Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Ongoing confusion about Live brand

Mary Jo Foley describes the confusion about the Windows Live brand and how it relates to Windows, Microsoft, and MSN:
Microsoft is actually making some real headway in the way it is developing and distributing services, but almost no one knows it, thanks to the abysmal job the company has done in defining Live and updating the various Microsoft constituencies on its progress.

"Live" is Microsoft shorthand for services. Windows Live is not, as many still assume, a new, hosted version of Windows; it is the set of services extensions to Windows. The same is true of Office Live. (Confusingly, however, CRM Live is a hosted version of Microsoft CRM.)

There's ... been mass confusion ... about exactly what Live is and how Microsoft's Live strategy hangs together ... Analyst Matt Rosoff [said], "It seems like end-users who don't particularly follow Microsoft have never heard of Live or confuse it with the next version of Windows, and customers, partners, and advertisers often express puzzlement over the difference between Windows Live, Live (e.g., Live Search), and MSN."

Microsoft has used "Live" to mean several different things, Rosoff added. "We ... view Windows Live as ... essentially the latest chapter in the long story of MSN. But sometimes the Live brand is also used to describe broader concepts, such as software being delivered as a service or subscription-based models for buying software. I don't think the brand has been as misused as .Net was a few years back, but it's still fairly indistinct."
See also my previous posts, " Is it Windows Live, MSN, or Microsoft?", "Is it Live or MSN?", and "Office Live is not Office Live?".

Update: Three months later, after a disappointing quarterly report, Gartner analyst David Smith says, "Microsoft's Live branding has been tremendously confusing and has hurt the company, and it is very likely contributing to the situation they are in right now. They've created another brand and have not differentiated it." [Found on Findory]

Update: Three months later, Mary Jo Foley makes a Herculean effort to understand how the Live brand is used and writes, "After going out and searching for information on all the Live services I could find, I feel like I'm even more confused about what Windows Live is (and isn't) than I was before."


Andrew Hitchcock said...

Microsoft has done a horrible job relating the function of their products recently. I'm a computer science guy and it took me a long time to figure out what .NET was.

John K said...

As I've posted before (including a graphical Q.E.D), Microsoft likes to glom a short meaningless word onto all it's branding every 5 years.

Just re-read that paragraph Greg cites above and notice how seamlessly you can substitute ".Net" for "Live"

Logical conclusion: Microsoft hasn't learned anything about brand in the last 10 years.