I Have a Start Menu Now!

Windows 8 users probably are frustrated by the lack of the start menu – getting to what they want to get to by hovering their mouse in the top right corner, searching for it, and then trying to find it is frustrating. I was able to get my start menu back (See screenshot) by downloading a free program called Start Menu 8 here. The application was developed by a company called IObit, and their product page can be accessed at http://www.iobit.com/iobitstartmenu8.php. It’s quite refreshing to get the semblance of using a real working computer again – hopefully Microsoft learns from this and stops dropping features that make up the lifeblood of its business.

Start Menu on my Windows 8

Google Caffeine – faster for less

Google has unleashed Google Caffeine, a snappy new name for a snappy new product that apparently speeds up it’s already infamously fast Google Search. A testbox has been set up at http://www2.sandbox.google.com/

A quick test of the search term “Adam Lee” results in half the search speed, but less than half of the results. Apparently, part of the code includes sacrificing results for speed. This is not something I am worried about though as I am not going to look at number 40,000,000 in the list and 10,000,000 suits me just fine (the numbers represent the amound of entries corresponding to my previously mentioned search term).

I believe the hype and new release are perfectly timed to stem the rise of the Microsoft-Yahoo underdog team. Microsoft obviously has a keen interest in making Bing better, and it has made some improvements that have shown results, including a rise in market share since Bing’s birth. Google is basically saying, “this is my territory, get out!”

Microsoft and Yahoo Finally Join Sides

The two underdogs in the online search industry are joining up, according to sources who have yet to reveal themselves. According to Reuters, Bloomberg, and Businessweek, the deal has come to a close. Microsoft will buy out Yahoo search. Yahoo, on the other hand, will be hosting Microsoft’s AdCenter technology for it’s own ads and utilizing Microsoft’s Bing search engine. Although the deal seems complex, I think it’s simple to see that companies are starting to band together to stem the rise of one of the worlds most fastest growing tech companies, Google.

However, I think it’s a bit too late. Google has already gathered over 60% of the search market, and continues to deliver excellent product for free. Among these are Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sites, and Google Maps. It has established a reputation for delivering highly tuned efficient products that benefit those that use them and also pioneered the use of context focused ad placement and still makes most of it’s money through Adsense and Adwords. Although it has keen expertise in the hardware area (Google custom creates their servers themselves), it remains focused on web technologies and the move towards browser-like operating system.

In other news, Apple rejected Google’s ‘Google Voice’ app on it’s iPhone.

Is Google Chrome OS in Response to Microsoft Bing?

I think it’s not a surprise that Google is starting to invade Microsoft home turf after Bing, a revamped version of Live search, went online on June 3rd. The surf engine has shown an increase in popularity, be it slow. Not to mention it was favorably rated (by PC Magazine, etc.) as compared to some of Google’s other potential competitors (Cuil in particular).

Now, Google is fighting back and bringing the former OS King to battle over whether users want a comprehensive and hefty operating system like XP or Vista or an operating system that does the bare minimum and relies more on internet browsers to do work. If the latter turns out to be more popular, it could spell bad news for other Microsoft products such as Word, Excel, and others in the Office product line, and conversely help with Google’s online applications such as Google docs.

Perhaps the age of storing information on ones personal computer has passed and now is high time to store everything on online servers, but I am still wary of that possibility for the reasons below:

1. Not everywhere is internet accessible, and even internet accessible locations may at times block certain sites such as Google, YouTube, Facebook, etc.

2. Looking at the Terms and Conditions of most free storage sites, no guarantee is made that the data will not be lost. Furthermore, on other sites (such as Myspace etc.) information submitted becomes the property of the site submitted to. Google is better in this in that it does not claim rights over your information, but does reserve the right to have automated crawlers review your information to present you with relevant ads.

3. There are some things I would not put online period.

The advantages, however, of keeping information online are the following:

1. No need to store on hard drive, which in itself has multiple security advantages.

2. Multiple computer can access the information without physically transferring it.

3. With web 2.0 the information you submit can be commented on and rated, such as interesting photos you upload to Facebook etc.

Although the scope of Google’s OS is still uncertain, I think it will have Microsoft employees a little more on edge than they have been.