Microsoft gives Windows Live a social networking makeover

Summary:Microsoft have announced a major overhaul of its Windows Live service that, similar to Yahoo's ‘Open Strategy’, rewires the company's suite of consumer web-based products to turn them into one interconnected social network. Although Microsoft would rather you didn't use that word.

Microsoft have announced a major overhaul of its Windows Live service that, similar to Yahoo's ‘Open Strategy’, rewires the company's suite of consumer web-based products -- e-mail, instant messaging, photo sharing, blogging and more -- to turn them into one interconnected social network. To do that, Microsoft is leveraging a user's existing Windows Live Messenger contacts to create an instant friends list across all Windows Live properties.

And in a feature that borrows directly from Facebook, which Microsoft invested in last year, the new Windows Live includes a a “what’s new” feed that aggregate a user's activities on Windows Live and third-party site across the web. Initial partners include Flickr, LinkedIn, Pandora, Photobucket, Twitter, WordPress and Yelp -- though no sign of Facebook yet, despite that hefty investment.

See also: Yahoo wants to be your social web ‘control panel’ too

The strategy Microsoft is adopting is simple and a rather familiar one. The company wants to become a user's one stop shop for all things social on the web. And conceding that it isn't the market leader, and will probably never be, when it comes to the majority of social web products -- aside from IM where Windows Live Messenger is number one -- the new Windows Live is also attacking the social networking aggregator space, putting it in direct competition with singly-focused products such as FriendFeed or the social networking aggregator features of monolithic networks e.g. Facebook Connect.

Microsoft gives Windows Live a social networking makeover

“Think of Windows Live as the single place where people using our e-mail, messaging and photo-sharing services can stay connected,” said Chris Jones, corporate vice president of Windows Live Experience Program Management at Microsoft in a prepared statement. “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."

Microsoft is keen to talk up the mobile element of Windows Live too with "optimized experiences on the PC and mobile phone", which of course makes a lot of sense considering the mobile web has to yet to producer a definitive winner and social networking is driving mobile data use.

This new version of Windows Live will begin rolling out in the US over the coming weeks and will be made available globally in 54 countries and in 48 languages by early 2009, according to Microsoft.

Topics: Browser, Collaboration, Microsoft, Mobility, Networking, Operating Systems, Social Enterprise, Software, Windows

About

Steve O'Hear is a London-based consultant, educator, and journalist, focussing on the Internet and all aspects of digital technology. He advises businesses and not-for-profit organisations on how to exploit the collaborative and publishing opportunities offered by the Web, and has written for numerous publications including The Guardian a... Full Bio

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