Site icon Jake Ludington

Windows Marketplace

Microsoft recently asked me to write an Expert Zone article on why I think product reviews are an important component of the new Windows Marketplace. This article is sort of a public brainstorm for what will ultimately appear over there. Just in case you don’t closely follow every new announcement from Redmond, the Windows Marketplace is a new community portal run by Microsoft featuring an extensive database of hardware and software products coupled with discussion groups where you can easily post questions to help make more informed purchase decisions. The site accepts product reviews from visitors like you, making it easy to let others know about apps that saved you time or caused you serious computing headaches.

My brief summary only scratches the surface of what the Windows Marketplace means for the greater Windows community. For years independent software authors have provided great solutions for those of us who use Windows. Microsoft’s act of creating the Windows Marketplace finally legitimizes those efforts, providing a community interface for users of all skill levels to mix and share information about those software apps as well as hardware gadgets.

But, you say, there are already dozens of sites where software downloads are available, how is the Windows Marketplace different? Many of us who have been online for years take sites like Download.com and Tucows for granted. We know where to find downloads when we need them. We know how to find information. We read the product reviews on those sites with a cynical eye because too many of them are planted or simply don’t provide enough meaningful feedback to make an informed decision. There is even speculation that some download sites accept paid placements for their top 10 lists, which completely pollutes the resource pool.

Many of you remember better than I the user group meetings where Windows enthusiasts swapped advice and recommendations about the latest shareware apps. The information later spread through places like the BBS network gradually making its way into print media. The face-to-face meetings are a thing of the past thanks to the Internet’s ability to quickly disseminate information. While user groups do still exist and some are quite large, a much greater community of Windows users exists online actively seeking help. Community is found in places like this newsletter, but not everyone can easily find these niche communities. The Windows Marketplace revives the spirit of the user group community at a level more accessible to new Windows users. What makes the Windows Marketplace more accessible is easy access via the Windows Start menu.

Some of you may remember a link in your Start menu labeled Windows Catalog, which was quickly deleted because the resource at the other end didn’t really serve a useful purpose. If you still have the Windows Catalog link in your Start menu, it now takes you to the Windows Marketplace. If it’s still there, try it out.

Reviews from users like you are important to the greater Windows community because only you truly know what your experience with an application is like. I can tell you how great I think an application is; you might completely disagree. Or you might have a completely different spin on why the application is great. Everyone is a new user in some software category. You never know when you might encounter a problem that needs fixing. When we, as a community, actively participate in a public forum like the Windows Marketplace, we offer a pool of shared experiences that collectively add up to better information for everyone.

In a way, this is much like the community of book reviewers on Amazon.com (I realize Amazon accepts other product reviews, but non-book categories seem to be a breeding ground for reviews long on complaints and short on substance). I never buy a book without reading the reviews about it on Amazon’s site first, even when I buy it at a local book store. Windows Marketplace offers a similar opportunity for Windows users to get better information than what’s available from the local electronics store sales clerk. If you haven’t been to the Windows Marketplace yet, take a look. Review a product. Join the conversation.


http://www.windowsmarketplace.com/
Microsoft recently asked me to write an Expert Zone article on why I think product reviews are an important component of the new Windows Marketplace. This article is sort of a public brainstorm for what will ultimately appear over there. Just in case you don’t closely follow every new announcement from Redmond, the Windows Marketplace is a new community portal run by Microsoft featuring an extensive database of hardware and software products coupled with discussion groups where you can easily post questions to help make more informed purchase decisions. The site accepts product reviews from visitors like you, making it easy to let others know about apps that saved you time or caused you serious computing headaches.
My brief summary only scratches the surface of what the Windows Marketplace means for the greater Windows community. For years independent software authors have provided great solutions for those of us who use Windows. Microsoft’s act of creating the Windows Marketplace finally legitimizes those efforts, providing a community interface for users of all skill levels to mix and share information about those software apps as well as hardware gadgets.
But, you say, there are already dozens of sites where software downloads are available, how is the Windows Marketplace different? Many of us who have been online for years take sites like Download.com and Tucows for granted. We know where to find downloads when we need them. We know how to find information. We read the product reviews on those sites with a cynical eye because too many of them are planted or simply don’t provide enough meaningful feedback to make an informed decision. There is even speculation that some download sites accept paid placements for their top 10 lists, which completely pollutes the resource pool.
Many of you remember better than I the user group meetings where Windows enthusiasts swapped advice and recommendations about the latest shareware apps. The information later spread through places like the BBS network gradually making its way into print media. The face-to-face meetings are a thing of the past thanks to the Internet’s ability to quickly disseminate information. While user groups do still exist and some are quite large, a much greater community of Windows users exists online actively seeking help. Community is found in places like this newsletter, but not everyone can easily find these niche communities. The Windows Marketplace revives the spirit of the user group community at a level more accessible to new Windows users. What makes the Windows Marketplace more accessible is easy access via the Windows Start menu.
Some of you may remember a link in your Start menu labeled Windows Catalog, which was quickly deleted because the resource at the other end didn’t really serve a useful purpose. If you still have the Windows Catalog link in your Start menu, it now takes you to the Windows Marketplace. If it’s still there, try it out.
Reviews from users like you are important to the greater Windows community because only you truly know what your experience with an application is like. I can tell you how great I think an application is; you might completely disagree. Or you might have a completely different spin on why the application is great. Everyone is a new user in some software category. You never know when you might encounter a problem that needs fixing. When we, as a community, actively participate in a public forum like the Windows Marketplace, we offer a pool of shared experiences that collectively add up to better information for everyone.
In a way, this is much like the community of book reviewers on Amazon.com (I realize Amazon accepts other product reviews, but non-book categories seem to be a breeding ground for reviews long on complaints and short on substance). I never buy a book without reading the reviews about it on Amazon’s site first, even when I buy it at a local book store. Windows Marketplace offers a similar opportunity for Windows users to get better information than what’s available from the local electronics store sales clerk. If you haven’t been to the Windows Marketplace yet, take a look. Review a product. Join the conversation.
http://www.windowsmarketplace.com/

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