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Microsoft Readying AdCenter Accreditation Program

Dave Naylor is reporting that Microsoft is running a pilot program testing out accreditation for MSN AdCenter. Dave was with the AdCenter team, and they explained to him about AdExcellence, which you can expect at when it launches. He can’t say much, due to an NDA, but the AdCenter blog will have information. Expect it to be similar to Google AdWords’ Advertising Professional program.
(via Search Engine Land)

July 3rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Advertising, Google, MSN, General | no comments

Advanced Features Can Confuse New Users

Me and my wife are in an internet cafe, me using my laptop, and her grabbing the first computer available. After a two sentence debate, we chose the iMac instead of waiting for a Windows PC.

No, this isn’t an anti-Mac diatribe.

She hopped on, checking out Facebook while I blogged, and wrote out a message to an old high school friend, saying how her “son is such a cutie”. After a minute or so, I realized she was intently manipulating the screen, so I asked her what was wrong.

She explained that there was a red line underneath the word “cutie”, and she wanted to remove the accidental formatting before sending the message, since the red line would make the message look strange. The red line, of course, was just Firefox’s way of telling her she misspelled a word, not any sort of text formatting.

Now, my wife isn’t an advanced user, but she’s seen those lines in Microsoft Word for the better part of a decade. She uses Opera, Office 2007, and occasionally, even Photoshop and my blogging software. But that red squiggly line threw her for a loop, paralyzing her as she tried to figure out what the hell went wrong.

I’m not saying features like that are a bad thing, that software should be crippled for less skilled users. I’m just saying that maybe they could have found a way to include the feature that didn’t change the formatting of the page. Users don’t like it when you change how web pages look, which is why I hate AutoFill features that turn form fields yellow. Web browsers need to take a step back and get features out of the view port.

Firefox has a status bar, and it uses it for nothing. Why couldn’t they put the misspelling warning in the status bar by default, with an option when you use it to turn on the squigglies? Turning on by default a feature like that is more than a bit jarring, and not the way you want to introduce someone to your software. My wife isn’t interested in Firefox now. How was that a good thing?

Thank god for Opera.

This isn’t really a knock on Firefox, just a statement that software, especially software that renders something people have familiarity with, should try not to mess with the look of things on the page, at least not by default.

July 3rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Firefox, Applications | no comments

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Should Microsoft Open A Kwik-E-Mart?

Simpsons 7-eleven

If you haven’t heard, 7-Elevens around America are being made up to look like the Kwik-E-Mart from the Simpsons, complete with a new signs, displays, paint jobs, and other customizations. In addition, the 7-Elevens that aren’t getting the whole makeover are renaming products for the Simpsons, like turning Slurpees into Squishees, Big Gulps into Buzz Cola. I took the above picture at the local 7-Eleven in central Queens.

One Microsoft blogger is wondering if this is the sort of marketing stunt that could work for others, including Microsoft. Obviously, rebranding 7-Elevens like Windows Vista is just stupid, but there are lots of Xbox-related opportunities that could work. I could see something getting a Halo makeover for the launch.

What do you think? What re-branding opportunities would work, and which are really stupid? Would you go to a Halo-themed Medieval Times?

July 3rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | no comments

Microsoft Responds (Damage Control) Over Ultimate Extras Dissapointment

Thanks to Long Zheng, there have been a lot of people talking about how Microsoft has not delivered on its promises for Windows Vista Ultimate Extras, apparently due to a lack of effort or communication. The big hubbub forced Microsoft to scramble together a team (which seems to have been disbanded long ago) and get them back on the Vista Ultimate blog, posting an apology and some updates.

After five months with no posts, the Vista Ultimate blog has an entire page of seven new posts, starting off with the apology/update:

We apologize for taking so long to provide a status update to customers.

We intend to ship Windows DreamScene and the remaining 20 Language Packs by the end of the summer. We will not ship the last two Extras showcased in January (Windows DreamScene and the remaining 20 Language Packs) until they meet the high quality bar required by our enthusiastic customers—and we believe that we can achieve that bar by the end of this summer.

We also intend to deliver additional Extras in the future. In addition to Windows DreamScene and the remaining Language Packs, we plan to ship a collection of additional Windows Ultimate Extras over the next couple years that we are confident will delight our passionate Windows Vista Ultimate customers. We cannot identify dates or provide details at this time—but once we ship Windows DreamScene and the remaining Language Packs, we will provide more information about the next Extras.

Long points to a hilarious Channel 9 post which translated the blog post into more honest speak:

“We would like to announce that we are announcing the announcement of these features that we have previously announced, and are intending to deliver this announcement of these new feature announcements once the announcement meets the highest quality of the announcements that we know that you have come to require of us. We strongly believe that we should only announce those announcements of features which have been throughly tested and you can be assured that our announcements will be announced at the earliest possible date. You can expect another announcement to this effect in two months. Thank you.”

Long also points out that the pictures and references to the old “Ultimate team” have been removed, and there’s a new Ultimate Director, Barry Goffe. This meshes with Robert McLaws, who says the Ultimate team was disbanded, and this is a new attempt to fix the mistakes Microsoft has made with regard to the product.

Microsoft certainly dropped the ball here, creating a new version of Windows with little incentive for the high price, promising a single reason to buy it, and then doing 100% of nothing. It’s practically a scam, and customers are and should be angry. If Microsoft wants some trust on promises of future features in software, it had better deliver, because Ultimate purchasers are their biggest enthusiasts, and it is not a group you want to dissapoint.

July 3rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Vista, Windows | 3 comments

Chinese Women Want Bill Gates’ Sperm

Someone seemed to think it was a great idea to poll Chinese women, asking them “Which man’s sperm do you want the most for your baby?” Besides not asking a more sensible version of the question (”Who do you want to father your child?”), the question probably took on more importance in China than it would elsewhere, what with overpopulation and the One-child Policy, so the people answering the question must have thought long and hard about it.

Naturally, their number one choice was an actor, Andy Lau.

Still, they came to their senses at number two, choosing all-over stud-muffin and Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Besides being the richest man in the world and a humanitarian, Gates is really smart, ruthless and ambitious in business, a terrible public speaker, has poor eyesight, awful fashion sense, and strange choices in friends (Ballmer). And he likes to talk about unrealistic products. In other words, everything you’d want in a genetic donor!

But seriously, how useful is 51-year old sperm? Shouldn’t people go for someone a little younger, albeit less rich and successful?
(via Engadget)

July 3rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Corporate, Humor | no comments

More Free Xbox Live Downloads

There’s some more video content you can download for free off the Xbox Live Video Marketplace. This week, it’s the first four episodes of the CBS mockumentary Clark and Michael, which looks like it might be pretty funny. Also available free are the season premiere of Comedy Central’s auto mechanic reality show American Body Shop and VH1’s Tutorials. Get em while they’re hot, and, er, available.

July 3rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Xbox Live, Xbox 360, Xbox | no comments

Little Vista, In A Baby Carriage


See, there are Microsoft fanatics! Microsoft MVP Bil Simser has done the unthinkable, naming his own child after an operating system. His daughter, born six weeks ago, has been given the unbelievable name of Vista Avalon Simser, with a first name taken from the newest version of Windows, and the middle name from the code name for the WPF graphics system. It all came about after the male name they had settled on, Dev Orion Simser, turned out to stand for DOS.

And, yes, Dev would have been short for Developer. Oy.

I don’t see any kids named iPod. Knowing me, if I had a kid right now it’d probably be named Neuros.

Not true, actually. Me and my wife have named our first 2-4 kids, and through sheer coincidence, they are all going to be named after the Fantastic Four. That’s a terrible story for another day.

Anyway, I wish little Vista all the best. Her parents better not name future kids after future OSs, risking ridicule as she gets viewed as a downgrade. But the most important thing: When she’s sick, any treatment can be called a Service Pack. Oh, and always tell her she’s the Ultimate version.
(via Information Week)

July 3rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Vista, Humor, Windows | no comments

June 2007 DreamScenes On Video

Stardock has put out a video showing off the top DreamScenes released in June. Check it out, or just download the best one in there, Aurorix, which is beautiful, and has 12 variants!

July 3rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | DreamScene, Vista, Windows | no comments