MSN Live Search: Little More Than a Baby!

A year or two ago, Microsoft regularly belittled the Google search engine and talked of taking the top spot. Well, reality has set in. Microsoft still talks about taking that spot, but CEO Steve Ballmer admits it may take some time.

Calling Microsoft search "a precocious tot," Ballmer says his engine is a like a 3-year-old, while Google is like a pimply faced, hormone-saturated, pubescent 12-year-old (all right, I added the pimples and hormones). It make take MSN search 'til it's 10 to take over, Ballmer argues. Doesn't that mean that Google will be 19?

Hopefully for Microsoft, Google will totally lose its motivation by the time it makes it to college. What would make you switch? And is there anyone that doesn't prefer Google? Let the Redmond Report readers know by writing me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

The Secrets of The Onion's Tech Success
Ever read The Onion (www.theonion.com)? I've always liked satire, and The Onion is the best thing since the 1970s National Lampoon magazine. Unlike The Onion, NatLamp wasn't able to make much fun at computers -- there's a limit to the jokes one can make about an IBM 390! The Onion was born on the Web, and so tech humor is a mainstay.

One of my former employers, Network World, found out just how The Onion gets it tech ideas and writes its comedy.

Here's my favorite recent Onion tech story.

By the way, Network World continues to spread the lie that Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams launched the Bill Gates for President campaign in mid-November of last year, when we all know it was good, old Redmond magazine a full six weeks earlier that started the action. For some reason, Network World refuses to correct its error, and instead keeps repeating it. Bad form, guys.

Leopard Strikes on the 26th
Apple has a new rev of its operating system set to ship late this week. According to my personal Mac guru (my son David), Mac OS gets a major upgrade every two years or so, way quicker than Windows. And Apple was also able to swap in an all-new kernel when it replaced the old Mac engine with the Mach kernel from Carnegie Mellon.

That kernel is one of the key reasons the Mac is so stable. I restart my G4 every year or so just for kicks (I'm not a role model for green computing, I admit).

The new $129 Leopard includes a version of Boot Camp that lets you run Windows at the same time as Mac software, instead of having to reboot. It also has better backup through Time Machine, which maintains up-to-date backup images of your main disk on an external drive.

David also raves about Quick Look that lets you see a nice preview of the file before you open it.

Microsoft Indirectly Employs Millions
Microsoft has about 80,000 employees, but the company supports far more people than that -- 1,800 times more, according to research house IDC. Microsoft-related jobs account for over 40 percent of all IT positions.

I tend to believe these numbers as they were nailed down by John Gantz, an analyst I've respected since I got into this business 23 years ago.

Of course, the fact that it's Microsoft is almost irrelevant; almost any software infrastructure vendor would have a flourishing ecosystem.

Unified Communications a Go
Last week, Microsoft had one of its classic press conferences: a huge stage, lots of people, carefully scripted speeches and a big city -- in this case, San Francisco. Bill even made an appearance.

Microsoft has been talking so much about Unified Communications that I reckoned all this software had been shipping. But no; the press conference was to announce the availability of a bunch of pieces, including Office Communications Server 2007 (the core platform for VoIP and other communications features), Office Communicator (the client piece), a new rev of Live Meeting and a new video conferencing system.

I've been hearing about Unified Communications (we used to call it Unified Messaging for over a decade). So why do I still have an office phone, a home office phone, a BlackBerry and a laptop, all of which are barely on speaking terms?

Are you a Unified Communications ace? If so, how'd you do it? Tell us by writing me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Mailbag: Riding in Cars With Microsoft
The Microsoft-Ford deal to equip some cars with Microsoft Sync has finally gone through, but Allan is a little doubtful of its benefits:

What happens if it all goes wrong? Will you have to close and open Windows to restart the entertainment system? Will you have to ring MS to validate your entertainment system? Will only AM radio stations be received as the system goes into limited-use mode? Will malware just track you everywhere you go? How will you turn off the auto-update function? How will you install the security patches? Does it have a CD drive for the updates?

Thank goodness it is only being installed in a Blue Oval (Aussie term for a Ford Motor vehicle).
-Allan

Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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