Windows Live Core – the Software as a Service platform

While Ray Ozzie has been keeping details of his Software as a Service platform quiet, some small bits of information are emerging from other members on his team. Two of his direct reports, David Treadwell and Amitabh Srivastava are both listed as working on developing the next generation Live services platform known as Windows Live Core:

“This start-up effort will define the vision and create the implementation for cloud-based platform services that will allow the creation of compelling applications that make deep use of network-based information.”

Other members of the Windows Live Core team that we’ve tracked down include David Cutler, who led the development of Windows, Abolade Gbadegesin, former architect of networking in Windows Vista and Elissa Murphy, Principal PM for Windows Live Core. This team has “joined Ray Ozzie to focus on next generation cloud services; to build an highly efficient computing fabric for Microsoft data centers and a services platform for agile development of high-quality cloud services.” In a question and answer with financial analysts in February, Ozzie talked about how Google helped Microsoft change its thinking about services as a platform:

 “In the Google case, what’s fascinating to me is that although you can characterize Google as a search compete, there are two very significant things that happened at Microsoft [as a result]. One was the recognition of advertising as an economic engine,” Ozzie said. “And the other was services-based infrastructure. Once the realization was made by different groups that every product would have a services component, you go back to the company’s platform roots and figure out what kind of platform treats the services layer as a system.”

As Srivastava’s Microsoft Research page mentions, part of the work on the Windows Live Core Operating System is heavily focused on Microsoft data centers. James Hamilton, an architect on the Windows Live Core team, gave two presentations recently discussing module datacentres and how they can be used to provide economies of scale for Software as a Service. The idea of using commercial shipping containers to build high-scale datacenters seems rather unusual, however those working on the Ozzie team are the ideal candidates to innovatively solve these kinds of complex problems. The need for datacenters was highlighted by Ozzie in an interview early last year with Fortune, where he said that Microsoft must build a global network of server farms that will cost “staggering” amounts of money. For those who are saying that “Live is dead” this should serve as a reminder that Microsoft are investing heavily in online services and are serious about their future in this sector.

While the premise behind Windows Live Core is becoming clearer, there is certainly a lot more to be learnt. Whether Ray Ozzie provides more details at Mix07 is anybody’s guess. We’re unable to attend but will be following the events closely, and we’ll be looking to our readers to send us the talk from the floor – drop us a comment below if you’re planning on going and what you are hoping to see or hear.