Microsoft today announced the next generation of Windows Live online services that integrate e-mail, instant messaging, photos and Web applications from other companies into a single platform.
The new generation of Windows Live includes updated experiences for photo sharing, e-mail, instant messaging, as well as integration with multiple third-party sites. The release also includes Windows Live Essentials, free downloadable software that helps consumers simplify and enjoy digital content scattered across their PC, phone and on Web sites.
Microsoft is collaborating with Flickr, LinkedIn Corp., Pandora Media Inc., Photobucket Inc., Twitter, WordPress and Yelp Inc. to integrate activities on third-party sites into Windows Live through a new profile and What?s New feed.
"Think of Windows Live as the single place where people using our e-mail, messaging and photo-sharing services can stay connected," said Chris Jones, corporate vice president of Windows Live Experience Program Management at Microsoft. "Our customers have friends across the Web. They communicate through many unconnected Web services and want access to it all from a single location ? without worrying about how it?s done. Now Windows Live takes care of that, with an integrated personal communication service that works across the Web with optimized experiences on the PC and mobile phone."
Microsoft also announced alliances with HP and China Telecom Corporation Ltd. to deliver Windows Live services to more people across the globe. HP will distribute Windows Live Photo Gallery with its consumer printers, including Photosmart and Deskjet lines, starting next year. The combined offer provides HP customers with Windows Live Photo Gallery, an end-to-end photo management and printing solution.
China Telecom, one of the world?s largest telecommunications, broadband and mobile services provider, will be providing a co-branded version of the new Windows Live Messenger to its Internet services subscribers on PCs and through mobile devices in the near future.
Highlights of the changes to Windows Live announced today include:
- Windows Live is making new social features available to all customers, including an updated profile, a "what?s new" feed of activities across the network and Web, photo sharing, and on-the-go access from any device with Windows Live SkyDrive. Online storage is increasing from 5 GB to 25 GB.
- Windows Live Messenger now includes more personalization, a "what?s new" feed with updates from contacts across the Web, drag-and-drop photo sharing in the conversation window, a favorites list to designate the most important contacts, and group IM to chat simultaneously with up to 20 people at the same time.
- Windows Live Hotmail is now much faster and has 80 percent more effective spam filtering compared with previous versions of Hotmail. Upcoming changes include the ability to bring multiple e-mail accounts together, the ability to put multiple e-mail addresses onto almost any device, increased storage, and a revamped calendar that makes it easier to share calendars with others, subscribe to multiple calendars and use your calendar with Microsoft Outlook.
- Windows Live Groups, a place for groups to collaborate online, includes a shared calendar, shared storage, a shared e-mail address, and shared instant messaging.
All of these services work with Windows Live Essentials, a suite of applications for communication and sharing that also works with e-mail, photo and blogging services worldwide.
Microsoft boasts more than 460 million Windows Live users and analysts believe that the goal for the company is to keep that audience in front of the company's websites for as long as possible and to prevent defection to other Web destinations, such as the popular Facebook and myspace.
Facebook has 120 million active users and many of those rely on its mail and chat applications to communicate with friends instead of traditional e-mail and messaging services offered by Microsoft and Yahoo.