Windows Live: What’s the point?

I’m always frequently searching the Blogosphere for people who just don’t seem to understand what Microsoft is trying to accomplish with Windows Live, and when I find people like Simon Howard (a.k.a sjhoward) who write lengthly posts about why they don’t get windows or live or what’s the point with Windows Live I always try and ask them a question or two about what they think should be done to help people understand Windows Live or what need’s improving to Windows Live.

In this case I replied to Simon Howard’s “Windows Live: What’s the point?” post with the following:

I  frequently search for people who don’t get Windows Live, so as I’m here I’ll ask you one of my many questions I ask people:

What would you like to see improved?

Best Regards,
Darren Straight

And Simon’s response to this was yet again somewhat interesting to read:

Hi Darren,

The problem isn’t so much that something specific needs improving. It’s that I don’t understand the point of the services. For example, Google’s suite of services offers the ability to better sort information, whether it be through search, through organising email, or through calendar. The Windows Live services appear so disparate and half-baked that there’s no commonality, and no unique spin on doing things differently.

The Windows Live philosophy, according to the site, is that Your online world gets better when everything works simply and effortlessly together. The provided solution appears to be that Microsoft should provide everything. In a world with an ever-increasing number of talented programmers working for an ever-increasing number of upstarts, the model where Microsoft pulls everything together no longer holds.

Instead of focusing on getting me to read my Hotmail through a desktop reader, Microsoft would be better served working out ways to serve my Hotmail wherever the heck I want it without losing the ability to make a profit. Again, look at Google: I can access my Gmail through their preferred Website, or else through POP3, IMAP, or even RSS. It’s open, free, and I can access it through whatever means I as an individual want. Microsoft want to pigeonhole me into one of their restrictive product choices because that’s the business model on which Microsoft operates. It needs to get with the times and reassess the direction in which it’s travelling.

None of the products on the Windows Live site has a killer function that makes it a must-have. Everything is done better elsewhere, and I’m not willing to sacrifice the quality of the overall product for a Microsoft promise of interoperability, when that’s the direction that whole web’s headed in anyway – except, perhaps, Microsoft.

So I’ll ask you all out there, what do you think?, does Simon have some reasonable  points? also is there any Windows Live Teams out there that would like to take up the challenge of explaining to Simon what the point is of Windows Live?

And just in case anybody’s thinking I’m backing away from Windows Live after reading this post I can tell you now that I’m not backing away at all and that I will continue to be a Microsoft, MSN and Windows Live Supporter for many years to come helping all the Teams at Microsoft shape Microsof for the better, but of course to do this I need your help so if you ever need help or would like to know where to submit feedback on a Microsoft Product or Service let me know and I’m sure I can point you in the right direction!

6 Comments

  1. Sam   •  

    I think he has some good points. I don’t think it will be impossible for microsoft to achieve their goal, but things are just too strung out just yet. Once things start creeping out of beta and msn.com goes bye bye, things might start to cohere better. I also think microsoft needs smaller, more flexible teams working on their sepearte projects with better communication between teams.

  2. Darren Straight   •  

    Yeah there is still some lack of communication between the windows live teams but I know from having spoken to then that it’s something they want to improve and I for one have definitely seen an improvement lately in cooperation between them.

    And as for msn.com byebye, I don’t think MSN will ever truly be gone, well not for a long time anyway, MSN is a very recognized brand and it would be a shame to lose it as there’s so many people out there that I’ve spoke to from all ages that love MSN for what it is.

    Don’t forget MSN still had many more poducts and services like MSN TV, MSN ISP, MSN Direct and MSNBC etc…

  3. Robert Gale   •  

    I agree with the part about the mail. With most things switching to the web I don’t see the point in making a new client that brings your mail to your desktop. More should be done to allow people to access the mail wherever and on whatever device.

    I’ve been using Mobile Mail on my mobile phone (it’s a service provided by 3) and it automatically delivers mail from Gmail to my device. It is also capable or doing so with a ton of other ISP’s and some other webmail providers but I don’t think it’s compatible with Hotmail/Windows Live Mail.

    This, as well as some other things, are keeping me tied to Gmail.

  4. sjhoward   •  

    Hi, Darren.

    I’m glad you found my comments interesting. Sam’s point about smaller, more flexible teams is an interesting one, because much of the problem (as I see it) with the current Windows Live offering is the disparate nature of the different products, and I wonder if smaller teams would exacerbate this problem, or whether the smaller teams would be more keen to make sure their product fits in with the ‘bigger picture’.

    The very high recognition of the MSN brand also presents a problem: Why move away from a known, recognised brand to an unknown one? Indeed, I imagine people’s perception of ‘MSN’ is generally positive, as it’s used for leisure and social communication, and is largely successful. Windows, on the other hand, probably has quite a poor brand image, because people blame everything that ever goes wrong with their computer on Windows, whether or not it is the actual cause. So the ‘Windows Live’ brand confuses me too.

  5. Jorge   •  

    ummm i have a myspace account and i have it under msn not live how do i change it

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