I have always carefully selected the home page of my preferred browser, and the choice for me represents an alignment, almost like choosing sides in a playground scrimmage. It is a daily reminder on who I have informally decided to support in those office discussions on what services you prefer.
I should start by giving a brief history of my home pages, and there have been only a few.
- www.AltaVista.com - Coming out of college this was the standard in our Coventry (England) office for web searches.
- www.Yahoo.com - I quickly realized that there were superior search engines in play and upon arriving on the shores of the US Yahoo quickly became tops.
- www.MSN.com - After getting a Hotmail account it just seemed like a logical step ... this only lasted a couple of months though. I was able to pull together information that MSN endorsed but the overall choice was limited and the search engine was garbage.
- www.Google.com - I think most techies are still on the Google band wagon, and as a pure search engine it is still the defacto standard.
- www.Google.com (Customized home page) - With the advent of Web 2.0* Google really started pulling all my information needs together. It gave me complete choice of what information to pull in ... Good times, good times.
I have recently been looking closely at the live.com experience and I must say that it is truly awesome. Its use of Ajax is slick, I can create gadgets and macros to pull information from disparate sources. I do not have to wait for someone else at MS to have a good idea, I can search what other people are using, or do it myself. For example, I wanted to still access my Google mail account (which I intend to keep), well some one created a gadget that would allow me to preview Gmail from live.com. I love it! I am hoping to create a dictionary widget so that I can query directly to dictionary.com, no one seems to have done that yet.
Coupled with the vastly improved search engine (there is also a gadget for Google search) I am almost completely back in the Microsoft camp ... almost!
* - I will not worry about a true definition of Web 2.0 no one can seem to agree.