Windows Comes Alive, with apologies to Peter Frampton. Windows Live is the new way for Microsoft to deliver software innovation quickly. Think months instead of years. In just the past week "Live Messenger opens to public" and "Microsoft to launch Windows Live Product Search", and "Microsoft readies LiveDrive", and although it is not Live related, "Windows CE 6 previewed". Now these are the kinds of headlines Microsoft people are more accustomed to.
Ray Ozzie came to Microsoft with the Groove acquisition and became CTO reporting directly to Bill Gates. Ray came with a vision to reinvigorate Microsoft, to focus on Software as a Service (SaaS), and to find the right balance between web based services and client based applications. These Windows Live announcements are a direct result of that vision.
Earlier Ray created SSE (Simple Sharing Extensions) for RSS and made the code available for free under the Creative Commons license. Open Source from Microsoft? Absolutely. SSE extends RSS to a multi way "many to many" protocol that will enable lots of communication back and forth between applications.
Windows Live has brought new life to development teams within Microsoft. Developers are motivated by seeing their innovations out in the marketplace within months, rather than waiting years for the next major release of Office or Windows. This is a dramatic change for Microsoft.
Another dramatic change is coming. It doesn't have a name yet, but indications are that Microsoft will build out the biggest hosted computing infrastructure in the world that will enable new hosted SaaS applications for consumers, small business, and even enterprises. This is a multi year, multi billion dollar infrastructure project to support the Windows Live and Office Live innovations that are yet to come.
There is a lot of work yet to do. Vista is unacceptably late. Office is moving in lock step with Vista. IE7 is finally coming out after years of stagnation. But, Microsoft is turning the corner. Windows Live is the new vehicle for rapid innovation. The new model will spread across the company and we will see "Microsoft comes Alive"
Yes, this is a blatant Microsoft promotion, but after months of bad news and product delays it is nice to see some positive news that signals real change is coming. Tomorrow I will be back to my regular topics with an interesting story about the inside world of VC funds and limited partners.