Microsoft’s confusing and incomprehensible use of “Live” branding does more than just baffle users — it is also costing the company millions, because people don’t bother to visit Live sites because they can’t figure out what the sites do. When will Microsoft finally fix this nagging issue?’
CNet reports that last week Microsoft lowered sales forecast for its Internet services for the year from 11 percent down to between 3 percent and 8 percent. The company also admitted that its share of the search market has dropped, while Google’s continues to rise. The site notes, “Windows Live Search saw its searches drop nearly 10 percent from a year ago, while Google’s rose more than 22 percent, according to figures released this week from Nielsen/NetRatings. Google has 50.8 percent market share, followed by Yahoo at 23.6 percent and Microsoft with only 8.4 percent.”
This should shock no one. Microsoft has done everything it possibly can to confuse the world about what “Live” means. One the one hand, the company seems to say that “Live” services are those accessed online. But if that’s the case, why does its security product carry the Live moniker — OneCare Live? It’s a downloadable piece of software, not an Internet-based service.
Beyond what, why does it call its online service for small businesses Microsoft Office Live, when it has absolutely nothing to do with Microsoft Office?
As for Windows Live, it has absolutely nothing to do with Windows. It’s the search engine formerly called MSN Search.
Given that mess, who would want to get near anything with the word “Live” in it?
This confusion has hurt Microsoft’s bottom line, says David Smith, an analyst at Gartner.
“Microsoft’s Live branding has been tremendously confusing and has hurt the company, and it is very likely contributing to the situation they are in right now,” he told CNet. “They’ve created another brand and have not differentiated it.”
Will Microsoft eventually fix the “Live” mess? I’m not sure. Several years back, it similarly confused the world when it applied “.NET” to every product and service it could find. It hasn’t cleared that confusion up yet. So don’t expect it to fix the “Live” problem any time soon.