Windows Live Updates

Post ImageYou might have heard today that Microsoft released a bunch of updates to the services. For one thing, the search is much improved and I love the new interface! Searches load pretty quickly too. The great thing is that there is no more “page 1” or “page 2” or results. Instead, you simply scroll down through the results. While scrolling may not sound like the best interface, it’s a start towards something better. Perhaps the only thing I don’t like about the search is that the URL is kind of ugly. A search for “mastermaq” for example, looks like this: Not bad, but could be better.

Also announced today is Live Clipboard which enables “PC to web structured data exchange”. Basically its a simple way of transferring data between your computer and the web. The technology is Microsoft CTO Ray Ozzie’s baby, so chances are it’ll be good. Lots of commentary out there on Live Clipboard. is starting to look more and more interesting, though I am still somewhat concerned with the branding.

Windows Live .NET

Post ImagePretty meaningless title don’t you think? You may remember that when .NET was launched, Microsoft started attaching the .NET moniker to all of it’s product names. After a while, no one knew what the heck .NET was (fortunately today it only refers to the programming environment). I agree with Microsoft Watch’s Mary Jo Folely, they’re going to do it again with Windows Live:

With over 30 services potentially taking on the “Live” moniker, industry watchers are warning that the Redmond company risks diluting the brand like it did with the .NET concept.

“Within a matter of months [after .NET’s initial release], Microsoft marketers began attaching the .Net moniker to all kinds of products, from Windows .Net Servers, to MapPoint.Net,” said Mary Jo Foley, author of the Microsoft Watch newsletter. “.Net became a meaningless term that even Redmond’s own couldn’t explain concisely.”

Looks like we’re well on our way with Windows Live. The latest service to get the name is Passport:

Microsoft plans to roll its Passport authentication service into the Windows Live family of Web services by 2007, renaming it to Windows Live ID, BetaNews has learned. While the company is keeping mum on specifics, the service will make use of Microsoft’s new InfoCard technology.

I don’t see why they felt the need to rename Passport. I think they had pretty strong brand recognition with the name, and everyone knows it is used mostly for Microsoft sites and services.

Joe Wilcox has a related post up at Microsoft Monitor where he talks about Microsoft’s marketing strategy with the Origami project. I guess we can be thankful it’s not called Origami Live!

Read: Beta News

Microsoft Live – all about services

Post ImageTo truly understand what the new Windows Live and Office Live services are all about, you need not look any further than Microsoft itself. Thanks to the magic that is Robert Scoble, we get a very honest description:

Yesterday will be remembered not because of what we announced. But because of the direction we’re now headed in.

Microsoft is no longer an applications company. It is a services company.

Don’t get caught up in the badly-pulled-off demos yesterday. There is something a lot deeper happening inside Microsoft than that.

That’s important to understand. People do not remember the famous Bill Gates Internet Memo as the day Microsoft decided to integrate Internet Explorer into Windows (though that was certainly a result). Instead, that infamous memo is remembered as the day Gates and Co “got” the Internet. I expect yesterday’s announcement will be remembered in much the same way.

That said, they still launched a product yesterday, and at first glance, it sucked. How could they release a web-based service that doesn’t work in anything other than IE? Scoble has an answer for that too:

So, when you see Microsoft not supporting Firefox out of the gate, you are seeing that we don’t get the role of influentials in gathering audiences.

Just imagine if Microsoft both understood “the role of influentials” and had Robert Scoble on the payroll!

Microsoft Live

Post ImageMicrosoft made a fairly big announcement today in San Francisco. Some will say this is Microsoft playing catchup or follow the leader, others will say this is Microsoft innovating, and still others will say this is simply Microsoft making make a smart business move. I think I fall into the latter camp. Here are the details:

Kicking off what he called the “live era” of software, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said on Tuesday that the company plans to launch new Internet-based complements to its core products.

Gates said Microsoft is working on two products, “Windows Live” and “Office Live,” that create opportunities for the company to sell online subscriptions and advertising. Both are targeted at smaller businesses and consumers.

Services like Windows Live and Office Live have been expected for a very long time, so I can’t say the announcement is earth shattering. It will have very far reaching effects though. Joe Wilcox has a couple of good posts where he explains what “Live” is, and what “Live” is not. Here’s my favorite “not”:

While Google might be a catalyst in Microsoft’s services strategy, the reasons for launching Live are much broader than the search rival. Microsoft is looking to accomplish a couple things: For MSN, the new services are a way to drive additional revenue–whether from advertising or paid services–off clearly identified market segments, small businesses for Office Live and active online consumers for Windows Live. For Windows and Office, Microsoft hopes to generate greater customer value and make new-version Office and Windows upgrades more appealing. MSN has done a tremendous job cranking out new products and services, well ahead of the long Office and Windows development cycles. The point: If Google didn’t exist, Microsoft probably still would have embarked on a services strategy.

I expect that “copying Google” or “defensive move against Google” will be the most commonly assumed reasons for the new Live services, but I agree with Joe. There’s a lot more to Live than Google, and let’s face it, Windows and Office services over the Internet were pretty much inevitable.

A few people have asked me what “Live” means. While I see Microsoft’s reasoning for tying into Office and Windows brands, I’m skeptical of Live’s appeal. Live certainly doesn’t grab me, and, yes, there is uncertainty about what it means. Is it supposed to mean the living Web? Maybe community or safety? I’ll let Microsoft answer that question.

Did “Windows” grab anyone when it was released? How about “Office”? (Though I suppose both of them described intuitively their respective functions.) I’ll admit that Microsoft has some absolutely terrible product names, but I think the simplicity of Windows Live and Office Live will work well for the company.

Not much word on the developer side of things yet, if there is such a side. As a platforms company, you would expect Microsoft to offer access to the new “Live” platform. Certainly Gadgets and some of the other Vista-era technologies will be important, but details are yet to emerge.

I’ll probably have more to say on “Microsoft Live” later – it’s a lot to digest, even if it was expected.