Binging along

Last week I spend some time at the Microsoft Campus in Redmond where you enter an all Bing world. You immediately feel guilty using Google Chrome with iGoogle as your dashboard. This combined with the zillion rumors that Bing will power search on the next iPhone I decided to use Bing for a while. I stopped using Internet Explorer when Microsoft moved the home button from top left to top right somewhere, but lets just forget an move on and stick to Internet Explorer too for a while.

It was not very easy to stick to Bing, mainly because I use Gmail, Google Reader, Google Apps, Buzz and this blog is hosted by Blogger. Google is very good in linking the various products and providing search always available at your finger tips. Try to ignore the huge search boxes and use a small search box in the browser. Sticking to Internet Explorer was impossible, because there is no Mac version. For this reason I switched to Firefox on the Mac for a while.

The first test was a ego search... and it showed pretty good results. This was a huge improvement compared to eight months ago just after launch. The only thing I really didn't understand why Bing put me at first in Australia. If you are not aware this might give strange results. I manually changed this to United States to best compare with Google.com in English.

Conclusions on a week of search experience. The search results are good enough for me, however the search results are not really that important for the overall experience! The convenience and availability of searching makes the difference.
1. Mail and RSS are my most used applications in a day, Google offers me web applications that make it very convenient to search the web directly from these application. This is an area where Microsoft can still improve the accessibility of search.
2. While working on a document or presentation you need background information and uses search to find it, wouldn't it be nice if you don't need to leave your favorite editor for this?
3. I've tried to explain to my 70+ year old dad and first time computer user that at the Internet (the browser) you use the large entry box when you know a 'www' address and use the small entry box if you want to search something. This concept didn't get understand. For the Internet Explorer 9 team, and Apple Safari team (if you ever listen) please copy the Google Omnibox, because that matches the users way of thinking.

What will I do? I keep using Bing on my non default browsers for a while. The possible Apple - Bing deal for the next iPhone will not move me to Android. Actually I'm more interested in the Windows Phone.

I'll Bing along a bit more...

Why Microsoft has a chance with Windows Phone 7

I'm relieved the Windows Phone 7 information has been shared with the public. A couple of days ago I already got a preview what got me quite excited, unfortunately I wasn't able to talk about it. The overall design, the user interface, the hardware specifications, etc. are all very impressive, but I was most impressed by a different Microsoft. All the old is gone and most impressive the end user experience became top priority.

The phone is designed for a specific end user persona in mind and not for the IT manager. It's a very focused non compromised design. Overall user experience from front to end has been designed to offer maximum usability and pleasure, this includes hardware specifications and application developer guidelines and tools. This is the first time I so clearly see a Microsoft that does focus on end users and tries to capture their emotions, instead of trying to conquer the hearts of IT professionals. It's a phone for people like you, me and our families.

Unfortunately the usual technology focused blogs and news sites don't seem to cover this in the detail it deserves. The main focus goes to the different user interface, the smooth and cool looks and the great hardware specifications, but that is only half of the story.

Nobody can tell weather Microsoft will be able to gain back market share or already lost the battle. Only time can give an answer, I'm at least willing to give them a fair chance because it's build by a different end user focused Microsoft. If Microsoft brings the user centric story that I heard, get into the hearts of the users the only weak spot is the ability of get their hardware partners to create a slick device.

More Life Streaming

Time flies, it's just over a year ago that I introduced my life stream. I like data aggregation and providing a clear timeline of my activities and status updates. FriendFeed was the pioneer on this field and today I still use it for my life stream. Many others followed the idea of feed aggregation and each tried to add their own unique features and visualizations.

I've tried quite a few of them:
1. Arktan
2. Cliqset
3. Dipity
5. Lifeblob
6. Lifestream.fm
7. Profilactic

There are of course many more, but how many can you try ;-) Unfortunately like it happens so often, I liked the original still the best, especially the very first version. FriendFeed has moved on and their future even has become uncertain.

Just for fun I started to work on my own little life stream project. It's inspired very much by FriendFeed, but for some reason I also like the idea of being in control of my own data. I like to keep up with technology and learn something new. It was quite a challenge to come where the app is today. I had to learn some python, deal with a scalable data store and make sure the stream gets automatically refreshed.

In case you want to check it out: http://lifestream.aadjemonkeyrock.com

I appreciate your feedback

Image credit: ged