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Microsoft Vine Review

June 3, 2009

vine I recently got the opportunity to participate in a beta test of the new Microsoft Vine software. Vine can be described as a social networking dashboard, but with a twist. Hop over to the site to watch some videos to learn more–or read below for my review.

In fact, it’s much more than that. To a single user, Vine first serves as a data aggregator by drawing on and displaying, as the press releases say, tens of thousands of news and public safety feeds. Depending on what “places” you put into your account, you’ll get targeted updates on what’s going on around you, or other locations that you picked. Users can also associate their online social networks, like Facebook and LinkedIn, with the program and receive updates from their friends and contacts. This alone isn’t much to write home about, though I did find it to be very user-friendly.

The really cool part of Vine is that you can associate your account with other Vine users and send messages, or alerts, to them. The software is being marketed as a way to post “safe and well” messages to your family and friends in the event of an emergency, but it could really find utility as a multi-modal messaging software for just about anything.  One of the examples given is the ability to alert your kids’ soccer team that tonight’s game is canceled due to an impending storm. Big deal you say? A blast email could handle that? Well, Vine can send to multiple email addresses and cell phone text messaging services via SMS, all from the same interface.

I’ve seen this type of technology before in public safety emergency notification systems. People sign up to receive alerts that are relevant to them, both by subject and location, and receive them in a variety of formats, ensuring that they’ll get the message they need. And from some of the disclaimers around the Vine site make me think that’s exactly what this is supposed to replicate. The big difference, though, is that those systems run on servers and require architecture and dedicated support and tech knowledge. This is emergency notification for the common man. And instead of messages flowing one way, they can now also flow between recipients, and–even better–from “recipients” to government agencies!

I think this is a great tool. There’s just one problem–no one is going to use it. I’m not going to use it, and I’m probably the single easiest person in the whole world to rope into something like this. See the problem is that is that it’s a program. You download it, install it, set it up and then use it. To use it with your friends and family members they have to download it, install it, set it up and then can use it. I have trouble showing folks in my family how to use email, let alone teaching them how to set up a social network dashboard program. The other problem with it being install-able software is that the computer I installed it on is at home. And I spend most of my waking hours not at home, in front of a computer  that I cannot install Vine on. And when I am at home, I’m not in front of the computer. And if I’m in the situation where I need to send a “safe and well” message, I’m certainly not going to boot the ole computer up–I’m gonna call my wife! Now, Microsoft does note that, once properly configured, you can send alerts or messages via text message. But then you get back to the original problem of getting everyone to install and maintain it.

My final say? Super cool tech, done right. How to make it a game-changer? How to get tons and tons of people to use it? Make it web-based. Everyday there are more smartphones out there that could utilize Vine “on the go.” And it’s much easier to show family members how to keep their online contact information up-to-date, as opposed to helping them download, install, update as necessary, just to keep their contact information up-to-date. And I could make changes at work, at home, at the library, at school, anywhere there is an internet connection.

Microsoft, put the general public version of Vine on the web. Sell branded versions of the software for installation on business and government servers. You’ve got what I think is the next step in emergency notification software, now make it useable.

Image credit: Microsoft

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Mark permalink
    October 19, 2009 9:09 pm

    I agree.. i have just got to use it and i see what you are saying my mom will use facebook before she is going to download something that everyone is not using .. i see what you are saying i can see people using google wave before this because its a web based program and more people will use it.. thanks mark..


    • October 20, 2009 10:29 pm

      Thanks for the comment Mark. I’ve heard from one of the designers of Vine, and they assured me that they’re working on a web-based version. I’m waiting with bated breath for that version, and will definitely post on it.



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