March 14, 2006 4:00 AM PST

Windows Live offers Microsoft a quicker turnaround

Although it has taken Microsoft five years to develop the next version of Windows, the software maker seems to crank out a new Windows Live service every five minutes.

And, to some degree, that's the point.

Last fall, MSN executive David Cole and his colleagues pitched CEO Steve Ballmer and Chairman Bill Gates on the idea that the company could launch online services a whole lot faster than complicated software such as new operating systems. They presented their plan with many of the online services that have been introduced in recent months as part of Windows Live.

"They were amazed," Cole said in a recent internal e-mail to MSN workers. "And they said if we could pull off that many releases, it would be monumental for the company and for our customers."

Not long after that presentation, Gates touted the idea to the world, announcing the "Live" era of software with a launch event in San Francisco.

Recognizing that the company needs to be more nimble, Ballmer has pushed all of the company's units to think about longterm advances, things that can be delivered in the intermediate term, and "twitches" that can be made every few months. In many ways, Windows Live has become the ultimate "twitch."

When Microsoft first talked about Windows Live in November, most of the products on the table were existing MSN services that had been rebranded.

Since then, however, Microsoft has added more than a dozen new products under the ever-growing Windows Live umbrella. In his e-mail, Cole said that Microsoft's goal is to continuously update and launch products in a "rolling thunder" approach, as opposed to Microsoft's usual strategy of formal unified product launches.

Window Live chart

Most of the products, he said, will launch to the public in an early beta version. Some, such as Windows Live Mail, are already in public testing with roughly 900,000 customers using the product. Others, such as a user-created-video site, code-named Warhol, have yet to publicly emerge.

"Think about this: Over the next 3-6 months, we'll ship more innovative technology into the marketplace than during our entire 10-year history," Cole said in his e-mail.

Cole, who plans to go on a yearlong leave of absence next month, sent the e-mail March 3, ahead of last week's "Rabble." Rabble is an all-hands meeting for the company's MSN unit, which is largely responsible for the Windows Live effort.

On the business side, Microsoft's new ad-serving engine, AdCenter, is at the heart of the effort. The engine, aimed at helping the company increase its ad sales and rates, draws on user demographic information to help drive more targeted marketing pitches.

The unified Windows Live services should allow Microsoft to get a deeper understanding of the people using its online services.

"Windows Live is our strategic bet to change the game and win," Cole wrote in the memo, which was first noted by Business Week Online.

CONTINUED: From geeky to sharing…
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45 comments

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Funny thing happened on the waay to Windows Live
It just sat there doing nothing. Well, it did say 'loading' but after 10
minutes, even the greatest MS fan would have to admit that
nothing was actually happening. Can't hardly tell whether or not an
MS product is any good if you can't get to the product.

So far, this one is an absolute loser. At least, now anything in
Windows Live's future would be an improvement.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Update.....
Windows Live just doesn't like Safari. Seems to work okay with
FireFox. But now that I get to see Windows Live, it seems rather
obvious that Windows Live is essentially the same as Google,
Netscape, or other opening pages. Nothing seems novel, but then
I'm not too sure that by now, the Windows Live approach itself is in
any way novel. Just one more hog at the trough, And there are
bigger and better hogs already there.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
What about Windows Live Spaces?
Although it does not reflect the change, <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://spaces.msn.com" target="_newWindow">http://spaces.msn.com</a> was officially made a member of the Windows Live family of services. Its not in the chart.
Posted by Mr. Dee (3025 comments )
Reply Link Flag
looks pretty good..
some of the feeds aren't loading but I like the ease of use and ability to customize it towards individual wants/needs. I don't use a home page normally, but I might like to use this... that is if they get it to work right with firefox.
Posted by hugh dunnit (35 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What's New?
The article states "Microsoft has added more than a dozen new products under the ever-growing Windows Live umbrella." Yet it doesn't mention any of these "new products", other than the Warhol vaporware. And if I go to live.com all I see is a repackaging of products that have all been around for a while. Virus scanning, email, messaging, etc.

More than a dozen "new" products? I don't see one yet.

This seems like nothing but a publicity stunt. Re-package everything that everyone else has been doing for a while and call it "innovation".

Certainly, a company with the resources that Microsoft has should be leading computer industry innovation. But there is more to innovation than clever marketing, which is all I've seen from Live so far.
Posted by cwgmpls (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What's New??
Need to look at this URL
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://ideas.live.com/" target="_newWindow">http://ideas.live.com/</a>

I didn't know Office Live was actually available
Posted by itworker--2008 (130 comments )
Link Flag
Monthly subscription program
"Live" era of software huh? That means that pretty soon, MS will start its long-awaited monthly subscription programs. That's right, pay 5.99 a month for using Excel and Word. Hey, it's cheaper than paying $400 all at one time.

The sad thing is that people will follow along, and because it supposedly eliminates piracy, the government will allow this extortion scheme to continue, regardless of the supposed rights of the end user.

Even if these "Web Services" are free, they shouldn't be used. If MS gives something for free, they are only doing so to stifle competition.

So far, I have not seen anything new or very innovative on live.com. The news I read here, or netscape. They usually have the more interesting headlines. For search, I have google. Basically, there is a better (or at least more popular alternative) to anything live.com has to offer. Sorry Microsoft, you will not convert me today!
Posted by Sentinel (199 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Live.com cannot google.
I prefer the simple no nonsense approach of Google's search engine.

The thing with Microsoft is that they cannot help themselves when it comes to bloat. Everything they do ends up big and fat like them. I remember when Messenger was lighter than ICQ, now it is a fat dog. Google is the only company who knows how to create light and fast products and services and keep them that way. Google's products work well with none of the extra crap.

When I order a hamburger I don't want all the extra stuff unless I ask for it.

Microsoft just cannot goooooogle, coz they are toooo fat.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft too fat.
Interesting way to put it, but very true. Google rolls out with new products all the time, and are super willing to let customers try what they're working on. Do you know why they can let people try their stuff? It's because it's not FAT. FAT can hurt your computer - that's why it took so long for user beta testing on msnmess 8 took so long. They had to have some lipo. Heh.

Google talk within the browser is a proud example of this. I congratulate whoever came up with that idea. You rock Google.
Posted by jackharvest (18 comments )
Link Flag
taking another page from linux
It seems to me that perhaps MS is feeling the pinch from the various linux OS's available that offer complete OS updates usually every 6 months and offer updates to software on a continuous basis. Oh yes, and they do if for free.
Posted by donlinux (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Linux?
Don't get me wrong, I like Linux and have been using it for a few years now. But who is talking about Linux and OSes here? This is about Microsoft launching a new web site, which like always, doesn't hold up the promises that were made. It is not about OSes that don't hold up to the promises that were made (which MS also does).
Posted by Sentinel (199 comments )
Link Flag
One more for Live.
Look at the offerings under
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://ideas.live.com/" target="_newWindow">http://ideas.live.com/</a>

Quite a collection of offerings for most purposes. But it looks very staid when compared to the askjeeves
Posted by thedevilbegone (139 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sorry...
IT worker has already posted the link..
Posted by thedevilbegone (139 comments )
Link Flag
A vote for Earl Benser, the Macatic...
Congrats Earl, you've earned it. Let's only hope atleast in the future you keep it relevant.

Congrats for a 100 pages of Googles search all for the keywords "EARL BENSER" and all point to CNET news postings by you. The number of searches made are for a total of 205,000 listings most of them repeated. However there are a 100 pages of your acheivement.

I believe someone should intimate Cnnet on this. This is another newsworthy story by itself! Way to go, Macatic... ;)
Posted by thedevilbegone (139 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I appreciate the thoughts....
;-)

But, I don't lay claim to 'Macatic'. since I run PC's and Mac's both.
Mac's more than PC's, to be sure, but the Mac's do most of what
I want to de better than the PC's - at least I think so. The PC's
are needed for the programs not available on a Mac - like the
software I license to my clients, and for other PC only
applications.

I will give the PC credit where credit is due. It just doesn't
happen all that often.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Cnet are you listening?
Read my earlier post.. It is indeed an acheivement and a newsworthy story..
Posted by thedevilbegone (139 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Where is the Cnet moderator?
Is anyone listening at all? Can't we have one story dedicated to Earl? We all need it desperately to vent our frustrations on the Macatic due to the "ir"relevance of his comments. ;)

TY and the rest of the anti Earl lobby (Includes me, of course) would see red.....
Posted by thedevilbegone (139 comments )
Reply Link Flag
He's waiting for a real story....
Sorry ricky, you lose again
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft Live mail...
had alot of errors... took it off and will not reinstall... to be nice, it had no gravity...
Posted by zman2121 (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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