Latest InsideGoogle Posts:
Sponsored by:
Image Hosted by

Saturday, November 20, 2004

MSN Launches Web Version Of Messenger

You can now access MSN Messenger via the web, just like with AIM Express. It supports IE 5.0, Netscape 7.1, Mozilla and 1.6 (or better versions). One cool feature is that it lets you choose your online status before you log on (in case you want to be invisible from annoying people).
(via Microsoft Watch)
Also, if you care, MS released a preview of its Avalon display system for Longhorn.

MSN Blog Writes About Me Again (Oh, And Some Other Guys)

The latest post on the MSNSearch Weblog:

One week out and here's a roundup

We launched the beta just over a week ago and there’s been a lot of discussion about what we’ve been doing.

Reviews of the beta:

WebProNews notes that the beta feedback has been mixed.
Mike Hall loves the fact that we can help him with his algebra homework.
Angsuman Chakraborty thinks that we released the Beta too early. He also questions the veracity of our site descriptions. I want to respond to this by re-iterating that there is no human intervention in our Index; all results are based on our algorithms.
Cyan Bane is excited for desktop search and likes the results & the UI.
Stingo likes the UI but thinks that our relevance needs work.

Extending the beta:

The first extensions of the beta! Internetreklama has bookmarklets for msn search on IE, Opera, Mozilla & Firefox. Thanks for making these.
SEO Scoop discusses why someone should consider adding MSN Search to their site.

About the blog (which has 249 public subscribers on bloglines, pretty good for 1 week old):

Nathan isn’t sure if the blog is trying too hard or not, but is glad that we are using it.
Mike Manuel has a play-by-play of our first set of posts.
Peter Dawson told us in the blog comments that we should jump on the cluetrain. We're trying!

Finally, a contingent of us made it to the Kirkland Google party last night. I was the mystery blogger that Scoble mentioned (I’m the guy on the right next to Stefan B. of Amazon). It was a great time. Thanks for the party Google & welcome to the neighborhood.


As I note in the comments, I never said their blog wasn't trying hard enough, I said they were trying too hard to be funny! I think I've made it pretty obvious how impressed I am with their blog. Otherwise, I'm off to look at the MSN Search bookmarklets. Sounds like a great idea to me.

Microsoft, Dell, Win $500 Million Air Force Contract

Microsoft and Dell have won a contract worth over $500 million to provide more than 525,000 computers and copies of Windows and Office for the Air Force over the next six years.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Microsoft Completes Rollout Of Hotmail Extra Storage

TechWeb News confirms that Microsoft has completed its rollout of 250 megabyte Hotmail free accounts. I got my 2 gigabyte MSN account yesterday, and couldn't be happier. Here's something interesting you may not know:
As of Thursday, new Hotmail customers in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the U.K. receive 25MB of storage when they register. Thirty days later, the allowance is automatically upgraded to 250MB.

"We created a storage waiting period to ensure that new accounts are used by qualified customers and are not being generated by spammers or malicious users," said Brian Arbogast, corporate vice president for MSN, in a statement.
I can't say I disagree with the policy. Spam needs to be fought any way possible, and it's not like anyone will run out of 25 megabytes in just a few weeks.

Search Bash: Google, Microsoft and Amazon Party Hearty

Last night, Google threw a party to officially open its Kirkand offices. According to Microsoft's Robert Scoble, who attended, it was more of a Microsoft and Amazon party, since employees of Google's rivals vastly outnumbered people who actually worked there. There were only about twenty Google employees, and hundreds of guests, so you do the math. It's nice to now that, business aside, these guys can all hang out and enjoy themselves (or at least enjoy the free food).
(Photos here)
(via Search Engine Watch Blog)

MSNSearch Blog: Funny, Or Trying Too Hard?

Today, another post on the MSNSearch Weblog, this time explaining how the crawler works. I've highlighted two sections.

Crawling the Internet...

Now that we have a beta, people are starting to pay attention to whether their sites are in our index. The two most common questions we get are (1) why did you not crawl my site, and (2) you crawled page X, but its not in your index why? Let’s take these one at a time.

Why did MSNBot not crawl my site? The answer to this is not straightforward so I will mention a couple of things that are worth considering. The first is to determine whether your pages are crawler friendly. An example of a page that might look "unfriendly" to a crawler is one that looks like this: When MSNBot looks at this URL it gets scared (well, not really it’s a machine not a human so it doesn’t have feelings). The algorithm starts to wonder whether it is going to get stuck in a loop endlessly crawling every single permutation of the query parameters. Thus, URL’s with many (definitely more than 5) query parameters have a very low chance of ever being crawled. Another thing to consider is whether we can find your page. If we need to traverse through eight pages on your site before finding leaf pages that nobody but yourself points to, MSNBot might choose not to go that far. This is why many people recommend creating a site map and we would as well. Lastly, you can also use this tool to Submit your URL to MSN Search.

You crawled my site, so why can’t I find it in your search index? This is one is a little bit easier. The reason that this is most likely happening is that we are detecting the page as spam when we analyze the page to build our index. How can you make sure that this does not happen? The best thing to do is to not spam us. On our site owners help we talk about some of the things that we consider spam. In case you have not read it here is a quick refresher: dirty javascript redirects, stuffing alt text, white on white links, off topic links etc. We take this stuff very seriously and we are continuously working to improve our spam detection -- we still have room for improvement. The reason that we take this seriously is that web spam threatens our entire industry. To the extent that spam is successful people will not be able to turn to search engines to find what they are looking for.

Lastly, a brief moment on peanut butter -- why is it that we stop liking peanut butter after like 8th grade? Or is it just me? I have not had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for the longest time. This morning I had one. Yummy. Here’s to peanut butter.

Eytan Seidman, Program Manager
So, here is my obvious question: Do you find this post funny, or is Eytan trying too hard. I think the "scaredy-crawler" joke is one thing, but he may have crossed the line with the peanut butter reference :-) Either way, its good of MSN Search to make the effort to inform users. 10 posts in 10 days is quite unusual for a corporate blog, and definitely not the type of friendliness we expect from Microsoft.

A Review Of Windows For Cell Phones

The AP's Bruce Meyerson has a review of Windows Mobile, the new version for cell phones. It's kind of cute, since Bruce and Windows Mobile seem to have fallen in love:
Priced and sized modestly enough for a non-wireless warrior, the 3.6-ounce handset is both sleek and packed with features you'd expect from a high-end organizer.

... a surprising counterintuitive plus...

... But the most appealing feature may be the Windows layout. The familiar desktop icons and Start Menu made it less intimidating as I tried out computer synchronization tools that are more common with hybrid phone-organizers that run on the Palm, BlackBerry and Microsoft PocketPC platforms.

... And yet, if you've never used an organizer, the sight of a Windows desktop on the phone may seem more comforting than the prospect of learning a new operating system.

... And if you do use Outlook on a PC, what could sound easier than synchronizing it with a program named Pocket Outlook using a third Microsoft program called ActiveSync?

... But with the Windows phone, I gave synchronization a try, and I don't think it could have been much simpler.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Microsoft Accused Of Destroying Incriminating Email, a company suing Microsoft, is accusing the software giant of destroying emails critical to the case. Burst is suing MS for anti-competitive behavior; saying the company broke off talks with Burst, and misappropriated the ideas it learned from Burst's media player. Burst claims that Microsoft has an institutional policy to destroy all email after 30 days. They filed a motion to have the jury told of this practice, citing a January 2000 memo where Jim Allchin, a senior VP, told the Windows Division about the policy, saying, "This is not something you get to decide. This is company policy. ... Do not archive your mail. Do not be foolish. 30 days." The motion also says:
  • told workers, beginning in 1995, not to save emails to corporate servers.
  • maintained its deletion policy by creating servers that forced workers to "auto-delete" emails.
  • "carefully limited the employees it asked to preserve documents for litigation, and excluded key employees. … This has meant that a large number of core documents simply no longer exist."
  • and has "concealed or falsely described its document retention practices in past litigation."
Burst says that the jurors must be told the emails were deleted, so that they can infer that the emails were incriminating. While it is likely there were incriminating emails, Burst can't possibly infer that those emails were incriminating in the Burst case. You first need to prove that there was a violation to be incriminating about! This kind of circular logic is like saying that because there is no gun, you can infer that a person threw away the gun (which is only true if the person ever had a gun). Burst is using a lack of evidence to prove such evidence existed, which I simply can't believe any judge would allow.

Things Seem To Be Picking Up

Today, I looked in my MSN Hotmail inbox, and lo and behold, two gigabytes of storage space. Thank you thank you thank you! After all the problems I've been having with my computer, its nice to get something for nothing. That and the Matrix Online beta are making my day.

Microsoft Releases The Most Powerful Anti-Spam Solution Ever

A Chief Executive at Microsoft has confirmed that the company has an entire department of people tasked with sorting through email, making usre no spam gets through. The staff of spam catchers reads four million emails a day, and it is believed that this is the perfect enti-spam solution. When will this service be expanded to your inbox? Never. Because the anti-spam department is tasked with sorting through the four million emails Bill Gates receives every day, and nothing else. Has to be nice to be able to hire your own spam catching task force.

A Perfect Way To Block Spam: Shut Off Your Computer!

The IT department at Guam Community College decided they didn't like spam, and didn't want to do anything to block it. So instead, they blocked email! All emails originating from Hotmail and Yahoo, the #1 and #2 email providers, will be bounced back. Quite a stupid policy. What else can people use? Since they are not blocking actual spam, but only email, any other service students use are likely to get banned in the future. Why not just ban all email? And ban the internet to protect from viruses. And to be on the safe side, just to be sure no one reformats the hard drive, shut off the computer, lock it in a safe, and throw the safe in the ocean!
(via Techdirt > Findory)

I'm Back!

I fixed my ridiculous computer, and it only took two days, a brand new 120-gigabyte hard drive, and a portable drive enclosure (thank you, CompUSA!). Now, not only is Windows stable for the first time since Google was a privately-held company, but I have a massive portable storage device to ensure I never get bored on business trips. First time the fix to a problem is actually a big plus.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Overture Testing RSS Ads

You can now put Overture ads in your RSS feed. I don't plan on doing it yet, but I think its great. Many blogs lose half their traffic to RSS, and for bloggers that make their money that way, ads in RSS had to happen. A tiny text ad doesn't make it harder to read your favorite blog, but does support your favorite blogger. Bloggers need money, too.

Microsoft Employees: Is Google Hiring?

Joe Beda, a former Microsoft employee now working at Google's Kirkland office, says he's been getting a lot of inquries asking about jobs at the Google office. He's not clear about it, but he hints that a significant amount of those requests are coming from current MS employees. Microsoft has pissed off some employees lately; could we be seeing a small exodus?
(via Seattlepi blog)

Microsoft And SBC Bringing Internet TV

Like VOIP? How about TV-IP? Microsoft and SBC Communications Inc. have announced a ten year, $400 million deal to deliver TV over high-speed internet connections. Microsoft's Internet Protocol Televsion software will run over SBC fiber optic lines. The plan is to use the Internet to defeat and provide an alternative to the cable monopolies. Sounds like a great plan. I can't wait to hear more.

Some more info:
The initial phase of the plan to replace copper cables with fiber is slated to cost $4 billion and make IP-based TV and speedier Internet access available to 18 million of SBC's customers by the end of 2007.
You can also check out the press release for more.

MSN Search Blog Publishes Posting Manifesto

The MSNSearch Weblog has published a list of principles and aspirations for itself. I like the list so much, I'd like to propose it as a general manifesto for any blog. The list:
Honest and Respectful. We will tell the truth and stay the high road. ‘nuff said.

Useful. We will announce new products, features and releases related to MSN Search. We will answer frequently asked questions, make clarifications, and once in a while we may address a rumor or two. We’ll discuss significant problems and fixes.

Relevant. We will keep the blog current and post when we find that there are things to discuss. We aspire to cover a broad variety of topics over time, and cover a broad range of things that are interesting to you. To do that, the blog has to be…

Personal. Various team members will contribute over time on topics they are passionate and knowledgeable about.

Tantalizing. We intend to maintain a faint air of mystery. :-) Don’t expect us to reveal too much information about the inner workings of our search service, or about upcoming features and product plans. There are practical limitations on what we can say. Besides, it would be boring if we revealed all the secrets at once.

Communal. We would like to build a two-way dialog, rather than a broadcast. So do expect us to listen and respond to your comments, and to solicit feedback on specific issues. You should also expect us to stumble and to learn from it. As an example, I want to modify what I said the other day and not blindly rule out commenting on the nature of our search results; if an explanation is necessary and beneficial to a broad range of our customer community, we certainly reserve the right to chime in.

Constructive. In turn, we ask for your constructive suggestions, feedback, and requests. Thanks to everyone already doing this, it is greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Yahoo Wants An RSS Hacker

Jeremy Zawodny put out the word on his blog that he (or someone else at Yahoo) needs a person with skill at reworking at pulling off tricks with RSS feeds. What does Yahoo plan on doing with RSS? I've got a million ideas, and every one of them has me excited. I hope they get some good resumes.

How Does MSN Search Change SEO?

Kevin Ryan, iMedia's Search editor, has an article where he talks about the difficulties MSN's new engine and its emergence as a major player brings to the SEO game. With four major engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN, and Jeeves) powering most web searches, site owners now have a lot of different types of optimization to worry about. Kevin says people have been sending him "an onslaught of emails" asking how MSN Search makes everybody's job harder. MSN is quite possibly the most difficult popular search engine for SEO, because of the large number of options for changing your search. You may be number one for cameras, but a smart consumer (one likely to be about to buy a camera), may be searching with 100% Relevancy on the slider, in which case you may not be in the top ten. There's a lot more to consider now that Microsoft's hat is in the ring. (via Search Engine Guide)

Feedburner Feeds For Free

I decided to create some Feedburner feeds for both blogs. Don't worry, they don't have any ads. However, I would appreciate the usage statistics that I get with the feeds, so it would mean a lot if everyone switched over to those feeds. They still have the full posts and images. I'm not evil. Here are the links:



You'll also notice the new headline boxes, directing you to what's going on at the site you're not currently reading. I think they're pretty cool. If anyone knows a way to combine the feeds of both sites into a single Feedburner feed, I would greatly appreciate it.

Search Engine Lowdown Creates A Toolbar

The folks at Search Engine Lowdown have created a toolbar, thanks to the Effective Brand website. They got the idea from this article. Turns out, anyone can create a toolbar and use it so people can get instant RSS updates, plus whatever features you add to it. Very cool. Maybe I'll go and give it a shot, once I get my computer back.

Bill Gates: Passwords Are So Last Century

Source: Slashdot

What Does The Dividend Mean For Microsoft's Future?

The Associated Press takes a look at what the December 3 $3 dividend will mean for the future of Microsoft's stock. The stock has remained flat and slowly declining since January 17, 2002, when it closed at $34.93, and currently stands at $27.14. While the July annoncement of the dividend prompted a flurry of buying, once the dividend is paid out, it is possible the stock will only decline further.

Thank You Service Pack 2

I decided to uninstall Windows XP Service Pack 2. Now, I can no longer use Internet Explorer. Super. Expect posting to be sporadic until I figure out how to fix it. For now, I will have to post whenever I can find another computer to use.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Blinkx 2.0 Brings Powerful New Features

Blinkx 2.0 launched today, and with it comes some major league features that should cause you to take notice.

Blinkx is a desktop search / web search / toolbar / active bookmarks / inline search system. The Blinkx toolbar resides in the title bar of the window you are using, and allows you to instantly search items in that window, or suggest other items you might be interested in based on either what you are reading, or what you highlight within what you are reading. You can correct spelling with it in programs that don't have that feature, like Notepad. The inline linking option lets the program create links to items relevant to what you are viewing.

The desktop search works like other companies desktop search, except unlike Google's, it updates the search in real time, as opposed to waiting till you hit enter. Unlike MSN's coming desktop search, the toolbar automatically resides in every window, allowing you to search within any program, for example, Word. You can search within archives. You can sort, something Google doesn't allow.

"Smart Folders" are folders you create based on a set of criteria that will contain shortcuts to items that match that search. For example, you can create a "Jeeves" folder, and set it to search the internet for breaking news and blog posts about Jeeves, plus emails you receive and files on your hard drive, and then the folder will be constantly updated with new shortcuts to any items that match that search.

Searches can include practically anything, including the usual (web, email, files) plus multimedia files of all types, blogs, peer-to-peer networks, news sites (BBC, CNN, Fox, NPR, CBS, CSPAN), shopping sites, and Acrobat documents. It can search metadata, including (very importantly) MP3 files, so you can search by artist, album, anything. The web search engine suggests alternative searches, using what it call Implicit Query (figuring out what you're searching for, rather than forcing you to be increasingly specific), lets you search blogs or news, and lets you rank the search results by relevance or date. You can even view your search results as a 3D relational map!

Blinkx is only a 6MB download and needs a 200 MHz PC running Windows 98 or better. In other words, any PC that can still boot.

This is a major improvement over the original release, and puts Blinkx up there with all the major players in this high-profile category. Blinkx is also developing a clustering engine and a TV search engine, so expect this product to continue to grow. Also, regarding a Mac release, Blinkx says:
After a flood of requests from enthusiastic Mac users we're working to get a Mac version out within two months - watch this space!
I am very impressed with this product, and will be giving it a tryout. I encourage everyone else to do the same, and let me know what you think.
(via John Battelle)

Desktop Search: Unauthorized Disclosure

MSNSearch Weblog has respnded to the post about MSN Desktop Search from yesterday:
Desktop Search

As you may have heard, some screenshots from an internal pre-release build of MSN's desktop search product were recently posted on the Neowin site. While we're flattered by the attention and interest, this was an unauthorized disclosure. As many of you know, we have been working on a PC search product for some time, and have demonstrated some early prototypes over the past several months. We are still on track to deliver a beta verson of the product to customers before the end of this calendar year. We plan to release the beta bits only when we feel they are ready from a quality and completeness standpoint, and we’re looking forward to getting feedback from beta users at that time.

Yahoo Mail Hits Back With 250 Megs

Yahoo announced it was upping its email storage space to 250 megabytes to compete with Hotmail and Gmail. Previously, Yahoo and Hotmail had only given users a few megabytes, but following the announcement of Gmail offering 1000 megabytes, Yahoo increased their space to 100 MB, while Hotmail announced a 250 MB upgrade. Yahoo proved to be the smart one, since Hotmail is still rolling out 250 MB accounts, while Yahoo has had increased storage for months. Now that a large number of Hotmail accounts have the larger number, Yahoo has increased its own. Yahoo also said it was beginning testing of DomainKeys to verify email addresses, and thus combat spam. Google has been using the service, created by Yahoo, for months (even before Yahoo decided to use it), and Earthlink will also begin testing it out.

UPDATE: Yahoo posts about the upgrade in their blog. Besides the storage increase and DomainKeys, they announced improved searching of the inbox and DHTML instant autocomplete for email addresses. *cough*Gmail*cough*

Microsoft vs. Apple: The Next Generation

The New York Times talks about the fight gearing up between MS and Apple over entertainment, via the iPod, Media Center, and other areas.

Opera Posts Dissapointing Third Quarter Loss

Opera, the third most popular browser for Windows, announced a third quarter loss triple that of three years ago. While IE has its enormous base and Firefox is getting all the hype (and millions of downloads), Opera is having trouble catching on because unlike all the popular alternatives (including Safari), it charges for its browser (there is a free version of ads, but that version is not what the company's revenue model needs). Opera Software's stock fell 6.5% in the wake of the news. Hoping to combat the downward trend, Opera announce it would begin a massive marketing campaign to promote awareness of the browser. The company, which posted a $9.62 million profit earlier this year before bleeding to the point where it is once again losing money, hopes it can spend its way to success, but history says it is more likely to spend until there's nothing left.

How's That Service Pack 2 Working Out For You?

Windows XP Service Pack 2 is considered a very important update to Windows, helping combat the war against viruses and other malicious programs and persons. The problem is, many people are reporting problems with it. The Seattle Post-IntelliGencer has an article detailing many of the different ways people have seen the pack not work, or worse, destroy their computer. Also, they are running a poll (information available here) asking users how their experience with SP2 has gone. Myself, the pack has nearly killed my system. I can no longer close the lid on my laptop without Windows crashing and rebooting, and Dell tells me its a common problem with SP2 and Inspirons. Of course, I'm more afraid of ruining my system by trying to uninstall than by leaving it alone with its problems.

Jeeves Adds Cache

Ask Jeeves has begun showing cache results for some pages on some searches. For example, this page from the National Weather Service, reached via this search. The page is several weeks old, but that may simply be because it is static. One question: I rarely use Jeeves, but is it normal for it to have an entire page of ads?
(via Search Engine Watch Blog)

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Microsoft Desktop Search Revealed

Tom Warren has the world-exclusive first public look at the MSN Toolbar Suite. The suite consists of two products, the MSN Toolbar/Deskbar, and MSN Desktop Search.

The MSN Toolbar/Deskbar is a series of toolbars: One for Outlook, one for Internet Explorer / Windows Explorer, plus the MSN Deskbar. The toolbars reside in their respective programs, while the Deskbar goes in the taskbar, much like the Windows Media Player Toolbar, and all of them allow you to search, either based on whatever program you're in, or globally. It integrates fully with Windows, and with Desktop Search.

MSN Desktop Search is much like Google Desktop Search. It indexes your hard drive in real time, and delivers results very speedily. Unlike Google's product, Tom says MSN Desktop Search allows you to search for the author of a file which may mean it searches metadata like Apple's Spotlight, which in turn may mean it can search for other metadata items, and Windows does allow for a lot of metadata.

Google Desktop Search landed with a splash, but interest seems to have fizzled, as many realized how limited it is. Speed isn't everything, and like MSN Search to Google Search, MSN Desktop is likely to be comparable in that area. Even one or two extra features is going to give Microsoft a significant edge. Google might want to think about upgrading its product's capabilities, and fast. MSN's is coming next month.
(via Slashdot and Search Engine Watch)

Microsoft Overtakes Palm In The Handheld Market

Slashdot reports via Business Week that Microsoft has completely eliminated Palm from the number one spot in handheld operating systems. After years of being the preimminent player in a market it made financially viable, Palm essentially abdicated the entire market to Microsoft, deciding to instead focus on smartphones. Despite having the lead mere months ago, third quarter sales put Microsoft in the lead with 48.1% of the market, while Palm trailed at 29.8%. Just a year ago, Palm led 46.9% to 41.2%. In third place is RIM/Blackberry with 19.8%. It appears that rather than Microsoft crushing Palm, Palm simply gave up, and RIM and MS divided the spoils. As the market settles, expect RIM to hold second place, but not pull close enough to overtake Microsoft.