Windows Live wants to build Flickr competitor

Windows Live vs. FlickrIt’s hard not to have seen this coming, but I have to wonder whether or not the world needs another Flickr or YouTube.

In a Microsoft job advertisement posted yesterday for a program manager position, the description clearly outlines Microsoft’s strategy to build a photo and video sharing website.

Come make Windows Live the best place to share your digital memories! Heard of Flickr? YouTube? How about. Mac? This role will work across the new Windows Live division with teams like Spaces, SkyDrive, Messenger and Hotmail to construct a winning strategy for Microsoft in photo and video sharing. This role involves leading the team to design the strategy then build and implement a winning solution that will be loved by millions of customers. This feature team is building a next-generation photo and video sharing service that will compete with flickr, smugmug and other photo web solutions today. This is a “v1” opportunity.

This role requires a strong PM with several product cycles of consumer experience. Successful candidates will have strong strategic thinking, outstanding cross team leadership and a proven track record of shipping. The right candidate for this position has an entrepreneurial streak – and functions well as part of a team. The ideal candidate has experience shipping consumer web solutions.

The Digital Memories Experience team (DMX) is helping people make deeper connections with those they care about. We want to give you the ability to effortlessly share your memories, be that a simple slideshow of photos and videos (e.g. evolution of the Vista Slideshow or of Photo Story), a carefully authored experienced (evolution of Movie Maker), or a fully interactive cinematic multimedia experience (a narrated 3D path through a Photosynth that you can control). And we want to make it easy and fun to enjoy your photos and videos, whether that is on the PC in your office, the Media Center in your living room, the XBox in your entertainment center, or on your mobile device when you are out and about. DMX is a part of the Windows Live Experience division (WLX/LEX), which also includes Mail, Hotmail, Messenger, SkyDrive, Spaces, Writer, Calendar, and Family Safety. To achieve our vision for digital memories we work with many other teams including: Core User Experience, Find & Organize, Graphics (Windows Imaging Codecs – WIC – and DirectX) in WEX, MCE, Expression, SmartFlow, and Xbox.

I hope this isn’t some sort of knee-jerk reaction like it was with MSN Soapbox, rather than a serious attempt to set a foothold in the photo sharing market. Whilst I love using Flickr and admire their service, there are still times I wish I didn’t have to pay $25 a year.

But in the mean time, it’s great the DMX team can put aside their differences and build Flickr integration into Live Photo Gallery.

42 insightful thoughts

  1. Finally! We might see a viable Flickr alternative. I enjoyed my Flickr services but I noticed the lack of response from the Live team. The photo management feature in Live Spaces is inferior and inflexible. Not extensible, so 90s.

    Looking forward to v1 or even the beta of this new project. It’s always good to have choices.

  2. Yes it’s good to have choices but Flickr is a really good service and almost all talented photographers use Flickr. So the new Live service must be better to animate the users so that they will switch over.

  3. I have been a big fan of Windows Live and enjoy following the latest news but, I am starting to lose a little faith in it all. Their online services are okay but just do not seem to have what it takes. Spaces is nice but for some reason it just doesnt have the polish or the U.S. marketbase I would have hoped for. Soapbox is not bad but again it does not seem to be making large inroads. I foresee this service sitting next to their other second rate services. Hopefully I am wrong though.

  4. There is only one phrase here that makes this a serious threat to Flickr and other photo sharing sites — “a fully interactive cinematic multimedia experience (a narrated 3D path through a Photosynth that you can control).”

    A public photosynth is the most exciting news to hear.

  5. Step 1, offer a better alternative.

    Step 2 remove all consequences of using this alternative.

    If I want to find a video online, Youtube is where I go to find it. Similarly for photos, one would go to Flickr. Offer a front-end that is service neutral. Search for videos on their video site, and get returns from every service. Search for photos, get returns from every service. But offer the better service. If it’s easier, nicer, all around better to use a MS front-end to search Youtube or Flickr than it is to use Youtube or Flickr themselves, then even Youtube or Flickr users will use it. When they see Soapbox or whatever photo service MS comes out with is better than theirs then they’ll start using that service.

    If I want to FIND a video, I won’t use Soapbox because I imagine it’s userbase to be small and if it’s there to find, I’ll find it on YouTube. If I want people to SEE my video, I won’t use Soapbox because I imagine it’s userbase is small and if people want to see it, they’ll see it on YouTube. This is why to beat them they need a service neutral front-end to coopt their popularity. And I’m not talking their current video and image search engine, something more.

  6. Yay! I’ve been waiting for the Live team to do something. I love Flickr too, but if Windows Live can really do something to one-up Flickr, I might consider. I don’t like Flickr’s ridiculous $25 a year pro account. And it would be nice to have some real serious competition.

    @RC: I agree. YouTube has the large amount of content (but I think the site’s awful), but in many ways, Soapbox is a more better site, but with less content. I wish Soapbox would have done something better.

    @David: I so agree. I wouldn’t pay the pro account, and the limit is kind of annoying.

  7. “I hope this isn’t some sort of knee-jerk reaction”

    Well, exactly what has Microsoft done in the past 25 years that WASN’T a knee-jerk reaction? They used to be great fast-followers, but I’m not so sure anymore.

    With the zillion photo/video sites already out there, it’s hard to see why Microsoft wouldn’t just buy one of those. Building one is bound to take longer.

    “I have been a big fan of Windows Live and enjoy following the latest news but, I am starting to lose a little faith in it all. Their online services are okay but just do not seem to have what it takes.”

    I’ve used MSN/Live Spaces for my personal blog since spring 2005, and it seems like it’s taken forever for them to get the Live stuff rolled out. It’s been very beta-like at least for non-IE browsers.

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