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.
“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.