Sunday, November 16, 2008
Microsoft Socializes Live.com: Why?
Microsoft is attempting yet another gimmick in the hopes of invigorating Live.com. The idea is to try to get users to hang around its portal longer, and to get in the habit of using Microsoft search.
Good luck with that.
Kara Swisher notes that the new features include, "a heavy emphasis on socializing its online offerings and giving users better tools to share all sorts of information from across the Web within them."
She also notes that Microsoft specifically doesn't want people to think of it as a social network, quoting Microsoft's Brian Hall as saying, "the last thing people want to do is sign up for another social network."
Michael Arrington, however, ignores this point and proclaims it to be "a social network!"
That's fine, of course--no reason to regurgitate Microsoft spin if that's what you think it is.
But Arrington isn't trying to refute Microsoft's assertion, or even think critically at all.
In fact, he is so impressed with Microsoft's potpourri of Facebook-like information feeds and software services that he declares, "The result is an impressive personal productivity suite that makes me almost wish I wasn’t solely a Mac user."
That good, huh?
Here's the question no one seems able to answer--or even ask: why?
Just because Live has 40 million names of people who signed up for the service at one time or another, and just because it's providing all of these goodies in a Microsoft wrapper, doesn't mean people will want to use it for social purposes.
Microsoft is way too late to the social game. It's already staked out its claim as the anti-social company, and its past (lame) attempts at creating community around Live.com have driven away even the agnostic few who were willing to give it a shot.
Microsoft can't turn Live.com into a destination just because it wants to. It needs to give users a compelling and unique reason to visit its world, and it's never been able to do that without bullying or destroying its competition with the cudgel of market share.
Well, Microsoft doesn't have market share in social networks. It should be happy with its stake in Facebook and leave it at that.