Xbox SmartGlass – Y U No Work On Nexus 7?

Smart-GlassBeing a huge Xbox fan (oflahertypaul if you’re interested) and mega Google nerd, I have to admit that I was a little late to the game in learning that SmartGlass is available for Android.

It was awesome sitting on the couch the other night messing with my Xbox (1 of 2) and controlling it from my Windows 8 laptop, so you can imagine that I was more than a bit disappointed to find out that SmartGlass does not work with either of my two Android devices.

I can forgive it not working with my Samsung Galaxy S, which runs Froyo (2.2) and has been around since Jesus rode dinosaurs to school, but that it doesn’t work with my Nexus 7? Wait, what? Oh hell nawww!

My beloved Nexus runs the latest and greatest version of Android (Jelly Bean 4.1.2), well at least until the Nexus 10 comes out (it will mine, oh yes, it will be mine), so what gives?

It’s simple Microsoft. The people  in the Google universe buying Nexus tablets are the ones most likely to want to use things like SmartGlass, and most likely to buy the 720 when it finally drops. We’re likely to pick up a Surface too, and Windows 8, because most of us are platform agnostic.

We love cool tech, but if you’re stuff doesn’t work on the current flagship device for cool tech (amongst those who aren’t pleasuring themselves over that other serving tray tablet) then you’re going to lose any allure you may be building.

Update: Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins informs me that you can side-load SmartGlass on to the Nexus 7 and it works just fine. But that does sound like an terrible lot of work…

About Microsoft’s Surface Tablet And The Apple Fanboys

The amount of this crap I’ve been seeing in the comments sections of posts about Microsoft’s Surface tablet is ridiculous. Regardless of your opinion about the product, folks need to pay attention to their computer history before opening their traps.

Yes, I know Bill Gates actually showed off the first tablet at Comdex in 2000 (and of course there was “Windows for Pen Computing” in 1991) but I’m too lazy to edit the image below. The point is still served.

Tablet PC

Revisiting Internet Explorer 9 And A More Beautiful Web

Internet Explorer 9

Disclosure – Sponsored Post

The first time I wrote about Internet Explorer on this particular blog was back in 2004. In a post titled “IE gets Fired”, I slammed IE for it’s failings when compared to Firebird 0.8 beta (Firebird for those who aren’t old enough to remember was an earlier name for what we now know as Firefox.

“Firebird is still in Beta at version 0.8 but is already very stable and has replaced IE as my browser of choice. Why? Options, size, and speed. Firebird positively trashes IE in all these departments, not to mention a few others.”

That post was written in May of 2004, which makes it nearly 8 years old and the browser landscape has seriously changed since those days. Firebird has become the much beloved and jack of all trades browser for the internet Firefox, which while it can do almost anything has seen it lose it’s edge in terms of speed, stabilility and size. Chrome is now the darling of the Google brigade, of which I count myself a member, is fast, has some cool features and an endless amount of extensions, but it’s also becoming increasingly unstable on my system (even as I reduce the number of extensions that I use, and that’s not good for someone who lives 8 hours of everyday almost exclusively within his browser.

Yes, there are other browsers I could (and do) try on my Windows 7 laptop. Opera, Safari and a number of other smaller browsers which have essentially been relegated to the realms of “also rans” in the windows world.

Recently I’ve found myself slowly but surely creeping back into using IE9 more and more everyday, because there is one important thing that Internet Explorer 9 not been doing that other browsers have been – crashing. Not crashing is critical for me given the previously mentioned 8 hours of daily use.

Another thing that is making the return to IE9 awesome for me, is the ability to pin websites to taskbar and have them open as individual sandboxed apps. Most of the other browsers on the market allow you to run apps inside them, but none of them allow you pin them to the taskbar and this ability gives you a unique experience whereby opening your gmail is almost like opening a dedicated desktop application.

Plus, being developed by Microsoft, IE9 has a unique advantage in terms of hardware acceleration which makes browser based applications, particularly those written in HTML5, have native hardware acceleration for graphics, and gameplay. In other words it’s fast. HTML5 rendering tests are amazingly fast and my real world use certainly demonstrates that it is at the very least “as fast as” if not faster than other browsers.

As a developer the thing I’m appreciating most is the amount of screen real estate that IE9 gives me. If you have IE9 installed open it up beside other browsers and compare it. The streamlined interface, most notably due to the positioning of the address bar, gives you more visible “web site” than any other browser I’ve tried. Neither Firefox or Chrome come close unless you put them in fullscreen mode, but hey, IE can do that too.

I’ve been undertaking this journey almost completely unaware. It’s been one of those things that has “just happened” as I’ve been using and experimenting with different browsers and tools to streamline my work. I suppose I should have seen it sooner, especially when we talked about IE and other browsers for so long on the WinExtra podcast, but I guess sometimes we spend so much time looking at and dissecting things that I didn’t see the larger picture and how things could apply to my online life and work.

You can learn more about Internet Explorer 9 by visiting BeautyOfTheWeb.com and downloading it for yourself. Don’t just take my word for it, and do yourself a favor, try to remember that Internet Explorer 9 is not IE6 and go in with an open mind. You may be very pleasantly surprised.

Visit Beauty Of The Web.

WWWBing.com – No That’s Not A Typo

I love it. Patrick McAuliffe from Kerry (check the whois) registered wwwbing.com and has it redirecting to Google.com.

Simple, genious and I love it.

I am wondering two things though:

First, how did Microsoft not own that already? I thought it would be obvious to most people that when you own a major search engine (or any site) that you also buy as many of the typical typos variations as possible.

Second, how long before Microsoft tries to get a hold of it and take it down?

UPDATE: 22/02/2010 – It looks as if Microsoft has already had the domain moved to their control.

Google Is Just Saber Rattling And Won’t Pull Out Of China

Google China

All talk?

David Drummond, SVP of Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer for Google, just dropped a very provocative post over on the official Google blog.

Normally a post of this nature would go pretty much unnoticed (except by the tin-foil hat wearing security freaks) as it details an attempted attack on Google and a number of other companies operating within China.

What makes this post truly interesting however is the tone of the post, which, to my mind at least insinuates that the Chinese government were themselves responsible (or at least played a part), without ever coming out and actually making that accusation.

While that was provocative enough, the real sensationalism was to be found in this bold statement:

We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

Wow, it sounds like Google is going to pull out of China. After all we know the Chinese government won’t back down, so what choice will they have?

To be honest, it’s all saber rattling. Google is trying to put pressure on the Chinese government, a regime that it knows doesn’t even generally bow to the massive weight of global political and public opinion.

In fact, Google is so aware of this that they provided themselves with a back door within their statement:

and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law

I’m confident that the settlement will come, one way or the other, and there are a number of reasons for it.

First and foremost there is the financial situation. Simply put, the amount of money Google will lose.

In Q2 of 2009 there were 338 million internet users in China and Google was the search engine of choice for 23.7% (about 80 million) of those users in Q3. That’s more users than North America which had 246.8 million users.

Add that to the fact that the Chinese market is growing rapidly as internet penetration is only 26.9% (or 1 in 4 people are online) compared to the saturated US market which has 74.2% (or 3 out of 4 online) penetration.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that there is too much at stake to walk away and too much potential for growth.

Could Google really walk away from that? Could they honestly allow their market share in China to be eaten up by Baidu (the number 1 search engine in China) or to allow Ballmer to walk Microsoft in there and expand their market share? Or even better have Ballmer cut some sort of a deal with the Chinese government?

Sara, Steven Hodson and others have pointed out that Ballmer wouldn’t walk into that hornets nest. I think he would. What is there to lose?

Microsoft already operates Bing in China so it won’t be as if they can be demonized for pushing into the territory.

The digiratti may get up in arms about it, but who in the real world listens to them? Once they leave the geek twitter/blogosphere they have no real influence over the masses, no matter how they may delude themselves. Lets make it very clear-being famous in the blogosphere is nothing but an ego trip. It comes with no power and you won’t be recognized if you walk into the average pub.

Mainstream media will pick up on the story, but they’ll likely focus on the fact that Google is pulling out and not who is staying in. Even if they did, you can be sure Microsoft would have an army of PR experts ready to be on the tube and tell everybody how they’re trying to do the right thing, by sticking it out and fighting for the Chinese peoples right by providing them a service, working with the government and trying to affect change. Not like childish Google who couldn’t take the heat so took their toys home to play in their room alone.

The number of activists who may give out about Microsoft (and others) staying in China will be many, they will be loud, rant and rave on twitter, get their backs up and shout from atop their high horses, but very few of them will do anything about it.

Only a very minute percentage will actually bother to stop using Bing, or to not buy a Microsoft product and even their outrage will be short lived before they go back to their old habits.

Most will forget what they were angry about after a few days, and the real world will have forgotten about it within 24 hours of the mainstream media miking it.

The bottom line to a company like Microsoft would be an increase in revenue from the Chinese market that would far, far outweigh any potential loss or fall out from the few malcontents who actually do something about it rather than just rant on twitter and blow hot air on their blogs.

Public opinion can be a wonderful thing, but it only works as long as the public pays attention. In this day an age the public has an attention span that can be measured in minutes. The next time Angelina and Brad adopt, that Madonna farts or Obama stares at a girls ass, it will all be forgotten about.

The Chinese government has a stubborn streak and disregard for international opinion that is beyond legendary and Microsoft are definitely not above doing something that may not immediately be popular in order to gain a long term advantage and the public is too wrapped up in dealing with their own economic woes and miserable lives to really care who is providing search results to the Chinese.

Finally and above all, Google is not a public service. They are a business and their primary responsibility is not to their users but to their shareholders. Leaving China would not be in their shareholders best interest.

Google are testing the waters to see if they can get a concession. It would take some serious brass balls to pull out of the Chinese market and give their foothold over to competitors. Brass balls, which for all Google has done in the past, I think are more like two rolled up socks stuffed down the underpants.

They may look impressive from afar, but they don’t hold up to scrutiny.

What XP Netbook Manufactures Aren’t Telling You?

netbooks Your XP Netbook that you just bought isn’t secure. Nor will it ever be. It’s running an 8 year old operating system for which support has been discontinued since April of 2009. There will not be any new security patches or updates for your XP netbook. Not from Microsoft at least.

Microsoft announced on April 3rd last year ( 2008 ) that it had bowed to demand of manufacturers and would allow them to sell Windows XP Home for ULCPCs (ultra low cost personal computers or netbooks) will be until June 30, 2010, or one year after general availability of the next version of Windows.

Michael Dix, General Manager of Windows Client Product Management, also made it very clear in the same interview that just because OEMs could sell netbooks with XP on it, did not mean they were going to be supporting it beyond April 2009:

I should also note that there will also be no impact on our technical support plans—mainstream technical support will continue to be available until April 2009 and extended support will continue until April 2014.

Now I know some of you are baying for Steve Ballmers blood at this point and ready to blame Microsoft for this apparent “injustice” or trickery, but step back and think for a minute about who really is to blame on this occasion. Here’s a hint: It’s not Microsoft.

This all came to my attention today when I read that Microsoft would not be patching a bug in XP that it had already fixed in Vista, citing the age of XPs code as making it unfeasible and I ended up in a lengthy discussion on Twitter trying to explain why it was not Microsoft people should be mad at, but the manufacturers, the OEM’s.

The fact of the matter is that when the manufactures approached Microsoft, due to consumer demand, they entered into the arrangement knowing Microsofts support lifecycle and exactly when support for XP was due to end. Microsoft have never hid or even glossed over the fact that support for XP would be ending last April and I would hazard a guess that the OEM partners involved got a pretty good deal on XP due to that fact.

Yet, this knowledge in hand, the netbook manufacturers have sold and continue to sell and advertise machines that are running an operating system that will not be receiving an more support, bug fixes or security upgrades.

On the whole XP is a dead horse to Microsoft and their only interest in providing any support for it is at business level, which means businesses with XP Professional (and even they would like to bump those up to Windows 7 ASAP ). These are the only licenses that may qualify for extended support as XP Home is a consumer product and does not qualify as business or development software.

Microsoft are more interested in the imminent release of the excellent Windows 7 and erasing the memory of Vista while moving on to the next project.

So where does this leave you? It leaves you with a bone to pick with the company that produced your netbook and quite possibly with your retailer as well.

Questions have to be asked of both. Why weren’t consumers informed when purchasing these machines that the operating system was going, or at this point, is out of date and no longer supported?

Of course, I’m sure that the OEM’s and retailers alike will push the responsibility back on the consumer, stating that if they’re savvy enough to be looking for a netbook they should be savvy enough to do some research on the product they’re about to drop a lot of hard earned cash for.

Frankly I agree with the manufactures and retailers on that score, but it doesn’t eliminate the fact that they should have actively informed customers that this was the situation when they were purchasing the netbooks and included it in the advertising literature. After all, it’s a serious thing and a big deciding factor to know that the operating system is no longer supported.

One last thing, considering the OEM’s decided to go with XP knowing that the OS was about to end it’s support lifecycle, should they be held accountable to move into an paid support arrangement with Microsoft similar to what they have in place for business software?

Opera, the whiney spoilt kid that only a mother could love

ht_shock_060727_ssv The numbers speak for themselves.

Microsoft are due to defend their IE policies to the European Commission after Opera lodged complaints about Microsoft’s IE bundling policies with Windows.

Opera (you know them, they’re the guys with the web browser that nobody’s heard of except for them lodging antitrust complaints) are simply being a bunch of whiney little bastards.

Their argument that Microsoft bundling IE with Windows hurts consumer choice is quite simply the wailing of an untalented spoilt brat who hasn’t been picked for the football team.

Lets be clear here. Anybody who has any idea how to use a PC is capable of downloading and installing a new browser. Don’t believe me? Just go look at the statistics of browser usage. Firefox is the dominant browser and doesn’t come pre-installed on a windows machine.

Further to that, forcing naive first time users to choose between browsers that they’ve never heard of is more damaging to the user experience that not giving them a choice. You may as well be asking most of them to touch their assholes with their elbows. They won’t have a clue how to do it, but will eventually end up installing any browser out of sheer frustration.

Regardless of Opera’s charges against Microsoft, am I the only one who thinks that government should stay the hell away from telling companies like Microsoft what they can and can’t bundle with their operating systems as along a it’s possible to install alternative software afterward?

They wouldn’t get away with this in the hardware world. If Panasonic wanted Sony (or vice versa) to offer all it’s stereos with the choice of a Panasonic CD player, do you think it would happen?

Finally, lets look at the statistics again. Firefox had 46.5% of the market in March, that’s more than all versions of IE combined. Opera had 2.3% percent.

I do believe that the people at Opera should take note of that.

Instead of wasting time, energy and money to force Microsoft give them market share, maybe they should get their thumbs out of their asses and deliver a killer browser that wins market share because it rocks.

Firefox did it, Google is doing it with Chrome! Why can’t you?

(Photo by Jill Greenberg)

Everybody’s talking – right?

An IM conversation with Sara from Suburban Oblivion about the new Microsoft ad campaign with Seinfeld and Bill Gates.

The conversation says it all really!

[15:50:12] Paul O’Flaherty says: :)
[15:53:21] Paul O’Flaherty says: Did you see this yet?
[15:53:21] Paul O’Flaherty says: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/windows/default.aspx
[15:54:31] Sara says: the ads? no
[15:54:43] Paul O’Flaherty says: Don’t know what to make of it
[15:54:49] Sara says: let me see
[15:54:53] Sara says: hang on
[15:55:00] Paul O’Flaherty says: Take your time
[15:55:03] Paul O’Flaherty says: I’m not going anywhere
[16:00:28] Sara says: just watched
[16:00:34] Sara says: drugs..very heavy drugs
[16:01:08] Paul O’Flaherty says: LOL – am still undecided as to wether or not this is drugs as you say, or the beginning of a series (which it will be part of) that may broder on the edge of genius
[16:01:13] Paul O’Flaherty says: er.. border
[16:01:19] Paul O’Flaherty says: will need to think about it for a bit more
[16:01:26] Paul O’Flaherty says: btw.. my mouse mat burst
[16:01:30] Sara says: well, it’s off-beat, but smart
[16:01:41] Paul O’Flaherty says: sure is
[16:01:46] Sara says: shows Gates in a different light than you usually see him
[16:01:54] Sara says: a bit humanizing
[16:02:02] Sara says: able to laugh at himself
[16:02:08] Sara says: which is not how most people view him
[16:02:13] Paul O’Flaherty says: And how did they make BillyG seam more normal and cool and “fluid” than Seinfeld
[16:02:21] Sara says: Seinfeld, everyone knows and relates to
[16:02:50] Sara says: so I don’t know if there’s going to be a point to it, or its just a PR thing
[16:02:55] Sara says: but I’d go with genius
[16:03:02] Paul O’Flaherty says: Yeah me too
[16:03:08] Sara says: its going to get everyone talking
[16:03:14] Sara says: “wtf is it about”
[16:03:15] Paul O’Flaherty says: Already has
[16:03:20] Sara says: just like us now
[16:03:29] Sara says: so it’s working either way :)
[16:03:38] Paul O’Flaherty says: yep
[16:03:51] Sara says: I love it

Judge for yourself.

What’s $25 dollars between stores?

A hell of a lot if you ask me!! While in the U.S. recently I picked up a Microsoft LifeChat ZX-6000 wireless headset for my laptop (which has been performing exceptionally well!) in Best Buy for around $43 before tax.

A few minutes later I was in Circuit City and the exact same headset (and bear in mind that I was less than five minutes away from where I bought the original) for a staggering $69 (also before tax)!!

What gives? How can their be such a disparity in prices between two stores which are very close together, in the same town and for the same product?

I suppose I should not be surprised.

If you visit Microsoft’s site to view the prices they give a recommended retail price of $69.95 yet their “price compare” feature quotes prices from $39.95 (Amazon) all the way up to $69.99.

While I’m talking about prices, let me have a minor gripe about the fact that in Europe we advertise the price of products in store (and elsewhere) with taxes included. Airlines and U.S. retailers please take note that this is much more convenient for customers.