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Microsoft surrenders Live Spaces future to WordPress

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Microsoft's killing another me-too Web 2.0 service, sinking its fledgling Live Spaces blog network and shifting 30 million users to WordPress.

The director of Windows Live product management Dharmesh Mehta revealed Live Spaces' execution order during a gushing partner announcement with WordPress' parent Automatic on Monday that showered WordPress with ticker tape.

Listing WordPress' features, Mehta said Microsoft had decided it was best to partner rather than try to build a competing blogging service.

Microsoft actually thrives on building competing products and services — especially against established incumbents — so this is probably more a matter of priorities and money.

Mehta stressed WordPress' scalable platform, spam protection, personalization, and customization capabilities.

"Rather than having 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," he said.

Mehta claimed 30 million "active" users of Live Spaces, launched in 2006 to replace MSN Spaces. WordPress runs 8.5 per cent of web sites and — Mehta claimed — gets 250 million users per month. Live Spaces was an offering inside Microsoft's Windows Live online services that includes Hotmail, the Facebook-like Groups, and SkyDrive for online storage and sharing of content, and that underpins the consumer version of Office Web apps.

Windows Spaces customers are being given six months to migrate to WordPress, a move that'll transfer posts, comments, and photos.

Live Spaces joins Microsoft's YouTube rival Soapbox, Twitter-for-emergencies service Vine, the Popfly application mashup service, and the Kin social phone on Redmond's growing funeral pyre.

Soapbox was canned in July 2009, but it seems there's now a serious cull underway of projects that were pointless reinventions of life in the real world. KIN was killed in June, Popfly in July and Vine's death was announced this month with the service to shut down in October.

There's been a leveling elsewhere, too. IronRuby, Microsoft's version of Ruby for .NET, has been de-prioritized — those leading the project have moved on within Microsoft or left the company entirely between November 2009 and this August. The hyped Oslo data-modeling framework, announced in 2007, has also effectively been scrapped this month.

Now, it seems that vultures could be circling over Microsoft's Flash challenger Silverlight, as a debate over Silverlight's role in an HTML5 world has begun to appear in the Microsoft's blogs. Such a move suggests that there's an internal debate underway, and the airwaves are being used to influence the debate and decision-takers inside and outside of Microsoft. ®

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