Thoughts on Microsoft’s Webapps at Live.com

Seeing Paul’s post on Microsoft’s live.com webapp offerings prompted me to pen some quick thoughts on something related to this that I came across a bit ago.

I read about the new live.com webapps and figured I’d give them a try (hear something about it on a blog or podcast or something). Going to get.live.com presents me with a nice overview and a big ‘get’ button. This in turn sends me over to a page where I can select one or all of the apps and options. Very cool, but with one, teeny glaring oversight.

I have no idea what they do.

Some are obvious, messanger, toolbar, and the “take over my computer with microsoft options” selections for the default search, homepage and so on.

However, the options for mail, photo gallery, writer and the onecare family center don’t give me any indication of what they are. Will they install something on my system? Convert all my document options to open in Writer (which I thought was a web based app)? Will mail install a new mail client on my system or will it just set up my system to point all mailto: links open in the live.com webmail page?

I was wanting to compare Microsoft’s offerings to those from Google. I was under the impression that Writer was like Google documents, Mail was like GMail (and if you go to mail.live.com it is….), and photo gallery was something like Google’s Picasa.

With just the option to download a single .exe file though…. scary. Not to say I don’t trust Microsoft of course, but lets be honest…. I don’t trust Microsoft 🙂 Hey, if I was in their position I’d use this to fill up the users computer with all my own software and options, and eclipse whatever google offerings are there.

That said, it’s true that Google also provides a download pack, but last time I looked at it, it seemed fairly obvious what it did, and the programs were all fairly separate. Antivirus, toolbar, etc. Yes, some of them are a bit ambiguous as to what they do, but less so (to me) than Microsoft’s offering. It might be familiarity though.

Deciding to take a leap for journalistic integrity (hehehe), I actually downloaded and clicked the Windows Live installer thingy. It took a long time to get itself going, but when it finally did appeared to not give me any options, and just had a progress bar (checking for installed applications) and text that made it look like it was just going to install whatever it was going to install regardless of if I’d changed my mind.

There is a cancel button, but that didn’t work. It asked if I really wanted to cancel, then continued downloading and installing, and even after I hit the ‘close’ button again, it still left a WLSomethingSvc.exe in the process list.

Not nice 🙁 Why the change from a standard installer with a bit of an explanation of what it’ll do, where it’ll install things, and give you the chance to cancel if you decide you don’t like what it’s doing.

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