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June 14, 2006

Microsoft touts Windows Live to developers and needs to

Posted by David Hunter at 9:18 PM ET.

Elizabeth Montalbano at Computerworld:

Microsoft officially launched its developer site for its Windows Live services at Tech Ed in Boston this week. The site, http://dev.live.com/, offers tools that enable developers to extend Microsoft’s Web-based services.

The site includes two SDKs (software development kits), one for Microsoft’s Virtual Earth search tool and another for creating gadgets that run on Live.com, the customizable portal where online users can aggregate Windows Live services. Gadgets are mini-applications that allow users to access information, such as news and weather reports, over the Internet.

More information about Windows Live can be found at http://ideas.live.com/.

At the conference Sunday, Microsoft Chief Technology Officer Ray Ozzie said Microsoft plans gradually to merge its consumer-focused Windows Live services with services for business customers. It’s still unclear, however, exactly how the company plans to do this.

They’ve got their work cut out for them as Antone Gonsalves reports at InformationWeek in Windows Live Causes Head Scratching At TechEd:

A member of a Windows Live team of developers says he has seen lots of confusion among the people who have visited his booth at Microsoft’s TechEd developer conference in Boston, an indication that the company’s initiative to take its software to the Web remains a mystery for many customers.

Trevin Chow, who works in the Windows Live ID team, said in a candid blog that the most often-asked question Monday at the booth was: “What is Windows Live?”

“After talking to about 25 customers, it was abundantly clear that customers have no idea at all what Windows Live is, or how it relates to Windows or MSN,” Chow wrote. “This explained why there was so little traffic to our booth — of the people that stopped by, they almost did it by accident. Those that did see us on the TechEd floor plan, probably avoided our booth because they thought they knew what products/services we represented (and were most likely wrong).”

Microsoft declined a request for an interview, but a spokesperson said in an email that products under the Windows Live brand were currently in beta.

“Today millions of consumers are using these services as we continue to advance and evolve them for release,” the spokesperson said. “We look forward to launching many of our Windows Live services over the coming months and year and turning up the volume as we do.”

Ah yes, the “rolling thunder” approach, although it’s not clear what good the noise does when folks basically aren’t sure what you’re talking about as a number of analysts observe in the rest of the article.

This is hardly an insurmountable problem, but it is certainly a self-inflicted one. As Microsoft’s Dare Obasanjo observes:

I’m sure once the major MSN properties like Hotmail, MSN Messenger and MSN Spaces are rebranded there will be more awareness of ‘Windows Live’ by customers. However I suspect the confusion around the difference between ‘MSN’ and ‘Windows Live’ will continue for quite a while. Maybe some of the marketing folks who fixed the weirdness of having both WinFX and the .NET Framework as dueling brands will be reorged into our division and can fix this foolishness.



Filed under Conferences, General Business, MSN, Marketing, Microsoft, TechEd06, Windows Live

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