Microsoft's new hire, Niall Kennedy (formally of Technorati), wrote in his blog today that Live.com will be the default homepage for Vista and IE7:
"Live.com is the new default home page for users of the Internet Explorer 7 and the Windows Vista operating system. Live.com will be the first feed syndication experience for hundreds of millions of users who would love to add more content to their page, connect with friends, and take control of the flow of information in ways geeks have for years. I do not believe we have even begun to tap into the power of feeds as a platform and the possibilities that exist if we mine this data, connect users, and add new layers of personalization and social sharing. These are just some of the reasons I am excited to build something new and continue to change how the world can access new information as it happens."
This is something I've been predicting for a while, but until now Microsoft hadn't confirmed it. Indeed I asked that very question back at Microsoft's Search Champs in January: will Live.com be the new default homepage for Vista and IE? At the time I got a non-committal response. Niall is joining Microsoft's Windows Live division next week, so I take his post as confirmation that Live.com will be the new homepage for Vista/IE. In other words, when someone unwraps his/her new Vista computer at the start of next year (or whenever Vista finally sees the light of day), the first thing that person will see when they connect to the Internet and open IE7 is -- Live.com. Times that scenario by X million. This is hugely significant for the following reasons:
1) It'll be the biggest mass market use of RSS technologies since Yahoo put feeds into MyYahoo back in September 2004. This will be a huge boost for RSS.
2) It will mean Live.com replaces MSN as the IE homepage - which as LiveSide pointed out will mean "pushing Windows Live Search at the expense of MSN ad revenue." If this isn't confirmation that Microsoft sees Google as its number 1 competitor/threat now, I don't know what is...
3) It will mean the world of gadgets (aka widgets or modules) and web services will go mainstream. Forget the current lot of boring clock and weather gadgets, the real power of these mini-apps is in their ability to integrate devices and media -- think of the upcoming tv recommendations gadget, which talks to your Media Center box in order to program tv shows.
So this is interesting news indeed and shows how seriously Microsoft is taking their 'software as a service' strategy and Windows Live product line.