Does Microsoft have a speed problem?

I just saw that Redfin has switched its maps from Microsoft’s maps to Google’s maps. Why?

The Redfin blog says “speed, speed, speed.”

It says that Google’s maps are 385% faster than Microsoft’s.

This matches my observations too, but it doesn’t end there, and is why I have so many arguments lately with Steve Gillmor. Gillmor, you see, keeps telling me that Microsoft is going to really rock and roll with Ray Ozzie in charge (Ray’s teams are developing a bunch of really cool sounding cloud-based services, but then Microsoft’s Maps are really cool too, if you compare just features. Even the RedFin blog admits that Microsoft had more features, including more aerial views).

But, when I go to my wife’s blog, which is on Microsoft Spaces, it is TONS slower than WordPress. WordPress doesn’t have the huge data centers available to it that Microsoft has. Same when I use my Hotmail account. Gmail is faster. Same when I go to other things, because I’ve seen lots of people praising Microsoft’s Live.com services lately so I’ve been testing them out. Tonight ReadWrite Web, for instance, talks about the new Microsoft Labs bookmarking service.

But if you can’t make them fast, I just don’t want to have any part. This is the major reason why I chose to spend most of my time on FriendFeed instead of Facebook. Speed, speed, speed.

I thought I might be alone in that, but interesting to see Redfin making that point too.

What about you? Is there anything more important than speed? Especially when it comes to cloud services that I’m going to integrate into my blog?

Comments

  1. Almost all Microsoft web delivered services seem to run dog slow. I’m not trying to bitch about it – but they really are.

    It’s a difficult one to pin down – but in general their competitors are more performance focused. Microsoft’s priority is compatibility, extensibility and features.

  2. Almost all Microsoft web delivered services seem to run dog slow. I’m not trying to bitch about it – but they really are.

    It’s a difficult one to pin down – but in general their competitors are more performance focused. Microsoft’s priority is compatibility, extensibility and features.

  3. Totally agree mate, Microsoft’s biggest public relations challenge is how ‘responsive’ they feel, all services are given 6 seconds, then you move on.

    I’ve moved from Hotmail to Gmail years ago, and am planning to even move from Windows to Mac.

    I wonder how they’ll go with Windows 7

  4. Totally agree mate, Microsoft’s biggest public relations challenge is how ‘responsive’ they feel, all services are given 6 seconds, then you move on.

    I’ve moved from Hotmail to Gmail years ago, and am planning to even move from Windows to Mac.

    I wonder how they’ll go with Windows 7

  5. Completely agree here. Microsoft has never been good at speed. I think it stems from the old mantra of making it work then letting the technology catch up. Unfortunately that just doesn’t work in the web. I’d like to see someone use Google Maps as their base then add a Bird’s Eye View link to placeholders or at any point you click that locates the same lat/long from Virtual Earth.

  6. Completely agree here. Microsoft has never been good at speed. I think it stems from the old mantra of making it work then letting the technology catch up. Unfortunately that just doesn’t work in the web. I’d like to see someone use Google Maps as their base then add a Bird’s Eye View link to placeholders or at any point you click that locates the same lat/long from Virtual Earth.

  7. Robert, your wife’s blog has lot more richer content than yours. I tried several reloads of your and your wife’s blog just now and did not notice any speed difference, even though your blog has less rich content. I have never experienced your blog to be any faster than the rest of the web, including Live Spaces.

    Hotmail used to be slow, two generations ago but not any more. You should try the wave 3 version, and you may like the speed among other improvements. Hotmail also has a simple and clean UI, which a non-geek like me could use. FYI, this non-geek works at Microsoft but does not have any technical contribution in either Live Spaces or Hotmail.

  8. Robert, your wife’s blog has lot more richer content than yours. I tried several reloads of your and your wife’s blog just now and did not notice any speed difference, even though your blog has less rich content. I have never experienced your blog to be any faster than the rest of the web, including Live Spaces.

    Hotmail used to be slow, two generations ago but not any more. You should try the wave 3 version, and you may like the speed among other improvements. Hotmail also has a simple and clean UI, which a non-geek like me could use. FYI, this non-geek works at Microsoft but does not have any technical contribution in either Live Spaces or Hotmail.

  9. Robert, You are absolutely right. Performance just doesn’t seem to be on the agenda of Microsoft.
    I recently gave up on configuring my home.live.com, just because it was so extremely slow.
    I love my MBA, just because it’s instantly on. I hope MS fixes this with Windows 7

  10. Robert, You are absolutely right. Performance just doesn’t seem to be on the agenda of Microsoft.
    I recently gave up on configuring my home.live.com, just because it was so extremely slow.
    I love my MBA, just because it’s instantly on. I hope MS fixes this with Windows 7

  11. Microsoft have *always* excelled in the features department. I think at some point people realise it’s not features that are important, though. Getting things done quickly, simply and without fuss is becoming the norm. It’s a bit like going to buy a car, and realising you want the ’67 Mustang V8 rather than the ’08 BMW 530 with LiveDrive, ABS, stability control, etc.

    Sometimes it’s nicer to get the job done quickly without the bells and whistles. This is where Google always gets it right. Just look at their homepage. Same as it always has been. Compare Gmail to Hotmail and in hotmail it’s actually *hard* to see where your emails are. Even the iGoogle page is an opt-in thing that’s just as easy to opt-out again. Microsoft have made a lot of software that’s so complex it’s oblique to use.

  12. Microsoft have *always* excelled in the features department. I think at some point people realise it’s not features that are important, though. Getting things done quickly, simply and without fuss is becoming the norm. It’s a bit like going to buy a car, and realising you want the ’67 Mustang V8 rather than the ’08 BMW 530 with LiveDrive, ABS, stability control, etc.

    Sometimes it’s nicer to get the job done quickly without the bells and whistles. This is where Google always gets it right. Just look at their homepage. Same as it always has been. Compare Gmail to Hotmail and in hotmail it’s actually *hard* to see where your emails are. Even the iGoogle page is an opt-in thing that’s just as easy to opt-out again. Microsoft have made a lot of software that’s so complex it’s oblique to use.

  13. Microsoft should test their products on the computers that are most common in the current market. Speed is important.

  14. @your wife’s blog has lot more richer content than yours. … tried several reloads of your and your wife’s blog just now and did not notice any speed difference

    Kamal, I tried loading maryamie with Firefox, and for about 5 seconds all I saw was this: http://img75.imageshack.us/my.php?image=spacesslowgc6.png

    I don’t really care about whose content is richer. I just want the page to load quickly. Yup, in general wave 3 is fast, but even now there are apps that just feel slower than the competition (e.g. Skydrive feels slower than DropBox, and DropBox is a teeny little startup.)

  15. @your wife’s blog has lot more richer content than yours. … tried several reloads of your and your wife’s blog just now and did not notice any speed difference

    Kamal, I tried loading maryamie with Firefox, and for about 5 seconds all I saw was this: http://img75.imageshack.us/my.php?image=spacesslowgc6.png

    I don’t really care about whose content is richer. I just want the page to load quickly. Yup, in general wave 3 is fast, but even now there are apps that just feel slower than the competition (e.g. Skydrive feels slower than DropBox, and DropBox is a teeny little startup.)

  16. Hi,

    I was reading ur blog posts and found some of them to be very good.. u write well.. Why don’t you popularize it more.. ur posts on ur blog ‘scobleizer’ took my particular attention as some of them are interesting topics of mine too;

    BTW I help out some ex-IIMA guys who with another batch mate run http://www.rambhai.com where you can post links to your most loved blog-posts. Rambhai was the chaiwala at IIMA and it is a site where users can themselves share links to blog posts etc and other can find and vote on them. The best make it to the homepage!

    This way you can reach out to rambhai readers some of whom could become your ardent fans.. who knows.. :)

    Cheers,

  17. Hi,

    I was reading ur blog posts and found some of them to be very good.. u write well.. Why don’t you popularize it more.. ur posts on ur blog ‘scobleizer’ took my particular attention as some of them are interesting topics of mine too;

    BTW I help out some ex-IIMA guys who with another batch mate run http://www.rambhai.com where you can post links to your most loved blog-posts. Rambhai was the chaiwala at IIMA and it is a site where users can themselves share links to blog posts etc and other can find and vote on them. The best make it to the homepage!

    This way you can reach out to rambhai readers some of whom could become your ardent fans.. who knows.. :)

    Cheers,

  18. Microsoft is The Empire.
    Their challengers are everywhere and everybody.
    (Not promoting Microsoft as we use Linux and AWS)
    In many cases the Empire Strikes Back Again as they did before on many occasions.

  19. Microsoft is The Empire.
    Their challengers are everywhere and everybody.
    (Not promoting Microsoft as we use Linux and AWS)
    In many cases the Empire Strikes Back Again as they did before on many occasions.

  20. Gmail aggressively optimizes for speed.

    Microsoft? sluggish user interfaces is microsoft’s middle name.

    Vista anyone?

    Why does it take seconds of latency to open a volume slider in any version of windows? I have no idea.

  21. Hmm, would definetly agree some Microsoft services do leave a lot to be desired speed-wise, however I’ve found the new Wave 3 roll-out to be a huge improvement!

    Actually certain elements are slow, such as someone above mentioned – configeration of some parts of the home page etc, however generally much better.

    Love the new services btw.

  22. Gmail aggressively optimizes for speed.

    Microsoft? sluggish user interfaces is microsoft’s middle name.

    Vista anyone?

    Why does it take seconds of latency to open a volume slider in any version of windows? I have no idea.

  23. Hmm, would definetly agree some Microsoft services do leave a lot to be desired speed-wise, however I’ve found the new Wave 3 roll-out to be a huge improvement!

    Actually certain elements are slow, such as someone above mentioned – configeration of some parts of the home page etc, however generally much better.

    Love the new services btw.

  24. TDavid, the timings you quote from Webwait are exactly right. In my observation also Maryam’s blog is faster.

    Features are important because they save time. Less feature sometime looks responsive but they may cost overall more time. Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” button is definitely faster than “Google Search” button, but if I use google I will press “Google Search” button because it brings me more content. Similarly DOS would be very fast on modern computers, but it is Windows which give you features more than DOS.

    I am among the early Gmail users. I can’t really use it, because I can’t figure out things on Gmail. Gmail is more cluttered than Hotmail because it has lot more features. But then, as a non-geek I can’t use all those features but end up paying the cost of clutteredness. Hotmail features are self explanatory and hence usable even by me.

  25. TDavid, the timings you quote from Webwait are exactly right. In my observation also Maryam’s blog is faster.

    Features are important because they save time. Less feature sometime looks responsive but they may cost overall more time. Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” button is definitely faster than “Google Search” button, but if I use google I will press “Google Search” button because it brings me more content. Similarly DOS would be very fast on modern computers, but it is Windows which give you features more than DOS.

    I am among the early Gmail users. I can’t really use it, because I can’t figure out things on Gmail. Gmail is more cluttered than Hotmail because it has lot more features. But then, as a non-geek I can’t use all those features but end up paying the cost of clutteredness. Hotmail features are self explanatory and hence usable even by me.

  26. I agree, speed is important. But some times features are more important. I am still using Live maps because of its features. For my application, speed is not a factor, features are. Birdeye view, 3D maps are essential for my app. Coming to hotmail, the new design looks so clean and much faster than GMail. More importantly, I never had any issues with Hotmail. But with GMail, I always have issues whenever they introduce a new feature. Be it loading(keep on loading with status bar), sending(keep on sending with ‘sending…..’ message). The problems arise every time they introduce a new feature and exists for couple of days – which makes me to believe Sergey Solyanik comments :

    10% of top Google product features are broken every week. Google culture – Roll out cool features, not focus on quality.

  27. I agree, speed is important. But some times features are more important. I am still using Live maps because of its features. For my application, speed is not a factor, features are. Birdeye view, 3D maps are essential for my app. Coming to hotmail, the new design looks so clean and much faster than GMail. More importantly, I never had any issues with Hotmail. But with GMail, I always have issues whenever they introduce a new feature. Be it loading(keep on loading with status bar), sending(keep on sending with ‘sending…..’ message). The problems arise every time they introduce a new feature and exists for couple of days – which makes me to believe Sergey Solyanik comments :

    10% of top Google product features are broken every week. Google culture – Roll out cool features, not focus on quality.

  28. Is there anything more important than speed?

    Yes. Quality.

    Or, ability to do something that can’t be done in any other way.

    If speed is so important, why did GUIs take off? Why aren’t you still using Lynx as your web browser? GUIs are much slower than text-only interfaces. I’ll tell you the answer: GUIs took off because they offered a beauty and a richness than text did not have. You use a graphical web browser because it offers qualities that Lynx, the text-only browser, does not and cannot.

    Similarly, MS Maps has bird’s eye view. 5-6 months ago on the Gillmor Gang, you and a bunch of others discussed this, and I think Doc Searls was the only person who even knew what bird’s eye view even was. The rest of you had no idea, and hadn’t ever tried it. That completely surprised me, that most of the folks on the Gillmor Gang were so stuck on Google Maps, that they weren’t even aware of bird’s eye view.

    Bird’s eye view lets you do something fundamentally different, something that neither street-view nor satellite-view can do. I get a qualitatively different feel of the layout of a city when using bird’s eye view, and that has helped me navigate my way around places I’ve never been.

    I am more than willing to trade a couple of extra ticks of speed in order to get something qualitatively different, and better, than anything else on the market. Speed isn’t everything.

  29. Is there anything more important than speed?

    Yes. Quality.

    Or, ability to do something that can’t be done in any other way.

    If speed is so important, why did GUIs take off? Why aren’t you still using Lynx as your web browser? GUIs are much slower than text-only interfaces. I’ll tell you the answer: GUIs took off because they offered a beauty and a richness than text did not have. You use a graphical web browser because it offers qualities that Lynx, the text-only browser, does not and cannot.

    Similarly, MS Maps has bird’s eye view. 5-6 months ago on the Gillmor Gang, you and a bunch of others discussed this, and I think Doc Searls was the only person who even knew what bird’s eye view even was. The rest of you had no idea, and hadn’t ever tried it. That completely surprised me, that most of the folks on the Gillmor Gang were so stuck on Google Maps, that they weren’t even aware of bird’s eye view.

    Bird’s eye view lets you do something fundamentally different, something that neither street-view nor satellite-view can do. I get a qualitatively different feel of the layout of a city when using bird’s eye view, and that has helped me navigate my way around places I’ve never been.

    I am more than willing to trade a couple of extra ticks of speed in order to get something qualitatively different, and better, than anything else on the market. Speed isn’t everything.

  30. Dude,
    No way that Gmail is faster than Hotmail. That is just not true. Seems like one of your unsubstansisated rants again.

  31. Dude,
    No way that Gmail is faster than Hotmail. That is just not true. Seems like one of your unsubstansisated rants again.

  32. With all the people Microsoft has hired in the past two years you would think a few would be capable of creating something exciting, but that has not happened.

  33. With all the people Microsoft has hired in the past two years you would think a few would be capable of creating something exciting, but that has not happened.

  34. Who cares?
    Google is going to get creamed in this recession/depression, because their revenue comes from advertising. Vendors aren’t going to be willing to pay Google’s high advertising fees when people have cut back on spending. I have relatives in the advertising field that have already been laid off. Google needs to change its business model, fast.

  35. Who cares?
    Google is going to get creamed in this recession/depression, because their revenue comes from advertising. Vendors aren’t going to be willing to pay Google’s high advertising fees when people have cut back on spending. I have relatives in the advertising field that have already been laid off. Google needs to change its business model, fast.

  36. Well, to start with MS Virtualearth would be much faster if they enabled caching of the 1Mb of Javascript that gets downloaded with every map instance.

    Same goes for all the CSS, png, and gif images associated with the interface.

    At least the map tiles themselves are cachable, but they rotate domain names. This is good because it increases the browser pipelining, but, it is not clear to me that they strongly tie the individual tiles to a domain name. If they don’t then they have defeated caching again.

    Someone needs to point them to the Yahoo dev pages on server performance: http://developer.yahoo.com/performance/

  37. Well, to start with MS Virtualearth would be much faster if they enabled caching of the 1Mb of Javascript that gets downloaded with every map instance.

    Same goes for all the CSS, png, and gif images associated with the interface.

    At least the map tiles themselves are cachable, but they rotate domain names. This is good because it increases the browser pipelining, but, it is not clear to me that they strongly tie the individual tiles to a domain name. If they don’t then they have defeated caching again.

    Someone needs to point them to the Yahoo dev pages on server performance: http://developer.yahoo.com/performance/

  38. [...] At the end of its two-year contract with Microsoft, real estate brokerage site Redfin went from a mix of Virtual Earth and Google Maps to Google Maps only. The reason? Google Maps renders pushpins a lot faster than VE, and a lot faster than it used to. “We did an evaluation and figured out a way to draw a large number of pushpins on GMaps very quickly. When we went with VE in 2006, GMaps was faster out of the box but slower once we started drawing on it, especially on IE6. … In the end, it was speed, speed, speed that convinced us to switch. In our worst case scenario of 500 pushpins on the map in IE6, GMaps is 385% faster” (emphasis mine). Via All Points Blog and Scobleizer. [...]