announced the availability of a number of new and updated online applications in its Windows Live suite: Windows Live Photos, Profiles, People, and Groups. In addition, Microsoft also announced that it will allow its users to integrate content from a large number third-party services, including Flickr, LinkedIn, Pandora, Photobucket, StumbleUpon, TripIt, Twitter, and Yelp. Microsoft will begin rolling out these new services to U.S. customers in the coming weeks and expects them to be available globally in 54 countries by early 2009.Microsoft just
Live Photos allows you to share your pictures with granular privacy controls, and thanks to the "What's New" feed, the new Live Photos service will also allow you to monitor the photos of your friends on Windows Live.
Windows Live Profiles: The new Live Profile aggregates and displays your activity on Windows Live and third-party services. Somewhat similar to FriendFeed, users can choose to aggregate their activities on other services like Yelp or Twitter on this profile page as well. In the next few months, Microsoft will also integrate a large number of other third-party services, including LiveJournal, Digg, Last.fm, iLike, Seesmic, and SlideShare.
One of the highlights of the new profile is that it includes extremely granular privacy controls.
These profiles, together with the updated Windows Live Groups, are the hub of Microsoft's social networking strategy around Windows Live.
Windows Live People:This is the central address book for all Windows Live services. It integrates directly with your Hotmail contacts and it will also allow you to invite your contacts from third-party services like LinkedIn (with more to be added later). Here, you can also organize your contacts into categories, and chat with them directly through the Windows Live Messenger for the Web.
Windows Live FrameIt: This is an interesting new service which allows you to to send photos and other content such as news or traffic information to digital picture frames. So far, Microsoft has not announced a lot of details about it, but we know that the hardware partners include Navteq, ViewSonic, and RMI.
Windows Live Groups: As rumored, Microsoft will also update MSN Groups and replace it with the new Windows Live Groups. These groups are tightly integrated with the other Live services, including the revamped Live Calendar, Live Photos, and SkyDrive.
SkyDrive: Microsoft's online storage solution has been upgraded from 5GB to 25GB.
Microsoft is also releasing mobile versions of these new and updated services that should work on any mobile web browser.
This is Big
Overall, these new services represent a major upgrade to the online part of the Windows Live suite. Microsoft is clearly trying to challenge both Yahoo and Google with its new photo application, while the new profiles and groups tie all the Live services together into a very sophisticated social network.
According to Microsoft's PR materials about this release, its main mission in designing these new services was to give users a better way to manage their digital lives. Judging from what we have seen so far, Microsoft has definitely succeeded in creating a compelling set of applications that, thanks to its tight integration with Microsoft's desktop applications, will surely drive a lot of new users to Windows Live.