Microsoft has, at last, shown its hand when it comes to answering the online services challenge from the likes of Google and Yahoo!; both of whom currently trounce the Seattle OS champions in both audience reach and earnings in the online sphere. Windows Live is moving out of Beta at long last (although not as long as Google services which traditionally remain in Beta, well, pretty much forever – or it often feels like they do anyway.)
With a big huzzah, MSN Messenger has re-emerged with voice and video integration, and one click access to email, blogging and other Windows Live services. MSN Messenger is dead: long live Windows Live Messenger. Unfortunately for Microsoft, Skype is still very much alive however. But with 240 million IM users, compared to 100 million Skype users, Microsoft is hoping to carve its own niche amongst the PC to PC and PC to telephone voice market. It is also in the perfect position to leverage this user base and build a new brand based upon online services: the 20+ Windows Live online services that will launch across 60 markets during the course of the next year to be precise. How long, I wonder, before we see the removal of the MSN brand altogether?
Let’s hope Microsoft can overcome sign-in problems, as it certainly won’t make much of an impact if users are met with the “we're unable to complete your request - the Passport Network is experiencing technical difficulties - please try again later” I’ve been looking at for much of the day. I can’t recall the last time Google wouldn’t log me in to use its services, or Yahoo! for that matter.