Items of Interest: 2006.05.02

Things that I found interesting on May 2, 2006:

Items of Interest: 2006.04.25

Things I found interesting on April 25, 2006:

Items of Interest: 2006.04.24

Things I found interesting on April 24, 2006:

Where Vista Fails

Paul Thurotte has just completed his five part review of the latest beta release of Windows Vista, build 5308, the first “feature complete” release of Vista to reviewers.

Through the first four parts of the review (1, 2, 3, 4), Paul described what seemed like some pretty exciting stuff that he was seeing in Vista for the first time:

  • Expanded driver coverage
  • A system he could actually use for day-to-day tasks
  • Improved Install
  • New Applications
  • New Features (Calender, Photo Gallery, Defender, etc)

After finishing part 4, I was beginning to think that maybe Microsoft was finally on the road to producing a usable operating system to replace XP, that featured some actual improvements to the user experience.

And then Paul goes and rips them a new one with Part 5. Considering that this piece was written by a technical writer/reviewer who has a history of enthusiastically supporting Microsoft and their products, what Paul writes is even more of a shocker.

Some choice quotes:

Shame on you, Microsoft. Shame on you, but not just for not doing better. We expect you to copy Apple, just as Apple (and Linux) in its turn copies you. But we do not and should not expect to be promised the world, only to be given a warmed over copy of Mac OS X Tiger in return. Windows Vista is a disappointment. There is no way to sugarcoat that very real truth.


The bad news, then, is that UAP (User Account Protection) is a sad, sad joke. It’s the most annoying feature that Microsoft has ever added to any software product, and yes, that includes that ridiculous Clippy character from older Office versions. The problem with UAP is that it throws up an unbelievable number of warning dialogs for even the simplest of tasks. That these dialogs pop up repeatedly for the same action would be comical if it weren’t so amazingly frustrating. It would be hilarious if it weren’t going to affect hundreds of millions of people in a few short months. It is, in fact, almost criminal in its insidiousness.


In Windows Vista, Microsoft has broken Media Center. It’s a horrid update to a wonderful bit of software, an ugly stepchild of beautiful parents. It’s so bad, I don’t even know where to start. But I’ll try.

And on and on and on. I urge you to read the entire essay, it is worth it. Paul describes the general and specific areas where Microsoft has failed so far in their handling of Windows Vista, its ever changing feature set, broken promises and bad user interface design. Heck, he even calls out Bill for his part in the debacle that is also known as Vista:

Sadly, Gates, too, is part of the Bad Microsoft, a vestige of the past who should have had the class to either formally step down from the company or at least play just an honorary role, not step up his involvement and get his hands dirty with the next Windows version. If blame is to be assessed, we must start with Gates. He has guided–or, through lack of leadership–failed to guide the development of Microsoft’s most prized asset. He has driven it into the ground.

This is a wakeup call if I have ever seen one. Hopefully someone over there is listening.

Ebay Scared of Google

Reuters (and the WSJ – Reg. Req.) is reporting that Ebay has:

had talks with both Yahoo Inc and Microsoft Corp to determine whether one of them might be a suitable ally against common threats from Google Inc

Apparently, they are scared because in the last year they have witnessed Google “assaulting its turf in multiple ways”.

I don’t know about you, but I think that Ebay’s poor performance recently should be attributed more to mistakes and lack of initiative on their part, rather than an invasion by Google:

  • The purchase of Skype, though risky and full of initiative, has yet to pay off for them in producing any sizable percentage of new revenue of users
  • Their basic interface and sales model has not changed in years. Though this is not something that is necessarily required, in Ebay’s case I think that a more user-friendly, intuitive and less-complicated design is in order.
  • The one thing that any Ebay user can count on is higher fees once or twice a year. Not a good way to keep your bulk customers
  • Does anyone really think that Google Base is eating into their marketshare? If they are, whose fault is that?

If anything, I think that the biggest threat right now is Craigslist. It is much easier to use, much more popular, and spreading like wildfire (and you can’t beat the price).

So what is their big solution to the “Google Threat”?

An alliance in which eBay would boost its advertising spending with its chosen partner and provide access to data it has collected about its consumers

I am sure that Google is quaking in their boots right now.

Items of Interest: 2006.04.21

Things I found interesting on April 21, 2006:

  • The Code Wont be Ready – Bruce Kroeze breaks the bad news to his soon-to-be former employers when they accepted a project they shouldn’t have
  • A Tour of Microsoft’s Mac Labs – Along with pictures (including 150 Mac Mini’s lined up, along with a graveyard of old retired Macs). (Via Scoble).
  • Visual Studio Express editions will now be free forever – Good news from Dan Fernandez (via Brad Wilson)
  • ATLAS not working well cross-browser – Review along with screenshots from Leland Scott (via Matthew Magain on Sitepoint, who makes a good point when he says “Unfortunately it’s difficult to take a lot of Scott’s reportage seriously, considering the blatant anti-Microsoft bias that shows through. Still, it’s the screenshots that tell the story…”). I also noticed some inconsistencies when testing out the control pack using Firefox. Still some room to grow…(and ASP.net is still a better development environment for almost all online applications).
  • Google Hosted Email – Derek reviews his experience setting up and using the service
  • Ruby on Rails CMS Breakdown – Benjamin reviews five ROR Content Management System packages
  • Skype Bows to Chinese Censors – And joins the likes of Microsoft, Yahoo and Google. They are taking things a step farther by blocking certain words from appearing in text messages (!)