Courtesy Windows Live Wire:
The new face of Windows Live on the web
As Brian announced a few weeks ago, Windows Live is in the midst of releasing a new wave of updates for the web, for your PC, and for mobile devices.
Today we’ve started releasing the first set of updates to our web services, and these will continue to roll out globally over the next 24 hours – including a new version of Windows Live Home, Spaces, Events, and SkyDrive, as well as completely new web services such as Windows Live Groups, Photos, and Profile.
New header for Windows Live
First, you’ll notice a new common header that will be appearing at the top of all Windows Live web pages.
Our goal is to keep this consistent, so you can always find your way around easily. It includes links to all of your Windows Live services, links to great news, stories, videos, and content with MSN, a place to quickly search the web using Live Search, and the sign-in area, in the top-right corner, where you can quickly access your Windows Live account information.
Now, let’s now jump to the new services.
Located at http://home.live.com/, the new home page is the place to start your web browsing. It provides a simple dashboard for all of your communication and sharing activities. At the top, you can see your e-mail, local weather, any private messages that people have left for you, people you might want to add to your network, and upcoming appointments or birthdays. You can customize this area with rich themes – some of which are dynamic and change depending on the time of the day or the weather. And as you can see below, you can also add some of your own pictures to your page to make it a little more personal.
As you move down the page, you’ll notice a preview of your e-mail, and updates on what’s new with people in your network. This “What’s new” list gives you a quick summary of the most recent updates that people in your network have made and decided to share with you. This can include things they’ve done on Windows Live as well as other activities from across the web – like updating a Flickr album, writing reviews on Yelp, and more. The new home page also provides the latest headlines from MSN and other news and information sources that you can add to this page.
Sharing photos is now a much richer and more personalized experience on Windows Live. The first thing you’ll notice when you start sharing a photo album is the new storage limit – 25 GB! With the way digital cameras have been growing in megapixels, we wanted to make sure you had tons of room to save and share plenty of high-resolution photos.
You’ll also notice lots of improvements to the design and usability of this service, the ability to add people tags, simpler commenting, better access to photo information, and easier ways to upload and share your photos. One of the coolest features is a rich photo slide show that gets even better if you have Silverlight installed. We hope you enjoy the dynamic background colors that change based on the colors in your pictures.
Your new profile is the place to decide what information about yourself you want to broadcast. The most prominent feature of the new profile is the “What’s new” list, which shows all of your own recent activities on Windows Live — this is the same information that people in your network will see about you in the “What’s new” list on the home page. Don’t worry, you get to control who sees what information in “What’s new,” for example, when you publish a new photo album, when you change your personal message or display picture, or when you add favorite books, movies, or music to your profile.
But your profile is more than just a place to show all of your Windows Live activities, because you can also add web activities from outside of Windows Live. This includes things like publishing updates on Twitter, adding photos to Flickr, or writing reviews on Yelp. And as you may suspect, we have many more partner updates and additions to come!
Windows Live Groups
This completely new service makes it easier for teams, clubs, and friends to collaborate online.
You can set up owners and members for different groups, and each group gets its own online profile. Plus, each group also has a calendar, SkyDrive folders, and photos. Groups can also have discussion boards that make it easy to share your ideas with the group, and discussions can be saved online for others to see.
Like individual people, groups on Windows Live have their own “What’s new” list that lets everyone know what’s been happening lately with the group.
Windows Live Spaces
Spaces continues to be a great place to tell your personal story, show off your photos, or do anything else you might want to do with a blog. And Spaces works really well with Windows Live Writer so that you can write, edit, and preview your blog entries offline, before you publish them to the web.
There are two big updates to Spaces that I want to highlight:
- Removal of the banner ad that used to be at the top – we found that our users dislike having ads on their personal blogs and that this advertising didn’t perform particularly well for advertisers either.
- New default themes, fonts, colors, and other design elements that are now more readable and appealing, and consistent with similar changes elsewhere on Windows Live.
Events is the Windows Live service for planning get-togethers, parties, and other events with your friends and family. Like Spaces, this experience has new design updates. The new interface is based on feedback from customers like you, along with design changes that we’ve made across all of Windows Live.
We’ve also added new themes and made it easier to share photos with anyone invited to your event. So after the party, all your guests can easily upload their pictures and share them with the entire party.
SkyDrive is your place for easily storing or sharing files, documents, pictures or anything else. As we mentioned above, you now get 25GB to store files on SkyDrive – whether that’s photos or other kinds of files.
But beyond the storage increases, SkyDrive also has:
- An updated and enhanced design, including rich photo sharing.
- An improved file upload experience, so it’s easier for you to move files from your PC to SkyDrive.
- Flexible controls on who can access your files on SkyDrive – so you can change the permissions on a folder to private, when you want to store files just for yourself, share it with some of your contacts, or make it public, for files you want to share with the entire world.
Discover the updated Windows Live today
The easiest way to really get to know these services is simply to sign in and start using the new Windows Live web services. Get started on the new home page at http://home.live.com/. There’s a ton there – and as we mentioned a few weeks ago, there’s even more to come. Let us know what you’re enjoying with the new updates, and as always, keep sending us your feedback so we can continue to improve Windows Live.
– Dharmesh M. Mehta, Director of Windows Live Product Management
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