Microsoft

Google still waiting for social ad payoff

You may be friending and poking your acquaintances on social networks, but that doesn't mean you are paying attention to the ads. Or, maybe Google just made a bad deal with MySpace in which it guaranteed to pay a lot of money even if you don't click on the ads.

Google's fourth-quarter results missed expectations on Thursday, partly due to a rise in traffic acquisition costs that cut into revenue. Executives acknowledged in a conference call with analysts that they made less money serving up ads on social networks than they expected.

The news, which prompted a … Read more

Review: Microsoft Zune Car Pack

The Zune Car Pack ($79) is Microsoft's in-car FM transmitter made especially for its entire line of Zune MP3 players (including the first generation Zune). The Car Pack shares the same aesthetic as Microsoft's second-generation series of Zune players, offering design-conscious Zune users an elegant in-car listening solution.

Read the review

Others' views on Vista's first birthday

OK, I offered several of my own perspectives on Vista's one-year anniversary on Wednesday. Today, I want to share some other takes on the big milestone.

Todd Bishop at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer had one of the most thorough looks at the big milestone, offering an in-depth story that looks at Vista's ups and downs. There were also blogs that looked at one user's struggle with Vista, the operating system's performance, and a computer repair shop that advertises in its window: "We remove Vista."

Windows Vista magazine had a most traditional birthday celebration, devouring a … Read more

Microsoft sees future of ads beyond search

Microsoft is hoping to get advertisers to think beyond search.

In an e-mail sent to reporters and analysts on Thursday, Microsoft's Brian McAndrews said the company is working on a new technology that will better measure the indirect role that online ads play in leading to a sale, a field known as "conversion attribution." McAndrews, who was chief executive of Aquantive when Microsoft bought it for $6 billion last year, said Microsoft has a new product that will enable advertising that is better at "giving credit where credit is due."

McAndrews, who heads Microsoft's … Read more

Vista's big upgrade! (Not so big, and not worth the wait)

Stephen Wildstrom over at Businessweek has news for Microsoft Vista hangers-on: it's not worth the wait.

Expectations for Vista SP1 may be unreasonably high because Windows XP had such a successful overhaul in a 2003 upgrade called XP Service Pack 2. In contrast, Vista SP1 is mostly a bundle of bug fixes and performance upgrades, many of which had been released previously. There's a lot of improvement under the hood in the form of better stability, security, and compatibility, but very little of it is in a form users will notice.… Read more

Microsoft open sources its Faceted Search for Sharepoint

In an interesting twist on its Sharepoint strategy, Microsoft has released its Faceted Search webparts (add-ons) under an open-source license. As Microsoft notes, Faceted Search is a "set of web parts that provide intuitive way to refine search results by category (facet)." Faceted Search is designed to overcome the limitations that traditional content categorization and search mechanisms (full-text search or category-by-category browsing) have provided:

A good solution to these problems involves exposing the facets in dynamic taxonomies so that the user can see all of the refinement options at any time. The user can easily switch between a search based approach vs. metadata browsing, using a familiar terminology while recognizing the organization and vocabulary of the data.

It's not clear how anyone could use this open-source code beyond Sharepoint, thereby limiting its utility, but I still think it's a step in the right direction for Microsoft.… Read more

Change your default Save As folder in Office

When you save a file in an Office application, the program opens the Save As dialog box with My Documents (in Office 2003) or Documents (in Office 2007) as the default folder to store it in. If you're saving an image, Windows wants to put it in My Pictures, and it wants to put audio files in My Music and videos in My Videos. (Vista uses the same folder nomenclature, minus the "My".)

You can stick with these if you wish, but I prefer to store my personal files on a USB thumb drive with folders organized … Read more

Microsoft blames IBM for all of world's evils (or at least the failure of OOXML)

Considering that IBM sells an awful lot of Microsoft software, I find it hard to believe they would "single-handedly" attempt to sink OOXML.

Microsoft executives have accused IBM of single-handedly leading an effort to block the software giant from having its Office Open XML standard approved by the International Organization for Standardization.

Beyond the argument (which really sounds like whimpering) I find it amazing when the Microsoft PR machine lets guys say things like this:

"They have made this a religious and highly political debate," Tsilas said. "They are doing this because it is advancing … Read more

Microsoft doesn't recommend creating Vista 'Lite'

Frustrated with Vista's sluggishness, some people have been turning to a utility called vLite, which out components of the operating system deemed unessential.

Although the move does offer frustrated Vista users an option other than going back to XP or switching to a Mac, Microsoft said Wednesday that it doesn't endorse such changes to Vista's setup.

"Microsoft does not recommend using any tool to strip out applications from Windows Vista prior to installing it on your system, as it may affect your ability to download future Windows updates and service packs, and may cause your system … Read more

Use Office 2007's ink feature to add impact to Word doc markups

I'm a stylus user from way back, so I was really looking forward to using Vista's Tablet PC features to control apps on my touchscreen notebook. What I didn't realize was how much fun it is to mark up documents in Word 2007, and to send handwritten notes in Outlook 2007.

You can use Vista's pen features on a touchscreen laptop or tablet-equipped PC to do much more than simply mark up Word documents or write e-mail as handwritten graphics, but after many attempts I remain unconvinced of the usefulness of the OS's handwriting recognition. … Read more