Microsoft Live – Why I don’t use it

Microsoft has been busy doing all kinds of neat stuff with their Live services. Mostly Live has always been an all-around disappointment. But recently, they’ve gotten competitive with Google Docs. I suppose that’s because Google Docs is a very serious threat to the MS Office empire.

The new SkyDrive and Online Office 2010 stuff is fantastic. In many respects it kicks Google Docs in the teeth. Google may be the king of the cloud, but Microsoft does pretty UI’s second only to Apple, while Google’s UIs tend to suck-balls. Normally Google’s minimalist approach works well, but not with stuff like this.

So it is possible that Microsoft could eat Google’s face with Live if they wanted to.

But they aren’t eating Google’s face. Why? Well, because no one wants to use it… and probably for the same reasons I don’t use Live myself. It basically boils down to just two problems:

  1. The Advertising. Look, I know Microsoft wants to make ad revenue. That’s what Google’s doing after all, and it’s working. But come on! Live uses an absurd amount of screen space for their ads. The ads are so in-your-face that you can’t help but want to vomit every time you open the site.
  2. The advertising. Did I mention how distracting and annoying the advertising was? The entire Live setup is designed to make you switch from one page to another every time you try to do anything (unlike Google, which lets you do a lot from one intuitive page). This is transparently a gimmick to let them show you a new ad on each page… not because it makes any sense from a user interface perspective.

It’s sad really… Microsoft has some really awesome cloud services, and they always have. But between their tarnished reputation, failure to market their products, and then finding some super annoying way to shoot themselves in the face, it just seems that no one really cares about Live. Unless someone over at MS gets a clue soon, I doubt they ever will either.


I expect that with slow adoption, Microsoft may do what they’ve been done with everything else that they’ve had trouble selling recently… find some way to tie it to X-Box Live, which is about the only Live related service anyone has ever cared about. Maybe when they start giving out achievements and unlocks when you level up your spreadsheet, then someone might be entertained enough to look past the rest of the crap.

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