Microsoft Rolls Out Windows Live Services, Silk Road Project

Microsoft plans to roll out updates to its Windows Live services and Windows Live Essentials offerings, which are aimed at consumer users.

Microsoft went "Live"-crazy on Thursday, announcing plans to roll out updates to its Windows Live services and Windows Live Essentials offerings, which are aimed at consumer users. On the developer side, Microsoft exec Satya Nadella told PubCon attendees in Las Vegas today about the latest in Live Search developer tools for Web site search optimization.

Microsoft Live Services are the online solutions part of the company's overall "software plus services" strategy. Under this strategy, Microsoft plans to offer both installed solutions and hosted services, and sync the data between both.

Microsoft's CEO, Steve Ballmer, painted a picture for this software plus services vision at the User Conference for Microsoft Services in Tokyo, Japan last week. He suggested that Web 2.0-type collaboration technologies would eventually find a role in Microsoft's enterprise applications.

"Live services, as I said, is sort of the new element, the element that brings in Web 2.0 capabilities…, Ballmer said, according to a transcript. "These are concepts that in the corporate environment we will add back into Active Directory and other technologies so that you have the potential to also bring new Web 2.0 capabilities to applications that run inside your own corporate environment. So Live Services will pioneer in Windows Azure, in the cloud, but will also bring back to Windows Server over time through Active Directory and SharePoint and the like."

Windows Azure is Microsoft's "operating system in the cloud" that was unveiled late last month at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles. Windows Azure supports Live Services plus a few more, such as .NET Services, SQL Services, SharePoint Services and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Services.

Consumer users will see an updated Windows Live "over the coming weeks" in the U.S. market, according to Microsoft's announcement today. The updated Windows Live services suite also will be available in 54 countries by early 2009.

Microsoft has partnered with more than 50 Web companies for the Windows Live launch. It has integrated Windows Live services with those from Flickr, LinkedIn, Pandora and others. It also teamed with HP to integrate Windows Live Photo Gallery with HP printers. China Telecom will cobrand Windows Live Messenger as part of its Internet service.

Nadella, Microsoft's senior vice president of the Search, Portal and Advertising Platform Group, announced the latest release of the Live Search APIs for developers. The APIs, at beta version 2.0, are part of Microsoft's code-named "Silk Road" project, which is designed to help Web publishers build traffic on their sites.

Developers, using Silk Road, can select content to enhance the user's search experience on the publisher's Web site. Search results can be delivered using JSON, RSS, SOAP or XML Web service protocols.

Developers need to use application ID (AppID) to enable Silk Road customization. For Web sites not affiliated with Microsoft, developers can create Windows Live ID authentication using a software development kit. The kit, called Windows Live ID Web Authentication SDK 1.2, contains sample applications using "ASP.NET (C# and VB), Java, Perl, PHP, Python, and Ruby" programming languages, according to a Microsoft blog.

Project Silk Road is "in broad beta now," according to Microsoft's Live Search blog, and the company is looking for Web publishers that meet Microsoft's criteria for participation. Web publishers can apply to participate in the Silk Road beta here.

Not to be outdone, Google, a competitor to Microsoft in search advertising, today announced a new search optimization application for Web sites called "On-Demand Indexing for Google Site Search." This new application provides a way to quickly index and customize a Web site's search indices.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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