Windows Live Shopping launched in beta in April, 2006 as a version of MSN Shopping with a spiffed up interface. Now Chris at LiveSide reports that the shutters are going up and erstwhile shoppers will be redirected to MSN:
From today Windows Live Shopping beta will be taken offline, with users being sent to MSN Shopping, available at shopping.msn.com. This appears to be part of the ongoing self-correcting process taking place on Windows Live, occurring as a result of various MSN products being moved over to the new Windows Live brand in 2006, without much thought being given to their long-term future.
No word on whether Microsoft will discard the Live interface or adopt it on MSN.
There’s more by following the link including a pointer to last Friday’s news that one of my least favorite Windows Live services, Windows Live Connection Center Wi-Fi , is going to be moved under the MSN brand as well. The good news is that “MSN” is considerably shorter than “Windows Live.” The bad news is the continuing train wreck that is Windows Live and MSN branding and marketing.
Exemplifing all that online services investment that has Wall Street upset, Microsoft today launched a beta of Windows Live Shopping at shopping.live.com:
Today we launch the brand new Windows Live Shopping site!
What is it? It is the beta launch of Microsofts Web 2.0 shopping experience, featuring one of the worlds largest product catalogs, user-created content and an easier-to-use interface built on 100% AJAX technology. It uses a unified shopping engine to search or browse almost 40 million products from 7,000 stores ranging from many of the countrys leading retailers to eBay. Results are displayed in an order that is not affected by advertising; merchants cannot pay to have their items show up closer to the top. Users will be able to drag-and-drop items to a shopping list and share lists with friends; see user reviews of products and sellers; and read and create public shopping guides on any subject.
If you consider shopping a team sport, apparently more Web 2.0 social networking is on the way:
What is our vision? In the future, Windows Live Shopping will continue to offer the great comparison shopping services you see today, while also integrating more social and community features that will enable users to better research, share, and have fun with their shopping experiences.
Since online shopping is not exactly a new category, the test will be to see if the new features draw a crowd.
LiveSide has been reporting that two new variants of Windows Live Search are on the way and Microsoft’s public relations firm Waggener Edstrom has confirmed it.
Windows Live Product Search is apparently a rival to Google’s Froogle offering in providing shopping searches on product and price. Of course, this also competes with the multitude of shopping engines from Yahoo, Amazon, eBay, other specialized providers and not to be forgotten, MSN Shopping and Windows Live Shopping. Presumably there will be some sort of link up with the latter.
(Via Tech Crunch) It’s Web real estate, of course, but Microsoft’s Ian McAllister lets us know that the sign is up at http://shopping.live.com/. There are some sparse details in the linked “help wanted” posting which reveal that they are building the “the largest structured commercial catalog in the world, ingesting data from hundreds of thousands of retailers” in “50+ international markets.”
Interestingly, the hiring is for the whole MSN Marketplaces team which includes Windows Live Expo and MSN Shopping as well as Windows Live Shopping. Are we having brand confusion yet? Since MSN Shopping reported last Holiday season they had 7,000 retailers (which was, in itself, admirable growth), the folks at Microsoft clearly have high hopes for their new venue.
Of course, Windows Live Shopping isn’t the only new store on the street with high hopes. Colin Barker at ZDNet UK reports on Google Base:
Google is hoping to take on the huge task of moving a significant portion of the European retail sector online.
The company is extending Google Base, its system for advertising and selling goods and services, into a full retail operation, it revealed this week.
Some industry analysts are sceptical about Google’s prospects and have dismissed Google Base as “just advertising”. Another analyst believes that Google Base’s true worth goes beyond just retail and that its “rounded, more complete, approach” will make life tough for companies like Amazon.com and eBay.
Tough for Windows Live Shopping as well, of course. And along with the shopping comes the paying which is pretty good business too, as eBay discovered with PayPal. TechCrunch shows what the kids from Mountain View are up to in that arena with an Exclusive Look At Google Payments. I’m sure they’ll all find the competition bracing.