Ballmer: The Live Era Is Coming

Microsoft's CEO tells channel partners that Windows Live revenue opportunities are still more than a year away. But new services and services business models are inevitable, Ballmer says. (Microsoft Watch)

BOSTON—Microsoft partners wont see much, if any, new revenues from Microsofts growing Live family of services in the next year. But throughout the coming decade, the Live tide will transform the kinds of products and services that Microsoft and its partners will be selling, according to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Ballmer highlighted during his July 11 keynote address at the companys annual Worldwide Partner Conference here Microsofts Windows Live initiative as among the key Microsoft products that Microsoft will be pushing, going forward.

Ballmer described Live as "all about using the Internet to remake the software business itself."

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to listen to excerpts of Ballmers keynote.

Ballmer included as part of his presentation a demonstration of a couple of new Live services. The Dynamics Live CRM demo received the most applause during his remarks. Another new service about which Ballmer offered very little information—a service known alternatively as both "Windows Live Search Center" and Windows Live OneView—will go to beta later this month, Ballmer said.

Among the Live services that Microsoft has fielded to date are more than 20 Windows Live services, including Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Expo classifieds and others; three different families of Office Live add-ons to Microsoft Office; and, as of July 11, a new Dynamics CRM Live service that the company plans to launch by mid-2007.

"Dont expect impact from Live in the next year," Ballmer said. "But now is the time to build out the [Live] platform and define the business model for how we work together."

While Windows Vista and Office 2007 will both be "blockbuster releases," Ballmer told the thousands of conference attendees Tuesday morning, there are a number of other new search, unified-communications and infrastructure products in the pipeline that will become increasingly important.

Ballmer predicted that Vista—which Microsoft is currently predicting has an 80 percent chance of still launching in January 2007—will be important to businesses, IT departments, developers and consumers, as well.

Ballmer said to expect Vista to include "a massive consumer launch, which will be very important."

"If we have a strong consumer launch, it creates the air cover for people coming in and saying I want this stuff at work," Ballmer said.

Ballmer described Windows Live as "all about using the Internet to remake the software business itself."

On the Live side of the house, Ballmer said Microsoft would continue to build out new services on the search, content, collaboration, communications and business services fronts.

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