Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Is Your Search for a Better Search Engine at an End? Bing!

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Vol. 3, # 74 - Jun 3, 2009 - Issue # 83 
 Is Your Search for a Better Search Engine at an End? Bing!

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Is Your Search for a Better Search Engine at an End? Bing!
    • Follow-up: the Minimalist Approach
    • The 64 bit question
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Windows 7 launch date confirmed
    • Use your body to control your computer
    • Google aims to take applications off the desktop
  4. How to: Using the New Vista Features
    • Change the logon screen in Vista
  5. Vista Security
    • How secure is Vista, really?
  6. Vista Question Corner
    • Can I upgrade from 32 bit to 64 bit Vista?
  7. Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • Vista disconnects client applications using TCP port 1723
    • You get an error message when you try to access administrative shares
  8. Windows 7 Preview Corner
    • Reach out and touch a Windows 7 machine
  9. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  10. Product of the Week
    • Disk Doctors Digital Media Recovery: Recover Lost and Deleted Photos, Music and Video!

Your Current (free) Antivirus Costs You $200!

Huh? Yes, you read that right. Do the math with us for a sec. We recently asked you how much you paid for your Personal Computer and peripherals. The vast majority answered that it was about $1,000 total. Now, the average old-style antivirus (paid or free) you install, hijacks about 20% of that PC, in CPU and Memory. Bingo, there's your lost 200 bucks! Time to switch don't you think? Get VIPRE. It's not a resource hog, does not slow down your PC, and is only $30 per year. Get your 15-day eval here and experience VIPRE for yourself:

Editor's Corner

Is Your Search for a Better Search Engine at an End? Bing!

I have a confession to make. As much as I like Microsoft products in general and as much as I evangelize them, I just never got on board when it came to Internet Search. I tried to love Live Search, I really did. At the MVP conferences, when Steve Ballmer would ask us how many of us used Google, I always felt a little sad that I had to raise my hand (along with a majority of other MVPs). And when he implored for us to try Live Search for a week, I always went back home determined to do it, to give it another try. And each time I tried it, it was a little better than the time before. But ... never quite good enough. So when the week was over, and I needed to get work done, I always went back to Google. Because, well, it gave me the results that I needed.

I've been participating in the private preview of Microsoft's brand new search engine, Bing (it has now gone live to the public) and I was happy to discover that it's not just a warmed over version of Windows Live. It really is new and different. And better. Maybe even (dare I say it?) better than Google. I've been running them side by side to compare and so far, Bing is making me very happy. Maybe at next year's MVP Summit, we can all make Steve-O happy, too.

Since we don't print screenshots in the newsletter, I've included a number of screenshots of the features that I discuss below on my blog in the post titled "Bing Onscreen." You can see them at at

So what's different about Bing? What sets it apart from the G site? It has the same category views across the top: Web, Images, Videos, Shopping, Maps and More ("More" includes News, Travel, Local and xRank). It has the Related Searches categories in the left pane (with Google, you have to click the "Show Options" button to see the list). It has sponsored sites in the right pane (fewer of them, but that's to be expected since it's new and probably not known to many advertisers). It has the list of results in the middle, with a two to three line snippet describing the page. But when you hover the cursor to the right of any result, you get a surprise: a pop-up box where you can read a longer excerpt from the page - without having to actually click and go to the site.

I love this feature! So often I can't really get an idea of what's on a site and whether it will be useful to me from the two line description so I click through to a lot of sites that end up being useless. But now they're in my history, cluttering it up and making it harder to find something I'm looking for there. With the Bing preview, I click through to far fewer sites. And if I'm looking for a quick bit of information (such as an address or phone number of a restaurant) I'm likely to find it in the preview box and not have to go to the company's site and hunt for it there.

The first thing you're likely to do when you use a new search engine is set your preferences. To do so in Bing, you click the Extras down arrow at the top right and choose Preferences. Some of the settings echo those of Google: you can specify strict, moderate or no filtering, number of results per page, and language for both display of the engine and pages to search. You can also identify your location (city and state or zip code) and the search engine will find results that are relevant to your area.

Something else I liked was the ability to include or exclude broader terms. For example, when I searched for "eSATA housing," at the top of the results page it said "Results are included for SATA housing" and gave me the option to click to show just the results for eSATA housing.

What about advanced search techniques? As with Google, you can search for exact phrases, pages that include all of a specified group of words, or exclude sites that contain specified words, and search within a specific site or domain. Bing also allows you to search for results from a specified country or region, which could be handy. Also as with Google, you can use Boolean operators (OR, NOT, AND) within a search term.

David Berkowitz wrote that Bing is more of a search portal than a search engine, the difference being that it allows you to "keep searching and refining your query without ever leaving the site until you absolutely have to."

I agree with that assessment. An interesting feature is the ability to read full articles without ever leaving the site. When I search for "leukemia," at the top of the list I get a set of links to articles from the Mayo Clinic, MD Consult, Wikipedia and Medicine Plus. But clicking these doesn't take me to those organizations' web sites; it allows me to read content provided from those organizations right there on Bing. Why does this matter? Because often the outside sites will change the locations of articles or remove them; this way the particular article is always there. Below this set of "full article" links are the regular links to outside sites.

Another really helpful feature comes into play when you're researching products to buy. When I searched for "color printer" on Google, I get a couple of ads at the top, a bunch of ads at the right side, and a list of various articles, blog posts, etc. When I search the same term on Bing, at the top of the page I get "Top Brands" with links to HP, Canon, Xerox, OKI, Samsung and more, "Price" divided into categories below $100, $100-600 and above $600, and "Guides" with links to printer buying guides from Howstuffworks, PC Magazine, and CNET.

Of course, all the Microsoft bashers are out in force, and since they can't seem to find anything really wrong with Bing, they're taking the stance that it's "not life changing," as David Coursey wrote in PC World:

His reasons for liking Google better? Search results were "not strikingly better than Google's" and "the opening page is strange" because it contains an image of hot-air balloons." Umm, yeah. So just plain "better" isn't good enough - it has to be "strikingly better." And how often do you even see the opening page of your search engine? I don't; I type a word or term into the search box in IE, pick my search engine from the drop down box and go directly to the results page.

Many of the negative reviews seem to indicate that the reviewers didn't dig very deeply into the site and don't know about all its features. I suppose you could fault Microsoft for not making those features more obvious, but it's not as if Google makes its advanced features all that obvious, either. I know I used it for a long time before I realized that I could filter results by time/date.

Anything new takes a bit of getting used to, and I'm sure there will be some tweaking done on Microsoft's part as user input starts coming in. In my opinion, with Bing they are well on the way to creating a "Google Killer." They may not quite be there yet, but this is the first time in close to a decade that I've found a search engine that doesn't make me long to go back to Google.

You don't have to take my word for it, though. Try it out for yourself at and tell us what you think. Does Bing have what it takes to compete with the Big G? Are its best features too deeply hidden within the interface? Does it give you the results you want? Is it faster or slower? How does it compare to the old Live Search? What would you like to see changed to make it better? Let us know at

Follow-up: the Minimalist Approach

In last week's editorial, we addressed the question of just how "minimalist" consumers want software vendors to be when it comes to cutting the extra applications out of operating systems. Plenty of you had something to say on that subject.

Dan M. suggests, "An operating system with lots of 'extras' should have a custom install feature that gives the installer a choice what is installed. Computers with a pre-installed OS should have just the 'bare bones' installed and come with a CD of all the extra programs. Of course I'd prefer to get a complete OS installation disk with a new computer but I know that isn't going to happen."

Groda L. said, "Personally, I think that all the extra bells and whistles that Microsoft throws into Windows are great; but I do have a different outlook on how they should be managed ... I think that the Microsoft Windows Installer should have 2 options: Easy/Quick Installation ... and Expert/Advanced Installation (This goes back to the good ol' days where you were presented with all the accessories and given your choice of what you wanted installed, or nothing extra at all if that's your choice)."

And Kirby M. said, "I want a good solid OS program and the ability to select the programs that I want and use. I like the idea of Microsoft starting a free Cafe system for these many neat programs so we can select what we want and not having to have pieces of programs we don't use on our machines."

And Bill M. had another idea. "I would suggest an install similar to Microsoft Office. Have a default choice of Home User, Business User, Business client. These choices would only mark boxes that are common to this use. The user could accept these or check or uncheck other services they wish installed (movie maker, games, etc.)" In fact, several others who responded pointed to the Office installer as an example of what they would like to see with the operating system.

Rocky C. said, "I see nothing wrong with allowing us to decide at the time of installation if we want IE, backup/sync programs, CD/DVD apps, games, etc. So let the install default to the basic OS/file system/memory management/explorer shell apps, and after that, let us decide if we want anything else."

Kenneth P. is sure to rile up some of those with analog modems when he says "I love the fact that there isn't as much in Windows 7. Most people have broadband internet these days and if they need something they can get it. Why bloat the software for the smaller percentage of people who still use dial-up."

And Edward B. arrives at the same conclusion for a different reason. "I think with all the lawsuits MS has had I think they ought to make Windows very slim and make people download all the extras. I know that burdens the dial up people, but with the way the EU and others have treated MS I think it all should be optional."

While most of you took a similar middle of the road approach, some are really sold on minimalism. Billy K. said "I've never responded to one of your newsletters even though i read it each time it comes out, however the minimalist approach is something i long for, the introduction of server core is the best thing since sliced bread in my opinion, because you start off with a vanilla base in which you add modules (roles) to, if this could be replicated to the client world even better."

Finally, Elliott C. points out that "You (in this case Microsoft) can't please everyone. What most users want is for Windows to install with exactly the components that they want; no more and no less. However, they don't want to take the time to go through a list at install time to pick and choose what they want. Unfortunately, every user wants different things."

The 64 bit question

Many of you took issue with my advice to last week's question about whether to install Vista x64 on a machine that's limited to 4 GB of RAM. The issue was that the OS would be able to fully utilize the 4GB rather than having some of it taken by the video card. It's a good point, but I still say that in many cases, the difficulty of finding 64 bit drivers will make it not worth the extra 512MB or so of RAM that can be used. It really depends on your peripherals and the applications you use.

Thanks to all of you who wrote on these topics!

'Til next week
, Deb Shinder, Editor

PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication for XP users called WXPnews? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:

And for IT pros, there's our "big sister," WServer News, at

Look for the VistaNews fan page on Facebook!

Quotes of the Week

There's a lot of Google fascination out there and we share it, and we're going to compete, we're going to compete very, very hard. - Steve Ballmer (Microsoft), July 2004

The ultimate search engine would basically understand everything in the world and it would always give you the right thing. And we're a long, long way from that. - Larry Page (Google)

Keep The Bad Guys Out With The Sunbelt Personal Firewall

Why do I need a firewall? Together with antivirus and antispyware, a firewall is a "must" to protect your computer. PC Magazine gave the Sunbelt Personal Firewall a "Very Good" rating with 4 Stars and a conclusion of "good protection". Check out the Reviews on the site and it will be clear why you need the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to protect your PC. One good example: Unlike the Windows XP and Vista Firewall, you can tell the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to look carefully at the data leaving your browser, so that sensitive information like your credit card numbers, email address, bank account, social security number and PIN code do not get stolen by hackers!

Cool Tools


WhiteSmoke 2009 is an innovative proofreading and editing tool with a single aim - to help you write better

Backblaze is the no fuss solution to getting all your data backed up online securely, easily, automatically, and for only $5/month for unlimited storage.

Ever use a download manager? You might not know what your missing, try this one!

Rip DVDs for your iPhone, iPod touch, Apple TV, or iPod Video Nano. Bundle includes video converter too! Free Trial:

Advanced Vista Optimizer does a great job tweaking Vista for Max performance.

Eliminate your online traces with CyberScrub. Privacy equals security.

GoodSync is an easy and fast way to backup and synchronize your emails, photos, iTunes, MP3s, and other important files.

Your Uninstaller! 2008 takes the place of the clunky Windows Control Panel "Add/Remove Programs" and offers many other useful functions

Kill the background tasks belonging to (legitimate) software that run all day. Why? To get your speed back!

I need a real program for autofilling my passwords, shipping info not a toolbar widget. Roboform is the real deal!

News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Windows 7 launch date confirmed

For those who have been anxiously awaiting the news, Microsoft has confirmed a launch date of October 22 for Windows 7, meaning the new OS will be available on computers to be sold for the upcoming holiday season. Rumor has it that the RTM (Release to Manufacturing, which is the final, finished or "gold" version) will be done by sometime in July. Read more here

Use your body to control your computer

Following the success of the Nintendo Wii with its motion sensitive game controller, Microsoft has announced a new project code named "Natal" that goes a step further - you can control what's happening on the screen without even having to hold the controller. It senses body motions and translates them to on-screen actions, making for a more natural experience. It would first be used with the Xbox gaming console, of course, but there might be broader implications on down the road. Find out more about it at

Google aims to take applications off the desktop

It's been framed as the battle of two giants encroaching on one another's territory, with Microsoft's Bing challenging Google's search superiority while Google's new Wave seeks to "make Windows irrelevant." While the so-called experts are skeptical about Bing overtaking Google search, they seem much more optimistic about Google's chances of succeeding with its goal to remove applications from the desktop. What I hear from users who don't want to depend on the Internet for their apps seems to indicate otherwise. Read more here:

How to: Using the New Vista Features

Change the logon screen in Vista

Don't like the logon screen wallpaper? Want something a little more customized and to your own taste? It's easy to do with a simple little free utility that you can download at
  1. Create or download a picture that you want to use for the logon background and name it with the .logonvista extension.
  2. Download and install LogonStudio for Vista.
  3. Click the shortcut to open the program.
  4. When you get the UAC prompt, click Continue.
  5. Navigate to the location of the file you want to use for the background.
  6. Select the file and click Open.
  7. Click Save.
  8. Click Apply.
Now you'll have a logon screen you like instead of the same one that everyone else has.

Vista Security

How secure is Vista, really?

Some folks think it's too secure - especially when that darn UAC prompt keeps popping up in their faces or they're denied access to a folder. Others say it's not secure enough, that Linux and Mac are more secure. What's the real story? Don Reisinger does a good job of "Correcting the Rhetoric" in this article:

Vista Question Corner

Can I upgrade from 32 bit to 64 bit Vista?

My new computer came with 32 bit Vista installed and 4 GB of RAM. The motherboard will accept 8 GB but it's my understanding I have to have 64 bit operating system to use more RAM. Can I upgrade my Vista to 64 bit and if so, any tips or things to watch out for? Thanks. - Leslie K.

There are a couple of different issues here. Microsoft does not support upgrading from a 32 bit to 64 bit edition of Vista. You have to do a clean installation. However, you can apparently do this by buying an "upgrade" copy of the OS (which is less expensive). Note that if you already have a boxed copy of the Vista Ultimate, it has both the 32 and 64 bit versions so you don't have to buy the software again.

Also note that you can use the Windows Easy Transfer program on the Vista DVD to save your settings and preferences and then transfer them to the new 64 bit installation. Then you'll need to start the 64 bit installation by booting from the installation DVD (rather than running the DVD from inside Windows). If you're using an upgrade DVD, don't format the drive or otherwise remove the old version of Vista first, because Setup needs to verify that you already have qualifying OS to use the upgrade license. For more info on 64 bit installation options, see

Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting

Vista disconnects client applications using TCP port 1723

If you have a Vista computer running the Windows Firewall and client applications try to connect using TCP port 1723 (FTP and P2P programs and some multifunction printers), you may find that the Windows Firewall rejects the traffic and disconnects the connection. There is a workaround for the problem, which you can find in KB article 946567 at

You get an error message when you try to access administrative shares

If your Vista computer belongs to a workgroup and you attempt to connect to its built-in administrative shares (identified by the drive letter with a dollar sign appended), you may get a message that says "logon unsuccessful; Windows is unable to log you on." You also are unable to map a network drive to an administrative share. What's up with that? Yep, it's UAC, rearing its ugly head again. But there's a workaround, as well as a fix that you can apply by clicking the "Fix it" button in KB article 94732 at

Windows 7 Preview Corner

Reach out and touch a Windows 7 machine

Touchscreens are all the rage on the handheld computers that many of us now carry every day in the form of a cell phone. And the touch experience is making its way to the desktop. Of course, you have to have the hardware to support it, but as more vendors provide touch-capable screens, things are going to get very interesting. Microsoft recently introduced a Touch Pack for Windows 7 that will really bring the touchscreen experience alive. Read more about it and see screenshots here:

Fav Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Disclaimer: VistaNews does not assume and cannot be responsible for any liability related to you clicking any of these linked Web sites.

Product of the Week

Disk Doctors Digital Media Recovery: Recover Lost and Deleted Photos, Music and Video!

Have you ever lost or accidentally deleted your digital photos? If you are using the industry's best anti-virus application Sunbelt's "Vipre" you are protected against virus threats, but what if you accidently delete, or worse yet, get a corruption of your digital media drive? There goes those favorite music playlists, special once in a lifetime home video of family and friends and loved ones. You don't need to worry that they are lost forever, you need Photo Recovery/Digital Media Recovery from Disk Doctors. This product goes way beyond simple "Undelete". It's a sophisticated data recovery tool from Data Recovery experts. And VistaNews readers can get it at an amazing 60% off now. We know that recovery software is something many people don't buy until it's too late. But if you wait ... you are likely not to see this price ever again!

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