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Cybernaut

The second coming of Microsoft

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Bing.com - While most people would say Microsoft's main competition is Apple, industry analysts actually believe Google poses more of a threat. Google dominates the search engine market, and its free Gmail and Google Docs services have displaced demand for Hotmail and Office. For a while Microsoft was interested in purchasing Yahoo! to shore up its search engine revenues. Microsoft released Bing.com on June 3 to remedy that, which is essentially a separate (yet integrated in Windows) browser they hope will compete with Google. So far the reviews give Google the edge, but acknowledge that Bing.com does a few things better, like shopping and ranking search results by reviews.

Zune - For years Zune's answer to the iPod has been a weak "me too" but their new advertising campaign for the Zune music subscription service (e.g. 30,000 songs on an iPod costs $30,000 on the iTunes store vs. a monthly $15 fee) makes a compelling argument for the Zune - but only as a music player.

Unfortunately the iPod ceased being just a music player two generations ago, leaving Zune even further behind. However, the new Zune HD - very similar to the iPod Touch - takes a leap in the right direction. The new Zune will be showcased at E3 next week, and appears to feature a large touch screen, HD radio, support for HD movies and other features, although there's no word about on-board accelerometers, games, "apps," or any of the other features that made Apple the industry leader. I'm personally hoping that Microsoft will announce its own App store, that it comes with a removable battery, that it allows features like GPS mapping and gaming, that it has a built-in microphone, that is has a sturdy web browser and e-mail client, and that it supports all kinds of third party software. To top Apple, this thing needs to be unlimited in potential, and just a little bit cheaper. So far I'm not encouraged by the references to the Xbox Live Marketplace, which to me is more about Microsoft setting limitations than it is about the possibilities if they decide to make it exclusive. Here's hoping I'm wrong.