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Wonking Windows Live

If you're like me, you've been alternately hopeful, disappointed and downright dismayed by the uneven progress around Microsoft's Live efforts over the past year or so. A lot of it, I think, comes from the cart being thrust a couple hundred miles in front of the horse.

After all, who can forget the relentless over-branding of Live, which produced an utterly opaque clutter of online sites and services? Like the senseless .NET mania that infected nearly every Microsoft product launch in 2001 and 2002, the panicked rush to slap a Live sticker on every new Web offering served one effective purpose: to confuse customers.

It honestly worries me that a strategic software company like Microsoft can let itself fall prey to irrational brand exuberance. But it happens.

So imagine my relief upon hearing Microsoft Chief Technology Officer Ray Ozzie lay out a strategic Live platform vision to an assembled group of industry watchers at the annual Microsoft Financial Analyst Meeting in Redmond last week. Ozzie details a four-level platform that defines Live, finally providing a common ground for all Live products and services. The four levels are:

  • Global Foundation Services: The hardware and data centers that support and deliver sundry Web services
  • Cloud Infrastructure Services: What Ozzie called the "utility computing fabric," this layer enables critical app management, load balancing and deployment activities
  • Live Platform Services: A common layer of application services such as communications, identity management and (notably) the advertising platform infrastructure
  • Live Applications: The customer-facing software and interfaces that enable everything from creating and sharing documents to advertising

You can read the report from RDN News Editor Chris Kanaracus here.

The good news is that everyone in Redmond crafting Live services and products should now be working toward a common target -- a far cry from the disjointed efforts we've seen to date. And all those efforts should tie neatly into the growing body of Software-plus-Services work that will be so critical moving forward.

The bad news? We're 12 to 18 months from seeing Microsoft deliver a coherent foundation for corporate developers to build against.

For now, it's time to watch, learn and prepare as Microsoft finally starts working toward a workable vision for the Live platform.

What do you think of Microsoft's plan? Do you have any advice for Microsoft as it starts forging a framework for its fledgling Live platform? E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 08/01/2007

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