BusinessWeek obtained an internal memo dated 7 March 2006 from David Cole, a Microsoft senior vice-president and head of MSN and the Personal Services Group. The memo outlines progress and goals for Windows Live in the coming year. Cole confirms what many of us suspected of Windows Live, that it's a crucial part of their strategy to beat Google and Yahoo. Cole is quoted as saying:
"Make no mistake, Windows Live is our strategic bet to change the game and win, while we grow and drive revenue with MSN.com".
According to the memo, Live.com already has "more than 3 million users", Windows Live Mail has 750,000 users (with a goal of 20 million by June 06), Windows Live Messenger has "more than 1.5 million beta users", and Windows Live Safety Center "has received 13 million page views since its mid-November launch and has completed about 2 million free scans."
But it's the forward-looking projections that are most interesting. Cole is quoted as saying:
"Over the next 3-6 months, we'll ship more innovative technology into the marketplace than during our entire 10-year history [...] I know we've spent the last few years coming from behind, but we've truly turned a huge corner [...] And I can assure you the onslaught of upcoming Windows Live services will place us in a strong competitive position and will reestablish our leadership in the industry."
It seems Microsoft has come up with its own phrase to describe the 'perpetual beta' aspect of Web 2.0 - they call it a "rolling thunder" approach:
"We'll release new services as they become available, upgrade existing services, and launch marketing efforts in global phases," the memo says.
So all of this leaves us in no doubt that Microsoft views Windows Live as a key platform in its ongoing battle with Google (and Yahoo to a lesser extent). I've been impressed over the last couple of years at how quickly Microsoft has met the challenge of web-based software and services. They've integrated RSS into the upcoming Vista OS, then in November they announced the Windows Live platform, now they're going full-steam ahead with impressive releases such as Windows Live Search - which is integrated into the Live.com customizable homepage.
I think Greg Linden is right to point out that Microsoft has a relatively poor record in "boastful predictions", nevertheless I think they're on the right track with this one about Windows Live.