Windows Live (you know, the Facebook chat client) gains a Senior Vice President

Congratulations go out today to Senior Vice President of Windows Live, Chris Jones.  Jones has been a Corporate Vice President for Windows Live, but his status was updated today on the Microsoft executives page (thanks for the tip, you know who you are!):

jones-senior-vp_thumb News

Microsoft has made a number of moves in the executive ranks lately, seemingly consolidating upper management around Steven Sinofsky, Jones’s immediate superior, and Steve Ballmer.  Bob Muglia, who ran Server and Tools under separate leadership from Windows, Ray Ozzie, who came in from the outside and never seemed to really fit in with the Ballmer regime, and others like former E&D head Robbie Bach are all gone now.

So what will happen with Windows Live under more “Senior” leadership? Judging by today’s post on the Inside Windows Live blog by Piero Sierra, Microsoft is betting heavily on Windows Live Messenger as a Facebook client.  Does Microsoft understand that the opportunity to make Hotmail and Messenger central to users’ web experiences is past, and the best thing to do is get on the Facebook bandwagon?

Facebook/Windows Live Messenger numbers are impressive.  Only last November, Messenger had 10 million Facebook connections, and in the three months since then, those numbers have almost doubled, to 18 million.  Windows Live Messenger has powered over 2.8 billion minutes of Facebook chat, and with today’s announcement that another 75 million Windows Live Messenger users worldwide will be able to use the service, those numbers should continue to grow substantially.  Facebook’s numbers continue to go through the roof, at some 600 million users, and a $50 billion valuation.

In the meantime, of course, Windows Live’s numbers have remained fairly flat.  500 million Windows Live IDs, 330 million Messenger users, about the same for Hotmail.  We all know the numbers by heart, and they haven’t moved much in the 5 years we’ve been writing about Windows Live.

Windows Live’s hopes to be an aggregator for all social networking on the web is still stuck with the absence of Twitter, still no news on when or if Twitter will ever open up enough to allow the kind of integration that Facebook enjoys.  Sierra touts YouTube and MySpace connections to Windows Live in today’s post, but MySpace seems to be disappearing before our eyes, and is actively for sale.

There was a time when, especially with all the flurry of a new Windows Live feature or client coming seemingly every few weeks, we thought that Windows Live could and would lead the way in social networking on the web.  That it has evolved into a Facebook client, a pretty good but slowly evolving Hotmail, some empty promises around online sync through Windows Live Mesh Sync (although with some great peer to peer syncing, granted), and a hodge podge of semi-Windows Live products like Windows Phone and Office Web Apps, all of which almost but not quite connect seamlessly with Windows Live, well maybe we should be happy with that.

We’re still holding out hope for more, of course, and are always ready to be surprised.  Maybe some further consolidation of the leadership structure, led by a new Senior Vice President, will lead us to the promised land.  We sure hope so.