Wow. I wasn’t expecting http://home.live.com turning into a social network!
As ever, Joe Wilcox, provides some great commentary.
Somehow, Microsoft has pulled together disparate services so that they feel more like a closed network like Facebook. The social benefits are there, and many Facebook similarities, without much of the baggage.
Live.com becoming a Web 2.0 Citizen
Now about Windows Live as the good Web 2.0 citizen: Remarkable, shocking. Beat me with a stick so I wake up from the dream. No surprise, for Windows Live client software, the choices are Windows and Windows. But on the Web, the services break away from their Windows chains. I found the Windows Live experience on a Mac running Safari to be about equal to Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 on a Vista PC. Get this: I used the service from my iPhone, too (Some features didn’t work, though). Windows Live Spaces still has vestiges of Windows legacy, but there’s a freshness everywhere else. Even home page customization features, which I was sure would be Mac incompatible, worked just fine. Please, wake up me up!
The best part of Live’s Web 2.0 citizenship: What Microsoft calls "Web Activities," which really is broad feed support. Pick a service. Twitter? WordPress? They’re there. Microsoft claims feeds from over 50 companies. I didn’t see that many. The larger list includes: Flickr, LinkedIn, Pandora and Photobucket. Tempering my excitement, I noticed that in the private beta Microsoft exposed many more Live services than those from third parties.
But Microsoft has observed—and its my observation, too—that "people use more than one social networking service to connect" to friends and family, Chris said. "We looked at that as a real opportunity for us to bring something [different] to market. We’re really not believers in the walled garden approach."
Microsoft hopes that the new features will expose people to its services. "Our starting point are people who use one of the services already," Chris told me on Monday. Microsoft is betting that as existing users use the services, they will expose features to friends or family. For example, Microsoft has enhanced e-mail capabilities around photo sharing. Every time someone sends out a photo, it publicises the tools, he said, "They’ll ask, ‘How did you do that?’"
My early reaction is surprisingly positive, and I can’t say that the two earlier Live waves impressed me. Microsoft had the right concepts, but marginally executed on them. Wave 3 feels different and may follow the old axiom that Microsoft gets things right on the third version. The private beta was very fast—surprisingly so. Response was quicker than running desktop applications in Windows. That said, public Windows Live Wave 3 release will be the test. Can Microsoft data centers handle the load?