When Microsoft’s Joost-killer isn’t really Microsoft’s

When the blogs catch fire, there’s really no stopping, even when it’s burning the wrong house. I’ve made several mistakes in the past so this is not a cheap shot at other bloggers, but something like this clearly demonstrates how susceptible blogs can become to misinformation spreading like wild fire and how that problem can be compounded by the Chinese-whispers effect.


In this case, a video-on-demand software made by British developer, Skinkers, can be mislabeled as “Microsoft’s Joost-killer” when it’s not made by Microsoft at all. To be honest I was about to make the same mistake when Josh Phillips first introduced me to LiveStation, but it really doesn’t take much to investigate and find out in fact it’s made by the “Skinkers” company.

Understandably one might be easily misled by the “Live” branding, affiliation with Microsoft Research as a technology partner and the interview with Microsoft UK’s Steve Clayton as possible indication this was a Microsoft project.

Techmeme - LiveStationThe real surprise came when the streams of A-listers jumped on the story without really investigating the real story. May I be so bold as to suggest some of these bloggers fought so hard to get the story out sooner than doing any real facts-checking? I’m no blogosphere-expert but it’s not the first time this has happened. Mashable claims LiveStation is “a product from Microsoft Research”. Ars Technica states “Microsoft announces Joost killer”. HipMojo added a new product to Microsoft’s Live offering. The Indie Tribune declares war against Joost on behalf of Microsoft. Among a handful of others and it’s still spreading.

On the bright side, there’s not much harm done here. Just a whole lot of positive press on a hopeful piece of software which shows off Silverlight in a very useful manner and the capabilities of P2P networks. However, the Microsoft labeling may have signaled the ever-so-attentive Microsoft-basher to induce even more confusion. Nevertheless, the LiveStations team is doing a good job of corrections by promptly commenting on each of the top stories – a communications strategy the former Windows Ultimate team should consider.

Windows LivePerhaps this should serve as a warning sign to any company who’s thinking about naming their applications with anything “Live”. Unless you’re Microsoft, in which case you should probably avoid that even more so.

19 insightful thoughts

  1. Hey there

    in the post (http://www.watchmojo.com/web/blog/?p=1819), we clearly explain the relationship. the headline says “MSFT’s Live Ambition,” it’s a play on words (live streaming, and yes, live.com) but we are pretty clear that it’s something that came from skinker and even add “to clarify, it’s not in fact MSFT…)”

    but, you are right that when bloggers start to pile on the posts, an inaccuracy tends to mushroom quickly.


  2. There’s no question that Microsoft aquires technology by partnering or purchasing other companies. While Skinkers is indeed the company behind this technology, it’s incorrect to state that Microsoft has not work closely on this project.

    As Jari Worsley, Senior Product Manager at Skinkers writes in the LiveStation FAQ:


    QUESTION 1: What is LiveStation?

    ANSWER 1: LiveStation is the next generation of peer-to-peer technology co-developed by Skinkers and Microsoft Research to address the market demand for a secure, robust and scalable solution to the growing problem of offering live TV over the Internet to large numbers of viewers in a cost-effective and viable way.

    QUESTION 2: Who is behind LiveStation?

    ANSWER 2: Skinkers (http://www.skinkers.com) and Microsoft Research have worked very closely on this project for quite a long time.

    Blake Handler
    Microsoft MVP

  3. Thanks for investigating ! I also thaught, when this is a MS Product why isn’t there a reference to MS? I really hope MS will make something too, this would be amazing.

  4. It seems only people deeply entrenched in Microsoft culture could make this mistake, which of course also includes the anti-Microsoft crowd. They pass it on to others as fact which in turn spreads the misinformation. I use quite a few Microsoft products but I don’t have that automatic “Live” association that some people have when viewing the world through MS-tinted glasses. Then again I feel the only one true “Live” is XBox Live, while all the other Live-services are poor attempts to capitalize on the one real “cool” brand they have.

    This does highlight one of the issues with people getting their news from bloggers rather than real news outlets. Bloggers are like an exhaust without a catalytic converter, things rarely get filtered or checked thus creating a lot of polluted information.

  5. You should have read my blog, those Silicon Valley guys don’t pay much attention to what goes on outside of their orbit

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  8. In the article, I stated clearly that “Microsoft Research in association with Skinkers” , made LiveStation.

    “Don’t mess with The Indie.”

  9. @JuventusCadillac: You’re wrong on both counts. It’s Skinkers in association with Microsoft Research, not the other way around. And no one’s taking on Joost.

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