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Microsoft recently announced it will be shutting down its Windows Live Spaces blogging platform and partnering with dominant blogging platform, WordPress. Essentially, this means that all new Windows Live account users will no longer get a Windows Live Space blog, but will instead receive a WordPress blog. In the long run it also means that the 30-million active Live Spaces users that Microsoft claims to have will be moved onto WordPress by March 2011, although new data claims that only 1% of Windows Live Spaces blogs are actually active.
Still, the move seems an astonishing admission from Microsoft, which always seems to want to build its own platforms for everything the competition comes up with, from search engines to cloud services. On the Windows Live Spaces blog, Microsoft explained the decision like this:
“As we looked at customers’ blogging needs and what different companies were providing, we were particularly interested in what WordPress.com is doing. They have a host of impressive capabilities – from a scalable platform and leading spam protection, to great personalisation and customisation. 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.”
It would seem that the advantages for Microsoft are pretty clear. They get to stop worrying about competition and keeping up with the ever expanding feature sets that other blogging platforms have. At the same time, they also receive the benefit of the WordPress community who continually build plugins and add-ons for the platform, saving millions in development costs for Microsoft.
WordPress also wins in this deal as they will potentially receive an influx of 30 million users from the current Live Spaces accounts base by March next year, in addition to the the continual flow of users from new Windows Live accounts. It also means that there will be millions of potential new users building templates and plugins for their new WordPress blogs, increasing the appeal of Worpress as a platform even more.
Windows Live and WordPress will begin working together to build a simple way to move blog posts, comments, and integrated photos over to WordPress.com. All old Live Spaces url’s will also automatically be redirected to the new WordPress accounts. Finally, Live Space bloggers can also download the content from their existing blog to their PCs.
Most importantly the move shows that free hosting by large tech companies like Microsoft hasn’t been able to crush the competition. As Matt Mullenweg from WordPress said on his blog:
“Four years ago I was fairly worried as every internet giant (Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo, Google) had a hosted blogging service. Now only Blogger remains, and is firmly in our sights. I’ve been impressed with Microsoft’s regard for their users in providing a solid upgrade and migration path with a really smooth experience, which I think is in strong contrast to Yahoo’s 360 or AOL’s Journals. Given that this effectively doubles WordPress’s user base, there is a lot of work to be done still, but I’m excited by the challenge.”