I’ve recently been looking for a replacement for Google apps. I wanted something that had reliable email and calendar. While Google does provide both of those things, I find myself wanting to be controlled by Google’s services less and less. I also wanted something that was reasonably priced (comparable to the monthly price of Google apps). That’s when I decided to give Office 365 a shot.

Now, I’m no stranger to Office 365. We use it at work and I interact at a daily basis. The web mail and calendar are good (or good enough to replace Google), but the real power is with my devices. Because Office 365 is hosted Exchange, mail, contacts, notes, and calendar events sync instantaneously. With Google I would often have to wait several minutes for the data to show up, especially with events. This always left me feeling a bit uneasy wondering if my data was actually there. This is not the case with Office 365.

The setup of Office 365 with my domain was incredibly simple. They walk you through every step of the way, even verifying that your DNS is set up properly. With Office 365, you also get more mail and OneDrive space than you get with Google (50 GB mailbox and 1 TB file storage for the Business Essentials plan). So far, a week into my trial, everything is running smooth. I never thought I’d say this, but I may actually not only use, but choose to use willingly, a Microsoft product.

I’ve been getting a lot of hits on my site because Google picked up a tweet I posted yesterday on Twitter about the Gmail Gadget problem on iGoogle. The error people are getting is:

The Gmail gadget does not support the “Always use https” setting that you chose in full Gmail. If you would like to use https, please open full Gmail. Learn more

Obviously, this is a new problem and I’ve yet to see a solution for it, besides switching to another Gmail gadget. I’ll keep you updated.

Google is really starting to lose my loyalty and I don’t think I’m the only one. There are several things that have been bugging me lately, and many of them have to do with the breaking of their products.

I recently migrated my feeds from Feedburner’s servers to Google’s servers. All feeds are being migrated at the end of February, so I thought I’d get a jump on it. Google owns Feedburner so you think there would be no problems. That was wrong. The move broke the API so stats weren’t working for several days. The API is still broken on a lot of third party applications because not everyone has switched over yet so app manufacturers have not updated apps to pull from the right API. You may say that it’s Google’s product and they can do what they want, but the internet is becoming an more and more open and social place where data can be mixed and with other data, and Google has traditionally tried to be a part of that. Now they are breaking thing preventing that from happening.

One of the bigger problems I’ve run into the past couple days is Google has changed the way their search works. They are using Ajax in the search queries now. It appears it’s still in testing phase, as not everyone is getting the new search. The new ajax enabled search is breaking all stats packages search engine referral tracking. When you perform a search for shep in Google you would usually see the query in the url in your browser, something similar to this: search?q=shep. With the new ajax the search string has changed to #q=shep. The problem with this is that browsers stop sending anything after # in the referral string. So all referrals look like they are coming from google.com and not google.com/search?q=shep. That means my stats can’t tell me how people are finding my site. Another thing Google has broken without any official word from the company. Some people think this will be their way to get more people to use Analytics and that Google is abandoning their “Don’t be evil” motto. While this is just speculation, it wouldn’t be surprising if they changed their services to break competitors in order to gain more customers, even if their product is inferior (in my eyes).

The last issue, which is quickly becoming moot as I’ve been moving away from Gmail, is every single day I get some kind of error in Gmail. It either logs me out right after logging in or I get the popular “Error 500, there was an error processing your request. Trying again in 5s…” error.

Seems Google is messing up a lot these days. Maybe, instead of buying up other companies and releasing useless features on products that are out there, they should do something to stabilize their current products, without breaking everything.

Ever since Microsoft began its attempt to takeover Yahoo I started thinking about the future of Flickr. That’s really the only Yahoo service I use (and I pay for). Microsoft does not have a good history with web services. Yeah, at the beginning of the web everyone had a Hotmail account, but they quickly fell behind in the times with that. They couldn’t keep up with the features and storage of other competitors, like Yahoo and Google. It seems that every attempt they’ve made has failed. Does anyone actually use Microsoft’s Spaces? Can anyone actually find anything via their Live Search? Personally, I think Microsoft’s Live search has to be the worst search engine out there.

I know thinking that Microsoft going in and breaking a winning formula (winning in the user’s views, not necessarily in the business sense) probably isn’t going to happen, but it is Microsoft. I don’t have much faith in them. No, they won’t rewrite Flickr to use ASP.NET or something crazy like that, but I do worry about what they can do to mess up Flickr. I also think that a lot of the passionate Flickr users, especially the ones that were there pre-Yahoo, will definitely not like the change of hands and move to a new photo service. I really wish Google would spend some time developing their Picasa and Picasa Web services, up the storage allotment, and make it a real competitor in the online photo storage market. It has great potential, and with Microsoft trying to take over Yahoo, now would be the perfect time for them to woo users. Of course, I may just be paranoid about what will happen to Flickr, but it’s a service I pay for and a place where I store my photos, so I do wonder about the future. Do I really want to feed my money and data to Microsoft? Not likely. If Microsoft buys Yahoo, will you stay with Flickr? Will you move somewhere else? If so, where?

For a few weeks Feedburner’s API has been broke. If I try to pull the statistics of the title and URL of my posts it comes back “NO TITLE.” The statistics package I use, mint, has a Feedburner pepper and it has been showing NO TITLE for quite a while. Apparently this has been reported but has yet to be fixed. Come on Google, fix your stuff. If you’re going to provide an API, make sure it works. I want to see which posts people are viewing and clicking in my feeds. NO TITLE doesn’t help me very much.