Redmond (WA) - Microsoft today gave a first glimpse at an expansion of the firm's Internet strategy: New content and services - such as a renewed email offering, a voice-enhanced messenger and security checks - take aim at Google and will bring a tighter integration of the Internet within Windows and Office applications.
"Live" already is a familiar term for Xbox gamers and if Microsoft is right, then Windows users will rely more and more on this keyword in the time to come. Windows Live and Office Live are concepts to extend the functionality of these applications beyond the local desktop into the Internet.
Live for Windows will be a "set of personal Internet services and software designed to bring together in one place all of the relationships, information and interests people care about most, with more safety and security features across their PC, devices and the Web," Microsoft set. Live.com will serve to be a portal page - with several features that appear to be derived from Microsoft's start.com project - and lead users to additional services that will include an improved email service that provides users 2 GByte of storage space and drag and drop functionality, virus scans and tune ups for PCs, online storage of browser favorites, a mobile search tool, as well as a new version of the MSN Messenger that will receive voice capability.
All these new services, which Microsoft said are "early versions of several new Windows Live offerings," will be offered free of charge. An exception will be the previously announced OneCare program which will transition to a fee-based subscription service once the Beta period closes.
"These new offerings demonstrate how software is evolving through the power of services in ways that enable more dynamic and relevant experiences for people," Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said in a statement. "Our goal is to make Windows, Office and Xbox further come alive for our customers at work, home and play."
According to Microsoft, Windows Live will be offered alongside MSN.com, which will continue to host more than 215 million MSN Hotmail accounts. It is likely that there will be some confusion about the remaining benefit of subscribing to MSN in the future, but David Cole, senior vice president of MSN believes that there is room for both services, MSN and Windows Live. Cole said that there are people who "enjoy" the pre-selected and programmed content at MSN, while others "want more flexibility in creating a personalized experience."
Windows Live preview applications are posted at http://ideas.live.com
The company today also previewed Office Live, a new set of Internet-based that will be specifically target small and medium-sized businesses. Feature will include assistance to create an online presence, automate key internal and external business tasks, and collaborate with employees, partners and customers.