The Next WGA Target -- The Channel: To date, Microsoft has focused on consumers with its anti-piracy campaigns around Windows and Office. The next targets on Redmond's radar screen: OEMs and system builders.
There's a New Office Live Sheriff in Town: Newly promoted Corporate VP Rajesh Jha has some definite opinions about how Microsoft should evolve its service add-ons for Office.
Just How Many Windows Live Services Are There?: Microsoft officials are fond of stating there are approximately 20 Windows Live services out there (in one form or another). But the Feedback.Live.com site indicates the real count is double that number.
The Next WGA Target -- The Channel
To date, with its Genuine Advantage anti-piracy programs, Microsoft has targeted consumers. Windows and Office users have been required to validate their products as "genuine" before being able to obtain many downloads and add-ons.
But Microsoft is prepping to take aim at bigger targets: The channel. System builders, OEMs, and folks operating kiosks, Internet cafes and other places outside the U.S. where software and Web access are provided are squarely in Microsoft's Genuine sights.
Get a Genuine Advantage Refresher Here
Microsoft execs recently have started warning the channel that they better fly right – and to give customers early notification that, with Windows Vista, there will be even more Genuine Advantage carrots (and sticks) built right into the operating system.
Windows Client Marketing Chief Michael Sievert had this to say at the Worldwide Partner Conference last month:
"We expect to do much more as a Windows business to help our partners to sell products based on Genuine Windows to compete with pirates. This is a major opportunity both for Microsoft and our partners. We expect to do more to make Windows more differentiated when it's genuine, and so genuine customers get a truly different experience than non-genuine customers, as well as to make piracy harder, so that our genuine partners can do a better job competing with those that don't play by the rules."
(Sievert said he'd elaborate on specifics here, but never did – thanks to a rather overzealous and nervous colleague, we hear, who pulled some Genuine Advantage slides from his later keynote deck.)
Read the Transcript of Sievert's Full Partner Show Keynote
Microsoft Platforms and Services Co-President Kevin Johnson was equally straight-forward (and equally detail-free), regarding Microsoft's next steps with Genuine Advantage in his address to Wall Street analysts at last week's Financial Analyst Meeting.
"There's a higher level of genuine Windows attached to PC shipments in developed markets than emerging markets, which means, if we want to continue to drive growth of Windows client OEM units faster than PC shipments, we've got to have a great compelling value proposition for the user for genuine Windows software and for the channel," Johnson explained.
Read the Full Johnson Transcript from FAM
"We built a set of features and a set of functionality that is only available to genuine Windows customers. Windows Defender, for example, the anti-spyware for Windows XP and Windows Vista, is available to genuine Windows customers. Windows Media Player 11.0, Internet Explorer 7.0, will be available for download for Windows XP customers who are genuine, and of course those are built into Windows Vista. Future updates to Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player for Windows Vista will require them to be genuine. And certainly there's some premium features built into the Windows Vista operating system that will require genuine validation as well. So we're really trying to amplify the fact that being genuine enables the set of benefits and value to access these types of features and capabilities."
(No, we aren't sure what the other premium Vista features that will require validation will be. If we were to hazard a wild guess, we'd say some of the Ultimate add-ons/downloads, like the Texas Hold'em game, will be prime candidates for Genuine Advantagization.)
Johnson painted the pending Genuine Advantage push into the channel in upbeat terms, not surprisingly:
"The other part of Windows Genuine Advantage is really focusing on the channel, and helping our channel partners sell Genuine," Johnson told analysts. "
Now, we've done three things here. We've put more feet on the street in terms of our OEM sales force reaching out to system builders, and we've really focused on sales training for these partners."
We dug around a bit for more details, to no avail. Roger Kay, president with Endpoint Technologies Associates, said he had no doubts that the channel would be a big Genuine Advantage focus for the Softies, going forward:
"For the channel, which is in general more complicit than end users, MS will pursue a combination of education, engineering, and enforcement," Kay told your trusty Microsoft Watcher. "Education is telling people how to figure out whether they have bogus copies and warn them of the dangers and is aimed at those trying to do right. Engineering covers technologies put into Windows to prevent counterfeiting and alert customers to the fact that they have a bad copy. Enforcement is aimed at the people who know they're wearing black hats and involves working with law enforcement and other measures to bring installations into compliance."
We believe that the so-called Microsoft "Unlicensed PC Initiative" may be key to Microsoft's updated Genuine plans. But no one at Microsoft wants to talk Genuine Advantage at all right now, despite our cajolings/pleas/threats.
Anyone out there have more details to share on Microsoft's upcoming Genuine Advantage crackdown plans? We're all ears…
There's a New Office Live Sheriff in Town
For most of the past week, your trusty Microsoft Watcher has been zipping around the Redmond campus, by bus, on foot and corporate shuttle.
As part of our sojourns, we had a chance to chat with Rajesh Jha, the head of Office Live.
At the very end of July, the 16-year Microsoft veteran was promoted to Corporate Vice President. Microsoft Business Division boss Jeff Raikes had this to say about the modest Jha:
"Rajesh has a sixteen year track record of positive contribution to Microsoft across Microsoft Works, multi-media technologies, NetDocs and InfoPath. His proven leadership of our big bet on Office Live and the company's broader investment in Software + Services has made him an incredible asset for MBD and Microsoft and has earned him this executive promotion."
Jha built the Office Live business from scratch in 18 months. Microsoft launched the Office Live beta in the U.S. in February 2006, with the final 1.0 release expected before the end of calendar 2006. The team is planning an Office Live version 1.5 release, to be launched right after Office 2007, according to Raikes in his Jha promotion note.
February: The Office Live Beta Goes Live
There have been some rough spots in the Office Live beta tests. Some readers had told Microsoft Watch of less-than-smooth conversion from their existing domain providers to Microsoft. Jha acknowledged that Microsoft received similar feedback.
"In the first month, we saw a lot of that (conversion trouble) happening," he said.
But Microsoft has made adjustments for that and other issues in refreshes of the Live code, Jha said.
Jha reiterated that Office Live will be built atop many of the core Windows Live programming interfaces, the same way that Office 2007 servers rely on Windows Server as their base. Jha also said, as other Microsoft officials with other teams have hinted, to expect Office Live to take some pages out of the Xbox Live playbook.
"The core scenarios are all different, but we do share some common platform elements" across the Live teams, Jha said. For example, "Xbox Live has a great point system," he noted. Expect something similar to materialize for Windows Live and Office Live, Jha said.
"Office Live today is clearly aimed at small business," Jha said. "But we will expand to additional audiences," like workgroups, and even individuals, he said. If and when Microsoft broadens Office Live's appeal to individual consumers, more mashups involving Windows Live services -- such as Windows Live Expo, for instance – could evolve, Jha acknowledged.
Jha also is actively contemplating making some kind of Office Live sandbox available to users, where mashups between Office Live and XML/Web services and/or SharePoint, could be hosted.
Microsoft is focused on building up its Office Live development platform story in order to attract software-development partners who could bring vertically-tailored versions of Office Live to market, Jha said.
Microsoft Looks to Build an Office Live Developer Story
Could there be an Office Live for Dentists in our futures – akin to Office for Sales and other role-based Office 14 offerings that are on the drawing board? Sounds like it's not beyond the realm of possibility, if Jha and his team have their way.
Just How Many Windows Live Services Are There?
If you were on the Windows Live team, wouldn't you want to tout your burgeoning family of services to prove you're ready to go head-to-head with the best of the Web 2.0 innovators out there?
As faithful Microsoft Watch readers know, pretty much everything about how the Live team operates strikes us as counter-intuitive. Product naming confusion reigns supreme. Pro-active marketing seems non-existent. Press inquiries fall on deaf ears.
But the very least the Live team could do – from our view in the bleacher seats – is tout all the products in its pipeline. Why let Google be the only hype-master?
Google Registers More Than 500 Domain Names
If you were to use the Windows Live Ideas Web site as your sole source of information, you might believe Microsoft has 20 Windows Live services in the works.
Windows Live Ideas: 20 Services … and Counting?
But according to Windows Live Platform Product Planner Ken Levy, there are actually double that number of Windows Live services in the works. Levy based his tally on services listed on the Feedback.Live.com Web site.
So what's in the Live hopper? We figured we better include the list in full, before Microsoft's minions restrict access to it. Microsoft's Windows Live line-up includes:
* Windows Live Academic Search
* Windows Live Book Search
* Windows Live Call
* Windows Live Call for Free
* Windows Live Custom Domains
* Windows Live Dev
* Windows Live Expo
* Windows Live Favorites
* Windows Live Feeds
* Windows Live Gallery
* Windows Live ID
* Windows Live Ideas
* Windows Live Image Search
* Windows Live Local
* Windows Live Mail
* Windows Live Mail Desktop
* Windows Live Messenger
* Windows Live Mobile
* Windows Live Mobile Mail
* Windows Live Mobile Search
* Windows Live Near Me Search
* Windows Live News Search
* Windows Live Newsbot
* Windows Live OneCare
* Windows Live Product Search
* Windows Live Publishing Portal
* Windows Live QnA
* Windows Live Safety Center
* Windows Live Search
* Windows Live Search Answers
* Windows Live Search Center
* Windows Live Search Help
* Windows Live Search Macros
* Windows Live Search Translation
* Windows Live Shopping
* Windows Live Spaces
* Windows Live Toolbar and Desktop Search
* Windows Live Web Search
* Windows Live Web Search SDK
* Windows Live Wifi Suite
* Windows Live.com
Relatively few of these items caught us unaware, other than Windows Live Search Translation; Windows Live Search Macros; Windows Live Publishing Portal; Windows Live News Search (sounds like the successor to MSN Newsbot); and Windows Live Newsbot (MSN Blogbot, revisited, we'd guess).
The Live team has a long way to go to hit 500 registered domain names. But 40 sure seems a lot closer than 20....
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Copyright 2006 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Ziff Davis Media Inc., 28 East 28th Street, New York, NY 10016. The Microsoft Watch newsletter and Code Name Tracker are intended for the individual use of the recipient only, unless licensed. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Microsoft Watch is an independent publication, not affiliated with or authorized by Microsoft Corporation.