While titled "Talk to your Messenger Contacts on Skype" this blog post by Tony Bates (President, Skype division, Microsoft) is more than interoperability – Messenger is being retired in 1Q2013:
We’ve got good news to share! Skype and Messenger are coming together. Millions of Messenger users will be able to reach their Messenger friends on Skype. By updating to Skype, Messenger users can instant message and video call their Messenger friends.
This effort started with the release of Skype 6.0 for Mac and Windows a few weeks ago, which allows you to sign into Skype using a Microsoft account. Now Messenger users just need to update to the latest version of Skype, sign in using a Microsoft account, and their Messenger contacts will be there.
Our goal remains to deliver the best communications experience for everyone, everywhere. We want to focus our efforts on making things simpler for our users while continuously improving the overall experience. We will retire Messenger in all countries worldwide in the first quarter of 2013 (with the exception of mainland China where Messenger will continue to be available).
One of the perils of a large company is too many overlapping products so this seems like a wise move since Skype is bigger and has the momentum while Messenger is declining, but getting 100 million plus Messenger users to convert should be exciting.
Last night Microsoft announced Windows Live Wave 3 and besides the expected updates of existing Windows Live offerings, there was some social networking added to the stew:
Microsoft Corp. today announced the next generation of Windows Live, an integrated set of online services that make it easier and more fun for consumers to communicate and share with the people they care about most. The new generation of Windows Live includes updated experiences for photo sharing, e-mail, instant messaging, as well as integration with multiple third-party sites. The release also includes Windows Live Essentials, free downloadable software that enhances consumers’ Windows experience by helping them simplify and enjoy digital content scattered across their PC, phone and on Web sites.
Translation: Just as before, there are some purely Web pieces and some downloadable pieces of Windows Live and the latter are termed Windows Live Essentials and will complement Windows 7.
Consumers today are creating online content and sharing it in many places across the Web. To help make is simple for the more than 460 million Windows Live customers to keep their friends up to date, Microsoft is collaborating with leading companies including Flickr, LinkedIn Corp., Pandora Media Inc., Photobucket Inc., Twitter, WordPress and Yelp Inc. to integrate activities on third-party sites into Windows Live through a new profile and What’s New feed. The new Windows Live also gives consumers the added convenience of having a central place to organize and manage information.
“Think of Windows Live as the single place where people using our e-mail, messaging and photo-sharing services can stay connected,” said Chris Jones, corporate vice president of Windows Live Experience Program Management at Microsoft. “Our customers have friends across the Web. They communicate through many unconnected Web services and want access to it all from a single location — without worrying about how it’s done. Now Windows Live takes care of that, with an integrated personal communication service that works across the Web with optimized experiences on the PC and mobile phone.”
In a nutshell, Microsoft is creating a Windows Live “dashboard” for individual information management incorporating the activities of the users and their friends across a number of non-Microsoft as well as Microsoft sites.
Some other changes:
Microsoft is currently in the middle of phase 3 of a five phase rollout of Wave 3 with no crisp endpoint date. More detail on all of this is available in the Windows Live Wave 3 Reviewer’s Guide.
My first take is that Microsoft has done a nice job of trying to bring order out of the Windows Live chaos, although there are still too many “products” with the Windows Live brand confusing the picture. Think of how much nicer it would have been if Windows Live had always been a unitary product that periodically got feature upgrades. But I digress – Wave 3 is nonetheless an important step for unifying Windows Live even if it never attracts a Facebook-type audience.
You don’t hear the term dancing baloney much anymore, but about a decade ago it was the standard description of gratuitous Web gadgetry that designers added to Web pages for no discernable purpose other than that they could. Microsoft yesterday announced a makeover of the formerly spartan Live Search home page and the only way I can classify it is as dancing baloney:
The new design features background images that will change frequently, augmented with what we call "hotspots." These interactive areas highlight parts of the image and help you explore search results related to the highlighted area. Users who have tested this new home page have found it both engaging and a great place to start a search.
Right now the background image seems to be from Botswana and the hidden hotspots reveal various Botswana related factoids. Apparently the "users who have tested this new home page" for Microsoft have a lot of time on their hands.
Speaking of home page makeovers, Microsoft is apparently also rolling out one for MSN, and while I detest the MSN home page heartily for its default mixture of supermarket checkout style celebrity news and cloying shopping and "self help" articles, this change looks more useful.
The good news that the new version (check it out here) adds a sidebar with a tabbed interface for Hotmail, Messenger and Spaces. The bad news is that also adds a player for MSN video with a default selection of "fun" videos which, as I write, features a man completely covered with tattoos. I guess it is someplace for the Live Search test users to go when they get tired of Botswana.
Incoming messages are received through the Push technology, and users can send pictures, use emoticons and have a customisable display picture. The client in simple and lightweight, but like the BlackBerry’s user base, is designed for productive users. All in all this is a simple application, but if you’re a Blackberry user, who natively uses Windows Live ID, it is a must.
Blackberry users can download it here.