Microsoft just announced that they are giving Windows Live a major face lift. They plan to debut a whole bunch of new beta Windows Live features to help users combine all parts of their online life. These features are not going to just be Microsoft services either. But they will all be under the Windows Live umbrella page.
Even though they already hold the title of the most used messenger program; they obviously want to reach even farther into the online cookie jar. Microsoft wants to offer competition with the popular social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. Whether or not they can actually provide any kind of competition coming into the game this much later remains to be seen.
Besides their Hotmail and SkyDrive (which upped the free storage to 25GB from the initial 5GB), Microsoft is teaming with over 50 third-party services for their new pages. Flickr, Twitter, Photobucket, Digg, WordPress, Pandora — these are just a few of the “big names” joining the dance. With these third-party site partnerships, Microsoft’s “What’s New” feed is enabled.
This feed is shared with other Live friends through your Windows Live homepage, your Messenger account, and other WL services. You can personalize the What’s New feed to show updates you either make or receive. So, for example, when you update your Photobucket account with a couple of new pictures, your friends know about it. Or you can customize it to show tweets from the folks on your Twitter list.
The beta services won’t all be available immediately according to Microsoft, but will gradually be introduced to WL users beginning in December.
Obviously, the whole goal is to get more people to be spending their time at Live.com. But will trying to recreate the wheel really help them hit that goal? Several comments I’ve been reading about the service have people saying things like they really don’t want or need yet another social networking site. Gebedia Smith says “no more social sites… please go away… MS you can’t be everything to everybody. Try to focus on testing windows 7, something you forgot to do on Vista.”
However, Brian Hall from Microsoft Live rebuts these kind of thoughts by commenting “I run the Windows Live business at MS – and I’m happy to tell you that we’re not creating ‘yet another social network.’ we’re building more ways to keep in touch w/ the people you already have if you’re a Windows Live Messenger or Windows live Hotmail customer. this is a big group of people with a big network of people that use these services because they’re trying to keep in touch with others (using email and IM, but those are just means not ends). we’re providing more ways for them to keep in touch with the people they want, and now also letting people link their other activities across the web so that they don’t need to just use our services. if you’re a happy facebook user – great, keep using facebook. ditto myspace, bebo, skyrock, daum, QQ, linkedin, … there are lots of social networks out there doing a very good job.” Yet, noticeably missing from the 50 partner sites are Facebook and MySpace. Guess Live doesn’t want to share the ball in the playground all that much.
What do you think? Is it enough to make you want to join their club? Or do you not feel the need to go Live?