We don't believe in coincidences and here's a troubling one; four hours after Google announced Buzz, Microsoft's Jeff Kunins, Group Program Manager (GPM) for social networking across Windows Live, released an interesting blog post (here).
In it, it gives a short history of Windows Live Messenger formerly known as MSN Messenger, and if you read between the lines, you will find out that Microsoft appears to have Buzz in its line of sight - the word social network (or networking) is mentioned 11 times in the article.
Microsoft had a similar post earlier this year for Hotmail (here). But the former one provides with significantly more details including some very interesting figures.
There's a graph of monthly active users which shows that by the end of 2008 (to early 2009), the number of active users worldwide had surpassed 330 millions. Microsoft reckons that 300 million people in 76 countries and using 48 languages use Windows Live Messenger.
Altogether they clock 163 billion minutes every month or roughly one in every 11 minutes spent by the hundreds of millions of internet users.
What's more 40 percent of users, that's more than 130 million of them, sign in every single day and exchange more than 1.5 billion conversations and 9 billion messages. During peak time, more than 40 million people sign in at the same time.
Microsoft also directly hint at Google's current inability to be a cross platform player. Windows Live has partnerships with 74 sites including the likes of Myspace, Facebook, Twitter and Digg.. That sure looked like a war cry, a combat call and a way to build up momentum for **something**.
To put things in perspective, the biggest number of concurrent Skype users signing in simultaneously reached 22 million with a total number of user accounts reaching 521 million, roughly growing at the rate of 40 million a quarter. Which mean that Skype could easily become the biggest social network if it wanted to.