Move raises questions about Redmond's ability to provide homegrown solutions for the Web 2.0 market.
Microsoft said it plans to discontinue Windows Live Spaces and move users of the blogging platform to the open source WordPress environment under a deal announced with WordPress parent organization Automattic on Monday.
The pact was disclosed at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco.
"Earlier today, I had the opportunity to get on the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt, and with Toni Schneider, CEO of Automattic, announce an exciting partnership between our two companies," said Dharmesh Mehta, director of Windows Live product management for Microsoft, in a statement.
"As we looked at customers' blogging needs and what different companies were providing, we were particularly interested in what WordPress.com is doing," wrote Mehta. "They have a host of impressive capabilities—from a scalable platform and leading spam protection, to great personalization and customization," said Mehta, who noted that the software powers more than 26 million Web sites.
"Rather than have Windows Live invest in a competing blogging service, we decided the best thing we could do for our customers was to give them a great blogging solution through WordPress.com," said Mehta.
For the 30 million individuals currently using Windows Live Spaces, Mehta said Microsoft is offering tools that are designed to easily port their Live Spaces blogs to the WordPress environment. Microsoft will also provide a URL redirect service so traffic heading for a Windows Live blog is automatically rerouted to its WordPress counterpart.
"If you're not ready to migrate today, you can also choose to download your blog content, migrate later, or delete your Space," said Mehta. Under the collaboration, Microsoft is also providing direct integration between WordPress and Windows Live Messenger. Additionally, WordPress becomes the default blogging platform for Windows Live Essentials 2011, which ships later this year.
While Mehta is putting the best light on the deal, the move represents a concession by Microsoft that Windows Live Spaces was becoming an also-ran in the blogging arena compared to popular platforms like Typepad, Blogger, and WordPress itself.
It also raises larger questions about Microsoft's ability to establish itself as a player in hot new technology markets like social media. Indeed, Mehta's comments suggest that, when it comes to Web 2.0 technologies, Microsoft may be moving away from homegrown solutions. "We look forward to partnering with even more great services from around the Web," said Mehta.
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