Those who have followed my blog for a while should know that I’m not in the habit of using this space to blindly promote Microsoft products – although if I find something genuinely cool or useful I’ve been known to give it a quick plug. This is why I’ve never posted about Windows Live before. It’s not that the various sites and apps were bad – it’s just that they were obviously a random collection of rebranded MSN assets that didn’t make a lot of sense as a unit.
But thankfully this has all changed with the latest incarnation of Windows Live. This has been out for a couple of weeks now, but I’ve only started looking at it properly in the last few days – and so far I’m extremely impressed. While most of the old sites are there in some form, there is now a clear common theme: sharing and discovering information about your social network (which is built from your Messenger contacts). However rather than competing with other social networking sites, Windows Live is able to link to other sites (yes, even non-Microsoft sites such as Twitter, Flickr and StumbleUpon) and aggregate activities from those sites into a single view.
Aside from the new home page that shows all of your network’s activities, the coolest new feature I’ve discovered so far is the new Photos site and the corresponding Windows Live Photo Gallery downloadable app. You can now store all of your photos online in your SkyDrive (with 25Gb of free space!), share them with as many or few people as you want, and view them online in an awesome new Silverlight-based slideshow view. The offline Photo Gallery app has the expected integration with Live Photos and Flickr, plus some fun new features such as People Tagging and Photosynth stitching.
I’m sure there are much more comprehensive reviews out there, but I wanted to draw it to your attention as so far it doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of web love – and it finally deserves some!
Sure tom. You should try to use Office Live Smallbusiness. It has been a nightmare for me. I've subscribed the service, payed for AD free email accounts and all i got was a big headache, until i rolled back everything to Google (and after a fews emails exchanged with office live support). I couldn't create email accounts on my domain, because that email address (my wife's) already had a windows live id associated with it. My email account was created automatically, but i had half the storage i payed for and lots of "hotmail advertisement", after transfering my wife's windows live id to another email address, the support people just said "you'll have to wait 130days, before you can use it". Sure, i've payed one year, and now will have to wait half of it, before i can use it. Nice isn't it ?
Live Mesh is still somehow apart, dunno why. It doesn't seem to integrate with anything else from the Live line-up (most notably SkyDrive).
The biggest annoyance for me is that all that stuff is still IE-centric. It sort of works in Firefox alright, but you get everything working much smoother in IE. And it doesn't work in Opera at all (and that's something that seems to be common for all Microsoft web offerings so far).
Also, um... I don't know how to put it through politely, but in 2008, after GMail has been out for several years, asking for money for POP3 access to your email account is not exactly a smart idea. I literally laughed out loud when I saw that.
I like the look and feel of things, but until it works solidly in Firefox and Opera, I'm not touching it.
So with that said, I'm done with the live tools again. The only thing I end up using is Windows Live Writer. The windows live stuff is just too messy. I couldn't even leave a "Note" on my own site I just setup with Opera. WTF is up with that?
But I digress, it at least looks ok, just doesn't work very well.