Tag Archives: Microsoft

Presence buttons are cool… why can’t messenger have these?

Way back in the day ICQ allowed people to put a little snippet of HTML anywhere they liked and it would show their presence.  That was very cool.  Yahoo can do it too. AOL offers itNow Skype is doing it too.  Why, for the sake of all that is geeky, can’t we (Microsoft) do this for messenger? 


Wait, I know, I’ll use a buzz-word: it’s viral! (it’ll happen for sure now).




My status

PC Hardware makers, you’ve been put on notice

It has been a long time since the PC world migrated away from churning out beige boxes, but major manufacturers have been slow to adopt industrial design standards which can keep up with clean, well-thought-out hardware produced by Apple.  There have been periodic flashes of inspiration from Sony and Shuttle, the results, however, have been inconsistent.


With the advent of the Intel-based Mac, speculation of Windows running on an Apple Macintosh has, of course, abounded.  With Apple’s latest announcement of “Boot Camp”, an app which allow an Intel-based Mac to dual boot to Windows and Mac OS, we’re sure to see increased adoption of the Mac platform.  Users who are willing to pay the premium price of a Mac will no longer have to worry about the issues of incompatibility with the business world.


 
Seriously, which computer do you thing a grownup is going to buy? (Sorry Michael Dell)

Microsoft (and Hotmail specifically) had no hand in indictment of Chinese Journalist

According to Reuters, a Chinese Journalist, Li Yuanlong was charged with Subversion for sending e-mails via a Hotmail account. The indictment did not come, however, with help from Microsoft. The wife of the journalist was told by Chinese officials that her husband was arrested for e-mails sent  via a Hotmail account, but it is unclear how the Chinese officials came by the information they used to charge Yuanlong. Unlike the case where Yahoo was accused of handing over a dissident’s information to Chinese officials, Microsoft and Hotmail were not the source of the information leading to the arrest.


On a related note, this freedom of speech issue keeps coming back in the news and each time the articles point out that MS closed a Space (blog) last year at the request of the Chinese government.  The reports always  fail to mention, however, that the MSN Spaces team hated that action and built a solution… Spaces now has adjusted their filtering so it is dependent on the country of the user (see MC’s post for more detail), allowing them to adjust the filtering to align more closely to local standards.






More info:
The story Reuters published yesterday did not have details from Microsoft at the time of publishing.  A follow up story today clarifies the MS position with comments from a Microsoft spokesperson. 

Hello? Steve? Cancel the Joe Isuzu ad campaign.

CNN: the most trusted name in news?  Must be on the web, because television is loosing ground to the Internet as a trusted source for information.  From that I segue gracefully into… the Edelman trust barometer found Microsoft is the most trusted name in business.



The Edelman Trust Barometer found Microsoft Corporation the most trusted global company, followed by iconic companies in their home markets, including Toyota in Japan, Haier in China, Samsung in South Korea, and Petrobras in Brazil.


I think MS is a great place to work, and having the company get this type of recognition feels good (especially for someone who used to be a closet MS employee).  I realize that Edelman is a PR firm which counts MS as one of its biggest clients, but this was, after all, a survey.


While I led off with the fun part of the survey… for me this is the really interesting part:



In the U.S., trust in “a person like me” increased from 20% in 2003 to 68% today.


In other words, most people in the US find the average employee is a more trust-worthy spokesman than the CEO.  Any connection to the surge in blogging?  It’s pretty hard to preen cause from effect here but I, for one, am hugely thankful for the change in culture at Microsoft which made it possible for employees like me to feel comfortable blogging in relative freedom about our work.


I suppose that brings me back to the beginning… perhaps the trust in Microsoft will not be limited to a single survey or a fleeting one-year occurrence.  With any luck, as more people are able to get a glimpse of the people working at Microsoft and the pride they have in their work, the world will realize that for us it’s really about building cool software, not crushing your enemies and seeing them driven before you.  While our moniker of “the evil empire” is something I look on with amusement, it’s not a nickname I view with pride.





For a deeper dive on the topic of what can happen for company trust when the employees step out from behind the protective shadow of a company’s CEO and PR machine I recommend you check out Richard Edelman’s essay The Me2 Revolution on his blog.

Patience

I just posted to the team blog about upcoming improvements to the Windows Live Mail beta.  The languages we were hoping to roll out back in December should be coming out very soon.  If they’re not out by the end of this month, I’ll eat…


… um …


… this tasty, fresh Twinkie snack cake (aw heck, I’m just being realistic, this is software, after all, and the wind can shift direction without warning).


At any rate, the English speakers in Canada should be happy to know that they’ll soon be able to join the crowd from the UK, US and AU.  As soon as we roll out French for Canada we’ll also be able to roll out English (we want to be fair, after all).


So if you’re on the list, be patient, we’re upgrading servers as fast as we can.  If you’re not on the list, what the heck are you waiting for?  Get over to http://ideas.live.com and sign up!


And now, a picture of my dog cross-bred with a Brewer’s Blackbird:


Windows Live Mail supports more browsers

Ellie has written a great post on the Windows Live Mail team blog about the yeoman’s work that has gone into the product to support older browsersEllie worked with a team in China to develop a version we internally referred to as the “down-level” version of Kahuna (she basically worked U.S. hours in the office, then went home and worked some China hours on top of that… boy does she deserve a few week’s rest!).  The goal of this basic implementation is to support older and non-standard browsers for accessing Windows Live Mail accounts.  The “up-level” features of Windows Live Mail such as drag and drop, spell check as you type and shift/control click require an advanced browser which supports the core technologies needed for Atlas (JavaScript, DHTML, and XMLHTTP).  This is great news… after all, what good is having roaming web-mail if you can’t get to it from everywhere?


You may be wondering, what is “up-level” for the Windows Live Mail beta?  For now “up-level” means IE 6 and 7.


I am now sitting here picturing the sparkle that has just come to the eye of all the Microsoft haters and conspiracy aficionados reading this.  I’m picturing them clapping gleefully as they hop from foot to foot, pointing accusingly: “I knew it!  You’re just trying to force us to use IE!  This is just another glaring example of Microsoft forcing its software down our throats!  You’re all evil footservants of the great lord of darkness, Bill Gates!  [exceedingly long string of expletives removed for the sake of brevity, let’s just say that Lenny Bruce would have blushed]“


Yes, Sherlock, you caught us… red handed.  That’s right Kojak, you nabbed us focusing our early development efforts on a single browser to speed initial development.  Congratulations Barney Fife, you found us cutting a corner to get our latest product into the hands of customers as early as possible so our beta testers could help us mold the future of the application.  We’re guilty of that age old sin of limiting the number of variables when approaching a difficult problem.  You may now read us our rights.


Yes, Windows Live Mail beta has all the fancy features only available for IE 6 and 7, for now.  Read what you like into that. ;-)


Oh, by the way… if you are using IE 6 on the beta and want to see what the other version looks like, check out Ellie’s space… she has the method for changing the URL so you’ll get the basic UI in IE 6 or 7.


Mike, I don’t want to hear that it’s impossible to clap and point at the same time.  It’s called imagery, look into it you hack. :-p

A Windows Live Mail update

The latest update to Windows Live Mail beta was released to the world today.  There are lots of great improvements including performance, in-line spell checking and the introduction of the “down-level” experience (the non-AJAX version for older browsers).  The best place for a quick summary is Steve’s post and the best place for lots of details is Imran’s post to the mailcall blog (be sure to also check out the video on spell checking).


I’m hoping we’ll also hear from Ellie soon too… she led the effort to develop the downlevel client.  Working with a development team in China (both from here in Mountain View, California and by flying out to Shanghai) as well as developers here Ellie got the first downlevel version ready to ship.  As with the first Kahuna betas, this isn’t complete yet… but it will evolve as well.





Some spell check video trivia for you:



Want to be part of Windows Live Mail?

I get this question a lot: “how do I get on the beta?”  I get it almost as much as “could you please send me an invite?”


Well, we’ve taken the human element out getting on the beta (and that’s good news for you).  Now, instead of prostrating yourself on every Windows Live Mail blog you can find, you can simply go to http://ideas.live.com.  On Windows Live Ideas you’ll find out how to get on the waiting list of the Windows Live Mail beta as well as several other cool betas we have in the works. 

Application-like spell checking… on the web?!?!?

I don’t think I can understate how cool this feature is:  spell check as you type.


Ever since I first saw this feature in Word I’ve been wanting it in every application I have (including DasBlog, you listening Omar? :)).  Well, now we finally have it in Windows Live Mail beta.  The way it works is pretty slick too, the client-side code on the browser actually starts handing words and groups of words up to the server to be checked for errors.  When errors are detected the misspellings are indicated on the client with familiar red squiggly lines. 



The best way to get a feeling for this is to see it in action.  Since we haven’t released the feature yet you can’t, unfortunately, try it out… but you can have Imran give you a demo. Check out the Video that Imran, Vikram, Brian and Zeek made, it gives a great run down of the design, development and testing of the feature.


For those of you on the beta and wondering when you’ll see this… I’m predicting you’ll see it before the year is up (but I don’t make any guarantees ;)).