Here’s a great title: “Wow, Microsoft And Google Are Punching Each Other In The Face Right In Front Of Us!” It refers, of course, to this week’s far-less-important public fight between Google and Microsoft over their respective search engines. Did Google’s “sting operation” find Microsoft cheating or being clever? (Of course, any discussion on this topic must simultaneously ignore Bing’s terrrrrrrriiiiible name as well as my childhood habit of volunteering to be “banker” while playing Monopoly, then hiding money in the couch cushions as a hedge against real estate bubble bursts. Not cheating.)
(Ir)Regardless of any malfeasance, how awful is Microsoft’s ad agency? Bing commercials, based around people mired in, um, “search overload” is absurdist. Do you ever Google something and think, “THERE ARE TOO MANY RESULTS. DEAR GOD, MY CAUSE IS LOST!” At worst, you need to refine your search…slightly. (Either that or you’re searching a null set. “Timothy Mayotte wins Pulitzer Prize” returns no results.) Bing’s ads attempt to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.
Same thing with the Windows Phone 7. (Somehow the exact opposite of the Bing problem in the name department. How much time and money went into a committee, meeting endlessly for months, that resulted a name so boring they should have colored the phone beige?) Commercials for the Windows Beige Carry-and-Talk Device feature show countless people so enraptured in there poorly designed (the viewer assumes) phones that they can’t carry out daily tasks like riding an escalator or loving their children. Windows solves this endless distraction with its “innovative” tile setup, wherein one glance shows how many messages, emails, et al. you have. Um, if I’m not mistaken, my Droid effectively does the same thing. Ok, I’m only alerted to the presence of emails (or whatever), not their specific number, but still. I also get updating news and weather. This feature is so great Microsoft based the entire ad campaign around it? Heck, I’m dropping in a full paragraph from the Engadget review:
“We do have to question whether a long list of tiles and a long list of applications is superior to a grid (as seen in webOS, iOS, and Android). Honestly, scrolling down a long alphabetical list to find what you’re looking for here isn’t much easier than paging through a grid. And unlike iOS, webOS, Android, and even BlackBerry 6, there’s no universal search option here to help you quickly find what you want. That’s one thing we didn’t expect to find ourselves missing, but became very noticeable very quickly. There’s also only one homescreen and customization space is limited by the tile layout, so you end up scrolling vertically to find the right hub or app there too — contrast that to Android, iOS, or BlackBerry, where you can arrange multiple home screens at will and quickly develop an organized workflow. We’d like to see options for three- or four-row tile rows at the very least — it would go a long way towards making the homescreen more efficient.”
I’m sure both the phone and search engine are fine products, and fine people use them. What really bugs me is the ad campaigns showing problems I don’t have, and highly doubt are widespread. Who is your target audience here? Wow me with your technical abilities or awe me with your sleek design. Don’t offer to cure a disease I know I don’t have.
And yes, I’m aware that this post is about a year too late to be considered timely.