d_screenshot_acceleratorA few enterprising Microsoft employees have produced a low-cost video that shows how accelerators, a feature of the Internet Explorer 8 browser, reduce the number of steps to perform common tasks.

What Microsoft’s doing is attempting to beat Google by changing the game. Instead of trying to lure Googler users away with higher relevance, more pages in a search index, or faster search response, Microsoft is focusing on saving the Internet user’s time by keeping them away from Google’s life-eating search box.

Accelerators are shortcuts to common tasks, such as getting a map, that you can select by clicking your right-hand mouse button. Internet Explorer ships with a few of them, but you can add many more, such as the new Bing Maps accelerator. There are also accelerators for Google Maps, Yahoo Maps and Multimap. They’re complicated to explain, but easy to watch and learn.

The days of Microsoft trying to lock out competitors via sites that only worked for Internet Explorer are long gone.

(The clip below is done in Microsoft’s Silverlight technology, rather than Flash. I had problems getting it to play in my Chrome browser, and it developed a mind of its own while playing in Internet Explorer 8, too. You can accelerate yourself by skipping the first minute to watch the first test, which begins at 0:55.)

There are probably Greasemonkey add-ons to do all of this in Firefox. Why doesn’t mozilla.org have a collection of amateur videos like this, to promote all those features they’ve spent years building into their own product?