Live.com, Microsoft's personalized start page, has just been upgraded with some impressive new features. Live.com program manager Sanaz Ahari sent me details of the release this evening. It was good timing, because earlier today I'd been using the old Live.com and having trouble! The new features are:
- Pages - you can have multiple pages for all the gadgets and feeds you want. One of the nice things about PageFlakes (the new kid on the Ajax Homepages block) is the ability to have multiple pages. In my previous use of Live.com, I've struggled to fit everything I want onto the 1 page. So this is a much-needed feature! You can double click to rename your page and drag your pages to re-order them.
- Search for feeds using the new Windows Live Search - and add them to your page(s) right from the search interface. Also, like a search query, you can save your search by adding it to live.com using a mini-search gadget.
- Find feeds using the new Windows Live toolbar and add them to live.com right from the toolbar.
- Integrated experience for adding and managing your stuff (feeds and gadgets), drag and drop items right from that area on to your page.
- Much improved RSS reading experience.
- Much improved experience for ‘my stuff’ – for example importing your OPML file.
- Performance – the Live.com team says there is more work to be done, but users should notice performance improvements.
- New themes.
New-look Live.com - note the pages
Live.com program manager Sanaz Ahari told me the team has put a lot of effort into improving the "first run experience" of users. Live.com is being seen by Microsoft as the starting page of Windows Live as a whole, as well as being a great customizable homepage with the user at the center of their experience. Also this release sees the integration of the new Windows Live Search, which is another sign of the importance Live.com is assuming for Microsoft.
Windows Live search - with the infinite scroll bar
Sanaz noted there has been a lot of work done under the hood - on the infrastructure. live.com was built on the start.com incubation infrastructure and with this launch, said Sanaz, "we’ve deployed a scaleable, geofederatable, higher performance backend which we’re looking forward to growing in to."
There are also a host of new gadgets that have been introduced into Live.com. According to Sanaz they are:
- Image search – search for images right on live.com and enjoy a little slide show of your images powered by the hot new Windows Live search
- Windows Live gallery – view all windows live services and add their gadgets if there is one available
- Gadget gallery – the latest and greatest gadgets from microsoftgadgets.com, add the gadget you like to live.com with one click
- Weather – gorgeous icons, drag and drop of cities and see the current conditions for your default city when collapsed!
- Stocks – drag and drop of stocks, collapsed form now shows your stocks in ticker form and chart integration
- Clock – track the time in multiple cities, we even have a nice effect for sunrise and sunset!, collapse it to see the time for your default
- MSN Video – search for any video you like, or browse across categories and
watch them inline right on live.com!
All in all, this is a big improvement by Live.com. It's game on to the other personalized homepages out there!