November 3, 2005 1:23 PM PST

Windows Live rooted in MSN's past

Is Windows Live just another name for MSN?

Of the eight or so services that Microsoft showed off Tuesday at the launch of Windows Live, its new Web-based consumer tools, the vast majority are reincarnations of products that the company had either released or tested under the MSN brand.

"A lot of the Windows Live services are things that had already been in development by MSN," Directions on Microsoft analyst Matt Rosoff said.

$100 laptop

The main Web page is similar to the page that has been in testing since earlier this year. Windows Live Mail is a long-planned update to Hotmail designed to make the service more like desktop e-mail software. Other existing products, like Microsoft's MSN Spaces and its OneCare security service, are also joining the Windows Live party.

Windows Live is most certainly not an online version of Microsoft's venerable operating system, as the name might imply. But the company insists the move is more than a name change.

Indeed, some of the technology that Microsoft demonstrated goes beyond not only what MSN has done, but also what Google and Yahoo have covered in their personalization efforts.

The most striking examples were ways of tying Windows Live to the desktop. On stage, Microsoft showed how people could share file folders with instant-messaging buddies and use the page to view not only Web content, but also things like recently opened documents or a corporate SharePoint portal.

Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li said that some of what Microsoft outlined represented an improvement over the personalization features offered by Yahoo and Google's services. But she also chided Microsoft over the site's complexity.

Windows Live borrows many items from Microsoft's existing MSN services lineup.
Old New
Enables people to aggregate RSS feeds from across the Web. In "preview" mode since earlier this year
Designed to take things a step further. Allows people to save search queries as well as data from their PC. Some features are in beta, others are planned for later.
Venerable Web e-mail service, acquired in 1998, will come under Windows Live umbrella. Will lose the "Hotmail" name.
Windows Live mail:
More like desktop mail software, with features like spell-checking and phishing detection. Microsoft has been testing the improved service under the code-name Kahuna.
MSN Messenger:
IM client already has several forms, such as the MSN-branded service and the Windows Messenger program built into the operating system.
Windows Live Messenger:
Will add social networking and Net telephony features. Beta planned for December.
MSN Spaces:
Web log software introduced in December 2004 as competitor to Blogger and Blogspot.
Windows Live Spaces:
MSN Spaces "will transition to Windows Live Spaces as Microsoft adds new features to the service next year."
"I don't think my mom will be able to use it," Li said, pointing out that those that want to use Windows Live have to start out with a nearly blank page and build from there.

Moreover, adding small applications, known as "gadgets," is no easy task. At the moment, people must go to, copy a special URL, then go back to and follow a series of "advanced options."

"Sorry for the inconvenience," Microsoft notes on its gadget site. "We will provide a more seamless experience very soon."

Gadgets are important for Microsoft, because it plans to use them throughout both Windows Vista (the upcoming update to its operating system) and Windows Live. The same types of traffic maps and photo viewers that can be dropped onto a page will also be able to exist on a permanent sidebar within Vista.

Microsoft also plans to use gadgets as the way to add locally stored information, such as recently opened documents, onto the Web page.

Eventually, Microsoft hopes to make using gadgets as easy as dragging and dropping the desired application onto either or the Vista sidebar.

Bulked-up Messenger coming
Some of the biggest new things that Microsoft demonstrated as part of Windows Live are coming in an update to Messenger. Although the instant-messaging engine exists today, the Windows Live incarnation will include a number of new features, including social networking and Internet telephony.

In the demo on Tuesday, Microsoft showed how the service would let someone call a contact's phone as easily as sending a text instant message. That seemed to be a shot across the bow of companies like Skype and Vonage, which provide voice over Internet Protocol calling.

However, Microsoft has now clarified the pricing of the Internet calling service, saying PC-to-phone calling will be a paid service, even during public beta testing. The company also said it will work with a yet-unnamed partner to provide the VoIP calling, rather than get in the telecommunications business itself.

CONTINUED: What else is in the new IM?…
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So Hotmail will become what?
If they're changing the name, what will happen to Im seeing for some odd reason........
Posted by PCCRomeo (432 comments )
Reply Link Flag
hotmail will continue to work
you will always be able to sign in with your hotmail account and sign up with new email domains ( in the future
Posted by vikram.s (10 comments )
Link Flag
Gadgets - A developer platform
The article talks about how Gadgets are so complicated. Well, it's not something that Microsoft expects end users to write. It's a platform to extend and there will be lot more gadgets available for users to add to enrich their experience.

Also, the page maybe blank but there is a lot of pre-selected content available to be added to your personalized page, well-categorized at that too.
Posted by vikram.s (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Typical (?)
Windows Live just shows that MS cannot (and will not) thikn beyond the desktop hegemony that they lord over ... This Windows Live thing is primitive, boring and is only re-packaging stuff i can get elsewhere. What is the point?

It looks like Redmond still has learned nothing from watching Apple redefine the computing experience in the last five years ... Watch out MS or you'll miss out on a seat on the couch ...
Posted by paulie_shanna (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What has been "Redefined" in the past 5 years? Nothing truly innovative has come from any OS in years. They all basically do the same thing, some are prettier, some are more secure, but none have done anything that truly sets themselves apart from each other. The majority of computer users aren't techies, they are simply people who want to surf the internet, download some music, and do word processing and use apps like Money to manage their savings accounts. All of this has been available for a lot longer than 5 years. There has been nothing released that has truly "redefined" the end user experience. I would argue that P2P was a true change in how people used the internet, but since it is systematically being wiped out, I guess that won't last.
Posted by Rolndubbs (194 comments )
Link Flag
Mac Redifined the computing?
Now they have moved to Intel chips. Wonder if you ever will get OSX for old macs! I guess that Apple redifined great moving from one chip to another.

I agree Apple hardware looks slick and works great. But it is almost 30% more expensive!!
Posted by Tanjore (322 comments )
Link Flag
Paul -

Microsoft is the couch.
Posted by SystemsJunky (409 comments )
Link Flag
Night Of The Live(ing) Dead
"They keep coming back in a bloodthirsty lust for HUMAN FLESH!"

Windows (un)Live doesn't seem to work with Firefox, Opera, or Netscape. Doesn't work on Widows Pocket PC 2003 SE2 either, although that release is over a year old now, and apparantly ready for the dustbin. I'm sure all this incompatability was just an oversight on the part of Microsoft Engineers, and will be rectalfied post haste.

As for how this Live thingy with gadgets, widgets, midgets, etc., is better than My Yahoo, which does work on Firefox, Opera, Netscape, and Pocket PC 2003, well, I guess I'm just missing something. I must go now, I am late for my re-education camp meeting.
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Shouldn't be using Firefox in the first place
But if works in Firefox, then will in time too. I have been developing for the web for a long time, but still when I make a site there is always something wrong with it in Firefox. Some of them, I cannot fix, simply because to fix it it would mean degrading the design for everybody with sense.
Posted by Lord Kalthorn (86 comments )
Link Flag
Windows Live
Does work on other browsers. I tryed it with FF, Flock, Opera and Safari. Works fine on all no problem. PPC 03 doesnt support CSS but 5.0 will, the upgrade is only 30 bucks if your device supports it. Just do that if you want it on your mobile.
Posted by SystemsJunky (409 comments )
Link Flag
I does seem to work with Firefox
It does work with firefox. Including drag and drop!!!.
Posted by Tanjore (322 comments )
Link Flag
What's up with you, Microsoft?!?
It seems to me that the site and the presentation that tried to explain the whole "live" concept look like an amateur effort that was thrown together in about a week.

Bill Gates's PowerPoint bullet charts and "cloud" diagrams were truly pathetic. Is this the best that the world's richest man and his powerful corporation can do?

This whole "new thing" appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to Google and Yahoo that has not been thought through at all. The old, failed ideas are being recycled and thrown together with existing stuff to come up with something that Microsoft hopes will get them off the bench and into the ballgame.
Posted by Norseman (1319 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Exactly What I Thought
The site does look amateurish, like something a Comp Sci 100 student would do. The Weather Forecast gadget doesn't work either. No matter what city name you put in, it says "city not found".
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Link Flag
Google and Yahoo
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
Stateless Linux will crush Windows Live
Free software rules!
Posted by Blito (436 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Stateless Linux!!!
Posted by Tanjore (322 comments )
Link Flag
More lies from the tablecloth
I am beyond tired of this marketing hype. Please
CNET stop reporting on redundant crap like this.
Posted by Blito (436 comments )
Reply Link Flag
redundant cr*p
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
Windows Live? Think Desperate
Is it just me, or does everything Microsoft do lately show a major
level of desperation?

Yes, they will continue to sell tons of desktop os for many more
years. But as slow as MS is to identify trends (the internet was "a
fad" in 95) they now seem to realize the days of what OS you run
is fast becoming irrelevant. And don't know what to do about it.

Apple and Google are leading the way but MS has apparently
even lost it's ability to copy someone else's ideas.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Playing Catchup
Microsoft is doing what everyone else is doing, whatever google just did. Their looks alot like what google already provides. Their virtual earth demo looks alot like google maps and their new windows live mail will have 2 gigs of space for each user, just like google already provides.

Microsoft always wanted to sell services and subscriptions rather than shrinkwrap software. There's more money in it, but it's taken them a long time to finally start moving in that direction.

I wonder how long it will take them to get it right?
Posted by thedreaming (573 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What is equivalent to from Google?
What is equivalent to from Google?

Google Sidebar - Desktop Application
Google Earth - Desktop Application
Picasa - Desktop Application
Posted by Tanjore (322 comments )
Link Flag
There is money in advertising.
There seems to be money made in advertising. Why give up all the pie to google. What is happening is called competition and it is good for us as customers, as we will have choice.

The market will eventually decide the winner.
Posted by Tanjore (322 comments )
Link Flag
What Microsoft need to "learn"
Of all the things Microsoft has "learned" from Apple (I'm trying to
be kind, OK?!), they missed one of the most important--the idea of
keeping a product under wraps until it is WORKING, and working
well! This latest fiasco of announcing "Fill-in-the-Blank Live" and
crowing about how great it is when it is still in a half-a$$ed state
makes them appear really stupid. (I'm sorry. I meant "inept".)
Posted by Norseman (1319 comments )
Reply Link Flag
In case you have trouble reading, it clearly states on the website. Beta testing often does not include the completed/finished product, and is simply a way for the developers to get feedback on certain aspects, and to do stress tests. So while it is in beta, don't expect a complete product. If it still looks like it does now with the finished product, then complain away.
Posted by Rolndubbs (194 comments )
Link Flag
Let confusion begin.

I'm not sure exactly how STABILITY and APPLE go hand-in-hand. If you'd like, I can post a good 20 or 30 examples of software for OS X (that comes with the OS, such as Safari) that fail miserably and act more like beta (or even alpha) software than they do "stable" software. I'm talking about regular application crashes every couple of hours.

Of course, the reality is that all software is beta and there is no "stable". I wish consumers would realise this. Simultaneously, no, it doesn't remove responsibility from the authors of the code, but end-users need to realise that there is no such thing as a "stable" application.

So please, don't make this into an Apple vs. Microsoft thing, because Microsoft's bizarro ideas as to what "the world needs" are just as out-of-whack as Apples'.
Posted by katamari (310 comments )
Link Flag
Windows Live is DOA...
... as far as I am concerned. Nothing offered is new. and most if not
all is already available using other software, including many non-
MS options. And since I have found no serious use for Hotmail, IM,
RSS, or other parts of MSN, It would seem that WIndows Live is
definitely not my thing.

If it's your thing, go for it!!!
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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