The Bankwatch

Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

Archive for the ‘microsoft’ Category

2010 Annual Letter from Bill Gates

This is not terribly on topic, but it is interesting just because it is Bill Gates.  A very thoughtful letter. 

2010 Annual Letter from Bill Gates: Introduction

This is my second annual letter. The focus of this year’s letter is innovation and how it can make the difference between a bleak future and a bright one.

2009 was the first year my full-time work was as co-chair of the foundation, along with Melinda and my dad. It’s been an incredible year and I enjoyed having lots of time to meet with the innovators working on some of the world’s most important problems. I got to go out and talk with people making progress in the field, ranging from teachers in North Carolina to health workers fighting polio in India to dairy farmers in Kenya. Seeing the work firsthand reminds me of how urgent the needs are as well as how challenging it is to get all the right pieces to come together. I love my new job and feel lucky to get to focus my time on these problems.

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Written by Colin Henderson

January 29, 2010 at 15:26

Posted in microsoft

Computers need to get better – Google

I found this piece on the upcoming Google OS useful for the Google quote.  There is so much debate on this new OS and most of it misses the point.  Its not about Linux versus Windows as many suggest – its about making computers become a simple tool.  This is something that unfortunately Microsft have failed to do.  It has been 14 years since the advent of Windows 95, and almost 30 years since the advent of the PC.  It has become accepted that you either have to be a compuer expert, or retain a support group for computers.  Why?

i think the attraction of a computer that just works will be strong for many people and strong enough to switch.

Can Google break Windows? The Times

“We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear — computers need to get better,” Sundar Pichai, vice-president of product management, wrote on Google’s blog last week.

“People want to get to their e-mail instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up. They want their computers to always run as fast as when they first bought them.

“They want their data to be accessible to them wherever they are and not have to worry about losing their computer or forgetting to back up files. Even more importantly, they don’t want to spend hours configuring their computers to work with every new piece of hardware, or have to worry about constant software updates.”

Written by Colin Henderson

July 12, 2009 at 16:36

Posted in microsoft

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Google plans a PC operating system | NY Times

This breaking news from NY Times just a few minutes ago.  Long rumoured but if this is true then its welcomed by this linux user.

It does not show on techmeme or any tech blogs yet. Things could be getting interesting.

Google Plans to Introduce a PC Operating System

In a direct challenge to Microsoft, Google is expected to
announce on Wednesday that it is developing an operating
system for a personal computer based on its Chrome browser,
according to two people briefed on Google’s plans.

The move would sharpen the already intense competition
between Google and Microsoft, whose Windows operating system
controls the basic functions of the vast majority of personal

Update:  more here from

And the official word here from Google.

Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don’t have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.

Written by Colin Henderson

July 7, 2009 at 23:50

Posted in microsoft

Tagged with , , , ,

Common document formats are coming

There is an interesting theme developing around the concept of documents and formats.

Since I left traditional banking, I have been consistently using OpenOffice.  Its not a purist or ‘software’ religion thing .. rather I shifted to Linux immediately because its a better, faster, smoother operating system, and OpenOffice is the best office suite for Linux.  The fact OpenOffice has not improved in 2 1/2 years is just a source of frustration.  I use MS Office and XP in a VM, when I have to interact with the rest of the world.

Anyhow, I digress.  Scribd has been distilling any document into a web format for some time, and even though the interface is annoying it does introduce a common web service layer that everyone can use in a browser.  Very Web 2.0.

Then today I see TwitDoc introduced on Techcrunch.  Twitdoc is a service that allows any document format to be shared over Twitter.  I care less about Twitter than the document sharing.  We are seeing glimmers of a movement towards a common document format.

In this case it is a format for sharing a view of a document.  Surely in time it must be include a method to edit documents too?  Yes we have this with Google Docs, Zoho, Zimbra, Office Live, but they are all discrete, with some commonality at a basic level of MS Office.

The concept of a common winner that anyone can edit and change from anywhere is enthralling.

Written by Colin Henderson

May 9, 2009 at 15:51

Posted in microsoft

Tagged with , , , ,

Microsoft buys Powerset, and introduces new things for Bank web sites to consider

Why should Banks think about the Microsoft acquisition of Powerset, a natural language search engine?

Powerset brings together a unique combination of scientific work in Artificial Intelligence, and Natural Language Analysis.

Interview With Barney Pell and Ramez Naam About Microsoft’s Powerset Acquisition: Integration By End Of Year

BP: I guess one way to think about it is like when you are learning how to diagram sentences in elementary school. You draw these trees of a sentence and find here is the noun phrase and a noun phrase has a determiner like “the” and then it has a noun like “dog” and here is a verb phrase, and it might have a verb like “barks” and then what does it mean for the that word, bark is a verb and it has a “S” at the end and the way that it works, which we call morphology, that’s the present tense of that verb. And then the whole sentence is composed of those pieces, and so the meaning is built out of those. So you draw these diagrams when you are learning how to do it. And the kind of knowledge that’s in a natural language processing system like Powerset is using is sort of like that.

Banks web pages are notoriously marketing oriented, with terminology that does not sound like poeples conversations:

  • Savings & CDs Start Saving Today
  • A great way to start saving — open your account with as little as $25
    • Free Checking Online
    • No monthly maintenance fee
    • No minimum balance required
    • No charge for using ATMs from another financial institution

These short bullets are a typical selection of how Banks communicate with customers online, and people have become used to reading those bullet form selections to uncover the nature of a Bank product.

The implication is that the new search methods may not naturally read the bullets in the right context, and “no monthly maintenance fee” for example, may not get associated with “Checking Accounts”.

Relevance to Bankwatch:
Natural language works, as I understand it, in development of meaning
within sentences. Having read Pell’s description of the system, and
considering this will comprise Microsoft’s search sometime in the next
year or two, it will be worthwhile to start thinking about the
evolution of search, and development of web pages.

Written by Colin Henderson

July 2, 2008 at 10:20

Posted in microsoft

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