Microsoft‘s new AppleiLife killer has been announced! At first glance, it seems to be a simple re-compilation of pre-existing tools with a nice marketing package on top. Overall, a solid looking product. A special thanks to Brick Blog and Spiralbound for cluing me in on this launch.
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The solid architecture behind the new wLife ’07 suite is by far the best thing that has graced Microsoft’s OS since HyperTerminal and Volume control. Judging by their recent success with the Zune, the company is sure to maintain its place in the market. I can’t wait until their next version of Windows Character Map.
I just read an article over at Slashdot about Windows Live. It seems that Microsoft has decided to attempt to clone Google/ig, while currently Microsoft’s “Windows Live” is simply a mimic, they promise to have much more.
What’s Google/ig? Its a drag and drop portal-like web app that aggregates rss feeds and some handy tools; like the weather, movie reviews, word of the day, etc. Google/ig is simplistic. Its sexy. Its Ajax heavy (which isn’t a bad thing). I’ve been using Google/ig since they released it to the public and have been thoroughly impressed. Once again Google has set the bar high enough that Microsoft has taken notice and is attempting to duplicate….and they are doing it well.
Whats sexy about Windows Live?
Its using a crap ton of AJAX
Windows Live supposedly expects to have an online Microsoft Office Suite that will be paid for by using ads rather than money from my wallet (sounds like Writely)
Check out this article at TechCrunch.com for more stuff that is planned.
But in addition to all that, it seems Microsoft has adopted the Web 2.0 method of using a perpetual beta. Think about it. When was the last time that happened from Microsoft? Oh, and along with the public beta release, they also have a happy-go-lucky communication with end users. Right now I’m looking at the Windows Live site with Flock and see the following at the top of the page:
Firefox support is coming soon. Please be patient :-)
Smiley face and all. Seems more personal. Seems more enticing. Makes Windows Live seem to have promise. Alright, so its just a smiley face and I may be jumping to conclusions…but I highly doubt that even Microsoft can fight the Web 2.0 and its heavy social aspects and its community driven contributions. Is Microsoft conforming? We can only hope.
Well…I can see a major drawback.
It uses the .NET passport. Major suck.
In closing, while Windows Live looks nifty and has some pretty cool stuff, I’m loyal to Google and will remain an avid Google/ig user until Windows Live does something that actually wows me and makes me crap my pants.
After posting about Google Maps’ implementation of satellite imagery from Hurricane Katrina, it was suggested that I do a follow-up on Google Earth. I think I’ll go one step further and elaborate on some of Google’s hottest services and slightly speculate on what could be coming down the road.
Google Maps vs. MapQuest…Google wins hands down. Not only is this product able to generate efficient directions, but you can view maps using the standard road maps, using satellite imagery, or a hybrid of the two! This is a very sweet product that has been blogged about by many so won’t elaborate too much more on this product…but I would suggest heading over to MaisonBisson.com and NoSheep!.
If you think Google Maps is something sweet, Google Earth will really turn you on! Ok, fine. It isn’t a web app…its a desktop app. Google Earth is a product formerly known as Keyhole until Google bought them up (along with Keyhole’s satellite) then reworked and rebranded it as their own. This is Google Maps on steroids. When you open the app, you start in space looking at Earth. When you enter a city, state, etc in the search box and hit enter, you see the earth rotate and you zoom in on the location you entered. If the location happens to be a place that is densely populated, there is a chance that there are 3-dimensional buildings available for you to view…simply check the ‘Buildings’ box and tilt your view and viola! If you haven’t checked it out yet, I would highly recommend you get off your butt and go download it. Its bound to be a great procrastination tool!
Gmail Google Mail has breathed life back into the e-mail web client industry. They are setting the standard and are crushing competitors with their innovative design and search-based/tagging e-mail archiving. Gmail is a whole new way of handling the taxonomy of e-mail!
There are no folders, there is labeling. WTF is that? Well, its a way of marking an e-mail as part of a specific topic…say I receive an e-mail from MasterWish about my new account and I want to save it. Rather than dropping that e-mail in a folder marked ‘MasterWish’, I apply a label to that e-mail called ‘MasterWish.’ Ok, so whats the difference between that and folders? Here’s the kicker, I can apply a second label to that e-mail called ‘Account Information’…Then I can apply a third called ‘Sweet Websites’. Basically it allows you to put an e-mail into as many categories that you want which makes searching for the e-mail a whole lot easier. Now I no longer have to sit and think “Alright…this e-mail is about MasterWish so I want to put it in the MasterWish folder…but wait. It is also an Account Information e-mail….hrm.” Now I simply label it as many times as I want and I’m done!
Goolge Search Power! Yeah, rather than folders and moving e-mail all over gods creation, Google has a handy dandy ‘Archive’ button. If you don’t want a crap ton of e-mail that you have already read sitting in your inbox and you don’t want to delete it, Archive it! No worries, if you want to find it again simply use the google-style search box to find it again. Hugely efficient, hugely accurate, extremely easy, and faster than Outlook search :D
View entire e-mail threads. When you get a conversation going back and forth with a friend or business…i.e. you send an e-mail, they reply, you reply, they reply, you reply, etc. Rather than cluttering up your inbox with umpteen-million e-mails, Gmail places them in one! You can see every e-mail in a given discussion and expand/hide parts that you care/don’t care to see.
I just downloaded Google Talk today :) Google now has an IM application! If you have a Gmail account, you can get it and login without creating yet another account to remember. As my friends move towards Gmail accounts, this will become a slicker tool to use. If you have a Gmail account, I urge you to download Google Talk and give it a whirl. If there is enough end-user response to the application, I’m sure Google will be able to do great things in the IM market. Its simple. No ads. It offers one-click access to your Gmail account.
Microsoft did it wrong (as usual)…Google has done it right (as usual) with Google Desktop. This tool will index all of your e-mail (Outlook, Outlook Express, Gmail, etc), your IM programs, visited webpages, text documents, and a crap ton of other stuff allowing you to search (using a browser) all of the above returning search results as quick as Google Search! If you have used the Microsoft search tool in Windows, you know from experience that its like watching grass grow.
Oh, and with the newest version of Google Desktop, there is a sidebar that allows you to monitor all sorts of things in addition to executing desktop searches. There is a photo rotater, a blog monitor (places newest posts on your most frequented site visits), an iTunes controller, etc.
The above is what I use and find extremely cool. Obviously there are a whole lot of additional web apps that Google is developing. I’ll be posting more as I use them ;) In the mean time, check out what Google has to offer at the Google Labs. Where are they headed? Are they slowly cornering/buying out various web markets for a ‘secret scheme’ or just trying to make right what has been horribly wrong for so long? Time will tell…we do know, however, that Google is making other companies *cough cough*Microsoft*cough cough* extremely angry as the Google competition is hard to top! If Microsoft is threatening to “Kill Google”, the company must be doing something right!