Wanting to use dead Office and why were not

    July 18, 2006

Why is backward compatibility so important? Because humans hate change. Me too. I’m swearing left and right at Gmail and Google Calendar.

I’ve spent the past decade on Microsoft Outlook with Exchange so of course I’m gonna be mad about the change. But, notice that I +am+ changing even though I’m one of Microsoft’s fans.

I miss so many little things I’ve learned over the past decade that have just become second nature. From clicking Alt-K to parse a name and change it to an email. To being able to drag and drop things between folders. To being able to sync my calendar onto my Cingular 2125 phone.

Our corporate Gmail is supposed to work with Outlook but there’s a problem and I haven’t figured it out yet. So I’m stuck on the Web page until I figure out why the POP system isn’t working with Outlook 2003.

But it’s the small things that are frustrating. I’ve sent so much email that I can practically send email with my eyes closed. But using Gmail is frustrating. Sometimes it’s hard even finding the “reply” link.

Microsoft should be scared, though, because I think more and more startups and small companies are gonna go the Gmail route. Why? Cause it’s easier to get started. No server needed. Just sign up for Gmail. Outsource your email to Google. And Microsoft does NOT understand how to market on the Web.

Microsoft has domain email too, but, quick, go to MSN Search and do a search for “email for your domain.” (The result is even worse for Microsoft if you do that search on Google – although Office Live is advertising on Google, but not on MSN, ironically enough). Do you find anything about Microsoft’s hosted email? No. Why? Because Microsoft’s Web site for Office Live (which is where small businesses can get email hosted) is poorly designed for search engines. Its title tag has NOTHING about email. So, how, again, will it get listed on search engines for business or corporate email solutions? It won’t.

Microsoft’s marketers should be forced to study how search engines work. Google’s marketers understand this deeply. Which is why Podtech is using Gmail and not one of Microsoft’s solutions.

Here’s Microsoft’s other competitors for email for your domain: Windows Live Custom Domains. Notice how much better this site is designed for the Web? Office Live should be forced to study with these folks for a while. Or, Microsoft’s Exchange Hosted Services. But, notice that nothing in the title tag there says anything about email. I had to look all over for this site on both Google and MSN search and had a tough time finding it (and I knew it was there, cause the team that did this gave me a demo).

Search engine optimization starts with really thinking through what people are gonna search for and making title tags that match that. A title tag is what appears at the top of your browser. It is one of the most important things that affect where you’ll be in search engine results.

If people can’t find your company for what they search for, do you really exist? And, for everyone who’ll click on the ads on the right, there are quite a few who won’t. Particularly geeky influencers, like Matt Cutts pointed out yesterday.

Here, one more time, based ONLY on these Web pages, which would you rather use? Gmail or Exchange?

To me Gmail’s page is nicer, more Web friendly, and simpler. Did Microsoft give me enough ammunition to go into my boss tomorrow and say “we should dump Gmail!”

No. And that’s for someone who could even find this page in the first place.

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Robert Scoble is the founder of the Scobleizer blog. He works as PodTech.net’s Vice President of Media Development.

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