Building a Social Microsoft Network

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On the same day as Google’s I/O began with the announcement of a music service in the cloud, Microsoft bought Skype. Microsoft paid $8.5 billion for one of the most ubiquitous messaging services outside of MSN and Facebook messaging. It probably wasn’t an accident that Microsoft announced their biggest acquisition since 2007 on the same day as Google’s biggest event for the year.

Music in the cloud, and buying Skype


A Distributed Microsoft Social Network

Microsoft has a successful email service, a popular gaming platform with an online social network and a messaging client with a large install base. Also at the end of last year, Microsoft released a Facebook app for Live Messenger and began to incorporate social feeds into their own mobile and desktop chat clients. Microsoft already has a network covering multiple platforms and devices. Skype is an expansion of this network, and with Qik, it certainly shows some potential for mobile.

A more social Live


Reaching the Multi-Screen, Multi-Device, Multi-Platform User

There is more than one way to reach a new destination on the Internet. There is also more than one kind of software to use, device to operate and method to find new things. An Internet where banners and search advertising displayed in a browser are the only means of advertising no longer exists.

Mobile, gaming and social platforms are as important for building awareness as online advertising targeting desktop computer usage. The Microsoft Advertising blog has published a lot of content on reaching the multiscreen consumers, and advertising across multiple devices.

Buying An Audience

A number of interesting stats on Skype users were shared after the announcement. The most impressive was Skype’s current 170 million users and 40% year over year growth.

Buying Skype (with Qik in tow) gives Microsoft more users, much in the same way that their deal with Nokia will increase their Windows Phone 7 install base from 1.4% in Q4 2010. Even if Nokia loses an expected market of 50 million smartphones in 2011, the market share left by the time a Windows Phone 7 handset arrives will still be more than Microsoft has now.

Attention is all online

With information as easy to create and publish as it is now, it is curation that matters. Curation is more than a directory and a search engine now. Microsoft’s range of services, software and devices position them for a post-PC world, with its fragmented user experience. Microsoft’s own published reports say that we now:

…start our sessions in what I would call our intimate zones seeking personal information and contact through email, social networks, blogs etc.

Microsoft is building a distributed social network, covering computers, gaming, mobiles and tablets. They are creating a platform that can include Hotmail users, Xbox Live users, Facebook users, Windows Live users and now, Skype and Qik users. It reaches consoles, computers and mobiles and is accessible from different devices and platforms. It just isn’t limited to a single domain.

3 responses to “Building a Social Microsoft Network”

  1. Great analysis, Anthony. MS may well be building a network of tools and services to rival Google’s. But I’m not sure I agree with what you’re calling it.
    My understanding of a distributed social network wasn’t just about the web domain but also about ownership.
    Microsoft owns the majority of the domains you mentioned, and someone as big (if not bigger) owns the one other domain listed.

    If someone can’t plug into that network with their own domain, it’s accessible only to MS or MS-affiliated sites. It’s a network of tools to rival Google’s but without having to build all of the nodes themselves.

    So, really, what we need is for everyone to agree to a certain protocol that allows for distributed information sharing. Diaspora and its ilk are approaching the idea from the wrong direction and will ultimately fail but the things they build will probably act as a conceptual foundation that will bring us closer to a real Distributed Social Network.

    • Anthony says:

      The microsoft network has become a little more distributed than most. It does not have the same potential fragmentation as Diaspora and other similar platforms have.

      However currently, Microsoft has incorporated at least two other service provides, WordPress for their Live blogs and integrating Live Messenger with Facebook’s chat.

      For this post though, I was thinking more in terms of a distributed computer system, (wikipedia: “distributed system consists of multiple autonomous computers that communicate through a computer network”). Each network is functional in itself, but the can still be connected.

      Personally, I do not think a true Distributed Social Network will ever meet with mainstream success, and Diaspora, and their ilk, will always remain niche products. I still enjoy using Diaspora though.

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