Home Microsoft Relaunches Windowslive.com as a Community Site

Microsoft Relaunches Windowslive.com as a Community Site

Until now, Microsoft had used WindowsLive.com as the main hub for getting information about its Live branded services like Messenger, Hotmail, Spaces, SkyDrive, and Photo Gallery. Today, Microsoft has re-launched the site as a community site, where users can exchange information and ideas about how to best use these tools. As Marty Collins, the Windows Live senior marketing manager explained to us in an interview last week, the idea behind this redesign is to better explain to users how they can use these services together, as well as fostering an active user community.

The site now features tips and trick by members of the community, as well as Microsoft staff. Users can rate the contributions by other members on a five-point scale. In order to prevent abuse, content needs to be voted on by at least three community members before it is featured on the main community page, which Microsoft has dubbed the “Clubhouse,” and which is only accessible by using a Windows Live ID. This content is also featured on the homepages for the individual applications that make up the Windows Live brand, though interestingly, some applications like Live Calendar and OneCare are not featured on the site.

Especially good content will also be pushed to the Windowslive.com front page by the editors. Microsoft assured us that it would allow negative posts to be featured on the site as well and that it would not censor any valid opinions – assuming that the users abide by all the terms of service for WindowsLive.com.

The Clubhouse

As of now, the central hub for creating and sharing most of the content for Windowslive.com is Live Spaces. In order for post from there to appear in the clubhouse, a user has to tag them with ‘Clubhouse’ and the name of at least one Live application. Indeed, it seems tags are the main glue that hold the Clubhouse together, as Microsoft also uses them to determine a list of possibly related posts. For now, the Clubhouse is only open to a select few member of the Windows community, but Microsoft will open it up for everybody in the coming weeks.

In the next iteration, Microsoft will also allow importing items from other platforms like WordPress and Blogger, Marty Collins told us.

In terms of the overall design, the Clubhouse is quite well done. One nice feature are the user profiles, which are pulled from Live Spaces. These profiles also lists a user’s other posts and their ratings. In the Clubhouse, users can see all the latest posts tagged with ‘clubhouse,’ as well as the most highly rated posts.

It is interesting to see that Microsoft is willing to experiment in this area. On WindowsLive, it allows Microsoft generated content to stand next to user generated content, which could potentially open Microsoft up for some embarrassments. At the same time though, if Microsoft holds true to its promise of not censoring legitimate content, then this represents an important step forward in how Microsoft interacts with its customers.

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