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Microsoft Livens Up Live

Microsoft continued tweaking its "Live" services effort by converging its current Windows Live Platform and Windows Live Core projects, naming two veteran executives to head the initiative.

Corporate VP David Treadwell will lead the combined Live Platform Services effort that's comprised of identity, directory, presence, and internal and external applications that will make use of Live services. Future planned services will include such entries as client/server/ service file synchronization and transport.

In a related personnel move, Corporate VP Amitabh Srivastava will lead Cloud Infrastructure Services. These services will include what company spokespeople described as the "lowest level of the platform, including an efficient, virtualized computational substrate, a fully automated service-management system and a comprehensive set of highly scalable storage services." The changes were effective July 1.

Amitabh Srivastava

Treadwell has filled several large roles at Microsoft, including general manager of the .NET platform. Both executives will continue to report to Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie, whose job it is to make sure Microsoft is a major player in what it calls the Software Plus Services (SPS) market.

Microsoft has talked a lot -- but very generically -- about its "services in the cloud" roadmap, and some watchers say the company had better get more specific, and fast. In this arena, Microsoft faces prodigious competition from Google Inc., the Mountain View, Calif. search giant that's trying to morph into a platform and apps provider. It also faces a bevy of Software as a Service (SaaS) business applications players -- including Salesforce.com Inc. and NetSuite Inc.-most of which rely on distinctly non-Microsoft foundations.

While pundits haven't been selling Microsoft -- or Ozzie -- short, many think the time has come to talk turkey.

"We know very little about this group, about whatever Microsoft is calling its services platform; what they intend to provide," says Paul DeGroot, analyst at Kirkland, Wash.-based researcher Directions on Microsoft. "In a platform, you want to have a coherent set of APIs, you want them to be accessible via familiar development tools, and you want a reason for someone to use them or to develop for them."

Microsoft has proven in the PC realm, and increasingly in servers, that it knows how to do platforms, DeGroot adds. He cites the Windows Server takeout of Novell Inc.'s NetWare, which at one point had more than 80 percent of the server market.

Still, the move of consumers -- and more recently of businesses -- to a rental or subscription model has threatened Microsoft's legacy Office and Windows power base. Ozzie is spearheading a drive to permeate the Internet with an array of free and some for-fee services for small businesses and consumers.

DeGroot, however, says Microsoft still needs to demonstrate a cohesive business model: "Microsoft has better than 90 percent market share with Internet Explorer but gets zero dollars [from it]." DeGroot presumes Microsoft needs to make dollars off its SPS strategy but has done little to explicitly illustrate its plan to get there.

About the Author

Barbara Darrow is Industry Editor for Redmond Developer News, Redmond magazine and Redmond Channel Partner. She has covered technology and business issues for 20 years.

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