Microsoft hints about new profile-centric Win Live wares

The blogosphere was atwitter (pun intended) over the past day or two about Facebook's recent revamp designed to make user pages more profile-centric. But Facebook isn't the only one going this route. It sounds like Microsoft is going more profile-centric in a couple of different ways with its upcoming Windows Live software and services.

The blogosphere was atwitter (pun intended) over the past day or two about Facebook's recent revamp designed to make user pages more profile-centric.

But Facebook isn't the only one going this route. It sounds like Microsoft is going more profile-centric in a couple of different ways with its upcoming Windows Live software and services.

Microsoft recently completed its internal "Milestone 1" release of its next wave of Windows Live services, according to Brian Hall, General Manager of Windows Live. Microsoft is planning to make the first test bits of software and services for the PC, Web and phone that are part of "Windows Live Wave 3" available to folks outside the company as part of a private beta later this summer, he said.

Hall declined to provide specifics, but he did note that Microsoft will be "taking advantage of the profile concept with Live" in its next release.

Windows Live Profile already exists as part of Windows Live Spaces, Microsoft's existing blogging/social-networking platform. I'm not clear whether Microsoft is intending to replace Live Spaces with a more profile-centric platform or just make Live profile more front and center to the next version of Live Spaces.

"There's lots of opportunity for improvement with Spaces," Hall said. He noted that the user base of Live Spaces grew quickly, "but the (user) engagement on Spaces compared to other social sites is low."

It also sounds like, from hints Hall dropped when I chatted with him this week, that the updated Windows Live Profile technology will be more tightly integrated with the next versions of Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger and other Windows Live services.

"We're not creating another social network," Hall said. "We're more about fusing the best of our platform" with other Live services, he said.

When Microsoft finally takes the covers off its more profile-centric Live wares, I'll be  curious to see how much the Microsoft Research C2 project -- which I likened to Microsoft's version of FriendFeed -- played into the design. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, speaking of things Live-related, the LiveSide guys noted Microsoft has made available test versions of the mobile portal and Mac clients for Live Mesh, its synchronization and collaboration service. The mobile portal is currently available to testers; the pre-beta Mac version was briefly available, but Microsoft pulled it after LiveSide wrote about it.

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