It has been more than two years since Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie first outlined officially Microsoft's "Live" strategy. But finally -- with the November 6 availability of the final version of a number of previously beta-only Windows Live services, Microsoft finally seems to be getting its Live house in order.
Concurrent with the delivery of the final builds of most of the remaining Wave 2 Windows Live services, Microsoft is launching a new ad campaign -- "Open Up Your Digital Life" -- that is designed to highlight how Windows Live services relate to Windows Vista. Microsoft is planning a full-on push for the new campaign on Facebook over the next three days, according to Windows Live General Manager Brian Hall.
Until recently, Microsoft has floundered badly when trying to explain exactly what Windows Live is and how Live services and Live software complement Windows. Last year, the Windows Live team was unveiling new services at a breakneck pace, but doing nothing to put them in context or explain when/how Microsoft planned to take them final.
Now Microsoft is starting to talk about different groupings of Windows Live services and software. It is positioning the Windows Live Client Suite as what users should install on their home PCs. Home.live.com is the starting point for users who want to "anywhere access" to their Windows Live services. Mobile.Live.com is the home for Microsoft's growing family of Live services for mobile phones and PDAs. For those with smartphones, another option is a client-style suite of Live services for mobile devices (like what Nokia is providing now on certain Windows Mobile phone models).
In the new Windows Live world order, the Windows Live taxonomy looks something like this: Windows Live Client Suite (single installer and updater; client-based software with a services extension)
- Windows Live Mail
- Windows Live Photo Gallery
- Windows Live Writer
- Windows Live Messenger
- Windows Live OneCare Family Safety
- Windows Live Toolbar
Windows Live Web Suite (service only)
- Live.com Home Page
- Windows Live Hotmail
- Windows Live Spaces
- Windows Live Calendar (which Microsoft is in the midst of rolling out to beta testers this week)
- Windows Live SkyDrive (a new beta version of which is rolling out starting this evening)
- Windows Live Events (a component of the Live Spaces social-networking/blogging platform)
Microsoft still has quite a way to go to make its Windows Live story truly intuitive and understandable by non-Microsoft-watchers. But compared to where the company was even a year ago, the Live team has come a long way.