back to article Hey everybody! Microsoft's discovered social networking

Warren Buffett, the world's most famous investor, may have diluted his usual hostility to hi-tech stocks by betting more than $10 billion in IBM, but he remains averse to social networking companies (as well as to Apple) because he thinks it is "extremely difficult" to determine their value and understand their future plan. …


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  1. Stuart Castle

    I think Warren is right.

    From what I have seen, people are assuming that because facebook has made a lot of money, that any social network could.

    Before I carry on, I'll admit, I do use facebook, But, I have no particular allegiance to it. If another social network comes along that fits in with what I want better than facebook, I'll happily use it.

    Most social networks have two sources of income. Neither are guaranteed.

    1) Advertising. This is (obviously) tied to the number of visitors a site gets. The problem is that social networks are a very faddy thing. A social networking site can be the most popular site on the web, but it's always possible that another will come along, and the original will fall out of favour. Look at Bebo. Look at MySpace, both of which have been pretty much killed by Facebook. Fewer visitors means lower income.

    2) Data mining. No social network admits to doing this (after all, any that did would look like they are spying on their users, which isn't a good thing for any company), but I'd be surprised if they didn't sell on some of the information they gain from their users. This is potentially a good source of income, at the moment. However, it does seem as though various governments are looking at the legality of this. They could, at any time, decide to ban it.

    1. alwarming

      (3) Being a platform and sharing income with apps. After advertising that's the next highest contributor for facebook. (FB revenue will be close to half a billion from zynga itself in 2011).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How does facebook make its money?

      Never quite understood this.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        1. Step one

        2. Step two

        3. ????

        4. PROFIT!!!

  2. hitmouse


    Remember The Microsoft Network 15 years ago, launched with Windows 95? That had social networking features and a lot of other cool things that others did since (some worse, some better). But a lot of babies went out with the bathwater when MSN went away.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Who said MSN went away ?

      When you want to do more on any Microsoft (based) network such as TechNet, MSDN or MSN you're better of getting a 'Windows Live ID'. This gives you access to MSN, Hotmail, Skydrive but can also be used to maintain accounts on the TechNet forums or Microsoft Answers.

      Microsoft already refers to Windows Live as a social network, and I think the title about covers it. You have a profile, you can add friends, you can apply status updates which can be shared with your friends. And so on....

      Even helps you keep your settings on and Bing ;-)

      1. hitmouse

        it's not the same

        The original Microsoft Network has undergone almost as many reincarnations as an elderly time lord. The features in the 1995 version were much more like a closed community, before moving on to being a portal (wrote "time portal" by accident) and then the distributed connected suite of apps you see now.

  3. Fintan

    Does someone hate microsoft.... Yes, i think its the author!

    Microsoft bashing where its due, but this isnt that time. Microsoft have Facebook heavily integrated into its Mobile Platform strategy.

    Microsoft allow multiple social networking platforms to be added to your life account to give a one stop shop for all your online socalizing needs.

    Microsoft were the company to pay 240 million dollars for a 1.6% stake in the company, giving it much of its current speculative value.

    Now, how are microsoft late to the scene? So they didnt release their own flop like google+. Shrewd move IMO.

    The Register "journalists" are becomming so biased im supprised if there is not a reg author on the payroll of each of the big companies such as MS, Apple, Samsung, Oracle etc etc, each spinning their own story to make their company look good, or others look bad.

    Time to find an actual news site me thinks, instead of fox news for techies, which is what register has become.

    1. Drewc (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Does someone hate microsoft.... Yes, i think its the author!

      Reg authors on vendor payrolls ... And they all vote Republican too. Especially the Brits.

      What planet are you on?

    2. Anonymous Coward


      I've become a rather fervent user of Microsoft products and quite frankly I don't see the hate.

      I'm not going to address your theories, they're a bit overboard for me, but all the author practically says is that while others invest heavily in social media (think Google+) MS has now seemingly made some small step into that direction as well with that new possible upcoming website. Note that the author doesn't stand alone on this; there are more people speculating in that direction.

      I'll grant you this; the editor seems misinformed. Either that or he chose to ignore certain elements. But if you read past the title of the story alone you'll notice that he author didn't try to ridicule or bad mouth Microsoft in any way.

  4. SiFry


    Just what we all need, another social network.

  5. ysth

    "extremely difficult to understand their plan"

    While Buffett seems to understand IBM's plan very continue to convince companies to voluntarily submit to vendor lock in. That's something that's worked very well the last 20, 30, 40 years. But it's an idea whose time has passed. Pity Buffett doesn't get that.

  6. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Facebook untouchable?

    I agree. I won't go near it, and aggressively block all it's attempts to get at me via other websites, including one technical one that I *used* to be a regular subscriber to until they only allowed you to log on via facebook.

  7. Jason Togneri

    Key differentiator?

    "This mirrors the key differentiator that Google has claimed for its own social network over Facebook – the ability to categorize friends in 'circles' and share different items with each group."

    You can already do that on Facebook (you can order your friends into groups, and post items specifically to - or specifically blocked from - any group, combination of groups, or combination of groups and individuals.

    I've tried to use G+ (my employer uses Google Apps, Gmail, Google Code, etc, and they're replacing their intranet with G+) but it's nonintuitive and silly. I see where they're coming from and all, but I couldn't even transfer my contacts from Gmail - which is where the Official Company Address Book resides - and had to do the old export to CSV, import to G+ dance. I work in a high-tech firm, but everyone else seems just as stumped.

    If I wasn't forced into it by my employer, I'd just give the whole thing a miss, to be honest. A good old-fashioned BBS or even a forum like PHPBB would do me just grand for an internal messageboard. G+ is just too sloppy and unintuitive.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    I think the author ignores some facts...

    For starters; MS already has its own social network, its called 'Windows Live', I actually enjoy using it through Live Messenger and my Hotmail account (and SkyDrive, virtual Office apps, etc.), see Obviously this also gives me access to stuff like TechNet and such, but that's a whole different ballgame.

    Still, the confusion is understandable: just looking at the website will give you a bad impression. After all; it doesn't advertise itself as a social network, but only as a regular registration which gives you access to (I quote:) "Hotmail, Messenger, Xbox Live and other Microsoft services". I guess that's also the part I like, the network is somewhat "smaller" while still providing everything you'd expect. I can upload stuff (pictures, documents, audio), I can share stuff with others (myself, (some) friends or the whole world), I can post updates to what I'm doing, my friends can look at these updates and comment on them. Etc..

    Second aspect to consider is that the "one ring to rule them all" idea wouldn't be a bad idea I suppose, but this is also not something new to Microsoft either.

    For example; I've recently starting using MS Outlook 2010 for my e-mail and one of its specific features is the "Outlook Social Connector plugin". This does a quick check on any open e-mail message and retrieves as much related information as it can find. Locally as well as online (if I let it). This software has ties into, facebook, linkedln, and so on.

    So basically I receive an e-mail, can call up the "social connector" window and get lots of relevant info. From a list of previous e-mails (which is sometimes /extremely/ useful) to possible links to any social media. If I'm logged onto certain social media myself I can immediately see any of his public information if that's available.

    So the title of the post is misleading, its not as if Microsoft has "suddenly" discovered social media. They've been a player for quite some time now.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Hey everybody! Microsoft's discovered social networking"

    Yep, always 100 steps behind everyone else (especially when it comes to security ;)

  10. Stephen Channell

    Warren is right.. unlike the author of this article

    Microsoft has been in “Social Networking” since it setup its Microsoft forum on CompuServe 20+ years ago, but was as wrong-footed by Facebook as Zac was.. Truth is Facebook is successful because virtual nobody knows what its value proposition really is.. but has a limited time to monetize it.

    Schools, Colleges, Universities, Companies, Clubs, and all types of networks are setting up their own alumni/community sites because the barrier to entry is getting lower and lower (both in software & hosting), evolution is dissolving the value of past investment, but the value of trust and identity is constant.

    Facebook is too successful not to get attention from NSA/CIA in America, and its database is too valuable not to get the attention of Marketing.. if they don’t sell it, somebody will steal it.. either way the Ginie will get out and there will be a backlash.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Warren Buffet

    Buffet famously said similar about the dotcom boom, and people said he was old and past it.

    He's only got richer since then.

    He is a true investor rather than speculator, he looks at the money flow and prefers companies with strong customer inertia - where the nature of the business makes it harder for customers to move somewhere else, or for someone else to set up, undercut and disrupt your business.

    He's a smart guy because he is looking at the businesses and buys ones he understands, and not just ones that are fads or trendy.

    1. alwarming

      post dotcom bust

      Yeah, after dotcom bust, I stopped booking flights & hotels on internet. Stopped looking for deals on amazon or ebay. Stopped using internet based maps. In fact I don't use google search at all... I have a collection of yellow pages books from around the world and I can pretty much find anything in the world. I see all new movies in theaters now or wait for cable.

      From tomorrow I will stop using email as well.. its too "internetly".



      PS: Understanding the sentiment behind Buffet's statements is more important than following them like word of god.

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