Sunday, November 06, 2005

Microsoft Windows Live - The Real Deal
When Microsoft announced Live this week, I took it for a quick ride and quite frankly it was underwhelming. I called it a farce in my blog and so did lot of others. But I have been watching new developments and thinking about it. Microsoft Live as a product offering sucks, but the vision is big and ultimately help microsoft increase its web traffic and advertising revenue.

The big win in Live platform is its ability to accept third party gadgets. This is unlike google.com/ig, a similar service google followed with after the live.com release. Google ig only accepts simple RSS feeds. In only five days there are already 33 gadgets in microsoftgadtets.com website. Many laughed at the XBOX scheme and wondered why would someone write a gadget for a XBOX? I think there will be lots of gadgets soon - the reason is content providers will get visibility and have another new channel for distributing their application. As you can see from the Expedia and other gadgets, Microsoft live provides an excellent platform for content providers to integrate their apps. In return the content providers bring more traffic to their own sites. The bad news for Microsoft is that gadget functionality appears to be pretty trivial to implement and it will be too easy for Google or somebody else to add it to their portals.

The second big functionality in Live is a floating profile for Windows users, the kind we have in offices. So any windows user will have access to all his files in MyDocuments and his internet explorer favorites through Microsoft. This will in turn secure Microsoft's user base and the popularity of Windows OS. There has been lot of speculation that Microsoft will have a web-based Office, Excel, or IM. I don't think so. Writing a web-based Office suite does not make much sense because it will be too difficult for anyone to write it and won't give much functionality to users. Instead a convenient way for users to access their files anywhere and then edit with locally installed version of office will not only be of help to users, it will also make good business sense for Microsoft. And a web-based IM - Isn't this same as chat that IM's were designed to replace?

Regarding the dismal release of live.com, I will say that the Microsoft PMs and Engineers need to be lot more serious about the quality of the products they are releasing. In today's higly competitive market, taking the users for granted will not be tolerated. Writing web applications is not as difficult as it used to be and if you are not paying attention and commited to your users, there are several upstarts like netvibes that will take over. If Microsoft's strategy to win users for IE is making its web applications like Mail and Live incompatible in Firefox, they will simply lose in both the fronts - IE and live.com.

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