We have heard that the launch of the Windows
Marketplace is a key part of Microsoft's strategy to grow and support the
"Windows Ecosystem." Can you tell us more about the idea of "Windows
Ecosystem", and why the Windows Marketplace is a cornerstone of that
Well, the “Windows Ecosystem” is an
interactive community of hardware vendors, software developers, service
providers, retailers, customers and experts who use Windows as the PC
Microsoft has always realized
how vitally important the entire community has been to the future success
and satisfaction of Windows users. We created Windows Marketplace to bring
together products and buyers and provide a community to help users become
more knowledgeable about finding, trying and buying Windows-based
products. The Windows Marketplace also empowers the actual buyers to
independently rate, review, recommend, and offer opinions on products.
How many products comprise this ecosystem?
Windows Marketplace features 93,000 products designed
and created by over 2,000 partners. It also features 20,000 downloads --
5,000 of which are available at no charge -- in the download library.
So how is Windows Marketplace different than the
Microsoft Catalog or other efforts to aggregate Windows-related technology?
Windows Catalog is a listing of all
Microsoft products that have earned the Designed for Windows while Windows
Marketplace is a more-inclusive site and interactive community that is
dedicated to offering customers a broad selection of software and hardware
for their Windows PC. Windows Marketplace is not replacing Windows Catalog
which will continue to exist.
What was the first time Microsoft recognized a need for
It was really interesting. We started
hearing from customers and partners with similar needs—a single resource
to find each other. Customers needed help taking the confusion out of
making technology purchases for their PCs, and at the same time, partners
and the shareware community needed a way to reach customers since there
aren't many vendors willing to carry or promote products that have a
relatively narrow potential target market. With Windows Marketplace’s “Try
before you Buy” capabilities, it helps toreduce the fear of delivering and buying software for users.
Of course this benefits our partners and customers.
How is Microsoft going to get the word out about the
Windows Marketplace? How will you avoid the prejudgment that this is just
another marketing ploy? How is value provided to customers through the new
We are investing in Windows Marketplace for the long
term with a variety of efforts. First, we’re launching an outreach
community partnership program with major tech sites. Secondly, we’re
integrating Windows Marketplace throughout Microsoft.com in addition to
making it accessible within the start menu of the Windows XP desktop. We
also have additional vendor outreach programs to the shareware and
hardware community which will be managed independently by our community
How will you avoid the prejudgment that this is just
another marketing ploy? How is value provided to customers through the new
Marketplace is not a profit generating effort for Microsoft, and the
initial reaction from customers and partners has been extremely
positive. In addition to search capabilities that enable customers to
browse products in more than 500 categories, customers can search by
company, the most popular products or they can search for any product with
a single click. The site also enables customers to connect with and be a
part of the Windows community and provides them with a wealth of advice on
products from other Windows users in the form of user-generated product
reviews and ratings. Additionally, it gives them the opportunity to post
their own reviews, discuss products and even ask questions of other people
like them in a moderated setting, providing them with the information they
need to make informed purchasing decisions. We hope the Windows community
will find these features tremendously useful.
Are vendors concerned that Windows Marketplace is
just another place to promote Microsoft products over vendor products?
I don’t think so at all. The Windows
Marketplace is not a showcase to exclusively feature, expose or promote
Microsoft products, but rather, products that work with Windows. In fact,
only 2.8% of the 93,000 products on Windows Marketplace come from
Microsoft. This is clearly a site that helps every ISV and HSV out there.
As the program grows and with the help of the community, we hope we’ll get
the Windows Marketplace message out through influential sites like Neowin
and other community sites that we are really trying to help them for the
ultimate benefit of everyone using Windows.
What is the strategy to assure there is an even
playing field for the many companies that the Windows Marketplace will
expose their products equally along with their competition?
We're basing our ratings and reviews on what
customers think. As time goes on, and more and more users post reviews
about products they buy and use, you'll see a greater emphasis on
user-contributed reviews and interactive ratings that will affect the
rankings of products when users search for a particular category. We are
letting the community decide what people should download and buy based on
their experience and share that with their peers. We made a decision not
to include published reviews from magazines and sites for this very
reason. The Windows Marketplace is sort of a commercial-free zone when it
comes to reviews and rating of products.
As CNET was selected to provide the
downloadable software content and catalog on Windows Marketplace, is this
just another download.com affiliate site?
It’s much, much more. We had a goal of launching
Windows Marketplace close to the release of SP2 and time-to-market
required us to see which third parties had a viable content delivery
vehicle and catalog that could fit into our requirements. CNET's
Download.com had an extensive catalog, as well as a viable shopping engine
that our MSN team was very familiar with, and that’s the same team that
built the engine behind the Windows Marketplace. In future versions, we
plan to add features such as the ability to search for local services such
as consulting and vertical applications, which is not currently available
on other sites.
Is Microsoft using the MSN Search platform on
the goal. We’re still working on the schedule for when we’ll be able to
incorporate MSN Search into Windows Marketplace.
Were there key features that never made it into the
final Windows Marketplace.com launch?
We’re very pleased with the current version of
Windows Marketplace and plan to make the site more robust over time by
building more functionality and options based on customer feedback.
For example, we’d like to more
closely integrate the community features in subsequent versions. Our
current discussion boards are not fully integrated throughout Windows
Marketplace, but we hope to update this and introduce chat features as
soon as possible.
We did not incorporate every
category with version 1.0 of Windows Marketplace. For example, we're
didn’t include books and services. In the next version, we want to make
sure to include Windows ISP hosting services as well as a section for the
thousands of books related to Windows technologies and products.
What are some of the community features of the
We want to make the site extremely easy for buyers to
find, try, evaluate and buy products. I think two of the most important
community aspects are the ability for visitors to rate and review
products. We discovered that consumers on average go to more than 20
different sources to make their technology purchase decisions, largely
because most consumers find shopping for technology confusing and
overwhelming. With Windows Marketplace we dedicated ourselves to making
the shopping and evaluation process simpler for Windows customers. We had
a great opportunity to start from scratch and design a browsing system
that matched more intuitively how customers think.
In a virtual community the value
of customers’ opinions is equally important. It overcomes the hype of
advertising and users will often honestly tell you what they think about
As users continue to add new
reviews and ratings, the site will become more robust giving consumers a
better picture of the products listed. In addition, we’re providing
moderated message boards where customers who have product related
questions can post their questions and get responses from other
knowledgeable users and experts in an independent exchange of information
very much like a user group community.
Does Microsoft make revenue from Windows
No, Windows Marketplace is
not a profit generating effort for Microsoft. Our primary goal is
for Microsoft to offer vendors each and greater visibility and generate
revenue from selling their products that work with Windows. It's a great
promotional and advertising venue for every vendor who makes Windows
related products. Our goal for the Windows Marketplace is to grow the
entire ecosystem. We are providing a rich opportunity for partners and
merchants to display their offerings to the millions of Windows
How many people are on the Windows Marketplace team?
How long was the website in development before it was released? What kind of
success has there been since its release?
The Windows Marketplace team consists of several
groups within the Windows and MSN organizations,. There are also other
groups at Microsoft who are part of the operational team, development team
and editorial team. However, the Windows Marketplace management team is
made up of a half dozen individuals from the Windows Client Product
Marketing Group. We’ve seen some great success since launch and, although
I cannot share exact traffic and conversion numbers, there is a healthy
stream (in the millions) of people visiting the site on a monthly basis.
Moreover, we have heard from many partners, both large and small, that are
very excited about this new channel for them to promote their products.
Do you have anything to add?