Microsoft’s platform of online services and applications — akaWindows Live — has graduated from beta after two years of development.
At the Windows Live Web site, users can download software for the desktop — such as Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Photo Gallery, and Windows Live Writer — and access services including Windows Live Spaces, Hotmail, Messenger and Windows Live Family Safety.
For active users, the change will be more about convenience than new functionality. Instead of searching for specific product betas, users can go to one place to download applications and gadgets developed by third parties.
With the official launch, Microsoft will be rolling out a marketing campaign to introduce the platform to consumers unfamiliar with the brand.
Indeed, the news of the marketing campaign is perhaps bigger than the report that Windows Live has left beta, Matt Rosoff, an analyst atDirections on Microsoft, told TechNewsWorld.
“There were few changes made when Windows Live moved from beta, so from a news perspective it is not particularly significant,” he remarked. The marketing campaign, though, will mean millions of new consumers will learn of Windows Live, thus driving traffic to the site.
In some ways, the platform is already well embedded among Microsoft’s desired constituency. When Microsoft introduced Live Spaces, some 80 million to 90 million people signed up, Rosoff noted. Other areas, such as search — although not technically a Windows Live brand — are lagging behind other players in the market (read Google).
Also, some of the newly branded applications have been in use for 10 years — Hotmail being a prime example.
“Right now you have to evaluate Windows Live’s success on a service by service basis,” Rosoff said. “Whether that changes after the marketing campaign remains to be seen.”
Perhaps the greatest significance of Windows Live lies not so much in the lineup of products and services, but in the development process — and Microsoft’s interaction with its developers — that has matured over the past two years.
“For a long time, we had to get whitelisted in order to create content to work with the various tools in Windows Live,” Holly Robinson, director of consumer marketing forKiwee, told TechNewsWorld. Kiwee, a subsidiary of American Greetings Interactive, has a partnership with Microsoft for Live Messenger.
That approach is long gone, though — discarded in favor of a more community-based strategy that makes it far easier to collaborate on Windows Live.
“We have found that the process is more easy and streamlined now that they have opened their APIs (application programming interfaces) and development information to a wider audience,” she said.