Still Confused about Windows Live

Ever since it’s inception the Windows Live brand was a source of confusion: is it web-based computing, new desktop tools, or just a fancy name for MSN services? The confusion apparently continues even as The New York Times heralds Microsoft Windows Live, which is to receive a new unified installer this week as a major move to “Cloud Computing”. “The empire is preparing to strike back” – a clear reference to Google.. don’t you just love the illustration?

Whether this is a Google-killer move or not (personally I doubt it), I welcome any major player’s move to the Cloud. I’ve been a long-time advocate of on-demand computing, which got only reinforced by the painful experience of adding a third PC to the household. Trying to keep three computers (and two operating systems) in sync is a major nightmare, and ironically some of the Windows Live components come to my rescue, exactly because they are not in the cloud .

Foldershare is a very handy tool that keeps several PC’s in sync. Configuring your folders to be synchronized takes places on the Web, but the actual synchronization process is P2P, in fact in a local network your data typically stays behind the firewall throughout the entire process. It’s not magic though, as sometimes it fails to synchronize, and leaves only placeholder *.p2p files. Too bad it never tells you, and while you think your data is safely synchronized, you can never know. Another “shortcoming” (although by design, and some might actually find it an advantage) is that sync can only occur with at least two computers on simultaneously, since the data is not stored anywhere. Now that Microsoft announced their Skydrive, I hope they will tie in Foldershare, offering the option of either direct P2P or web-based sync, which could also become your online backup.

Talk about irony, how about this: although Google is the champion of moving to the cloud and Microsoft the defender of PC-based computing, I am struggling to use Google’s otherwise excellent but single PC-based product, Picasa over several PCs, and if Windows Live Photo Gallery has a better architecture, I’ll switch in a split second. What an upside-down world!

Windows Live Onecare is another important piece of the Live package – but it has nothing to do with on-demand computing, being a package that needs to be downloaded, aimed at keeping your local PC safe.

How about Windows Live Writer? It’s the best offline blog editor I’ve seen for along time – but again, strictly offline.

Actually, we don’t even have to look at the individual applications: this week’s news that triggered a flurry of posts is about a Unified Live Installer, which by definition is the good old model of downloads, updates, patches went wrong, reboots..etc – there is no install in the on-demand world.

All in all it’s safe to conclude that Windows Live offers a number of very good applications, but in the Cloud it is NOT.

Related posts: TechCrunch, All about Microsoft, Download Squad, Mobility Site, Sadagopan’s weblog …, Read/WriteWeb, 24/7 Wall St., LiveSide, Mashable!, Profy.Com, Geek Speaker , WinBeta, Fake Steve Jobs (Laughing), Clickety Clack.


  1. It’s more what MS has taken to calling “software + services”. Why run your OS/applications in the cloud when you’re sitting on dual or quad core processors and a load of memory and storage?

    At the same time, it’s the “get to it anywhere, anytime” feature of services that is most compelling. If you’re on a phone, or at a kiosk at a hotel, getting some manner of rich services can be valuable.

    Anyway thanks for the trackback link to LiveSide! I subscribed to your feed, but Newsgator barked about some xml errors in your feed – you might want to take a look.

  2. Hi Kip,

    Thanks for your comment. I disagree with the softare+services approach a lot, although in some cases it makes sense… but that’s a good discussion to keep for a post on its own.

    I’m using feedburner, and am checking my own feed daily, including today. I don’t have newsgator, using Google Reader here, but 6% of my subscribers are Newsgator readers… I wonder if it only barked momentarily … could you try again and if it fails, let me know the error.

    Thanks. 😉

  3. Zoli,
    You said “I disagree with the softare+services approach a lot” – am really curious to know what you find objectionable to this approach.
    Especially so when flagbearers and poster childs of SaaS like also have client applications that users can install on their systems to integrate dekstop applications like Word to the service.In fact, doesn’t your fav Zoho also have similar client applications?
    There are a lot of situations where an “install in an on-demand world” make sense!

  4. Zoli, Though at this time the MS LIVE might be confusing but i do think MS is on the right track. They still have a lot of things to get right.

    First i think they need to try and get their act together and focus on being the UI for the ESOA & Web2.0 worlds.

    Some initial thoughts on this here


  1. […] is in the clouds and who isn’t? Zoli posted over here about a couple of incongruous […]

  2. […] course I have previously speculated that Microsoft should tie Foldershare and Skydrive, offering both PC sync and Web backup, in which […]

  3. […] course using two products for somewhat similar purposes is redundant, and I have previously speculated that Microsoft should tie Foldershare and Skydrive (Live Mesh, Live Drive – pick your favorite […]

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