Saturday, December 16, 2006

Microsoft’s Worst Product Ever

I just tried Microsoft’s new so-called search engine, Ms. Dewey. Boy, does it (she?) suck ass. If you haven’t tried it, let me save you some time by detailing just how lousy it is.

Here’s how it works—I shouldn’t say works, because it doesn’t work at all, as shall become clear. After arriving at the site, prepare to wait quite some time for Ms. Dewey to acknowledge your presence. She’s busy listening to her iPod and playing air guitar, so you will just have to wait until she gets over herself and has time for you. As we all know, Microsoft loves to waste people's time, and, though she's not much good at anything else, Ms. Dewey is quite capable of frittering away your time for you.

Let me describe Ms. Dewey. She’s played by an actress in a low-cut suit who appears to be a little bit African American, a little bit Hispanic, a little bit white (the air guitar thing), a little bit Asian, and a little bit country (the country part comes in when she starts miming rodeo-style lasso tricks). Microsoft’s attempt to be multicultural and at the same time "ethnically unthreatening" is obvious and utterly laughable.

Anyway, when she does finally realize you're on the site, she rudely demands that you type in a question. You go ahead and type it in, which takes for-freakin-ever. You'll have to wait about a second between typing each letter, because the interface is as slow as molasses in January!

It probably takes a full minute to get your question all typed in. Then you wait while Ms. Dewey says suggestive and highly unoriginal things to you like: “How about getting naked? Not me…you!” At one point she chirps, “Safety first!” and whips out a motorcycle helmet and unfurls a strip of about two dozen condoms. Pathetic! (Who wrote her script? I'd like to kick his stupid, unimaginative ass.) Don't assume I’m some zitty 14-year-old boy who can't get laid. But perhaps the most obnoxious thing is that Microsoft can't resist having Ms. Dewey warn you not to use pirated software.

All this goes on while you wait, wait, wait, wait, wait for the answer to your questions. Actually, come to think of it, there is enough time to get fully disrobed, so maybe that's why she suggested it? As a way of passing the time.

And when the results do come up? Oh my god. I couldn’t believe how far off the mark they were. I started by asking an easy question: “Where do zebras live?” and Ms. Dewey came back with some sites about what zebras eat. Clearly, Ms. Dewey doesn’t read very carefully.

They weren’t even authoritative sites. One was a site put together by a class of 6th graders and was full of incorrect information. And, just to drive you even more nuts, the sites are listed in hard-to-read dark gray type on a light gray background squished into the right half of the screen so that Ms. Dewey and her David Letterman-style desk are still taking up the bulk of the screen. You can view only three results at a time and the scroll function doesn’t work well. It’s a huge step backward—in every respect—in search-engine technology. Seriously worse than search engines I remember testing back in 1997.

Still, I gave Ms. Dewey another chance. I asked, “Who was Prince Matchabelli?” After much tapping of her French manicured nails, rolling of her eyes, and lunging toward me tits-first, Ms. Dewey came back with a site about Machiavelli. OK. He wrote The Prince. He wasn't a prince himself. What a dumbass mistake! I don't know what kind of faulty parsing and logic (or whatever) the search engine is using, but it sure makes Ms. Dewey and Microsoft look dumber than a bucket of dirt.

Fed up, I started typing in questions like, “Is Ms. Dewey the worst search engine ever?” Surprisingly, I started getting some pertinent results. The answer, by the way, is: “Yes!!!!!"


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