Saturday, October 04, 2008

Microsoft Doesn't Matter Anymore

The title is not my idea – but comes from a Salon article: Microsoft doesn't matter anymore. The article talks about Microsoft’s latest attempt to improve the popularity of its Live Search site. The article, overall, is pretty scathing about MS, and  personally I don’t agree with at least some of its conclusions. But I suppose that’s to be expected as I make a living out of working in the MS eco-sphere and I do truly like many of the products MS makes and sells.

I do,agree with the article’s suggestion that this is a really lame marketing campaign. Or perhaps I should say another lame marketing campaign (Seinfeld/Gates etc). While Salon is right to point out the lameness – there’s another even lamer aspect: you have to use IE6. I use FireFox as my browser for some good reasons and certainly not going to change just to win cheap tacky prizes.

I have used both Google and Live Search for many years – and have both of them installed in my browser. Pretty much every time I change my default to use Live Search, I have to end up going back to Google. The reason is really simple: Live Search in general produces less relevant results. As a writer and trainer, I rely on web searching – relevance really matters to me.I’d switch over to using Live Search in a heartbeat if it’s results were better. As a writer and trainer, I rely on web searching – relevance really matters to me.

There is one area, however, where I do like Live Search – using it to search for typos. I am a moderator for the MSDN and Technet wiki’s and from time to time I find a typo that I want to get cleared up. If I was to search for “Micorsoft” for example, Live Search does just that, whereas Google has a tendency to assume I meant Microsoft and goes on to search for that. 

Something I disagree with the article over is the Zune. Now maybe it’s because I’ve never owned an Ipod, but I like my Zune. I have the 80GB red ZUne and I love it. I’ve got a great set of Sure earbuds and I take the device everywhere. I subscribe to several podcasts (including The DeapPod: at I carry my Zune with me whenever I travel!

As a small aside, and as another example of Google vs Live Search relevance,try searching for “dead pod” in Live Search vs Google (I wanted to find the URL to the site in the above paragraph). Google’s first hit was exactly what I wanted to find – and after three pages of results, I gave up with Live Search. Thanks MS, but free t-shirts can’t top relevance.

In summary, I think Salon is wrong to say Microsoft doesn’t matter any more – and I like my Zune. But I sure agree that Live Search is sub-optimal (and the latest marketing gimmick is pretty lame).

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