Windows Live updates (4)

The fourth edition already of my Windows Live updates postings (number 3 was over a month ago). I got loads of news, links, stories, releases, … that I bookmarked since the last update so let’s hope I can make some sense out of this post, trying to put them all together.

The first big update is the most recent, namely the launch of Windows Live Spaces. It was announced quite a while ago, but here it is: spaces.live.com since a couple of hours ago. New Windows Live UI – of course – but also some new features like the possibility to upload 500 photos per month, friends of friends, RSS integration and gadgets for Spaces just like we know them from Live.com (not in all countries though).

Since my last update mid June, there have also been some updates on Live.com, mainly for Windows Live Search. The caching feature was added (finally) and together with the Messenger team, they added a search activity to Messenger that works really well (US only – screenshot below).

imsearch.jpg

Next up related to search are the Windows Live Toolbar and Windows Live Search Center, the new all in search solution for the desktop. The toolbar was launched in the US just a few days ago, and international releases can be expected soon. If you want to know more about the desktop solution, Darren wrote a post about it’s new UI.

toolbar.JPG

Other launches in the last few weeks: the Official US launch of Windows Live Expo and the start of the UK beta, the international launch of Windows Live Favorites and the beta launch of Windows Live Gallery, where you can get you gadgets, bots, activities, toolbar add-ins, … At experience.live.com you can a new way of presenting what Windows Live is all about.

Some cool Messenger stuff can be found at MSN Cartoon Creator from our Chinese colleagues. You can find a bit more info on how to do this (unless you speak Chinese) on Darren’s blog. The Xbox guys have made some changes as well to the Xbox tab in Messenger where you can now see your Xbox Live friends as well.

Finally, it ain’t over ’till it’s over, there is indeed a lot more to come. As you can read on Liveside, there’s more mobile on the way and Windows Live Drive maybe?

Windows Live updates (3)

It's time for some Windows Live updates again. Some major updates have happened the last few days, with one of the most important updates – the Windows Live Messenger launch – about to happen in a couple of hours. Watch this space!

Another very important update happened only a few days ago, namely the Live.com UI refresh. First of all the new Live.com page has got the true Windows Live brand experience and apart from that the most significant change is the new first run experience. Existing Live.com users can only see this when they start over again. A interesting new feature is the possibility to use templates, there are 5 templates ready (US only) that can help you build your personal Live.com page.

livestart.JPG

When you like the gadgets you can use on Live.com than you might also like the update to MSN Spaces which will allow you to get gadgets on your MSN Space (and included also a bug fix for IE7 beta 2 users). On of the gadgets I most probably will add to my MSN Space is the one for Windows Live favorites, a service that was released (v.1) on June 16th.

Important retail release was the one of Windows Live OneCare – although US only for the moment – which is a service dedicated at PC health, so not security alone anymore. Read out the post of Ryan Hamlin on OneCare team blog. We met briefly when Ryan was visiting Belgium a couple of months ago (to meet FCCU & ChildFocus) and I must say his team is doing quite an impressive job.

Then I wanted to link to this post at MSBlog that talks a bit more about the differences between Windows Live Mail Desktop versus Windows Live Mail and Windows Mail (Vista). I get this question quite often and apart from showing the different services, this is the best explanation you can find. I think it's quite clear although naming could be better…
Last but not least, make sure you take a look at these destinations: Windows Live Dev (http://dev.live.com) or the new developer ressource for Windows Live, Pass The Poi (a website that collects and share Windows Live Local collections – see for yourself) and the Windows Live Product Reader (not official) [Via Niall Kennedy] that gathers all Windows Live Product blogs in one place.

Invasion of the Robots

This contest went live a couple of days ago but I didn't have time yet to write about it until tonight. Microsoft is challenging developers worldwide to create conversational robots, or BOTs, for MSN Messenger and Windows Live Messenger. The most original and useful robots collect 40.000$ in total prizes, more info at contest website.

If you are a developer but you don't have a clue what these BOTs are all about, I'll list some of the already existing BOTs right here so you can play around with them for a bit and this might get you some creative ideas. So add those to your MSN or Windows Live Messenger buddy list and get in a conversation. Unless mentioned differently, they're all English BOTs.

Existing BOTs:

  • TechEd06@hotmail.com (NEW)
  • encarta@conversagent.com
  • volkskrant@nieuwskraker.nl (Dutch)
  • blabla@chatman.nl (Dutch)
  • espbilly@msn.com
  • indeedjobs@hotmail.com
  • yellowpagesqa@hotmail.com
  • smarterchild@hotmail.com
  • msnguiftguide@hotmail.com

Have fun! And thanks David for pointing out the new Tech Ed bot on your blog.

Back on the blog

Whoosh, it's been a while since I was last able to write something for my blog. The last couple of days where really busy. I hope that I'll get some time to catch up now and during the weekend because after that we're off again.

Good news, last week Beatrice De Mahieu started at MSN Belgium to take up my old position, which means I can really start focussing on my new role. We already went to London together for some meetings, and I stayed a bit longer so I could attend the Windows Live session over there. But more about that later…

The day after I went directly to Madrid to meet with our colleagues up there, and watching the Champions League final together at night before flying back to Belgium on Thursday. Yesterday after arriving at the office, we met up with the guys from O'Neill whith whom we're partering during summer which was nice. And now we're back on the blog…

Windows Live updates (2)

Last Friday Live.com got a new update! The updates are related to user complaints or requests. Most important for me is the improvement on performance but also smaller updates like the ability to refresh gadgets individually or the possibility to export your OPML are interesting updates. In the meantime the US version of Live.com also got a new vertical/scope, namely shopping. Related to the subject is the Windows Live Shopping beta that was also launched just recently.

Another new beta on Windows Live Search is Windows Live QnA – or Community Q&A as we used to call it – which is an invite only beta, but here's a screenshot of the service and more info can also be found at Techcrunch and Search Engine Watch. Looking forward to the integration with the other Windows Live services.

02_qna ask screen.jpg

Windows Live Messenger got an update too. People using Windows Live Messenger were asked to upgrade to version 8.0.0689 which is like a final draft. Read the post of Program Manager Leah to see what's new in this version. If you're not on the beta yet: watch this space! On the MSN Space of the Windows Live Mail team we can read that the M6 release is to be expected soon with enhanced Firefox support and better performance as two key improvements.

Developers can also find some updates on the Windows Live Developer Center, mainly for Windows Live ID and Windows Live Custom Domains Management. Finally there's news for advertisers since Microsoft adCenter was released in the US. Curious what it can do? Then check out the fact sheet here

[UPDATE: the Livemsn.tv team just announced the 3rd episode of this MSN initiative (Netherlands) to inform advertisers on online advertising, you can get access at Livemsn.tv if you haven't got it yet]