With Microsoft's IE8 browser now in its second beta, and Google's Chrome shaking up the browser market with its initial public beta release, many analysts are now taking a closer look at how these browsers are similar - and different.
Scott Hanselman, a Microsoft Senior Program Manager posting at Hanselman.com, gives us a useful look in a recent posting about one similarity between IE8 and Google Chrome: "both browsers isolate tabs in different processes."
So, what does this mean to us users? Both browsers are capable of running many tabs at the same time, and, as Hanselman demonstrates, can restore a crashed browsing session with a single mouse click.
One difference between current releases of IE8 and Chrome: if a page crashes in IE8, the browser will try to reload it automatically before it gives up and asks you if you want to reload the page or browsing session.
Have you been loading up either of these browsers (or other current favorites) with lots of tabs? Which of the current browsers has error handling you like? Which ones still have problems? Hit the jump for your chance to sound off.
It's too early to tell how effective (or ineffective) Microsoft's new commercials will be in currying favor among those leaning towards buying a Mac or on the fence as to which direction to take, but at least one OEM might not be willing to wait and find out. According to an article in BusinessWeek, those every ready 'anonymous sources' claim Hewlett-Packard is looking into offering a Windows alternative.
"Sources say employees in HP's PC division are exploring the possibility of building a mass-market operating system," the article states.
Naturally, the new OS will most likely take root in Linux, albeit a customized version that wouldn't be so intimidating to mainstream users. The idea, according to the sources, is to make HP less dependent on Windows and snag some the customers that become mesmerized under Justin Long's spell.
Phil McKinney, CTO of HP's Personal Systems Group, didn't outright deny report, but he came close when he said "Is HP funding a huge R&D team to go off and create an operating systems? (That) makes no sense."
The job of a whistleblower is a dangerous one, and Robert Delaware has paid the price for speaking out against Microsoft. The contracted game tester had worked closely with the Xbox line, and particularly Bungie Studios since early 2005. For those who haven’t been following the story, Delaware’s testimonial was the basis for an article that made headlines last week regarding Xbox 360 hardware failures at launch. In the VentureBeat article, Delaware detailed the known quality issues with the 360 and that management ignored multiple warnings in order to gain an advantage over the not yet released Playstation 3. Legally Microsoft was within its rights to fire Delaware for his unauthorized interview, but he remains defiant. Delaware claims to have been aware of the possible ramifications but was willing to take the risk. Upon termination Delaware was also warned by an HR representative that he faces possible lawsuits from both Microsoft and the company who contracted him out. The Interview conducted by VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi remains unconfirmed by Microsoft and in response had only this to say: "This topic has already been covered extensively in the media. This new story repeats old information, and contains rumors and innuendo from anonymous sources, attempting to create a new sensational angle, and is highly irresponsible.”
Did Robert Delaware do the right thing? Or was he just looking for publicity?
The Zune, just like every other Microsoft product is a very functional and feature rich device. Unfortunately, it simply lacks the cool factor that seems to come bundled with every iPod ever shipped. Despite the intense struggles it has faced however, it seems pretty clear at this point that Microsoft is ready to stay the course and is content to scrap it out for the number two position. At least, this is the impression Joe Belfiore gave CNET News in a tell all interview on the future of the Zune. In the interview Belfiore recants his dream of a future where media flows seamlessly from Zune to Xbox or even a Mediaroom IPTV. On the subject of a Zune phone, Belifore didn’t have much to say other “stay tuned”. It’s hard to read much into that, but clearly it’s a lucrative market that could really help push the brand forward if executed properly. For those who haven’t been following the lineup, Microsoft just recently released new Zune hardware. They include a 120 GB hard drive based player to compete with the iPod classic, and an 8 GB flash drive based device to take on the iPod Nano. Both have been priced aggressively to compete with Apple going into the holiday season and in many ways are still a better value. From the interview it also seems apparent that Microsoft will continue to push hard on the value of the Zune as a social experience. Zune owners have the option of sharing playlists with friends and can even create profiles so everyone on the web will always know your favorite songs. The interview doesn’t reveal any new information, but presumably Microsoft must be carefully looking at devices such as the iPhone and iPod Touch. Both represent products they can’t currently compete with under their current lineup.
If you enjoyed the first commercial starring Bill Gates and new OS pitchman Jerry Seinfeld (and judging by the comments in the accompanying news post, many of you did), then you're likely to be tickled by the latest installment, all agonizing 4 minutes of it (that's right, my PC brethren, I'm still not amused). Gates doesn't shake his tush in the latest Vista ad, but he does do the robot, or at least a 52-year-old semi-retired billionaire's version of the robot (admittedly not bad, all things considered).
The newest ad still stays mainly focused on trying to connect with current culture rather than outright attempting to whip Apple at its own game, which is to fight a battle of the OSes. But here's my beef - it's just not amusing, to me anyway. There are subtle (and some not so subtle) messages to be picked up on in both commercials, but just as I didn't find myself chuckling at the whole Shoe Circus setting, I'm equally unimpressed watching a couple of rich guys trying to coexist with the common folk (props to the spunky grandma, the sole shining star so far in this ad campaign). Taken to the extreme, as Gizmodo alludes to, the commercials' failure to live up to expectations ironically mimic the same characteristic that described Vista when it first debuted.
There's a particular line that stands out in this new commercial. After Gates and Seinfeld are caught stealing a leather giraffe, the man of the home tells the unlikely duo "I'm disappointed in the both of you." Me too.
Am I just being a hater, or are you guys and gals still digging these introductory commercials? Maybe I'm just bitter that Will Ferrell didn't end up with the role.
While Crockford says we need a new war, I'd argue that we've already got a dandy one going on right now: IE is being challenged by Mozilla Firefox, while Google Chrome has just entered the ring to go head-to-head with Opera and Apple Safari to fight for third place.
To find out why I think Browser War II is already on, and why it might turn out a lot better than the first war of the browsers, join us after the jump.
When developing Internet Explorer 8, Microsoft’s top priority wasn’t building the browser for speed, but making sure that the user interface was unlike any other.
During a press demonstration for Beta 2, Microsoft’s product marketing director, Stephani Kimmberlan, explained that the browser wasn’t built for performance benchmarking, and that it would be premature to run speed tests on the browser before its final release.
Kimmerlan also noted that the browser’s important features were “user-interface enhancements”; things like the Accelerators (a basic, right-click shortcut menu) are just part of the many ways IE8 automates near simple tasks for easier accessibility.
Microsoft also demonstrated the browser’s enhanced search box feature, adding that unlike Google’s Chrome, the search feature didn’t send any data back to home base.
Face it, activation is a failure. For power users who frequently upgrade their PCs, dialing in to reactivate the OS is beyond irritating. Instead, Microsoft must come up with a novel way to punish pirates without annoying its paying customers. (May we suggest displaying massive popup ads in pirate copies of Windows?) For legitimate customers, a realistic home-licensing program—buy one copy at full price, get four more upgrades for $50 to $100 each—would go a long way toward creating goodwill.
Thankfully, that very strange Bill Gates + Jerry Seinfeld TV ad isn't the only way that Microsoft is reaching out to a customer base that's still suspicious of Windows Vista. The San Jose Mercury News' SiliconValley.com website reports that Microsoft is planning to put 155 "Microsoft Gurus" into big-box electronics stores like Best Buy and Circuit City to help improve how Windows Vista and other parts of the Windows ecosystem are received by retail customers. It's part of a $300 million marketing campaign that also includes closer cooperation between Microsoft and major computer OEMs to make Windows faster and more reliable.
According to the official Microsoft news release, you can expect to see the gurus located in specially-branded 'store within a store' locations by year's end, using techniques being developed at Microsoft's Redmond-based Retail Experience Center (see photo at the start of this article).
Microsoft compares its new retail methodology to the personal shoppers employed by high-end stores such as as Nordstrom, while others suggest comparisons with the Apple "Genius Bars" located in Apple retailers. One difference: Microsoft Gurus are tasked with handling pre-sales questions only , while the Apple Genius Bar personnel can also provide technical support.
For anyone who's ever had to drive off a commission-based computer salesperson's desperate struggle to load you up with a lifetime's supply of ink or toner, a USB cable for each finger, or other high-margin goods, one question is, 'how will Microsoft Gurus be paid?' SiliconValley.com quotes Microsoft GM of Corporate Communications, Tom Pilla, as saying a major determining factor will be customer satisfaction and their "ability to translate the technology to a language consumers feel comfortable with."
So, how do you think the Microsoft Guru program will work out? For your chance to sound off, see us after the jump.
We sat down with Microsoft to hear the company’s side of the Vista story. What lessons have been learned following the worst Windows launch in the company’s history? Is Microsoft doing enough to regain PC users’ faith?
Way back in January 2007, after years of hype and anticipation, Microsoft unveiled Windows Vista to a decidedly lukewarm reception by the PC community, IT pros, and tech journalists alike. Instead of a revolutionary next-generation OS that was chock-full of new features, the Windows community got an underwhelming rehash with very little going for it. Oh, and Vista was plagued with performance and incompatibility problems to boot.
Since then, the PC community has taken the idea that Vista is underwhelming and turned it into a mantra. We’ve all heard about Vista’s poor network transfer speeds, low frame rates in games, and driver issues—shoot, we’ve experienced the problems ourselves. But over the last 18 months, Vista has undergone myriad changes, including the release of Service Pack 1, making the OS worth a second look. It’s time we determine once and for all whether we should stick with XP for the next 18 months while we wait for Windows 7. But before we answer that question, let’s review exactly what’s wrong with Windows Vista.