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Exclusive: Windows Live Sessions (UK)

January 27th, 2006 by Zack Whittaker

Me, Linda, Fraser (new bloke I met, very Scottish, very funny, excellent bloke and only works round the corner from where we are) and Jonathan (another new bloke, very experienced and only a little older than me) all met up in the pub about 20 minutes ago and had a bit of a nerve-wrack session (well, me and Linda definitely!). We’re at MSN House in London, just off Piccadilly Circus on Great Pulteney Street. This is where the Windows Live Sessions is for today.

We had a good mingle, talked to a few people and I was talking to a bloke (can’t remember his name which is a shame) about Windows Live Mail and giving him a good perspective of what we thought of it and how things could be improved. I’ve been looking over some of the things that people have been saying about Windows Live the last few months and really gave them feedback on what they had to say, and the best bit about it is, is that they really took it on board. It’s so much better telling someone face to face about the product they are making and really telling them the pro’s and con’s about it, rather than in a bug report that might get tossed from one department to another.

Anyway, we got our official badges on as well as our identification cards (I nicked mine and they’re not having it back! I like to think of it as… go somewhere new and “take a little bit home with you” – some may say it’s stealing but hey, I just call it a souvenir!). We went and sat down in the “Swimming Pool” area of the building, called that because it was a swimming pool based on the tiles and the architecture around it, but they put some nice water-effect carpet down which was cool. We were introduced by the UK Head of Marketing, Adrian Simons and he then introduced a really cool looking bloke, Phil Holden who was a developer and an evangelist for Microsoft in the USA and travels all over the world doing his “thing”.

Windows Live – the general view
The whole thing started around February/March time of last year, when the people working on the MSN teams basically decided that it would be a good idea to branch off from MSN and form a new set of products and technologies, which “bridged” the gap between the Microsoft operating systems (Windows), and the web-based applications that they have now. They came up with the codename of it, which was “Skyline” and then over time they decided to call it Windows Live – something which has stuck even to date.

Windows Live Contacts
People nowadays have to juggle different aspects of life, but mainly they fall into two categories – personal and business. Windows Live Contacts is a new idea which will soon be in full swing, and with the new server side refresh of MSN Spaces, you will certainly see this soon as well in the next beta build of Windows Live Messenger. It’s the ability to change what’s on your contact card in Messenger, and now extending that into MSN Spaces – you can customise what’s on your contact card to different people whether it is personal or business. This will probably be interwoven into the Groups function in Messenger, but this will make people’s lives much easier. You may only want business contacts to have your works phone number and works email address, whilst you only want your friends and family to have your personal number. It really defines personal and business really well, so now there is no fine line but more of a bold, thick line separating the two.

Extendibility to mobile devices
As I was talking to Philippa Snare, the Head of Communications at MSN UK, and she was talking to me about mobile devices as well as what I had been said during what Phil had been saying. Although a lot of the Windows Live stuff is web-based, there are still some software elements such as Windows Live Favourites (formerly known as Roaming Favourites) and Windows Live Messenger (also known as Messenger 8.0). But now we’ll be seeing new downloads for mobile devices, so we may actually see a Windows Live Mobile Messenger very soon… whether they’ll call it that, I just don’t know. Also Philippa confirmed that it was “most likely” and “almost definite” at the fact I was the one behind the goat emoticon in MSN Messenger 7.0 and onwards. Ahh… I knew it was… I just knew it!

Windows Live “Remote Record”
Now I’m saying Remote Record but to be honest, I have no idea what it’s called. They may stick with that name, but who knows. The idea is, is that when Vista is launched, some of the seven available versions will have Media Center (not Media Player, but Media Center) already installed. You will have the ability to record a program using Windows Live through your mobile device on your computer or television at home. You can be hundreds of miles away and forget to set the record for “The Simpsons”, so you’ll be able to get out your phone or PDA and login to the service and set it from wherever you are! There will also be the ability to watch back on your mobile device whatever you recorded, and that is uber-uber-cool!! This will be available in the USA, but may be extended to the UK and other international countries… but don’t hold your breath!

MSN Spaces (version 10.5)
Hopefully you’ve noticed some of the changes on my blog as well as on every blog out there! The URL address has been shortened to take out the “members” part, more Modules have been added to the Customise section as well as a whole new variety of themes available in different category – over 100 I believe. You can add comments to the photo galleries just as you can with blog entries, and you can also do so much more. Whether they will end up calling it “Windows Live Spaces” or not, we’ll have to wait and see, but hopefully uptime and being able to access it more often than not will be a good thing.

Windows Live Mail
The new name for Hotmail, which has been pretty much the same for the last decade or so as it’s been around. However, time to change and indeed they have! A lot of people (about 0.3% of Hotmail users… that’s still about a million or two!) were given invitations as ‘VIPs’ to use the new beta, so many people have seen it. Those who haven’t can expect a “Outlook” sorta view where you have different things in different columns. However, the main thing is safety and junk protection. They now have really intelligent junk filters which detects whether a message has a valid Sender-ID (as in it actually came from a real domain server and not just pretends to look like it) as well as filtering stuff out. The coolest thing though, is the ability to drag and drop messages as if it was a real application. Also, messages that get sent into your junk mail folder have two views – orange and red. Orange means that it’s junk and might have something rude or not wanted in the message and red means that the message could be potentially harmful such as a virus/malware attachment or be a phishing message. Both of these views asks you to open the message before it displays it, so if you’re at work then your boss won’t see “Buy Viagra very cheaply” on screen, as it’ll ask you to actually view the message.

Windows Live “Fremont”
Named “Fremont” as a place near Seattle where Microsoft is based, known as “the center of the universe” apparently! Anyway, this will be the Microsoft version of eBay, where you can buy and sell things just as you can on eBay, but it’s totally free so you can buy and sell things for totally free. I can’t really say much more than that due to NDA and stuff, but it’s really really cool and the interface is excellent. It’s only available to Microsoft employees who are in the USA at the moment for internal testing, but once that’s sorted they’ll roll it out to everyone for general use.

Source: Zack’s Blog of Weird and Wonderful Things

Posted in Windows Live | 8 Comments »


This entry was posted on Friday, January 27th, 2006 at 12:22 pm and is filed under Windows Live. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


8 Responses

  1. Patrick S Says:

    Cool Post Zack

  2. Deansweb2004|NT Says:

    Cool stuff Zack, Does anyone know if there is going to be a conference just like this one for when vista gets launched?

  3. GaZ Says:

    It was cool to interact with the people who product the products and give some feedback and just generally chat with them. Unfortunatly I had to catch a train back pretty early hopefully they will put the event on earlier in the day, would have loved to stop and chat to everyone there! lets just hope there is another soon, untill then we can only hope!

  4. torstensson.com/blog » Blog Archive » Windows Live Session UK 1 Says:

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  5. Romain Says:

    hope seing you soon Zack!
    another soon? that’s something for sure!
    it was great meeting you there :))))

  6. Jon Says:

    Hey Zack, was nice meeeting you on thursday, maybe we can all meet up again next time. I had good night, met phil and a few people from MSN UK, and found out a few things thier working on for the future, as well as discussing Windows Live/MSN in general.

  7. Chris Says:

    Ditto to all the above.

  8. WaltDe Says:

    Very good reading. Peace until next time.
    WaltDe