Microsoft Live Labs shutters ThumbTack bookmarking project

Microsoft's Live Labs -- its MSN-Microsoft Research "mash-up" -- is closing another of its incubation projects. The latest to go is ThumbTack, a bookmarking service project.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft's Live Labs -- its MSN-Microsoft Research "mash-up" -- is closing another of its incubation projects.

The latest to go is ThumbTack. ThumbTack is/was a bookmarking service (somewhat akin to Google's Chrome bookmark sync). Microsoft describes ThumbTac on the Live Labs site this way:

"Thumbtack is an easy way to save links, photos, and anything else you can find on bunch of different Web sites to a single place. Grab the stuff you want, put it into a Thumbtack collection, then get to it from anywhere you can get online."

I recently received a reader query about ThumbTack. The reader said he had tried to find out what was going on with the service, via customer support, to no avail.

It looks like he wasn't the only one. Here's a mention of the same issue on a Microsoft Live forum. And here's a "Geeks with Blogs" blog post I found from mid-October:

"I first posted to Live Labs Customer care about not being able to generate a new link a month ago and haven't gotten any response. Now today I can't seem to log into Customer Care for ThumbTack.

"The Thumbtack site is just a blank page... guess shame on me for not pulling my links out of that when it started acting hinky a month ago, but the promo page is still advertising it as if it's viable.

"I can't find any way to contact them, so I'm throwing this blog post out in case anyone that has some knowledge can assist."

Microsoft is confirming ThumbTack is closing. Here's the official word, via a Live Labs spokesperson:

"It looks that Live Labs recently decided to retire the ThumbTack experiment to focus the team on some of their other projects and ideas. As you know, the team typically has a number of incubation projects in development on an ongoing basis. This is nothing out of the ordinary but just the normal course of business for the Labs as they continue to stay ahead of key trends in a changing industry."

Earlier this year, Microsoft "restructured" Live Labs by moving half of the Live Labs team into various product groups.  The Live Labs team has closed and/or put on hold a number of its other projects in recent months, including DeepFish and Volta.

Incubation project or no, it seems odd that the ThumbTack team seems not to have told its testers about its phase-out plans. I've asked Microsoft what testers should do in order to get any stored data out of the service. Stay tuned....

Update (November 3): A spokesperson just sent this update as to what the team's plans are, regarding current ThumbTack testers:

"The Live Labs group has just restored http://thumbtack.livelabs.com. Any user can now log in and get their data out.  The service has been re-enabled through the end of the month so that anyone negatively affected can access the service.  The project will be retired at the end of November.   The group apologizes for any inconvenience caused and is working on enabling an export scenario that should be available soon.

"The Live Labs website will note the retired status of this project later in the month to reflect these changes."

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