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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times reporter Sharon Chan.

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May 28, 2009 9:25 AM

Can Microsoft get a big bang out of Bing?

Posted by Mark Watanabe

As expected, Microsoft took the wraps off its overhauled search engine this morning, introducing a new brand name, Bing.

The Wall Street Journal reported online that Chief Executive Steve Ballmer was demonstrating Bing at the Journal's D: All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad, Calif. Here's Microsoft's release on the introduction.

The Journal's report said the search engine, which has been called Live Search, will sport a new look next week when it goes online. In addition, it is being designed to give users "access to a range of categories of search" and that Microsoft is targeting four distinct categories: shopping, local, travel and health.

Whether Bing can cut into Google's overwhelming lead in search will be one of the most closely watched issues in tech.

Bing will attempt to accomplish this by adding more features to Microsoft's search. Among other things, Microsoft is adding Bing Travel to the site -- a combination of technology from Farecast and content from MSN Travel designed to help people in making travel plans. Microsoft acquired Seattle-based Farecast, an airfare prediction Web site, in April 2008.

Separately, BusinessWeek has an interesting interview with Qi Lu, president of Microsoft's Online Services Division who came to the company from Yahoo. In it, Lu gives a broad outline of where Microsoft thinks there are opportunities to advance search beyond what Google has accomplished:

"When you see a query box, you type in it. [The assumption is that] it will give you what you want. But [consumers'] expectations have increased. They are using that search box for all kinds of things: to purchase product, to plan a vacation, to research a particular organization, to study a particular concept."

Lu also says he came to Microsoft because the company has the resources to invest in infrastructure and "a world-class R&D team that has top-notch experts in all the critical disciplines."

Oh, yes, one more thing: Fortune magazine columnist Stanley Bing has a few words to say this morning on brands and brand names, including his own.

Update, 4:36 p.m.: The Live Search team (presumably that now becomes the Bing team?), responded to Stanley Bing's call to work out their differences by accepting Bing's (the person's) offer of services. The team's blog said:

After an emergency meeting (three people were invited, all declined), we've decided to take you up on your offer. We're not certain what exactly this would involve. We're not certain it would pay much (nothing, actually) but we look forward to starting a dialogue and hope we can work together soon. Let's do lunch.

Listen up and you can hear the badda bing.

Comments | Category: Advertising , Branding , Digital media , Google , Microsoft , Search , Steve Ballmer , Windows Live |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 26, 2009 9:10 AM

Get ready to hear a lot about Bing, says Ad Age

Posted by Mark Watanabe

It looks like Microsoft's long-awaited revamp of Live Search is about to unfurl.

Last week, word leaked out that the company would be unveiling its updated search engine, code-named Kumo, at The Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital conference, which takes place this week in Carlsbad, Calif. Steve Ballmer is on the roster of speakers.

Today, Advertising Age is reporting that Microsoft is launching the update, to be called Bing, with an $80 million to $100 million advertising campaign. Compare that with what Ad Age says is considered a "sizable budget" for a national consumer product launch, $50 million. JWT, one of the ad industry's major players, is handling the campaign.

One prominent part of the upgrade is expected to be a branding change. Speculation has centered on the code name, Kumo, but last week a leading search analyst, Danny Sullivan, said he thought the new brand would be Bing.

Despite the typical big-budget effort Microsoft appears to be setting up, the company faces a monumental challenge in going after a market leader whose name is virtually a generic term for Internet searching. In the latest monthly reports Google continued to hold a commanding 64.2 percent of the U.S. search market in April. Microsoft's Live Search remained languishing in third at 8.2 percent, behind Yahoo with 20.4 percent.

Whether the campaign can equal or better the impact that Microsoft's ads appear to making in the company's battle with Apple over laptop PC sales will be one of the closely watched issues in tech for a spell.

Comments | Category: Advertising , Apple , Branding , Digital media , Google , Microsoft , Search , Windows Live |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 22, 2009 7:54 AM

Microsoft morning news roundup: Google's netbook pops up, tidbits on social networking in Windows Live

Posted by Sharon Chan

  • Computerworld has some early info on Google's Android software for netbooks, which would compete with Microsoft's Windows software for the low-cost laptops built for basic computing like e-mailing and surfing the Web. Built by SkyTone in China, CW says, the new device undercuts most netbooks out there on cost, and should end up costing $100 to $200.
  • Techcrunch has some tidbits on social networking in Windows Live. It reports that Microsoft plans to announce a number of partners today that would stream social feed updates onto the Windows Live page. Facebook and Digg are on their list, but no Twitter. Update 10:37a: Twitter feeds are already available on Windows Live.

Comments | Category: Facebook , Google , Microsoft , Windows Live |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 17, 2009 1:25 PM

Routine Hotmail maintenance affects 1 percent of users, but all should be well now

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

hotmail complaints.JPGA reader reported being unable to access Windows Live Hotmail and pointed to the Windows Live Help site, where other people have reported access problems in the last 24 hours. (I counted at least 15 individuals complaining in Recent Discussions threads dated March 17. A couple others report years of e-mail disappearing from their accounts.) My Hotmail is working fine. A Microsoft spokeswoman says via e-mail: "Last night Windows Live Hotmail conducted routine maintenance, affecting approximately 1% of Hotmail customers, that caused a temporary delay of mail delivery to affected accounts. The issue has been resolved, and mail delivery has resumed. Microsoft worked quickly to resolve this issue and has restored service for all Hotmail customers. Microsoft apologizes for any inconvenience this has caused consumers."

The company had a spate of sign-in issues late last month. Update, 2:19 p.m.: That was actually in February 2008. Here's a link to the latest Hotmail downage, which was reported by just last week.

Comments | Category: Online services , Windows Live |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 4, 2009 1:19 PM

Get ready for more Microsoft commercials, new spot to air during Grammys

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

The next wave of Microsoft's big Windows marketing campaign is set to debut this weekend with a spot during the Grammy Awards. A Microsoft spokeswoman says in e-mail the next part of the campaign is called "Rookies" and Sunday's spot will feature a 4-year-old girl using Windows Live Photo Gallery. More details to come tomorrow.

Comments | Category: Advertising , Windows , Windows Live |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 13, 2008 9:20 AM

Microsoft Windows Live is open to Facebook, MySpace, other social networks

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

One of the big questions to emerge from the news that Microsoft is partnering with dozens of Web services to position Windows Live as a central point for managing people's online lives: Where's Facebook and MySpace, the two dominant social networks?

Here's what Chris Jones, the Microsoft corporate vice president in charge of Windows Live, told me via e-mail last night:

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Facebook , Online Communities , Online services , Windows Live |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 12, 2008 9:00 PM

Full list: Windows Live to integrate feeds from 50 third-party Web services

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft's next iteration of its Windows Live online services suite will alert users any time one of their contacts posts a photo on Flickr, writes a blog on Wordpress or a tweet on Twitter. The company announced tonight the integration of "what's new" feeds, based on RSS, into many of its most popular Web services, such as Windows Live Hotmail, Messenger and a revamped, personalized Windows Live home page and profile page.

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Online Communities , Online services , Windows Live |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

August 4, 2008 10:43 AM

Windows Live marketing site gets new look, user-generated content

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Following last week's makeover of the Live Search start page, Microsoft today touted a new design and strategy for, which touts many of the company's consumer-facing online services such as e-mail and Web storage.

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Online Communities , Online services , Windows Live |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine







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