Thoughts on Orkut

Everyone else is talking about Orkut so I figured I’d add my two cents. I played with it a bit this morning. The interface is ok, but I’m surprised they didn’t go for more of a ‘Google-like’ look. I think that would have served them better. I was very surprised to see them using Microsoft ASP. I’m not terribly familiar with Microsoft’s web hosting solutions, so I won’t comment on the technical merrits. But it’s really surprising that Google would be willing to put up with the cost of a Microsoft based service. Imagine all the licenses needed as the service scales up. Google believes in throwing tons of small servers at a problem; imagine if each required a paid copy of Windows.
As of this evening, it looks like they’ve taken the service down due to scaling problems. I did notice a few slow page loads this morning. I don’t wish scaling problems on anyone. Success is good, but not being able to handle the traffic is an experience you never want to have to go through a second time. A database/registration driven system, like Orkut or Bloglines, is a very different animal to architect than a search service like Google. Fun to do, but very challenging.