Windows Live Making Big Social Leap

    November 13, 2008

A new version of Windows Live is arriving, and a heavy emphasis has been put on all things social.  Certain aspects of the Microsoft property now look reminiscent of Facebook and MySpace, and agreements have been reached with some of the top names in Web 2.0.

On the whole, the overhaul’s quite impressive.  The layout encourages people to create (and/or flesh out) user profiles, and then offers the sort of Friend Feed-style updates to which we’ve become accustomed.  Profiles will also be useful when it comes to tagging and sorting photos, or creating groups.

Windows Live Screen
 New Windows Live Homepage

As for other matters of utility, the email, messaging, and photo-sharing sections of the site all look to be within a few clicks of each other.  Windows Live seems to have a clean design, and yet customization options can make it quite colorful.

Windows Live Screen1
 Updated Windows Live Toolbar

Then there are the partnerships to consider.  Flickr, LinkedIn, Pandora, Photobucket, Twitter, WordPress, and Yelp have all been named as collaborators, while users’ address books can be pulled from places like Facebook, Hi5, and Bebo.  Microsoft’s made a real effort to turn Windows Live into a central hub.

Windows Live Screen2
 Fresh Windows Live Messenger

What’s more: it’s done all this in a timely manner.  The new Windows Live will be available to everyone by early 2009, with U.S. customers seeing it rather sooner.  This should put Microsoft ahead of Yahoo, which is bucket testing a similar sort of upgraded homepage.

Chris Jones, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Windows Live Experience Program Management, tried to sum up the accomplishment in a statement.  He explained, "Our customers have friends across the Web.  They communicate through many unconnected Web services and want access to it all from a single location – without worrying about how it’s done.  Now Windows Live takes care of that, with an integrated personal communication service that works across the Web with optimized experiences on the PC and mobile phone."