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What exactly is Joel trying to say?

Okay, so I must be really thick today. I've read Joel's little piece today a couple of times and I can't really see what he has trying to say:

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2004/07/19.html

Is he saying that searching email is good, thereby attempting to increase the value of his Google shares (GMail does searching) ?

Is he saying Microsoft are the evil empire (again), because they've bought up an ISV (again) and may just sit on it, rather than incorporating it into their own products ?

Is he saying Microsoft are the evil empire (again), because they didn't want to buy his ISV ?

No doubt this will be deleted, as it doesn't toe the party line, but I do wonder what he was on about.

Steve Jones (UK)
Monday, July 19, 2004

I think he is simply saying that Lookout and Microsoft both are stupid.

Microsoft did a stupid move by removing a good plugin for Outlook.

Lookout did a stupid move by removing a good product.

That's about it.

Peter Monsson
Monday, July 19, 2004

It sounds like Joel is upset that a useful product is no longer available, and that rather than integrating it with future versions out Outlook, Microsoft has decided to use the technology in MSN.

Think of it this way:  You find pencils to be useful, but you always run out of erasers, so you buy those extra eraser blocks.  They aren't critical, but it makes a big difference to your experience.  Suddenly Bic buys the eraser block makers and takes them off the market.  When you ask what's going on, Bic says, "We're busy working to integrate eraser blocks into our new highlighters".

Lookout's technology might make sense in MSN, but it also made sense in Outlook.  The question is, why is it now unavailable for it's originally intended purpose?

Lou
Monday, July 19, 2004

The product they are incorporating it into is incompatable with Outlook: it is MSN.

It used to provide for better searching inside large .pst files than the built in features in Outlook. But you cannot get the product anymore.

Competing against GMail is fine and dandy, but removing a useful product from the market is not.

To give an idea of why its bad to incorporate this into MSN, do yourself a simple test. Go to MSN, and your favorite search engines. Put in the terms "linux" and see what you get on both sites. Put in the terms "open source" and see what you get in both sites. MSN search seems to be turning into a propaganda engine for MS, and less a gateway to knowledge.

Peter
Monday, July 19, 2004

I think he's just expressing a bit of frustration about what looks like an absurd business transaction (the kind that no rational, normal business model can withstand).

-Buy technology that enhances your own product (Outlook) and increases user satisfaction

-Immediately cease sales and service of said technology

-Promise some future date integration into a completely different, money losing product (MSN)

Additionally, and I'm putting on my conspiratorial hat, I find it enormously dubious that Microsoft is really acquiring any credible search technology here (Microsoft has been working on search for over a decade, with a lot of people on it. If Microsoft is really buying "technology" here then I think MS shareholders just be irritated about the billions they're pissing in a well each year) - it's a simple email indexing utility (the kind that Outlook should have had since day one. Funny that the people who pushed Findfast and its son Fast.exe onto every PC can only search by scanning the entire corpus of emails).

It does seem much more credible that they perceive this product as threatening some future product (the joys of only worrying about competing against your own product).

Dennis Forbes
Monday, July 19, 2004

Steve Jones (UK), sometimes you come about a well heeled man, and at times likes these you sound like an utter arsehole. Do you abuse any substances?

Joel made a technological point about a piece of corporate news. No hint of anything to the contrary.

.
Monday, July 19, 2004

Heard off in the Pacific Northwest...

<simpsons>Buy 'em out, boys.</simpsons>

Greg Hurlman
Monday, July 19, 2004

Technology wise: Lookout is pretty neat, because it integrates with MAPI (hard), has a reasonable UI (not too hard), and integrates with a search engine (probably easy).

But a quick perusal of the Lookout directory shows that it's just using Lucene.NET for its searching and indexing. That's an open source project through the Apache foundation.

I don't know what technology there is to buy for MSN. Lookout is just an Outlook interface.

Steve Willer
Monday, July 19, 2004

So does anyone have a link where we can still get lookout or has MS successfully removed it from the web completely?

dmart
Monday, July 19, 2004

Look, there were two guys. One now works for Microsoft. They told him to concentrate on his new job. Why in the heck they took down the old software is the puzzle. They could/should have left it up.

I suspect it has to do with lawyers getting involved.

MilesArcher
Monday, July 19, 2004

If you missed out on downloading Lookout, here is a link for it : http://www.lookoutsoft.com/Lookout/HDL8827/Lookout120.exe

Anon
Monday, July 19, 2004

My gut feeling: Lookout's presence is an indication that Outlook lacks a very basic feature that works credibly well. So MS bought the company out in order to eliminate the appearance of anything lacking.

I just tried Outlook 2002's 'find' feature on a small, <500 message inbox. It took something like 8 sec. to complete on a fast 2+ ghz XP system with a gig of ram. I was amazed by its slowness. Pathetic. And a good thing to cover up.

Bored Bystander
Monday, July 19, 2004

"If you missed out on downloading Lookout..."

Now that's just amusing, the fact that it's still there.

Thanks.  Got it before they pulled it.  :)

Aaron F Stanton
Monday, July 19, 2004

"cover up" ==> dis-acknowledge, obscure, etc...

Bored Bystander
Monday, July 19, 2004

Oddly enough, www.lookoutsoft.com is not on the WayBack machine.  Hm.  They must have blocked spiders.

Aaron F Stanton
Monday, July 19, 2004

Dennis,

MSN is no longer money loosing unit. Check http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/19/technology/19msn.html


JD

JD
Monday, July 19, 2004

It's easy to block the wayback machine. You add an entry to robots.txt on your site to exclude their spider, then you fill out a form on their site that notifies them that such a change is pending. Apparently they then schedule the site you specify for a checkup and when they find the robots file all of your site's entries are flushed.

I did this for one site I owned. Wayback "forgot" my site within a few hours after I filled out their form.

Bored Bystander
Monday, July 19, 2004

Yeah, I know it's easy to block them.  I just mentioned it because it means that when MS removes that binary, it's gone for good.

There is some interesting stuff on WayBack, even binaries that some companies pulled from their websites.  It's sometimes tricky to find, but it's there.

Aaron F Stanton
Monday, July 19, 2004

>But a quick perusal of the Lookout directory
>shows that it's just using Lucene.NET
>for its searching and indexing. That's
>an open source project through the
>Apache foundation.

A ha!  It looks like Lucene is distributed under a license that covers derivative works.  Microsofts "No Open Source" policy would mean that they have to shut the technology down and plug in a different search/index engine.

http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0

I answered joel's question; do I get a prize or something?

www.xndev.com (Formerly Matt H.)
Monday, July 19, 2004

Perhaps I am mad, but I don't read into their Q&A that the product will be forever discontinued and killed.

They explicitly state they are interested in it for MSN.  They explicitly state that the *existing* product is no longer available.  But I fail to read that they will not offer a future version for Outlook.

We don't always tip our full hand when doing product announcements, not to mention that rarely are business decisions final.  Who's to say they won't reconsider in a few months?  It happens everywhere, all the time.

Walt
Monday, July 19, 2004

Best answer yet.  Good job xndev


And your prize...

http://jovan.ru/pics/award.jpg

lumberjack
Monday, July 19, 2004

Thanks for the link anon.

dmart
Monday, July 19, 2004

"They explicitly state they are interested in it for MSN. "

The whole thing is built around an open source, Apache project index/search engine (as referenced previously). What the heck is left to use within MSN? That's just marketing nonsense.

Dennis Forbes
Monday, July 19, 2004

> I answered joel's question; do I get a prize or something?

Well, you might, except that I think you're misreading the liscense. It requires that a copy of the liscense itself and copyright notices be distributed with derivative works, but makes no requirement that the derivative itself be open source.

However, I still suspect that this is what Microsoft is concerned about.

Michael Chermside
Monday, July 19, 2004

You are welcome. :)

Anon
Monday, July 19, 2004

Actually, the Apache license is a business-friendly license that explicitly allows commercial derivative works.  The only requirements are documentation-oriented.  (read the license for details).  I myself sell commercial, proprietary software that contains components licensed under the Apache license.

This type of license is in sharp contrast to the viral Gnu Public License (GPL) which requires that any derivative works themselves need to be covered under the GPL.

Despite this, it's entirely possible that Microsoft did hesitate at using open source technology.  Or maybe they just didn't want to support it.  ISV's take note -- this may be a new niche to fill!

Will
Monday, July 19, 2004

thanks Anon.

Balaji
Monday, July 19, 2004

I think a prior poster got the true motive - this company doesn't even appear on the Microsoft radar. They simply wanted to hire someone who had some namespace within the search sphere, and for legal reasons and completeness they "bought out" the product and discarded it.

Regarding whether they will use or not use the software, why would they bother going through this acquisition when they could just go to Sourceforge and download it themselves?

Ultimately I can't help but imagine some Microsoft HR drone scanning through the newsgroups looking for mentions to search wizards to make some high profile hires in the upcoming battle with Google, and they came across Lookout. "This thing is great," they say. "We gotta hire this search wizard!" They get the guy onboard, only to realize it's a thin wrapper around an Apache open source project. Bwahaha.

Dennis Forbes
Monday, July 19, 2004

Uh...since it's pretty obvious what the product does and the technology it uses, what's stopping someone from cloning it, besides time?  Just asking.

Aaron F Stanton
Monday, July 19, 2004


Absolutely nothing...


If you're *really* interested in document indexing, check out DocSearcher on Sourceforge.  It index html, txt, doc, pdf, xls, rtf, and a few other types of documents.

*I'm totally biased here as a friend is the lead developer.

KC
Monday, July 19, 2004

Joel seems to have bought xndev's argument:

>>Update: They figured it out on the discussion group. Lookout is using an open-source component for searching, which Microsoft can't redistribute. The only part of Lookout that Microsoft allegedly cares about, the search engine, is released under the Apache license. The only part of Lookout which Microsoft can use is the Outlook integration, and they don't seem to care about that. Methinks this is one of those "HR Acquisitions," wherein Microsoft buys a company for a few bucks because it's the only way to hire someone they want. <<

But, other posters are disputing this in ways that sound reasonable.

Is there a lawyer in the house?  :)

I don't have a deep philosophy about open-source, but if an open-source project comes up with a really killer implementation, and a commercial company would be forbidden to incorporate it into an app where it fits and is needed -- well, how exactly is that making the world a better place?

Lisa
Monday, July 19, 2004

Forget about Lookout - get X1 indeed

www.x1.com

I am a VERY happy user of X1, and I've bought it to manage my 5 Gigs of Outlook mail that are not usable other way

And for more information on indexing tools for your PC, check this link

http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/05/19/186257&tid=217&tid=185&tid=201

Alexandru

Alexandru COSTIN
Monday, July 19, 2004

I was told in an email from someone at Lookout that the file will be gone by Tuesday at 12PM PST, so get it quick!

For the record, the link that was sent to me was http://www.lookoutsoft.com/Lookout/HDL9382/Lookout120.exe -- slightly different than the one posted by Anon, but I downloaded them both and they match bit-for-bit.  So, maybe some download tracking is going on here or something.

Patrick
Monday, July 19, 2004

The first link doesn't work for me. Patrick's link works.

I suppose this is only a trial version though. What happens after expiration?

Another theory why they took it off the market: maybe it just isn't up to their standards in some fashion. I'm not dissing the product here: it could be something as simple as missing translations. Outlook is available in *many* languages, maybe they have rules that say they can't release an Outlook tool that has UI if it isn't translated into all these languages.

Stéphane Lajoie
Monday, July 19, 2004

after they bought some drawing program recently, they released it for free. well, free for 'existing users' (http://www.microsoft.com/products/expression/)

then again, after they bought visio they have cut features form every subsequent version.

according to lookout's web site, you can keep using the new 1.2 version (released Friday, pulled Monday?!) as long as you want. a new feature is that the nag screens are gone.

i tried it starting about a week ago, just before the buyout. don't really like it all that much, x1 (or maybe the open source project listed here) will be the next app to try.

mb
Monday, July 19, 2004

... without any bias whatsoever ;) , if you really like doing what Lookout did and you really like its intense Outlook integration and even want to take that further into every Office toolbar ... then you could try out the granddaddy of them all (since 1999) .... 80-20 Retriever (PC Mag's Editors choice) .... info here: http://www.80-20.com/products/personal_email_search.asp

David Gillespie (CTO - 80-20)
Monday, July 19, 2004

Hey Joel,

Microsoft certainly CAN release software that is developed under Apache.  They have done this in the past.  The orginal TCP/IP stack in NT is based on BSD which is Open Source.  The Apache license is a derivative of BSD. 

Or help->about in IE

Based on NCSA Mosaic. NCSA Mosaic(TM); was developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Apache doesn't require that source modifications be released like GPL.  It only requires an acknowledgement.

christopher (baus.net)
Monday, July 19, 2004

MS probably picked up Lookout Software for the employees and maybe some IP.  They probably saw that Lookout was based on open source and decided to pull it.

They'll probably run it by their lawyers, and if their lawyers give the okay, they'll put it back up or integrate it into Outlook.  After all, as pointed out, MS does use BSD-license software.  I think they're just being a bit cautious, rather than malicious or stupid.

Rohan Verghese
Monday, July 19, 2004

I'll try to say this in the politest possible way, but may fail miserably.
You'd think that someone with the interest that Joel has in software and the software industry would have better sense than to add those license claims to his entry.
He should have known that a) Apache license is a more complex derivative of BSD licenses, b) the Apache license does allow derivatives to be closed source as long as the copyright notice is maintained (aren't there closed source implementations of Apache httpd?), and c) MS already includes BSD licensed code in their products and possibly others.
Instead he's read the first comment about licenses from an open source clown and reiterated those claims in his entry. (Probably a GPL clown given his insistence that open source products can not be used in closed source derivatives)
Microsoft might have some other concern about the license, but it's certainly not that they can't distribute the application without source.

Matt
Monday, July 19, 2004

Since we pulled it, people talk about Lookout as though it could have buttered your bread for you.  While I'm happy to be the beneficiary of such kind words, I wonder if Lookout is being glorified for the sole purpose of beating someone else up?

Love this thread.

Mike Belshe
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

This brings up a whole other point.  I think there is an advantage to be had by ISVs such as Lookout that integrate open source into commercial applications.  ESR thinks that this will result in failure (ie the OpenSource projects will beat you).  I disagree.  I think the result is one-uping the competition with fewer resources. 

BTW,

Unix services for Windows certainly contains BSD code:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/sfu/default.asp

As far as I can tell it is a straight BSD port to Microsoft's HAL. 

christopher (baus.net)
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

So Mike, Whats the deal with Lookout and Microsoft? Give us the inside scoop :)

Anon
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Mike's got a retirment plan? Pretty good reason to anything under the sun, imo.

.
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Did the "version.xml" file always say the following, or is this new since the aquisition?

<Comment>Lookout from Microsoft. No more tell-a-friend reminders; new advanced search UI.</Comment>

RichB
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Mike:
It's pretty simple. Your company made a pretty cool piece of software. No it didn't butter bread, and it had competitors. Then you got bought out. (Congratulations!). Then you released a new version, but on the same day the product disapeared and was replaced with weasel text from Waggener Edstrom.

Now there's lots of valid reasons why this might have happened, but don't be surprised when people speculate and dream up crazy ideas. Especially since it's actually quite common across many industries that the dominant player with a mediocre product buys out an upstart and then kills off the upstart, leaving only the mediocrity. Which is always frustrating to the fans of the upstart.

mb
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Steve and muppet should hookup. Let these malcontents attempt to procreate. While they're working it out they at least won't be around a keyboard. Sathyaish is worlds better than these two. At least his crap is positive crap, or at least non-negative crap.

non
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

What I can say is that it was very important to us at Lookout and also to the guys at Microsoft that the existing users didn't get left in the dark.  For this reason, all existing users got free copies of a new version that removed all nagware from the product, added a couple of features, and they can use it as long as they like.  We didn't take it away from them.  So, for the "fans of the upstart" - you should still have a perfectly functioning lookout.  And when there is new stuff available, you'll get that too. 

It is true, obviously, that new users aren't being picked up right now.  We made that decision because we thought it made the most sense.  I apologize to all those folks that wished they had gotten Lookout earlier; if so, you'd now have a free copy.  But, don't feel blue, if it hadn't been for the press release last week about this whole thing, you probably wouldn't know about little Lookout anyway :-)  (I know thats not much consolation!)

And for me and Eric personally, we'd feel pretty bad if we thought users weren't ever going to get anything in the future.  We're both builders - we like to see new stuff (especially that which we've poured so much of our souls into) get pushed out.  Its unlikely either of us would sell if we thought the purpose was to make us go away.  You've probably seen the quotes from both of us that this is an opportunity to distribute much more widely, not less.

Regarding the "Version.xml" - that particular comment was new, but the comment field has always existed...  Each release has a small comment that shows up in a popup window when the upgrade is available. We wanted users to get a sense of what they were getting before they clicked "yes". 

All this said, I do hear you about how its a disappointment to have the downloads down.  I feel it a little  too - I have pride in that Lookout thing, of course!  But, disagree or not, it wasn't without a lot of thought, and it wasn't Microsoft "killing the little guy" or ignoring their users.  To the contrary, its Microsoft trying to listen to their customers and get started on some very needed new stuff.  For a period of time, it does leave a gap.

Good things come to those who wait?
  or
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush? 
:-)

Mike Belshe
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

"Update: They figured it out on the discussion group. Lookout is using an open-source component for searching, which Microsoft can't redistribute."
--> http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2004/07/19.html

What do you mean? For all I know the Apache licence does allow redistribution.

Thomas Pluempe
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Thanks for the personal comments "non" and ".", it's always nice to be appreciated ;-)

Actually, I wasn't trying to be controversial or negative in asking my question. I genuinely didn't get the point, that's all.

And for the record, just because not everyone agrees with everything I say, doesn't mean I'm always negative.

In fact, I see myself as a very positive person.

Okay, so I do sometimes point out holes in people's logic, or problems with their website ("g"), but that is not intended to be negative.

It is intended to be helpful, although sometimes the recipient's ego is too large to allow it to be accepted in the manner it was offered.

When I pointed out a minor problem with the www.microsoft.com home page do you think they questioned my mental state and told me not to be a perfectionist ?

Steve Jones (UK)
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

For some reason, I don't use third party tools. I like great products, but I don't like the philosophy of third party tools altogether. Will they be compatible when the next update of the product comes out? Won't they break anything? Do I really need them at all?

And who wants to use Microsoft Outlook anyway? It's never been a very good product.

Daniel Daranas
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Don't Microsoft just want to buy the name "Lookout" and don't really care about the technology etc.

bobby
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

I don't know specifically what Joel was implying in his update, but I think it is fair to say that Microsoft would shut it down because it is largely (the seemingly innovative portion) based upon open source-

-How would it looking in the coming war if Microsoft's search strategy was presumed to be backed by a Sourceforge project? This would be presumed to be a major weakness.

-What unique technological advantage does it provide Microsoft, given that anyone can download it and implement it in their product.

Dennis Forbes
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

I put Linux and Open Source into both google and MSN, and the results were more or less identical--with a little advertising above the results in MSN.

The best Outlook search tool (in my opinion), is X1.

www.x1.com

Rocks

Ryan
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

RE: Dennis Forbes
1. Inclusion of Sourceforge based technology would look no worse than BSD, Mosaic, Indeo, Java etc technology
2. Microsoft rarely relies on technological advantage, preferring to rely on ease of use for end users. They more often than not get that right, and part of there success even on the server (IIS, Windows Server itself, Exchange, ISA Server) is based on that.
In short, Microsoft hasn't been shy about using open source products before and it's not as compelling an argument to make as some people here seem to believe. They might be trying to replace Lucene.NET with their own technology(and they've had full text search for years now), but it's a real stretch to state they are with the authority that some do here.
They might have pulled it to work on the interface, distribute it through their own channels or do a security audit the code for all we know.
Anything we say on this forum is speculation, and rabbiting on about open source licenses (especially a fairly unrestricted one) borders on conspiracy theory.

Matt
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Firstly, to respond to your final point:

"Anything we say on this forum is speculation, and rabbiting on about open source licenses (especially a fairly unrestricted one) borders on conspiracy theory."

Of course we're speculating. However if you think I'm `rabbiting' about the open source licenses, you've painfully missed the point. My point was that the search technology of the product in question is unrelated open source (it's not even that the product itself is open source, but rather that the core of it uses a separate open source project), so from a search technology perspective they've effectively acquired nothing. It's like buying a company that sells air or the colour blue.

"1. Inclusion of Sourceforge based technology would look no worse than BSD, Mosaic, Indeo, Java etc technology"

Indeo and Java were both added via technology partnerships - they're hardly open source. BSD and Mosaic are particularly humorous because Microsoft has endured endless black-eyes over these two points (even when people misunderstand what a "BSD socket" is).

Joe Blow building a product around a Sourceforge project can get away with it, but I _GUARANTEE_ you that Microsoft would endure endless harping from its critics if they did (Mosaic has about as much to do with IE 6 as Visipad does, but it's amazing how frequently that one is rehashed). We're not talking about notepad v2.0 here, we're talking about search, and if you're missed the importance of search in the battle royale over the next couple of years then this won't be clear.

Dennis Forbes
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Somebody mentioned Lookout in collision course with another Microsoft technology available in the future and I think he is right ( and I also think that it was Dennis Forbes). So, we have Outlook and Word. These two applications with massive penetration on the desktop. Microsoft plans to change the way the file system is organized and searched and spends tons of money to develop Longhorn. The new file system WinFS would  do most of the job (with some metadata) and luckily for Microsoft anyone needing an enhanced search facility would upgrade to some derivative of Longhorn.

Now let's see the other scenario. Lookout with massive penetration on the desktop everyone loving to use it, Longhorn arrives and nobody wants to upgrade. Microsoft might end up losing a lot of money. Take a peek at what Apple is doing with its "Tiger". Not changing the filesystem just using search technology with adaptors for different content sources and types.

I hate to make predictions but I think Microsoft is going to buy all companies with similar activities and remove their products from the market. But surely nothing stops anyone from building an indexing engine on Outlook.

Kostas Triantafillou
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

> They more often than not get that right, and part of there success even on the server

I totally disagree with that statement. 

christopher (baus.net)
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

I think everyone is missing it.

Search is moving to the desktop.  Both Google and MSN Search (and every other search firm) realize that the next step in search is to take the Google experience and extend it to searching your own PC. 

X1 does the desktop search pretty well today (although X1's UI needs plenty of work).

Google already has a skunkworks to do what X1 does.  It's not hard to imagine an experience where you type your search into Google, and one more tab along the top (images, news, etc) is "my pc".

Microsoft needs to match, which explains why Lookout went to the MSN (Search) group.

Be on the lookout for Lookout-like functionality to show up as part of MSN Search in the future.

- Pete

PS: Just wanted to get in another jab at Outlook for still using GREP as your search technology in 2004.  I guess you could chock it up to "leaving room for ISVs to expand the platform." ;)

Peter Horadan
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

"Microsoft needs to match, which explains why Lookout went to the MSN (Search) group."

Microsoft has had desktop search technology for a long, long time now (they first distributed it with Office, recall findfast.exe and find.exe), and there is a long list of software products are indexing/searching on your desktop. In the corporate sphere Google has sold a search appliance for at least a couple of years now.

Anyway, as mentioned the search algorithms in Lookout are stock, fairly simple search algorithms from an open source product. There is nothing there for Microsoft to learn from, and even if there was they could have just hit Sourceforge. I'm fairly sure Microsoft is world's beyond the simple indexing in Lookout (see full-text indexing in SQL Server).

Dennis Forbes
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Sure, and there were the search features built into Platinum.

Ok, but Microsoft still didn't have anything that really worked or that anyone used.  Lookout worked ...

Peter Horadan
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

"Microsoft still didn't have anything that really worked ..."

There is this little gem at Microsoft Research ... slideware: http://www2.cs.washington.edu/nsf2003/presentations/Dumais-SIS-IDMSept2003.ppt

or for the more academically inclined: http://research.microsoft.com/~sdumais/SISCore-SIGIR2003-Final.pdf

David Gillespie
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

I think they add lookout to the MSN team because they can bring a product faster than waiting for the next Office service pack.

Eduardo
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

"Joe Blow building a product around a Sourceforge project can get away with it, but I _GUARANTEE_ you that Microsoft would endure endless harping from its critics if they did (Mosaic has about as much to do with IE 6 as Visipad does, but it's amazing how frequently that one is rehashed). We're not talking about notepad v2.0 here, we're talking about search, and if you're missed the importance of search in the battle royale over the next couple of years then this won't be clear."
Microsoft endure endless harping from it's critics any way. Why would the reaction be that much worse than the one Apple got when it used various open source products in Mac OSX and Safari? The answer is it wouldn't be from MS users, only from those with a pre-existing vendetta against MS (those tend to be the more rabid open source, especially GPL, advocates)

Matt
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

And to the (forgotten) point about search.
It might be the battle royale over the next few years, but MS have plenty of their own technology already. Admittedly they're not up to google in the 4 billion web page stakes but they have some very good desktop and corporate database search technology.
If we look at Microsoft's current products we find:
1) They do have search technology as good as Lookout's
2) They do use open source when the license permits them to, as the Apache license certainly does
Neither fact support the arguments that they've pulled the product for either reason.

Matt
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Why use Outlook at all?
<p>
<a href="http://www.bloomba.com">Bloomba</a>
<p>
Regards.

Bloomba User
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

I don't know if MSFT decided not to integrate Lookout into Outlook Express because of the open source licence or not, but it is certainly the case that the world has changed over the last couple of years. The largest companies such as MSFT and IBM pay more attention to where source is coming from these days to the point of reviewing those decisions with partners.

For example, if you had a company who became part of the VSIP program at MSFT and had used a GPL piece of code, that might imply that all of Visual Studio would become GPL'd.  For many different reasons, large companies have become more worried about this.

The other side of the coin is that some companies may restrict your ability to do sponsored work for that compnay on an open source project if you've seen or worked on the closed source counterpart recently.

I know that the Apache licence isn't GPL, but I know that some of the same concerns exist in the mind of lawyers.

srw
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Btw in my old linux box (i use primarily winxp and webmail now) all email was stored as plain ascii; grepping through it was as simple and as fast as it gets, no need for fancy special utilities..

mr KK
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Maybe you want to give "Synopsis" ( http://www.mind-breeze.com/de/buytry.html ) a try - it's more than Lookout - it's a whole personal knowledge management suite - in it's kernel it's simply a local search engine (we did fully on our own, and i think search is hard). It's completely written in .net and it sells from €29.99

With our home edition you can search local files, e-mails and notes from outlook, rss-feeds and your own memos you made with it. you can even publish them again as your own weblog including rss. Well there's only one drop of bitterness right now: at moment we only ship german versions, but hey, it's really intuitive to use. If anybody want's I'll provide a short english manual. We ship the next version in October with dramatic performance improvements and in english, spanish and french.

www.mind-breeze.com

Andy Wintersteiger
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The only bit that is a little confusing is why was Lookout pulled. However I imagine that even if Lookout had remained independant they would have charged for it eventually.

Now Microsoft have bought them, I guess the Lookout technology will become part of some product that Microsoft will charge for in the future.

So it would make sense to stop giving it away for free today.... right?

In the future, everything will be free
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

-- QUOTE --
I don't have a deep philosophy about open-source, but if an open-source project comes up with a really killer implementation, and a commercial company would be forbidden to incorporate it into an app where it fits and is needed -- well, how exactly is that making the world a better place?

Lisa
Monday, July 19, 2004
-- ENDQUOTE --

In the case of the GPL, it is a license for anybody to do just about anything with the code.  The only constraint is that IF you decide to distribute the code or a derivative work, then you MUST license the distributed work under the GPL, thereby granting everyone downstream the same rights that you enjoyed.
Nobody is forbidden to do anything.  If you take from the GPL pot, you are expected to put back into it.  At least it's there as an option.
Often, open source software is higher quality because MS is constrained by budgets and man-hours.  Some things go unattended as resources get stretched.  Of course, many if not most open source projects are stretched for the same resources, but there is no upper bound in the open source world, so the major projects are formidable.

Rick Hull
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

-- QUOTE --
For example, if you had a company who became part of the VSIP program at MSFT and had used a GPL piece of code, that might imply that all of Visual Studio would become GPL'd.  For many different reasons, large companies have become more worried about this.

srw
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
-- ENDQUOTE --

Actually, if GPL'd code were inadvertently distributed as part of a closed source project, then the closed source project would have violated the GPL.  This does not mean that the closed source project must be GPL'd.  It means that the closed source project no longer has a license to use the GPL'd code.  As soon as this information is known to the closed source project, it would have to stop distributing its product under a closed source license.  Non-GPL'd distribution could continue when the GPL'd code is replaced by non-GPL'd code.

Rick Hull
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

I'd never need a mail indexer unless I'd use Outlook (happily I don't).  Any other mail client I've seen has decent mail indexing (i.e. Evolution shows instant results searching through thousands of messages; even VM/Emacs is acceptably fast).

So OutLook is the primary reason why applications like LookOut exist.  The same can be said about email antivirus programs--would you really need one if you wouldn't use OutLook?  And let's remember--Microsoft acquired RAV which was a very good antivirus and it's no longer shipped thereafter.  Same question: why?  It was a good program that any Windows user could have benefit, why shutting it down?

Maybe Microsoft just can't afford to let others fix their stuff up...

mishoo
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Ignore the rhetoric from people like Gates and Ballmer who don't actually create products. It's not aimed at technical people, it's aimed at PHBs and, more importantly, shareholders.

Microsoft uses, modifies, and sells/ distributes the GNU toolchain and other utilities licensed under the GNU GPL and has done for quite some time. They obey all the terms of the license as far as anyone can see, and are good Open Source citizens in that they make the source code available on their FTP site to non-customers even though they could legally dodge that.

With future versions of Windows Server the GNU toolchain will probably be included as an optional component, under the Services for Unix banner. At that point Microsoft is no different from any number of UNIX vendors who include the GNU code. Just another distributor for the Free Software Foundation.

Tialaramex
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Microsoft don't want you to use Outlook on it's own.

They want you to use it with Exchange and rely on the searching in Exchange.

Using Outlook standalone - the searching is pointless as you say, but I find that when using it with Exchange (and even better when running on a Terminal Server) that searching is quick.

Phil Greenway
Thursday, July 22, 2004

I don't agree that the open-source thing is the reason why microsoft is holding this back. 

Search is easy.  Any competent CS grad could write a  replacement search structure for this thing, based on TST or whatever.

Microsoft certainly could emulate the core functionality of this program with a team of say, three people working for about six months (caution: figures made up on the spur of the moment).

I suspect that either microsoft doesn't *want* this functionality available for outlook (because it doesn't fit their overall vision of how outlook is supposed to fit into office/exchange/windows/whatever prepackaged, one-size-fits-nobody user 'experience' they're trying to push this microsecond),  or it's an "HR acquisition", and they just couldn't care less about the actual software.

Devon Grey
Thursday, July 22, 2004

Another outlook search option is Neo Pro: http://www.caelo.com/products/index.php , which i use DAILY.  I recently had to reinstall some stuff on xp and lost my key, so i had to go a whole day without it.  that sucked!

Since it sits on top of outlook, you still have all of outlooks features, but it indexes and does all that stuff everyone wants.  It isn't free though, so all of you cheapskates will have to continue using something else :)

John Gardner
Thursday, July 22, 2004

Alright, you conspiracy theorists. Prepare to be debunked :)

Download Lookout from Microsoft directly.

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=09b835ee-16e5-4961-91b8-2200ba31ea37&displaylang=en

Ilya Haykinson
Thursday, July 22, 2004

I ditched outlook 2003 for Bloomba (http://www.statalabs.com) and haven't looked back. Can't imagine how I survived so long without it. It is gmail on your machine check it out.
Awesome.
Plus it integrates a RSS newsfeed aggregator.
Cheers

annon
Friday, July 23, 2004

http://craigrandall.home.comcast.net/archives/2004/07/index.htm#040723b

Here I say thanks to Joel and everyone else here for motivating the download link Microsoft now has for Lookout (already listed above). My contribution to this discussion is to share how to configure Lookout to run for multiple Outlook/Windows users on a single machine.

Cheers!

Craig Randall
Friday, July 23, 2004

Well, that download is already gone. Amazing...

I don't personally use Outlook (too many non-useful features for purist email-users like me) but I can understand the frustration of having a useful plugin stolen like this.

Chris Wionzek
Saturday, July 24, 2004

I use Enfish Find.  They have a product like NEO mentioned above (Enfish Professional) but I have yet to find one that meets my needs.  Enfish Find indexes my whole drive, network drives etc  so I can find most of the docs, attachments, email, zip files, rar files (It indexes the contents of the zip or rar) etc.  Plus you can identify your own type of files to some degree.  When I was searching for a product like this it was the best I could find.  It has saved a ton of time but if there is something better then bring it on!  I love these utilities for their ease of use and speed enhancments.  (Plus I don't have to TREE organize my stuff anymore.)
http://www.enfish.com/
http://www.enfish.com/Screenshots/Screen_Find.htm

Boyd W.
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I realize this is somewhat off-topic to the searching...

Reading through everyone's responses, I notice quite a few that bemoan Microsoft buying up all reasonable products that could enhance/compete with their's. I've seen this propsition put forth many times, as I'm sure everyone else here has. The classic Microsoft move: if you can't beat 'em, buy 'em.

I won't comment whether this strategy is "good" or "bad". But I would like to comment on how people always phrase this accusation as if Microsoft was jumping these small startups in the middle of the night in some dark alley. Whenever there's a buyer, there's a *seller*.

Throughout this entire thread, there's plenty of conspiracy about Microsoft buying up a small startup, "crushing" the competition, etc. Yet not a single person ever suggested that the makers of Lookout had done anything wrong. Surely if Microsoft's purchasing of these startups is some evil against society, then the startup who took the cash deserves equal (if not more) blame?

Come to think of it, after years and years of hearing about evil Microsoft buying up technologies and products, I've not heard once of someone blaming the startup. Hey, from a stark moral perspective I'd likely blame them more as they are surely succumbing to greed, pure and simple (as opposed to Microsoft's immediate sin of laziness, stupidity or pride).

It takes two to tango, lest we forget.

Troy Gilbert
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Troy -

Selling technology to Microsoft enables more people to get that technology.  If what you're griping about is that Microsoft isn't always the fastest to get us the best technology, then why is it that we shouldn't CHEER WITH JOY when they buy something that people seem to like?  Microsoft's ability to help more people get good software is better than any other company on the planet.  As a software developer, I like the notion of working with someone such that, when I make something good (and that may not happen often!) that they'll be able to get it distributed to the most people that can benefit from it.

I know its hard for you to admit, but Microsoft did the right thing here....

Mike Belshe
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Mike -

I totally agree with your point. I guess I wasn't very clear in my post that I was trying to point out people's faulty reasoning when it comes to "Microsoft crushing innovation, etc." I am definitely pro MS and think that overall they've improved the software industry.

My post was just an attempt to point out people's hypocrisy (sp?) when it comes to Microsoft. I hoped to show that people who are often anti-Microsoft acquisition quietly ignore the fact that it "takes two to tango." I guess I didn't get that point across very well... ;-)

My congratulations on Lookout... this discussion spurred me to install it and have loved it ever since. Amazingly good, simple tech. I'm looking forward to seeing it fully integrated into Outlook 2004... ;-)

Troy Gilbert
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

GPL Viral?  How can this be?  A virus invades your body without your permission. It uses your body's resources to make copies of itself.  At some point all of those copies in turn transition from your body to another. and the cycle continues.

When you want to integrate another piece of software into your own, do you not read the license that the developer uses to allow you to re-use it in your own work?  This is his contract with you.  You have to voluntarily accept this license.  It at no point sneaks up on your development activites and embeds itself into your software.  I don't believe that there are little GPL programs running around the net infecting thiings.  (Quick run for your life.  The GPL is coming! The GPL is cominig! AAAAAAHHHHHHH!)

You can either choose to use it or not. Take it or leave it.  The person that developed the software chose to use the GPL, you don't have to use it.  Develop the functionality on your own or live with the restrictions.  You have a choice which means that the GPL is not viral at all. 

James Hubbard
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

I haven't seen Zoë being mentioned as a possible alternative. It's doesn't replace your mail client (Outlook or other), it sits right next to it, reading your mail, building indexes and links: it doesn't treat your mail like a collection of single messages, it treats it as a web of communication and information. At least in my case (and probably the author's =] ) this is much closer to the truth: I communicate with several people / companies about several things, and sometimes they intermingle. It's kinda hard to explain what it does exactly, you'd have to see for yourself (and figure out whether you like the philosophy behind it).

You access the archive through a web browser, FTP client (for attachments), RSS reader (recent mail), POP client (ditto)... And you can still use your favorite mail client. Oh, and it uses the same search engine Lookout did, Lucene. Runs on top of Java rather than .NET (don't know for sure, but what I've read so far gives me the impression that  that was the case with Lookout), which means that it runs on any reasonable platform.

Zoë is a free download from http://zoe.nu/ .

Max Roeleveld
Friday, July 30, 2004

One of my major complaints about MS - as a company - is that they don't make HR acquisitions, that is, they never purchase a company just to acquire superior people!

Can anyone name a time which MS did just that?  I recall several companies (Foxpro comes to mind) where the personnel they acquired didn't remain on board more than several months max!

James Woolley
Sunday, August 08, 2004

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