In the if-you-can't-beat-'em category, Microsoft (MSFT) has announced that WordPress, the massively popular blogging software produced by Automatic Software, would become the default blogging platform for users of Microsoft Live, the Redmond giant's online productivity suite and email offering. With the deal, announced on Sept. 27, Microsoft effectively tossed over the side its homegrown blogging platform, LiveSpaces.
This the second notable convergence between WordPress and Microsoft. Earlier, WordPress founder and Automattic Software CEO Matt Mullenweg (pictured) announced that his company would be an early adopter of Microsoft's Azure CloudComputing platform, an area where Google (GOOG), Microsoft and Amazon (AMZN) are all competing aggressively for corporate customers seeking to ditch physical hardware and move into a flexible, entirely virtual computing environment.
"WordPress powers over 8.5% of the web, is used on over 26 million sites, and WordPress.com is seen by over 250 million people every month," Microsoft said on a company blog post. "So rather than having Windows Live invest in a competing blogging service, we decided the best thing we could do for our customers was to give them a great blogging solution through WordPress.com."
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The deal's logic makes sense on multiple levels. WordPress will certainly benefit from becoming the default platform for the 30 million existing Microsoft Live blogs. For starters, WordPress has a diverse set of plug-ins and modules that make it easy to install everything from discussion forums to e-commerce shopping carts on WordPress blogs. This allows them to become feature-rich online stores, communities and other types of purpose-driven sites that previously were the domain of more expensive and more complicated content management systems.
WordPress has also cemented its position as a leader in the content management market with the recent rollout of a new version of its multiuser blogging platform, which essentially breaks free from the three-column, articles-down-the-page blogging format and enables WordPress to become far more flexible both in terms of content presentation and editorial management.
Microsoft may be planning to use this WordPress connection to drive more users to its Microsoft Live online software suite, an area where it and Google are going head to head. Google has tightly integrated blogging tool Blogger and online page-creation tool Sites into its Google Apps online productivity and email suite.
Should Microsoft choose to do the same with WordPress and provide easy-to-use productivity software that can create, edit, post or manage WordPress blogs, then Automattic and Microsoft could prove to have a powerful synergistic relationship. Both Microsoft and Google have extremely strong offerings in this area, so any leg up would be a huge win.