News Tribune says it is actually the 13th Man, the taxpayers, who are paying off almost $600 million in public funding through 2021 to keep the team in Seattle and profitable.

Either way, it has taken Allen almost a decade to bring this team to the Super Bowl, and even though I’ll be rooting for the Steelers, I wouldn’t mind seeing Allen, a major player in the tech revolution of the last three decades, holding the Lombardi trophy in two weeks.

Todd Bishop has a few links related to Allen and the team.

January 23rd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Corporate, General | no comments

links for 2006-01-23

January 23rd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Yahoo, Xbox, Xbox 360, Apple, AskJeeves, Google, Law, MSN, Search, General | one comment