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Microsoft Consolidates Two Online Services Teams

Microsoft is reorganizing two of its online teams -- Live Mesh and Live Services -- by centralizing them under a Windows segment, according to reports from Mary-Jo Foley and Todd Bishop published on Friday.

The Live Mesh and Live Services teams now fall under the Windows Live organization, reporting to Steven Sinofsky, who is Microsoft's senior vice president for the Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group.

Microsoft's press service on Monday was unable to confirm these details because of the holiday, but Bishop and Foley both received confirmation about the reorganization effort on Friday.

David Treadwell, senior vice president of the Live Services Platform, now reports to Sinofsky, a Microsoft spokesperson told Foley. Treadwell's team previously reported directly to Microsoft's Chief Architect Ray Ozzie. No layoffs are happening as result of the reorganization, the spokesperson added.

Treadwell had told LiveSide at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in late October that Microsoft planned to combine the Live Mesh and Windows Live technologies with "the next offering of Windows Live." That next Windows Live distribution could happen in February, according to speculation at the NeoWin.net Web site.

Microsoft's Live Services technology is part of the Azure Services Platform stack, providing general services. Live Mesh, in contrast, is a platform that enables data connectivity across multiple devices, and it specifically provides support for Windows Live user experiences.

Microsoft announced the release of Windows Live Essentials, a set of online applications, earlier this month at the Computer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The suite includes mail, messenger and photo-sharing applications, along with a Windows Live Calendar application that advanced from its beta release just last week. People using the older MSN calendar will be moved onto the new service, Microsoft explained.

Calendar sharing is something that will be enabled when Microsoft releases Exchange 14, the next generation of Microsoft's mail server. Presumably, the Live Mesh platform will be used to enable such calendar sharing. Live Mesh is currently undergoing beta testing and was first unveiled to the developer community in April.

The Live Mesh team announced hotfix for Mac users on Friday that remedies bugs that caused crashes for some beta testers, as explained in the team blog.

The distinctions between Microsoft's various service platforms seem confusing enough that Microsoft's own experts argued about the matter in an MSDN forum. The confusion seems to have originated from various brand-name changes on the consumer-facing side, along with the subsequent rollout of Azure Services Platform in late October.

Microsoft's description of the Azure Services Platform shows a diagram with existing Microsoft services -- such as Windows Live, Exchange Online and others -- all riding on top of Windows Azure, which is Microsoft's so-called "operating system" in the Internet cloud.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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