Google to IE9 Users: "Come here often? Make Google your homepage"


Google is the default search engine on virtually every browser – with one exception: Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which obviously users Microsoft’s own Bing. Now that Microsoft is rolling out version 9 of Internet Explorer to most of its users, Google is actively courting these users with a large blue bar on its homepage: “Come here often? Make Google your homepage.” The possible answers: “Sure” and “No thanks.” If you decline, Google will then show you an ad for Chrome every time you go to

Image credit: Google Operating System


via: Google Operating System

1:55 pm

Microsoft Wants to Set the Record Straight on IE9 vs. Firefox 4 Download Numbers


With the launch of a major new version of virtually every major browser in the last few weeks, the discussion around how many downloads each one of them got is unavoidable and, as Microsoft’s senior director of its Internet Explorer business and marketing group, Ryan Gavin calls it, “a natural temptation.” In comparison with Mozilla, which just launched Firefox 4 last week, Microsoft’s download numbers don’t look great. Mozilla saw about twice as many downloads as IE9 during the first 24 hours of Firefox 4’s general availability (2.4 million vs. 7 million). According to Microsoft, however, there is a very good reason for this.

The difference between the way Microsoft releases its browser and the update mechanisms that Mozilla and Google have in place, though, means that it’s virtually impossible to draw any conclusions based on these 24-hour download numbers. Gavin rightly notes that both Mozilla and Google have automatic update systems in place that starts rolling the new browser version out to virtually all of their active users on the day it becomes available. Microsoft takes a very different and more conservative approach, though.

Firefox 4 Download Stats

Microsoft: “90% of IE9 Downloads Have Come From Non-IE9 RC and Beta Users”

Until now, only those users who downloaded IE9 directly were counted in Microsoft’s numbers. Indeed, Microsoft only turned on automatic updates for users who had beta and release candidate versions of IE9 installed yesterday. So far, according to Gavin, 90% of downloads of IE9 “have come from non-IE9 RC and Beta users.” IE9 still hasn’t been released for automatic updates through Windows Update, so comparing the early download numbers is, says Gavin “premature at best, and misleading at worst.”

While Gavin calls for “a thoughtful approach to measuring browser adoption,” he does take a slight swipe at the other browser vendors and, between the lines, accuses them of counting incomplete downloads in their numbers (“And remember, we report completed downloads – not attempted downloads where a user may hit a download button repeatedly but without fully downloading IE9.”).

Gavin also argues that his group is fully focused on Windows 7 and wants to give users on this operating system an “experience that will push the web forward.” Other vendors, he says, don’t have this “singular goal” of making their browser as good as it can be on Windows 7, as they focus on other operating systems, too. Some, of course, would argue that it’s a good thing to offer your browser for as many platforms as possible…

While I don’t fully agree with the overall sentiment of his argument, his call for pundits to wait for the point where IE9 becomes available through Windows Update is well taken (“Until that time, don’t get too wrapped up in the browser number gymnastics currently going on.”).

12:41 pm

The Microsoft Tanker Has Turned and You Ignore it at Your Own Peril


Whenever I hear people discussing Microsoft, it usually doesn’t take long before somebody mentions that the Redmond-based giant is like a huge oil tanker. It takes a while to turn such a huge company around and get it back on track. When Microsoft stumbled after the dotcom boom and couldn’t even produce a viable browser to compete with the open-source offerings of Mozilla, quite a few pundits assumed that the age of Microsoft was about to come to an end (the less said about the disaster that was Windows Vista, the better).

Microsoft Today

Flash forward to late 2010. Windows 7 is a huge success. Internet Explorer 9 has the potential to be one of the best browsers on the market. Windows Phone 7 is about to be released (and after seeing it in action during a short trip to Redmond earlier this week, I’m convinced that it will be a huge hit). Bing is bringing much-needed competition to the search engine market. Windows Live is becoming a great little social media aggregator for its users and a central hub for all of Microsoft online consumer tools. Hotmail – as much as it is ignored by the tech press – is still one of the most popular email services on the planet and continues to quietly innovate. The Windows Live Essentials desktop tools can easily hold their own in comparison with Apple’s tools. The Office Web apps easily beat the offerings of Microsoft’s competitors in both design and functionality.

What’s interesting is that most of these apps and services are only one or two iterations removed from really horrible products like Windows Mobile 6.5, Internet Explorer 7, Live Search.

Turning the Tanker Around

Spending some time earlier this week on the Microsoft campus, I couldn’t help but think that this is a very different Microsoft from the company we all loved to hate not too long ago. Instead of trying to build its own Facebook clone, for example, Microsoft is using Windows Live to aggregate other social networks. Just ten years ago, Microsoft would have never done that. Windows Phone 7 isn’t just a copy of the Android and iOS operating system and neither is it some weird adaptation of a desktop OS. Instead, Microsoft developed a vibrant new user interface based on its experience with the Zune (a good device, no matter how it failed in the marketplace) and the XBox.

Of course, there are still areas where Microsoft struggles (and the Kin was quite a disaster), but it’s hard not to think that the tanker has now turned and is sailing ahead at full steam.

10:34 pm