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Free Microsoft Analytics On The Way

Search Engine Guide writes that Microsoft has confirmed code name: “Gatineau“, a free website analytics package that will roll out later this year. Gatineau had been rumored for the last week or so, and Microsoft confirmed its existence via some team member’s blogs. They said that Gatineau will be released slowly, in order to avoid the complications that happened during the rollout of Google Analytics, which means you can probably expect an invite or delayed acceptance program.

The purpose of such a service is in order to give Microsoft access to the same website statistics their giving you for free. Such data can be wildly useful, especially if the companies using Microsoft analytics are Microsoft advertising partners. Plus, it brings some goodwill, and could be a driving force making people switch to Windows Live (assuming it isn’t an MSN product) if Gatineau’s features are better than Google’s.

The product is slated for release later this year, but Microsoft intends to gradually add users to avoid the system instability that initially plagued Google Analytics, Thomas wrote. “We hope to release this product during 2007; however, we’re extremely keen to avoid a repeat of Google’s experience with Google Analytics, so we will be ramping up our user numbers gradually to make sure everyone has a good experience from a performance perspective,” he wrote.

The Gatineau code name is because the system is built on that of Gatineau, Canada-based DeepMetrix, which Microsoft acquired last May. Check out Ian Thomas’ blog for more info, and a way to get yourself on the invite list right now.

January 16th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Live, Google, Windows, General | 2 comments

Office 2008 For Mac: Interface Overload?

I was looking at the screenshot gallery of the in-development Office 2008 for the Mac at The Unofficial Mac Weblog, and what I saw confused me. Take a look (click the image to enlarge):

Office 2008 Mac gallery
(view on Flickr)

What I don’t understand is why the overload of interface elements? We’ve got a file menu, title bar, double/triple high toolbar, and a Ribbon of questionable relation to the one in Office 2007 (used only for Galleries, as far as I can tell) and a wasteful status bar. Now, Jensen Harris has taught us that the Ribbon is supposed to replace the file menu, not supplement it, so in this case the Ribbon is just an extra, enormous amount of user interface glut.

Plus, the title and status bars contain no interface elements (unlike Office 2007’s), and the toolbar buttons are gigantic, compared to how they need to be! Are giant New/Open/Save/Print buttons, that never go away right after you’ve opened something, really all that useful? All these controls seem to be steps backward, breaking every rule of the Office 2007 interface. I thought this was supposed to be like that, not a complete slap in the face of it?

According to what we heard in November:

“We will be doing a UI refresh” Starman confirms, “but it won’t be exactly like you see in Office 2007. It just wouldn’t make sense. Apple has got their own very specific set of user interface guidelines and we try to first and foremost to follow those guidelines. If we can innovate on top of that and do some interesting things to make sure that the interface is really discoverable for the Mac user, then we’ll look at doing that. We can get some ideas (from the ribbon) but it still has to fit within Apple’s UI guideline, that’s what a Mac user wants to see” Starman says.

“We had what we thought was going to be this perfect UI solution, and the first time we put it in the labs, no-one understood it! It was so different they were completely confused! We just finished up another round of usability testing on the new UI yesterday, and the program manager said the difference is like night and day”.

Okay, I’m a bit confused. Do the Mac’s user interface guidelines force developers to follow a set of rules? Are Mac developers forced through some means to have giant toolbars and file menus, even if they don’t want them? I want a Mac developer to explain this to me, because if the Mac forces things to be a certain way, and that is preventing Mac users from getting PC World’s most innovative product of 2006, well that’s just a crying shame.

January 16th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Apple, Office, Applications, General | 9 comments

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Internet Explorer 7 Passes 100 Million Installs

The IE blog announces that they’ve recorded over 100 million computers that have installed Internet Explorer 7. They also say that WebSideStory is tracking that 25% of all U.S. web visits are through IE7, making it the second most popular browser in the country, after IE6. All this without Windows Vista, and not bad, considering all-time Firefox reports 286,294,781 downloads, while IE7 has recorded 100,000,000 in just two months.

January 16th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Firefox, Internet Explorer, Applications, General | 4 comments

Windows Vista PCs Video

Microsoft showed off this video, titled “Sizzle”, of some really cool PCs coming out around the Windows Vista launch, at the Bill Gates keynote last week:

Video: Windows Vista New PCs - CES 2007

All things considered, Apple is going to see their advantage on design slowly fade away with all these great systems coming out. Apple’s stuff looks great, but they come out with a cool new model every year or two or three, while a cool new Windows PC can show up every day of the week. PC manufacturers still need to learn a thing or two, but they’re getting pretty good already, for sure.
(via Brandon LeBlanc)

January 16th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Vista, Windows, General | 2 comments

MSN TV Gadget Available

After about a year, the MSN TV Gadget for your personalized homepage is now available. If you have Windows Media Center set up, it defaults to the TV listings of your computer, and you can set it to use any TV listings in the U.S. (it is not yet set up for other countries). The Gadget is convenient, and an easy and quick way to browse listings (far better than the ad-filled and slow offerings from TV Guide and Yahoo).

The one thing I’m confused about: I thought this was supposed to let you schedule TV recordings for your Media Center PC?

January 16th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Live, Windows, General | no comments

“Vanishing Point” Sky-Writing Event Runs Into Foul Weather

Microsoft had announced the second big clue-bearing event for the Vanishing Point contest, which will send a winner into space, and this time the clues were coming in skywriting. Lucky players who were in the cities of Los Angeles; Phoenix; Miami; Austin, Texes; and Sydney, Australia would be able to look to the skies for more clues, which they would hopefully share online to help other players.

Unfortunately, the weather got in the way, as rain in Austin cancelled that event, and excessive cloud coverage in Phoenix forced the event to be moved 20 miles at the last minute. Well, even in an Alternate Reality Game, you have to deal with the facts of this reality, and I guess even Loki can’t control the weather. You know, Microsoft could have consulted the Soviets, who had some good ideas on weather control.

January 16th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | no comments

Apple In Nasty Dust-Up Over iPhone Skins

Apple doesn’t seem to understand that suing people who are excited about your product is a damn easy way to kill some good will. Some people created skins and icon managers for Windows Mobile and Palm OS that make those devices (well, at least their screens) look just like the iPhone, and promptly got sent legal warnings that scared off damn near everyone who posted the files. As I write this paragraph, I have yet to see an available download of the skin for Windows Mobile, and I would like to try it on my device.

Here’s the fact: If people who own competing devices are putting on them skins that make them look like the iPhone, but missing all of the actual visual features of the iPhone, that isn’t a bad thing for Apple. If people owning competing devices are hungry for your device, you should encourage them! Make everyone want an iPhone! If I walk around with a Windows Mobile device that sports an iPhone face, I’m embaressing my Windows Mobile phone, and plainly saying I’m not satisfied with it, and Apple is nicer.

Okay, lets go through all the accumulated links:

TechCrunch has a screenshot of the Windows Mobile skin, which is a few icons (and soft buttons) away from being picture perfect). Very nice looking. Engadget linked to it, too.

Redmong Gadgets points out that since the iPhone won’t allow third party software, users will never be able to customize it like this.

XDA Developers used to have the files, but took them down. MoDaCo used to have it, too.

I saw an Engadget commenter post this link, which led to a RAR that seemed to have everything necessary. A Digg commenter linked here, which seems solid as well. Geekissimo has the files, both an iPhone icon pack as well as the iPhone skin for Windows Mobile.

O’Reilly has a screenshot of the skin for the Treo, as did the Unofficial Apple Weblog. Not as good as the Windows Mobile one, but that’s more of the screen’s dimension’s fault, not the OS. The file they link to? Gone, of course.

Here’s a Mac OS X theme for Windows Mobile Smartphones, and one for QVGA Windows Mobile 5 devices.

January 16th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Windows Mobile, Apple, General | 2 comments

Windows SideShow Skype Phone

Asus is showing off the coolest SideShow device yet: A phone that includes all the typical SideShow functionality, plus wifi, Skype, a headphone jack, and iTunes and Windows Media Player music streaming, tied together on a color screen. That means you can come home, put one of these in your pocket, and stream all your music out of it and check your email, as well as pick up the phone when somebody calls and control your TV or Media Center-controlled stereo. Assuming the thing is designed well and priced well, it is my new #1 SideShow device, and somebody better hook me up with Asus so I can try it out.

Oh yeah, and it looks great.

January 16th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Sideshow, Vista, Windows, General | no comments