Microsoft readyng a Flickr killer? Maybe more of an iLife competitor

Microsoft readyng a Flickr killer? Maybe more of an iLife competitor

Summary: A number of Web pontificators beliee Microsoft is interested in building a head-to-head competitor with Flickr. But I think Microsoft has its sites set on developing something much grander -- more like an Apple iLife competitor. Here's why.

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On his istartedsomething.com blog, Long Zheng points to a November 9 job posting from Microsoft. Web pontificators, including Zheng, are reading the ad as saying Microsoft is interested in building a head-to-head competitor with Flickr.

Microsoft readyng a Flickr killer? Maybe more of an iLife competitorBut read the first couple of lines of that Microsoft job posting again:

"Come make Windows Live the best place to share your digital memories! Heard of Flickr? YouTube? How about. Mac? This role will work across the new Windows Live division with teams like Spaces, SkyDrive, Messenger and Hotmail to construct a winning strategy for Microsoft in photo and video sharing."

I think Microsoft has its sites set on developing something much grander than Flickr. I read this ad as Microsoft building an Apple iLife competitor. Word of such a competitor first surfaced over a year ago. At that time, it was a Microsoft project code-named "Monaco." From what I heard, Monaco initially was positioned to be a music-making program, akin to Apple's GarageBand.

But Monaco -- or its successor -- might be something bigger. The Digital Memories Experience (DMX) team, which is the one advertising for the program manager opening, is part of the Windows Live Experience division (WLX/LEX), "which also includes Mail, Hotmail, Messenger, SkyDrive, Spaces, Writer, Calendar, and Family Safety."

Apple's iLife suite is comprised of GarageBand; iPhoto, a photo-management app; iMovie (a movie-making application); the iMac gallery (for photo and video library sharing); iWeb, a Web-site creation tool; and iDVD, a DVD creation tool. Microsoft already has most of these bases covered on the software front, but it has yet to develop serices complements for many of them.

What do you think -- can and should Microsoft field a suite of consumerish/creative-focused suite of Windows Live services akin to Apple's iLife?

Topics: Operating Systems, Apple, Browser, Collaboration, Microsoft, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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11 comments
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  • Boo ya!

    Go MIcrosoft. Cant wait for this.

    About time they had something out in the market to rival iLife.
    I was getting jealous.
    varoon5
    • LOL... Microsoft rival iLife... ROTFLMAO!!!

      Have you ever used iLife??? They demo it for free at the bigger Apple retail stores. Before writing another article mentioning iLife, I highly recommend you do a little reseach and go sit in on a ilife class (they are free)...

      Making movies is a breeze. Making DVDs with professional menus (even animated menus, with music, chapters, all the bells and whistles) is a breeze. iPhoto is by a huge margin the easiest and most powerful consumer photo app on the market. There is no way MS could manage 1/4 the speed, grace, and quality of iPhoto. Not to mention making slideshows with music and a multitude of transition effects and then sending that to iDVD to burn and play in any dvd player... It is a vision microsoft couldn't comprehend in a million years.

      Garage band is absolutly incredible for both musicians as well as anyone wanting to sync music, voice overs, and effects to video and make a video or audio podcast. For any amature musician it is the next best thing to Pro Tools and a mixing board.

      iWeb is bonehead simple yet incredibly graceful and powerful and none of it requires a .mac account.. you can publish to the hard drive and copy to any free web hosting service out there. Beautiful templates, embedded slide show, embedded movies, embedded pod casts, etc.

      The iLife suite is integrated and designed to work in harmony and symphany with all the other components. Microsoft can't get it's own OS to harmonize with itself let alone a suite of multimedia apps.

      Have you ever tried to compile video on a PC??? What takes 14 hours on the most powerful PC takes a couple hours on an older mac.

      There is no way anyone who is even slightly serious about music, photography, or video are going to give up their macs for microsponge. These artists want to work on their craft, thier art, their dream... Not fix .dll errors and trouble shoot conflicts, clean viruses and wait forever for a video to compile.
      i8thecat
      • It's people like you..

        who give Mac users a bad name. Seriously, do you work for Apple?

        I've used iLife before, and it is quite nice. A bunch of nice creativity programs in one package.

        But these programs, are mainly skinned down programs of other Apple software. Like iPhoto to Aperture. GarageBand to Logic. Etc.

        You're looking at subsidized programs, and that makes iLife worthless.

        Adobe offers a lot of nice creativity programs, and other companies do that too. Microsoft doesn't have to make everything.

        You don't see Apple foraying into a heavy tough business market do you? So stop doubting until you see. I use a ton of alternatives to iLife, and I still have a great ease of use and quality that iLife sustains.

        And a few of Vista's own creativity programs are pretty nice. I kind of like Photo Gallery compared to iPhoto. I find it's ease of use, and quality is just as good. Plus it even uploads to Flickr, and can you do a panoramic stitch on iPhoto?
        quikboy
        • The difference

          There will always be better apps out there. Everyone's view of what makes an app good is different so it is very subjective. The point that needs to be made is features and cost. What sets iLife apart from the likes of Adobe or any other vendor out there is that it is free to anyone buying a new computer and only $79 to anyone wanting to upgrade. Good luck finding an app package that has all of the functionality that iLife has for that price.

          Can Microsoft make a suite of software that can compete with iLife? Will MS give something like that away with each copy of Vista? (Will they have to invent a new version of Vista with the suite included? They really need a few more versions) Maybe.

          They have had video editing software, and have tried to implement the whole iPhoto clone in Vista. I just don't see them as being able to pull it off. They are not that great when it comes to handling video. If it takes a 128MB video card to get animated features in your OS, something is terribly wrong.

          In the end I am sure that they will try and do it if they think there is a buck to be had, or if they think that Google might be trying to work on the same thing.
          meeyanpeat
          • Yes - but it's restricted

            It's restricted to OS X.

            So that pretty much does not make it a good thing.
            quikboy
        • Here's a clue quikboy

          "Seriously, do you work for Apple?"

          Answer.. no, I am a IT Administrator for a major California University. And yes, we have rolled out over 400 Vista Machines to date (over 300 have been reloaded with XP, still waiting to hear back from the other 100). We also have over 1000 Macs which are now running Leopard. (talk about a painless upgrade).

          I get to do the support for both Microsponge and Apple... Basically, I get the chore of dealing with all the problems my Faculty and Student have when it comes to computers, servers, Apps, Network, etc. I'll take an all Apple/Unix environment any day and I am working towards it.

          I received a NFR copy of Aperature when I attended an Aperature seminar that was held on Campus (by Apple). I not only use and support iphoto and Aperature, but I also support Vista and it's piss poor iPhoto knock off it calls "Photo Gallery"..

          Try loading 10k (10,000) photos in your precious Vista "Photo Gallery"... I had 2 professors do this and it made an already crawling Vista slow down to a stall... Some of my Professors with macs have close to 200k photos loaded and they index and search in real time. I have just over 100K photos on my iMac and iPhoto doesn't even blink. Aperature is incredible, but it's strength comes with RAW photos and it is a Pro App.... Something everydays users don't need.

          From a support perspective, Macs are a dream. From the perspective of a very educated user, there is absolutly nothing a Vista or XP PC can do that a Mac cannot do better. Have you ran Parallels?

          "But these programs, are mainly skinned down programs of other Apple software. Like iPhoto to Aperture. GarageBand to Logic. Etc."

          Indeed they are, but they are incredibly powerful scaled down versions for the every day user who doesn't need the power of a Pro App.

          "You don't see Apple foraying into a heavy tough business market do you? So stop doubting until you see."

          Actually I do. 10.4 Server was almost there and Apple hit the nail on the Head with 10.5 Server. I guarentee you that you will be hearing alot more about it.

          "Adobe offers a lot of nice creativity programs, and other companies do that too. Microsoft doesn't have to make everything."

          Actually when it comes to pushing pixels Adobe has the market cornered. There is nothing that Microsponge nor Apple could do to break into that market, nor do I think either care to try.

          "Plus it even uploads to Flickr, and can you do a panoramic stitch on iPhoto?"

          Any web browser can upload to Flickr, that's not in the least bit impressive. And I use adobe to push pixels and in CS3, I can do panoramic stitch and a billion more cool things as well.


          "I use a ton of alternatives to iLife, and I still have a great ease of use and quality that iLife sustains.'

          I have tried the alternatives myself.. I forced myself to do a slideshow set to music (burned to DVD) for a friends grandmothers funeral using Ulead on a PC. It was a last minute request and I didn't have a mac (and she lived out in the sticks and needed it for the next morning). I would have had it burned in less than 30 minutes on a Mac, it took over 8 hours on a PC.

          And the Ulead wasn't free, and no, I didn't run into errors, it was just painfully slow in every aspect from scanning photos, loading them, organizing them, setting the music, adding effects, compiling, and the burning took forever and a year. And that is just one of a hundred examples.


          So Yes.. I have dealt with the alternatives, I've seen the competition out there and I have used and supported vista extensively. It's a cheep knock off of OS X 10.2 and yes, Microsponge even knocked off Apps like iPhoto... But unlike Microsofts latest flop, OS X isn't a bloated wart hog of an OS that is slow, ugly, and doesn't play well with others.

          I may come off a little gruff, but that is because I have to deal with all the support problems my microsoft users are forced to suffer. It tends to piss me off a wee bit. They don't know any better, like most of the masses of lazy followers who make up the microsoft market share. But they are starting to learn and become educated consumers.

          But you call youself educated and claim that you have used both OS X and Vista... And you are still riding the MS Short Bus??? Either you are incredibly stupid or you are not telling the truth about your experience. Vista flat out sucks, I understand the mass retreat to XP, and if I didn't have the exposure to Apple that I do, I would be running XP and wondering what all that "buzz" is about OSX. It might even motivate me to learn more about Apple.
          i8thecat
          • You use crappy PC's!

            Exactly what hardware do you run this on.

            I run it on a Sony Vaio and my stuff works great.

            If you're running it on a crappy computer, there's your answer.

            I use Macs and Vaios, and I've had little problems with both of them.

            So what kind of PC's do y'all use in your company? As far as I know, it sounds like you have crappy hardware, not software.
            quikboy
          • It's a University, not a company

            All the University PCs are Dell. I'm not a personal fan of Dell, but they have the second best educational programs of any Computer manufacturer. Apple is still the best as far as that goes.

            As far as Sony, The Viao's are so-so. While I have always been a fan of the trinitron CRTs, the CRT era is long past. I could always build a better PC with better components for less than I would pay for any of the Vaio desktops. And the LT PC/TV is nothing more than an imac knock off and the 22" TV aspect doesn't impress me at all. But if I was forced to buy a prefab PC because my life depended on it, it would be the best dell I could buy. While the Vaio has a reputation for quality component, Sony's support sucks the big one. While I may have to spend three hours to finally get to someone at dell, at least I can get to them. And while it is often difficult to get the right drivers from dell, I can usually get them. Which is far more than anyone can say about Sony, they are worse than Toshiba when it comes to drivers. Sony could be a real force if they ever got their support together. Sadly, they just don't seem to care about their customers.

            While the Dells we are buying are not the absolute top of the market, they are far above the vista system requirements. These are brand new machines with 2gb ram, dual 2.33s and overall decent specs.

            "As far as I know, it sounds like you have crappy hardware, not software."

            LOL... Well all the microsoft labled software is crappy... The Apple Software is the best there is. If you want to call Dell crappy, then so be it. I can't argue with that... When I compare their hardware to apple, Dell is crappy... and so is Sony.
            i8thecat
  • Microsoft will fall short and a year late

    I've always been a MS proponent but I'm afraid they are just playing catchup at this point from pretty much everything.
    Anything they do appears to have been already done - very well, by Apple or Google. They will copy the features, slap a MS Live Logo and off she goes.

    Their "Live" UI is very nice but not enough for me to switch. It's just a me too implementation of something that is mainstream and that works very well. I have little hope for their "innovation".
    Prognosticator
  • RE: Microsoft readyng a Flickr killer? Maybe more of an iLife competitor

    I think people are reading WAY too much into this. Why couldn't this just be the next version of Live Gallery? Photo management was a big focus of Live and Vista, so maybe they're continuing to flesh it out -- as they *should*. In fact, I think you don't really have to "kill" anything any more; Microsoft is wisely integrating this with things like Flickr for those who want to. Their sell is going to be for the OS, not an iLife-style app suite.
    peterkirn
  • Maybe they want a pictures and sound for

    ... dummies to compete with the Mac platform - they will have to go some to run head to head with Flickr - it is more community than photo sharing.
    Paul Fletcher