Mumbai: Microsoft Corp, in a bid to further its strategy of blending PC-based software applications with the online platform, launched an upgraded version of its mail service Windows Live Hotmail along with a new online storage service Windows Live SkyDrive.
The new email version has been released worldwide, including India, while SkyDrive has been launched in its beta version in three markets: India, the US and the UK. The inclusion of India among the other mature Internet markets underscores the Redmond-based software giant’s increased focus on this market, despite the comparatively small Internet user base here.
The new mail service includes several features common to Microsoft’s PC-based mail client Outlook Express, such as auto forwarding, file drag-drop and the ability to reply to meeting requests from Outlook clients.
“The idea is to ensure the web offers the same rich experience that a user gets on the PC,” says Jaspreet Bindra, country manager, MSN India. The company has also increased free storage limit to 5GB per account. This is aimed at surpassing competitor Google Inc’s 2.8GB storage on Gmail, which is slated to become a paid service for storage beyond 2.8GB. The upgraded version comes barely three months after the official release of Windows Live Hotmail, which was an updated version of Hotmail. The upgrades will take place very fast over the next several months, says Bindra.
Over the next 12 to 18 months, Microsoft will release several upgrades and services in keeping with its “Cloud” Internet services. The software giant had earlier outlined its intention of moving into a business model that combines its expertise in software services with a web-based platform. However, it released details of its online software services strategy only three weeks ago. It aims to create a middle layer that blends the two areas, with a strong advertising supported platform. In a bid to consolidate this model, Microsoft recently bought two firms in the digital marketing space in the US— aQuantive Inc. (its most expensive acquisition at $6 billion) and advertisement auction site AdECN Inc. The integration of these acquisitions into Microsoft will impact advertising traffic and subsequently revenues for MSN in India as well.
Sky Drive, its latest launch in the Windows Live suite, allows users to store large files—documents, music, photos and videos—online, with a free storage limit of 500MB. These files can be stored, shared with friends on the user’s messenger list, or made public. Microsoft is taking the file storage function from a PC-based offline environment to online, where competition comes in the form of US-based Box.net and Omnidrive Inc.