Microsoft announces, er, Web-based services

“Microsoft introduced on Tuesday two new advertising-supported Web services, Windows Live and Office Live, as a direct response to the formidable challenges posed by its major competitors, Google and Yahoo,” John Markoff reports for The New York Times.

“The new online initiatives will deliver services to businesses and consumers directly via the Web, in many cases, without the need to download the applications to a computer. As such, they are an important step in extending Microsoft’s reach beyond the desktop PC to smart phones and other Internet-connected devices,” Markoff reports. “The strategic shift also represents an acknowledgment by the company, the world’s largest software publisher, that the Internet has once again changed the rules of business, forcing Microsoft to scramble to catch up.”

“Microsoft will have both free and paid offerings on Windows Live and Office Live, where basic services will be advertising-supported. The company will then try to entice or ‘upsell’ customers to purchase subscriptions for more advanced and feature-rich services,” Markoff reports. “‘They seem to think that the advertising can pay for this stuff,’ said Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director for JupiterResearch, a computer industry market research firm. ‘This is much more about an extension of Office and Windows and not a replacement.'”

“At Tuesday’s event, which was marred by several technical glitches, Microsoft announced the immediate availability of a test version of its new Internet portal,” Markoff reports. “The company called the service a ‘personalized starting point’ for a variety of Web services like e-mail, instant messaging, and a new set of Internet-based software called gadgets. These are small Internet-based applications that provide mail, stock prices, weather forecasts and other simple functions.” Full article here.

CNET Video: At a press event in San Francisco, Chairman Bill Gates kicks off Microsoft’s ‘live software’ push. He details the upcoming ‘Windows Live’ and ‘Office Live’ products, a fusion of software and services that are delivered across the Internet. (Microsoft prohibited video recording of the product demonstrations.) Video of nothing much more than Bill Gates droning on during a PowerPoint presentation (4 minutes 48 seconds) here. Nial Kennedy has photos of the event viz Flickr here.

Paul Thurrott for WinInfo writes of Microsoft’s effort, “Few of these services are startling or original, and all of them seem to lean a bit heavily on the company’s core products. In many ways, Microsoft’s response to the threat of Google, Yahoo!, and other online entities is somewhat tepid. As with Netscape a decade earlier, Microsoft will simply leverage its dominant Windows and Office products to compete in markets that were innovated by others. In that instance, of course, Microsoft found itself in legal hot water that continues to this day. It remains to be seen how various regulatory bodies–let alone customers–around the world will view these new services.” Full article here.

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MacDailyNews Take: Microsoft is They must see that the Windows and Office cash cows are lost at pasture and aren’t coming back. Moo. To combine two famous catchphrases: Where’s the cowbell?

Deep within the bowels of Redmond headquarters, Microsoft must pronounce it “liv,” rhymes with “give” as in “remain alive,” not “līv,” rhymes with “five.” You just know they’re pleading, “Please, Windows and Office live, damn it, live!”

Would you trust one byte of your personal information on a Microsoft online service? In the case of “who do you trust?” – trust us, for most people, the last company on earth would be Microsoft. They can’t even secure Windows after years and years of trying from attacks via the Web. Now they’re gong to try to make parts of it Web-based with a warmed over Hailstorm plus MSN mishmash? Sloth from The Goonies springs immediately to mind. Why don’t we all just save Microsoft the trouble of building this mess (they can’t even get a demo of it to work) and mail signed blank checks around at random? What a joke. Presumably, Mac users would be able to access some of these Web services – we like to think of the thing as .Mac’s “special” cousin – but, realistically, Microsoft definitely won’t have to worry about supporting Safari.

Markoff writes of Microsoft’s media event as being “marred by several technical glitches.” Some comments from Scripting News about Microsoft’s demo: The net went down halfway through the presentation, just as they were getting to the demo, which was a total wipeout, biggest failure I’ve seen in almost 30 years in the biz. I think there’s a pretty good chance they cut off our net access so we couldn’t write about it real-time, if so, it was a brilliant move, but an act of desperation. An hour into it they finally start the demo. The screen is blank, the guy is talking. It’s The demo didn’t work. A total demo disaster. More here. Mini-Microsoft writes, “holy freakin’ crap on a keyboard, what does it take for this company to actually do a demo right the first time!?! I guess the next funny BillG video can use our constant demo blunders as a backstory (“Quick, Bill! Stall! Improvise!”). That or just have a bulk neuralizer always on standby. In the meantime: I’m sure we had talented, well meaning, earnest people working really hard to get the presentation together and all, but… I’d be much happier for you to be employed elsewhere. If you can’t put a demo together in front of such an important crowd, you don’t need to be working at Microsoft.” More here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Can Microsoft do anything original? Redmond behemoth issues ‘mysterious’ invite to reporters – October 25, 2005
Mac users should not buy Microsoft software (or hardware) – May 16, 2003


  1. Bill Gates really must go full-time into comic acting…

    He just doesn’t get it that the whole world knows this isn’t an MS revolution – its an MS last ditch attempt to stay alive.

    Keeps those nails hammering into the coffin Mr Gates!!

  2. Not a big surprise but in Safari and IE 5.2.3 just shows a header and search form. It works in Firefox. Sort of. A note (with a smiley emoticon – how professional) says Firefox support is coming soon. I think Google and Yahoo have them freaked out. Chairs are flying in Redmond. Seems more like Windows Life Support. If they’re going to store proprietary business information for millions, they should probably rename the URL to something more appropriate like “”

    MW: hours – trying to work on a massive Excel spreadsheet on dial-up.

  3. “The net went down halfway through the presentation”

    They must have used Windows Internet Connection Sharing… If they want good demos, they should just buy a Mac and make a Flash interface that looks like Windows… It would be ugly, but at least that would work long enough to make it through a demo…

    It’s ironic… Bill Gates is Senior Software Architect of Windows, and he has made fun of Steve Jobs for not being a techie… Does Gates really think he’s a techie? He’s not a techie… He’s a f’ing dork without a clue! Even long time Corporate Windows customers are beginning to jump ship in ever larger numbers… Oh, to be sure, it’s a big ship, but those that can;t find a lifeboat, and soon will be going down with the Titanic.

  4. It seems that the once powerful Microsoft has become a bumbling derelict organization. No real visible gameplan, products that are half completed or wet dreamware. You’d think that the demo would have been at least been tried first (or did it run as planned). And this from a company with more money than some government deficits.

    If my organiztion had to depend on a company with these current and past qualifications, I’d be looking elsewhere, no matter the cost it would eventually be worth it.

  5. The MDN take was just too predictable. You’ve said it too many times MDN, we get that you think microsoft is dying.

    The problem. other than being repetitive, is that you’re wrong. Microsoft isn’t dying, but they first time they are approaching a place where they are not 100% guartenteed to increase their profits by huge amounts every quarter. For microsoft to die they need to not just plateau, but to lose money, and lose a lot of it, and keep losing it for years and years and years.

    If apple had the cash on hand that MS does they could finance all their operations and give away all their product for free, and ignoring the major boost in “sales” that were ensue, they wouldn’t have to start charging again for nearly 4 years. That should give you some idea of how much cash they have and what that means. Even if MS started losing a billion dollars a quarter it would take them 14 years to go out of business, actually 14 years to go into debt, and a few more to declare bankruptcy.

    If fails miserably they will write it off as a few hundred million dollar loss. and that is the my highest possible estimate for what they could have spent on it. In all likelihood it was much less.

    If it succedes MS gets everything Bill has always wanted. You will rent software from them and you will be dependant on them. “Make them think they need you.” is Bill Gates business motto, and if works he will have perfected into an actual business model.

    How you can see the death of MS in this incredibly small risk they’ve taken is just ridiculous.

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