Microsoft Live no jive

Microsoft Live no jive

Summary: Sorry for the delay. The Wi-Fi cut out during the event, which wasn’t good for blogging or the product demos.

TOPICS: Microsoft

Sorry for the delay. The Wi-Fi cut out during the event, which wasn’t good for blogging or the product demos. In any case, the question we have all been asking the last several months is whether Microsoft can pivot deeply into the services world, and catch up or get ahead of where Google, Yahoo, AOL and a host of smaller Web-centric companies are heading.

From a technology viewpoint, Gates and Ozzie provided evidence that its notion of live software is going to be competitive with what the upstarts with billions in Web ad revenue and hundreds of millions of regular users are doing to explore and exploit the age of Internet computing. Now, Microsoft needs to show that it can follow through in delivering the initial services this year and keep up with the others who are scaling the same mountain. Even then, it will be tough to take users away from Yahoo or Google, which is why doing a deal with AOL makes even more sense beyond adCenter. Today's preview was also reminiscent of Microsoft's response to Netscape with Internet Explorer, but the end result of this transition won't be Microsoft domination.


Microsoft CTO Ray Ozzie...more photos

Microsoft showed off credible beta services (despite the crippled demos)—Windows Live and Office Live—that demonstrated an understanding of how to build Web applications and services without requiring that users pay taxes to the Windows empire. Check out Microsoft doesn't have any unique technology advantage over Google et al, but now it will be on more equal footing in terms of iterating faster and working with the user community to improve products and services, mostly for consumers. Still, Microsoft has to overcome being "Microsoft," and not Google or Yahoo, which were born of the Web, and figure out how to finesse its business model, figuring out how ad revenue and subscriptions will impact the bottom line compared to the license revenue model.

Creating a Windows Live, in addition to MSN, seems a bit counter-intuitive. It's clearly a way to expand the definition of Windows (not an old operating system), extending the life of the Windows brand. It appears that Live Windows/Office and MSN will run along parallel tracks, leveraging the same technology and potentially at some point unite.

Microsoft CTO Ray Ozzie mentioned “openness” and encouraging “conversation” in outlining the services strategy. "The walls are coming down and Microsoft cannot do it alone. [Live] will be more open and ship with quick rhythm based on conversations with users, developers and partners,” Ozzie said. He also said that at all the layers of Microsoft's software and services different members of ecosystem can participate, which implies that the company understand that to compete it has to allow developers and users to remix content and services from other providers.

During the press conference after the presentation, Ozzie talked about bringing a ‘services plus software’ mentality into many product groups in company. “Many things enterprises run in a datacenter that will over some period of time—five to ten years--will migrate toward some combined offering, some in house and some in the cloud as they deem most economical.”


CTO Ray Ozzie, MSN SVP David Cole, Business GM Rajesh Jha, Chief Software Architect Bill Gates

Microsoft's services platform will be general and comprehensive, Ozzie said. It doesn’t require Windows to use, and it will have core foundations (storage, communications, identity, relationships, advertising & billing and payment),  interfaces (AJAX RSS, Web services, Client APIs & UX, native code, managed code) and solutions (Web sites, workspaces, forms & views, messaging, calendaring, libraries). In addition the platform will support not only cloud-based architectural models, but cloud-federated servers, P2P direct, P2P relayed, online and offline, Ozzie said

Windows Live is basically a new incarnation of MSN with a customizable, drag and drop start page, AJAXed email, calendaring, IM, mapping and open APIs build around the Windows brand. According to David Cole, senior vice president, MSN and Personal Services Group, Windows Live and MSN are aimed at different audiences, with MSN focused more a content portal. However, he said that Microsoft will migrate HotMail and MSN Messenger users to Windows Live Mail and Windows Live Messenger. Firefox support currently doesn’t exist for the Live platform, but will come soon, as well as for other modern browsers such as Netscape. In an ad supported model, reaching the largest number of customers is a great motivator for cross-platform support.  

Office Live includes 22 applications that don’t require Office, but integrate well with it, and is aimed at small businesses (targets 10 employees or less) that need to create and host Web site, collaborate and manage customers and projects. It looks like a good package for small business that will compete with similar offering from much smaller competitors.

In response to a questions about integrating with services from Google, Yahoo and, for example, Ozzie said: “In the demo we showed we are embracing models to plug in arbitrary services because that’s what users want. We don’t believe we have an ability to conceptualize all the things people would like. RSS, in particular, is a really good’s a world we embrace.” Gates added, “You can take our gadget and host them on other sites. It’s just an API call taking XML data. You can call Virtual Earth and render a map or call the mail API and see if new messages have arrived.”

Topic: Microsoft

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Another MS innovation: renaming 's/w utlity' to 'MS Live s/w'

    These people are boring and completely without any imagination. If they could divert their skills in fooling people to comming up with innovative computing models, they could have done something wortwhile in their lives.

    Like a shark is a "well-oiled machine designed to hunt and kill" so is MS a well-oiled machine designed to fool and rake in billions for trashy s/w.

    • Please clarify

      I don't know what you are referencing in the 's/w utility' above. Which software utility? Brand, developer?

    • Dude, you oiled a shark?

      And I'm pretty sure they're not machines, they're biological, and hence are self-lubricating. Care to try again in English?
      Real World
  • billions in Web ad revenue...

    I'll never understand it... do *that many* people actually *click* on web ads?!
    • no click necessary

      do you click on your tv, radio, newspaper or a billboard.

      no but they get a message accross just the same - brand awareness
    • You're absolutely right...

      It's Bubble 2.0 just wait 'til it pops...
    • It's like this...

      Peebs, even though you may or may not click on the ads, many of them are there, so eventually you may or may not decide to use a product provided by them.

      Like a Billboard or TV Commercial. No actual proof that people see it unless they have the sales.

      Microsoft wouldn't be where they were today if not for their Marketing.
    • Yes, lots of people click.

      Google (and sites) have payment arrangements by the click.

      The company is now arguing that "click fraud" (fake clicks for various reasons) is minor.
      Anton Philidor
  • MICROSUCKS live - ALL JIVE !!!

    SOS, DD !!
  • Complementing or replacing?

    Read the description closely, and Microsoft appears to have a combination of a portal, services that are already online, new technologies being integrated, and business functions at which they haven't been too successful so far.

    In other words, complements to their existing business, new revenue sources. I didn't think that Microsoft would be looking for a way to make Windows and Office obsolete, but instead a Microsoft alternative for new functionality.

    The interesting issue will be whether the easy connection with Windows and Office will be as effective in gathering users as it has in the past.

    But at any rate, there aren't any new sources of revenue Microsoft is going to be missing.
    Anton Philidor
    • Not to mention...

      According to the last yearly, Windwos and Office are still essentially lifting to profit the loss of all other divisions. Did I read that MSN has yet to show a profit? If so, Live may be more than just a complementary initiative, but a ring thrown to an all except drowning MSN?

      Food for thought definitely. I'll get back to you on this one Anton, but I agree with your premise. This isn't anything that will gut Windows or Office profits.
      John Le'Brecage
      • For your thinking.

        The article notes that MSN will be more about "content", but Messenger and Hotmail will move to Live.

        Odd split. You'd think a portal would have mail and messaging linked to content.

        My best guess is that they're setting a personal vs. business distinction. And Microsoft is one of the survivors in IM for business.

        Still, some of the structuring they use may depend upon how the AOL negotiations come out.

        Also, unless you're counting it as part of Windows, servers are a substantial profit center.
        And a minor profit center can produce more than RedHat. The problem is context; when profits are over $1 billion a month(!), some very substantial amounts can seem small.
        Anton Philidor
  • Hold on here

    You said the WiFi went out during the event - in "real life" this would have KILLED Windoze Live! Relying on a constant internet connection to utilize M$ software was dealt a CRIPPLING blow today - in the DEMO! This should rank (and I mean RANK) down there with Billy's last demo where the computer went down. If M$ can't even pull off a bug-free demo, how does that bode for selling this software?
    Roger Ramjet
  • SnarePoint - Just say no

    M$' latest attempt to monopolize IT with buggy and commingled software will not succeed. People KNOW that they have a choice, and will be looking in other directions. If this is the best that M$ can do - they are not long for this world.
    Roger Ramjet
  • Will have to fix browser first

    Don't see how this will succeed, especially the comments about soon supporting users on Firefox and Netscape, unless the browser incompatibilities are ironed out. The differences in the DOM models, JavaScript, and CSS need to be fixed first.
  • Office Live: ill-concieved combination of FUD, Vaporware

    It is clear this was FUD based on a first look at the live website. There are On-Demand solutions currently such as with Project-ON-Demand. This is a complete On-Demand replacement for Microsoft Project. "Manage Projects NOT Software". It appears the announcement is an attempt to stem the tide of On-Demand adoption. However, if you read into the offering they still 'expect' you to have Office installed as noted in the WSJ "Microsoft executives emphasized that the new services are not replacements to the company's existing Windows and Office products, but rather additions. Office Live, instance assumes customers have Office applications installed on their PC's"

    In my opinion: the Microsoft stack is already too complex and costly. It is difficult to call it 'Productivity Software' anymore..... The goal of Projity and the other On-Demand vendors is to add value by streamlining software delivery. Microsoft is 'adding' not reducing the burden.

    I have no idea where people are getting the idea that the ad revenues are directly propotional to the amount of software you create. That is the more the software you create, the more the ad revenue. That is not true at all. Now there are so many articles, so many comments there are many more Ads. People do not just click on the Ads. They are not even asware that there are ads. But if they click they don't buy. People buy so very Little. I should know. I am the affiliate of so many merchants. I have not sold any thing. At these merchants there are many clicks. But these merchants do not pay per click. They pay per sale. At Google I'd get per click. But Google Says my Ads only create Impression. So I don't get paid.

    So I don't know what people talk about when they talk about software and ad revenues. All I know is that the more the software they produce the more wthe opportunity of lapses of the security and the more the executable files. Microsoft and Google are creating a bigger haven for the Hackers who can benefit from the viruses and Worms. These hackers are not worried about the Ad revenues like I'm. They are worried about the opportunity to Hack.

    All this shows the need to develop the alternate method of surfing the web as discussed at

    But it seems people are not worried about worms and viruses. They are worried about ad revenues they will never see. Good for Microsoft, Google and Hackers.
  • can Microsoft follow through?

    that's the plan