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Windows Live Sessions #2 – London UK

May 17th, 2006 by Zack Whittaker

The second session was held in London last night and all the big blogs were present including LiveSide.net, mess.be, Coolz0r.com and I was there representing and reporting for MSBLOG. Other techy’s include Phil Holden, the director of Windows Live; Koji Kato, group program manager for the Windows Live Platform; Adrian Simons, the head of marketing in the UK, some other Microsoft folk including Tom, David and Cristiano from the MSN UK lot stuck around for sometime as well. Thanks to the guys at Heaven, the French based PR company who organised it all; Romain and Nicholas – as usual did a great job.

Phil started off by talking about mobile applications and also they’d expand developing opportunities for the Windows Live services. There are 17 Live services either available in beta or preview mode, as well as a whole load more to come in the coming weeks – boosting the number to around 25. Windows Live Mail was updated on Monday night to the Milestone 6 stage, and now has around 4-5 million uses using it, whilst Hotmail features have been added for old style users so now they can have a search mailbox feature. Live Mail M6 offers a cleaner interface (as reported here earlier this week) and performance has been tweaked to offer the services there much faster.

Windows Live Messenger now has 8 million users using it whilst MSN Messenger 7.5 and below stands at about 210 million, so a big difference but now that anyone can download the new software and sign in, the Windows Live Messenger user numbers are expected to shoot up over the next couple of weeks. With the latest build available externally, 8.0.0689 sees the fourth user interface revision and is expected to stay that way until final release.

In regards to Live.com, the teams are aware that it needs a lot of work doing on it and is the primary focus at the moment, is getting the performance optimised for the end user. They are planning this by using idle bandwidth to load other branched pages in the background so they are instantly available; in about 2 months from now will we see much faster loading times for the Live.com search and Live Academic. They will also be rolling out a first time user ”setup” so that it guides first time uses into collecting what they want on their Live.com homepage such as gadgets and RSS feeds. Also what we will be able to do is share our customised setup with other people like friends and family to also ease first time usage.

Windows Live Local is going to expand much more globally. The Birds Eye Imagery which lets users to pan over certain supported US cities is now spreading to London, Prague, Paris, Berlin and Sydney, Australia. There are certainly some beautiful shots of the London Eye and Tower Bridge in the demo’s of London we saw.

Koji, one of the top developers in the room showed us some cool stuff with web applications. He explained that websites used to be custom web applications and to some extent they still are, but now with RSS and XML content, they’re now more towards being data sources. Creating gadgets for Live.com are simple as well and can be as little as an XML configuration file and a couple of JavaScript (.js) files. The same with Messenger activities as well – start off with an XML file that points to a web application, load it into the Messenger Program Files folder, and that’s your activity made. That’s very similar to how the “scan a friend’s computer” works with the Windows Live Safety Center activity.

Windows Live QnA was also demoed to us last night. The idea behind it came as the top search or Q&A service in Korea wasn’t Google or Microsoft, so they developed this community site so users can ask questions and reply to others. Simply add a question by typing it in then adding tags to it – keywords if you like to keep track of your question, add a more broad description to it and you’re set. QnA even checks the whole site to see if there are any similar questions and answers before submission. At the moment, your question will last three days (which may not be in the final version) but will let you continue to vote on left comments.

You’ll be able to use Live Contacts with QnA so you can check a user’s blog and other details, as well as specific QnA stuff like how many questions they’ve asked, how many answers they’ve provided, last time they logged in and votes. Although QnA is still in internal beta, it will be opened to external testing in the next few weeks. Because QnA is a community support site, it offers ”kudos” points for frequent and good users. This new points architecture means that incentives are provided as rewards as Messenger content such as WeeMees and Dynamic Display Pictures (DDPs) and points are displayed with the users details to show other users that they already have credibility.

A breakthrough for mobile devices is coming soon as Phil demonstrated last night with his phone. What it’s known as at the moment is the Live Mobile Client. It’s a mobile application which may be available from network operators (if they choose to support it) and downloadable over the Internet, which will only be supported on Windows Mobile 5.0 devices, although there will be a kit which will let you modify it to some degree to run it on other devices. You’ll be able to send instant messages with emoticon enhancement, with an Messenger-esque design, view users Live Profiles, display pictures and send Voice Clips from your device’s microphone and pictures directly from your devices camera. Sending video is not currently supported but is something they will consider for a later date.

There isn’t a known codename or product name as yet, so it’ll only be referred to as the Live Mobile Client. Other features include either locally provided or as web based content, like an RSS aggregator, local mobile search and full email support, not to mention advanced editing of your Windows Live Space (the future of MSN Spaces). The one really cool thing about the Live Mobile Client are the little things such as the Nudges. Tyat’s right, you’ll hear it here first (I think) – when a PC user sends a nudge to your mobile device, it’ll make a sound… and vibrate as well, very cool! Emoticons show up as well, but Winks are not currently supported.

So I’ve just got back from London, I’ve got a stinking cold and feel crap so I’m going to leave it there – I’m going to bed.

Posted in Windows Live | 8 Comments »


This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 17th, 2006 at 1:57 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 Elliott [MSFT] Says:

    When do you start work at MSFT Zack? 🙂 Come on MSN sometime during the pacific workday eh? 😛

  2. Darren Straight Says:

    Nice talking to you at the session Zack! 🙂

  3. Deansweb2004|NT Says:

    Zack btw I could of gotten a dam lift to london so i could of meet you 🙁

  4. Windows Live Session UK 2 » Darren Straight’s Blog Says:

    […] Related Posts: Robert Gale | Coolz0r | Zack | Simon Andrews […]

  5. Zack Whittaker Says:

    Well soon… that’s all I know, think in June sometime, but we’ve been talking about working hours (and I’m tellin yer, their nice and flexible – work from home, see the family on weekends :)) so soon!

  6. Koji Kato [MSFT] Says:

    Hey, sorry to hear you’ve got cold. Hope you get well soon. Was great meeting you 🙂
    Top developer is a too fancy name for me – I’m a mediocre dev at best, but I appreciate the compliment. We’ll touch base soon again 🙂

  7. Romain Says:

    Thx for coming 😀
    I really appreciated to see you there
    And i promise the beers will be there next time

  8. Jeroen Says:

    Haha, we missed the beers, but the orange juice was good ;-).

    I like your story, take a look at my space for another story about the session!