SiliconFilter

HoloLens is the most exciting project to come out of Microsoft in years

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I’m a jaded tech blogger, but Microsoft’s HoloLens project is without doubt the most exciting project to come out of Redmond in years. After years of talk about augmented reality, this may be the first project that actually lives up to the hype.

The first hands-on posts from those we were in Redmond talk about it as an almost magical experience (but then they only got to test it in a very controlled environment). It’s a bit of Google Glass and Occulus Rift — yet at the same time it’s nothing like it because they don’t do anything like what Microsoft showed today.

This being Microsoft, things could still go horribly wrong. We won’t know until the first units hit the market. But it’s nice to see some real innovation from Microsoft again.



4:59 pm


Not Delayed: Firefox 11 Still Coming Later Today

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Yesterday, Mozilla announced that it would delay today's planned launch of Firefox 11 for a few days in order to scrutinize a potential security issue and to avoid issues with Microsoft's Patch Tuesday updates today.

Now, however, Mozilla has canceled this delay and announced that Firefox 11 is still on track for today's release. The security vulnerability, it turns out, was already known and patched. In order to avoid the conflict with Patch Tuesday, though, this release will only be available as a manual update today. Once the Firefox team is sure that there are no issues with Microsoft's latest patches, it will push automatic updates to all users.

Since switching to its rapid-release schedule, Mozilla never missed a scheduled release date for Firefox.

What's New in Firefox 11

Once Firefox 11 is available, this is what you can expect from the update:

What’s New

  • NEW
    Firefox can now migrate your bookmarks, history, and cookies from Google Chrome
  • NEW
    With Sync enabled, add-ons can now be synchronized across your computers
  • NEW
    The CSS text-size-adjust property is now supported
  • CHANGED
    Redesigned media controls for HTML5 video
  • HTML5
    The outerHTML property is now supported on HTML elements
  • HTML5
    View source syntax highlighting now uses the HTML5 parser (see bug 482921)
  • DEVELOPER
    The Style Editor for CSS editing is now available to web developers
  • DEVELOPER
    Web developers can now visualize a web page in 3D using the Page Inspector 3D View
  • DEVELOPER
    SPDY protocol support for faster page loads is now testable
  • DEVELOPER
    XMLHttpRequest now supports HTML parsing
  • DEVELOPER
    Files can now be stored in IndexedDB (see bug 661877)
  • DEVELOPER
    Websockets has now been unprefixed
  • FIXED
    Firefox notifications may not work properly with Growl 1.3 or later (691662)

 

 

 

 

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10:37 am


6 Million Downloads Later, Microsoft Photosynth Goes Global

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Photosynth is, without doubt, one of Microsoft's more impressive mobile apps. The app lets you snap panorama pictures with your iPhone and then upload them to Photosynth.net (and you can even get them featured on Bing Maps). While the mobile app doesn't give you quite as many features as the web app – which allows you to stitch together 3D panoramas by combining images from multiple perspectives – the app has proven to be quite a hit.

According to Microsoft, 6 million iPhone users have downloaded the app so far (though, as usual, it's not clear how many active users there currently are). More importantly, though, the company also today announced that Photosynth is now available worldwide (iTunes link).

Also new in the latest version is a tighter integration with Twitter (via iOS5's built-in Twitter capabilities). 

In case you are unfamiliar with Photosynth, here is Microsoft's description of the app's capabilities:

Capture Full-Sphere Panoramas: Look and capture in all directions more easily than what most of us can do with DSLRs and point-and-shoot cameras.

View immediately: With fast On-Device Processing, you can see the final panorama in a few minutes, without requiring an internet connection or data plan.  Very handy for those impromptu panoramas and immediate gratification that you captured the perfect shot. 

Save locally and on the cloud:  Your panoramas saved on your phone can also be saved and viewed online at http://photosynth.net.

Share immediately:  Share your panorama immediately via Twitter, Facebook or Bing Maps.

View in browser or app: Zoom, pan, and rotate your panorama in any direction through the Photosynth app or through the mobile browser.



11:31 am


Sorry Microsoft, But My Desktop Isn’t a Tablet

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Last week, Microsoft launched the consumer preview version of Windows 8 to the public. As I was at the Mobile World Congress, I didn't get to install it until the weekend, but I've now been able to put it through its paces for the last few days and been using it as my main operating system for most of that time. Its split personality is driving me absolutely bonkers, however, and I'm not sure I'll extend this experiment much longer.

Windows 8 is a beautiful tablet operating system, but on a desktop – and especially with a multi-screen setup – it just constantly gets in your way. Thankfully, this is just a preview version and Microsoft still has a few months to iron out the kinks, but unless it makes some radical changes, I'm not sure I'll be able to recommend Windows 8 anytime soon. Microsoft says Windows 8 will offer the best of both worlds and in a way it does. It's just that these two worlds aren't meant to be squished into one single operating system.

The Split Personality of Windows 8

At least in this preview, Microsoft makes no attempt to hide the split personality of its new operating system. There's the metro interface, which you can't avoid, as it also now doubles as the new start menu, and then there is the traditional desktop, which can be best described as Windows 7.5. The two user interfaces have nothing in common with each other and try as you want, you can't just use Windows 8 like a Windows 7.5 because the tablet interface constantly intervenes. To launch applications from the traditional desktop, for example, you always have to go back to the Metro-style start menu, which features a great design for tablets, but makes utterly no sense when you use a mouse and keyboard.

Oh, and what about those two different versions of Internet Explorer? There's the Metro version, which doesn't support Flash and has a very stripped-down interface – and then there's the regular browser that runs in the desktop. How do you explain that to a mainstream user?

Got Two Screens? Windows 8 Wasn't Made for You

Worst of all, when you use a dual-screen setup right now, the second screen always shows the Windows 7.5 desktop and you can't even run two metro apps side-by-side on the two screens. To make matter worse, Windows 8 right now assumes that your primary screen is always the one with the task bar on it, so you can't even start any apps on the other screen while you are in Metro mode (unless you opt to show the same task bar on both screens, which also makes no sense whatsoever).

Great Tablet UI – Pointless on the Desktop

Microsoft has decided to privilege the tablet use case over the traditional desktop and productivity one. At times, this leads to non-sensical decisions like a login screen you have to drag up to get to the password prompt (okay – you can just hit enter twice, too, I think – but it's not like you will accidentally start your desktop or laptop in your pocket).

And what about trying to put your PC to sleep or turn it off? In Windows 8 right now, you have to first log out as a user, then pretend you want to log in again and the hunt for the shutdown button, which is hidden under your user icon (or you can try to bring up the "charm" that appears when you hit the right side of the screen with your mouse – but that's a bit hard  when your main screen is on the left side and your mouse just moves over to the right screen).

Maybe there is an alternative universe out there where this makes sense.

Then, of course, there is also the question of why you would want to run these full-screen apps on your desktop in the first place. Apple pushed the same concept with its full-screen mode and just like Microsoft, it totally forgot about dual-screen users. I don't think I've ever run an OS X app in full-screen mode, as it just makes switching between apps too much of a hassle.

There's Still Some Time to Fix This…

Hopefully, Microsoft will continue to polish the edges of Windows 8 to the point where this disjointed experience becomes somewhat less disorienting and maybe even feel natural. I admit, I doubt it. And that's a shame. Microsoft made some really smart decisions with the Metro interface (including, for example, the ability to run two applications side-by-side). My desktop, however, isn't a tablet and instead of making things easier for me, Windows 8 just constantly gets in the way. Windows 7 does its best to get out of my way – Windows 8 instead throws some giant tiles onto my screen.



2:59 pm


For Qualcomm, Making Mobile Browsing Better Starts at the Chip Level

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When it comes to browser performance, we tend to talk a lot about what browser developers like Microsoft, Google and Mozilla can do to render web pages faster and make complex web apps like Gmail run smoother. Especially in the mobile world, though, there is a level of optimization that's happening at the level of the actual chips that are responsible for making your phone or tablet tick. That optimization is happening both in the design of the chips, as well as how the operating system talks to them. Yesterday, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, I had a chance to sit down with Sy Choudhury, who leads Qualcomm’s Web Technologies initiative. For the most part, our chat focused on what chip makers can do to improve the mobile browsing experience, as well as the increasing importance of HTML5 in the mobile world (HTML5, at its core, is a set of technologies that allow developers to create highly-interactive web applications that look and feel just like regular desktop software).

Qualcomm, which is mostly known for producing the processors and chipsets that run a larger percentage of the world's mobile phone, is working together closely with both the Android and Chrome teams at Google to make your browsing experience on your mobile phone or tablet better. The company, of course, is also working together with other vendors, including Microsoft, but most of the optimization work is currently being done on the Android platform.

The difference between an optimized version of Android and the reference version from Google can often be quite dramatic. In Qualcomm's tests, for example, web pages render 20-30% faster in the optimized version and JavaScript programs are executed 70% faster. Qualcomm also optimized its processors to decode pictures faster, which leads to about a 25% improvement in rendering speed for JPEG images.

As Choudhury told me, this optimization happens at virtually all of the levels of the experience, most of which most users never think about. This ranges from how the browser talks to the network, to how it uses your phone's graphics hardware to make sure video plays without stuttering and all the way up to how your browser interprets JavaScript, the language most complex web pages today are written in.

Qualcomm browser web speed html5

Qualcomm is showing a number of impressive demos at the Mobile World Congress this week to demonstrate this work, including an Instagram-like photo-sharing application that lives in the browser. In another demo, the company is showing the difference between an HTML5-based game that has access to the graphics card and one that doesn't. Unsurprisingly, the one that doesn't use the tablet's graphics hardware directly features mediocre performance while the other runs just as smooth as a native app.

With Great Power Comes Worse Power Consumption

All this power, though, always comes with a trade-off – and more often than not, that trade-off is power consumption. For companies like Qualcomm and its partners, finding the right balance between those two poles isn't always easy. According to Choudhury, though, small tweaks can often make a big difference. Qualcomm, for example, changed how often the network chip shuts down when it is not in use and just a small change like this can lead to power savings of close to 7% under some circumstances.

Who Needs Apps When The Browser Can Do All Of This?

Qualcomm, of course, is also a member of the Core Mobile Web Platform Group Facebook announced at the Mobile World Congress earlier this week. In Choudhury's view, now that websites can access your phone's camera, display videos and render even games without the need for Flash and do so smoothly and without the user ever really having to think about what technology an app uses, there is almost no need for native apps anymore.

Qualcomm’s Web Technologies initiative
 


7:30 am


Nokia at MWC: Lumia 900 Going Global, a 41MP Camera Phone & Smarter Asha Feature Phones

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Nokia today announced that its Lumia 900 Windows Phone flagship device is going beyond the U.S. and will soon be available as an HSPA+ phone worldwide. The company also introduced its new Lumia 610 phone, as well as its new 808 PureView camera phone with a 41MP resolution (though it's worth noting that this is achieved through interpolation).

The company also announced three new Asha feature phones at the Mobile World Congress today. In addition to the HSPA+ version, Nokia also announced that the Lumia 900 is coming to Canada as an LTE phone. During the press conference, Microsoft also announced that it has now made Windows Phone compatible for the Chinese market and Nokia will soon introduce these phones in China. The new Lumia 900 phones will cost about 480 Euros that's without carrier subsidies).

The Lumia will also now feature Nokia Reading, a new hub for finding and reading news, eBooks, feeds and other content. Microsoft also today announced its first beta of Skype for Windows.

In addition to its new hardware, Nokia also announced a new partnership with Groupon, that will bring daily deals to the company's phones.

Lumia 610

Nokia also today announced the Lumia 610. Nokia called it the "prefect introduction to Windows Phone for younger users" and highlighted its "generous curves" and "confident feel." The phone will come with the usual Windows Phone features, including support for social networking and gaming though Xbox Live. It will come preloaded with the standard Nokia feature (Nokia Maps, Drive, etc.), but it will also feature Nokia's new Transport tool for finding public transport options in about 500 cities.

The phone will retail for around 189 Euros and come in four colors.

808 PureView

Also announced today was the S40-based 808 PureView – a camera phone with a 41MP Carl Zeiss sensor and high performance optics. To deal with the massive size of these pictures, Nokia will make it easy for users to zoom in and share just parts of a picture.

The phone will also feature 5.1 channel Dolby Digital Plus surround sound.

Smarter Feature Phones

As Nokia noted, there are still billions of users out there that don't have feature phones and/or don't have data plans. In addition to these new feature phones, Nokia also announced its Nokia Life suite of products for these feature phones, though it's worth noting that the company is also making three free games from EA (Bejeweled, Need for Speed, and Tetris) available for these phones. Two of these phones, the Asha 202 and 203, will retail for around 60 Euros. Another, more high-end and social media-focused device, the Asah 302 (with a 1GHz processor) will also be available soon and retail for just under $100.

The Asha phones will also support Microsoft Exchange for the Asha 302 and the previously announced 303, making it "well equipped for business use."

Nokia Life

Nokia Life is focused on education, financial information and other services that can be delivered over SMS or through phone calls. Nokia Life also includes a sharing feature With this service, the company is clearly aiming at the developing world.

During the press conference, Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop noted that there is a major growth opportunity of the company in developing countries. Looking back to Nokia's last year, Elop noted how the company radically shifted its strategy just one year ago. In his view, Nokia has "radically changed [its] clock speed." He also cited the fact that Lumia sales have "exceeded Nokia's expectations," especially in Asia and the U.S., as signs of Nokia's turn-around.

Elop also stressed Nokia's move towards location-based services. In the Windows store, developer submissions are up 3x from last year, he said, and downloads from S40 devices, too, are growing.

Note: this post was cross-posted from live.orange.com.

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11:46 pm


Linked Pages: Bing Now Lets You Curate and Highlight Links that Are About You

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Google may have Google+, but Bing has a close relationship to an ever bigger and more important social network: Facebook. While Google now highlights your Google+ profile when people search for you, Bing has been showing Facebook profiles in its search results for quite a while now. With its new “linked pages” tool, however, Bing is now taking this concept a bit further. Bing now also lets you choose which of your social networking profiles and websites will be featured in a special box at the top of its search results pages when people search for your name. According to Bing, appropriate sites would also include your city, school or employer, for example. This feature is only available in the U.S. so far.

Given that Google has been widely criticized for putting too much emphasis on links to its own social network, it is worth noting that Bing uses your Facebook profile as its main result and then highlights the other pages you curate underneath that. Your Google+ profile, of course, can be one of these links, too.

bing_appear_001

Link to Me

Thanks to its close relationship with Facebook, it’s no surprise that Bing uses the social network as the basis for this tool. You use it to log in to Bing to customize your links, for example, and you can also post newly linked sites to your Facebook profile as well. To prevent you from spamming your friends with new links, only the first link of the day will be posted in your Facebook timeline.

The Bing team has decided to go one step further, though, and also allows others to make suggestions for sites you could be connected to. This linking isn’t automatic, though, and Bing will always ask you for permission first.

You can, of course, always remove a link as well.

linked_pages

Getting Started

Here is how all of this works in practice:

You first log in to Bing’s Linked Pages tool (using your Facebook credentials). Then, Bing will display all the pages it found about you and then lets you choose which of those links are really about you (and not about somebody you share a name with).

Similarly, you can search for your friends (assuming you are also their friend on Facebook) and then suggest sites that are linked to them.

Video

You can see the feature in action below (narrated by an oddly infomercial-sounding Stefan Weitz):

<a data-cke-saved-href="http://video.msn.com/?vid=649129a0-2e8a-40c8-87cc-4c3b003a7dbf&mkt=en-us&src=SLPl:embed::uuids" href="http://video.msn.com/?vid=649129a0-2e8a-40c8-87cc-4c3b003a7dbf&mkt=en-us&src=SLPl:embed::uuids" target="_new" title="Make a Good Search Impression with Bing’s Linked Pages">Video: Make a Good Search Impression with Bing’s Linked Pages</a>



10:15 am


Googlelighting: The Google/Microsoft War of Words Continues, Now in Musical Form

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“Who knows what the future holds for Google Apps.” That’s the question Microsoft would like its customers to ask themselves before switching away from Microsoft Office and to Google’s cloud-based productivity suite. To underline its point, Microsoft just released a new video attack ad that accuses Google of running Google Apps “on the side” even though it has no business meddling in productivity software because it only has “twelve years of experience in ad sales.”

♫ “If Google Apps Meets is Grave, Your Business is Hosed” 

Microsoft, of course, is making fun of Google’s general development mode here by highlighting that Google Apps could potentially change at any point while a company is using it – and while unlikely, it could even potentially kill it off at any point. That, indeed, could be a major point of resistance for large companies that would like to switch to a cloud-based productivity suite like Apps. For them, a change in a widely used piece of software, after all, means retraining staff, for example. And just to highlight this point, the video then kicks into a music number that explains that Google really can’t be trusted to even keep really useful features around.

For the longest time, the rivalry between Google and Microsoft was fought through features and a few sly remarks here and there, but things have gotten rather public and heated between the two companies lately. For the most part, the aggression seems to come out of Redmond, though, with Google trying to defend itself against the accusations on its own blog and in the press.

Microsoft, for example has been taking out ads in national newspapers to highlight the changes Google made to its search engine and privacy policy lately and also happily jumped on the bandwagon of those accusing Google of trying to circumvent the privacy controls of Apple’s Safari and its own Internet Explorer.

Microsoft also launched an anti-Gmail video ad earlier this month:

google_ms_office_comparison

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9:48 am


100 Words or Less: Microsoft Launches msnNOW Social News Portal for Info Snackers

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When was the last time you used an old-school Internet portal like Yahoo's homepage or MSN? Chances are, it's been a while. Now that more and more of us are getting our news from a wide variety of sources, the Internet portals that were once important in the 90s have made way for Flipboard, Zite, Twitter and Facebook. Microsoft is obviously quite aware of this trend and now tries to combat it with the launched of a new corner of its MSN portal called nowMSN. In Microsoft's words, "msnNOW tabs social media to find and explore the web's hottest trends in real-time."

The site is run by an editorial team that uses an in-house tool called the "Demand Dashboard" to find the hottest trending topics on the net and then curates them on the nowMSN homepage. Facebook, Twitter, Bing, and BreakingNews.com are among the service Microsoft is scanning for news to add to nowMSN. Every story on the site then also features the icons of the services where it was trending.

02 15Seaworld lg

A Site for Info Snackers

Microsoft wants this to become a go-to page for "info snackers" and stories will have one hundred words or less. The reason for this, says Microsoft's Bob Visee, the general manager for MSN, is that "the demographic interested in these trends is very accustomed to ‘info snacking’ throughout the day. They’re used to this shortened language."

In some ways, the site feels a bit like BuzzFeed, but without the ambition to be more than just an aggregator of funny pictures and celebrity news.

Those of us who prefer long, thought-out stories like to bemoan this trend, but in terms of generating traffic for its portal, Microsoft is probably looking in the direction. I can't help but wonder whether completely breaking with the MSN name wouldn't have been a better idea, though, given that most Internet users probably associate MSN with a very different era of the web.



9:27 pm


Cisco Wants EU to Place Conditions on Already Approved Microsoft/Skype Deal

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Last October, Microsoft won final approval from the European Commission to go ahead with its acquisition of the popular VoIP service Skype. Now, however, this approval is being challenged by network equipment maker Cisco. While Cisco says it doesn't oppose the merger, it does want the European Commission to place "conditions that would ensure greater standards-based interoperability." The Italian VoIP and fixed-line provider Massagenet also joined Cisco's appeal.

When the original deal was unconditionally approved, the Europen Commision explicitly noted that "there are no competition concerns in this growing market where numerous players, including Google, are present."

Cisco: Afraid that Microsoft Could "Control the Future of Video Communications"

Cisco, according to its appeal, worries that Microsoft/Skype could "seek to control the future of video communications." That seems to be quite a stretch given how vibrant this market is. While Microsoft will integrate Skype into its mobile operating system, there is little reason to believe that it could "control the future of video communications." Maybe Cisco is more worried about losing an edge in the enterprise market once Microsoft integrates Skype into its productivity solutions for large companies.



12:04 pm


The Google Doctor Will See You Now: Google Improves Results for Health Searches

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Google search is no substitute for actually visiting a doctor, but millions of people use the search engine to look up symptoms every day. Now, Google is making it a little bit easier to connect these symptoms with actual health conditions. The search engine will now automatically display a list of possible illnesses automatically when you search for a common symptom.

In it research, Google found that most searches for a symptom are followed by a search for a related condition. To save its users some time, the search engine's algorithms now automatically discover the kinds of conditions are related to certain symptoms.

health search symptoms on google

According to Google's chief health strategist Roni Zeiger, it's important to remember that this list is generated by algorithms and not authored by doctors.

It's worth noting that Microsoft's Bing, in partnership with the Mayo Clinic, has featured support for enhanced health search results for more than two years now.



10:13 am


Coming Soon to Chrome: Faster 3D Graphics for Slower Computers

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Chrome 17 just launched yesterday, but today, the development team announced the next beta of Chrome. This new beta includes improved support for hardware-accelerated 2D graphics using Canvas, as well as the promise of better 3D performance for users on older operating systems like Windows XP.

Better 3D for Slower Machines

To enable better 3D performance on older machines and graphics card that can't make user of modern technologies like WebGL, Google has licensed TransGaming's SwiftShader software rasterizer. This is basically a piece of software that emulates a graphics card to render 3D images. TransGaming advertises SwiftShader as being "100 times faster than traditional software renderers such as Microsoft's Direct3D® Reference Rasterizer." Google will automatically enable SwiftShader for beta users whose computers can't run content on their graphics cards.

Tweaking Chrome's 2D GPU Hardware Acceleration

By using hardware acceleration for 2D Canvas elements on a page, Google can bring some significant speed improvements to users with more capable machines as well. Chrome has long featured some forms of hardware acceleration, but mostly in experimental form. Whether they know it or not, most Chrome users at this point already use their graphics card to draw 2D Canvas elements, but in this latest beta, the Chrome team has tweaked the code to the point where it apparently felt it needed to announce this change as it could actually break things.

Here is a nice little demo that uses 2D Canvas if you want to see it in action.

If you are currently using the stable release channel and feel like you could use a bit more adventure in your life, you can join the Chrome beta channel here. As always, keep in mind that this is beta software and could crash at any time (though Chrome's beta releases are generally very stable).



12:33 pm


Google Fights Back Against Microsoft’s “Putting People First” Ad Campaign

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Earlier this morning, Microsoft announced a new campaign that would highlight how Microsoft was a better option for disgruntled Google users looking for a place that would provide them with better privacy controls. Now, Google is fighting back. On its Public Policy Blog, the company just posted a number of attempts to rebut Microsoft's arguments against Google's approach to privacy. While Google says that it has "always believed the facts should inform our marketing—and that it’s best to focus on our users rather than negative attacks on other companies," it's clear that Microsoft's campaign rattled some nerves in Mountain View.

Here are a few examples from Google's list: [list]

  • Myth: Google’s Privacy Policy changes make it harder for users to control their personal information. [Microsoft]
  • Fact: Our privacy controls have not changed. Period. Our users can: edit and delete their search history; edit and delete their YouTube viewing history; use many of our services signed in or out; use Google Dashboard and our Ads Preferences Manager to see what data we collect and manage the way it is used; and take advantage of our data liberation efforts if they want to remove information from our services. [/list] [list]
  • Myth: Google reads your email. [Microsoft]
  • Fact: No one reads your email but you. Like most major email providers, our computers scan messages to get rid of spam and malware, as well as show ads that are relevant to you.[/list]

Google also takes on other topics like Microsoft's assertion last year that its apps weren't certified for government use.

The last item on its list, though, is probably the most interesting one:

"We don’t make judgments about other people’s policies or controls. But our industry-leading Privacy Dashboard, Ads Preferences Manager and data liberation efforts enable you to understand and control the information we collect and how we use it—and we’ve simplified our privacy policy to make it easier to understand. Microsoft has no data liberation effort or Dashboard-like hub for users. Their privacy policy states that “information collected through one Microsoft service may be combined with information obtained through other Microsoft services.”

In many ways, Google has a point here, as the company has indeed worked hard to provide its users with privacy controls and the ability to use tools like Takeout to "liberate" their data.

What's most interesting about this fight to me, though, isn't so much the back and forth between the two companies, but the fact that Microsoft is suddenly in a position where it feels like it has the upper hand and can criticize Google without having to fear a major backlash. Google's recent policy changes were not very popular with pundits and users alike, so Microsoft clearly thought it could attack Google directly with these ads.

It'll be interesting to see how Microsoft will react to this now.

     



      11:29 am


      Microsoft: Gone Google and Now You Regret it? We Have Alternatives

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      When Google announced that it was going to integrate Google+ with its search results, its biggest competitor in the search market, Microsoft's Bing, remained quiet while social networks like Twitter raised the hue and cry. Now, however, it looks like Microsoft is about to pounce on this chance to raise awareness for its product with an ad it is running in a number of major newspapers this week. The main slogan of the ad is "putting people first."

      Microsoft: Google Makes it Hard for People to Control Their Own Information

      Microsoft's VP for corporate communications Frank X. Shaw argues that "the changes Google announced make it harder, not easier, for people to stay in control of their own information." Microsoft, instead, takes a different approach according to Shaw: "We work to keep you safe and secure online, to give you control over your data, and to offer you the choice of saving your information on your hard drive, in the cloud, or on both."

      The ad itself focuses strongly on how Google "cloaks" the changes to its service in language like "transparency," "simplicity," and "consistency," yet, in Microsoft's view, Google only cares about one thing: "making it easier for Google to connect the dots between everything you search, send, say or stream while using one of their services."

      After pointing this out, Microsoft then notes that if Google's thirst for data "rubs you the wrong way," Microsoft will be there for you with products like Bing, Hotmail, Office 365 and Internet Explorer.

      This is definitely Microsoft's most aggressive public campaign against Google, a company that has been slowly invading Microsoft's turf in quite a few areas, including the highly lucrative office productivity business. In 2010, Microsoft ran an anti-Google campaign by trying to convince Google Apps users to switch (back) to Microsoft's products.

      Just a few months ago, such a campaign could have easily backfired. Now, however, with the arguably unpopular changes that Google has made to its service and its incessant pushing of Google+ to the point where even the Daily Show's Jon Stewart is making fun of it, consumers may just be open to some alternatives to Google's products.

      Here is the ad:

      Microsoft ad gone google



      8:54 am


      Your Google Docs are Now Ready for Takeout

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      It seems like most of the news coming out of Google these days is somewhat controversial, but here is a nice little piece of good news out of Mountain View: you can now easily download an archive of your documents in Google Docs with just a few clicks. Docs, Google announced today, is now part of the Google Takeout service, which allows you to download all of your data from services like Buzz, Picasa, Google Voice and others.

      You could, of course, always download your documents from Google Docs already, but this new feature will make it easier for users who want to quickly create a complete backup of their data or move to a different service.

      One nifty feature here is that Takeout also allows you to choose which format you want your data to be exported in (Microsoft Office, OpenDocument, PDF, plain text etc.). The downloads themselves are always compressed as ZIP files.

      Google Takeout docs



      12:49 pm