C|Net News has an interview with Bill Gates entitled Gates taking a seat in your den. One of his most interesting answers from my perspective was his take on Microsoft and blogging. The question and his answer are excerpted below
One of the big phenomena of the year has been Web logging. Has the growth surprised you?
Well, actually I think the biggest blogging statistic I know, which really blew me away, is that we've got close to a million people setting up blogs with the Spaces capability that's connected up to Messenger.
Now, with blogs, you always have to be careful. The decay rate of "I started and I stopped" or "I started and nobody visited" is fairly high, but as RSS (Really Simple Syndication) has gotten more sophisticated and value-added search capabilities have come along, this thing is really maturing.
And we've done some things in Japan and Korea that are unique blog experiments. The Spaces thing is a worldwide effort. It's a great phenomena, and it's sort of built on e-mail, and so we need to integrate more blogging capability into the e-mail world--and as we do the next generation of Outlook, you'll see that. We need to integrate it more into our SharePoint, which is our collaboration Office platform, and then, as I discussed, MSN is embracing it so that instead of thinking about, "OK, I go to one community to do photos, one community to do social networking, one community to do this," we say, "Hey," off of Messenger, which has got your buddy list already, then, "Let's let you do the photos and the social networking and everything--but starting in an integrated way off of Messenger."
I also have been quite impressed by our signup rate, it has totally exceeded expectations. As BillG says above, we at MSN have been thinking a lot about the problems facing the existing social software landscape and how we can create the best place on the Web for people to communicate, share their experiences and interact with friends, family and strangers who may one day become friends or family. You guys haven't seen anything yet.
It's going to be a fun ride.