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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

What is Live Software?

my take (ever the cynic mind you): "Live" is M$'s attempt to compete/adapt/adopt/mangle/mainstream/domesticate/redefine Web2.0. b/c web2.0 sounds too cool. we can't have that. and other people do it better. and are cooler. so let's pander to the masses and highjack this thing for ourselves. and charge a minimal subscription fee. and sprinkle in some ads. but i digress.

some first hand perspectives from the good folks at O'Reilly Radar, read/write web blog, and business week...

Windows Live is described as Internet-based personal services, centered on the individual, focused on communication, information, and protection. It's a separate offering from Windows. We are reassured that there will be published interfaces, with competition in offering services. MSN continues as a "programmed content portal." It will not go away, but lots of the services will move into Windows Live. Ad supported, with upsell to subscription for other aspects.

Extensibility, bringing in the developer and user content ecosystem are emphasized as themes. The products are positioned as "natural complements to Office and Windows." They don't replace Windows or Office, and are not required.

Office Live: "Internet-based services for growing and managing your business online.... A focus on online presence, business automation, collaboration, with an initial focus on small business. A level that is ad-supported, with a superset of services offered by subscription."

Bill G: "We're at an inflection point characterized by software plus service, with opportunities for everyone. Ray Ozzie is the key person at Microsoft pulling all this together."

The big takeaway: Microsoft is fully engaged with thinking about what I've called "Web 2.0." They are focused on the internet as the platform, on software as a service, on creating rich experiences across multiple devices, on live update as a metaphor for both software and documents, on grassroots adoption as a result of user conversations. They are also very clearly focused on advertising as a new business model. We're hearing all the Web 2.0 buzzwords: RSS, AJAX, social networking.

My favorite line, from Ray Ozzie: "Some say that the internet itself is the platform, and in many ways that's true. The internet has always been described as a network of networks, and it's now becoming a platform of platforms, as every web site is potentially a platform." During the Q&A, I asked specifically if this meant that data and services could be syndicated out as well as in (that is, that Microsoft software wouldn't just be consuming services from other web providers, and allowing users to syndicate them into their experience, but also that developers on other web platforms could as easily integrate data from Microsoft applications and services into their user experience.) Bill Gates replied with puzzlement, "Of course. There's no difference between syndicating out and syndicating in. It's just XML." I hope he's right, and this means that we'll see lots more data availability out of Microsoft systems and services.

Another key takeaway for me from this presentation was that Microsoft realizes the power of being able to build an integrated experience across a hardware device, a software application, and an internet service. Ray Ozzie cited iTunes as an example (as have I), and pointed out the similarities to the Xbox360.

Alex Barnett points out the value of looking at this news from "a historical perspective". I agree - in 5-10 years time we'll look back on this and say that it was when Microsoft embraced the Web as platform, or Web 2.0, or whatever it'll be called in future. Just as Microsoft embraced the Internet in 1995, so they're embracing the thing called Web 2.0 right now. Mind you, perhaps Vista in 2006 will trump this news...

Also, here's a Microsoft mashup on the subject.

Microsoft: 1995 redux? Today's San Francisco briefing by Bill Gates and Ray Ozzie bears an eerie resemblance to a fateful day almost exactly a decade ago: Dec. 7, 1995. That was the day that Microsoft invited an army of analysts and reporters to Seattle to roll out its plans for mastering the World Wide Web and browsing.

and finally i leave you with a bit of logical deduction.
Do you know what you get when you spell “live” backwards?
You get “evil”.
And Google is not “evil”.
Which means that Google = Microsoft.

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