Monday, December 8, 2008

A New Mission for Microsoft

Just a couple months ago, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates unveiled a new corporate mission statement to the public by announcing the refocusing of his company’s resources toward a set of “Live Software.” These digital instruments would facilitate access to Microsoft’s web-based services and MSN for consumers, developers, and businesses. During the conference, many executives from Microsoft, including David Cole, senior VP, and Neil Holloway, President of Microsoft’s Europe and Middle East Operations, expressed their division’s progress on Live initiatives and claimed that soon Microsoft’s search technology would be the most relevant source for consumers in the United States. Unfortunately, one small hurdle stands in their way: Google.

“Windows Live” is the core of Microsoft’s innovative endeavor to reap some of the plentiful and ever-growing benefits of Internet-related sales that Yahoo and Google have dominated in the last few quarters. Cole, also head of MSN, comments “Make no mistake, Windows Live is our strategic bet to change the game and win, while we grow and drive revenue with” Their new site,, provides technologically advanced multimedia tools that pave way to new methods of search protocol. Even though it is still in beta version, commands the attention of more than 3 million users worldwide and possesses the second highest Net Promoter score, which is a measure of the number of users that have found the site to be useful enough to recommend to their peers.

One of the most powerful and ingenious tools provided by is the ability to customize searches so that users can sift through their search results over and over again using whatever types of filters they want. The idea of mass customization is a new theme of Microsoft’s Live initiative. Corporate members hope that by the summer of 2006, computer users would be able to create “search macros,” which are features that lets them save specific internet sites to review upon their next search. For instance, business people will be able to create a list of news feeds, be it Reuters, WSJ, or Business Week, and each time they search for, say, Goldman Sachs, they will have the option to find out what these sources have to say about this company. Users will also be given the ability to share their macros with their friends, giving a completely new meaning to the phrase “distributed computing.”

They will also be able to preview pages directly on the Live search engine as well as have a results page that will continuously load itself so that searchers will not have to click on the “next page” link ever again. Image searches will also be revamped as Microsoft plans to implement a magnifying script so that when users hover their mouse over a picture, the image will enlarge outwards for a better and clearer view. Microsoft is also utilizing scripts from Onfolio, a company they purchased earlier, which allow versatile caching of web pages. Think of this as bookmarks (or “favorites”) on steroids. Live is finally topped off with the unveiling of a new tool called Live Local Search which is customized to the user’s chosen town.

To further challenge Yahoo and Google, Microsoft has launched “Windows Live Mail” which is a newfangled version of its popular Hotmail email service, which currently hosts 750,000 subscriptions. Corporate executives are hoping that that number rises to 20 million by June of this year. “Windows Live Mail” will not be just an upgrade from Hotmail but rather a completely new system that has been rewritten from scratch. Some aspects of Live Mail that trump Yahoo’s and Google’s services include its higher performance, tighter security, greater functionality, and more advanced guards against phishing, which is a method of identity theft used in emails through which the sender acts as a legitimate company such as Paypal and attempts to steal the recipient’s personal information.

Of course, no comprehensive internet service would be complete without anti-virus packages. Windows Live also provides a “Safety Center” that combines anti-virus software with free spyware and malware scans. So far, 2 million free scans have been processed. Microsoft's MSN Messenger will also be incorporated in this internet package through the introduction of Live Messenger, which allows users to create a virtual workspace for them and their clients as well as provides conduits for communication via video conference or audio feed.

Microsoft plans to release these new functions through what Cole calls the “rolling thunder” approach—a fancy name for implementing services as soon as the coders finish producing them. Microsoft hopes that through an “onslaught” of Live services and MSN upgrades, the Live program will become a leader in its field.

Unfortunately, these new implementations will not kick Google off its throne anytime soon. Internet statistics show that even though Google is the most popular search engine for recent users, Microsoft’s stills resides as the home page for which many computer users see when they first launch Internet Explorer or Firefox. For Google, that is a huge risk nonetheless. With the advent of Live just on the horizon, Google’s reign will be challenged once again. Now lets wait and see what Google has to throw back.