Windows Live Spaces Debuts

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The successor to Microsoft’s MSN Spaces blogging service launched this week with an assortment of new features for its users.

Yet another MSN property has had the MSN name removed and replaced with the Windows Live moniker. Windows Live Spaces launched with a heavy emphasis on social networking features aimed at a younger audience.

The new look and feel of Spaces can be customized to suit the user. Spaces allows users to upload up to 500 photos per month to the site. A Live Contacts box uses icons to show when friends have updated their Spaces recently.

That Friends module and others can be added through the Customize feature in Spaces. Users can plug in new modules, or change the theme and layout of their Spaces page, from the Customize menu. Modules can be dragged and dropped around the page as desired.

Niall Kennedy, who departed blog search engine Technorati for the challenge of working with Microsoft on Windows Live, posted his opinion of the new Friends feature:

The new friends integration is the real hotness, allowing users to define their relationships and see more information about the people who matter most. The friends module shows Messenger presence and status messages and adds a “gleam” next to any contact with a recently updated space. Friends lists are browsable within a Spaces web page as well as within that contact’s mini-profile (contact card) within Messenger.

Microsoft also added its Gadgets to the available module content for Spaces. Gadgets have become a popular way of adding functionality to blogs, web browsers, or a PC itself; Yahoo and Google offer their versions of gadgets for their users.

Spaces developer and Windows Live blogger Mike Torres created a video tour of Spaces to demonstrate its features. The changes made to Spaces that he demonstrated show the service is not just a name change or enhancement, but an enhanced entrant into the social networking market.

Considering the millions of Messenger users Microsoft has, and the hooks Spaces provides for integrating with that service, Spaces could pick up a lot of curious interest with this update. If Spaces can retain those users, it will give Microsoft a boost on the advertising side due to the prominent placement of ads atop Spaces pages.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Windows Live Spaces Debuts
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