SEATTLE — Microsoft Corp. is giving up on its own blog network and, in a new partnership, will start sending new Windows Live users to a competing platform instead.
Microsoft said Monday that people who sign up for a Windows Live account – necessary to use the free Hotmail e-mail system, the Xbox Live site and other services – can get a free blog from WordPress.com.
They'll no longer be given a "space" on Microsoft's own blogging system, Windows Live Spaces.
Current Windows Live Spaces bloggers can use the existing system until the end of the year. If they want to update their blog after that, they have until March 2011 to switch to WordPress. They can also download the content from their existing blog to their PCs.
Microsoft said it will make sure existing text, photos, videos, comments and links transfer over to the new blog.
Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft added MSN Spaces, later renamed Windows Live Spaces, to its array of free online services in 2004. For several years, the software maker seemed committed to the idea of building its own version of competitors' products, from online photo management and event invitation to blogging and social-networking software.
Microsoft has since shifted its strategy, providing tools and services that mesh better with competitors' programs. For example, people can use the Windows Live Photo Gallery program to publish pictures to Yahoo Inc.'s Flickr site, or connect feeds from social networks Facebook and LinkedIn with Messenger accounts and Windows Live profile pages.
In a blog post, Microsoft said giving its customers access to WordPress.com was a better move than continuing to invest in its own service. That may be because Windows Live Spaces gets a fraction of the traffic its competitors do, at least in the U.S.
Microsoft says Windows Live Spaces has 30 million "active" users, or people who logged in within the last month.
In the U.S., Windows Live Spaces was visited by about 2.3 million people in August, according to research group comScore Inc. Google Inc.'s Blogger drew 56.9 million people, WordPress.com attracted 26.1 million people and sites from Six Apart, which operates the Typepad and Moveable Type blog platforms, attracted 19.3 million unique visitors.
Microsoft's blog post on the switch: