Fresh Start

Sony gives you the option to remove crapware from certain new Windows 7 PCs. They call it their “Fresh Start” option, as shown here:

Fresh Start

Problems:

  • A crapware-free PC should be the DEFAULT selection, not an easily missed opt-out selection
  • Fresh Start is only available for Win 7 Professional

This leaves me with a very uneasy feeling about Sony. If I were to buy a laptop from them, it would be Win 7 Home Premium. But since Fresh Start is not available with Home Premium, what kind of crap is pre-loaded?

Internet Explorer 8

Microsoft sure stirred up some controversy with this browser comparison chart. Here is a picture, because I suspect they’ll take down that page fairly soon.

As several people mentioned on Twitter, the chart fails to include Opera or Safari. Plus, most of the items are highly subjective. This is obviously a marketing document, not a scientific comparison. We get it.

Lack of Trust

When IE first arrived, it had to compete with Netscape. Once they crushed the competition, Microsoft slept. For five years. They released IE 6 in 2001, and IE 7 in 2006.

Lack of competition hurt our industry and stifled innovation. Because of those five years, a lot of us simply do not trust Microsoft when it comes to browsers.

Competition

Thank goodness for the people behind Firefox, Opera, Safari, Chrome, and probably other browsers that I’m not thinking of. It is perfectly clear that Microsoft is now focused on improving Internet Explorer through better security, performance, and even standards compliance.

Good for them. IE 8 is their best effort yet.

Good for us. Web standards are good for us all.

But…I am skeptical.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Those five years cannot be swept under the rug with one new product release. Microsoft needs to earn back our trust. It will be hard, but not impossible.

What I Want

I want all of these browsers to compete, and to focus on web standards. Supporting today’s standards are an important first step for Microsoft, and I applaud their efforts.

To make up for the years lost with IE 6, Microsoft needs to do a lot more to win back my trust. I want Microsoft to boldly lead the way toward HTML 5, including support for embedded video, the canvas tag, native drag-and-drop to the browser, and more.

This means making standards-based browsers that will directly compete with proprietary plug-ins like Silverlight and Flash. Browser lock-in is old school. Proprietary plug-ins are old school. This video shows what I expect from my browser:

It would be wonderful if I could embed that video with a simple tag, but for now, that’s impossible. I eagerly await the day when that ugly <object …><embed… type=”application/x-shockwave-flash”> …</embed></object> crap is a distant memory.

Live Mesh on Leopard

When I first tried Microsoft Live Mesh 13 days ago, I was not impressed. The installation experience on Vista is pathetic:

  • It is slow (the installer)
  • It temporarily puts Vista into a downgraded graphics mode
  • It seems fairly invasive, requiring a reboot to remove

Adding insult to injury, Live Mesh is crippled if your default browser is Firefox. The error page says in order to use that particular feature, use the desktop notifier instead. But when I use the notifier, it redirects me to my default browser, producing the same error message. I promptly removed Live Mesh from that PC. And then I had to reboot.

The Leopard Experience

Because I know how to have a good time, I installed the Live Mesh client for OSX Leopard just now. Here are my initial impressions:

  • They provide a normal OSX installation experience. Specifically, you download a DMG file, drag it to the Applications folder, and it’s done.
  • It works. After entering my Live username/password, well…that’s all I had to do.
  • Using the Live Mesh tool, I created a folder in my Documents directory. The other option is to share existing directories. These are just normal directories that Live Mesh syncs to.
  • Now, I can drag files to that directory and they sync to my Live Mesh account in “the cloud”.

What. The. Fuck. The Leopard Live Mesh experience is intuitive and obvious, completely different than what I experienced on Vista. If they can make the Vista client work as well, this will be a killer product.

(yes, I know about Dropbox.)

Live Mesh Fail

This month’s Wired has an article about Ray Ozzie, where they mention Live Mesh:

Then comes a demonstration of Live Mesh, which will allow people to seamlessly synchronize all their information with as many people and places as they want, across as many devices (computer, phone, camera) as they want.

So I installed it. The installation process kicks Vista into a degraded video mode:

While not a deal breaker, this is annoying and kind of broken. The real FAIL moment comes when you try to use the service with Firefox:

So I tried double-clicking on the “notifier” icon in the Vista task bar, but that just takes me back into Firefox with the same failure message.

Ozzie won’t fix Microsoft with products like this. They still do not “get” the Internet — at all. Nothing Microsoft produces for the web feels like a normal part of the Internet. Live Mesh is already a failure.