Late last night Microsoft announced that Windows Live is to get a makeover that will see it transform from mundane web portal to super fresh social networking hub. Or something.
Microsoft describes the newest version of Windows Live as an “integrated set of online services that make it easier and more fun for consumers to communicate and share with the people they care about most” with updated experiences for photo sharing, e-mail, instant messaging, and integration with multiple third-party sites.
So what does this actually mean? First of all, Microsoft is adamant that this is not another social networking site. It’s more a hub to help you keep track of all the other sites you usually visit. Microsoft’s “integration with multiple third party sites” includes collaborations Flickr, LinkedIn Corp., Pandora Media Inc., Photobucket Inc., Twitter, WordPress and Yelp. Anytime your friends do anything on Flickr or LinkedIn, you’ll see it in your What’s New feed.
Microsoft has had MSN Spaces running for a while now so this isn’t really a whole new approach to social networking. Brian Hall, general manager of the Windows Live unit, told BoomTown that no one wants to sign up for another social networking site but rather everyone is after something that will tell them who is poking, prodding or dry humping who and where they’re doing it.
“No one wants to sign up for another social network,” said Hall. “But everyone does want to be able to share and bring together all they do on the Web and we want to make sure all our users can do that in the easiest way possible.”
New features available to all users include photo sharing, on-the-go access with Windows Live SkyDrive and online storage is increasing from 5 GB to 25 GB. The idea is similar to Yahoo!’s announcement a couple of months back. In September the company began testing a dashboard that allows you to see both your Yahoo! and your non-Yahoo! services. Yahoo! said in it’s official blog post that the company was working on the new homepage so users could get more out of the internet, make more out of their precious time and, and makes sense of all the things going on in their world. Sounds familiar.