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.”

New gadgets

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!