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.
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
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.
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.