Redmond (WA) – Microsoft
has clearly done a great job pushing its Windows Live services as consumers have downloaded them nearly half a billion times. But its Office Live
suite of productivity services, designed to work together with its Office
desktop application, really went nowhere – to say the least. On top of
that, Office Live branched into two services: Workspace, which is offered free of
charge; and a paid version dubbed Small Business. Still, only Microsoft
could see meaningful value in offering both Office Live services.
Now, however, the company has decided to combine Office Live and Windows Live
into one single service that meshes their respective development teams
together in an effort to simplify the experience.
Economic downturn isn’t just taking a toll on Silicon Valley
in terms of layoffs and reduced profits; online services get
axed too. Although Google has not yet laid off some of its developers,
the company killed a bunch of services that weren’t profitable in the
first place – including a handy Notebook service. Microsoft, on the
other hand, did not kill any of its online services but the 15,000 job cut
certainly contributed toward changing a few pieces on the board. It is at
the Office Live Workspace team blog that we spotted a significant
change as the software maker plans to combine the Windows Live and
Office Live services team into a single service.
Windows Live is a
comprehensive suite of accompanying Windows services for consumers that
Microsoft offers free of charge. Kind of an iLife knockoff, Windows Live
brings together applications for instant messaging (Live Messenger),
email (Live Mail), photo and video editing, computer security and
several other applications. All these applications work together with a
free online extension on Microsoft’s servers, such as free storage for
blogs and photos, online calendar and contacts database, webmail, etc.
Office Live consists of the Office Live Workspace, a free Microsoft Office online extension that lets you share and collaborate
Office documents (but not edit them online) in addition to creating
simple websites. Office Live Small Business is essentially
a paid Workspace version for businesses with more features. Both Windows
Live and Office Live will now converge into an integrated set of
services at one single destination, reducing confusion and simplifying
the user’s experience.
The fact the new team will report directly to Steven
Sinofsky, Microsoft’s senior vice president of Windows and Windows Live
engineering groups, might also indicate even bigger Windows-related plans
for newly combined services. It could also mean that the company simply
chose to combine several disparate teams into one in order to reduce costs
and increase efficiency.
Whatever the case may be, the fact is Windows
Live didn’t take off with consumers as well as Microsoft hoped it would – though it certainly fares much better with 460 million users to date
than Office Live Workspace and Office Live Small Business, which only have a combined 4 million users. Yes, the latter is a paid service,
but so is Google Apps for enterprise, institutions and small businesses,
but it still has a user base measured in the tens of millions.