MSN, the new Google?

Trying to catch up with Google in the search market is rather like trying to chase down a coast guard cutter in a rowing boat. Figures on the search giant’s market domination vary massively: sources say it has captured anywhere from 36.5% (according to Search Engine Watch, July 2005) to 52% (WebSideStory, June 2005) of all searches. Whatever the specific figures may be, there’s no doubt that it’s the market leader by a significant margin.

For any competitor, gaining on Google is certainly a massive task, but one thing that Microsoft will always have (for the foreseeable future, at least) is the ability to throw money at a project until at least some of it sticks. Financially and commercially, if anyone can challenge Google, Microsoft can. Indeed, it is, with its own MSN Search. This comparative new kid on the block has been out of Beta for over a year now, and MSN Search has matured into a service to which Microsoft is proud to give its name.

But is it any good?

Read the entire Search Engine – MSN and Google article over at sitepoint.

Apple versus PC campaign

First a little background: I am a graphic design + user experience designer that is hugely focused on and loves aesthetics and usability as much as anyone. I “love” the simplicity and aesthetics of a Mac however I simply hate the attitude Apple has.

I don’t know how many of you have had the displeasure of seeing the new Apple ads yet where they’re pitching MAC versus PC based on a “Virus” perspective.

Basically the entire commercial rambles on about how there are millions of viruses for the PC but the Mac is untouchable. This attitude is why I have become less and less tolerant of Apple, partly because it’s a crock and partly because it is just fueling this “cult-like” following that Apple has.

Let’s get some truths out on the table in regard to this recent PC versus Mac commercial.

I have an idea let’s do an ad that has a Mac actually “doing” something other than sitting there and looking pretty. I have a Mac (a couple actually), and I’ve been through the pains of travelling with one only to have problems connecting to Active Directory Domains, and other ‘day to day common tasks’ that affect what? 80, 90% of “Business Computer Users”?

That ends the rant :)

Google versus Microsoft

Anxieties are rising at Google as Microsoft ramps Internet Explorer for public consumption. The default browser setting in IE will be MSN however it is very easy to change.

It’s almost funny the amount of “competition” red-tape Microsoft has to endure. I watched an interview lately where Bill Gates was asked ‘What is your responsibility to your competitors”. Microsoft seems to be excluded from the “crush your competition” battlefield.

It was not ok when Microsoft released Internet Explorer with Windows because it was unfair to the competition. It is however somehow ok for Firefox to start shipping their browser with Dell Machines in the UK.

It’s unfair for Microsoft to have their own search engine as the default setting in their browser yet it’s ok for Firefox to use Google as their default search engine. It’s also ok for Google to evangelize the use of FireFox on their main search page as well as their google toolbar.

I like the Firefox browser and use it frequently but at some point enough has to be enough.

Top 10 Benefits of using SharePoint Designer 2007

Top 10 Benefits of Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007
Courtesy of Microsoft

Office SharePoint Designer 2007 provides the powerful tools you need to deliver compelling and attractive SharePoint sites and quickly build workflow-enabled applications and reporting tools on the SharePoint platform, all in an IT-managed environment. Be more productive with next-generation Microsoft Web technologies.

Enjoy a new level of support for creating and customizing next-generation SharePoint Web sites and technologies.

Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 has deep editing support for the technologies underlying Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services technology, such as ASP.NET 2.0, cascading style sheets, and Microsoft Windows Workflow Foundation.
Customize SharePoint sites exactly the way you want. Customize SharePoint sites exactly the way you want.

Choose the format and content of your SharePoint pages with Office SharePoint Designer 2007—the customization tool for the entire SharePoint family. You can tailor SharePoint sites to your needs and set brand requirements using the latest ASP.NET technology, established Web standards such as XHTML, and cascading style sheets.
Easily make or undo changes across entire SharePoint sites. Easily make or undo changes across entire SharePoint sites.

Make format and layout changes to entire SharePoint sites simply by editing the master page and modifying the SharePoint cascading style sheets. Undo changes to the home page using the Revert to Site Template Page command in Office SharePoint Designer 2007.
Maintain control over site customization. Maintain control over site customization.

Site administrators and IT managers can control exactly how Office SharePoint Designer 2007 is used to help ensure information workers have an IT-managed and -compliant experience. Set up Contributor Settings for each role defined in the SharePoint site, and control access to specific actions.
Create workflows to automate business processes. Create workflows to automate business processes.

Automate business processes associated with SharePoint lists and document libraries using the Workflow Designer, a powerful and easy-to-use tool that comes with Office SharePoint Designer 2007. Set up custom workflow conditions and actions, link them to your SharePoint data, and deploy them with a single click, without installing server code.
Create interactive Web pages without writing code. Create interactive Web pages without writing code.

Office SharePoint Designer 2007 has a full set of tools to help you integrate data into SharePoint pages and present that data using XSLT in SharePoint sites. You can access tools for using XSLT Data Views, List View Web Parts, Web Part connections, ASP.NET controls, and workflow.
Integrate business data. Integrate business data.

Create views and forms for working with a variety of data sources using tools supported by Office SharePoint Designer 2007. Build SharePoint Web pages that present and edit data coming from SharePoint lists and document libraries, XML files, Microsoft SQL Server databases, Web services, and enterprise systems.
Develop sites compatible with a wide range of browsers and Web standards. Develop sites compatible with a wide range of browsers and Web standards.

Office SharePoint Designer 2007 has excellent support for creating Web pages based on Web standards such as XHTML and cascading style sheets and meeting Web accessibility requirements for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG and Section 508 (29 U.S.C. 794d), including built-in compatibility checkers for these standards.
Build advanced ASP.NET pages. Build advanced ASP.NET pages.

Office SharePoint Designer 2007 supports creating and editing ASP.NET pages. It provides the same level of support as Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 for ASP.NET control hosting, property editing, toolbox, and Microsoft IntelliSense technology in Code View.
Manage and help protect your site. Manage and help protect your site.

Use reports in Office SharePoint Designer 2007
to help manage your site by checking for broken links, unused pages, cascading style sheets usage, and master page usage. Site backup and restore features make it easy to save your site to a single file for helping to protect data or moving it to another server running Windows SharePoint Services technology.

Internet Explorer: Chat with the IE Dev Team

Members of the IE team will be online for an Expert Zone chat this coming Thursday April 13th at 10:00AM PST. These chats are a great opportunity to have your questions answered and hear from members of the IE product team. A transcript will be published after the chat and transcripts of other recent chats are available.

These chats are a lot of fun as we all type furiously to keep pace with the questions being asked. Please join us for the chat if you can.

Boot Camp: Mac + Windows

More and more people are buying and loving Macs. To make this choice simply irresistible, Apple will include technology in the next major release of Mac OS X, Leopard, that lets you install and run the Windows XP operating system on your Mac. Called Boot Camp (for now), you can download a public beta today.

As elegant as it gets
Boot Camp lets you install Windows XP without moving your Mac data, though you will need to bring your own copy to the table, as Apple Computer does not sell or support Microsoft Windows.(1) Boot Camp will burn a CD of all the required drivers for Windows so you don’t have to scrounge around the Internet looking for them.(2)

Read the Boot Camp Mac + Windows Article

SharePoint Designer 2007 Features

It should come as no suprise to anyone that I was never against using FrontPage 2003 as long as it was used properly, for example – data views were/are one of the best custmoization options available for content.

The problem with FrontPage was it had been misused alot and it really made itself a nasty little reputation, a reputation so bad that Microsoft decided to rework the application and then rebrand it to breathe new life into it.

The result is “SharePoint Designer 2007″. Mike Fitz said awhile back “It’s time to show some FrontPage love” and now I know why, they have really put a lot of great effort into this application to make it a viable SharePoint customization tool.

Now that it seems people are allowed to post screenshots I wanted to post a few screenshots of the great new features that I think the designer types will really love. To view the screenshot just click a link below. Big thanks to Amanda for helping me get these screenshots together!

10 Screenshots of the great new features in SharePoint Designer 2007

(X)HTML and CSS Color Coding & Intellisense
– The code is now much easier to look at.

The Common Tasks Menu – Now when you add a data-view web part for example you have an untuative and useful common tasks panel presented to you. The same as in Visual Studio 2005

A great new Toolbox filled with things like ASP.NET controls

Much nicer CSS control and editing. It is a lot of the dreamweaver way of dealing with CSS.

The slow movement toward a mindset for more semantic markup and CSS versus tables for layout is becoming evident with the inclusion of CSS Layout Templates.

For those that followed my site template tutorials or those that have done much importing of FWP files there are now more features in the Import Menu.

To elaborate a little more on how much better they’ve made this tool for CSS customization, this new “Jump to Code” feature is great. Select a class name and go straight to the page and part of the code for editing.

Of course what would a “new wave” editor be without Master Pages support.

New – “New” Menu where you can now select to create SharePoint Content

In case my other examples didn’t convince you, check out this super cool and useful CSS editing feature which allows you to display only styles used in the current page.