OK the truth is I really wanted to rip the NY Times article for what it was, a PR hack job. An embarrassingly bad PR hack job, at that. But then first of all I’m only some guy who’s been following Windows Live everyday for the past year or more vs. The New York Times, fergawdsakes.
And then, there was a kernel of actual news in the post. The Windows Live Installer (and part of what’s funny here is that it isn’t even a new product, it’s just a way of installing products that we all have installed anyway, woohoo) has been expected to come out in early September, and here’s the Times confirming that.
So I took the high road and just reported the news, such as it was, and kicked myself a bit.
But my new hero, Fake Steve Jobs, has come to my rescue (and btw, notice how now that we know who it is, it doesn’t even matter? This stuff is just too good and too on the mark to be derailed by the mere fact that we know who it is). In Another big sloppy wet kiss for the Borg, Fake Steve nails both what’s wrong with the Times article and what’s wrong with Windows Live all in one fell swoop.
One thing I do know is how the Borg develops software. Imagine a hundred separate teams of Keebler elves all smoking crack and then being told to sit down in different parts of the world, without being able to communicate with each other, and dream up new cookie flavors, and you’ve got an idea how the Borg created Windows Live. Then a bunch of generic, soulless, humorless lab-produced MBA replicants (photo) who don’t know anything about technology and only went to Microsoft because they didn’t get offers from Procter and Gamble are put into a conference room and told to create some marketing plan for this pile of dog shit. Dream up a slogan and a name and some advertisements that will mislead people into thinking that Windows Live is all one big wonderful suite of software that was developed from the ground up to work as an organic whole, even though the pieces are all being rolled out at different times in different locations on different websites.
For someone who has been trying to make sense of Windows Live for the past year and a half or more, that paragraph is pure poetry. We’ve called on Ray Ozzie, or anyone at Microsoft, to step up and take this bull by the horns, to take some responsibility for cutting through the MBA replicants and to connect with users.
Now I’m not involved with LiveSide because I think that Windows Live is without promise. I’ve been using Hotmail since 1998, and it’s now among the best in web based mail, even though the name was a copout. SkyDrive holds a lot of promise, although offering a measly 500mb of storage is just laughable (geez you get 5gb with Hotmail now!). We’re hoping to be blown away with the amount of storage when the service comes out of beta, if the replicants don’t get their hands on it. OneCare is turning out to be a pretty good product, although it’s yet to be seen if it can actually catch a new virus in the wild. Live Writer is great, and getting better, and Windows Live Photo Gallery is a useful upgrade. Live ID is where Windows Live shows real promise, in the ability to tie services together, to layer permissions based on address books and friends lists, and to federate out to anyone who cares to use the service (like we did on LiveSide, for a start).
But still, much of Windows Live is more Keebler elves than elegant software. The Spaces photo size limits upgrade last week was design by committee, at best. Where’s Silverlight? Where’s user control of photo size? From what we’re hearing, the long awaited Calendar (and how long can it take to make a calendar?) is going to underwhelm. And in all of this, the best we get from Windows Live Marketing is the “corny and stupid” Messenger Cafe, and a hack job from the NY Times.
Someone in Redmond better start doing better than this, or Real Steve is going to eat Windows Live for lunch.