Microsoft Puts the Windows Live Hard-Sell on Device Makers

Microsoft isn't content to evangelize its Windows Live platform to software developers. It also is pushing phone, Webcam, headset and other device makers to support its Live platform with new form factors. (Microsoft Watch)

SEATTLE—At this years WinHEC, Microsoft isnt touting only the current and future versions of Windows to its hardware partners. It also is pushing Windows Live services as another platform around which device makers can and should be building.

Windows Live are software services designed to complement Microsofts Windows operating system. Microsoft is fielding and refreshing its stable of Live Services – many of which are focused on search in some way – almost every week.

A few early Windows Live devices are starting to hit the market now, such as the Uniden and Philips Windows Live Messenger phones that allow users to rely on their Live Messenger buddy lists to check other users availability and place calls when appropriate.

But Microsoft sees a much bigger potential market for Windows Live devices, company officials told attendees of this weeks WinHEC show. And it is planning to make more developer and marketing resources available to potential partners to get them to think outside the plain-old Windows box when designing new form factors.

Microsoft is lining up partners to deliver new Windows Live phones, headsets and Webcams, among other devices. Among the OEMs on board to develop these devices are Creative, Logitech, Motorola, Plantronics and Microsofts own hardware business unit. Microsoft is set to unveil officially in June new Webcams, branded as Microsoft LifeCams, that are expected to have tie ins to Windows Live services. And during his May 23 keynote at WinHEC, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates highlighted Motorolas plans to field new Windows Live dual-mode cordless phones before the end of 2006.

(As described by Microsoft, dual-mode Windows Live phones "plug into both traditional phone lines as well as PCs, allowing customers to see their buddies presence on the phone and enabling a variety of voice and messaging capabilities, including traditional phone calling, PC-to-PC calling at no additional charge, and inexpensive PC-to-phone calling.")

"A lot of partners are doing the peripherals that connect these ways, for example, not only that Microsoft Webcam, but one from Creative, as well, and one with Logitech, as well," Gates told keynote attendees. "So theres a lot going on around Live thats going to change how people use PCs. Its going to change what all of us want to bring together to fit into these new applications."

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