Blogger to Integrate With Google+

When you edit your Blogger profile, Blogger shows a message at the top of the page that says: “Connect Blogger to Google+: Use your Google profile and get access to upcoming Google+ features on Blogger”. Unfortunately, the links seem to be broken, but both URLs reference profile switching.

It’s obvious that Blogger profiles will be discontinued and replaced by Google Profiles, but it’s not clear how Blogger will integrate with Google+. Maybe Blogger posts will automatically trigger Google+ posts and Blogger/Google+ comments will be synchronized. Friend Connect will be discontinued and Google+ could replace it. Friend Connect’s goal was to “help site owners easily provide social features for their visitors. Users gain the ability to sign in to, make friends on, and interact with your site, making it more social and more dynamic”. It wasn’t successful, but Google+ has a better chance to make Blogger more social.

Update: Blogger’s blog informs that this option is available if you use Blogger in Draftand it will be released in the regular Blogger interface in the coming weeks. For now, the only changes are that the Blogger profile redirects to the Google profile, the author’s name is now obtained from Google Profiles and Google’s snippets for the blog posts include information about authors: name, thumbnail and link to the profile. “If you blog under a pseudonym and do not want your blog to be associated with your real name, you should not migrate from a Blogger profile to a Google+ profile,” suggests Google. If you change your mind after switching to the Google+ profile, you can revert to the Blogger profile.

{ Thanks, Herin. }

Installing an Application Using Internet Explorer 9

I tried to download the latest Chromium build using Internet Explorer 9 and it was one of the most painful downloading experiences. Microsoft tries to protect users from downloading malware and uses a feature called SmartScreen Filter that “checks software downloads against a dynamically updated list of reported malicious software sites”. This feature was available in IE8, but the latest version of IE tried to improve it by analyzing application reputation.

“In analyzing software downloads actively in use on the internet today, we found that most have an established download footprint and no history of malware. This was the genesis of SmartScreen application reputation. By removing unnecessary warnings, the remaining warnings become relevant. With SmartScreen Application Reputation, IE9 warns you before you run or save a higher risk program that may be an attempt to infect your computer with socially engineered malware. IE9 also stays out of the way for downloads with an established reputation. Based on real-world data we estimate that this new warning will be seen only 2-3 times a year for most consumers compared to today where there is a warning for every software download.”

Here’s how difficult is to run mini_installer.exe, Chromium’s installer:

Step 1: “Do you want to run or save this program”? Click “run”.

Step 2: “This file is not commonly downloaded and could harm your computer.” You have two options: “delete” and “actions”. It’s quite uncommon to label a button using a noun, but the only reasonable option is the generic “actions”.

A help page explains that “when you download a program from the Internet, SmartScreen Filter will check the program against a list of programs that are downloaded by a significant number of other Internet Explorer users and a list of programs that are known to be unsafe. If the program you’re downloading isn’t on either list, SmartScreen Filter will display a warning that the file isn’t ‘commonly downloaded.’ It doesn’t necessarily mean the website is fraudulent or that the program is malware, but you probably shouldn’t download or install the program unless you trust the website and the publisher.”

Step 3: IE9 shows a modal dialog which informs you that “this program might harm your computer”. Even though “SmartScreen Filter has little or no information” about the program, Microsoft’s engineers thought it’s a good idea to show two main options “don’t run this program” and “delete program”, followed by a cryptic “more options” drop-down. I clicked “more options” because I really wanted to install the program. (Update: this step was skipped the second time I tried to install the same file.)

Step 4: Microsoft finally shows the obvious option: “run anyway”, but still recommends not to run the program.

There’s a fine line between protecting users and annoying them, but IE9 managed to cross it.

WebM Plugin for Internet Explorer 9

Internet Explorer 9 will be released later today and one of the many new features is the native support for videos. Unfortunately for Google, Microsoft decided to only support H.264 videos by default, so you can’t watch WebM videos without installing additional software.

To solve this problem, Google developed a WebM plugin for IE9. “They said elephants couldn’t ride flying dolphins. They said that one of the world’s most popular browsers couldn’t play WebM video in HTML5. They were wrong,” mentions Google half-jokingly.

The plugin only works on Windows 7 and Windows Vista, the two operating systems supported by IE9. Google suggests to search for WebM videos on YouTube, but I’m not sure if the plugin was really necessary since YouTube’s HTML5 player also works with H.264 videos.

Last month, Microsoft released a plugin for watching H.264 videos in Google Chrome that will be useful when Google drops support for the popular codec.

Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office

After three months of beta testing, Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office is available for everyone. The rebranded version of DocVerse, a software developed by the homonymous company acquired by Google last year, integrates with Google Docs and provides a bridge for Microsoft Office users who want to use online collaboration features without upgrading to Office 2010.

“Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office brings collaborative multi-person editing to the familiar Microsoft Office experience. You can share, backup, and simultaneously edit Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel documents with coworkers,” explains Google. The software works with Microsoft Office 2003, Office 2007 and Office 2010.

By default, the plugin automatically saves online and syncs all the files you edit in Microsoft Office, but you can change this setting.

I created a new document in Word 2010, but Google saved it as a read-only Word file in Google Docs. Apparently, the document can only be edited using Microsoft Office and not using Google’s online word processor. Since you can’t even open existing files from Google Docs, this software seems to be too limited. It’s useful if you and all your collaborators only use Microsoft Office and Google’s plugin

Teach your old docs new tricks with Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office

Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office is now available to download for all Google Apps domains. With this plugin, you can now share, backup and simultaneously edit Microsoft Word, PowerPoint®, and Excel® documents with co-workers without the need for sending attachments back and forth.

– Simultaneous editing for Word, PowerPoint and Excel files when using Microsoft Office.
– Google Docs sharing URLs for each Microsoft Office file.
– Revision history for Microsoft Office files, stored in Google Docs.
– Offline editing with smart synchronization of offline changes.
– No Microsoft Office upgrade or SharePoint® deployment required.

How to access what’s new:
– Make sure your system meets the system requirements for the plugin. Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office supports Microsoft Office 2003, Office 2007, or Office 2010.
– Ensure that Google Docs is an activated service in your Google Apps control panel.
– Allow users to install the plugin themselves or distribute it on your network using an .msi file.
Download page
Deploy Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office

Note: Google Cloud Connect is not available for Macs. Unfortunately due to the lack of support for open APIs on Microsoft Office for Mac, we are unable to make Google Cloud Connect available on Macs at this time. We look forward to when that time comes so we can provide this feature to our Mac customers as well.

For more information:
Admin Help Center and supported features.

Google Results, One of Bing’s Ranking Signals

Danny Sullivan has a story about Google’s claims that Bing copies Google search results. Google noticed that there’s an increasing overlap between the top results at Google and Bing, so it suspected that Microsoft was using Google’s results to improve its search engine.

To verify its suspicions, Google set up a sting operation. For the first time in its history, Google crafted one-time code that would allow it to manually rank a page for a certain term (code that will soon be removed, as described further below). It then created about 100 of what it calls “synthetic” searches, queries that few people, if anyone, would ever enter into Google.

These searches returned no matches on Google or Bing — or a tiny number of poor quality matches, in a few cases — before the experiment went live. With the code enabled, Google placed a honeypot page to show up at the top of each synthetic search.

The only reason these pages appeared on Google was because Google forced them to be there. There was nothing that made them naturally relevant for these searches. If they started to appeared at Bing after Google, that would mean that Bing took Google’s bait and copied its results.

This all happened in December. When the experiment was ready, about 20 Google engineers were told to run the test queries from laptops at home, using Internet Explorer, with Suggested Sites and the Bing Toolbar both enabled. They were also told to click on the top results. They started on December 17. By December 31, some of the results started appearing on Bing. (…) Only a small number of the test searches produced this result, about 7 to 9 (depending on when exactly Google checked) out of the 100.

Microsoft’s engineers probably thought that Google’s results were pretty good, so why not use clickstream data from Internet Explorer and Bing Toolbar to monitor the results picked by Google users? It’s a clever idea, but not when you’re using it to artificially add results from Google. Bing’s team says that they use “collective intelligence” to improve search results, so we can assume that a non-negligible amount of intelligence comes from Google. When you’re including results just because Google does it, you’re trusting Google too much and you implicitly admit that Google offers better results.

Update: Google’s Amit Singhal says that “some Bing results increasingly look like an incomplete, stale version of Google results – a cheap imitation” and implies that Bing shows “recycled search results”. I think that’s an exaggeration and Microsoft has every right to use all the information it has, including analytics data, Bing Toolbar’s clickstream, Facebook’s popular pages and Twitter’s trending topics. Bad mouthing competitors doesn’t help Google in the long run.

Microsoft launches HTML5 labs

HTML5 Labs a test and sandbox site got launched yesterday by Microsoft which simplifies the work of developers to research with early draft specifications of emerging HTML5-based technologies.

The site of HTML5 Labs has been designed to enable Microsoft to prototype early Web standard specifications from standards bodies such as World Wide Web Consortium, which is shepherding HTML5. HTML5 Labs site is taken care of and managed entire by the Microsoft Interoperability Strategy Group. The credit for gaining standards-based mechanisms so as to make an addition of multimedia capabilities to Web applications along with functionality such as bidirectional communications by the developers is entirely given to the HTML5 specification and associated technologies, as stated by Paul Krill from InfoWorld.

Migrating to Google Apps and not using Microsoft® Exchange? New improvements to make this even easier

The following Google Apps migration tools have been updated to make moving to Google Apps even easier:

Google Apps Migration for Microsoft® Exchange:
Using the latest version of this tool, admins can now migrate data from PST files and emails from these IMAP servers: Novell® GroupWise®, Cyrus, Dovecot, Courier and Gmail.

Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Outlook®:
– 64 bit support
– Command line support for OAuth authentication
– Optional Gmail label prefixes in the command line

How to access what’s new:
Google Apps Migration for Microsoft® Exchange
Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Outlook®

New version of Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook® released

Version 1.9 of Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook® has been released with the following new features:

– If Outlook® crashes or doesn’t shut down properly during a sync, the utility starts the sync again from a point preceding the crash or improper shutdown. This new method ensures that you won’t be missing any messages.
– New resync options are available in the Synchronization Status dialog box:
Overwrite: Overwrites your local profile with data from the cloud, updating just the data type you selected (mail, contacts, or calendars).
Delete and resync: Deletes data from your Outlook profile, then re-syncs with the cloud to repopulate your profile with data from Google.
– More additional fields are supported in the Dynamic Global Address List.
– A new dialog box has been implemented that lets you set the size of your local mailbox and offers some insight into which setting to use.

How to access what’s new:
1. Update Google Apps Sync
– If you installed Google App Sync: Updates are checked for and downloaded to your computer automatically.
– If your administrator installed Google Apps Sync: Updates are downloaded to your computer automatically, if your administrator enables automatic updates.
2. For the update to go into effect:
– If you have Windows XP: Restart your computer.
– If you have Windows Vista: Restart Microsoft Outlook.

For more information: