In an effort to take advantage of the extremely lucrative online advertising market, Microsoft has decided to compete more directly with Google by creating Windows Live and Office Live. These products are being designed carefully so as to not cannibalize Microsoft’s existing cash cows: Windows and Office. The Live equivalents will complement but not replace the already popular desktop versions. Here’s what you need to know about this upcoming software:
Google’s large revenue stream is almost solely based on advertising, an area in which Microsoft may as well be an infant. Bill Gates and Co. obviously understand that as companies like Google offer superior, free online software that is supported by advertising, Microsoft consumers will slowly (or perhaps quickly) move to Google as a provider for services previously received from Microsoft.
Computers.net recently had an article discussing Microsoft’s restructuring to better compete with the smaller and more nimble companies like Google. Since then, Google has announced a collaborative relationship with Sun. Both companies have dedicated resources to further develop OpenOffice, an office suite similar to Microsoft’s (Word and Excel equivalents, etc.) but with one key advantage: it’s free.
This is all background information to prove the point that Microsoft is feeling the heat. As such, the company has come up with the concept for Windows Live and Office Live. The idea is to allow consumers and businesses to use certain products and/or features of products online. The concept can be difficult to explain in this stage of the game, as it’s a little unclear exactly what Microsoft is trying to offer. One thing is for sure, the company is interested in providing ad-supported, free online products and/or services that compete with those offered by Google while simultaneously avoiding cannibalization of its Windows and Office desktop equivalents.
So here is what’s known so far:
-Personalized Internet software and services designed for individuals
-Personalized home page with email, instant-messaging, web logs, and virus scanning
-Most services will be free, though some may have a fee
-Internet services for small and medium businesses
-Included for free will be a domain name (website address), web site, five email accounts, and some business applications
-Some business applications will have subscription fees, though most everything will be supported through advertising
As you can see from the above information, what Microsoft is planning to offer is still relatively ambiguous and downright confusing. For instance, Windows Live doesn’t seem to offer anything new per se, but rather seems to be all the previous Microsoft/MSN products consolidated into a simpler environment. Though, in fairness, included as a part of Windows Live will be a new feature that allows your Internet Favorites to be available wherever you go.
One feature of Office Live that could be promising is the idea of a single document being edited online while two separate people at separate computers are viewing it. Changes to a document in Chicago would be automatically reflected in the document in Singapore, etc.
The final word: Microsoft feeling some pressure is a good thing that should produce some interesting new products and services even if the announcement may be a little premature.