Microsoft is giving Windows Live, its Internet-based communications platform, a serious makeover. 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 virtually any device with Windows Live SkyDrive.
Microsoft has announced an overhaul of Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Hotmail in particular have been equipped with a new user interface and added functionality, Microsoft reports.
Among the new functions is the ability to create Windows Live Groups. These let friends, colleagues or family members gather in groups for easier communication.
Here's looking into all that's new in Windows Live.
The updated services include Hotmail (which now offers unlimited storage, faster performance and an improved spam filter) and Windows Live SkyDrive (which upped its free online storage limit from 5GB to 25GB of data).
Changes include the ability to bring multiple email accounts together onto almost any device. According to Microsoft, Windows Live will also now include an automated POP3 email retrieval capability. This will allow users to bundle all of their electronic communication into Microsoft's Hotmail email service.
Access to the service from mobile devices is now supported as well. The revamped calendar makes it easier to share calendars with others, subscribe to multiple calendars and use a calendar with Microsoft Outlook.
What's New feeds can be personalised to reflect any updates you make or receive, either from a Windows Live service or one of the third-party services. For example, What's New could show Tweets from your Twitter friends, or let your friends know that you've posted new photos to Flickr.
Microsoft has struck deals with popular photo-sharing sites like Flickr and Photobucket, as well as with music-discovery services such as iLike and Pandora, so updates from those services appear in the feed.
This service, which Microsoft envisions as a possible browser home page, allows you to manage what you want to share with others. Here, for example, you can choose to broadcast a complete list of all your What's New feeds, and to view updates from your friends.
An area on the redesigned Windows Live home page could show, for example, a running list of friends' Twitter messages, Flickr photo uploads, Yelp reviews and WordPress blog entries. A chunk of the Live Messenger buddy list window will also display those tidbits from friends' activities on Microsoft partners' sites.
A photo sharing and photo organising site optimised to work with Windows Live Photo Gallery. When users add new digital pictures to the “photos” section of Windows Live, those snapshots will be shared with their network of friends, who can identify themselves in the photos or leave comments.
The revamped photo service will include high-resolution photos, as well as a backdrop to the photo that automatically matches colours in the photos themselves.
A central repository for storing information about and keeping in touch with all your online contacts, be they address book entries, Windows Messenger buddies, Photobucket friends, fellow Yelp users, and so on.
Also added is the favourite list for important contacts, group IM for chatting with up to 20 people simultaneously and updates for contacts with Whats New Feed.
A bulletin board for teams, clubs, and friends who wish to collaborate online. With this, friends, colleagues or family members can form groups and communicate effectively. Tools include shared calendars, photo and file hosting, and group or individual chat.
Through Groups users can create a joint calendar, share photos and documents or chat together online.
An online service that works in conjunction with Net-connected digital picture frames. FrameIT allows users to display their RSS feeds or Windows Live Photo gallery on digital pictures frames made by PanDigtal, PhotoVu, ViewSonic and others.