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Microsoft To Converge Its Windows Live Efforts

Microsoft continues to tweak its "Live" services effort, converging its current Windows Live Platform and Windows Live Core efforts, a company spokeswoman confirmed Thursday afternoon.

Company veteran and corporate vice president David Treadwell will lead the combined "Live Platform Services" effort which comprises identity, directory, presence, and internal and external applications that will make use of them. Future planned services will include such entries as client/server/service file synchronization and transport.

In a related personnel move, corporate vice president Amitabh Srivastava will lead Cloud Infrastructure Services, the spokeswoman also confirmed. These services include what she called 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, the start of Microsoft's fiscal 2008.

Srivastava joined Microsoft in 1997 and was a Microsoft fellow in 2001. Treadwell joined Microsoft in 1989.

Treadwell has filled several large roles at Microsoft including general manager of .NET platform development.

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 "Software Plus Services."

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, fast. In this arena, Microsoft faces prodigious competition from Google, the Mountain View, Calif. search giant that is trying to morph into a platform and apps provider, as well.

It also faces a bevy of Software as a Service business applications players, including Salesforce.com and NetSuite, most of which rely on distinctly non-Microsoft foundations including Linux and Oracle databases.

While pundits don't sell 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 Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash.-based researcher. "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 sue them or to develop for them."

Microsoft has proven in the PC realm, and increasingly also in servers, that it knows how to do platforms, he added, citing Windows Server takeout of Novell's NetWare, which at one point had more than 80 percent server market share.

Still, the move of consumers and increasingly of businesses to a rental or subscription model has threatened Microsoft's legacy Office and even Windows power base. Ozzie is spearheading a drive to permeate the Net 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 and most of the world presumes Microsoft wants or needs to make dollars off its Software Plus Services 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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