Saturday, November 15, 2008

Is Microsoft finally delivering Plug n Play ?

I doubt that too many people would dispute the fact the Windows operating system has matured over time, or that huge hurdles were overcome with introduction of Windows XP.

Vista was delivered prematurely, in my humble opinion, as many computer manufacturers had to scramble to update not only drivers but firmware as well. That didn't help 'average users'.

In recent weeks, Microsoft has been delivering a slew of free 'betas'. Many bring together desktop client software with online products. I highlighted Microsoft's Live Mesh in a previous post here and called it "One of the most underestimated roll-outs in recent Microsoft history".


Just about anyone can set it up (without a manual). Almost instantaneous web-based networking .... and it just works.

I like to compare this chapter in Internet history and software evolution to when the telephone companies offered companies services (PBX, etc.) from a central location. Some adopted the idea. Others kept their on-site systems.

Some will probably adopt 'cloud computing' and off-site programs. Others will wait.

This 'partial' approach that continues from Microsoft makes sense, and is something to watch.

This past week, Microsoft unleashed a group of Betas for Windows Live.

In reality, the new betas, which can be found here, are upgrades of existing ongoing beta programs.

The look and feel are a little different but the one thing that did stand out is that they not only work better, but they're much easier to use.

While I'm not a big fan of toolbars (for a variety of reasons), I have been a user of the Windows Live Mail client. It's versatile. The spam filter is good ... and, you can essentially do away with Outlook altogether. The beta is better.

The same can be said for Windows Writer. The 'off-site' blog composer. A solid upgrade.

During the download, I noticed some components from Visual Studio and SQL server being installed. It appears, at first glance, that Microsoft's latest approach is to bring together client software with web-based products with a easy-to-use approach.

Is Plug n Play here? 'Web-Aware PLUS?'

Wouldn't it be cool if you could actually buy a PC and not have to count on a tech buddy a few months later to 'fix it'?

When the new (It really wasn't new, just redesigned) Microsoft Store opened this week, it became readily apparent that Microsoft wants their software to work on your computer DIRECT and ... that's probably a good thing.

They also very much want to be your search company and kudos to them for not automatically defaulting your system to Internet Explorer OR The install 'asks' first (at the very end). You can still use Firefox and Google all you want.

The key to web and desktop dominance is what Microsoft has done many times in the past. For lack of a better way of putting it, start giving stuff away (particularly during these economic times).

The company with the most cash wins?  It's a rare opportunity that Microsoft, Google and other should embrace.

Some built-ins similar to CCleaner wouldn't hurt either. Automating the hard disk clean-up, in a friendly way for non-techies, would be simply awesome.

Do we need cache files and cookies?. Lots of companies that make money following you around would say yes.  The reality in a lot of cases in NO.  In some cases, temp files take up huge amounts of disk space.

John Battelle (Federated Media) declared 'Web 2.0 is over' on his blog the other day.  Several others have now chimed in.  Cookies for ads 'could' be very well dead.

Battelle has been through many ups and downs in this business and it's pretty obvious that he's regrouping for the 'next chapter' as well:

Finally ....

Direct interaction on the web (and by telephone) by these companies to key customer support and sales personnel should be INCREASED, not downsized.  While other 'dot coms', including major well-known e-commerce sites have virtually eliminated customer service, just another great opportunity for the right companies.


staff edit Nov 17