The news from Microsoft: WordPress.com and Windows Live partnering together and providing an upgrade for 30 million Windows Live Spaces customers [Sept 27]
Then Paul Kim, the VP of user growth from WordPress.com: Welcome Windows Live Spaces Bloggers [Sept 27]
Then a 3d party correction from the web: Microsoft: Windows Live Spaces already dead, WordPress.com will only get 1% of 30M users [Sept 30] which could be much understated as noted by Paul Kim’s response in the end:
Paul Kim, Automattic’s vice president of user growth, responded: “We don’t have an exact estimate for how many Spaces bloggers will move over to WordPress.com in the next 6 months, but in the first 48 hours we’ve completed close to 50,000 migrations which is very promising.” That number is impressive enough. Real measure will be the next 48 hours or 48 days.
There was a real surge in posting activity on wordpress.com. After 5 days the graph showed the following:
As you could see from the numbers there were approximately three times as many additional postings in the last 3 days of the first 5 days period, than in the first two. That quite probably would mean ~150,000 additional migrations giving the total number of migrations to ~200,000 already in the first 5 days.
So the 1% of 30 million Windows Live Spaces customers could indeed be an understatement, even a great one. Would be interesting indeed to see the numbers in the coming months. Microsoft PR meanwhile made a refinement by saying that those 30 million include the viewers as well, while the number of authors is “just” 7 million.
If the final number of migrated blogs will be in the range of several millions than this will indeed be a huge gain for the WordPress.com. The current number of blogs on that site is 13.9 million, so an increase of 10% to 30% for nothing would indeed be a great win for them.
But what is the win for Microsoft? Their announcement is giving the following reason:
WordPress powers over 8.5% of the web, is used on over 26 million sites, and WordPress.com is seen by over 250 million people every month. Not only that, Automattic is a company filled with great people focused on improving blogging experiences. So rather than having Windows Live invest in a competing blogging service, we decided the best thing we could do for our customers was to give them a great blogging solution through WordPress.com.
The Why is Microsoft giving away web traffic and abandoning users? [Sept 28] question is answered by Tim Anderson as:
Part of the reason may be that blogging itself has changed. The original concept of an online diary or “web log” has fractured, with much of the trivia that might once have been blogged now being expressed on Facebook or Twitter. At the other end, blog engines like WordPress have evolved into capable content management systems. Many blogs are just convenient tools to author web sites.
Microsoft gives up on Live Spaces: blogs to be shifted to WordPress.com [Sept 28] on the guardian.co.uk has a similar reasoning:
You’ve got six months before it disappears into the great Bit Bucket where Geocities has gone. …
Following the news that Vox is closing (on 30 September), and that its parent Six Apart (which created Movable Type) is joining with VideoEgg to create a new company called Say Media, one has to think that the pool of hosted blogging platforms is shrinking rather rapidly. Atthis rate, pretty soon it’s only going to be Blogger and WordPress.
And if that’s what it comes down to, you’d have to say that WordPress has the edge. It’s being taken up by the British government, even for non-blogging websites, where it acts as an effective content management system.
That though may overlook the emergence of “superfast blog” systems such as Tumblr, which strip away a lot of the stuff on the outside – which can make blog upkeep complicated or tedious.
Even so, it’s not clear from here where blogging, as a separate activity, is really going. I still have the sense – as I said last year – that the long tail of blogging is dying. Microsoft’s capitulation over Live Spaces seems an acknowledgement of that (its previous post, linked in that quote above, notes how much of a problem spam blogs and comment spam have been; indeed, when I used to trawl blogs for Technology content, Live Spaces blogs were notorious for being pure splogs or copy/paste jobs).
WordPress.com has done a better job keeping the spam out. The question now is whether it is building its business on top of an iceberg in a warming sea – or on dry land.
And indeed quoting from the referred The long tail of blogging is dying [June 24, 2009] post on the guardian.co.uk (emphasis is mine):
But recently – over the past six months – I’ve noticed a new trend: fewer blogs with links, and fewer with any contextual comment. (I’m defining a blog here as an individual site, whether on Blogger or WordPress or an individual domain, with regular entries.) Some weeks, apart from the splogs, there would be hardly anything. I didn’t think we’d suddenly become dull. Nor was it for want of searching: mining for blog comments, I use Icerocket.com. Technorati.com and Google’s Blogsearch.
Where is everybody? Anecdotally and experimentally, they’ve all gone to Facebook, and especially Twitter. At least with Twitter, one can search for comments via backtweets.com – though it’s still quite rare for people to make a comment on a piece in a tweet; more usually it’s a “retweet”, echoing the headline. The New York Times also noticed this trend, with a piece on 9 June about “Blogs Falling In An Empty Forest“, which pointed to Technorati’s 2008 survey of the state of the blogosphere, which found that only 7.4m out of the 133m blogs it tracks had been updated in the past 120 days. As the New York Times put it, “that translates to 95% of blogs being essentially abandoned”.
I see it: NetNewsWire, my RSS feed reader, has nearly 500 feeds. When one of them hasn’t been updated for 60 days, it turns brown, like a plant dying for lack of water. More and more of the feeds I follow are turning brown. Why? Because blogging isn’t easy. More precisely, other things are easier – and it’s to easier things that people are turning. Facebook’s success is built on the ease of doing everything in one place. (Search tools can’t index it to see who’s talking about what, which may be a benefit or a failing.) Twitter offers instant content and reaction. Writing a blog post is a lot harder than posting a status update, putting a funny link on someone’s Wall, or tweeting. People are still reading blogs, and other content. But for the creation of amateur content, their heyday for the wider population has, I think, already passed. The short head of blogging thrives. Its long tail, though, has lapsed into desuetude.
It is important to realize that Microsoft didn’t get WordPress.com hosting in exchange for this migration. Matt Mullenweg made this quite clear in his last year’s post of WordPress and Windows Azure [Nov 29, 2009]:
Are you moving WordPress.com to Azure?
No. WordPress.com, which is Automattic’s hosted blogging service, is going to stay on its existing infrastructure. Martin Cron from the Cheezburger Network launched a new blog Oddly Specific on Azure, which some people confused with Automattic.
Do you use Azure at all?
Yes, we’ve been testing out their blob storage as an alternative to Amazon S3 and Rackspace Cloudfiles. We don’t currently use it in production.
And nothing has changed since then. The Microsoft: Windows Live Spaces already dead, WordPress.com will only get 1% of 30M users [Sept 30] post is mentioning the following:
As for platforms, Kim responded: “WordPress.com, where these migrating Spaces bloggers are moving to, runs on Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP.” In a follow-up e-mail, Kim responded: “We don’t plan to host any of these blogs on Windows Azure at this time.”
So there should be some additional gains for Microsoft in order to pass millions of authors and tens of millions of readers, as well as the advertising revenue attached to that. And indeed there are:
1. Microsoft’s lost eight years online: More than $6 billion down the tubes [Aug 13] which particularly stating that:
In fiscal 2010 ending June 30, Microsoft reported an operating loss of $2.35 billion on revenue of $2.2 billion for its online services division .
… [see the previous financial year data to see how there is an accumulated loss of more than $6 billion] …
[ZDnet's conclusion:] Microsoft has generated no return on its Internet ventures. It has been nearly a lost decade for Microsoft online. Looking at the profit and losses, you could make an argument that Microsoft would have been better off avoiding the Internet. Strategically, that argument is absolutely crazy. On the financial front, shareholders may just want a dividend. Things could change. Perhaps Microsoft’s online investment has helped it with the transition to cloud computing somehow. As things stand today, the Web is one big money pit for Microsoft.
So saving some money with Windows Live Spaces migration is an important point for Microsoft, although not the major one as we would see further on.
2. What Microsoft is abandoning now is the thing of the distant past. One can easily understand that when reading again a 3d party authorative source Why are 30 million Microsoft refugees headed to WordPress.com? [Sept 28] (emphasis is mine again):
Microsoft had very good founding concepts for MSN Spaces in 2004 that later overlapped with Facebook. At the time I first met with Microsoft managers about its online services strategy, I was an analyst with the now defunct JupiterResearch. Microsoft product managers outlined a clear and compelling strategy about people publishing content for whom they know. The Web is too big, they rightly asserted. What matters is contenting your stuff to people who would be most interested in it, like family, friends and coworkers. I liked what I heard.
Four years ago, I compared Six Apart’s Vox to Windows Live Spaces. In August 2006, I wrote at the now defunct Microsoft Monitor blog: “Features are highly comparable. Both services are free, ad supported and provide mechanisms for blogging, sharing photos, music or videos and connecting to a widening circle of friends and family.” Vox is shutting down in two days. Windows Live Spaces will be gone in six months. Is it coincidence that these two services with similar design goals and features are shutting down around the same time? I think not.
Facebook has fulfilled most of the same philosophical and development goals articulated by Microsoft managers six years ago. In early 2007, Facebook had about 30 million subscribers — about as many as Windows Live Spaces today. Facebook now claims more than 500 million subscribers, although some people dispute they are all active. Facebook users share photos, status updates and other content with a circle of friends, family and other known or accepted relationships, which is exactly what Microsoft wanted to accomplish with Spaces and connected Live services.
3. Microsoft has reworked all of its Internet and web related strategies. I’ve already reported a few of that (but will report much more very soon). See these posts on my blog:
- Microsoft strengths for the PC -> cloud transition [June 27]
- Mobile search SaaS battle [June 28]
- Windows slates in the coming months? Not much seen yet [July 13]
- Microsoft going multiplatform? [Sept 17]
- Microsoft to lead standards compliance and implementation? … or how Microsoft is aiming to create a radically new Windows client platform via a set of “whole computer capable rich web” standards. [Sept 20]
4. Their on-line services strategy part has just been completely rearranged by Windows Live Essentials 2011 available for download now [Sept 30]. The key elements of this change are (only some of the emphasis is mine here):
Windows Live Essentials 2011 was designed and built to connect your PC to the services you use every day. We’re also announcing today that Dell will be the first global PC manufacturer to ship PCs with Windows Live Essentials 2011 and Windows 7 pre-installed, just in time for your holiday purchases. Many other PC manufacturers are also planning to make Windows Live Essentials 2011 available and we’ll continue to keep you updated as they start releasing.
… Windows Live Essentials 2011 was designed from the ground up for Windows 7. You can pin your applications to the taskbar and use jump lists to quickly get to common tasks. The ribbon brings common tasks to the front, letting you filter photos, change your font, or publish to your favorite services in a single click.
For parents, Windows Live Family Safety gives you the tools to help keep your kids safer on the Internet.
… If you have more than one PC, or a PC and a Mac, Windows Live Mesh helps you sync your files and folders across your PCs and connect back to your PC from virtually anywhere.
- Excellent overview: Windows Live Mesh 2011 [Nov 22]
… Use Window Live Photo Gallery to share photos with your friends on SkyDrive [this is now the one Microsoft on-line service outside of Windows Live Essentials], Flickr, SmugMug, Facebook, and more.
… Create a video using Windows Live Movie Maker and instantly publish it to YouTube.
… Stay in touch with your friends on Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace using the new Windows Live Messenger.
… Use Windows Live Writer to update your blog on WordPress.com [with Essentials 2011 it is the default], Blogger, TypePad, and many more blogging services.
… Use Windows Live Mail to keep track of your email from Hotmail [this is now the other Microsoft on-line service outside of Windows Live Essentials], Gmail, Yahoo, and more.
… Together with Windows 7 and the new Internet Explorer 9 beta, Windows Live Essentials completes your Windows experience and connects your PC to the services you use every day. Try it out and let us know what you think!
My final conclusion: Microsoft is not abandoning its eight years of on-line investments (which produced $6B+ loss so far) but splitting that among its classic strategic business lines. What we see now by Windows Live Spaces SaaS moving to WordPress.com SaaS and with the introduction of Windows Live Essentials 2011 is for the current (Windows 7) and the next generations of Windows clients. Windows clients will continue to be free of any advertisements and hence there is no service should be in Windows Live Essentials which could only be financed through advertisement revenue. With Flickr, SmugMug, Facebook, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, WordPress.com (with Essentials 2011 it is the default], Blogger, TypePad, Gmail, and Yahoo mentioned as important partner services, there is a clear demarcation line between Windows Live and 3d party services. In addition Windows Mail is that part of Windows Live Essentials which integrates both the 3d party web mailing services (Gmail, Yahoo etc.) and Microsoft’s own Hotmail Service. Hotmail thus remains the critical on-line service for Microsoft as well as the Live Messenger service of the Windows Live.
This is a very nice and rational on-line services strategy for the Windows clients. Please note that Microsoft Bing services are offered on their own, and those are the ones which should be supported by advertisement revenues in the long run. Also the Hotmail and Live Messenger services could be covered — at least partially — by advertising revenues in the long run. And certainly there is SkyDrive and Office Web Apps on SkyDrive which are in fact services that could mostly be covered by the Microsoft Office business line. BTW this is also true to a certain degree for Hotmail and Live Messenger.
Look at the Windows Live site for more information! You will even more clearly see that Microsoft did not lost its mind by migrating Windows Live Spaces to WordPress.com in such a “no return” way.