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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.

A member of a Windows Live team of developers says he has seen lots of confusion among the people who have visited his booth at Microsoft's TechEd developer conference in Boston, an indication that the company's initiative to take its software to the Web remains a mystery for many customers.

Trevin Chow, who works in the Windows Live ID team, said in a candid blog that the most often-asked question Monday at the booth was: "What is Windows Live?"

"After talking to about 25 customers, it was abundantly clear that customers have no idea at all what Windows Live is, or how it relates to Windows or MSN," Chow wrote. "This explained why there was so little traffic to our booth -- of the people that stopped by, they almost did it by accident. Those that did see us on the TechEd floor plan, probably avoided our booth because they thought they knew what products/services we represented (and were most likely wrong)."

Microsoft declined a request for an interview, but a spokesperson said in an email that products under the Windows Live brand were currently in beta.

"Today millions of consumers are using these services as we continue to advance and evolve them for release," the spokesperson said. "We look forward to launching many of our Windows Live services over the coming months and year and turning up the volume as we do."

While it's unclear whether the current head scratching portends trouble, some experts said Tuesday Microsoft's approach to rolling out Windows Live services has been confusing. Windows Live is the brand name for Microsoft's long-term initiative to offer its software as services over the Web. Many of the Live services today, however, are in beta and are upgrades to MSN services.

"The overlap between MSN and Windows Live is confusing for a lot of people," Matt Rosoff, an analyst for Directions on Microsoft, said. "When Windows Live comes out of beta, it may become clearer."

Rosoff's colleague at the analyst firm agreed.

"There's nothing there that's strikingly different than what they already offer (on MSN)," analyst Paul DeGroot said.

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