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02 November 2005

Microsoft's Life Era

About every five years, Microsoft holds an event to introduce a "big bet" that Bill Gates is making in hopes of changing computing as we know it.
On Tuesday here at the Palace Hotel, Bill introduced what he's calling the "Live era," in which software and online services and applications work together, portions paid for by advertising and subscription revenue. Microsoft showed two online platforms, Windows Live and Microsoft Office Live. Windows Live looks like a cross between MSN and SharePoint. It's a customizable home page, with new features to be added as the beta continues.While Microsoft Office Live is a set of small business services, including Web hosting and e-mail that is built largely atop SharePoint and incorporates the old bCentral hosted services. Source: eWeek
The first (beta) iteration of Windows Live is now available at live.com. The website, which currently works only with Windows Internet Explorer — support for Firefox and other browsers is forthcoming — has a search engine like Google, access to news and information services like Yahoo and MSN but one more thing — a great deal of customization. When you first visit the site you see a sidebar with headings such as “My Web,” and “Gadgets” as well as information categories including Business, Entertainment, Health News, Science & Tech and Sports. Gadgets is a series of mini-applications such as e-mail, customized stock quotes, horoscopes and a ticking clock that all run from within the browser (unlike Apple’s Widgets, they do not run from the computer’s desktop). You can select a gadget from the list and drag it to any portion of your personal live.com page. “Office Live” is targeted to the estimated 28 million small businesses worldwide with fewer than 10 employees. The basic free ad supported service will include a domain name, a web site with 30 MB of storage and five Web e-mail accounts — each email account gets up to two gigabytes of storage. For a fee, Office Live will also provide access to 22 business applications to “help automate daily business tasks such as project management, sales and collateral management, customer management, expense reports, time and billing management, and secure internal and external collaboration.” While this initiative marks a step forward for Microsoft, it is hardly a revolutionary concept. Sun and Oracle, for years, have been talking about using the Internet as the nexus for future computer operating systems. Google has been marching steadily forward launching many new services that go way beyond its original search function and Yahoo is continually expanding its offerings. Even AOL, which has traditionally been a dial-up access provider, is repositioning itself as a web services provider with free e-mail and other services. Source: CBS News
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