Windows Live: Microsofts Antitrust Savior?

Opinion: Windows Live might end up doing more than providing Microsoft with subscription revenues. It also could give Microsoft with a way to extend Windows without "bundling." (Microsoft Watch)

As the never-ending antitrust cases around the globe against Microsoft prove, bundling is still a bad word for the Redmond software giant.

Microsoft is in hot water for bundling Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer, Windows Messenger and more into Windows on the desktop. And its inclusion of these elements, plus even more—a calendaring application, a photo gallery, various games—in Windows Vista could spell bigger legal troubles for the company in the not-too-distant future.

But going forward, Microsoft isnt looking to bundle all of its Windows features right into the operating system. It also is turning some add-ons into services. Thats really what Windows Live is all about.

While few outside the software development community realize it yet, Microsoft is building a variety of hooks into Windows Vista and its successors to support these and future Windows Live services.

"Increasingly, youll see packaged software thats Live-Ready," says Blake Irving, a corporate vice president with Microsofts MSN unit.

"This means software that is designed to work in concert with an Internet service. To deliver these experiences, Live-Ready client-side software must be capable of connecting to the Windows Live cloud and must have the necessary plumbing and infrastructure."

Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Expo classifieds, Windows Live Search, Windows Live Family Safety Settings and Live services will be outside Windows periphery. And third-party companies will be encouraged to develop additional add-on services to Windows, too.

The result? Look, mom: No bundling! And no bundling means one less antitrust attack surface for Microsofts competitors.

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