Narrowing The Search

The Aiwa portable cassette player I’d been saving for was smaller than the Sony Walkman plus it looked a lot cooler which was the main reason I wanted it. I hadn’t been out of high school long, but had saved the nearly $300 to buy my first portable music player.

The same day my pay check arrived, I headed down the the local Inkleys which sold mostly cameras but also carried a few higher end portable cassette players on the market. The owner recognized me from my many visits to the store to compare models and answer my questions. I had narrowed down my search to two models and had decided the more expensive model was the best choice. As I pulled my wallet out, the owner stopped me and offered to let me listen to both models.

I assumed the more expensive one would sound better but it didn’t. In fact, I couldn’t tell the difference. The owner explained that the more expensive model included a motorized antenna which added not only to the cost but to the complexity of the player. I mixed my own cassettes and had no plans to listen to the radio so I ended up saving about a hundred bucks that day. The owner had earned my trust and I continued to purchase a number of items from him over the years.

I’ve thought about this experience with the owner of this small camera shop a number of times since I’ve started spending a good portion of my day advising people what computer to purchase.

Each day I speak with people who trust me to help them find the right system. Friends and family call to ask similar questions because the choices are so confusing. I hope I don’t sound like the Verizon employee in the SNL spoof video below. And as much as I try, I know there are times I do.

Through much trial and error I’ve found a system that works well for me. That includes a mid-range Windows 7 desktop, an iPad2, and iPhone 4S. I have as many friends attempt to sway more over to an Android phone as I do Mac fans trying to get me to abandon a PC running Windows. Contrary to what some people, moving between Windows and iOS devices is painless. As much as I enjoy the “it just works” nature of my iPad and iPhone, I still enjoy building my own PC by hand, with components I’ve selected right down to the make and model of case fans.

What works for me may not work well for you and vice versa. I’m fine if someone asks for my opinion on a computer, but decides to go with another model. Where I get frustrated is when my opinion is followed with a “But the guy at Best Buy liked this one..” or “Ya, but my brother doesn’t like that one…” type answer. My standard reply in those rare instances is “Then it sounds like you already have an answer” because it’s impossible to debate the imaginary Best Buy employee.

Maybe that’s why I enjoy building PCs for my father. He does his homework before asking my opinion and then we discuss options that give him the most bang for his dollar. I’ve lost count how many computers I’ve built for him over the years, but it’s quite a few.

And he even carries an Android phone.

http://www.nbc.com/assets/video/widget/widget.html?vid=1384573

We Still Have Office

Patrick Rhone from Minimal Mac recently shared his thoughts on “Microsoft’s Biggest Miss” which he believes happened with Office:

Then, she explained, the iPhone came. There was no Office. People got things done. Then the iPad came. There was no Office. People got things done. Android came. People got things done. All of those things that they, just a couple of years ago, were convinced they needed Office to do. They got them done without it. And thus, the truth was revealed. Like the curtain finally falling from the Wizard of Oz to find just a small, frail, man pretending to be far more powerful and relevant than he really was. Microsoft’s biggest miss was allowing the world to finally see the truth behind the big lie — they were not needed to get real work done. Or anything done, really.

I’ve had love/hate relationship with Microsoft for the past 17 years. When I moved to Seattle I desperately wanted to work for them. It didn’t take long before I got a chance working as a product manager for two smaller products that were eventually merged into other products. I eventually landed on the Office team which felt like moving from T-Ball to the New York Yankees, but within the same company.

It was as true back then as it is today that the Windows and Office divisions sit atop of the product group food chain. Mess with them, and you’ll get eaten.

They are the Microsoft cash cows while most other products are but a tiny blip on the radar. Exchange, SQL Server and even Xbox have made some noise, but Windows and Office are the popular jocks kicking sand in the eyes of every other product group.

When the Justice Department began its investigation into Microsoft’s anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in 1998, few employees seemed concerned. I was working as a contractor at Microsoft at the time and was interviewing for a full-time position. While at lunch one afternoon with a Microsoft recruiter, I asked if he was worried about could result from of the DOJ investigation. His answer reflected the general attitude at the time:

“Are you kidding, we still have Office.”

While much has been written about the varying degrees of quality with each new version of Windows, such was not the case with Office. It was the gold standard within Microsoft and every employee knew it. Compared to Office, the Windows division was frat boy who was late to class because he was out partying all night.

And yet here I write this on a PC running Windows using the free Windows Live Writer instead of Word. As good as Office is, I stopped using it about four years ago when Google Docs arrived and suddenly made sharing my work dead simple. My needs were not so advanced that I felt like I was giving up anything. When I bought my first iPhone, the transition to Google Docs made even more sense. No more updates to install, PST files to manage or Outlook contacts to sync.

I hear Office360 is comparable to Google Docs. For all I know, it may have more features and offer more storage. But it’s all too little too late. Simplicity won out over sheer number of features.  Is there anyone still in Redmond who understands that a tablet or phone with a few features implemented perfectly beats one with dozens implemented poorly? This lesson appears lost on Microsoft.

I may not need Office, but plenty of businesses still rely on it and continue to line Microsoft’s pockets. It’s going to be around for a while. Putting it on the web is a move in the right direction, but it’s baffling why a software company wouldn’t build a version for the most popular smartphone and tablet.

Then again, we understand why they don’t.

Microsoft appears to be sacrificing one cash cow to save the other. And maybe it will work. But they could end up injuring both cows.

Microsoft Office on the iPad

Matt Hickey reporting for the Daily:

According to sources, the tech giant is actively working on adapting its popular software suite for Apple’s tablet. With the iPad making up over 80 percent of the tablet market and millions of people worldwide using Office, that could mean big bucks for the tech giant based in Redmond, Wash.

The iPad market is becoming so large that not even Microsoft can ignore it. This must really sting given that for 10 years Microsoft has tried to squeeze Windows on a tablet without success.

It’s assumed that both of these would work with Office 365 as well as mobile versions, such as Windows Phone’s Office Hub. Because it would be compatible with these full suites rather than as stand-alone apps, the pricing will most likely be significantly lower than existing Office products. In fact, it’s likely the cost will be around the $10 price point that Apple has established for its Pages, Numbers and Keynote products.

Today Microsoft sells Office in various bundles ranging in price from $119 for the Office Home and Student edition all they way up to $499 for Office Professional. I can’t imagine a scenario where Ballmer and company are thrilled about selling versions, even scaled down ones, for ten bucks a shot. If reports are correct, that’s about what OEMs pay for each copy of Windows 7.

When I worked as a product manager for Office, I once suggested Office for Linux during a brainstorming meeting. My suggestion was met with such derision that it wasn’t allowed on the white board. I can imagine the same thing happening to the person brave enough to first suggest Office for iOS.

But either way, this is a good development for iPad owners like myself who still juggle Office files on occasion.

Windows 8 First Thoughts

One of the best things about Twitter is the community that comes together for events. A good example of this was today’s Microsoft Built Conference where Windows 8 was unveiled to developers and those following the live stream around the world.

Three years I ago I owned a Windows PC and a Windows Mobile phone. The bulk of my hardware upgrade dollars went to Intel and most of my software purchases lined Microsoft’s pockets.

Today, my family owns two iPhones, half a dozen iPods, and two iPads. I haven’t upgraded my PC in a few years because I’ve migrated probably 40% of my computing time to Apple products. Tasks like email and reading my RSS feeds are done nearly exclusively on my iPhone or iPad. I watch videos, play games, and Facetime with my parents on my iPad. When I need to write a blog post or an email that’s more than a few sentences, I still prefer my PC.

When I think about it, the most important task my PC does is charge my Apple devices and sync them with iTunes.

Should Microsoft be worried about someone like me?

Maybe. But they should be scared to death that my four children are growing up without any need for Microsoft products. They’d rather play games on the iPod Touch or the iPad. My spouse, who had never touched an Apple product until three years ago, is hooked on her iPad and iPhone. She spends far less time on her PC than I do, and has been clamoring for an iMac or MacBook Pro for a year.

I still rely on a handful of products that work best on a Windows PC, and I enjoy selecting the components that go into my Lian-Li case. But the rest of my family has no such loyalty and specs don’t matter as much to me anymore. I just want stuff to work.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we spend more money in a month at Apple’s App Store than we’ve spent on Microsoft products in the past two years. That should be enough to get Microsoft’s attention because I’m sure there are thousands of families like mine who are in considering a switch.

This brings me back to today’s Build Conference where I was interested to see if Microsoft would showcase innovative features in Windows 8 that might keep a PC hanging around our home for a few more years.

With Windows 8 about a year away, according to rumors, my family will continue to frequent the Apps Store, further entrenching us into the Apple ecosystem. There’s no doubt that Windows 8 will be a hit on desktop PCs. Even the troubled Windows Vista sold hundreds of millions because Microsoft is still the dominant desktop OS.

But I’m not sure if Windows 8 on a tablet created by an OEM puts Microsoft on par with the iPad. A PC typically sits on or under a desk where build quality isn’t always apparent. But a tablet rests in your hands while you use it. How it feels to you is important, and the iPad feels sexy and oozes quality. Maybe Sony can pull of something comparable, but I don’t believe the likes of Samsung, HTC, or Dell have a clue how to design anything close to the iPad. If they can’t make a PC or a phone I’d want to buy today what makes me think they can design a tablet in the future?

For that reason, my early Windows 8 prediction is that it receives a warm welcome from consumer and business desktops when it ships next year. But with the iPad 3 launching shortly, I believe Microsoft will have as difficult a time competing with the iPad as they are currently having with Windows Phone 7 failing to curtail iPhone momentum.

And one suggestion for Sinofsky and his team: PICK 5 Features That Demo Well.  

The guy who showed the quick boot times was fantastic. He dove deep into his feature and showed quick boot times on a myriad of devices. But the first woman on stage was such a disaster that Sinofsky had to repeatedly correct her or add to her confusing descriptions.  I can’t recall a single feature she mentioned. Five killer features beat twenty lackluster features any time, and especially in a demo presentation.

I’m interested to test Windows 8 on my own PC. I’ve got it running in a virtual machine, and will follow up with my impressions once I spend more time with it. As much as I enjoy my Apple products, I want to see Microsoft compete hard with them. It’s good for consumers and our wallets if we have a choice among great products.

windows 8
This is your new desktop, the first thing you see when logging into Windows 8

filemgr
Of course, I had to see what all the fuss was about with Windows Explorer

taskmgr
The new Task Manager. even the charts got the Metro treatment

At Our Home, Windows Is On Life Support

The line to purchase Windows 95 was fifty deep outside the Software Etc. Microsoft was introducing their latest operating system to the masses and the masses couldn’t wait begin clicking around a desktop instead of typing cryptic DOS commands into a black screen.

With a hundred bucks in hand I was ready to retire Windows 3.1 and the icons which all looked the same. Windows 95 was such a massive upgrade from 3.1, maybe it was created by another company? Getting a PC on the interview before Windows 95 was a pain in the butt. But 95 made it painless, TCP/IP stack and all.

Windows 95 wasn’t without problems. But it was the first OS that didn’t require hours of daily babysitting just to keep it running. Instead, I spent my time working and gaming and watching Flying Toasters zoom across the screen.

The excitement of running Windows would never be this high again.

As I installed Windows 7 on my father’s new system last week, I realized the days of Windows in our home are numbered. Over the past two years, we replaced our Windows Mobile phones with iPhones. And older laptop that was unusable running Windows XP or Windows 7, was brought back to life by Ubuntu. My kids have moved most of their games off the PC and onto their iPod Touches. And in two weeks, our first iPad arrives.

Games like The Sims and Half Life kept me on Windows along with the choice of hardware. I enjoyed building my own systems and selecting the exact brand and model of every component that went into my Lian-Li case. But over the years, my time playing games has decreased, and what’s left, has migrated to consoles.

My computing needs no longer require the latest video card or CPU. A few years ago, I stopped using Microsoft Office in favor of Google Docs because of its collaboration features. After one too many corrupt .PST files, I migrated my family to Gmail and off Microsoft Outlook. I convinced my father to do the same.

The less software I install on my system, the faster and more stable it runs. Installing Windows isn’t a big deal. Windows 7 installs in less than 20 minutes on a modern system. But set aside two hours for updates, and that’s if everything goes smoothly. I wasted hours trying to install SP1 on my new system. This was frustrating, yet bearable in 1995. But it’s not acceptable in 2011.

The underlying operating system isn’t as important today as it was five or ten years ago. Most of my time is spent in my browser, Google Chrome. I don’t want to schedule updates, install drivers, defrag my drive or check for malware anymore. I just want my computer to work when I turn it on.

That’s how my iPhone works. I go weeks without rebooting it. That’s how I suspect the iPad will work. I don’t know if my next system will be a Mac. But I know it won’t be Windows. I can’t think of the last Windows program I purchased. But my family has purchased dozens of apps and music from iTunes. There’s where our money goes today. Because those products and services just work.

Somewhere along the line Microsoft realized the bulk of profits came from business contracts. Ballmer took over for Gates and pushed that notion further. I didn’t help when Ballmer admitted he doesn’t allow his children to use Apple products and went on the record saying the iPhone would never gain significant market share. This sounds like a man who is disconnected from how regular people use technology. I’m not convinced a company, no matter the size of its bank account, can focus on the enterprise while creating great consumer products.  When is the last time you’ve seen anyone waiting in line to purchase a Microsoft product? Ballmer has morphed the company into another IBM.

One exception is the Xbox which had to break off from the main Microsoft campus to find success.

But, with the exception of a few pockets around campus, the excitement and wonder is gone. It’s no longer that scrappy, laser-focused company lead by the world’s most famous geek. It’s a corporate behemoth lead by a career sales guy. Gates loved software. You could hear it in his voice. Ballmer sounds like a guy who hasn’t installed a piece of software since Office 97, let alone have any idea what’s happening in social media, music or gaming. When Ballmer speaks, he does so from a defensive position. Maybe he’s speaking to the IT manager or the CEO. He’s certainly not speaking to me the way Steve Jobs does.

When I worked as a Microsoft employee over 10 years ago, I interviewed a recent graduate from a top MBA program. He told me that selling software was like selling laundry detergent. I recall wondering if he was confused and thought he was interviewing for Proctor and Gamble. He was smart but had zero passion for software. To him, it was a commodity. I was disappointed when he was hired and promoted through the division. Over the years, I’ve seen Microsoft hire this same profile over and over. The passionate software geek is now the rarity. And it makes sense. Would you rather work on a massive and predictable product like Windows, Office, or SQL Server or create something exciting at Google, Facebook or Twitter? Better yet, why not roll the dice and start something on your own?

I recall thinking that Microsoft will eventually lose it’s edge if passionless MBA’s like this man were being hired and eventually moved into management position throughout the company.

Ten years later, the edge is gone. Vista, Zune and products like the Kin have been tossed overboard into the sea of failures while Apple can’t make iPads and iPhones fast enough. Facebook and Twitter are where people spend their time today. I’ll probably keep a Windows 7 machine around if only for the Windows Media features that work with my Xbox.

But the days of babysitting Windows are over. The three computers in our home will be replaced with something else.

It’s time to move on.

Windows Update Problem

Here’s what my computer screen looked like this weekend. When I’d walk away from my computer for more than a couple of hours, Windows would reboot and attempt to install two critical updates.

updates

I let it run for a few hours. No luck. I left it to install overnight and woke up nine hours later to find it at 12%. I don’t know what 12% of a Windows update gets me, but I wanted my computer back.

And here’s where I shouldn’t worry that computers are getting too easy to use, and I’ll bet out of job in couple of years. When I shut off my computer and tried to get back into Windows, the update would attempt to install before the Windows boot screen would appear. I couldn’t tell it to stop installing either. No cancel button in sight.

My computer was caught in the loop from hell.

I decided to boot into Safe Mode which is always an adventure. Massive fonts and crazy colors and all, I was able to see a screen saying the update had not installed properly. Over the next few minutes the update was reversed and my computer was back to normal after I rebooted again.

Let me say here that I’m a big fan of Windows 7 and its ability to handle problems like this. Although I wasn’t able to install the updates, I was able to get back to my desktop within a few minutes. This is the first problem I’ve had running Windows 7, and I will still recommend it to friends and family.

Here’s a screen showing the updates that refuse to install correctly. Has anyone else had problems installing these?

I told Windows Update to ignore the updates while I wait for Service Pack 1.

windowsupdate

The Driver Headache

Like many people who work and play on a Windows PC, I upgraded our three computers to Windows 7 over the past couple of weeks. I’ve got to hand it to Microsoft because the process of installing Windows 7 is very smooth and painless as long as you own gear that’s no more than a few years old.

Windows 7 includes most of the popular drivers you need for your peripherals, and that’s a good thing, because searching for drivers can be an experience fraught with peril.

Installing drivers has never been a straightforward process on Windows. Each hardware manufacturer has their own way of doing things which can lead to confusion.

For example, I went searching for the latest drivers for my Creative X-Fi soundcard when Windows 7 could not locate them. Creative provides what they call the “Creative Software AutoUpdate” that detects what Creative products I have on my system and finds the latest drivers for me. When I run this program it gives me the following options:

1. Creative MediaSource 5 Player/Organizer (36MB) – categorized as a “Critical” upgrade. What’s so critical about a media player?

2. Creative MediaSource Player Organizer (52MB) – categorized as “Recommended”. Huh? Is this for people who passed on the first option? Now I’m confused.

3. Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Smart Recorder for Windows Vista (29 MB) – Categorized as “Recommended” but I can’t help but think Creative isn’t even trying anymore. Why do I need a sound recorder built for Windows Vista when I’m running Windows 7?

4. Creative SoundFont Bank Manager (7 MB) – another “Recommended” update and I’m ready to give up. That’s 124 MB worth of software with no driver in sight.

And those are only the first four options! I’m also presented with the choice to download and install Creative Audio Control Panel, Creative Console Launcher, Creative WaveStudio 7, and something called Alchemy. Maybe I can use Alchemy to change my soundcard to gold if I can’t find the driver that enables it to produce sound.

I scroll up and down the page looking for the driver. And I finally notice a link at the bottom for SB X-Fi Xtreme Music, Driver version 2.18.13. I guess this is what I’m supposed do install? I hope! There’s no description. No help. I’m looking for something along the lines of “Install this and your computer will have sound” but that’s apparently too much to ask.

And don’t get me started on installing printer drivers. What a total nightmare. I gave up waiting for HP to write a driver for one of their older models to work with Windows 7 and bought a  new model from Brother. Had I been able to get my HP printer working, they wanted $107 for the toner. The Brother printer and toner cost $52 shipped from New Egg.

My father had similar printer problems when he upgraded to Windows Vista. I went looking for a driver for his printer, but HP provided a work-around that included tricking his machine into thinking it was a newer model. And this was easier than writing a native driver? Good thing the 12-step process worked! At least until Windows 7 arrived.

I spoke with my father this evening and his printer stopped working once he installed Windows 7. Instead of jumping through hoops again, he bought a new printer. From HP.

Aha, now I’m starting to understand this whole charade.

HP is hardly the only company with sketchy driver support for Windows 7. When I went looking for drivers for my Canon photo printer, I was told none existed but maybe the ones written for Vista would work. Can you imagine your mechanic saying, “I don’t have a radiator for your Honda Odyssey, but let’s give this one made for a Civic a whirl.”? It’s amazing what we’re willing to accept with computers.

And yet printers and soundcards are a piece of cake compared to updating the firmware or chipset for your motherboard. Want to watch a new computer user’s brain explode? Ask them to update all the drivers associated with their motherboard. Even reputable companies like Asus provide a confusing process with dozens of choices. A search for BIOS updates for my motherboard returned 37 results from the Asus website.

On the bright side, it’s crazy design flaws like this that ensure I have a job. If computers were easy to understand and maintain, I’d probably be teaching German to a bunch of high school sophomores.

The iPhone Has Reduced My Reliance on Windows

Kim took the kids to Longbeach, WA last week. While she was gone I kept in touch with her by phone, but also SMS and email.

We both used Facebook to update our friends and family. We both updated Twitter a few times each day. We watch YouTube videos and read blogs in Google Reader.

Kim took pictures of the kids and sent them to me over email where I optimized and cropped them before posting to Posterous or Facebook.

We both checked the weather and played a few games. I updated my blog and listened to music. I even traced her route back to Auburn using Google Maps.

None of these activities are unusual. I suspect many families use similar technology to keep in touch. 

But here’s what I realized this weekend: At no point did either of us use any Microsoft software. image

We used our iPhones. Having an iPhone has reduced our reliance on Microsoft software. Not only did the iPhone replace our Windows Mobile phones but it’s also replacing many activities that used to require a PC.

Should Microsoft be concerned?

Kim and I will spend more on iPhone apps this MONTH than we will on Microsoft software this YEAR.

It’s not that we’re intentionally avoiding using Microsoft software. It’s just that we don’t need it very much.

The iPhone isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty darn close. Each week I see more iPhones show up on Microsoft campus. What does it say about Windows Mobile if your own employees are leaving it for the iPhone?

The game has changed. But does Microsoft realize it?

The First Five

I recently wiped my PC in preparation for installing the release candidate of Windows 7. It used to take a couple of hours to install Windows from scratch and then a couple of days before I had all my applications reinstalled and configured just right.

But those days are over. I’m spending more time on Facebook and Twitter and have replaced a number of applications with simplified web apps. I replaced Microsoft Outlook with Gmail last year and haven’t looked back. Google Docs has nearly replaced Microsoft Office.

Yet I still rely on a few applications that haven’t been replaced by web counterparts. Here’s a list of the first 5 applications I’ve installed on my Windows 7 computer. I’m going to assume the FIRST program you install is a new web browser. I prefer Firefox but Opera, Chrome or Safari will do.

 

digsby

Digsby is a simple chat program. It replaced Windows Live Messenger for me when it added integrated Facebook chat and Gmail notifications.

Last.FM is an unbelievably cool app. If you’re familiar with Pandora or Slacker Radio you’ll love Last.FM. Discovers new music I enjoy and allows me to share it with friends. Check out my favorite artists here.

image

Threatfire is the one program to install if you try only one of these apps. I’ve run it for the last two years without any AV software. That’s how much I trust it. Threatfire detects and stops harmful behavior to your machine.

ultramon_logo

UltraMon fixes a big hole in Windows 7: Dual monitor support that works. Adds   an intelligent task bar to your second monitor and allows you to configure desktop backgrounds independently among other features.

Mesh

Microsoft Live Mesh is my favorite product from Microsoft. I wrote about it in January and rely on it everyday. Mesh syncs files between my home and work computers.

Your Father’s Search Engine

Bing vs. Google.

The comparisons are inevitable.

As Google continues to speed away from Microsoft Live Search in terms of market share (and profits), Ballmer’s crew had to do something drastic. 

And Bing is their Hail Mary.

Which brings us how it stacks up against Google. Some say it’s better than Live Search. Some say it’s clean and fast. It certainly feels modern.

But is it better than Google?

IT DOESN’T MATTER.

Microsoft concedes they are the underdogs, and simply being “as good as Google” will not lead to increased market share.

Search actually works quite well. Most people do not have a search problem. They aren’t looking for a solution because they don’t have a problem.

So why doesn’t it matter?

It doesn’t matter because Microsoft didn’t build Bing for the savvy internet user. Here’s the profile of the average Bing user:

  • Purchases computer at retail store
  • Uses default web browser which is nearly always Internet Explorer
  • Does not know how to change default search provider in browser
  • Leaves homepage set to “MSN"
  • Types “www” in front of every URL

Microsoft understands many users do not under the benefits of  installing a modern and more stable browser such as Firefox, Safari, or Opera. Maybe nobody has shown them the number of cool plugins that are available for these other browsers. Or maybe a browser is just a browser to them in the same way that a pair of skis are just skis to a beginner.

Whatever the reason, Microsoft is aware of the fact that the sheer number of Windows users automatically guarantees Internet Explorer will be the default browser on most computers. And what search engine do you think Internet Explorer uses unless the user changes it?

Let’s see how easy it is to change the default search engine in Internet Explorer to Google. Just complete the following ten steps:

  1. With IE open, click on “Tools”
  2. Select “Internet Options”
  3. Select “Programs” tab
  4. Click “Manage add-ons” button
  5. Another window open. Select “Search Providers” from left pane
  6. At very bottom of window, select “Find more search providers”
  7. Another instance of IE opens. Scroll through list till you find “Google Search Suggestions”
  8. Click “Add to Internet Explorer”
  9. Another box pops up. Click “Make this my default search provider” box.
  10. Click “Add”

Thank you, Microsoft, for streamlining the process!

How many people do you know who will jump through all those hoops? Will your friends? How about your parents or grandparents? Even savvy users will give up and use whatever came with Windows.

Microsoft knows this.

Microsoft has no incentive to make it easy to switch search engines within their browser. I have to believe this factored into Google’s decision to release their own web browser: Chrome.

And that’s why it ultimately doesn’t matter if Bing is better than Google. It doesn’t have to be better. It doesn’t even need to be as good as Google. It merely needs to do a reasonable job. Bing’s search results even LOOK like Google’s. I doubt that’s by accident.

Just as many DVR owners think they are using Tivo when, in reality, they are using some watered down DVR from the cable company, many Bing users will continue to tell others how they “googled it”.

When over 90% of computers run your operating system, you don’t have to build a great web browser. Merely adequate will do.

The same goes for your search engine.