Is The End Near for Microsoft?

microsoft-in-kenyaWell, I don’t know, but they sure act like it. Just like a beast, who is starting to realize that the opponent is getting stronger, and now, wounded, tries to get hold on every possible thing to remain in the big digital war.

This is my personal point of view, and it’s becoming more and more obvious. Microsoft started an aggressive campaign against Google’s email client, Gmail, called Scroogled. Well, now, Microsoft is doing it again! Another campaign against Goole’s email scanning process, called Keep Your Email Private (and use Outlook.com instead of Gmail). So, what’s new? I don’t think that is anything new, and they just wanna remind the users that outlook.com is safer and respects your privacy, unlike Google’s Gmail. We all know that emails content are scanned with a view of delivering targeted ads, depending on your conversation topic.

People know about this, and whoever is not happy with it, can move along from Gmail. What is now suspicious, is that Microsoft is using this Gmail feature, and exploits it, in order to get more people to use Outlook.com

Microsoft statement: “Unlike Gmail, Outlook.com keeps your privacy private. You won’t see ads based on keywords from your personal email. Your email is nobody else’s business. But Google makes it their business. Even if you’re not a Gmail user, Google still goes through your personal email sent to Gmail and uses the content to sell ads. ”

They explain how the scanning works, but something is missing. Of course the lack of clear points in this information, is not making it clear if the scanning is anonymously made and if any of our private data is given/revealed to any other third party.

It’s clear that Microsoft wants more users and they use this “feature” from Gmail to boost their products. I don’t find it a fair fight, to throw mud on your opponent’s products in order to show to the people how shiny is yours. And about our privacy, Google statement is clear. It’s your choice if you use their products or not. The Big Brother doesn’t force anyone to join him, but he sure offers some of the best products on the market.

What can we do? Well, it’s clear. As long as we give up our privacy, we let our freedom vanish.
Using the email account is almost vital for many people. But, really, I don’t know who likes the idea to have all the emails scanned… A workaround can be made. If you really want more privacy, but you don’t wanna let your Gmail account go, you can set up another email client, or you can even choose to use Outlook.com and connect your Gmail account there, and you’ll get all your emails forwarded to your new Outlook account. But this is the right way to avoid having your emails scanned? If I set up the automatic forward, would make my emails invulnerable to scanning? Still, one big question remains… what is the safest way to use the email and have our privacy protected?

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Don’t get Scroogled by Google, use Outlook – Says Microsoft

ScroogledWhen a company wants to increase its profile it’s a common practice for the company to use advertisements; whether online or in print. I think it’s fair to say that generally the content of the advertisement seeks to inform the potential customer of the service that the company can provide for them. However, sometimes the thrust of an advert can be an attempt to discredit a competitor, and that’s exactly the line that Microsoft have gone down with their ‘Scroogled’ campaign.

In a nutshell, on the 7th of February, Microsoft began a campaign that was quite simply an attack on the search engine giant Google. Rather than the content of the campaign predominantly being an informative look at what Microsoft can provide for you, Microsoft were intent on letting the public know that Google uses information gleaned from the contents of customer’s Gmail in order to create advertising relevant to the customers interests. Microsoft report that Google target keywords within emails to get a clearer of idea of the kind of products that the customer may be interested in. The selling point of Microsoft’s campaign is a plea for Gmail customers to leave Google and use Microsoft Outlook instead.

Microsoft’s “Scroogled” Gmail Ad

On Scroogled.com you’ll find all the information that Microsoft has dug up regarding the way that Google uses information in order to tailor advertising. You’ll also find a petition that Microsoft invites you to sign, imploring Google to stop using their customer’s information to sell advertising space. To say that the petition isn’t going well would be a bit of an understatement: as of today Microsoft had just over 5000 signatures out of a desired 25000.
Many are questioning whether or not this was a sensible move from Microsoft. There are many that suggest that Microsoft come out of the Scroogled campaign looking pretty petty and aggressive. The overwhelming opinion seems to be that rather than discrediting Google, Microsoft should be trying to focus on selling their own product. If Outlook is that good, then it will overtake Gmail in a natural and organic way. It seems unlikely that all of Gmail’s customer’s will suddenly stop using their Gmail and switch to Outlook on the basis of a seemingly bile-filled campaign from Microsoft. It reflects poorly on Microsoft, and it makes it clear that they seem far too concerned about their competition rather than providing quality products that users want to use.

Outlook or Gmail?

These two mail clients tend to divide opinion. Only recently has Outlook emerged as a serious contender to Gmail having branched out from Windows Outlook to browser-based email. Generally, the opinion seems to be that Outlook is a far prettier email client to use; users believe that it has a more intuitive design. Outlook also seems to integrate better with most social networks. However, Gmail tends to gain the most favorable reviews in regard to the actual messaging system which is of course the bread and butter of any email client.

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Office 365 – Is Office Online the Right Choice for You?

Office 2013 and the latest release of Office 365, Microsoft’s Online Office Suite, are available starting today. Are they right for you?

I’ve been using Microsoft Office 2013 since it became available for Microsoft TechNET subscribers in the Summer of 2012.  The suite is pretty decent, with updates to all of the major apps in the suite.  The big question though – is it worth the upgrade price?

The answer is actually simpler than you might think – That depends.  You have a couple different choices with the latest incarnations of Microsoft’s cash cow that give you some decent flexibility. I take a quick look at both of these from a very high level in this two part blog series.

Office 2013

3With office 2013, you get the traditional experience you’re used to with the MS Office suite, including the price points.  Office 2013 Home & Student is $139.99, Home & Business is $219.99, and Professional Plus is $499.99. While the most reliable options, in terms of access and use, they are the most expensive.  This has been, perhaps the single biggest problem with Microsoft Office – its cost; and Microsoft has been searching for pricing alternatives for quite some time.

All of the applications have received considerable updates from their 2010 counterparts.  The single, largest noticeable feature is that they are skinned for Windows 8.  Their flat 2D look clashes with the Aero powered desktop of Windows 7 and Windows Vista. However, all the apps seemed to have gotten huge performance boost with the 2013 edition, even on Windows 7.

Of all the aps, I use Outlook the most.  I think Outlook 2013 for Windows is perhaps the best version of Outlook I’ve ever used.  The app is clean, responsive, and stable.  It works like you’d expect Outlook to work, and doesn’t seem to have any strange or unusual bugs, though the Exchange Server I connect to doesn’t have all of the services (like booking meeting resources and rooms) active.

If you used the preview version of Office 2013 at all, then you’re going to see pretty much the same experience with the released version as in the Preview.  It was stable to begin with.  The released version really did nothing more than add fit and polish to an already stable code base.

Microsoft Office 2013 is available through a number of brick and mortar and online stores and is currently for PC only. The comparable Mac version won’t be available for at least another 12-18
months.

next page

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Google Drive – A Foggy Cloud Experience

I’m in the middle of a love-hate relationship with Google Drive…

Google-DriveI’ve been living in the cloud for quite some time. I’ve had my Outlook contacts syncing with Plaxo since 2003 or so. I’ve also had accounts on Microsoft SkyDrive, Drop Box, and LiveDrive.  In some way, I’ve found all of these services wanting. But make no mistake, I’m very comfortable with my data in The Cloud. If you think about it, its very much like the dumb terminal-mainframe/mini computer model that everyone started using back in the 1970’s or so.

Most recently, I’ve switched to Google Drive; and there are some specific reasons for that. First and foremost, it works at the office.  The company I work at allows Google services through the firewall, and Google Drive works through Google’s standard Google Account authentication. None of the other client solutions I’ve used work the way they’re supposed to at the office. They’re all blocked.  Secondly, its nice to be able to have important files accessible on any the hard drive of connected machine, where and when I use them.

The biggest plus I have with the service is also the biggest problem I have – the client app. It keeps on crashing at the office.

The office PC runs Windows XP SP3; and while that’s hugely antiquated – its 3 major OS revisions (not releases) behind (Windows 7, Windows 7 SP1, and Windows 8) – it is what the organization trusts and is supporting as a whole throughout the enterprise.  I think Google Drives WinXP support is a bid dodgy. When Google Drive does crap out – and it errors out at LEAST once a day, if not more – I either get an error from Google Drive saying that its encountered an error and needs to close or Explorer itself crashes.

The first error is easy to recover from. All I have to do is restart Google Drive.  The second isn’t.  I have to wait for Windows to recover and then I have to bounce the PC.  If I don’t, I can’t access all of the previously running programs or System Tray extensions. The PC also becomes rather unstable.  This usually comes about because I’ve tried to browse to a deep, nested folder on my hard drive.

One of the things that I’ve learned to do is to quit the Google Drive client app before I browse my PC for files.  There’s no other way to prevent the app from erroring out.  Since the Windows 7 PC I have, doesn’t experience the problem, the only thing I can assume is that is related to the OS.  My Mac also doesn’t have client issues.

I’m not sure if Google plans on doing anything about it, but my gut tells me no. Unfortunately, that leaves me with a very foggy Cloud based experience with my data.  I just hope that the errors I know I’m going to bump into don’t damage my data.

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Keep yourself organized with StickyNote

You see them all over the office…Stickies. Stuck to desktops, underneath keyboards, on the side of cabinets, hanging from overhangs, and of course, on computer monitors. They are literally everywhere, and the guy who invented the glue HAS to be like a bazillionaire (or at least should be).  The only problem that you bump into is the one thing that makes them so wonderful – they’re everywhere, and they can create a huge mess. This is why I like StickyNote from Tenebril Software. It’s a reminder program for Windows.

StickyNote 9.0 is a virtual notes program, and is the only program to offer photo-realistic, 3D notes that look just like stickies you leave on your monitor. Today, you have more information to remember than ever before – passwords, phone numbers, messages, ideas, just to name a few. Managing this information efficiently is important to staying organized. StickyNote provides an easy solution, both at home and at the office.

StickyNote creates photo-realistic 3D notes on your desktop. With a single click, you can attach notes to documents or programs. Important ideas or passwords will never be lost. You can pass notes instantly over the Internet or local network. You can easily make sure phone messages are delivered in the office without ever leaving your chair. The notes pop up right on the recipient’s computer screen.

You can set alarms, set notes to appear at specific times to remind you of important events, and can even set the notes to appear periodically. You can also synchronize your notes with Microsoft Outlook, your Palm handheld or other PDAs.

read full review | download StickyNote

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Manage all the contents of your mobile devices and mobile phones with Mobile Master

My smartphone is my life. I live in my phone. If I were to lose it, I don’t know that I’d know which end of my life is up. I rely on my phone to keep track of all of my PIM (Personal information manager) data, which is what Mobile Master helps you do. It’s a PIM data management application for your phone.

Years ago – back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s – the only way to get data from your PIM management system, say Outlook or Lotus Notes, to your organizer was to use some kind of synching software like ActiveSync or Palm Desktop, depending on the type of PDA you had. This became even more important once PDA’s turned into smartphones (or what we at that time called a converged device).

While many people are using smartphones that today either use BIS/BES (Blackberry Information Server or Blackberry Enterprise Server) or Exchange ActiveSync (Google and Gmail, as well as Apple’s iPhone both license Exchange ActiveSync to make Push work for their operating systems), not everyone uses a smartphone.  This is where applications like Mobile Master come in. It’s an application for mobile phone management and SMS communication that can be used to exchange data between mobile phone and PC, via cable, infrared, or Bluetooth.  The system automatically detects the mobile phone and assigns it its own profile, making it possible for you to manage several phones on the same PC, with the same data, without creating chaos with that data. A programmatic assistant helps you configure and manage all the settings. Even users with little to no prior mobile device knowledge can, download their phone’s address book, calendar, email and tasks to and from their phone and PC with just a few mouse clicks.

Mobile Master supports most phones by Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Motorola, Samsung or BenQ Siemens; and supports email clients and contact programs like Outlook, Lotus Notes, Palm Desktop, Thunderbird, Tobit David, Eudora, The Bat! and Outlook Express. Mobile Master also supports Novell GroupWise. To check if your phone is supported, take a look here: here.

Download Mobile Master

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