Microsoft’s 320 million anti-Google weapons

Yesterday I was sitting in Brian Hall’s office when the Yahoo/Google news was breaking. Who’s he? The guy at Microsoft who runs most of the non-search Windows Live stuff. You know, Hotmail, Messenger, Spaces, and a bunch of other stuff.

We filmed a little fun cell phone video, but our longer interview will be up sometime over next few weeks.

In that he told me what Microsoft is going to do now that the Yahoo deal fell through. He admitted that he was one of the guys working on that deal.

His number one weapon to use against Google?

The 320 million active users of Hotmail and Messenger. That’s 320 million people who have signed into these services in the past 30 days (which, by the way, is WAY up from when I worked at Microsoft — when I worked at Microsoft they were saying 150 to 200 million). Keep in mind that Facebook looks like they just passed 100 million users, so you can see that these are still very popular services.

The trick is how do you get an email user turned into a user of a larger set of services.

Brian showed me several ways. One of the coolest was that if you try to email a photo to someone, which he claimed was still the #1 way to share a photo with people, it automatically uploads those photos to Microsoft’s photo-sharing service and builds links to those pages right in your email.

What did I take away from our visit to Microsoft? You can never count these guys out. They always have the potential to change the marketplace because of how many users still are engaged with their stuff.

The ties they are building between services are interesting. I think Microsoft needs a social networking component like Google’s Friend Connect, though, which would be used on all these services.

Hmmm, why doesn’t Mark Zuckerberg build them one? Imagine if that happened and the social graph showed up on Hotmail and on Messenger?

UPDATE: tons of people are talking about this post over on FriendFeed.

96 thoughts on “Microsoft’s 320 million anti-Google weapons

  1. TranceMist made a good point. Half of the spam I receive comes from Hotmail.

    I also agree with neverness. There’s no way a service/program should do something I didn’t ask it to do. First, they upload pictures, then they may start to upload my e-mails (even by mistake).

    Finding new way of involving users is ok (as far as it can be ok), but there must be some limits.

  2. TranceMist made a good point. Half of the spam I receive comes from Hotmail.

    I also agree with neverness. There’s no way a service/program should do something I didn’t ask it to do. First, they upload pictures, then they may start to upload my e-mails (even by mistake).

    Finding new way of involving users is ok (as far as it can be ok), but there must be some limits.

  3. TranceMist made a good point. Half of the spam I receive comes from Hotmail.

    I also agree with neverness. There’s no way a service/program should do something I didn’t ask it to do. First, they upload pictures, then they may start to upload my e-mails (even by mistake).

    Finding new way of involving users is ok (as far as it can be ok), but there must be some limits.

  4. TranceMist made a good point. Half of the spam I receive comes from Hotmail.

    I also agree with neverness. There’s no way a service/program should do something I didn’t ask it to do. First, they upload pictures, then they may start to upload my e-mails (even by mistake).

    Finding new way of involving users is ok (as far as it can be ok), but there must be some limits.

  5. TranceMist made a good point. Half of the spam I receive comes from Hotmail.

    I also agree with neverness. There’s no way a service/program should do something I didn’t ask it to do. First, they upload pictures, then they may start to upload my e-mails (even by mistake).

    Finding new way of involving users is ok (as far as it can be ok), but there must be some limits.

  6. to be honest, If i wanted to share a picture on a website instead of send it to someone I would do so, no email provider has the right to do something else than I intend to…..

    And guess what, it wouldn’t be Microsofts service I would be using then..

    I want a service to act as I think it would act and not get a mind of its own and starting to do stuff it shouldn’t do without asking my consent..

  7. to be honest, If i wanted to share a picture on a website instead of send it to someone I would do so, no email provider has the right to do something else than I intend to…..

    And guess what, it wouldn’t be Microsofts service I would be using then..

    I want a service to act as I think it would act and not get a mind of its own and starting to do stuff it shouldn’t do without asking my consent..

  8. to be honest, If i wanted to share a picture on a website instead of send it to someone I would do so, no email provider has the right to do something else than I intend to…..

    And guess what, it wouldn’t be Microsofts service I would be using then..

    I want a service to act as I think it would act and not get a mind of its own and starting to do stuff it shouldn’t do without asking my consent..

  9. to be honest, If i wanted to share a picture on a website instead of send it to someone I would do so, no email provider has the right to do something else than I intend to…..

    And guess what, it wouldn’t be Microsofts service I would be using then..

    I want a service to act as I think it would act and not get a mind of its own and starting to do stuff it shouldn’t do without asking my consent..

  10. to be honest, If i wanted to share a picture on a website instead of send it to someone I would do so, no email provider has the right to do something else than I intend to…..

    And guess what, it wouldn’t be Microsofts service I would be using then..

    I want a service to act as I think it would act and not get a mind of its own and starting to do stuff it shouldn’t do without asking my consent..

  11. Robert says: “The 320 million active users of Hotmail and Messenger. That’s 320 million people who have signed into these services in the past 30 days (which, by the way, is WAY up from when I worked at Microsoft — when I worked at Microsoft they were saying 150 to 200 million).”

    I’m more than a bit suspicious of these numbers. “from when [you] worked at Microsoft” hasn’t been that long. Of the people I know, the trend is far, far stronger moving away from Microsoft web services compared to moving to them, especially hotmail. My guess is either they’re counting logins differently now, perhaps counting a single login (at the browser level) twice, once for hotmail and once for messenger (with the browser programmed to log in separately to these services), or some browser plug-in or some such (like Gmail Manager for Firefox) has gotten popular amongst occasional users who want to keep track of either their old hardly-used hotmail accounts or the seldom-used secondary accounts they may have set up.

    Integration between applications is a great feature which has been very successful for Microsoft in the past. The problem is in their approach. Everyone else is doing this sort of integration too, but they are willing to integrate with third-party applications on multiple platforms. Microsoft depends on the lock-in that has insured the windfall profits they are used to, and can’t afford to integrate with non-Microsoft services or especially non-Microsoft platforms. As Microsoft continues to lose their monopoly grip on the OS platform, previously successful lock-in strategies will lose their effectiveness as they find theirselves transitioning from “only game in town” to “odd man out”.

  12. Robert says: “The 320 million active users of Hotmail and Messenger. That’s 320 million people who have signed into these services in the past 30 days (which, by the way, is WAY up from when I worked at Microsoft — when I worked at Microsoft they were saying 150 to 200 million).”

    I’m more than a bit suspicious of these numbers. “from when [you] worked at Microsoft” hasn’t been that long. Of the people I know, the trend is far, far stronger moving away from Microsoft web services compared to moving to them, especially hotmail. My guess is either they’re counting logins differently now, perhaps counting a single login (at the browser level) twice, once for hotmail and once for messenger (with the browser programmed to log in separately to these services), or some browser plug-in or some such (like Gmail Manager for Firefox) has gotten popular amongst occasional users who want to keep track of either their old hardly-used hotmail accounts or the seldom-used secondary accounts they may have set up.

    Integration between applications is a great feature which has been very successful for Microsoft in the past. The problem is in their approach. Everyone else is doing this sort of integration too, but they are willing to integrate with third-party applications on multiple platforms. Microsoft depends on the lock-in that has insured the windfall profits they are used to, and can’t afford to integrate with non-Microsoft services or especially non-Microsoft platforms. As Microsoft continues to lose their monopoly grip on the OS platform, previously successful lock-in strategies will lose their effectiveness as they find theirselves transitioning from “only game in town” to “odd man out”.

  13. Robert says: “The 320 million active users of Hotmail and Messenger. That’s 320 million people who have signed into these services in the past 30 days (which, by the way, is WAY up from when I worked at Microsoft — when I worked at Microsoft they were saying 150 to 200 million).”

    I’m more than a bit suspicious of these numbers. “from when [you] worked at Microsoft” hasn’t been that long. Of the people I know, the trend is far, far stronger moving away from Microsoft web services compared to moving to them, especially hotmail. My guess is either they’re counting logins differently now, perhaps counting a single login (at the browser level) twice, once for hotmail and once for messenger (with the browser programmed to log in separately to these services), or some browser plug-in or some such (like Gmail Manager for Firefox) has gotten popular amongst occasional users who want to keep track of either their old hardly-used hotmail accounts or the seldom-used secondary accounts they may have set up.

    Integration between applications is a great feature which has been very successful for Microsoft in the past. The problem is in their approach. Everyone else is doing this sort of integration too, but they are willing to integrate with third-party applications on multiple platforms. Microsoft depends on the lock-in that has insured the windfall profits they are used to, and can’t afford to integrate with non-Microsoft services or especially non-Microsoft platforms. As Microsoft continues to lose their monopoly grip on the OS platform, previously successful lock-in strategies will lose their effectiveness as they find theirselves transitioning from “only game in town” to “odd man out”.

  14. Robert says: “The 320 million active users of Hotmail and Messenger. That’s 320 million people who have signed into these services in the past 30 days (which, by the way, is WAY up from when I worked at Microsoft — when I worked at Microsoft they were saying 150 to 200 million).”

    I’m more than a bit suspicious of these numbers. “from when [you] worked at Microsoft” hasn’t been that long. Of the people I know, the trend is far, far stronger moving away from Microsoft web services compared to moving to them, especially hotmail. My guess is either they’re counting logins differently now, perhaps counting a single login (at the browser level) twice, once for hotmail and once for messenger (with the browser programmed to log in separately to these services), or some browser plug-in or some such (like Gmail Manager for Firefox) has gotten popular amongst occasional users who want to keep track of either their old hardly-used hotmail accounts or the seldom-used secondary accounts they may have set up.

    Integration between applications is a great feature which has been very successful for Microsoft in the past. The problem is in their approach. Everyone else is doing this sort of integration too, but they are willing to integrate with third-party applications on multiple platforms. Microsoft depends on the lock-in that has insured the windfall profits they are used to, and can’t afford to integrate with non-Microsoft services or especially non-Microsoft platforms. As Microsoft continues to lose their monopoly grip on the OS platform, previously successful lock-in strategies will lose their effectiveness as they find theirselves transitioning from “only game in town” to “odd man out”.

  15. Robert says: “The 320 million active users of Hotmail and Messenger. That’s 320 million people who have signed into these services in the past 30 days (which, by the way, is WAY up from when I worked at Microsoft — when I worked at Microsoft they were saying 150 to 200 million).”

    I’m more than a bit suspicious of these numbers. “from when [you] worked at Microsoft” hasn’t been that long. Of the people I know, the trend is far, far stronger moving away from Microsoft web services compared to moving to them, especially hotmail. My guess is either they’re counting logins differently now, perhaps counting a single login (at the browser level) twice, once for hotmail and once for messenger (with the browser programmed to log in separately to these services), or some browser plug-in or some such (like Gmail Manager for Firefox) has gotten popular amongst occasional users who want to keep track of either their old hardly-used hotmail accounts or the seldom-used secondary accounts they may have set up.

    Integration between applications is a great feature which has been very successful for Microsoft in the past. The problem is in their approach. Everyone else is doing this sort of integration too, but they are willing to integrate with third-party applications on multiple platforms. Microsoft depends on the lock-in that has insured the windfall profits they are used to, and can’t afford to integrate with non-Microsoft services or especially non-Microsoft platforms. As Microsoft continues to lose their monopoly grip on the OS platform, previously successful lock-in strategies will lose their effectiveness as they find theirselves transitioning from “only game in town” to “odd man out”.

  16. @William:

    “Robert, they already have a “Friend Connect”. It’s called Windows Live ID Delegated Authentication and they are way ahead of the curve on it.”

    I know absolutely nothing about the product, but from the catchy and descriptive name I can already be sure it’s a Microsoft product!

    @Robert:

    The biggest obstacle facing Microsoft in regards to Hotmail is reputation. When your average semi-geek hears “Gmail” they probably think of the early 2000s, but “Hotmail” conjures up visions of the late 1990s… and not good visions either.

    That said, even this non-MS fan and GOOG stock holder hopes that MS succeeds – competition always makes for a better consumer product.

  17. @William:

    “Robert, they already have a “Friend Connect”. It’s called Windows Live ID Delegated Authentication and they are way ahead of the curve on it.”

    I know absolutely nothing about the product, but from the catchy and descriptive name I can already be sure it’s a Microsoft product!

    @Robert:

    The biggest obstacle facing Microsoft in regards to Hotmail is reputation. When your average semi-geek hears “Gmail” they probably think of the early 2000s, but “Hotmail” conjures up visions of the late 1990s… and not good visions either.

    That said, even this non-MS fan and GOOG stock holder hopes that MS succeeds – competition always makes for a better consumer product.

  18. @William:

    “Robert, they already have a “Friend Connect”. It’s called Windows Live ID Delegated Authentication and they are way ahead of the curve on it.”

    I know absolutely nothing about the product, but from the catchy and descriptive name I can already be sure it’s a Microsoft product!

    @Robert:

    The biggest obstacle facing Microsoft in regards to Hotmail is reputation. When your average semi-geek hears “Gmail” they probably think of the early 2000s, but “Hotmail” conjures up visions of the late 1990s… and not good visions either.

    That said, even this non-MS fan and GOOG stock holder hopes that MS succeeds – competition always makes for a better consumer product.

  19. @William:

    “Robert, they already have a “Friend Connect”. It’s called Windows Live ID Delegated Authentication and they are way ahead of the curve on it.”

    I know absolutely nothing about the product, but from the catchy and descriptive name I can already be sure it’s a Microsoft product!

    @Robert:

    The biggest obstacle facing Microsoft in regards to Hotmail is reputation. When your average semi-geek hears “Gmail” they probably think of the early 2000s, but “Hotmail” conjures up visions of the late 1990s… and not good visions either.

    That said, even this non-MS fan and GOOG stock holder hopes that MS succeeds – competition always makes for a better consumer product.

  20. @William:

    “Robert, they already have a “Friend Connect”. It’s called Windows Live ID Delegated Authentication and they are way ahead of the curve on it.”

    I know absolutely nothing about the product, but from the catchy and descriptive name I can already be sure it’s a Microsoft product!

    @Robert:

    The biggest obstacle facing Microsoft in regards to Hotmail is reputation. When your average semi-geek hears “Gmail” they probably think of the early 2000s, but “Hotmail” conjures up visions of the late 1990s… and not good visions either.

    That said, even this non-MS fan and GOOG stock holder hopes that MS succeeds – competition always makes for a better consumer product.

  21. @William:

    “Robert, they already have a “Friend Connect”. It’s called Windows Live ID Delegated Authentication and they are way ahead of the curve on it.”

    I know absolutely nothing about the product, but from the catchy and descriptive name I can already be sure it’s a Microsoft product!

    @Robert:

    The biggest obstacle facing Microsoft in regards to Hotmail is reputation. When your average semi-geek hears “Gmail” they probably think of the early 2000s, but “Hotmail” conjures up visions of the late 1990s… and not good visions either.

    That said, even this non-MS fan and GOOG stock holder hopes that MS succeeds – competition always makes for a better consumer product.

  22. Of course people who follow Scoble are usually people who try new stuff and like GMail, GTalk, MAC OS.. But if you think of other people who just like to get ther email and chat, which is like 90% of the people who use computers, I can tell (from my friend group) that 9/10 will say they use Hotmail, Messenger, IE, and Windows. They just don’t care if GMail is better, they are so used to Hotmail and Messenger that they won’t change, they just like it and fell confortable with using those services.

  23. Of course people who follow Scoble are usually people who try new stuff and like GMail, GTalk, MAC OS.. But if you think of other people who just like to get ther email and chat, which is like 90% of the people who use computers, I can tell (from my friend group) that 9/10 will say they use Hotmail, Messenger, IE, and Windows. They just don’t care if GMail is better, they are so used to Hotmail and Messenger that they won’t change, they just like it and fell confortable with using those services.

  24. Of course people who follow Scoble are usually people who try new stuff and like GMail, GTalk, MAC OS.. But if you think of other people who just like to get ther email and chat, which is like 90% of the people who use computers, I can tell (from my friend group) that 9/10 will say they use Hotmail, Messenger, IE, and Windows. They just don’t care if GMail is better, they are so used to Hotmail and Messenger that they won’t change, they just like it and fell confortable with using those services.

  25. Of course people who follow Scoble are usually people who try new stuff and like GMail, GTalk, MAC OS.. But if you think of other people who just like to get ther email and chat, which is like 90% of the people who use computers, I can tell (from my friend group) that 9/10 will say they use Hotmail, Messenger, IE, and Windows. They just don’t care if GMail is better, they are so used to Hotmail and Messenger that they won’t change, they just like it and fell confortable with using those services.

  26. Of course people who follow Scoble are usually people who try new stuff and like GMail, GTalk, MAC OS.. But if you think of other people who just like to get ther email and chat, which is like 90% of the people who use computers, I can tell (from my friend group) that 9/10 will say they use Hotmail, Messenger, IE, and Windows. They just don’t care if GMail is better, they are so used to Hotmail and Messenger that they won’t change, they just like it and fell confortable with using those services.

  27. Of course people who follow Scoble are usually people who try new stuff and like GMail, GTalk, MAC OS.. But if you think of other people who just like to get ther email and chat, which is like 90% of the people who use computers, I can tell (from my friend group) that 9/10 will say they use Hotmail, Messenger, IE, and Windows. They just don’t care if GMail is better, they are so used to Hotmail and Messenger that they won’t change, they just like it and fell confortable with using those services.

  28. Scoble,

    You are the Fox news of tech. Not in the conservative way, but in the turn off the volume and watch the cool graphics kind of way. Interesting, but not that deep, a lot of speculation, and fantastical. The consumers are falling away from Microsoft (.) Just because people use something doesn’t make it powerful. Many people use toilet bowl plungers, I heard you need to use yours often for all the crap you spew on the web, but they don’t change much and people don’t expect them to. Toilet plunger makers aren’t that powerful, they just push ish through the pipes.

    Microsoft is a high tech toilet plunger maker. Necessary, but people just don’t care about them much.

    Show me a Microsoft advocate and I’ll show you 100 Apple advocates, etc. The shi(f)t away from Microsoft is happening on every front. They have no chance, just wait.

  29. Scoble,

    You are the Fox news of tech. Not in the conservative way, but in the turn off the volume and watch the cool graphics kind of way. Interesting, but not that deep, a lot of speculation, and fantastical. The consumers are falling away from Microsoft (.) Just because people use something doesn’t make it powerful. Many people use toilet bowl plungers, I heard you need to use yours often for all the crap you spew on the web, but they don’t change much and people don’t expect them to. Toilet plunger makers aren’t that powerful, they just push ish through the pipes.

    Microsoft is a high tech toilet plunger maker. Necessary, but people just don’t care about them much.

    Show me a Microsoft advocate and I’ll show you 100 Apple advocates, etc. The shi(f)t away from Microsoft is happening on every front. They have no chance, just wait.

  30. Scoble,

    You are the Fox news of tech. Not in the conservative way, but in the turn off the volume and watch the cool graphics kind of way. Interesting, but not that deep, a lot of speculation, and fantastical. The consumers are falling away from Microsoft (.) Just because people use something doesn’t make it powerful. Many people use toilet bowl plungers, I heard you need to use yours often for all the crap you spew on the web, but they don’t change much and people don’t expect them to. Toilet plunger makers aren’t that powerful, they just push ish through the pipes.

    Microsoft is a high tech toilet plunger maker. Necessary, but people just don’t care about them much.

    Show me a Microsoft advocate and I’ll show you 100 Apple advocates, etc. The shi(f)t away from Microsoft is happening on every front. They have no chance, just wait.

  31. Scoble,

    You are the Fox news of tech. Not in the conservative way, but in the turn off the volume and watch the cool graphics kind of way. Interesting, but not that deep, a lot of speculation, and fantastical. The consumers are falling away from Microsoft (.) Just because people use something doesn’t make it powerful. Many people use toilet bowl plungers, I heard you need to use yours often for all the crap you spew on the web, but they don’t change much and people don’t expect them to. Toilet plunger makers aren’t that powerful, they just push ish through the pipes.

    Microsoft is a high tech toilet plunger maker. Necessary, but people just don’t care about them much.

    Show me a Microsoft advocate and I’ll show you 100 Apple advocates, etc. The shi(f)t away from Microsoft is happening on every front. They have no chance, just wait.

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