Microsoft Search Brand
First Dare and now Greg comment on MSN Search / Live Search. I agree with both of them, but I've also seen ample evidence that Microsoft's search still isn't as 'good' as Google. I do agree that Microsoft has a 'branding' problem. What is MSN? What is Live? Why do products keep changing names? Is Office XP newer or older than Office 2003? Lack of consistency trades off short-term hype for long term customer confusion.
This reminds me of a few years back when there was a ".Net" release of various products. These products had nothing to do with the .Net Frameworks, nor Visual Studio .Net, so it was rather confusing. What did the ".Net" in the product title mean?
Overall, I think these are symptoms of one of Microsoft's bigger problems. Marketing directs the product direction too much. This is a natural fallout of the growth of the company and the distancing of the development teams from the customer. The result of that distance is that the only people dealing with the customer is product support (which is often wildly undervalued at MS) and Marketing. In the end, you get strategy designed around buzzwords, rather than real content. You end up with ads with ridiculous dinosaurs in them.