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Microsoft architecture chief 'clarifies' online formula

Silverlight + Yahoo! = $$$$

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Mix 08 Microsoft's chief software architect Ray Ozzie tried to clarify Microsoft's software plus services internet strategy. And guess what, it involves advertising and Yahoo!.

Ozzie opened Microsoft's Mix 08 offering developers the "big picture" on a strategy he promised would culminate with massive software and service launches at Microsoft's mega Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in October.

"Microsoft has many products and services, and it's occurred to me that without being able to see the big picture it might seem to you to be a little bit random," Ozzie offered.

That's an understatement from a company trying to make a portfolio that spans free email, music players, desktop productivity and enterprise databases relevant to any and all developers targeting business and consumer customers.

According to Ozzie, there are "two distinct and important aspects" to Microsoft's software plus services. The first "deeply embraces" advertising, and the second covers the way the internet is "shaping and transforming" Microsoft products.

Ozzie believes Microsoft's investments in online consumer and business services, such as search, Xbox Live and the recently announced Exchange and SharePoint Online are creating the properties that can be used to exploit ad clicks.

Underlying the push, Microsoft announced the first beta of Silverlight 2.0, the cross-browser plug-in for video and audio that Microsoft pitched heavily at Mix as a medium for building and delivering ad banners on sites and inside steaming video. Microsoft claimed 1.5 million downloads of Silverlight since launch last year, hardly a surprise given you are forced to use Silverlight to watch most video content authored by Microsoft.

"Advertising will be the primary way we monetize the web... Microsoft is doing its part to ensure there's a vibrant ad system on the web," Ozzie said.

"We are significantly investing in search, content and community innovation," Ozzie said.

With an eye on the importance of Yahoo!'s numerous online communities as markets for advertising, Ozzie said: "If you wonder why we are so interested in Yahoo! and it's creative people and properties, I hope that makes it clear."

As to the second part of Microsoft's software plus services strategy, Ozzie turned to how Microsoft is making its applications' capabilities available as services. He returned to Exchange and SharePoint Online, Dynamics CRM Live, and tackled Microsoft making Office productivity and collaboration available on the PC, mobile and as a hosted service via Office Live. "Office Live will extend the Office experience into the social mesh, linking and sharing and tagging documents," Ozzie said.

Ozzie also announced, but provided no details of, the beta availability of SQL Server data services, following last year's BizTalk Services

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