Preliminary Information about Office 15 aka Office 2013 Unearthed

Microsoft-Office Office 2010 is yet to be released, but Microsoft has already begun planning for Office 2013 or Office 15. InfoWorld and Microsoft Kitchen has managed to unearth some preliminary information about Office 15.

The first bit of information is that Microsoft has chosen to continue with their recent no-nonsense naming policy and has codenamed Office v15 as simply Office 15.

As far as features are concerned, other than offering a “new visual & interaction experience”, Office 15 will sport drastically improved collaboration tools. Word Program Manager, Jonathan Bailor revealed in an interview, “In Office 15, we’d love to take collaboration and communication to the next level. We’ve unlocked all of these new ways to work and a new set of expectations from users, and we’re like, ‘Put us back in the ring; we’re ready for round two.’ Until coauthoring a document is as easy and ubiquitous as e-mail attachments, our job isn’t done”.

Microsoft employee, Ben Gable, mentioned in his LinkedIn profile that Excel will be getting a major new feature, while an online ad for a test engineer hinted that Outlook will continue working on improved social networking integration.

Microsoft has also been talking about Office Mobile 15 in their job advertisements. Here is a particularly interesting snippet uncovered by Microsoft Kitchen:

Now is your chance to get in on the ground floor of the Office organization’s newest team. The Office Mobile suite includes Communicator Mobile, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, SharePoint, with more applications and capabilities being planned as part of the Office 15 product suite. This unique position involves technical challenges of working across multiple operating systems and devices as well as the chance to work with teams across the company and around the world. Our key focus going forward is designing and developing new end to end Mobile Office scenarios that greatly improve mobile meetings, productivity, and document management. All while taking advantage of the greater computing power, networking, memory, screen & touch, and GPS capabilities on next generation mobile computing platforms

Although there has been rumors that Microsoft will be ditching the Ribbon UI in favor of a completely new interface, given the short timeframe, such a drastic change appears rather unlikely.

What new features would you like to see in Office 2013? Don’t forget to let us know.

Turkish Hacker Hijacks and

A few hours back, the Israeli Hotmail and MSN webpages were hijacked by a Turkish hacker to display a pro-Palestinian message. According to Softpedia, the nameservers and administrative email addresses were changed. Instead of redirecting to the usual and, the viewers were redirected to the page pictured below.


Microsoft has regained control of the respective domain names and both the sites are currently operating normally. Microsoft has yet to respond to the hijacking and for now, the method used by the hacker to pull of this feat remains unknown. The most obvious possibility is that he used stolen credentials. However, KISS philosophy doesn’t always work. If you have any idea, don’t hesitate to share it with us.

Twitter Acquires Analytics Start-up Smallthought Systems

Trendly-DabbleDB Recently Twitter announced that it will be changing its default URL shortner from to an in-house solution. Obviously, this change will help Twitter get a better idea about trending stories on Twitter. As the next step in its goal of better understanding the pulse of the web, Twitter has acquired Smallthought Systems.

Smallthought Systems is a four person startup that is responsible for creating Dabble DB, an online database and web analytics filter tool that was being utilized by Twitter until a year ago. They are also the developers of Trendly, a service which helps making sense of Google Analytics data. Once again, Twitter’s analytics team found use for Trendly. In fact, Twitter was one of the earliest testers of Trendly.

As a result of the acquisition, Avi Bryant, Andrew Catton, Ben Matasar, and Luke Andrews from Smallthought Systems will now join Twitter’s analytics team. This also probably means the end of the road for DabbleDB and Trendly. Although Smallthought has promised to continue providing both the services to existing customers, new account signups has been disabled.

Google Uses Browser Sniffing To Prevent Safari and Opera Users From Getting Background Image Option

Google-Background-Image You have probably heard by now that Google has rolled out a new background image option. You can personalize your Google Search experience by using your own background image or by choosing one from the hundreds available in public galleries.

Unfortunately, due to some unknown reason, Google is using browser sniffing to prevent Opera and Safari users from accessing these options. It’s hard to believe that Google couldn’t find a way to make the image selection pane work in Opera or Safari. What makes this even more bewildering is the fact that Chrome also uses the Webkit rendering engine that powers Safari.

Guardian’s Charles Arthur suggests that Google may be blocking Safari due to the bad blood between Apple and Google. Arthur also suggests that the fact that Opera and Safari are popular mobile web browsers may have had a hand in Google’s decision. Of course, his explanation doesn’t stand to reason, since it’s easy to distinguish between the desktop version and mobile version of Safari as well as Opera.

My feeling is that it’s just plain old laziness on the part of Google and that is indeed a shame.

Twitter Adds New World Cup Theme

Twitter-FIFA-Theme With the football (soccer) World Cup is knocking at the doors, everyone is busy finalizing their plans to leverage the ultimate sporting spectacle. When the previous FIFA World Cup was held, Twitter was still in its infancy. However, this time around it is expecting a massive surge in activity during the tournament.

Twitter has rolled out a new World Cup 2010 based theme to get you in the football frenzy. In order to enable the theme, head over to the Design tab in your settings page.


Recently, Google also did its bit by changing the search results navigation links from Goooooooooogle to Gooooooooooal for the search query “World Cup“.

Have you noticed any other cool World Cup themed easter-eggs in your favorite websites? Don’t forget to let us know.

Apple Misleads Users Once Again with Half Truths and Outright Lies

Recently, I took Apple to task for misleading the general population with its deceptive HTML5 and Web Standards demos. Of course, that was not the first time Apple used questionable tactics and it won’t be the last time either.

On Monday, Apple unveiled iPhone 4 and Safari 5 – both of which are impressive products in their own way. Yet, Apple felt the need to twist the facts to grab eyeballs.

Let me start off with Safari. In its press release, Apple claims, “Safari 5 on the Mac runs JavaScript 30 percent faster than Safari 4, three percent faster than Chrome 5.0, and over twice as fast as Firefox 3.6″. Intrigued by Apple’s claim, several bloggers and journalists performed their own tests. Needless to say, the results achieved by them didn’t quite hold up to Apple’s claims.

Safari5 gets beaten by Chrome 5 and Opera 10.53 (via Gavin M. Roy)

Gavin M. Roy found that Safari was comprehensively outperformed by both Chrome 5 and Opera 10.53. Safari’s performance looks even more ordinary when compared with Chrome 6 and Opera 10.60.

Safari5 gets beaten by Chrome 6 and Opera 10.6 (via DownloadSquad)

If this wasn’t bad enough, Apple also misrepresented the clarity offered by Retina Display during Steve Job’s keynote. Don’t get me wrong. IPhone 4’s display is indeed stunning. In fact, it’s most probably better than anything its competitors have to offer. However, as pointed out by George Ou, the slides used during the presentation depicted a PPI (pixels per inch) of 815. That is almost three times more than what is actually offered by the iPhone. Even iPhone advertisements exaggerate the clarity improvement achieved by the retina display.

Retina Display: Apple’s Claims vs Truth

It’s not uncommon for companies to exaggerate their product’s capabilities. However, Apple seems to have almost made it an habit and an art.

Bing Celebrates Its One-Year Anniversary With A New Official Windows 7 Theme

Bing has just turned one. Its first year of existence has been a mixed bag. While it has been fairly well received, it hasn’t really succeeded in eating away Google’s market share. Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president, Online Audience Business Group, said, “It’s been a whirlwind 12 months, with the team shipping tons of new cool features aimed at making it easy and fast to make key decisions and just get stuff done. We wanted to take a short break to say thanks”.

As a special treat to Windows 7 users, Microsoft has released the third Bing theme pack featuring some of the best background images (wallpapers) used by Bing.


Our latest Bing’s Best Windows 7 theme pack gives you even more great Bing homepage images for your desktop. Bing’s Best 3 lets you gaze at a dying star, soar over an underwater sinkhole, and get up close and personal with an adorable baby sea turtle. There are 19 wallpapers in all”, stated Stephanie Horstmanshof, Bing Managing Editor.

You can download Bing’s Best 3 Windows 7 theme from the official personalization gallery (direct link).

Apple Tries To Be Open: Launches HTML5 Showcase That Doesn’t Use a Lot of HTML5

In the recent past, Apple has been vilified for acting like a big brother. Regular Techie Buzz readers are probably familiar with Apple’s battle against Flash and their stance against open technologies like Theora and WebM. Perhaps stung by the criticism, Apple has launched a new HTML5 showcase demonstrating what’s possible with Safari.

The message is loud and clear – Flash isn’t the only way to deliver rich web applications. If developers don’t want to write Apple product-specific code, they can always opt for open web standards.


The HTML5 Technology demo gallery has some spectacular samples, which showcase video, audio, typography, transitions and more. Each and every one of these demos have Apple’s hallmark. They are simple, yet stunning enough to wow you.

Unfortunately, they also bear Apple’s other signature – a lot of half-truths. According to Opera developer, Haavard K. Moen, “The only things that are HTML5 on that page are HTML5 <audio> and <video>”.

Worse still, Apple is using browser sniffing to artificially block other browsers. So, although Chrome – another WebKit based browser, does significantly better than Safari in, it stumbles while rendering Apple’s HTML5 showcase. Opera is another browser with an impressive HTML5 support that is not allowed to render Safari’s technology demos.

It is obviously well within Apple’s rights to create stunning demos showcasing its browser’s capabilities. However, dubbing its technology demos as HTML5 and Web Standards showcase, when they are clearly not, is despicable.

Apple deserves credit for encouraging and promoting HTML5. In fact, their focus on HTML5 will probably lead to an overall faster rate of adoption among both browser makers and developers. However, as Haavard points out, Apple is also trying to use HTML5 and open, as a buzzword, to its advantage.

And yeah, if you thought Microsoft fares better, here is a hilarious take on Internet Explorer’s HTML5 Testing Center.

Update: As pointed out by Sathya, Mozilla’s Robert Sayre has responded to Apple’s HTML5 Demos in his own eloquent manner.

Gmail Glitch Makes It Slow For “a small subset” of Users

Gmail When Gmail burst onto the scene, it garnered universal acclaim for its speed. Over the years, Gmail has continued growing and innovating. However, this growth seems to have come at a cost.

If Gmail is agonizingly slow for you, you aren’t the only one. In the words of Gabriel Weinberg, founder of Duck Duck Go, “It can take 20sec to switch labels, and even longer to search for something. But here’s the worst part–it takes just as long to send a simple message!?!”.

Fortunately for Weinberg, his blog post got noticed by a Googler. Not only did Google fix his problem, but also acknowledged that several other users may be affected by the same issue. Here is a snippet from Google’s response:

The team is still looking into your account slowness, but it initially appears that the problem is isolated to a small subset of Gmail users…They are still investigating the root cause of the slowness but in the meantime have moved your account to a different set of servers, which should help.

This isn’t the first time that Google has acknowledged this problem. Google had admitted that Gmail was sluggish and had promised to fix it back in March. While it’s nice that they reached out to Weinberg, one has to wonder what is taking Google so long. Meanwhile, if you are experiencing sluggishness, you can try some measures like deleting data from Gmail (email, labels, contacts etc.) and disabling Gmail Labs.

Opera 10.60 Alpha 1 – Faster and Sexier Than Ever Before

The battle for speed between Chrome and Opera rages on. While, others like Firefox and Internet Explorer are struggling to stay in the race, Google and Opera Software are continuously setting the bar higher.


Opera Software has just released Opera 10.60 alpha, which introduces performance improvements for JavaScript, DOM and CSS. The newest alpha build fares 76% better Opera 10.5 in the Peacekeeper benchmark, with further speed improvements being promised for the beta build.


The newest alpha also sports numerous user interface improvements. The repulsive “O” button has been replaced by a prettier (and more obvious) Menubutton, while the annoying taskbar tabs for Windows 7 is have been disabled (they can be re-enabled from here). Other visual tweaks include prettier hover thumbnail tab previews and the use of icons instead of thumbnails for certain internal tabs like RSS Feed and Mail.

The new build also features dozens of stability improvements and bug fixes across all platforms. If you are feeling adventurous, you can download Opera 10.60 alpha for Windows, UNIX and Mac from here. However, keep in mind that this is an alpha release and is likely to be buggy.