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Search giant

ANALYSIS
By Tim Weber
Business editor, BBC News website

Steve Ballmer

After failing to buy Yahoo outright a year ago, Microsoft has now announced a search and advertising partnership with its former online rival. It’s an important deal, and not just for advertisers.

Poor Yahoo shareholders. They could have pocketed a cool $44.6bn, or $33 a share, when Microsoft offered to buy Yahoo outright. The shares are now trading at just under $16.

Eighteen months on, they have to make do with the promise that Microsoft will help Yahoo to survive and grow by providing a better search, and thus a better advertising platform.

Consumer market

Yahoo’s audience will have to wait at least a year before they will see the difference.

First the deal will have to be shepherded past weary regulators around the world; this will take until early 2010, says Yahoo’s new boss Carol Bartz. It will take another three to six months before Microsoft’s “Bing” search engine starts answering the queries of Yahoo users.

The real benefit will come in the years after that, as Yahoo transforms its web offering and puts search at the centre of the user experience, at long last catching up with how we all use the web these days.

He-who-must-not-be-named

This is not a partnership of love, but necessity. A year ago, I called the proposed Yahoo-Microsoft merger a shotgun wedding, with Google holding the shotgun.

Since then, Google has upgraded its weaponry and extended its lead in search advertising, the one online business model that truly works.

For Yahoo and Microsoft, Google is the enemy who – Harry Potter style – must-not-be-named. During their 45 minute conference call neither Ms Bartz nor Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer used the word Google even once.

Instead they spoke of becoming “a strong number two competitor in the market” and the need to create a credible alternative for advertisers.

Indeed, advertisers will only be too happy to bolster the Microsoft-Yahoo partnership. Whether small online retailers or advertising giants like WPP, many were worried about Google’s near-monopoly in the search advertising market.

Competition will not only keep Google on its toes, but should help to control prices as well.

Technology company no more

Carol Bartz

Yahoo’s workforce, meanwhile, may well remember the 29th of July as Black Wednesday. The company always saw itself as a technology leader. Not anymore.

The man who fought last year’s takeover bid tooth and nail, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, was forced out, taking with him the sentimental attachment to the firm’s technology roots.

Yahoo is bowing to the inevitable. It simply had neither the resources nor the focus to win the technological arms race for search supremacy.

Yahoo’s search engineers now have the choice of working for erstwhile archenemy Microsoft, scrambling to get one of the few search jobs left at Yahoo, or find themselves on the job market at a time when even Google has stopped hiring.

Centre of life

New no-nonsense boss Carol Bartz wants Yahoo to build instead on its position as the world’s “largest online media company”.

“Our vision is to be at the centre of people’s life online,” she said after the deal was announced.

More mundanely, Yahoo will become a part of Microsoft’s advertising sales force.

But here is the rub: does Yahoo’s business model as online publisher have a future

Ms Bartz made a great deal of Yahoo’s recent redesign of its home page. But as we use search to find content, home pages are getting increasingly irrelevant.

The traditional search advertising model, meanwhile, could break if old media publishers follow through on their threat to erect pay walls around their content. In another worst-case scenario, much of the content that Yahoo builds on might simply vanish as more and more old media goes out of business.

Little wonder that Yahoo shares were sharply down on news of the deal.

Let’s bing

That leaves Microsoft as the winner.

It won’t make that much money on the deal, but Steve Ballmer frankly acknowledges that this is a long-term investment.

Microsoft gets Yahoo’s search technology, and more importantly he gets direct access to Yahoo’s many users. After all, Yahoo is still the world’s most popular online destination.

Two months ago, this deal would have gone down like a lead balloon. Today it has credibility, ever since Microsoft launched its new “Bing” search engine to generally good reviews.

Mr Ballmer knows that Microsoft still has a lot of work to do before people stop googling and bing instead.

The deal with Yahoo, though, is a platform that his search engineers can build on.

It won’t be a Google killer. But it could, just could, cut into the market leader’s profit margins.


This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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Microsoft and Yahoo seal web deal

breaking news

Yahoo and Microsoft have announced a long-rumoured internet search deal that will help the two companies take on chief rival Google.

Microsoft’s search engine will power the Yahoo website and Yahoo will in turn become the advertising sales team for Microsoft’s online offering.

Yahoo has been struggling to make profits in recent years.

But it rebuffed several takeover bids from Microsoft in an attempt to go it alone.

“This agreement comes with boatloads of value for Yahoo, our users, and the industry. And I believe it establishes the foundation for a new era of internet innovation and development,” said Yahoo chief executive Carol Bartz.

The deal became possible after Yahoo’s co-founder Jerry Yang stepped down as chief executive of the company.


This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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First phase of testing

The first part of my testing was on an HP 2133 netbook laptop.  The exact specs are as follows:

 

Processor:           VIA  C7-M 1200Mhz

Memory:             2 GB 533Mhz DDR2

Hard drive:         Sata 120 Gig 5400 rpm

NICS:                    Broadcom Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11 Multiband wireless adapter

Video:                  VIA Chrome9 HC IGP shared memory video card

 

To test the operating systems I ran each test three times and took the average to get the time for each function.  You also must keep in mind that these tests were performed on a freshly installed operating system without any additional software installed.  One of the biggest things people talk about is the boot time, so I tested the boot time from pressing the power button till the time the login screen comes up.  The second part is from the login screen till the operating system is up and fully functioning.  The only other test I performed was seeing how long it takes for the media center to load and ready to use.  I finished up testing Vista on the same system.  The results are as follows:

 

Test 1 (power on to login screen)

Windows 7 Ultimate RC1

  1. 60.06 seconds
  2. 58 seconds
  3. 48.94 seconds

       Average of 55.66 seconds

 

Vista Ultimate SP2

  1. 50.32 seconds
  2. 62.47 seconds
  3. 58.22 seconds

       Average of 57.003 seconds

 

Test 2 (login screen to fully functioning OS)

Windows 7 Ultimate RC1

  1. 27.8 seconds
  2. 19.3 seconds
  3. 17.99 seconds

       Average of 21.7 seconds

 

Vista Ultimate SP2

  1. 19.47 seconds
  2. 22.13 seconds
  3. 24.5 seconds

       Average of 22.03 seconds

 

Test 3 (loading media center)

Windows 7 Ultimate RC1

  1. 14.38 seconds
  2. 15.51 seconds
  3. 15.34 seconds

       Average of 15.07 seconds

 

Vista Ultimate SP2

  1. 11.77 seconds
  2. 12.31 seconds
  3. 12.47 seconds

       Average of 12.18 seconds

 

For the most part the numbers don’t show any real big difference in performance of the operating systems.  Also most of the features are just modified Vista features and a great deal of Windows 7 is the same as Vista.  The menus seem faster without any tweaking and overall the interface does appear to be faster and more responsive.  Here are a few things I liked the most:

 

1.  The new way you connect wirelessly.  It is easy and works very well.

 wirelessconnection

2.  The new User Account Control is  better than the one in Vista with a slide bar to allow you to select the level of control you want the computer to have.  I like that it is more user friendly but I still don’t care for the UAC very much.

 UAC controls

 

3.  The new Homegroup for sharing network resources while connected to your home network.  It is easy to configure and it lets you share things at home and it allows you to stream music, pictures, and videos over the internet.  It is cool but it only works if you have a Windows 7 box at each end of the connection.

 Homegroup

 

4.  I also liked that Powershell was already installed.  I know most people have not use for it but me being a computer geek, I love having all of the tools I can at my finger tips.

 

A few of the things I disliked where mostly cosmetic things that I have been use to using for quite a few years.  The first is that there was no option to use classic menus.  While I know they are moving on to newer things, but I still like that style of menu over the big bulky XP/Vista style.  Another is the menu bar at the bottom of the screen, and the large icons for the quick launch bar.  I don’t really know what Microsoft is doing with the larger icons in Vista and Windows 7.  I like to use up as little space as possible on the screen so a smaller menu bar helps.  But I have not really used Windows 7 that much to have any real complaints about the operating system. 

 

Here are a few problems some friends and I have had with Windows 7.  The first is that the Windows System Assessment Tool kept on crashing and popping up an error during the tests and initial use of Windows 7.  Another is a mapped drive problem that one of my friends was having with his home network.  He would map the drives and would have to turn off the UAC to get them to work and if that was done the sidebar would take everything off of the screen.  This may not be an error at all but it is something he was interesting and will get figured out through time and usage.  The last was the current version of java gave another friend’s computer the blue screen of death. 

                 Now if anyone reads this and disagrees that is fine, just remember I am conducting basic tests without any expensive benchmarking software and that this is my take on things and not a professional opinion.  I have not worked with Windows 7 very much and I would never make claims of how good or bad something is when I am using a release candidate for testing.

The next test will be conducted on a different machine then I mentioned before.  I will be using a Dell Precision670, with a 3.2GHz Xeon processor and 2 gig of memory.  I will post my results as soon as testing is complete.