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Software vision ain't what it used to be at Microsoft

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However, users of MSN's services will be moved over to Windows Live over time. With no clear differences in services between MSN and Windows Live, Microsoft will be forced to again and again differentiate the two.

Windows Live also has - typically for Microsoft - an overly personal feel to it instead of a business software feel. Ozzie said Windows Live would evolve into something for businesses and governments, only initial offerings would be for individuals thanks to the ability to marshal email, IM, portals, RSS feeds and multimedia.

So future, so what

Microsoft will rely on partners with an entrepreneurial eye to add features that appeal to business users by interfacing with back-end systems and data.

Finally, offerings like Windows Live and live software in general suffer from a large "so-what" factor. An IM buddy list that has doubled in length from 300 to 600 contacts? Is that really a defining feature? There's also the niggling fact that "service in the cloud" architectures and peer-to-peer networking is nothing new.

Microsoft missed the internet boat during 1990s and fought hard to catch up. Microsoft clearly takes the Henry Ford view of history and experience, and has let Google, Salesforce.com, LinkedIn, Yahoo!, Typepad and GoDaddy, to name just a few, establish strong early leads in online services and software as a service.

Microsoft is now betting on partners and developers to help it catch up while changing its own business and software development methodology. Only time will tell whether live software will share the focus and disruptive impact .NET had. From a technology perspective, though, early signs are that it wont.®

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