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Microsoft vs. Google Spurs Ballmer to Surpass Previous Performances

Interesting doesn’t even begin to describe the titanic battle that is being quietly waged between Microsoft and its archrival Google. Ever since Bill Gates had the blinding realization Google was about to eat his lunch for breakfast , Microsoft has been living on the bleeding edge of search. It seems things might be getting out of control.

Gates was right to be worried about Google, which is growing internationally at an unprecedented rate. Google has lured away a number of Microsoft employees over the past year, the most famous of which was former VP at Microsoft, Kai-Fu Lee. It also recently hired former Microsoft .Net guru Mark Lucovsky, fuelling speculation it is developing an alternative operating system.

John Battelle published an account of Marc Luconvsky’s declaration to his blog on September 2nd . To quote the juicy part

“Prior to joining Google, I set up a meeting on or about November 11, 2004 with Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer to discuss my planned departure….At some point in the conversation Mr. Ballmer said: “Just tell me it’s not Google.” I told him it was Google.

At that point, Mr. Ballmer picked up a chair and threw it across the room hitting a table in his office. Mr. Ballmer then said: “#%$**&@ Eric Schmidt is a@*%#@(* (@^&%^#^ I’m going to #%$**&@ bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I’m going to #%$**&@ kill Google.” ….

Thereafter, Mr. Ballmer resumed trying to persuade me to stay….Among other things, Mr. Ballmer told me that “Google’s not a real company. It’s a house of cards.”

Apparently things are much better on the other side of the fence, at least according to this blog posting by former Microsoft employee Joe Beda, celebrating his first year after defecting to Google.

Gates is right to be worried about Google. Maybe he should also be watching Ballmer, especially as it is reported that Ballmer will be attending Google’s seventh birthday celebrations later this week.

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Enterprise Unix Roundup: Eu Vs. Microsoft Vs. Ibm

Over on IT Jungle, I just read an interesting story about how Microsoft is (by proxy) cleverly using the same law that was just smacked over its head for Windows market dominance against IBM’s mainframe base in Europe.

The story, by Hesh Wiener, is a fascinating look into the world of litigation-as-business-strategy, and details the complaint filed by Platform Solutions (PSI) against IBM for violating Article 82 of the European Commission (EC) Treaty. The complaint was filed, according to a Dec. 18 Reuters story, way back on Oct. 19.

“The complaint alleges that IBM has violated Article 82 of the EC Treaty by refusing to supply interface information relating to mainframe computers and refusing to license third parties,” spokesman Jonathan Todd said in a statement.

As both the Reuters and IT Jungle articles detail, all of this came about after IBM sued PSI in 2006 for violating IBM patents with software PSI used on its mainframes. PSI has since countersued, citing unfair competition. Given that IBM didn’t make any legal moves against PSI until it started getting some of its mainframes into IBM customer sites in 2005, one has to wonder if PSI may have a point. All of that, of course, is still pending a court decision.

According to the PSI Web site, its System64 mainframes are Itanium-based and:

System64 is fully compatible with IBM z/OS, OS/390, z/Linux and associated ISV and customer applications. Major system components of the PSI solution include 2 32-socket dual-core Itanium 2 servers capable of supporting z/OS, OS/390, z/Linux, HP-UX, Red Hat and SUSE Linux, OpenVMS and Windows Server 2003.

The Itanium machines, according to the Wiener article, are actually “a firmware-based mainframe system that runs on Itanium servers from NEC and Hewlett-Packard.” What’s more interesting is that several companies just gave PSI $37 million in Series C funding — including Intel and Microsoft, two companies that would love to see more Itanium machines out on the market.

The ultimate irony of Microsoft throwing in with PSI to crowd out IBM’s alleged over-dominance of the European market is that Article 82 is the basis of the recent EC anti-trust decision to force Microsoft to start coughing up technical information to competitors that want to develop or work with Windows. Microsoft lost its appeal on Sept. 17, 2007, about one month before PSI made its complaint and two months before the latest round of funding for PSI.

Coincidental timing? Maybe. Or maybe even while it was being spanked, Microsoft realized that the EC was serious about enforcing this anti-trust Article, and it saw this ongoing litigation between PSI and IBM as a way of kicking open the door into the European mainframe market. Perhaps it’s one of the reasons why Microsoft seemingly capitulated to the EC demand to start forking over technical documentation to projects like Samba, an open source project that allows communication between Windows and Linux or Unix systems.

When Microsoft actually did hand over that documentation on Dec. 20, you could have knocked a lot of IT observers over with a feather. Many people, myself included, were expecting the company to drag its feet on this issue for a long time.

Whatever the timing, clearly Microsoft and Intel both see this as a way of boosting a company that’s friendly to their products in a market on which Big Blue has a solid lock. Hence, the investment into PSI in November.

It’s a story that may not bode well for IBM’s mainframe business in Europe, and should PSI’s Article 82 complaint succeed, it will certainly alter the face of Unix in Europe.

Brian Proffitt is managing editor of JupiterWeb’s Linux/Open Source channel, which includes Linux Today, LinuxPlanet, and AllLinuxDevices.

This article was first published on chúng tôi

Google Tasks Vs. Google Keep: Which Is Better?

Google has a history of creating similar apps that serve the same purpose. That was the case with the email clients Gmail and Inbox and the messaging apps from Google — Allo and Hangouts. 

Google Tasks and Google Keep are in a similar situation. They’re two apps that help you manage your workload by creating tasks. However, these two have a few significant differences that can influence your choice of one app over the other. So let’s explore both apps and their key features to see which app is a better task manager for you.

Table of Contents

Google Tasks vs. Google Keep: How They’re Different

It’s clear how Google Tasks and Google Keep are similar: both apps are there to help you create and organize tasks. Plus, both apps are available to use on the same number of platforms. You can use Google Keep and Google Tasks on your smartphone (Android and iOS), as well as on your computer, and both apps have the web version that you can access from your browser. 

At the same time, the differences between Google Keep and Google Tasks aren’t as noticeable. They’re different in design, integration with other Google apps, and cater to different users. 

Interface & App Design

The most significant difference between the two apps is their interface. In short, if you prefer minimalistic app design, choose Tasks. On the other hand, if you prefer more detail and extra features in your apps, then you’ll like Keep.

Google Tasks is intuitive, and you’ll have no trouble navigating the app even if you’ve never used it before. The app’s design won’t distract you from your main goal i.e., creating more tasks. Creating new tasks, sub-tasks, and lists and organizing them is also simple.

Google Keep offers a more complex structure. The Post-It board format gives you the freedom to organize it more creatively. Keep is excellent for those who prefer adding more color and visuals to their to-do lists. Keep is for those users who want to abandon the “list” format and use labels, hashtags, and various color codes to organize their tasks. Google Keep also allows you to attach links and media files to your tasks.

In short, Google Tasks is more straightforward and task-oriented, while Google Keep is better for adding notes and media elements to your to-do list. 

Type of Reminders

One big difference between Google Keep and Google Tasks is in the way each app handles task reminders. 

Both Google Keep and Google Tasks allow you to create reminders for your tasks. However, Google Keep is somewhat limited in the type of reminders you can make. For example, you can only create a reminder for an entire list of tasks and not for individual list entries. 

Google Tasks is the opposite. You can only create a reminder for an individual task and not for the whole list. 

Some users might say that Google Keep’s a little ahead of Tasks on this one, as it also allows you to create time and location-based reminders. 

Unfortunately, Google Tasks is limited to time-based reminders only. 

Google Apps Integration

Both Google Keep and Google Tasks are available across all Google platforms. You can use both apps in Google Drive, Gmail, Google Docs, etc. However, you’ll notice that Google Tasks works better paired with Gmail, and Google Keep offers better integration with Google Docs.

If you’re an active Gmail user, you’ll probably lean towards Google Tasks. You can create tasks and lists directly from Gmail using Google Tasks and drag and drop emails right into your new task items. Unfortunately, Google Keep doesn’t have this function.

Instead, Google Keep is a better fit for anyone who spends a lot of time working in Google Docs. You can drag and drop your notes from Google Keep right into your documents in Google Docs. You won’t be able to do the same using Google Tasks. 

Collaboration Options

When choosing between the two apps, you need to ask yourself who will use your task lists. If it’s just you, then Google Tasks is more than enough. However, if you’re also looking to share your task and notes, then you’ll be better off using Google Keep.

Google Tasks doesn’t offer any collaboration features. You can’t share individual tasks or task lists with other users online, and the to-do lists stay with you. 

On the other hand, Google Keep is a collaborative tool by design. The app makes sharing your notes with other users quick and easy. 

To share your Google Keep card, locate it on the Google Keep task board and select the Collaborator icon at the bottom of it. 

Add the email of the person (or persons) with whom you want to share your card. Then select Save to confirm. 

Collaborators will be able to read and edit your notes and tasks in Google Keep. 

Google Tasks vs. Google Keep: Which Is Best for You? 

Google Tasks and Google Keep are both great for creating and organizing your tasks. However, to answer which app is better, you need to decide the type of user you are and what goals you’re trying to achieve. 

Google Tasks is perfect for someone who likes minimalism and wants a straightforward digital to-do list as their task management app. On the other hand, Google Keep is more visually appealing and more customizable. It’s perfect for those who want to add more detail and notes to their tasks. 

Steve Ballmer Describes Tech’s “New Normal”

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is almost eternally optimistic and enthusiastic about the future, especially the future of his company — that, despite taking a pay cut this year due to the company’s poor financial performance in fiscal 2009.

So how does he keep his chin up with the economy still faltering and the world economy struggles to recover from the record recession?

Ballmer believes that the economic downturn was not a mere “correction” of world markets but a complete reset — what he likes to call “the new normal.”

That’s the primary theme in his latest “executive e-mail” to customers and the media, which Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) released publicly Tuesday.

“I like this phrase because it speaks to the fact that economic reality has undergone a fundamental shift over the course of the past 12 months,” Ballmer said.

“After years of economic expansion fueled by unrealistic rates of consumption and unsustainable levels of private debt, the global economy has reset at a lower baseline level of activity. Today, people borrow less, save more, and spend with much greater caution.”

A lighter paycheck

He might say the same things about himself and his company. According to Microsoft’s latest proxy statement, filed Tuesday, Ballmer received $100,000 less in bonuses in fiscal 2009, which ended June 30, than he did in fiscal 2008.

That’s because in fiscal 2009, Microsoft reported revenue of $58.44 billion, a 3 percent drop from fiscal 2008 and the first year-over-year decline in the company’s history. The decline also triggered the first layoffs in Microsoft’s history.

Ballmer no longer receives stock awards, but as the company’s second largest stockholder, behind only chairman Bill Gates, he still holds some $10 billion in Microsoft stock so he’s not exactly hurting. His total compensation for 2009 came in at $1.27 million, down from $1.34 million in 2008.

Other senior Microsoft executives also saw their pay scaled back. CFO Chris Liddell, for instance, made $3.54 million in 2009, a decline from $4.8 million in 2008, while Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division, actually saw his income increase by $800,000 to $4.8 million.

Two other senior executives didn’t fare as well. Robbie Bach, president of the Entertainment and Devices Division, saw his income fall from $8.3 million to $6.2 million, while COO Kevin Turner was the biggest loser with 2009 compensation of $5.4 million, down $3.2 million from $8.6 million in fiscal 2008.

Revamp the sales pitch

If Ballmer hopes to pump up revenues so as not to have another year like fiscal 2009, he’s got some hard selling to do.

That calls for a new strategy for business and particularly for IT — what he calls “the new efficiency.” In short, he said, “with less, do more.”

Actually, Ballmer admitted, it’s not a new strategy so much as a different perspective and rededication to principles that IT has embraced for years. Workers are more distributed and mobile, regulatory compliance is more challenging than ever, and security has become paramount.

“Today, a new generation of business solutions is transforming IT into a strategic asset that makes it possible to cut costs without crippling customer service or constraining workforce creativity and effectiveness,” Ballmer said.

“A new generation of business solutions is eliminating the barriers between systems and applications, and automating routine tasks so IT professionals can focus on high-value work that is aligned to strategic priorities. These technologies can help organizations reduce risk, improve security, and drive down support costs.”

It’s no surprise, then, that some of the key technologies he’s talking about happen to be Microsoft’s and they include products such as Windows 7 and Exchange 2010, both due out before year end — and the currently available Windows Server 2008 R2 and Hyper-V virtualization technology.

Ballmer also cited some new early adopter wins, including Ford and Continental Airlines, which he said expects to save more than $1.5 million annually in hardware, software, and operational costs.

“The new efficiency will not only help companies respond to today’s economic reality, it will lay the foundation for systems and solutions that connect people to information, applications, and to other people in new ways … This too will be the new normal — economic growth driven not by debt and consumption, but by rising productivity and new ideas that provide real value to people throughout their lives,” Ballmer’s e-mail concluded.

Article courtesy of chúng tôi

Google Sparrow Vs. Bard: A Comprehensive Analysis

Google Sparrow and Bard are two different AI-powered initiatives by Google that showcase the potential of AI in enhancing human creativity and personalizing search results.

When comparing Google Sparrow and Bard; they are AI chatbots powered by different versions of Google’s Language Model for Dialogue Applications. They differ in their capabilities, features and goals.

You can find everything about Google Sparrow and Bard in this article.

Additionally, you can find how Google Sparrow differs from Bard models and how to choose one.

Google Sparrow Vs. Bard: Similarities And Differences

Google Bard and Sparrow are two AI chatbots that are powered by different versions of Google’s Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA), a large language model (LLM) that can generate natural and fluent responses to any kind of prompt.

They have some similarities in their features and goals but also some differences.

What Is Google Sparrow?

It is based on the GPT-3 model designed to analyze the received text from the users and generate the responses.

Sparrow was introduced in September 2023 in a paper; regardless, it is in the research phase and has not been released publicly.

DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis says a private beta version of Sparrow will be released in 2023.

Moreover, it can learn and draw information from Google searches. Besides, this model pays attention to accuracy, safety and practicality.

Unlike other chatbots that have gained popularity, Sparrow hasn’t been able to generate as much buzz due to the absence of a public API with it.

How Does Google Sparrow Work?

Sparrow is designed to talk with users, answer queries and search for information using Google.

The training model in Sparrow is similar to that of ChatGPT.

Meanwhile, it follows RLHF (Reinforcement learning from Human Feedback) protocols and large language models.

The working model of Google Sparrow is described below;

1. Pre-Training Language Models

RLHF is based on people’s feedback which is used to train Sparrow.

Additionally, Sparrow is trained with a rule model to indicate when it breaks the rules. This is done by asking participants to try and trick Sparrow.

This model shows answers with or without evidence retrieved from the internet and also determines when the answer should be supported with the evidence.

Sparrow presents four possible answers without supporting evidence when prompted with a query and initiates two Google search queries that could potentially yield two relevant results.

2. Reward Model Training

For each search, these results are conditionally sampled.

All results are scored by a Preference Reward and Rule Reward models, and the highest-scored result is shown to the users.

According to the participants, Sparrow’s answers are credible and support 78% of the evidence of the time.

Despite its capabilities, Sparrow is not immune to being fooled or tricked by participants, indicating that there is still room for improvement in its design and functionality.

What Is Google Bard?

Its main goal is to retrieve information simply, like a digital assistant.

Moreover, it provides human-like conversational responses and generates and edits text.

Bard can access Google’s search engine. It is more likely to compete with Microsoft’s new AI Bing Chat, which can access the entire web.

However, you cannot see the citations footnote with the information links.

Read more to learn how to use Microsoft’s new AI Bing Chat.

How Does Google Bard Work?

Google Bard can only handle U.S. English language. Bard’s response addresses NORA questions which means No One Right Answer.

Here is how the Google Bard model works;

1. Flow Of Information

Bard provides the Knowledge Graph Card in the search when making queries that have simple answers, such as word definitions or overviews about a person or place.

Moreover, you can help the Bard chatbot by using the thumbs-up or thumbs-down buttons.

Bard chatbot also have a drafts option that allows you to select from the different answer in bullet format. A Reset chat button exists to terminate and start a new chat session.

Further, you can access the Bard Activity, which allows seeing the history of your searches.

There is not much documentation about how Google has refined the technology for use in Bard; however, you can find documentation on how large language model works.

2. Training Data Set

Bard first uses the LaMDA language model to understand the queries and then draws the information it finds across the web to form a conversational reply.

It uses a type of neural network called a Transformer to understand and generate human-like language.

Training data works by enabling LaMDA to learn from a large amount of data enabling it to achieve objectives, quality and safety.

3. Pre-Training

In the pre-training process, LaMDA is trained on a large dataset of 1.56 trillion words from public dialog data and public web documents.

This dataset covers a wide range of topics and domains. It also helps LaMDA learn general knowledge and skills.

4. Fine Training

LaMDA is trained to perform generative and classification tasks in the fine-tuning process.

Generative tasks produce natural language responses to give contexts, while classification tasks predict each response’s safety and quality.

In this way, LaMDA learns how to generate responses and avoid inappropriate responses.

Comparatively, Bard provides high-quality and accurate responses to the user’s queries.

How To Join Google Bard Waitlists?

Bard is now available only in the U.S. and U.K. If you reside in a country where Google Bard is available, you must pass the waitlist to access it.

You can sign up for the waitlist with these instructions.

First, visit the Google Bard homepage, and you will be directed to the landing page.

Finally, select Yes, I’m in to join the waitlist. You will get an email notification when you get access to Bard.

If Bard is not supported in your region, you can still access it by using VPN.

Note: Users cannot access Bard with Google Workspace accounts, so use your personal Google account.

Google Sparrow Vs. Bard: Similarities

Google Sparrow will be learning from responses just like Bard. Some of the similarities between them are:

1. Architecture And Development

Sparrow and Google Bard are AI chatbots based on the Transformer architecture, a neural network that can learn from large text data and predict the next words in a sequence.

However, they use different versions of Google’s Language Model for Dialogue Applications.

2. Large Language Model

Sparrow and Google Bard use large language models (LLMs) to generate natural and fluent responses to any prompt.

LLMs are a kind of AI technology that learns by analyzing vast amounts of text data from various sources on the web.

Furthermore, they both draw on information from the web to provide accurate answers when possible.

3. Pre-Training With Data

Google Sparrow and Bard are pre-trained on a large corpus of text data. Besides, they both use information from the web to provide high-quality responses.

Yet, they face similar challenges and limitations, such as biases, inaccuracies, and ethical concerns.

4. Large Parameter Sizes

The exact number of parameters of Sparrow and Google Bard is not publicly available.

However, some sources say Google Bard may have up to 2 billion parameters.

Similarly, Sparrow uses a modified version of LaMDA, which may have more parameters than Bard.

Read on to learn the similarities and differences between Google Bard and ChatGPT.

Google Sparrow Vs. Bard: Major Differences

Sparrow and Bard differ from one another in the way they collect data and learn.

They both are AI chatbots powered by different versions of Google’s LaMDA.

However, they differ in their capabilities, features and goals.

Google SparrowGoogle Bard

It is a project by DeepMind aims to create a safer and reliable dialogue chúng tôi is an experiment by Google that lets users experience a chat interface.

Powered by Transformer, a neural network architecture.Powered by a lightweight version of LaMDA.

Can answer questions but it will cite sources for its chúng tôi answer question,generate content and suggest queries for Google Search.

Learn and draw information from Google’s chúng tôi generate responses based on web information.

Designed to be more helpful, correct and harmless.designed to combine breadth of the World’s knowledge with the power, intelligence.

Introduced as a proof of concept in research paper but is has not been released to public yet.Available in UK and USA but still not available widely.

Now, let’s look into the differences between these two platforms in detail.

1. Mission And Reach

The mission of Google Sparrow and Bard is to provide AI-powered conversation using LLM.

They both aim to help people with various tasks such as boosting, accelerating, explaining concepts and providing personalized assistance.

However, they both are still in the experimental phase. Bard is currently open for limited users in U.S. and UK, while Sparrow is still in the research stage.

2. Learning/Training Data

Google Sparrow and Bard are trained on large web text and dialog data sets, while the exact sources of their training data are not disclosed by Google publicly.

Google Bard is powered by a lightweight version of LaMDA, where its LLM was pre-trained on 1.56 trillion words.

The Infiniset consists of 12.5% C4-based data, 12.55 English language Wikipedia, 12.5% code documents, tutorials, 6.25% English web documents, 6.25% Non-English web documents and 50% dialog data from public forums.

Whereas Google Sparrow is based on a new LLM that DeepMind is developing.

However, the detail of this LLM is not revealed yet. DeepMind has been working on various LLMs, such as Gopher and switch models.

3. Deployment And Purpose

Google Bard is designed as a complementary experience to Google Search, which allows you to check its responses or explore sources across the web.

Regardless, Sparrow is imagined as a more independent, personalized assistant that can learn from your interests and priorities.

The Bottom Line

Google Sparrow and Bard represent two different approaches to conversational AI, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.

As these chatbots evolve and improve, they may offer new possibilities and challenges for users and developers.

AI-powered conversational interfaces can predictably lead to further innovations and improvements.

Hopefully, this article helps you learn more about Google Sparrow and Bard.

Continue reading to find out how to access Google Bard and use Google Bard properly.

Microsoft Clarity Takes On Google Optimize And Analytics

Microsoft Clarity takes on Google Optimize and Analytics




I am not sure why tech companies keep trying to jump on the success of other tech companies. A couple of examples that spring to mind. Google+, which started because of Facebook, and failed miserably. And Microsoft EdgeHTML, which was developed to counteract Chrome’s dominance, and failed miserably.

Now Microsoft is going to try to challenge Google Analytics and Google Optimize with Microsoft Clarity. Will this go the way of Edge, or will we finally have an alternative to Google Analytics?

What is Microsoft’s Clarity?

Good question. Sadly, while the website is active, there is very little information there. I tried to put in a website I own and got the following message below:

So, not exactly an auspicious start as on the homepage of Clarity, it clearly states, “As soon as you sign in with any of your Microsoft accounts, you will be prepared to add Clarity to your website in a matter of seconds.”

Maybe seconds mean a different thing in Microsoft land, but when using Google Analytics, my sites are ready to go in actual seconds. I doubt Clarity is going to be knocking on Google Analytics’ doors any time soon if people have to wait for their sites to be approved.

READ ALSO: 5 best SEO software to boost your search rankings

In Microsoft’s defence, in the FAQs they have responded to, “Can anyone sign up? Are there any restrictions?” with, “Since we have just released this as a beta product, we are onboarding users based on our ability to provide a great and seamless experience.”

However, according to the Bing blog about Clarity, it looks like this wait period will be a permanent feature. This is a bad idea. I have to wait for Bing to email me to tell me my site has been approved?

Well, since I only have a Hotmail account because I use Windows, and I have not checked my Hotmail email in at least 5 years, I’m going to be one of the first to say that if Microsoft doesn’t get rid the wait time and email approval, it’ll become an issue.

More details about Clarity

Having said all that, the website may not be very active, but you can find more by going to the Bing blog. Here is the link again. And I have to say that in some ways, Clarity sounds quite good. One thing that I reckon will be very useful is the ‘session replay’, where you will be able to see exactly what visitors do on your website, and more importantly, where they are when they leave.

If you see a pattern emerge, where many visitors abandon your website after reading a particular paragraph in a post, for example, you can then take a look at the offending paragraph to find out what is causing people to leave.

Wrapping it all up

There is a lot more information. If you head over to the blog about Clarity, you can read more cool stuff. There is also a video that gives you an idea of what Microsoft is trying to do.

To be honest, I hope Microsoft succeeds with Clarity. There is a general rule of thumb that a dominant player in any market is a bad idea for consumers. Let’s hope Clarity is a success, if for no other reason than to be an alternative to Analytics.


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