Windows Live Favorites

  • Editors' rating
    7.0 Very good

Pros

  • Imports bookmarks from Firefox and Internet Explorer
  • organises pages by tags and folders
  • works with Windows Live Toolbar
  • saves up to 2MB of content
  • previews bookmarked pages
  • integrates with Windows Live Spaces and Messenger

Cons

  • Lacks bookmark-sharing features that Del.icio.us has
  • doesn't detect broken links or merge similar tags
  • toolbar is for IE only

If you're an information junkie, you might easily lose track of cool Web sites. Sure, you might bookmark items of interest while surfing the Web, but how do you find those pages later from among the long list you've stashed within your browser? Windows Live Favorites remotely stores your Web bookmarks so that you can access and organize them from Internet Explorer and Firefox wherever you go. This service is similar to Del.icio.us, which Yahoo owns, but with less emphasis on sharing content with fellow users.

Just visit favorites.live.com and sign in with a Windows Live (formerly Passport) ID to get started adding Favorites. You can add one bookmark at a time and describe it with a subject tag. Search your favourites later to scour through the tags, the Web site names and the URLs. If you import Favorites from Firefox or Bookmarks from IE, Windows Live Favorites translates your folders into tags and folder names, and it won't duplicate pages that you may have saved in the same place. Unfortunately, since it left beta testing, Favorites removed its one-step Del.icio.us import feature, although, of course, you can migrate content by exporting from Del.icio.us first.

Windows Live Favorites can store 2MB worth of content, less than rival Del.icio.us's 5MB (about 1,500 items). You can drag a bookmarklet to IE to instantly add sites to Favorites without leaving the window. And if you'd like Internet Explorer and Favorites to synchronise their updates, the Windows Live Toolbar does the trick -- but for IE only.

Whether the no-frills layout of Del.icio.us or the more graphical Windows Live Favorites works better is a matter of your personal style. Del.icio.us may load faster on a slow Internet connection, but Windows Live Favorites can display more information on the page and spare you mouse clicks. Just click the arrow next to a bookmark name, and that Web site appears within a new pane that keeps you on the Windows Live Favorites page. You can grab the edges of each pane to resize them. By contrast, you'll have to exit the Del.icio.us site whenever you click a bookmarked URL. Plus, you can sort Windows Live Favorites items by title, tags, sharing and URL; right-click a bookmark to change those settings. You also can select and delete a bunch of favourites at once. Favorites' folders should be simple to grasp for Microsoft Windows users. By contrast, Del.icio.us's lack of folders and reliance upon tagging might bewilder newcomers. And luckily, Favorites is ad-free.

Still, we wish Favorites' layout let us drag and drop content into folders. When we shrank our browser window to a tiny size, words overlapped with column lines. We haven't found a bookmarking service yet with an elegant way of weeding out or merging duplicate tags. At least Del.icio.us lets you group together related tags and also find and replace tags en masse. If you can't decide whether to tag recipe bookmarks as'recipes', 'cooking' or 'food', Windows Live Favorites offers no alternative to making a tough decision and some manual replacements.

Favorites integrates with the Windows Live Spaces social networking and blogging service, as well as with Messenger. You can set any favourite, or all by default, to hide or to share with other Windows Live users, and then pop the Favorites module onto your Spaces page for others to find. But unlike with Del.icio.us, you can't subscribe to a feed of other users' updates; nor can you instantly view exactly who else has bookmarked a particular Web page. Bloggers and other technically-aware content seekers will prefer the more extensible Del.icio.us, which is better for integrating saved links into various Web sites. And at this point, members of the Del.icio.us community are more avid bookmarking addicts, so that service is more helpful for finding what other people have earmarked. StumbleUpon is even more fun if you'd like a heads-up on random Web sites that have earned a thumbs-up from that community.

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You can search specific topics within Windows Live Favorites' online help and keep drilling down to reach support via email. The Feedback link lets you give Microsoft a piece of your mind.

Windows Live Favorites makes it easier to peruse your saved URLs than does Del.icio.us, although it's less elegant for sharing content collections with other people. Overall, we find Favorites helpful for organising bookmarks for personal convenience, and the integration with other Windows Live services is a bonus if you already use Spaces and Messenger.

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