Tag Archives | Windows Live

Microsoft Debuts Windows Live Messenger for iPhone

Surprising as it may seem, Microsoft is pretty darn good at creating iPhone apps. It’s latest entry, Windows Live Messenger, became available as a free download in the iTunes App Store on Monday.

Although the central premise of the app is to stay on top of your Windows Live network and chat with your buddies, the company has added a few additional features sure to please any Live user.

Microsoft has also enabled push notifications, which will alert the user to new IMs when the app is closed. As long as your buddy has connected his or her Live account to other social networking sites, you will be able to see what he or she is sharing on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, among others on the social stream screen which greets users as they load the application.

Hotmail access in-application is also provided (you can see it in the screenshot, its the glowing orange icon in the upper right hand corner), although there is no link provided from the bottom menu. That’s a bit of a shame but definitely could be added in a future release.

Messenger is the fourth iPhone application to be released by Microsoft. The company’s first application was Seadragon Mobile, a Photosynth viewer released in December 2008. This was followed by Microsoft’s Bing search app in March, and then Tag, a reader for its proprietary QR code-like offering in May.

I am fairly impressed with the app, and it seems like with each one coming out of Microsoft, the company gets better and better. I’m now wondering if the folks they have developing these should be giving some advice to the rest of the software developers at Redmond on how to design functional apps without the clutter…


Windows Live: It’s Live! I Think! Partially! Stay Tuned for More!

windowslive1Here’s an undeniable fact about Microsoft: It’s congenitally incapable of springing surprises on anyone. When Google unleashes a new service or improvements to an existing one, it’s typically with no warning, and the new stuff is available immediately or within a few hours to all comers. Microsoft, on the other hand, tends to give advance warning. And then talk publicly about a private beta that isn’t available to everyone. And then do a formal unveiling. Followed by actual availability. Sometimes of part but not all of what was announced.

That’s certainly the situation with the new “Wave 3” upgrades to the company’s Windows Live services. They’ve been public knowledge since at least early this year. Then there was an official announcement three weeks ago. And today the company has announced that the first of the new services–Wave 1 of Wave 3, I guess–are rolling out to everyone over the next twenty-four hours. With more to come.

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Windows Live: It’s a Social Network! It Isn’t a Social Network!

windowsliveWhat is Microsoft’s Windows Live? It’s always been a surprisingly tough question to answer in a coherent sentence or two. Tonight, Microsoft took the wraps off its next version of Windows Live, and it’s still difficult to pin it down, in part because it just involves so much stuff, in both service and software form: instant messaging, e-mail, calendaring, photo sharing and editing, video editing, blogging, Web storage, file syncing, and more. But one thing about the new Windows Live is clear: It’s…interesting.

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No E-Mail, Photo Editing, and Movie Editing in Windows 7? What a Good Idea!

Over at Cnet News, Ina Fried has posted some news that I find both startling and pleasing: Microsoft has told her that Windows 7 won’t come with applications for e-mail or for editing photos and movies. Windows Mail (née Outlook Express), Windows Photo Gallery, and Windows Movie Maker will live on, but as free downloadable Windows Live applcations rather than bundled into Windows.

I think that’s potentially a very encouraging sign about Microsoft’s priorities for W7. Operating systems shouldn’t be about e-mail or photo tweaking or movie making–they should be about being a fast, reliable, and intuitive platform for all of those applications and thousands more. By insisting on making those programs part of earlier versions of Windows, Microsoft hobbled both the apps and the OS in multiple ways:

–There’s no way that applications that move at the speed of OS development can keep up with the rest of the world. Windows XP shipped in 2001; how could a photo app tied to it compete with services like Flickr that arrived years later, even if it received updates?

–Applications bundled with operating systems are destined for mediocrity–nobody pays for them, or even chooses to use them. They’re defaults–at best, they get good enough to be good enough. And then they stagnate.

–Bundled apps are just a distraction. There’s so much fundamental stuff that Windows could do better on every front, from performance to security to usability; why lard up the OS with apps that are clearly optional and which have strong third-party rivals?

I don’t think Microsoft would nod its corporate head in agreement with all of the points above, but some of the things it told Ina about its decision aren’t wildly different in terms of the bottom line. That’s a striking reversal from marketing for Windows XP and Vista, both of which often played up the bundled applications that came with the OS. Here, for instance, is the XP ad with Madonna’s “Ray of Light”:

It’s also strikingly different than Apple’s OS-application strategy. It too makes an operating system and creative applications, but OS X and iLife only get bundled together on a new Mac. iLife will only live as long as it’s compelling enough to get real people excited enough to pay real money for it. Otherwise, they’re standalone products that must be purchased separately. Good for OS X; good for iLife; good, ultimately, for Mac users.

I think Microsoft could go way further with this basic idea: Should it be a given that Windows comes with Windows Media Player or even Internet Explorer? Maybe Paint should be retired after 23 years? (That’s apparently not going to happen–actually, it’s apparently getting a major makeover, with the Office 2007 Ribbon interface and multi-touch support.) But losing some apps is a good start–and I think that Windows Mail, Photo Gallery, and Movie Maker all stand a better chance of being really competitive if they stand on their own and only get used by people who make an effort to find, download, and explore them.