announced a partnership this morning with five social networks on data portability. Starting today, users on Facebook and Bebo will be able to add friends via their Windows Live address book. The functionality will be coming to Hi5, Tagged and LinkedIn in the next few months. Microsoft is calling this a "two-way street" and has launched a new site, invite2messenger.net, where users can invite friends from those networks to chat on Live Messenger.Microsoft
A few things to note about this announcement. The difference between what will now be available on these networks and what was already available via tools like the Facebook Friend Finder, is that now the social networks are employing the Windows Live Contacts API rather than doing any screen scraping.
Further, even though Microsoft keeps talking about data portability, this announcement is not about their participation in DataPortability.org. Today's announcement is strictly about contact data, and it is strictly about Microsoft and these five sites. So while it is technically about making some data more open and portable, the old silos still exist -- there are just a few new paths cut between a handful of them. (To be fair, Microsoft's end of the contact data is open to everyone via their Contacts API, which has been around since last April. DataPortability.org, though, is about using existing, open standards to share all user data.)
Microsoft did mention their involvement in DataPortability.org in their announcement of today's news, however, saying that this and it are natural steps in their "pursuit of data portability to put users at the center of their online experience, while at the same time being thoughtful about balancing user security and privacy with the experience." Here's hoping everyone continues to open up.