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Microsoft Releases Book Search

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the bill-can-find-that-book dept.

Microsoft 108

An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft is releasing its Live Search Books, a rival to Google's Book Search, in test, or beta, version in the US. The digital archive will include books from the collections of the British Library, the University of California and the University of Toronto. Books from three other institutions will be added in January 2007. All the books currently included in the project will be non-copyrighted but later it will also add copyrighted work that publishers have given permission to include in the project."

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108 comments

Publisher info (5, Informative)

AugustZephyr (989775) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148230)

Publisher information for adding content to Windows Live Book Search through the Windows Live Book Search Publisher Program can be found here: http://publisher.live.com/ [live.com]

Re:Publisher info (4, Informative)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148316)

and to search books http://books.live.com/ [live.com]
 
i've never used the live search before - so maybe this is obvious to people who do, but it is pretty cool. just by searching on some generic words i'm getting back some very interesting books.

Re:Publisher info (1)

jdray (645332) | more than 7 years ago | (#17152732)

I want "comic strip search." For instance, I'd like to be able to search for the Calvin 'n Hobbes strip where Calvin shouts, "Help, help, I'm being oppressed!" All I can find is Dennis the Peasant. :-\

Re:Publisher info (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 7 years ago | (#17152944)

that would be nice. of course - it is also fun to just dig through the books looking for that one strip and laughing at some of the gems that had slipped your mind over the years.

I had a release of my own (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17148298)

I just released a jimmy rocket the size of my arm from shoulder to wrist. A massive, thick, gnarled turd. It was what we in the business call a double flusher. I might need more fiber.

Wasn't this expected? (-1, Offtopic)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148306)

They way that MS is behind and doing everything everyone else seems to be doing, how long before we see the official MS Linux distribution?

Re:Wasn't this expected? (2, Insightful)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148320)

And you mean that Linux (an Unix CLONE!!!!!) is better in originality? For crying out loud :-)

Re:Wasn't this expected? (1)

Stormx2 (1003260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148674)

You could call windows a DOS clone. Linux isn't a unix clone, they are seperate systems. Operating systems work differently but come up with an end product, which is a platform desktop and web apps can run on. Thats where the real diversity starts, but perhaps not in this case. I'm quite sick of MS calling itself inovative and leeching off other peoples good work.

Re:Wasn't this expected? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17150630)

Linux is a Unix clone...really, get over it and accept it. Linux IS a variation of Unix.

Re:Wasn't this expected? (2, Insightful)

Kopl (1027670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150692)

If you want to show anger towards linux, I recommend choosing a different path than complaining about it being built to standards like Posix and SUS.

Re:Wasn't this expected? (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#17151294)

If you want to show anger towards linux, I recommend choosing a different path than complaining about it being built to standards like Posix and SUS.

You can make something POSIX-compliant without it looking like UNIX. Look Windows, for example.

Re:Wasn't this expected? (1)

Iron Condor (964856) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156798)

If you want to show anger towards linux, I recommend choosing a different path than complaining about it being built to standards like Posix and SUS.

Wait ... but when MS makes something strictly to a standard then they're ... "a copycat"? And when they're making something to a standard but then improve on it then it's "embrace, extend, control"? And if they do something that's completely different from any existing standard people moan how non-standard MS products are? So what exactly are they supposed to do?

One day I'd like to hear one of you folks tell me what exactly you'd want MS to do that wouldn't make you whine about it reflexively...

Re:Wasn't this expected? (4, Interesting)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148410)

This is, and always has been, microsofts MO, it's nothing new.

They never move into a market unless someone is already there.

It's the same mentality as long distance runners not taking the lead/avoiding it until the race is almost over. let the other runners have all the problems keeping ahead, then move in at the end.

It doesn't seem to be working against google though, interesting that.

And we'll see a 'Microsoft officially aproved' Linux real soon, called SUSE SP1.

Re:Wasn't this expected? (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148566)

And we'll see a 'Microsoft officially aproved' Linux real soon, called SUSE SP1.

But everyone knows you don't actually use it until SP2 :)

Re:Wasn't this expected? (1)

iteyoidar (972700) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148830)

But then all the runners would end up slowing down to a walk and not get anywhere...I suppose that's sort of how that weird Olympic bike racing works though.

Re:Wasn't this expected? (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148936)

not the leading bunch, have you not watched long distance runners? Or the tour de france leading group? (they have a word for it, buggered if I can recall it though).

Re:Wasn't this expected? (1)

snarfbot (1036906) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149850)

drafting, in motor sports it reduces drag. in running, its more of a mental thing. its tougher to gauge your pace when your leading the pack, and you can just settle in behind and then out kick him at the end.

Re:Wasn't this expected? (1)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 7 years ago | (#17152404)

I have a vague memory of reading some research some years ago that indicated there was a measurable reduction in air resistance even for runners. I may be misremembering, though (perhaps playing with too many virtual cameras), or maybe it's been disproved.

Re:Wasn't this expected? (1)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149868)

Peloton

Re:Wasn't this expected? (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150192)

of course, silly me

Re:Wasn't this expected? (1)

moranar (632206) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149426)

They never move into a market unless someone is already there.

Well, a market normally doesn't even exist unless there's already someone there. But I acknowledge they've started very few new markets. Visual (as in Studio) tools, perhaps?

Re:Wasn't this expected? (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150242)

was that not a response to Borlands visual toolset?

I know they ripped the guts of the development team from Borland, taking the guy who designed it in the first place, but I don't know who started the visual dev thing.

It's a shame about Delphi, I really liked that.

Google did it a long time ago (2, Interesting)

xtal (49134) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148354)

Anyone remember print.google.com?

I'm waiting for google to buy a huge book publisher next, put the whole catalog up, and sell ads..

Re:Google did it a long time ago (1)

cafard (666342) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150864)

Google did it a long time ago

Ah, but it didn't count then. It's MICROSOFT doing it now. So that's in-nuv-a-shun, see?

Re:Google did it a long time ago (1)

Red Alastor (742410) | more than 7 years ago | (#17151596)

Anyone remember print.google.com?
Yes, Microsoft does. I can't help but wonder if their goal since they are 100 opt-in (as opposed to Google being opt-out) isn't to give bullets to those who want to sue Google for indexing all the books they can get their hands on : see, Microsoft ask for permission, why not Google!

Playing tag with google ... (2, Interesting)

Gopal.V (532678) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148366)

I see some sort of strategy here - something very similar to what MSFT adopted against Apple, very succesfully - Building something that is cheaper, virtually the same - almost.

But the same rules may not apply in the world of online tools. Where GOOG is actually borrowing content to attract their actual product (i.e the users) whom them can then sell to customers (i,e advertisers) - Microsoft doesn't seem to have such a clear cut monetization plan from the looks of it. Seems to be more a case of dump enough money to smother the competitor approach, which I doubt will work with Google today.

I for one, would be more scared of Amazon and other publishers rather than such a half-hearted (peanut butter) effort by MSFT.

Re:Playing tag with google ... Free as Beer (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148626)

Building something that is cheaper, virtually the same - almost.

Isn't Google already free? Hard to be cheaper than that -- unless MS is going to pay me to use their service.

Re:Playing tag with google ... Free as Beer (1)

moranar (632206) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149464)

...unless MS is going to pay me to use their service.

Well, lots of people pay Google for a privilege: that of their ads being shown on the service. It's how Google makes money. So Live could make advertisers pay less (or more efficiently, which amounts to pretty much the same, but is much more interesting and difficult to do) for ads.

MS do have a plan (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#17152854)

Drown the competition. Kill the baby. Let the competition burn out.

They've done this WindowsCE, to some degree of success. SinCE WinCE started, approx 7 years ago, they've been making a huge loss -- spending far more than the revenue form WInCE licenses. Other players actually have to live off their revenues, so they tend to pass out from hunger.

They've done this with IE. Now they're trying to do this to Google.

More than so (3, Interesting)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148414)

3 larger universities in Sweden (the one I work for is one of them) are about to add theyselve to MS Live Search book program. They are in the talking at this moment. This will give the project access to 30000+ volumes of books/researchs in scientific and humanitary fields.

Re:More than so (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148482)

This will give the project access to 30000+ volumes of books/researchs in scientific and humanitary fields.

And all of it in Swedish, no doubt.

Or to put it another way: [twinpines.nl] Und ell ooff it in Svedeesh, nu duoobt. Bork Bork Bork!

Re:More than so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17148750)

The study of "The correlation between blondness of hair and breast size in the adult swedish woman" is an even better read in the original swedish.

The thinnest of books (4, Funny)

YourMoneyOrYourDuck (1033800) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148426)

I wonder if "Microsoft Innovation - Volumes 1-12" are going to make it into the index

Re:The thinnest of books (2, Insightful)

archen (447353) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148604)

Lack of innovation jokes aside, what does this buy Microsoft exactly? I can understand Google's craziness due to their goal of indexing the world's information - and as such Google also tends to have many projects that don't yield profitable results. But Microsoft? This is a software company first. Maybe a search engine company in a way. Yet I don't see how indexing books gains them ANYTHING, aside from just doing what Google is doing... because it's doing it. Much like a little little kid who emulates his father hammering things to "fix" them, but not understanding the purpose of the hammering, nor doing it in a manner that actually fixes anything.

Re:The thinnest of books (1)

kryten_nl (863119) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148620)

"How Linux stole MicroSoft's IP" by S. Ballmer is definetly going to be available. Along with "Chair-ki, a combination of martial arts and Feng-Shui" by the same author.

Re:The thinnest of books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17149246)

its aleady in there. But you cannot see because its hidden

Re:The thinnest of books (1)

tbcpp (797625) | more than 7 years ago | (#17151502)

And I thought you said "invocation". NOOOOOOOOOOO.....Not the M$ Deamon! We are DOOOOOOOOOOOOMED

Anyway, back on topic...

Duplication of Effort (3, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148432)

What a wasted duplication of effort. I'd rather have both companies get together and make one good product for all of us to use at either half the cost, or twice the breadth and quality.

Re:Duplication of Effort (2, Insightful)

silentounce (1004459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148528)

If both companies got together [wikipedia.org] then prices most likely wouldn't be less and the quality wouldn't be near as great. Keep it the way [wikipedia.org] it is.

Re:Duplication of Effort (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17148554)

maybe Ford and GM can do the same with a passenger car

Re:Duplication of Effort (2, Insightful)

Stinky Fartface (852045) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148720)

Nonsense. Competition is good for the industry. While Microsoft are hardly known for being innovators, they have proven an ability to evolve an established idea. Google's book search will become better because of the competition Microsoft poses.

Re:Duplication of Effort (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148820)

What a wasted duplication of effort.
Did that thorny legal question about 'scanning Library books without the copyright owners' permission' ever get settled?

Cause otherwise, the effort are just wasted. Period.

Re:Duplication of Effort (1)

darkonc (47285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148848)

Nice idea, but you're talking about Microsoft here.

Re:Duplication of Effort (1)

fastgood (714723) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149898)

Double your pleasure, double your fun, with double the DRM.

Give away something for free that everyone wants, so you can install a piece of software on machines for other ventures.
(I'll never buy another Microsoft product if they ever install DRM that can't be removed via System Restore the next day)

Re:Duplication of Effort (1)

Enzo the Baker (822444) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150198)

I'd be happy if they shared the data, even if they provided different interfaces.

In test, or beta??? (1)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148496)

Microsoft is releasing its Live Search Books, a rival to Google's Book Search, in test, or beta, version in the US.

I seriously think that people reading Slashdot know what "beta" means. Especially considering the "tagging beta" phrase that appears below every article summary. You can just say "beta" next time. Thanks.

Re:In test, or beta??? (1)

elmedico27 (931070) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153820)

Now Microsoft is rivaling Google's "Beta" program too!!

Copy Cat (0, Redundant)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148514)

"Anything you can do, I can do better .... "

Oh, for Pete's Sake (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148522)

Please Microsoft, do something new that's not copying Apple and Google.

Let's all now go look at Google Labs and predict the next 12 Microsoft products....

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

Lord_Slepnir (585350) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148734)

Google is making a full-featured Operating System?

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

darkonc (47285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148912)

No, but Apple did.
The difference, however, is that Apple's OS actually works.

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149032)

Google is making a full-featured Operating System?

Reportedly. Well, it'll be linux-based; it's a matter of taste whether linux or Windows has more features.

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (0, Troll)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148860)

Please Microsoft, do something new that's not copying Apple and Google.

Wait, Google isn't based on copying something someone else was doing? (Alta Vista, HotBot, etc, etc).

Wait, Apple isn't based on copying something someone else was doing? (Xerox GUI, MP3 players, plus numerous other examples).

Both those companies invent almost nothing. You can argue that do better versions of what came before, but as far as basic inventions, no. If Microsoft (or Amazon, or AOL, or...) can do book scanning better, then let them. What's the big deal?

Oh wait, this is Microsoft we're talking about. They're not allowed to try different things.

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149128)

Both those companies invent almost nothing.

I'd count both PageRank and WIMP as major inventions.

You can argue that do better versions of what came before, but as far as basic inventions, no. If Microsoft (or Amazon, or AOL, or...) can do book scanning better, then let them.

OK, if Microsoft did better versions of the things they were copying there would be less complaining. Google is scanning books because it is trying to make all the world's information searchable. Amazon is scanning books because it is trying to make all the worlds' books portable (electronic). Microsoft is scanning all of the worlds books because _____ (fill in the blank).

What's the big deal?

Microsoft is in the unique position of having the resources and market clout to make major advances in computing. It doesn't.

Oh wait, this is Microsoft we're talking about. They're not allowed to try different things.

Uh, what? Did you even read my comment?

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

moranar (632206) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149550)

I'd count both PageRank and WIMP as major inventions.

Apple didn't invent the WIMP interface, the people at Xerox's PARC did.

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150556)

Apple didn't invent the WIMP interface, the people at Xerox's PARC did.

The PARC folks did WIP, the Mac group added the M after they licensed the tech from Xerox. See here [digibarn.com] , here [digibarn.com] , and here [digibarn.com] . They did have something like a right-click context menu in the videos I've seen, but that's not the M the M in WIMP means.

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

moranar (632206) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150974)

So the important fact isn't that they got three-and-a-half out of four, but that they didn't get the other half "right"? I'd say it's more important that they invented menus, along with the rest of WIMP, than the fact that they put it at the top of the screen or available through a right click.

The right-click context menu has been in many window environments/managers (windowmaker, afterstep, blackbox, quite possibly NeXTStep but I've never used it...), and one reason it was used is it's the nearest point to the pointer, always. The other four "nearest" (or easiest to get to) points are the four angles of the screen. Tognazzini, who worked at Apple, talked a lot about this. The "menu on top" Apple OSes use is based on a similar concept: that of "infinite height": you can push the pointer as much as you like, it stays on the top. So you suddenly have one direction less to worry about.

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17151468)

So the important fact isn't that they got three-and-a-half out of four, but that they didn't get the other half "right"? I'd say it's more important that they invented menus, along with the rest of WIMP, than the fact that they put it at the top of the screen or available through a right click.

But it wasn't a right-click menu, it was a series of buttons that could be exposed by an additional button. I'm assuming here you've seen an Alto or Star in action - have you?

Apple made a real menu and allowed the whole interface to be used with a single button. Similarly, they took the kernel of an idea from a research lab where the parent company basically wanted nothing to do with it, licensed it properly, and deployed it to millions. That's really what's important here.

The right-click context menu has been in many window environments/managers (windowmaker, afterstep, blackbox, quite possibly NeXTStep but I've never used it...)

Funny you should mention the NeXT and its clones since those were Jobs' continuation of popularizing the Xerox work - the 1984 Mac missed out entirely on the communications layer that the Xerox guys had done. If Scully hadn't kicked him out the Mac probably would have had those features well before NeXTStep became MacOS in 2000.

and one reason it was used is it's the nearest point to the pointer, always. The other four "nearest" (or easiest to get to) points are the four angles of the screen. Tognazzini, who worked at Apple, talked a lot about this. The "menu on top" Apple OSes use is based on a similar concept: that of "infinite height": you can push the pointer as much as you like, it stays on the top. So you suddenly have one direction less to worry about.

Yeah, it's called Fitt's Law. That's why menubars on top are better than menubars in windows. I've used some X11 apps that operate entirely through right-click menus. They're miserable to use; it's no wonder they're not even popular on Windows (where apps would have the option of behaving that way).

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149614)

I'd count both PageRank and WIMP as major inventions.

Google didn't invent page ranking (though, came up with better algorithms), and Apple didn't invent WIMP (though, they refined certain things about it).

Google is scanning books because it is trying to make all the world's information searchable. Amazon is scanning books because it is trying to make all the worlds' books portable (electronic). Microsoft is scanning all of the worlds books because _____ (fill in the blank).

Google is scanning books because they want to make money. Amazon is scanning books because they want to make money. Microsoft is scanning books because they want to make money.

Uh, what? Did you even read my comment?

Yes, I did, and you're holding Microsoft to a standard that you don't hold other companies to.

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

moranar (632206) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149802)

I'd count both PageRank and WIMP as major inventions.
Google didn't invent page ranking (though, came up with better algorithms)

Yes. And they call it PageRank [wikipedia.org] , go figure.

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

copdk4 (712016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150214)

Bunch of patents doesnt make something novel. PageRank is a simple tweak of Bibliometrics [wikipedia.org] methods.
From RTFW
Although citation analysis is nothing new (the Science Citation Index began publication in 1961), greater computing power is making it more useful and widespread. Google's PageRank is based on the principle of citation analysis.

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

moranar (632206) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150460)

Well, if we get finicky, it's an algorithm, so we don't talk much about "inventing it" and more of "coming up with it". After all, we wouldn't want those ugly software patents, would we?

Most things are "based" on something else. The important thing is: are they an innovation in their fields? Citation analysis might be the real original idea, but how used was it before in Computer Science? Lastly, I wouldn't call PageRank a "simple tweak" of anything.

Genesis (and originality) of PageRank (1)

jrtom (821901) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154858)

PageRank, published in 1998, is an application of eigenvector centrality.

HITS ("hubs and authorities") is another eigenvector-based method of ranking nodes in a network, also published in 1998 (in this case by Jon Kleinberg).

Eigenvector centrality itself was proposed as early as 1949 (Seeley, "The net of reciprocal influence") as a means of ranking nodes in a network. There were plenty of papers on this topic in the intervening 49 years. (The concept of eigenvectors, of course, is considerably older than this.)

[moranar] "I wouldn't call PageRank a "simple tweak" of anything."

No offense intended, but how much do you know about the details of how PageRank works? (There was a link on /. to a rather nice overview earlier today; it's worth reading.)

The specific difference that PageRank has from standard eigenvector centrality is the addition of 'virtual edges' from each node to each other node, which are collectively traversed with probability beta (a parameter of the model), which does two things:
(1) it gives the algorithm something reasonable to do in the case where it runs into a sink (node with no outgoing edges)
(2) it supplies a way of "smoothing" the rank values over the network according to the value of beta.

That's it. Personally, I consider this a relatively "simple tweak".

Credit where due: it was clever of Page and Brin to apply it to the web graph because of the particular semantics of hyperlinks, but as Kleinberg's simultaneous publication suggests, it's a pretty obvious thing to try to use the information inherent in the hyperlinks.

Furthermore, it's worth noting that the reason pure PageRank worked so well initially is that noone who was creating web pages at the time was thinking "hey, let's boost our rankings by manipulating our link structure!". At the time, SEO consisted of inserting bogus text on your web pages, because textual similarity was where it was at. The use of hyperlink information, which was totally orthogonal, revolutionized web search precisely because no one had tried to game the system in that way yet. Now that such gaming is commonplace, either PageRank or the underlying interpretation of the hyperlink data (probably both, I'd guess) has been radically modified from the original algorithm.

As to whether this is an innovation "in Computer Science", this isn't really computer science, as such: it's (applied) mathematics. (This is coming from someone who has degrees in each of them.) Google does a lot of computer science in the context of implementing its methods, refining them to take account of additional information (e.g. adjusting the transition probabilities according to the anchor text content), and most especially in scaling them to the web, but the original method is just applying a known mathematical operator.

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150678)

Google is scanning books because they want to make money. Amazon is scanning books because they want to make money. Microsoft is scanning books because they want to make money.

Oh, right, so they're all the same because they have profit as a motive. Google folks would be just as happy refining petrochemicals if they could get a big IPO off of it... sure, whatever.

Yes, I did, and you're holding Microsoft to a standard that you don't hold other companies to.

Tell me then, who was the company that first engaged libraries around the world about scanning their contents' for online searching? Who was the company that first engaged the music studios about getting their libraries for-sale online? Which company was it that decided to bring a GUI OS to the masses? Which company was it that decided that everyone should have an online-interactive globe explorer software?

Go ahead, let's hear the Microsoft firsts of recent memory.

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17151086)

Tell me then, who was the company that first engaged libraries around the world about scanning their contents' for online searching?

Google, but I never said they weren't first.

Which company was it that decided to bring a GUI OS to the masses?

Interesting phrasing there... the answer to THAT question is Microsoft. Apple was the first to bring an extremely expensive, proprietary GUI to those that could afford it. Microsoft was the one (ironically) that fulfilled the promise of a GUI "for the rest of us"... putting it on inexpensive, non-proprietary hardware.

Which company was it that decided that everyone should have an online-interactive globe explorer software?

Microsoft, with TerraServer in 1997 (and note that Google had NOTHING to do with Google Earth. They bought Keyhole).

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17151798)

Google, but I never said they weren't first.

You're saying all Google cares about is profit. Leading the way isn't the best way to profit - it's risky and idealistic. Microsoft doesn't play risky and idealistic.

Apple was the first to bring an extremely expensive, proprietary GUI to those that could afford it.

They sold millions of early Macs. Just how many millions of users do you need to have taken something from a lab to the masses? The Mac was $2500 when the IBM PC was $1500. Neither were cheap or affordable for the homeowner when a Toyota was $4500 - the IBM PC was a slower machine without graphics and a low-density disk, so it was cheaper.

Microsoft was the one (ironically) that fulfilled the promise of a GUI "for the rest of us"... putting it on inexpensive, non-proprietary hardware.

Well, that's the interesting part - they could afford to engage in their business model because they didn't have the R&D costs associated with the first mover advantage. It's a smart business play, but it's not innovative. This is what started the whole conversation.

Microsoft, with TerraServer in 1997

TerraServer was neat but it wasn't interactive. Oh, you could load up a new webpage by clicking up/down/left/right, but that's not what I meant by interactive - it's a webpage. If TerraServer == Google Earth, then Microsoft wouldn't be beta-ing its' Visual Earth 3D, they'd be saying "hey, we have TerraServer USA".

(and note that Google had NOTHING to do with Google Earth. They bought Keyhole).

OK, then Microsoft had nothing to do with TerraServer, they got that from Ariel Images. But that's disingenuous, the Ariel Images guys formed a partnership with Microsoft; the Keyhole guys carry Google employee ID's. The Google brass were the ones with the insight to give away Google Earth, so the Keyhole Pro product could flourish.

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17151988)

You're saying all Google cares about is profit. Leading the way isn't the best way to profit - it's risky and idealistic. Microsoft doesn't play risky and idealistic.

I didn't say all that Google cares about is profit. But they wouldn't be scanning books if they didn't think there was a way to make a profit. And one could argue whether leading the way is the "best way" to profit, but it's silly to argue that it's a bad way to profit.

they could afford to engage in their business model because they didn't have the R&D costs associated with the first mover advantage.

Are you kidding? Windows was MUCH MUCH harder to develop than MacOS. They had to preserve compatability with DOS applications, which is why it was a success.

TerraServer was neat but it wasn't interactive. Oh, you could load up a new webpage by clicking up/down/left/right, but that's not what I meant by interactive - it's a webpage.

It was far more than a "web page". You said, "online-interactive globe explorer software", which is exactly what it was. It built dynamic maps based on your latitude/longitude position, and allowed you to move around, zoom, etc. What else do you expect? Sure, it wasn't as slick as apps today, but what was in 1997? That's like arguing MacOS in 1984 wasn't innovative because it wasn't as slick as OS/X.

If TerraServer == Google Earth, then Microsoft wouldn't be beta-ing its' Visual Earth 3D, they'd be saying "hey, we have TerraServer USA".

*sigh* I didn't say TerraServer == Google Earth, I said TerraServer came long before Google Earth, and I wouldn't be surprised if that was what inspired Keyhole to develop their application. That Microsoft is developing newer technologies doesn't mean that TerraServer wasn't innovative in its day.

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17152318)

I didn't say all that Google cares about is profit.

You said that's why they were scanning books.

But they wouldn't be scanning books if they didn't think there was a way to make a profit.

Right, that's what businesses do. Some businesses go into new ventures to make a profit. Some businesses try to do things to improve society and try to find a way to make some money at it. Other business mimic existing successes and try to crush their competitors.

Are you kidding? Windows was MUCH MUCH harder to develop than MacOS. They had to preserve compatability with DOS applications, which is why it was a success.

Did you ever run Windows 3.0? It ran DOS apps in a box. I believe it was even called a "DOS Box". They used the i386 hardware support for doing this kind of virtualization. I'm quite sure this wasn't the major budget item in the Windows R&D budget. C'mon, not even die-hard Microsoft bolsters claim they didn't mimic with Mac with Windows.

what else do you expect? Sure, it wasn't as slick as apps today, but what was in 1997? That's like arguing MacOS in 1984 wasn't innovative because it wasn't as slick as OS/X.

It was a fine aerial photography viewer website (even if it did show the Apple campus as a dust field). I'm not arguing that Google Earth was possible in 1997. If anything, Microsoft should have been in a much better position than Google/Keyhole to develop Virtual Earth 3D in the early 2000's when the technology was available. But they didn't. They waited for Google Earth to become popular and then decided to copy it.

If Microsoft were the kind of company that would have released Virtual Earth in 2002 it would have many more fans.

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17152926)

I could correct other things that are wrong in your post, but I grow weary. I'll just correct this last thing:

It was a fine aerial photography viewer website

No, it was an Earth image viewer ("Terra"-server) that dynamically created satellite views of the earth based on longitude, latitude and altitude. You seem to be under the odd notion that it was a slide show, which is just absurd.

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153374)

You seem to be under the odd notion that it was a slide show, which is just absurd.

Nice strawman, but no, I've used it before. You had left-right-up-down, as I mentioned in an earlier post, and zoom. Each time you clicked it redrew the webpage.

If you can't accept that I define Google Earth as an interactive desktop application differently than the Terraserver site, fine, we can disagree about what a desktop application is.

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

LO0G (606364) | more than 7 years ago | (#17152536)

OK, then Microsoft had nothing to do with TerraServer, they got that from Ariel Images.


Actually, Microsoft licensed the imagery from Ariel Images (and the Russian Space Agency), but TerraServer was MS's alone. It was a SQL Server research project for Microsoft's "Scalability Day [microsoft.com] " dog&pony show back in 1997 (Gates discusses it about halfway down the page). The idea was to show a SQL server indexing and serving a terabyte of data (which was an insane amount of data back then). It turns out that satellite imagery was a good example of a useful, large-enough data set, so that's what they built it on.

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17150674)

If you consider PageRank an invention than you'd have to consider NTFS, ActiveX/OLE, .NET and others inventions too.

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

Iron Condor (964856) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156984)

Let's distinguish proximate causes from ulterior motives here.

Google is scanning books because it is trying to make all the world's information searchable.

And why do they want that? Because in the end they hope to make money.

Amazon is scanning books because it is trying to make all the worlds' books portable (electronic).

And why do they want that? Because in the end they hope to make money.

Microsoft is scanning all of the worlds books because _____ (fill in the blank).

Well, I think you can figure out the pattern from here...

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149062)

Microsoft never has had an original idea before, why start now?

I think any original thoughts born out of Microsoft were not corporately endorsed and happened totally at random.

Of course never underestimate the power of bureaucracy to crush insightful ideas...

Tom

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149212)

Indeed. When Microsoft launched their Virtual Earth 3D Beta I started a new tag "makincopies" because it was obviously just an imitation of Google Earth. And in no big surpise to me, I now have another article to tag.

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149272)

I started a new tag "makincopies"

Nice - expertly done SNL reference. :)

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149398)

...because it was obviously just an imitation of Google Earth

You mean the software application developed by Keyhole, that Google bought and released as their own product?

Then let's note that Microsoft had versions of TerraServer in 1997 (and obviously the project predates that).

Also note that Virtual Earth offers bird-eye views that Google does not.

Never mind, I forgot that this is Slashdot and I shouldn't let mere facts get in the way of good Microsoft rants.

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150742)

Not to even mention WorldWind [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

noigmn (929935) | more than 7 years ago | (#17155432)

And Bill's...

Re:Oh, for Pete's Sake (1)

Iron Condor (964856) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156942)

Please Microsoft, do something new that's not copying Apple and Google....

Why? So you can post on /. how MS is is shunning all the "standards" out there and how terrible it is that they always have to do their own things when there's already perfectly good solutions out there for all kinds of stuff?

I'm no google shill... (1)

CousinLarry (640750) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148646)

but when is MS going to actually release something *new*? how about skipping book search and taking a risk with something that google hasn't already done?

for example, i think their efforts on XNA game studio [microsoft.com] are of they type they should do more often: it leverages their core strengths (dev tools and 3d graphics), takes advantage of existing products with wide install bases (yes, duh..windows - but i really mean directx) and is INTERESTING and EXCITING and something GOOGLE CAN'T MATCH NEXT WEEK.

Re:I'm no google shill... (1)

SnprBoB86 (576143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149538)

Check out Microsoft Live Labs Photosynth!
http://labs.live.com/photosynth/ [live.com]

That's just about as cool, new, and exciting as you can get :-)

Re:I'm no google shill... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17151382)

That's a little unfair. Microsoft are far ahead of Google in the field of really gimmicky search engines. [msdewey.com]

Their beta things in a new area usually suck. (0, Troll)

eat bugs (529223) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148840)

Look at their Microsoft Office Live Basics. It is much worse than many small free open source packages. They depend on they can give every thing free (for a short time): domain names, hostings, etc. I initially wanted to use it for www.mathpotd.org (Math Problem of the Day) [mathpotd.org] and I found I couldn't do anything with it. Now you see www.mathpotd.com [mathpotd.com] is being redirected to www.mathpotd.org -- even the redirection cannot be done nicely -- very ugly.

Why? (1)

troll -1 (956834) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149074)

If Microsoft is so dedicated to online books and thinks it's such a great idea, I wonder why they didn't contribute to an already well-established site, like The Gutenberg Project [gutenberg.org] which got its start back in 1971.

Is this what they call embrace and extend?

Re:Why? (1)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 7 years ago | (#17152552)

I wouldn't either, if I were in their shoes. Formatting is kinda important, but it's antithetical to what Gutenberg does. PDF files are a Good Thing.

Reminds me of how Wang used to ape IBM and others (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149658)

I once worked for Wang Labs circa 1990, and I noticed that many of the things Wang did seemed quite inexplicable... until you considered IBM. Then the pattern became clear. Whatever IBM did, Wang tended to do something similar six months to a year later.

1984, IBM acquires Rolm. Much press ink spilled about how IBM is about to become a leader in the combined computer-telecommunications industry. Shortly thereafter Wang acquires an communications company called Intecom. 1988, IBM spits out Rolm. It appears the combined communications-telecommunications industry ain't gonna happen. Shortly thereafter Wang sells off Intecom.

1986, IBM introduces the PC Convertible, a sorta-kinda-clunky laptop that was almost IBM PC compatible. Shortly thereafter Wang introduces a clunky laptop. IBM discontinues the not-very-successful Convertible (and does not introduce another laptop for a long time) Wang discontinues there.

Wang at that time appeared to be utterly incapable of evaluating any idea in its own right. Ideas were not considered viable until it could be seen that a competitor was already doing them.

Microsoft now seems to be very much in the same mold. Apple has an MP3 player? Good, let's have an MP3 player. Google has a book search? Good, let's have a book search.

Re:Reminds me of how Wang used to ape IBM and othe (1)

moranar (632206) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149844)

Microsoft now seems to be very much in the same mold. Apple has an MP3 player? Good, let's have an MP3 player. Google has a book search? Good, let's have a book search.

Well, they certainly don't do it to skimp on R&D [slashdot.org] .

whoa (1)

snarfbot (1036906) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149680)

they probably will only offer Trusted-Reading. fahrenheit 451 style

Re:whoa (1)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 7 years ago | (#17153496)

If you're thinking of DRM, no. The PDF files you can download are not password-protected. They do require an extra plug-in for some PDF readers because of the image format they use (I think it's JBIG2, but not sure), though there's nothing to stop you converting them to a more widely-used format.

Re:whoa (1)

snarfbot (1036906) | more than 7 years ago | (#17156896)

lol nah i was thinking about the way they only sell software for their own os, push developers to use their proprietary api's and provide incentives for oems and businesses to use thier os in a way to limit competition, and using the same tactics on literature. the way china restricts access to damaging information, or any literature that may undermine thier interests.

its very unlikely, mainly just a cheap-shot, anti-microsoft linux fanboyism and such. however it is possible.

Road Ahead? (1)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149778)

Does this mean I can finally read Bill Gates' book, "The Road Ahead" for free? :p

Microsoft's Innovation at work (1)

gamer4Life (803857) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149784)

Microsoft is releasing its Live Search Books, a rival to Google's Book Search, in test, or beta, version in the US


You can see Microsoft Research's Innovation [slashdot.org] hard at work here. Same thing goes for the XBox, Zune, IE, Word, DOS, Windows, ..

Re:Microsoft's Innovation at work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17149946)

You can see Microsoft Research's Innovation hard at work here. Same thing goes for the XBox, Zune, IE, Word, DOS, Windows, ..

Seeings as where Google isn't the first search engine nor the first to use satellite images in mapping software or the first word process or the first spreadsheet...

Let's at least be a bit more consistent. Very few companies make anything really "new" and normally the first kid on the block with a new technology is the first one to get knocked off the block.

And I just love the Linux shrills out there... how innovative is it to copy unix really?

Pathetic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17153500)

> Very few companies make anything really "new"

Agreed. There's a lot of obvious things that nonetheless are patented by the very incompetent USPTO (btw, is there a mandate to accept anything as a valid patent, for the glory of Uncle Sam?).

> and normally the first kid on the block with a new technology is the first one to get knocked off the block.

Though this is a reality of life, this is not cool. And has nothing to do with this discussion. The fact is the OP is right, looks like Microsoft simply copied Google.

Maybe Microsoft Research really means Microsoft _Marketing_ Research...

> And I just love the Linux shrills out there... how innovative is it to copy unix really?

Do you think we bought a "Quick and Dirty Unix" for Torvalds to rebrand it as Linux? Yeah, because Microsoft did buy a QDOS which ended up being MS-DOS.

Stallman et al were so succesful in creating GNU that many Unices (e.g. Solaris) run these free utilities in professional sites (I've seen it); also the Linux kernel was coded by many people. What ant-like reasoning would make lots of folks be able to reproduce any other piece of code? Oh, I see, "maybe" Torvalds invented all those posts, patches and contributions which took years, just to produce a copy of what -- which one would he copy: Solaris, HP-UX, Irix, A/IX... which one?

This is how innovative Linux is: its coders _know_ what they're doing. This is working in a very complex environment, with worldwide interactions.

Now contrast this with a bunch of jerks of _one_ nationality, working in a single place, under a central coordination (well, ok, this is debatable) and yet having to rewrite previous work (which therefore seems lacking) and, on top of that, taking a lot of years at a high cost to redo just the same thing they already had with improvements others (like Apple, Google, Opera) pioneered.

If I were this lame, I'd quit and try a position in another really innovative company, like e.g. Google -- wait a minute, they are indeed doing this.

Great for casual readers (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150008)

I'm working on the 100 greatest books list and trying to read them comprehensively not just to say I did it. I'm not a disciplined or fast reader and I probably only get through 5-10 fiction books a year, so I spend a lot of time rereading sections I can't interpret. I spent about 30 minutes sifting through War and Peace one night trying to find the passage "God, death, love, brotherhood of man." For those of us looking for these kinds of passages or favorite quotes, this is awesome.

It doesn't even work (1)

Mex (191941) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154068)

At least not in Opera, all it displays is a blank window after searching.

Good job Microsoft!

Why is everyone talking about Google? (1)

DaftShadow (548731) | more than 7 years ago | (#17154794)

I've been hearing about this new service for a bit, and the *great* thing that I'm hearing is a severe lack of complaining. The news media isn't making a stink about this, because Microsoft is making a concerted effort to start with only out-of-copyright books. This is the first step, and it's a step that Google should have done correctly.

Note also that this MS product, while I don't think it's quite as easy to navigate as Google's, is very specifically about putting books online, and giving them to anyone that wants them. No "previews." No gimmicks. Just books. Sure, they call it Book Search, but once you find the book, there's a link to "Download The Entire Book" in pdf format.

Google dropped the ball on their archive by choosing to focus on the wrong challenges. MS is saying "Well, if you won't fix it; we sure will." For this, interestingly, I applaud them.

- DaftShadow

Zero Innovation? (1)

gilgongo (57446) | more than 7 years ago | (#17155716)

Can anyone suggest a single thing that Microsoft has done in the last few years that could be described (loosely) as innovative from the point of view of the end users of their products? By that I would exclude things like the .NET platform, which Joe Sixpack knows nothing about.

Is it Clippy? Might it be the Strip in the new Office? It surely is not Book Search, the Zune or IE7... I'm really struggling here, yet they are one of the largest corporations on earth. Something is seriously wrong with Microsoft.

yawn. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17156082)

nice going on innovation microsoft.. hey lets play catch up in the game of follow the leader.
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