Saturday, September 17, 2011
Sorry Microsoft but I am falling for Google again
There was a time when I was mainstream and loved everything Microsoft put out. DOS, QBASIC, Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Hover, Weezer (you know what I am talking about!), Flight Simulator, Bookshelf '95, Encarta... you name it. But, as with most things for my generation, the years went by, the initial luster wore off, and boredom set in. Not to mention it hurt a lot, like physical pain in the wallet area, to spend my hard earned lunch money (I was in 8'th grade I think) on the Windows 95 Upgrade only to find an IRQ conflict between my 2x CD-ROM and my 33.6kbps modem because the new Plug and Play technology didn't know how to handle it properly.
Luckily, I spent a lot of time on IRC and was fortunate enough to make friends with some very smart people, one of which introduced me to the wonderful world of *nix (Slackware Linux 3.0 to be precise). I spent the next several years of my life reloading operating systems on my 486SX and planning for total world domination when I launched my hosting service "Beast Networks" (actually there were a lot more ASCII charaters involved and rainbow colors because it was cool to play with text). Anyway, the cycle began again and I got bored with always "fixing" my computer so I went back to Windows as my primary OS and have been there since primarily because of my job and the fact that my wife just wants the computer to work without having to think about it.
Where am I going with this? Well, besides illustrating my obvious attention deficit disorder, my cycle has apparently started again but this time I am between Microsoft Live and Google. I am currently hosting my critical stuff for Yarbi.com with Microsoft Live Domains and use SkyDrive pretty heavily, but they are lacking in a lot of areas. Google's Blogger is a great service and is what I have decided to use for my blogs (at least until my total world domination scheme works out, then I will host it through Beast Networks of course). Microsoft's Live Spaces was not so much and I guess Microsoft knew it because they had their users convert to WordPress. Gmail is just awesome, and the fact that they beat Microsoft at their own game by making Gmail work with Activesync before Hotmail even did just makes it that much better. Hotmail isn't too bad nowadays, but it still doesn't have nearly the flexibility that Gmail has. The free edition of Google Apps has almost everything that Windows Live Domains has, and now that Microsoft is switching over to Office 365 and has eliminated the a lot of the formerly free services, Google Apps is looking more appealing again. Google Voice is absolutely amazing, Google+ looks very promising, and Chrome Browser is now my default backup browser instead of Firefox or Safari. And don't even get me started on Bing vs Google. The only good thing I have to say about Bing is that it literally is "the sound of found", but I only hear that sound when I use Google search :)
So, label me I a Google fan boy? Absolutely. However, there are are two big buts involved and I am not talking about donkeys here.
Number 1: Google, Gmail, YouTube, Google Apps, etc can all have different accounts and I have not found any way to link them together if you register for them in the wrong order. What does this mean? To get to my Gmail account back when it was invite only, I was firstname.lastname@example.org. Then eventually I signed up for Google Apps as email@example.com to host my domains there. Then I realized I could use a real email address as my normal Google ID so I created my Google ID as firstname.lastname@example.org but quickly realized I could not link it to my existing Gmail account and it was a different account than my Google Apps account (which had the same name but was definitely not the same account). This meant I had email@example.com and had been using it for a while, my Google Apps ID which was very limited in what it could do, and my new Google ID with the same name as my Apps ID and now with a new Gmail account firstname.lastname@example.org. Then I went to sign up for YouTube and had to come up with yet a different username. It was very frustrating, especially when I deleted email@example.com so I could try to recreate it under the firstname.lastname@example.org account only to find out that all deleted Gmail accounts are permanent. Update: This has apparently changed so I might be trying to get my johnyarbi account back, yay!
Confused yet? I was too! To sum it up, Google doesn't seem to have linked accounts figured out yet, which is one thing Microsoft has actually done a pretty good job on. Frustrating for sure, but not necessarily a show stopper. [UPDATE: https://accounts.google.com/b/0/MultipleSessions and http://www.google.com/support/accounts/bin/static.py?page=guide.cs&guide=29934&topic=29936. It looks like Google has fixed this for the most part as well. Yay again!]
Number 2: The other reason I went with and am still with Windows Live on this most recent ebb, and this is a big one, is Office Web Apps, specifically OneNote. I love OneNote and yes I would marry it if I could claim it on taxes. I've been planning on writing a blog entry about it but every time I sit down to do it, I end up with pages of how much I love it. Anyway, I'll save all that for another time. Google has some "Web Apps" of its own, but the integration with Office 2010 found in Windows Live is something Google can't touch (yet) when you are primarily a Windows user. When they introduced offline access to their apps, this changed the game a little, but the fact is they still do not have a fully featured editor, and they definitely do not have OneNote.
So why am I falling for Google again? Well, maybe it is just that time of the month again in my manstruation cycle, but Google services seem to be consistently getting better while Microsoft is falling behind in most areas (or maybe has not caught up yet?). Either way, the tide is turning and I am washing back out to sea. I've been doing a lot of work getting ready for a 10 year class reunion and have used Google Docs to create web forms, am using Picasa to store and share pictures, Blogger to host the website, YouTube to host videos, etc etc. Things that are just not really doable for free with Microsoft Live suite. And on top of that, I am able to use my single Gmail account in most cases now. The more I dig around, the more I see just how far Google has come. And my initial fear that a lot of these services would be like Google Wave (what every happened to that?!) have pretty well vanished because of Android and Chrome power on the tablet, phone, and light notebook markets Google is in now. Their services are here for the long haul and seem to be aimed directly at Microsoft (and Apple for that matter).
So, at the end of the day, I still like Microsoft and that will not change for the foreseeable future, but Google is winning my heart again through innovative services like Voice and improvements to the stables like Docs and Blogger, and will probably get a lot more of my attention moving forward. Welcome back to the family G.