Windows Marketplace and Microsoft Marketing

I was sitting with a dear friend, and we were talking about the new Windows Phone 7,  and the how it compares with the competition (iPhone, Android and Blackberry; notice no mention of Nokia here), and the Apple App Marketplace was mentioned, then my friend suddenly asks: why doesn’t Microsoft have a Windows Marketplace, that would be a great idea?

My immediate reaction was; what the … ?! Microsoft does have a Windows Marketplace and has had one for quite a while now. When I told my friend this he asked, well, why doesn’t Microsoft market this place? Why did I never hear of it before?

To tell you the truth, his was a good question, and it took me some time to realize this; Microsoft really doesn’t market a lot of its work well, doesn’t it? I mean, I grew up hearing the words “Microsoft is nothing but a great big marketing machine” and “the marketing people at Microsoft created this image” and stuff like that, to the point where I started to believe it was true.

But it really isn’t true, not to this point anyway. Microsoft does have a big advertising budget, but IMHO that is only targeted to products it can sell, products like Windows, Office, SharePoint and Windows Phone 7. A lot of other products go unnoticed, simply because nobody knew they even existed. I mean, up until I told everybody, nobody knew Microsoft had their own free antivirus product you can install i.e. Microsoft Security Essentials; operative word is free here.

Other things Microsoft does that go unnoticed are success stories, did you know that MySpace uses SQL Server? As a matter of fact, 440 SQL instances, yes, four-hundred-and-forty instances. Not only that, the total data managed by SQL Server is a whopping 1 petabyte (1 petabyte = 1024 Terrabytes = 1,048,576 Gigabytes), with 130 million users, 300,000 new users every day and 4.4 million concurrent users at peak time. Try that on for scalability and stability!!

Back to the Microsoft Marketplace, not only does Microsoft have a marketplace for Windows, it has one for Office, Mobile and Xbox. Yes, that is correct, four! And here they are:

So you see, Microsoft really is a changed company, and not all for the worse either. What do you think?


Farewell Windows XP

I just formatted my laptop. It is something I have not done ever since I bought my laptop almost 2 years ago, which came with Windows XP preinstalled.

I formatted it to install Windows 7 which, as an MSDN subscriber, I had first hand access to. I did everything right, I backed up my previous C: drive (I keep all my files on the D: drive) and made emergency bootable media just in case.

I inserted my Windows 7 DVD and restarted. A few clicks later, the installation was on its way. Thus far, I have to say, things were looking pretty good. Less than 30 minutes later the installation was complete and I was running Windows 7 for the first time ever.

I have to admit I was hyper-excited. I’d only had 4 hours of sleep the night before and was falling half asleep between clicks, but, it was all worth it. The ‘adrenaline was pumping fast’ as they say on reality TV shows.

Just to clear things up; my laptop’s a 1.6GHz Gateway with 3GB memory and 160GB HDD, and a VGA capable of running Aero. Towards the end of the Windows XP days, it was running pretty darn slow, because of all the software I’d install for testing and/or development purposes. And I was looking forward to the alleged ‘crisp’ speed of Windows 7.

To tell you the truth I was shocked to see how Vista-like it was, and when applications started to freeze for no apparent reason, I said to myself, oh boy, here we go again. If the recession didn’t ‘break’ Microsoft, this surely will, another Vista fiasco.

I tried to run Windows Media Player for the first time and it froze. I ran IE8, and a few tabs in, it froze. I couldn’t understand the ‘new taskbar’ and how it was supposed to operate and even that froze.

I was devastated. Now I have to switch back to Windows XP! And then I remembered an article I’d read earlier about how Windows 7 would run on netbooks and I thought, year right, super netbooks maybe.

I mean, on my machine, running almost entirely with no other applications installed, Windows 7 required almost 800 MBs of memory. That’s almost 4 times as much as Windows XP had required. Most netbooks have around 1GB memory in total, which leaves around 200MB for all other applications. How is that going to work, I don’t know.

The next day, I’d had some sleep and decided to give it another shot. I setup my email accounts, downloaded all the available updates, which were mostly for Office and then gave it a number of restarts.

A couple of hours had passed by, and for some reason (perhaps it’d finished indexing) Windows 7 started to work surprising well. No freezing, no delays, fast responses; IE8 was exceptionally responsive, even faster than Google’s Chrome on my XP machine!

Every other application I ran was working perfectly. I was getting the hang of it, and that new taskbar is amazing!! Windows 7 has so much out-of-the-box now I fear another round of anti-trust cases. In fact, the only problem I had was the fact that it was using way too much memory for my liking.

The way things are going if I never use Windows XP again, it’ll be too soon. For now though, call me Mr. Windows 7!!

The Year of the Mobile!!

That’s it! Its official! I’m calling 2007 the year of the mobile!

First Apple announce their upcoming iPhone, then Nokia announces their new E90 Communicator. Then i-mate announces their Ultimate range. And the cherry on top off the cake, Microsoft announces their new Windows Mobile 6.

There’s a Windows Mobile 6 Pro Video 1st Look that shows some of the new things in WM6, which I think should be called WM5.5 instead, because the enhancement are NOT worth a major version upgrade (I do, however, think you should upgrade your mobile device should you be given the chance). Here’s the unofficial “What’s new in Windows Mobile 6”.

The things I like most are (in random order):

  • Vista effects: almost everything looks like everything in Vista.
  • Enhanced security: you can encrypt the contents of your storage card.
  • HTML email support: no more that ugly text.
  • Enhanced Office Support: office documents look almost as good as on the pc.
  • Windows update!!!!
  • Internet sharing!!!!

For those developers out there here’s the ‘What’s New for Developers in Windows Mobile 6‘ and finally another ‘Review of Windows Mobile 6 – Codename Crossbow‘.

Links (for those of you who like to copy & paste):


Vista Speech Recognition

I’ve always been a fan of speech recognition. I don’t really know why though. I’m a touch typist and I don’t really need voice recognition to speed things up, so that never was the reason. Something about its sci-fi appeal I guess.

I always wanted to develop speech recognizing applications, but the problem was, the commercial uses for such software has been less than dismal.

Anyway, Microsoft has released a “Windows Vista Speech Recognition Step by Step Guide”. In which, Microsoft has detailed such things as how to;

Create, dictate, and save a document

  1. Say “Start Listening.”
  2. Say “Open WordPad.”
  3. Say “This is a test of speech recognition period.” Note:Remember to pronounce punctuation.
  4. To correct mistakes, say “correct” and the word that the computer typed by mistake, and then pick the correct word from the list offered by Speech Recognition, repeat the correct word again. For example, if the computer misrecognized “speech” as “peach,” say “correct peach,” and then choose the right word from the list, or say the word “speech” again.
  5. To save the document, say “File”, then say “Save As.”
  6. Say “Test document.”
  7. Say “Save.”

Nice, real deal sci-fi!

Check it out here,


Vista vs. OS X

The question has been asked again and again, and again. I’ve read so much about it; in fact, I’ve seen a coupla videos on You Tube that mock the similarities between the two operating system. In last weeks InfoConnect 2007, I’ve had people come up to me and ask that, with a ‘gotcha’ grin on their faces. Is Microsoft imitating OS X; or any other operating system?

To answer this question I refer back to a video I saw a few years ago, of Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO talking to a gathering of over 30,000 Microsoft employees. In the video, Mr. Ballmer came hopping on to the stage and for the better part of 3 minutes, all he did was jump around and shout; developers, developers, developers, developers.

Yes, arguably, Microsoft may have borrowed 🙂 features from other operating systems, but the main difference here is the humongous support Microsoft provides to its developer community. After all, an operating system is ONLY as good as the number of applications running on it.

The .Net framework is debatably the most widely used development framework in the world; and it is ONLY 6 years old! It is very important to realize that Microsoft has never released a new product or technology before providing developer support earlier. Almost everything in every Microsoft technology is programmable.

As a matter of fact, you can download developer tools, from the Microsoft website, that will enable you to create applications for all versions of the .Net framework, for free. Plus, Microsoft provides every means of developer support thinkable. The documentation is extensive (a Microsoft tradition) and there are at least a gazillion forums online that will provide you with every bit of information you want.

Yes, at face value, both operating systems are similar, but that is the extent of the resemblance.

Viva Vista!!

I’ve been a user of Windows Vista ever since its initial beta stages. Being an MVP I had access to bits early on, and I never hid my affection for the operating system. As far as I’m concerned Windows Vista has been enhanced in every aspect and manner I can think of. Everything is new; they maybe named the same, like the Recycle Bin for example, but it somehow isn’t the same, at all!

Today, I setup my new machine at work with Windows Vista pre-installed. I never thought it would happen, but I am in love with Vista all-over-again!! What’s the difference you say; why the newly hiked enthusiasm? What made this Vista so different from all the others?

I have a simple-one-word-answer for you; hardware. This new PC has a 256MB NVidia graphics card installed, 2 gigs of RAM, over 100 gigs of hard-disk-space and 2GHz processor. With the proper drivers installed this machine rocks!

Everything is working sooooo smooth, it simply takes my breath away. The 3D flipping, Window transparency, sidebar, windows media player, the new start menu and the gazillions and gazillions of new options, settings and preferences you can manage. Even IE7, which I’ve been skeptic about in the past, works perfectly.

All-in-all, this operating system is here to stay.