So much for IE9’s tab recovery

IE9 claims to have tab recovery features yet in my personal experience, 9 times out of 10, the tab recovery feature does NOT work.

My HP Pavilion 363-2000 NR machine loves to conk out as soon as I move the laptop just slightly in the air while the screen is open if I move it too quick. Why? Because it’s crappy. It reboots up with a Windows Error Recovery screen and as soon I load back my desktop, I open IE9 to see this:

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I see my Bing homepage all right. But I do not get the tab recovery I expect from IE9. That means I have to hunt for every site I had opened before and that’s pretty darn ridiculous to keep track of.

When I load up Firefox however, I get a much better result.

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Firefox does a much better job as you can see.

I’m not certain if IE10 fixes the tab recovery problems, but if it doesn’t, I’d be pretty tempted to just switch browsers because this is ridiculous. I wouldn’t post about this if this wasn’t something I see super frequently.

UPDATE: Not only does IE9 fail to open up the prompt to show me everything I lost, but it doesn’t have ANY website history prior to the crash! The only history I have is my homepage, for the history in “Today”. I’m not sure how IE9 saves history, but the fact it can’t recall any of the sites I was on prior to the crash is super stupid.

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Windows Phone still fails at retail–wholesale clubs

These are just observations I made myself, but it is really hard to find decent Windows Phones at retail, when it comes to wholesale clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club for example. Now not everybody buys their phones at wholesale clubs, and I could not find any studies or research that breaks down where consumers buy their phones, but I would guess wholesale clubs have some market penetration when it comes to mobile phone retail.

So Windows Phone 8, based on what I’ve read, is selling at a better rate than what Windows Phone 7 did (or at least it’s not losing as much market share) but it still has a way to go as far as market presence (at least the American one) goes. It doesn’t help when you have poor retail presence for sure.

Between the dashed lines are some reasons why I decided to go for a Windows Phone if you’re interested in checking out, or you can skip below the dashed lines to see the main point of this post.

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I am still one of those people that do not have a smartphone, but I am interested in one. I think nowadays, people do not only pick phones based on just hardware features, but also specific operating systems that they either prefer or would like to avoid for whatever reason.

I am definitely interested in getting a WP8 phone (super glad I didn’t go for a WP7 phone), but there seems to be a much limited choice to pick from than WP7 had, and even limited carrier options too. Although I like how thin HTC’s 8X and 8S are, and whatever features HTC has that’s unique for those phones, I am going to lean towards a Nokia based phone. Why? Nokia’s exclusive apps hooked me in. Nokia Transit is something that a carless person in Houston such as myself could definitely use when I’m on the go. No more having to worry about preloading transit directions from Bing Maps on my (often defective) laptop in a WiFi zone before going, wasting paper printing out transit directions, or having to call METRO and waiting for a few minutes to figure out bus times and such. Nokia Drive is useful when I’m in the car with my parents who don’t have smartphones or a standalone GPS unit and could use it sometimes to beat the traffic or find a spot on the go. Nokia was smart to make desirable exclusive apps as a way of differentiation.

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So I want a new phone, and I came with my family (since I’m on a family plan) to go shopping so we can all take advantage of the expiration of our 2-year contract and upgrade our phones. Well, even though it expired since like fall 2012, but that’s another story.

My dad wants to go to Costco because he likes their no activation fees, how the prices are supposedly very good and even include nice accessories and other useful stuff that you supposedly can’t get elsewhere bundled with such a flat rate. I’m saying “supposedly” because I’m not certain if it’s true, but that’s what he based it on.

In America, we tend to be carrier tied whether it’s for exclusive phones, coverage, or pricing. Our family is a T-Mobile one. So we went to Costco to check out what T-Mobile had. I could see 6 phones laid out, 2-3 of them Androids, 1 HTC 8X (Windows Phone) and 2-3 of them being dumbphones. As I said before, although HTC’s WP8 phones are pretty great, I’m going with Nokia because of the exclusive apps.

The problem is, we’ve tried stopping a few times prior to this at Costco to see if they would have the latest Nokia phones for T-Mobile, but they never did. I did query about this to the sales rep a month ago and he showed me a display model of the Nokia 810 hidden under a shelf and said it’s not in stock yet, and no idea when they would. So I was hoping this time they actually would.

So as you can see, the 6 phones I see do not include Nokia, and I would expect every phone that’s available as an option to be displayed or indicated in some way. But nope. No Nokia.

I’m guessing the sales reps must either a) aren’t Nokia fans, b) they don’t get commission for Nokia phones, or c) their manager probably told them to not even make it visible. Why? Because:

  1. You have to specifically ask if the Nokia 810 is available. If you ask if there are other phones, they’ll be like “No.” but I’m guessing it’s hard to lie when you specify if they have a certain brand and model available, and they may get busted later for lying.
  2. The Nokia 810 display model is hidden behind the counter. Even though there’s room for 5 smartphones to be shown on the front display, 5 additional less visible compartments to hold dumbphones perhaps along behind the display. But when you have only 4 smartphones and 1 dumbphone on main display, plus 1 dumbphone and 4 empty spaces in the compartments, why can’t the Nokia phone at least be given a compartment space rather than be stuffed under the counter where no customer can see it? I think you know why…
  3. None in stock! – So typically, they’ll have phones available to purchase right away in the warehouse near the checkout lanes, but these Nokia phones are so special, you can only receive them in the mail in 2-3 days apparently rather than getting it in the store right away. Wonderful, right?
  4. No working models – To add insult to injury, neither the Nokia 810 or the HTC 8X for this matter are even working display models. So people can’t really try out the OS or see the special features themselves. But there is a working display model of an LG Optimus III they really want you to buy.

So when a customer can’t see a phone on display, there’s practically no mention about its existence as an option, it might as well not even exist when people are shopping.

At least Costco still offers the Lumia 900 for AT&T (that’s 900, NOT 920) and I think a Nokia 820 I believe for Verizon. But the 900 is still a good cheaper phone, if you ignore that it can’t be upgraded to WP8. I’m being serious about that being a decent deal if you don’t care for new apps/features for about 2 years.

Costco does have a fairly decent deal on the Nokia 810, where it costs around $129 with a 2-year contract, where I’d typically see it for $149 with a 2-year contract instead. Plus it comes bundled with nice accessories in a convenient package.

Costco is much better in at least offering Windows Phone than Sam’s Club. I thought Costco was kinda bad about this, but Sam’s Club was worse.

I went to a Sam’s Club across the freeway and they offered NO Windows Phones. Period.

Instead, they had a collection of dumbphones and what I thought were crappy Android phones and I think a BlackBerry or two. But most of the attention is focused on the iPhone 5 or iPhone 4S on AT&T. It’s displayed closest to a main aisle of the store, looks much better displayed than the other phones, and you get the picture. Oh, plus there’s a nice iPhone poster suspended from the ceiling rafters of the warehouse right over the mobile phone kiosk. I’m surprised there’s not a spotlight shining over it also.

I asked the guy if there were any Nokia phones and he grunts a “No.” Well I guess that’s a no-sale. Worse, my dad wants to ask some questions about upgrading and stuff but the rep disappears for at least 5-6 minutes and wasn’t at all helpful with questions when he came back. I guess if you’re not interested in the golden iPhone, you’re nothing.

I checked out the tablets on display instead (with a wonderful iPad poster suspended from the rafters over the entire display area, and I checked out the Nexus tablet and an ASUS Windows RT tablet. The Nexus seemed cool, but not being a big Google user, wasn’t too interested in all the Google stuff it had.

The ASUS Windows RT tablet was a mess when I wanted to see it. First of all, it wouldn’t even turn on because the unit wasn’t even being charged. I found out the charging USB cable was dangling under the table (it’s a wire-meshed type so there’s holes big enough for it to drop through) so I had to pull it out and connect it. Then I had to fiddle around the device to find the power button and finally got it to boot up.

Then came the stupid password lock. Seriously. Why the heck are these devices password locked? How can customers explore if they don’t know the freaking password because a) the idiots in this department really like making certain products a hassle to look at or b) it’s so hard to write a quick password that anyone could read if they’d put it on the display just-in-case so we don’t have to flag the disappearing sales rep.

After chasing down the sales rep to unlock it, I could finally look at it. It was neat, but I was already pretty steamed at them offering zero decent smartphones, the obvious blatant Apple love and preference Sam’s Club has, and offering another possible reason why maybe Windows 8 isn’t selling as well (regardless if you like it or hate it). Needless to say, I don’t think I’m going back to Sam’s Club to purchase any non-Apple products anytime soon.

So after my two experiences at this store, I really think Microsoft should contribute some potential lost Windows Phone 8 sales because of these wholesale clubs not taking Microsoft seriously as far as smartphones go. With near zero visibility or even availability in warehouses, all those customers shopping there are likely going to buy other phones.

I wouldn’t call myself a Windows Phone or Microsoft fanboy for calling this to attention, but as someone that does like Microsoft products and would like to see MS gain some traction in the market, stuff like this irks me because it’s totally meant to shift people away from MS at least. Microsoft can make lots of ads if they’d like, but with little visible retail presence, it’s hard to get interested people to still keep that interest when local retailers like to pretend MS doesn’t exist.

Perhaps Microsoft having their own first party retail stores was a good idea because it seems that these 3rd party stores are either only interested in helping Apple or Google and that’s that.

Microsoft Academic Search replaces Bing Academic

I just stumbled upon this recently while searching grants, but Microsoft has a ‘new’ replacement for Bing Academic. Well maybe it’s not so new, at least as of August 2011. No blogs that I follow (like LiveSide) seem to have picked up on it though, so I think it’s worth a mention. It’s called Microsoft Academic Search (Beta).

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Anyhow, it essentially does what Bing Academic did, and competes with Google Scholar. It’s currently in beta, but from my initial experience, it’s very nice to use and it kind of has the Bing style, but better to use and better looking. I wonder if/when they will integrate this with Bing.

As of right now, you can explore 38,835,103 publications, 19,159,670 authors, and 2,250 were updated last week. There’s a domain list of fifteen:

  • Agriculture Science
  • Arts & Humanities
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Economics and Business
  • Engineering
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Geosciences
  • Material Science
  • Mathematics
  • Medicine
  • Physics
  • Social Science

There’s special Visualization Features including:

  • Academic Map – Navigate geographically through organizations and authors in a specified domain
  • Organization Comparison – Juxtapose two organizations and compare their citation counts, keywords, top authors, and more.
  • Genealogy Graph – Display the advisor and advisee relationships of a particular researcher.
  • CFP Calendar – Search for conferences you may be interested in by domain, time and location.
  • Co-author graph – Display which researchers have the most collaboration with a particular author.
  • Paper Citation Graph – Discover which publications have cited a particular publication.
  • Domain Trend – Visualize the research trends in computer science through an interactive stacked area chart.
  • Co-author Path – Display how two researchers are connected via their co-authors.

There’s even a Windows Phone client. Here are some various screenshots of Microsoft Academic Search:

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Things to note after my quick glance:

  1. Mapping uses a combo of Bing Maps and Silverlight (can take a while to load)
  2. There was a glitch with the Organization Comparison; It would try to compare Yahoo Research Labs with whatever I had entered in on the opposing side. For a few searches.
  3. Checking out the Genaology Graph requires you to accept the terms, mainly because they say it might not be accurate or whatever.
  4. The Academic Map doesn’t have a legend. All the dots have varying sizes and colors so not sure if that means anything.

I’m not really an academic researcher at this point, but I could see myself using it and liking it. I’m really happy that Microsoft has created something like this, but they haven’t really pushed it out there. I wouldn’t have found it if I hadn’t just hit one of their search results link through Bing while finding grants. What do y’all think of Microsoft Academic Search?

Metro & Ribbon–The real difference and how they can blend

What’s the difference?

In recent years, Microsoft has been pushing two very different types of solutions for user interfacing: the Ribbon and Metro. To be more accurate, ‘Metro’ is not really a GUI-type per se; it’s actually what is considered to be a design language, meaning it refers to how the overall style and how it looks and feels consistently through an application . However, the ‘Ribbon’ is an actual graphical user interface (GUI), meaning it refers to a specific way the design is laid out. So these two things are not actually competing in anyway; you can have one or the other, or even both.

As an example, think of a cereal box. The specific placement of elements such as information (like ingredients, nutritional info., name, company info.), graphics, and other stuff in the way they are is similar to a graphical user interface. The types of colors, text, graphic style of these elements are very much the theme, or design language of the box.

Overview of Metro

This design language first appeared in Windows XP Media Center Edition, showing the basic works of Metro where simple navigation through text and content made a very nice TV watching experience. Since then, it has started to find it’s way into other Microsoft products like the Zune, Zune desktop software, Windows Live Messenger, Microsoft’s main website (fairly recently), and now Windows Phone 7. Supposedly, Windows 8, the version after Windows 7, will take some elements of Metro.

Metro has evolved into a brilliant design language that really revolves around four things: modern, clean, content, and typography.

It’s modern in that it takes a much new approach to design than most people have not seen so comprehensively. It’s unique and offers the simplicity that we associate with contemporary ideas.

It’s clean in that menus and content blend in to the background, and bring content to the the foreground. It doesn’t go over the top with gimmicky visual effects. Stuff like space-wasting ‘wet floor effects’, glossy 3D icons, attempts to emulate the look of real-life objects (a Notes app looking exactly like a real notepad) and all that other stuff are generally not in Metro. Icons generally have a universal feel where virtually anyone who has looked at a map legend, symbols on road signs, or at metro transit stations (hence the name…) might be able to recognize easily. The only real ‘effects’ come in through transitional movement, like getting from one screen to another, and it’s done in the most fluid, swiftest motion that feels so natural and not a time-waster.

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It puts a major focus on bringing content to the foreground, instead of the commands and navigation around it. Album art, photos, video thumbnails, e-mail message, contacts, etc. seem to pop out front and center thanks to the understated typography and endless background.

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Typography is also another key bit, where the font (officially Segoe WP) seems very clear, crisp and to-the-point. The big words make it very easy to read and quick to digest as you move through the interface. Typography also moves around as necessary to give you a visual indicator of where you are on the screen, as the interface goes off the screen (literally outside the box) to better disperse everything, rather than cram it into one spot.

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Overview of the Ribbon

The Ribbon (officially called ‘Fluent’ by Microsoft) really first appeared in Office 2007. Since then, we’ve seen it more integrated in built-in Windows 7 applications (like Paint and Wordpad) and Windows Live Essentials applications (Wave 4: Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Writer, etc.).

However, some will argue that ‘the ribbon’ is not really a Microsoft original and has appeared in other desktop applications in the form of tabbed ribbons. Basically all the tabs are really just headers that could have been found in files menus.

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This is very true, but in my opinion, Microsoft pretty much redid the ribbon the right way, like how Apple rethought a smartphone could look when they launched their iPhone. It’s Microsoft’s implementation where they used a nicer font, more pleasant gradients, nicer icons, and other stuff that made the ribbon feel something modern rather than something from the 1990s.

Anyhow, the ribbon isn’t great for everything. It’s wonderful for applications heavy with lots of commands and controls.Instead of hunting through endless drop-down menus and squinting at toolbar icons, the Ribbon helps group things in a more visually-pleasing hierarchy where each tab encases similar items or functionality, then separated into clusters/groups for more specification, and then you finally get to the commands. Essentially, from biggest to smallest hierarchy: tabs > clusters > commands. It’s a getting-stuff-done type of interface.

There’s still a file button, though it’s masked as the application’s icon, and there is a Quick Access Toolbar for frequent commands. There may be also hidden tabs, called ‘contextual’ tabs that only appear when you activate the need for those functions (like clicking on a picture brings up a pictures tool tab). It goes away once you navigate away from it.

Now that we’ve examined the two, can you really argue one is better than the other, given they’re not mutually exclusive? They may be like apples to oranges (design language v. GUI) but they have appeared to be competing approaches Microsoft has for user interaction with software. In the end, they somewhat exist for different purposes. Metro is designed for simplicity in mind where there are few commands that need organizing, while the Ribbon is more for heavy-duty command-filled uses. However, I think it’s time Microsoft changes that.

Can they blend together?

As I pointed out in the very beginning, despite their unique visual appearances and layout in many applications, they’re not exactly polar opposites as many would like to think. Metro is basically a distinct visual style, while the Ribbon is basically how it’s all arranged. So it’s not like it’s impossible for those two to combine, is it? How about a Ribbon with a Metro look to it?

The ribbon in Office 2010 could probably match a Metro look with a few modifications:

metro ribbon 2

Basically all Microsoft would need to do to convert the 2010 style Ribbon to a more Metro look would be:

  • Have almost no visual gradients on both the background of the ribbon, as well as within icons
  • Use the Segoe WP font in all text on the commands.
  • Convert each tab into its own header like on the Zune desktop software (see pic above)
  • Make borders less sharp, but sharp enough to distinguish between groups under headers
  • Make most icons grayscale and create primary/secondary accent colors for the icons within the program. Primary and secondary colors can be dropped on icons so that it will offer some helpful contrast that makes it go together. Maybe the primary/secondary colors will blend with the app by default (like green is Excel, blue is Word, etc.) but maybe users can mess with it.

Perhaps Microsoft is working on fusing the Metro design language gradually into the GUI of the next versions of Windows. It won’t be a rapid change of course, because generally people don’t like big changes (case in point: Vista), so it should be a pretty slow evolutionary change in each version of Windows.

It’s not as unlikely as it sounds. Microsoft had released clips of their ‘vision’ of the future (2019 it seems) of how they expect for technology to work, and virtually every bit of software in the video follows the Metro design language. Could this be an indication of where they expect Windows to go? Pause exactly at 0:38 in the video below to see what Windows on a desktop level might be like with Metro.

Pause at 0:38 to see what Windows OS based on Metro could look like.

If you do want to see a higher resolution video, this link is straight from Microsoft and will directly open up Windows Media Player to view [WMV]

In a similar video, the Senior Vice President of Microsoft’s Online Audience Business, Yusuf Medhi, present the ‘next-gen Office wall’ at the Interactive Advertising Bureau MIXX 2009 conference. We had a sneak peak of this in the 2019 Vision videos, but this is the real deal. [istartedsomething.com]

Further evidence of a possible merge of Windows and Metro

 

Or maybe Microsoft might actually develop a full-scale Metro theme for Windows 7/8 to go in conjunction with the next generation of Windows tablets that Microsoft seems intent on competing with the likes of iPad and Android-based tablets with.

So what do you think? Does the Ribbon or Metro interest you, and do you think either will have a larger presence in future Windows OS’s?

http://www.proprofs.com/polls/widget/?title=metro-or-ribbon&theme=grey&width=300

Useful links:

Metro Design booklet – The entire Metro design booklet by a team from Microsoft nicely captured page by page thanks to Long Zheng.

Office User Interface Blog – Many detailed posts by Jensen Harris who goes over the design decisions when they started the Ribbon in Office 2007

Wikipedia article of Ribbon – Good overview

Wikipedia article of Metro – Good rundown

Microsoft + Tablets (Part 2): Windows Tablets as of the present – 2010

This is Part 2 out of my 3 part series on “Microsoft + Tablets” where I analyze what direction Microsoft has gone with Windows on tablet device.

In Part 1, I highlighted the areas that I think have contribute

d to the poor perception of Windows tablets in mainstream consumers, and even technophiles. this time, I’m going to go over the most recent developments in Windows tablets starting with the CES 2010 conference.

Before the CES 2010 conference even occurred, there’d been many rumors swirling around for quite awhile about Apple creating some sort of tablet or slate device that might be released in 2010. Given the consumer success the iPhone and iPod Touch has had, that had somewhat re-awoken Microsoft and hardware partners that their current Windows tablets weren’t selling so hot. So they needed to do something.

HP Slate teaser

HP released a teaser video of their slate, and at the time, it definitely looked awesome.

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At CES 2010, Ballmer attempted to hype up Windows-based tablets.  There were 3 tablets on stage, one each from Archos, HP, and Pegatron. He mostly showed off the HP Slate though, running the Kindle software, a game, and video playback.

6 months later, rumors about the HP Slate swirled about, with screenshots, and videos and such. Unfortunately for Microsoft, HP decided not to go ahead and sell it to consumers, but instead market it towards the business users. It was then renamed the HP Slate 500.

Marketed towards business users, not general consumers 😦

EXOPC was also another attempt to bring Windows tablets to the masses.

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It came with a pretty unique touch layer, very “Connect 4” you might say. Not entirely sold on the style, but the layout is pretty handy where it shows all the apps, and you can manage the apps through the ‘sidebars’ on the right and left side of the screen. I had a friend that bought one too, and he absolutely loves it.

Unfortunately, I find it pretty hard to ignore the 4 hour battery life, and the fact that the only retail presence it has is through Microsoft stores, which there are only about a handful that exist in this country.

Toshiba Libretto is about the only other Windows-based tablet to really have any remark about it. It had a limited production, and didn’t take long to sell out. Maybe it’s just rumors, but I heard that it’s dual-screen concept was based on Microsoft’s Courier, and that even some Microsoft folks helped out Toshiba with the extra software.

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To sum it up, consumer-wise, Windows-based tablet have failed yet again in 2010. Virtually no retail presence, marketing, and pretty much the same issues as before, though the hardware has improved only marginally.

At CES 2011, the story really hasn’t changed much. Asus showed off the EEE Slate EP121, which actually looks very nifty and nicer than the HP Slate. I predict that it still won’t have much success.

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Overall nothing has changed a bit, and as to the present, Windows-based tablets will continue to fail to gain mainstream adoption.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of my series, “Windows tablets of the ideal future”.

2010: Microsoft’s Highs and Lows

Every year, I plan to blog what I consider to be the high points and the low points of the year for Microsoft. Like practically all of my lists, there’s no specific ranking of any of the items. I try my best to come up with as many good ones, but it’s not easy. Here’s what this year’s highs and lows seemed to be:

High Points:

1. Xbox Kinect – Having a pretty successful launch, Kinect has been reported to have sold 1 million within 10 days of launch, 2.5 million since November 29, 2010, and estimated to reach 5 million by the end of 2010. What makes Kinect super awesome is that it’s somewhat of a revolution for video game consoles, similar to the Wii back a few years ago. Controller-less gaming might be the thing of the future, and with many interesting hacks to leverage Kinect with the PC, as well as Microsoft aiming for a possibility with interfacing with Windows 8, then there will be a lot of potential with the Kinect technology that will go mainstream.

2. Windows Phone 7 – It’s practically the only new smartphone OS to actually bear a unique UI that’s actually good since the iPhone first game out. Taking the advantages of a closed but tailored user experience like Apple does, and the hardware openness like Android has, WP7 might make it to the top if it keeps trucking. Yes, it does deviate from the original Windows Mobile with less hardcore features and software openness, but with continued updates and improvements to the OS, WP7 will prove to be much better than the original and hopefully developers are keen to take advantage of a new and simple market.

3. Office 2010 – A more evolutionary upgrade, than revolutionary, but it further enhances Microsoft’s productivity tools. All of the Office applications now have the Fluent/Ribbon interface that manages to nicely place so many functions in an organized and clean way. Along with extra long-waited features in each app, there is also free Office Web Apps(which replaced Office Live Workspaces) for easy on-the-go cloud editing and viewing. Microsoft has also recently announced Office 365, an innovative online service that brings seamless integration with Office on the desktop, to the web, to the mobile phone.

4. Windows Live Essentials 2011 – Like every new release of Essentials, there are of course big updates, mostly being the Fluent/Ribbon interface in the core apps. Some better integration with existing Live services, as well as better extensions support to other 3rd party services too.

Low Points

1. Microsoft Kin – Despite the quirky market it seemed targeted towards, this is also another Microsoft offering I felt offered some, though limited potential. As a feature phone, it was fairly some very top-notch hardware and software. What features phones can compare with 5MP or higher camera lens, Tegra chips, 4GB+ built-in storage and more? Software-wise, the Spot was a pretty ingenious method of copy-and-pasting on a mobile phone thru clip-drag-and-drop, the Kin Studio being a wonderful way to sync/share/back-up content to the cloud, and the social networking hotspot seemed neat too.

What really hurt it mostly was Verizon’s attached data plans. For a feature phone, paying a smartphone data plan is ridiculous and might have stemmed from some internal bickering between the two companies. Also, for a market targeted towards tweens/teen/young-adults into social networking, no true support for IM (though it was built-in yet hidden), no calendar/appointment application, no spell-check or predicative text, makes it not too great of a socializer phone. To top it off, no app market and a GPS only used for geocoding photos really hurt its chances of surviving.

2. Windows Live Spaces – Sadly disappointed to see Spaces go. I had some small hope that maybe Microsoft might be working on a brand new improved Spaces but I should have known based on Microsoft’s past history with failed Windows Live projects. What made me annoyed was that the team was stagnant for years, released a minor update about more than a year ago, and yet spam continued to be plopped on almost every post, lack of good Spaces gadgets, and a very large community of “person x wants to add you on Windows Live” made me really fed up.

I’m sure if Microsoft had created a new Spaces, offering a clean yet very customizable easy-to-use blog designs, super spam prevention, special paid domain URLs, and especially more social connecting (which WordPress seems to lack) it might have succeeded better.

3. Windows Live Hotmail HTTPS – Seemed very ridiculous for those of us that want to access our Hotmail accounts via both the web or the Windows Live Mail client are advised not to leave the web version on HTTPS (SSL) by default, because it might have synchronization issues with Live Mail. Microsoft can’t send a minor bug fix to Essential users? Guess we’ll have to wait another year for a ‘wave’ to occur.

4. Microsoft PC/Web gaming – Very little has been done outside Xbox in terms of gaming. Microsoft has recently updated the Games for Windows Live marketplace with a new look, slightly better game deals, and more titles and such, but with Steam already having a massive user-base, a highly-liked DRM scheme, as well as a good client and all, Microsoft still has a long ways to go to catch-up. A new Flight Simulator had been announced, but details are scarce. MSN Games seems to be going down the tubes to be replaced with a new type MSN Games that’s very similar to Bing Games, which as I have posted before, currently sucks. Messenger games finally got a new look, but it’s not really that much better. Overall, I’m disappointed.

That’s pretty much it. Any opinions or anything I should have added to either list?