Peek at Microsoft’s Office Live

We’re curious about Microsoft’s “Ads Everywhere” (named that by us, not by them) initiative, which includes Windows Live, Windows Live Expo, Xbox Live and Office Live. So much so that we’ve taken a peek at the interface for the small-business-focused Office Live tool (currently in Beta), which includes domain registration, e-mail address administration, Web page creation and Web traffic tracking. Ads will be displayed not on users’ Web pages but on the interfaces they use to create pages and do other internal tasks. So far, Sprint appears to have bought in, judging by the above screenshot.

A couple of observations:

  1. The small business audience is undeniably attractive but Yahoo! has had similar functionality (not as modern, admittedly, and not free) for years.
  2. So far only display ads are appearing, but I’d think MSN adCenter text ads would eventually be displayed. This is assuming, of course, that a contextual strategy is underway, as expected.
  3. There’s still that lingering question of how likely a task-focused person (building Web pages or checking Web traffic) is to interact with an ad. Then again, maybe this is just a good branding opportunity.
  4. Having built-in traffic monitoring functionality is a no-brainer, especially because it keeps people obsessively coming back.

How long until Google’s Page Creator morphs into something more similar?

P.S. Office Live only works with IE.

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