Given its wild popularity with young Web surfers, News Corp.'s
Microsoft's Spaces allows its users to set up blogs, just like Google's
Significantly, Microsoft will give Spaces a social-networking feel by allowing users to set up "Friends modules" through which folks can hook up with one another. These aren't unlike the friends lists provided by social-networking sites like MySpace or Friendster.
In another interesting development, Windows Live Spaces will feature banner advertising to cover the costs of the otherwise free service, as opposed to the text ads Spaces has featured in the past. However, if users find the ads annoying, they can upgrade to a for-pay premium service, Hotmail Plus, which will allow them to turn off the ads in their personal Spaces.
That's an important detail to note amid the increasingly ad-driven Web. Advertising on MySpace -- including the intrusive, graphics rich Flash ads that particularly annoy me -- has become a big, big deal, given the site's tens of millions of daily users. Some advertisers have even set up "profiles" to collect "friends" for future marketing opportunities, including Wendy's
Microsoft's not the only one trying to get into the action, though. Yahoo!'s
Microsoft's smart to try to elevate its profile in social networking with this new and improved iteration of Windows Live Spaces. But for the time being, there may not be enough differentiation for Spaces to tackle the real heavyweights in the arena.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.