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6/13/2006
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Windows Live Causes Head Scratching At TechEd

One member of the Live development team reports in his blog that no one visiting his booth at Microsoft TechEd knew what Windows Live was.

Joe Wilcox, analyst for JupiterResearch, said it's too early to assess the effectiveness of Windows Live marketing, since it hasn't begun in earnest yet. That probably won't happen until the Live services leave beta, which Wilcox doesn't expect to happen until Microsoft gets closer to the release of Windows Vista. The next major version of the operating system is due in January.

Nevertheless, there is cause for some concern when Microsoft developers, who have every reason to keep tract of the company's products and direction, can't define Windows Live. Microsoft is depending on developers to eventually start embedding Live services in Web applications.

"It should concern Microsoft if the TechEd attendees don't show some awareness of what Windows Live is," Wilcox said.

Rosoff saw some similarities between the marketing of Windows Live and .Net, a brand that Microsoft adopted several years ago in its initiative to focus its software and technology on the Internet. Back then, Microsoft went too far in branding too many products .Net, and appears to be headed in the same direction with Live.

"They have to be careful of that so it doesn't become devalued as a brand," Rosoff said.

Another issue is the fact that Windows Live, despite the name, has no clear connection to Microsoft's Windows operating system.

"Just the use of the word Windows is a little bit confusing," Rosoff said. "The connection between Windows and Windows Live is pretty stark."

In time, however, the connection may become clearer as Microsoft introduces new services that don't stem from its Web portal MSN.

In his blog, Chow is very candid in his evaluation as to what has gone wrong, and believes it may take longer than expected for Windows Live to become a solid brand in the marketplace.

"Frankly, we have no one to blame but ourselves for this mess," Chow wrote. "Clearly our marketing and external communication failed somewhere. I'm confident we can recover though; it will just take much longer than anyone ever expected."

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