I don’t want to get The Scobleizer all riled up again like he was after that whole Google hosted-email thing, but what the heck is wrong with Microsoft? The launch of Office Live looks to me like a bunch of cobbled together stuff the company had lying around, all of which has been “rebranded” under the name Office Live because it sounds really cool and Web 2.0-ish. So what, you say – lots of companies routinely do that kind of thing, Microsoft included. Which is true. But my point is, why cheapen a potentially hot brand idea like Office Live by pasting it on something that looks like a bag of warmed-over, also-ran features?
After all the attention that has been paid to Microsoft’s various “Live” announcements and betas and whatnot, such as the Ajaxy homepage thing at www.live.com and the Ajaxy beta of the replacement for Hotmail, I’m not the only one who was under the impression that Office Live might actually have something to do with Office – the Microsoft workflow-software suite, that is – and in particular might offer some approximation of Office apps over the Web. Nothing could be further from the truth, apparently. There’s a domain service and some email and calendaring applications that seem aimed at small businesses, as well as some collaboration features, but nothing like Writely.com or JotSpot Tracker or even WebEx’s WebOffice.
Why not call all that stuff something else, and save the term Office Live for something that actually offers those kinds of things? Who knows (even Scoble seems a little confused). Maybe the beast from Redmond is planning to buy 37signals.com and all their great services (like Campfire.com, a real-time Web chat collaboration thing they just launched) and roll them into Office Live. Or maybe it will fold Web-based versions of Word and Excel and so on in there at some point – or maybe this will join the growing stack of examples in the “boneheaded marketing decision” file.