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February 28, 2006

And then there’s Windows Live FolderShare

Posted by David Hunter at 9:09 PM ET.

Microsoft acquired FolderShare last year and now ActiveWin has spotted that the FolderShare site has been converted into yet another Windows Live beta:

ActiveWin.com has learned Microsoft has quietly changed the FolderShare beta into a Windows Live Service. Check the website out for additional information. “FolderShareTM allows you to create a private peer-to-peer network that will help you to synchronize files across multiple devices and access or share files with colleagues and friends.”

The fact that it is peer-to-peer will avoid the criticism recently leveled at Google for the multisystem file searching feature of the latest version of the Google desktop which involved transmitting files to Google servers, albeit encrypted.

I also have to observe that like Windows Live Family Safety Settings, this is another niche where there are established players (e.g. Laplink, Avvenu) and the 800 pound gorilla has just arrived to squash them with a presumably free service. At least part of Windows Live seems to be taking on the aspect of a squeeze play on the niche software vendors. If the antitrust regulators in the EU and Korea were originally aroused on behalf of competitive multimedia player and instant messaging vendors, it’s not clear why this won’t be another red flag for them.



Filed under Antitrust, Beta and CTP, Coopetition, General Business, Google, Governmental Relations, Legal, Windows Live, Windows Live FolderShare

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Windows Live Mail, Live Mail Desktop betas coming soon

Posted by David Hunter at 8:11 PM ET.

Elizabeth Montalbano at InfoWorld:

Two other new test versions for Windows Live services — Windows Live Mail and Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta — will be available in March, the company said.

Windows Live Mail, already in beta, is expected to go live on Friday to a wider audience with new features added at the request of customers, Microsoft said. Those features are the ability to view Windows Live Mail with a Hotmail user interface, and the ability to personalize the service by applying color themes to the user interface. Windows Live Mail eventually will replace MSN Hotmail, an e-mail hosted service Microsoft currently offers.

Microsoft will release the first beta for another service, Windows Live Mail Desktop, in mid-March, the company said. The service is an e-mail client that is similar to Microsoft’s Outlook Express offering and can work in conjunction with Windows Live Mail and other services. Windows Live Mail Desktop will make offline mail, account aggregation and other services available for free to Windows Live Mail users, Microsoft said.

When last we heard, Windows Live Mail (codename Kahuna) was at version M4 and being improved in limited beta, but now the Hotmail team says version “M5″ is ready to rumble:

It’s coming very soon, we promise. But for those who can’t wait, here’s a sneak peak at all the new features for Windows Live Mail Beta “M5” (M5 is geek speak for Milestone 5). If you’re a WL Mail beta tester you won’t have to do anything to get it — your inbox will update automatically. If you aren’t a beta tester, go sign up!

I don’t have space to review all the great features that are already part of Windows Live Mail, you can look over our earlier blog posts for that. This is just all the NEW stuff.

Follow the link to find out about:
- Hotmail Classic View
- Pick your own colors
- New user wizard
- Configurable reading pane
- Outlook-like shortcuts
- and more

As for Windows Live Mail Desktop, Chris at LiveSide scores an interview with Phil Holden, Director of Windows Live, and discusses it (among other topics):

This free desktop client integrates fully with existing Live services, allowing you to access your Live Mail accounts without opening your browser. As well as this, the client provides access to other email accounts via POP and IMAP, integrates with Windows Live Desktop Search and Live Contacts and includes an RSS reader. Despite being ad-supported like Live Mail, Premium users will have an ad-free experience.

Would it be fair to call this Outlook Express Live? Perhaps. However this is definitely something users have been requesting for a long while now. For those who are keen to give this a try, the beta program will start in a few weeks time.

More by following the link including a screen shot and the audio interview.



Filed under Advertising, Beta and CTP, General Business, Windows Live, Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Mail Desktop

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Windows Live Expo beta released nationwide

Posted by David Hunter at 6:46 PM ET.

Moving quickly from an expanded limited beta earlier this month, Microsoft’s social classified ads service, Windows Live Expo, is now in open beta release for users throughout the United States. Press release:

Microsoft Corp. today will release a beta version of Windows Live™ Expo (http://expo.live.com) nationwide. Previously in closed beta, Windows Live Expo is now accessible to all U.S. customers and expands the traditional classified ad concept by providing social networking and community features through a trustworthy, convenient and free online service.

Most classified advertising services generalize product location by a pre-defined city location, regardless of where in the city the product is located. However, all products and services listed in Windows Live Expo are geographically identified, or geo-tagged, by ZIP code, not city, which specifically defines where the product is located. Windows Live Expo customers also have the option to search for items within a radius as small as 25 miles or as large as the entire United States, making it easier to define a search.

That’s not all that novel – metropolitan newspapers and aggregations of local papers have offered that online for some time.

Windows Live Expo listings are also integrated with MSN’s satellite-image-based Windows Live Local so customers can view maps and aerial imagery of neighborhoods they may want to live in or see exactly where this weekend’s garage sale is.

Now that is novel. Then there’s the “social” part:

Unlike other classified services, Windows Live Expo allows customers to choose to view only listings specific to their MSN® Messenger Contact List or personal e-mail groups, helping to add a level of trust in transactions.

I’m still dubious of the overall utility of that aspect. What worked well for an internal bulletin board service at a large company like Microsoft wouldn’t seem broadly applicable to the population at large. Finally, there’s some additional high tech bling:

With MSN Messenger integration, sales can now take mere minutes, as buyer and seller discuss, negotiate and clinch a deal via instant messaging. Also, new with today’s beta rollout, when someone sends a message about their listing, an alert can be sent to customers via e-mail, instant messaging or mobile phone* via the MSN Alerts service. With upcoming Windows Live Expo releases, listings will be accessible via MSN Spaces blogs.

Windows Live Expo values customer safety and provides its customers with a Windows Live Expo-only inbox. All messages and inquiries regarding a customer’s listings are sent directly to and from the customer’s anonymous Windows Live Expo message inbox. This Windows Live Expo feature helps prevent others from seeing a customer’s personal e-mail address, which in turn reduces the opportunity for spam or phishing attacks to reach a user’s personal e-mail inbox.

There’s more by following the link. It’ll be interesting to see how this turns out.

Update: See the “Hello World” post from the Expo Team on their weblog.



Filed under Beta and CTP, Social networking, Technologies, Windows Live, Windows Live Expo

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Microsoft amid the Web 2.0, er Next Net startups

Posted by David Hunter at 12:58 PM ET.

Erick Schonfeld, Om Malik and Michael V. Copeland round up The Next Net 25 for CNN Money/Business 2.0:

Things are really crackling in Silicon Valley these days. There’s the frenzied startup action, the rising rivers of VC cash, even the occasional bubble-icious long-term stock prediction (Google $2,000, anyone?). There’s so much happening that the buzzword recently employed to try to encapsulate the era–”Web 2.0″–now seems hopelessly inadequate, defined and redefined into near meaninglessness by squadrons of aspiring entrepreneurs, marketers, and other fortune hunters.

We are in the early stages of what might be better thought of as the Next Net. The Next Net will encompass all digital devices, from PC to cell phone to television. Its defining characteristics include the ability to interact instantaneously with any of the more than 1 billion Web users across the globe–not by, say, instant messaging, but by evolving instant-voice-messaging and instant-video-messaging apps that will make today’s e-mail and IM seem crude. The Next Net is deeply collaborative: People from across the planet can work together on the same task, and products or tools can be rapidly tweaked and improved by the collective wisdom of the entire online world. The new era is also creating a realm of endless mix and match: Anyone with a browser can access vast stores of information, mash it up, and serve it in new ways, to a few people or a few hundred million.

Whew! It kind of takes your breath away! Purple prose aside, there’s likely gold in them thar hills, so who do they think currently look like winners in the Next Net game? Hit the link for the details, but there is a list of startups and one established “incumbent” mentioned in each of five categories:

  1. Social Media
  2. Mashup and Filters
  3. The New Phone
  4. The Webtop
  5. Under the Hood

Microsoft is generously anointed the incumbent in Webtop for “rolling out Windows Live, Office Live, and other Next Net-centric software,” but shares the limelight with startups JotSpot, 30boxes, 37Signals, Writely, and Zimbra.



Filed under Advertising, General Business, Office Live, Online Services, Technologies, Web 2.0, Windows Live

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