The best insights, observations, comments, tweets and random zingers we heard this week.

“She was competitive shopping.” — Los Angeles Fire Capt. James Carson, on a woman who used pepper spray to gain an edge over her fellow Wal-Mart shoppers in the quest for cheap Xbox and Wii games as holiday shopping season began.

“At least as a technological capability, you could argue that Microsoft has had a similar capability for more than a year, since Windows Phone 7 was introduced.” — Craig Mundie, Microsoft chief research and strategy officer, shrugging his shoulders over Apple’s Siri intelligent assistant in an interview with Forbes’ Eric Savitz.

“MS’s Craig Mundie is apparently trying out a new career as a deadpan stand-up (actually sit-down) comic.” — Rob Glaser, RealNetworks chairman (and former Microsoftie) commenting on Mundie’s statement on Twitter.

“Stain detector simo.” — how Microsoft’s Windows Phone misinterpreted the spoken phrase, “Send a text to Simone,” in a comparison with Siri on iPhone 4S by tech site TechAU. (One of its other misinterpretations, shown in the TechAU video, wasn’t nearly so family friendly.)

“Best moment yesterday at Gaffar Market was when a guy approaches me secretively and asks in a drug dealer kind of voice ‘you want USB?’ :-)” — Amazon CTO Werner Vogels, posting on Twitter from India.

“I actually managed to power through around 400 pages until I gave up and started reading Sky Mall.” — Matt Inman, a.k.a. The Oatmeal, on his first encounter with one of the Twilight books.

“The doodle adds more to our pride.” — Nasry Esmat, an Egyptian journalist, on Google’s homage to his country’s elections.

“They might try an ad encouraging people with G+ accounts to post something now and then. Plus reminds me of nothing less than the reception area at my uncle’s funeral home.” — GeekWire reader Patrick Sand in a comment on Monica Guzman’s analysis of the new Google+ television ad.

“I suspect that half the reason Google hired him is for the press benefit which you have now graciously provided.” — GeekWire reader commenting on the news that the search giant has hired a former Microsoft employee who left  after landing in hot water over his tweets.

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  • Guest

    Craig Mundie’s comments were unfortunate, because he failed to acknowledge what’s innovative about Siri: it’s natural language command parsing.  Windows Phone does not do this.

    That said, I use the voice commands in Windows Phone daily, and speech recognition works rather well.

    The comparison published by TechAU is a bit of a hatchet job since Windows Phone cannot parse natural language requests. So instead of saying “Send a text to Simone” as on the iPhone 4s, on Windows Phone you would say “Text Simone”.   (Similarly, to perform a search you would say “Find Starbucks in Seattle”, and to open an app you would say “Open Yelp”. To discover all of the the commands that Windows Phone can understand, long-press the Home button and say “What can I say?”)

    Is Siri genuinely innovative and an advance on the state of the art? Yes, absolutely. But in practice you can accomplish most of the same things via speech on Windows Phone. It’s unfortunate that the flap over Mundie’s comments may lead some to assume that Windows Phone does not do speech recognition well.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for this.

      It’s obvious what details get left out when people have an agenda (in that case it was against Microsoft) or are just ignorant (not knowing that the syntax of the query needs to be different).

    • Anonymous

      His comments are unfortunate, but so Microsoft’s record over the last decade. Again, it was a stupid thing to say, but it’s usually these accidents that give us real insight into how employees at MS think rather than well crafted PR pieces.

    • Guest

      Yeah, failure to acknowledge Siri’s innovation in natural language parsing was unfortunate. But I was even more disappointed by the lack of concern he showed for MS being out marketed (again) and the extreme minimization of MS’s failures in mobile.

      As far as his actual comments go though, what’s interesting is he’s being criticized for daring to compare TellMe to Siri, and specifically for saying MS has had Siri for a year on WP. But in fact he was asked to compare MS to Siri, and he actually said an argument could be made that WP has had similar functionality to Siri for year, which is accurate. Many of the things Siri does have been possible on WP for a year, albeit using commands versus natural language.

      Even more interesting, the head of Vlingo, another speech recognition competitor, made a very similar comment. He even went on to say how Vlingo has purposely chosen to limit natural language versus commands and why. But that didn’t create any firestorm. It was reported and that was it.

      The reaction here says as much about how strong the anti-MS/pro-Apple bias is as it does about how inappropriate or out of touch Mundie is. The sad reality is that there’s no shortage of whackjobs like “anono47” here, and his many previous and other current aliases, who will take every opportunity to criticize MS.

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