Microsoft Live goes live

Is it just me, or does it feel like 1995 all over again? Not just because tech is back, but because Microsoft supremo Bill G. is talking about how Microsoft has gotten religion when it comes to the Web and interactivity, and wants to deliver a host of services over the Net — such as Windows Live Messenger (the new name for MSN Messenger), Live Favourites, Windows Live Mail (the successor to Hotmail), Office Live and a bunch of other things that all contain the word “live” (Of course, I’m probably not the only one to draw the obvious conclusion, which is that if everything is now “live” then by definition Microsoft’s previous products were “dead”).

In any case, Microsoft seems to have decided that since everyone is releasing things in beta now, it might as well do the same. Several of the ideas at ideas.live.com are invitation-only, while others such as the live.com webpage are buggy. This is odd, since start.com — which is virtually identical to live.com and has been around for months — works great even in Firefox and has features that live.com doesn’t. Live.com doesn’t support Firefox, has layout issues in my browser (Avant, which is basically just a front-end to IE), and crashed my Internet Explorer when I tried to load the page. So far, live.com doesn’t do anything that netvibes.com doesn’t do better, and does some things worse. Colour me unimpressed. I am not alone.

P.S. More than one person has noted how ironic it is that the Windows Live demo — one of the most highly-anticipated demos in years — crashed right at the moment Blake Irving was saying: “It’s easy. It’s live, and it has ‘me’ at the center of the universe.” Dave Winer called it “the worst public demo ever.”

Update: InformationWeek, in a blog posting on Windows Live, calls it “a big ol’ bucket of vaporware” while Russell Beattie says Microsoft is really working on “Monopoly 4.0” and Phil Wainewright says the software giant has simply cobbled together whatever they could find to give the impression that they haven’t missed the Web-services boat.

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