Search Results for: windows apple


Apple Sneaky, Microsoft is No Angel, Either

I’ve been observing an annoying trend on TechMeme for a while now: when a good discussion happens over the weekend, obviously some writers will miss it – then they sleep on it, come back to it a few days later and TechMeme picks it up as a new theme.

That’s what we’re seeing today with ZDNet blogger Ed Bott coming back to the Apple Update brouhaha and trying to place Microsoft on a morel higher ground.

In summary, the issue was that the Apple iTunes update program all of a sudden wanted to install the Safari browser on Windows PC’s and had it as the preselected default. That’s certified bad behavior. Even worse is the fact that it’s not new at all – a fact missed by almost all but yours truly. I pointed out that:

  • the same update program has been trying to install iTunes on a Windows machine where I don’t have it, don’t need it forever, despite unselecting it every single time
  • the update runs because I do have Quicktime installed, and Quicktime itself is as aggressive as it gets, re-installing itself in the XP systray no matter how many times you remove it.

To me this was all about respecting users choice or not. But the discussion went the “wrong way”:

  • Apple fans are a religious cult who came in hordes to defend Holy Apple. (before you chastise me, just look at how often I point to Apple as a better choice, without becoming blindly faithful)
  • Most debate focused on whether Firefox or Safari is the better browser (IE dully ignored) – nice tactics to change the subject…

And now here comes Ed Bott with a provocative title: What Microsoft can teach Apple about software updates:

For the record, I think Apple is dead wrong in the way it’s gone about using its iPod monopoly to expand its share in another market.


Ironically, an excellent model for how this update program should work already exists. It’s called Windows Update, and it embodies all the principles that Apple should follow.

Dead wrong.

I can’t believe anyone in their right mind would quote Windows Update, known for delivering patches that mess up one’s system only to be patched again and again as the ideal model to follow. One does not have to go too far, just look at the reports on systems disabled by the recent Vista SP1 update. The worlds richest company could not put a decent operating system together in five years, and a full year later the best they can deliver is a botched update!

But since Ed takes the opportunity to place Microsoft on the moral high ground in general, let’s not forget about another recent Microsoft update coup:

The windows live installer, released last September while offered an opt-out screen like Apple does now, then proceeded to install Windows Desktop Search, without ever asking for permission or even notifying the user.

Not only this was outrageously bad practice, completely ignoring the users right to decide what they want on their computers, it was also performance degrading, especially on systems that already had another desktop search installed (see system bar above).

So back to Ed Bott: yes, I condemn Apple’s latest move, but please, please, never in a million years would I think of setting Microsoft as the model to follow.


Update:  This window just popped up on my system:

Windows Firewall blocked Foldershare – a Microsoft product, which just got updated a few days ago. Only (?) problem is, I have (I should have) Windows Firewall turned off, since McAfee is installed, too.  WTF is this message?  Or has Win Firewall been turned on by some update, without asking me?   And why is it my job to investigate?


Related posts: Inner Exception, Tom Raftery’s Social Media and ParisLemon


Apple’s Sneakiness Did Not Start Today

The entire blogosphere is up in arms against Apple, for their attempt to sneak the Safari browser onto Windows machines, via Apple Update.   Everybody is shocked, after all we’re more used to such behavior from the (Micro)Borg, but Apple are supposed to be the good guys…

Except they aren’t, and have never been.  The sneakiness hasn’t started today, it just went unnoticed for a good reason.  What’s wrong with the screen image below?

Safari selected as default?  Nope.  Nothing new there, that’s what everybody’s talking about today.  What’s really wrong is the selection of iTunes.  Wait! – you may say, this is the iTunes update program in the first place … Wrong!

I happen to be one of those weirdos who don’t have iTunes on my computer.  This is a Vista PC (no, I am not happy with it, but that’s another story) and I’ve never ever had iTunes installed. In fact I don’t like to have Quicktime either, for its stickiness (close to impossible to kill if off the systray), but I need it as some videos are only available in this format.  

But why is this thing pushing iTunes on my machine, without any config option to unselect it once and for all?  It’s just as much of an aggression as the Safari invasion today.

Now, it’s the top of TechMeme – but where is FSJ? 


Update (3/22):  A commenter below warned:

Be careful not to touch the “Thin Skin of Apple Fans”.:-).

Boy, was he right.  Look at otherwise reasonably objective Dennis Howlett come to Apple’s defense, who is turning it into a Mozilla issue, talks about “Badmouthing the competition”.  Dennis, you know Apple is out of line, if this was Microsoft, you and I both would condemn it, like we did in the past. 


Related posts: VentureBeat, InfoWorld, Asa Dotzler , MacDailyNews, InformationWeek, ReadWriteWeb, Brandon Live,


The Ongoing Windows Desktop Search Controversy

Windows Desktop Search continues to stir controversy, in several ways.

Desktop Search Bundled with Vista

Back in June Microsoft agreed to make changes to the way it bundles Search with Vista. This was largely due to Google’s claim that:

Microsoft’s hardwiring of its own desktop search product into Windows Vista violates the final judgment in this case.

While I’m clearly no fan of Vista (and Microsoft, for that matter), in this case I found myself on the ‘wrong side’ – i.e. siding with Microsoft (the sky is falling, the sky is falling!).

Here’s the problem: there really should not be a product named Desktop Search . Only desktop Find – and not a product. Being able to retrieve whatever I myself placed on my hard disk should be a fundamental feature of the computer – and that means the Operating System. The fact is, for two decades Microsoft has failed to deliver this capability miserably and that opened up an opportunity for others, be it Google, Yahoo, or my personal favorite, Copernic. Now that Microsoft finally pulled their act together, and Vista has good, built-in search, let’s not complain about the operating system finally doing what it should have been doing in the first place.

In short, Google does not have a case here. A personal side-note: in the meantime I have opportunistically bought a Vista PC (not a pleasant experience), and since this beast has Vista Search built-in, I decided to NOT install Copernic Desktop Search. Not that the Vista version is better: it doesn’t have to be. I hate redundancy, and a competing product would have to be by orders of magnitude better for me to install a duplicate. Of course moving to Web applications made this decision a lot easier: after all what the desktop search capabilities are is becoming more and more irrelevant.

Windows Desktop Search Illegally Bundled on pre-Vista Systems

I found it more than ironic, in fact outrageous that in the very days Microsoft outlines the changes it plans to make to the desktop search feature in Windows Vista to satisfy antitrust concerns, it continues to dump its Desktop Search on XP systems without the users authorization – in fact without even telling users what’s happening.

Users who complain that the newly released Windows Live Installer comes with several options defaulted to “Yes” are missing the big picture: while the defaults may just be an inconvenience (OK, a trap), Windows Live Installer secretly installs Desktop Search on your XP system (Vista already has it). It is not listed anywhere as an option, you are not even warned what happens… you may just notice something funny in your taskbar after the installation:

Yes, that’s Windows Desktop Search, right next to Copernic Desktop Search, which was my choice on the XP system. Further search (Google, of course) reveals that one of the products, Windows Live Photo Gallery relies on Desktop Search. I am not going to argue the merits of this architecture, or Photo Gallery itself, but desktop search clearly isn’t just a component to gallery, it’s a basic piece of my desktop infrastructure. Running two searches is not only redundant, but clearly performance degrading, so at a minimum Microsoft should warn users about the consequences and ask for permission to proceed.

Of course this is not simply a performance issue: this practice is a blatant violation of my rights as the computer’s owner (I don’t recall Microsoft having paid for my PC, so I suppose I still own it). Frankly I am shocked, if this was 1995, I wouldn’t even be surprised, but after all the antitrust issues Microsoft faced, you’d think they learned a lesson… or not.

Additional reading: Microsoft Support, All about Microsoft, BetaNews, Ars Technica.

Update: Surprise, surprise! Microsoft changes Windows files on user PCs without permission, researchers say – reports Computerworld and Hardware 2.0. Also read: Windows Secrets, Today @ PC World, Inquirer, and Microsoft Watch


Windows Seven in 2010. Does Anyone Still Care?

So the next OS from Microsoft will be Windows Seven (where’s Windows 6?) – does anyone still care?

I simply don’t get it: Vista is barely out, nobody seems to like it, CIO’s refuse to upgrade, analyst firms tell them to wait, individual users who tried it switch back to XP, others time their new PC purchase so they can still get an XP machine – generally speaking Vista was as poorly received as the ill-fated Windows ME.

Apple is gaining market share, the major computer manufacturers are offering Linux PC’s, the Web OS concept is getting popular, applications are already on the Web – can anyone clearly see the shape of personal computing in 2012? (Yes, I know MS plans for 2010, I’m just adding the customary delay.) Will it still matter what OS we use to get on the Internet? How can Microsoft be so out of touch?

Considering the resistance to Vista ( see this Computerworld article on making XP last for 7 years) why would the world want to upgrade switch to yet-another Windows OS in five years?

Of course I’m not saying nobody cares. This hypnotized crowd certainly does. smile_yawn

Update (7/23): ZDNet’s David Berlind is asking the same question.

Update (7/25): Why ‘Seven’ and Not SP1?

Update (8/9): a very good analysis by eWeek: Broken Windows


Shockingly Honest CEO Memos–Microsoft, Nokia

Engadget calls freshly minted Nokia CEO Steven Elop’s internal letter to the troops “one of the most exciting and interesting CEO memos we’ve ever seen.” Selected quotes:

We have more than one explosion – we have multiple points of scorching heat that are fuelling a blazing fire around us.

Apple disrupted the market by redefining the smartphone and attracting developers to a closed, but very powerful ecosystem.

They changed the game, and today, Apple owns the high-end range.

The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don’t have a product that is close to their experience.

Android came in at the high-end, they are now winning the mid-range, and quickly they are going downstream to phones under €100. Google has become a gravitational force, drawing much of the industry’s innovation to its core.

But there’s still the low-end of the market … except.. oh, gotta love this choice quote:

At the lower-end price range, Chinese OEMs are cranking out a device much faster than, as one Nokia employee said only partially in jest, “the time that it takes us to polish a PowerPoint presentation.”

Hm, perhaps the Chinese don’t have PowerPoint? Smile (Hey, there’s a reason why I suggested the US Should Donate PowerPoint to the Taliban)

So yes, it’s a brutally honest memo from a new CEO – but not sure it holds the “most exciting ever” title.

Here’s another gem from Elop’s former boss: a CEO who is not a hired gun, but Founder, large shareholder, industry icon, Bigger then God.  Yet he can’ get his troops aligned, and as a user is frustrated at the crap his Monster of a company is turning out.  Yes, I am talking about (then) Microsoft CEO Bill Gates.

Excerpts from his 2003 internal letter:

—- Original Message —-

From: Bill Gates
Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 10:05 AM
To: Jim Allchin
Cc: Chris Jones (WINDOWS); Bharat Shah (NT); Joe Peterson; Will Poole; Brian Valentine; Anoop Gupta (RESEARCH)
Subject: Windows Usability Systematic degradation flame

I am quite disappointed at how Windows Usability has been going backwards and the program management groups don’t drive usability issues…

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve » Zoli Erdos)


IPhone’s Cryptic Bars vs. Real Signal on Android

iphone 4 signal bars At one point in the iPhone antenna blunder Apple tried to hide behind smoke-screen, claiming they discovered an error in how they calculated signal strength to be translated to those ever-important bars the iPhone (and all phones) uses.  They would issue a software update, that would fix the problem – or not, as we now know, the culprit being the antenna design, not just the graphical representation.

Now there’s an entire article @ the Wall Street Journal lamenting just how meaningless these bars are, since all handset manufacturers have their own arbitrary interpretation of what is 1 bar or two .. three .. four.  In fact signal indicators vary between different models of the same manufacturer.

But why are we kept in the dark?  Why can’t we get real, standardized, comparable numbers?  Turns out we can.  Just not on the iPhone.   When I recently compared two Android phones the HTC Incredible and EVO, and two carriers, Verizon and Sprint, I did not have to resort to subjective bar settings.  That would have been comparing apples (not Apple!) and oranges.

realsignal All I had to do was download the free Real Signal app from the Android Apps Market.  This app displays the real signal in dBM, and also provides two independent bar displays  – similar to the “stock” bars on your phone, except this one can be calibrated.  For example given the poor reception in my area by any carrier, I only ever see 1-2 bars on the stock display – might as well re-calibrate the display to between –85dBM to –110dBM, which is all I can get. This way I get to compare any phones and all carriers – no more BS, no more dumb bars.

Related posts:

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve)


The Chaos of BYOW (Bring Your Own Wi-Fi)

It all started as an innocent joke:

scoble zoli wifi

Robert Scoble was sitting in the front row @ Apple’s WWDC conference while I was following the tweetstream from home.  Little did we know out joke would soon turn serious, as Steve Job’s keynote demo crashed when his shiny new iPhone 4 could not get a network connection.  Ars Technica offers detailed technical analysis of what may have happened, citing wi-fi experts who think the iPhone 4 may have a software glitch – but beyond that, they go deeply into analyzing the roots of network congestion at major gatherings.

It’s a great read, I have nothing to add on the technical side, just a little speculation on what brought this potential chaos about, and how to avoid it.

In short, we’re in a vicious circle.   The best “should-know-better” conferences have famously failed to provide sufficient wifi, including  Web 2.0, LeWeb, Gnomedex, Microsoft PDC, Google I/O… you name it.   We’re not talking about Birdwatchers’ Annual Convention or Road Builders Conferences – no, these are hi-tech events heavily attended by geeks, analysts, media, bloggers – the wifi_proliferationalways on, ever connected types, who will not tolerate being offline and will come up with their solution, as soon as the technology exist.

Thus, Bring Your Own Wifi was born – first the dedicated USB sticks with their $60 a month fees, then Mi-Fi, and now a flood of smartphones all providing their own hotspots.  Now all these BYOW devices wreak havoc and cause congestion.

Now, there are some cosmetic improvements we could all do, for example stop broadcasting our hotspot’s SSID. Not that it would reduce the behind-the-scenes congestion, but at least it would not clog the list of Wi-Fi for anyone else.  (Even this is easier said than done: some hotspots do not offer the option to shut broadcasting off, and even more sadly several devices refuse to connect to a Wi-Fi unless the SSID is listed).

We’re heading into a period of wireless chaos – it probably won’t be so bad on the road, in remote places, not even while using public transportation – but it will definitely get worse at places of expected high Mi-Fi / hotspot concentration.

We’ve come full circle. It all started by the lack of “centralized” connectivity, we all came up with our own ad-hoc solution and now we’re spoiling the game for each other.  I know I’d stop fiddling with my  EVO (or the gadget of the day) if there was rock-solid wi-fi at all conferences.  It’s time conference organizers step up to the plate.  If they don’t know how, I suggest they talk to Eric.

P.S. On a ligther note, some people already discovered the option of using the SSID for messaging. Is this the next marketing opportunity?

rwang wifi ads

Related posts:

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve)


Publish Your Blog / Site in 51 Languages

My readers are predominantly English speakers, as evidenced by this distribution chart:

Readers by Language -

I suspect the 87% English-speaking majority may be exaggerated.  It’s based on the browser’s default language setting, which many don’t bother changing.

Anyway, for the sake of the min. 13%, but who knows, perhaps 20, 25% (?) I’ve installed Google’s Translator.  You can do it too.smile_wink Readers then can select a language from the widget,  but the real use case is for visitors whose default browser language is non-English: they will get a bar at the top asking if they would like all content served up in their language.

Machine translation still has rough edges, but it has come a long way, and is generally good enough to give readers an idea of what an article is all about – just forget grammar and style:-)

Here’s an example of this post in a few languages:

arito pumunta kami ulit: Ed Bott points out kung paano marahas ito ay para sa Apple na i-install ang tinatawag na “update” sa iPhone Configuration Utility sa isang Windows computer na hindi magkaroon ng software na ito na naka-install, sa katunayan isa na ay hindi kailanman nagkaroon ng iPhone o iPod konektado sa.

在這裡 , 我們又來了: 埃德博特指出 , 如何荒謬的是 , 蘋果電腦將安裝所謂的“更新”的iPhone配置實用程序在Windows計算機上沒有安裝此軟件,其實一個從未有過的iPhone或iPod connected to.

Ở đây, chúng tôi đi một lần nữa: Ed Bott chỉ ra như thế nào thái nó là Apple để cài đặt cái gọi là “cập nhật” vào Configuration Utility iPhone trên một máy tính Windows mà không có phần mềm này được cài đặt, trong thực tế, một trong đó có không bao giờ có một iPhone hoặc iPod kết nối đến.

(I’m sure it’s right, whatever it says. smile_shades)

Update:  Here’s something I missed, but Sandy Kemsley didn’t:

If you read this, or other Google Translate-enabled blogs in Google Reader, you can set it to auto-translate there.  Neat.

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Blinded by Vista Sales Numbers

This is one of those rare occasions when I can pull up an old post, dust it off,  and voila! – I’m done.  Yes, I am lazy – but hey, I can’t help, this is one of those “I’ve told you” moments.   Here’s what I wrote last year:

Time for a reality check. Product quality, customer satisfaction and market success have very little to do with each other when you have a monopoly.

The Vista problems are real, they are not fantasies created by bloggers. But how exactly are consumers supposed to revolt? They still need computers, and despite Apple’s respectable growth, they still represent a fraction of the consumer PC market. Try to buy a PC today, it’s hard to NOT end up with Vista (even I got one)

Customer demand for Vista? No, it’s customer demand for computers, in a market with no choice. I’m not “making this up”, Donna. It’s all in Microsoft’s 10-Q:

…Client revenue growth correlates with the growth of purchases of PCs from OEMs that pre-install versions of Windows operating systems because the OEM channel accounts for approximately 80% of total Client revenue. The differences between unit growth rates and revenue growth rates from year to year are affected by changes in the mix of OEM Windows operating systems licensed with premium edition operating systems as a percentage of total …

The increased “demand” for premium versions comes from another well-documented fact, i.e. Microsoft’s new segmentation, castrating Vista Home Basic and essentially making Home Premium the equivalent of XP Home – a hidden price increase, by any measure.

A true measure of “demand” for Vista would be corporate licenses and retail sales, and both are behind. But not for long: eventually, after the release of SP1 corporate IT will give in, too – who wants to be “left behind”, after all.

Today InfoWorld burst the Vista Sales Bubble (if you ask me, there never has been a bubble, but that’s another matter):  35 percent of mainly enterprise-class users “downgrade” their Vista systems to XP.

The numbers speak for themselves, let me just add this: next time you look at Vista Sales figures, remember: these customers did not have the choice to buy XP directly, they had to get Vista on their systems, then “downgrade” (upgrade, if you ask me) to XP.    But by then their transaction is booked as a Vista purchase!

Vista sales figures are inflated, these transactions were not real purchases, just ransom paid to the monopolist for the privilege to use the OS that actually works- XP.


Syncplicity: Simply Excellent Synchronization, Online Backup and More

In today’s world where features are hyped as products and project teams masquerade as companies it’s truly refreshing to see a service that’s almost an All-in-One (OK, perhaps Four-in-One) in it’s category, which I would loosely define as protecting, sharing and synchronizing one’s data.

Recently launched Syncplicity:

  • Synchronizes your data across multiple computers a’la Foldershare
  • Provides secure online backup a’la Mozy
  • Facilitates easy online file sharing a’la
  • Integrates with  online services like Google, Zoho, Scribd, Picnik (somewhat like now defunct Docsyncer?)

An impressive list by all means.   Oh, and congrat’s to the team for finding an available domain name that’s actually a perfect description of what they do.  The simplicity part probably refers to the ease of installation and use not the task they perform in the background. smile_wink.

Getting Started
Registration, installation of the client is quick and easy, more importantly, after the initial configuration you can forget about the software – it works for you in the background non-intrusively, allowing you peace of mind.  You can leave it to Syncplicity to find all your document and media files or specify directories to be synchronized.  The process allows more granular control than Foldershare, where one of my gripes was that if I select My Documents ( a fairly obvious choice), I cannot exempt subdirectories, which results in conflict with some stubborn programs (e.g. Evernote).  With Syncplicity you can precisely fine-tune what you want synchronized, in fact they indicated that filename-based exclusion is in the development plan. (If you ever had your Picasa.ini files messed up by Foldershare, you know what I am talking about…)

The major difference compared to Foldershare is that Syncplicity is not a peer-to-peer product: it actually uploads your files to their servers, where they are encrypted (AES-256) and are available either to the Syncplicity clients on your other computers, or directly, via a Web browser.  This may be a show-stopper for some, and a convenience for others: unlike Foldershare, this approach does not require all synchronized computers to be online at the same time.  And since the files are stored online, it might as well be used as a backup service – this is where we enter Mozy-land.

The two major differences vs. Mozy are encryption and ease of restoring files from the backup set.
Mozy performs all encryption on your computer and even allows you to pick your private key: it can hardly be any safer (so safe, that if you lose the key, you’re files are gone forever).  Syncplicity transmits your files using SSL and the AES 256-bit encryption occurs in their data center, using a random key that is then sent off to a different location. Since they hold the key, there’s definitely a trust issue to ponder here.
Of course a backup solution is only as good as the restore, and, unlike Mozy, which will send a zip file hours after your request, then to be decrypted on your PC, accessing your files with Syncplicity couldn’t be any simpler.  Install the client on any PC and auto-download entire directories, or just browse the online version, check file revision history and pick what you’d like to download manually.

Syncplicity offers both file and folder-level sharing: from your PC, right-click on any file to get a shareable link, which will allow anyone you email it to download the file from their website.  Or share entire folders to any email address, and the receiving party can either browse the folder’s online version, or, if they have the Syncplicity client installed, you both will have identical copies on your computers.  You can further specify view-only or edit access – the latter takes us into collaboration-land: updates made by any sharing party will be synchronized back to all other computers.  Be aware though that each party will still work on individual copies prior to save/sync, so with long multiple edits it’s quite possible to end up with several versions of the same document, due to Syncplicity’s conflict resolution.

This is why I believe real-time online collaboration is superior: there’s only one master copy, and no confusion between revisions.  This is what Google Docs and Zoho offer, and – surprise, surprise! – Syncplicity won’t let you down here, either.
They have created the best seamless offline/online integration I’ve seen with Google Docs: at the initial run your designated PC folder (e.g. My Documents) will get uploaded to your Google Docs account, and Google docs will be placed in a subdirectory on your computer.  From this point on you can edit these documents using Google, Word, Excel ..etc – your offline and online versions will be kept in sync.  This is pretty good, but not perfect: since Google docs only support a subset of the Word functions, after an online edit Syncplicity keeps two (and potentially more) versions of the same file – one with the latest changes, the other with a full set of Word functions “lost” in the conversion to Google.

Syncplicity’s most recently added online partners are:

  • Zoho – Right-click for the  ‘Edit in Zoho’ option.  Saving updates the document both on your computer, Syncplicity, but NOT on Zoho and Zoho (fixed, that was fast)
  • ScribdiPaper view of your files on the desktop.
  • Picnik – Right-click to choose “Edit in Picnik” for all your photos.

The Zoho integration presents a funny situation: you can now use Zoho Writer to save a file to your Google Docs space (Zoho>Desktop>Syncplicity>Google).  Not sure how practical this is, but I like the irony of a third party creating Zoho>Google integrationsmile_tongue.  On a more serious note, what I really would like to see is full Syncplicity<>Zoho integration, like it works with Google today (and since Zoho supports more Word functions, the conversion should be less lossy).  And while on the wish-list, how about sync-ing to Flickr?

Is it for you?
First of all, pricing: Free for two computers and 2G space, $9.99/month or $99 annually for any number of computers and 40G of storage.  You can sign up here to get 1G more, i.e. 3G of free storage, or 45G on paid accounts (using ZOLIBLOG as invitation code also works).  The price-tag is clearly heftier than, say Mozy, or free Foldershare, but there’s a lot more functionality you get – and oh, boy, when did become so expensive?

The one potential downside is the fact that Syncplicity is a pre-funding startup. Will they survive?  This market has seen casualties (Docsyncer, Omnidrive?), successful exits (Mozy, Foldershare), and stable, ongoing services.  The answer is: who knows?   The Founders are ex-Microsofties, they’ve put an amazing service together in a very short time, so I’d put my chips on them, but in business there are no guarantees.

A better question to ask what you’re real risk is.  If online backup is critically important to you, and are already paying for a service like Mozy, I wouldn’t abandon it yet (Mozy is now owned by EMC, not going anywhere).  If you’re mostly just syncing currently, or don’t have a solid backup solution for now, there’s not much to lose. Even if Syncplicity were to disappear, your files will be replicated in several places, you don’t lose access.

In fact, by signing up, you help Syncplicity show traction, which is critical in the funding process, so you can help solidify their position.  Happy Sync-ing!smile_regular

Update (7/17): In the meantime Microsoft’s Windows Live Mesh opened to the public, combining synhcronization and backup – also competing with their own Foldershare.  Now a word on what will happen to Foldershare, but I guess the writing is on the wall.  That said, I Live Mesh just failed for me the second time, so I can’t really recommend it.

Another service, Dropbox is getting hyped a lot nowadays, largely to a smart theme of giving out limited numbers of invitations.  Apparently artificially created shortage is good marketing, bloggers LOVE being able to give away 10 or so invites…   Dropbox has one advantage over Syncplicity: it’s multi-platform, including Apple’s OS X and Linux, whereas Syncplicity is Windows only for now.  But that’s where it ends: it has less features (forget Web Apps integration), and has what I consider a huge flaw:  you have to drop your files into a dedicated folder to be synchronized.   That may be reasonable if you want to collaborate on a limited set of files, but it simply does not resolve the “access to all myy data anywhere, anytime” problem.  It’s certainly a show-stopper for me.

So if you’re waiting for a Dropbox invitation, you might as well try Syncplicity – you’ll love it.  And if you sign up here, you get 1G more, i.e. 3G of free storage instead of the standard 2G.

Update #2:  Congratulations to the Syncplicity team on their funding.