Microsoft announced today that they are ditching Windows Live Spaces, their entry in the social blogging arena, and have arranged to migrate the current Live Spaces blogs to WordPress.com.
Upgrading a Windows Live Spaces blog to WordPress.com
There are 30 million people who are actively using Windows Live Spaces and have been eagerly awaiting the next set of new blogging features. For these customers, Windows Live and WordPress.com have worked together to build a simple way to move your blog posts, comments, and integrated photos right over to WordPress.com and start taking advantage of all their new features. And we’ll also redirect all your old Spaces URLs to your new blog, so you don’t lose any visitors along the way.
Windows Live Spaces users have 6 months to make the switch. Users of Microsoft’s very capable Windows Live Writer blogging client (which supports many blog types besides Live Spaces including WordPress) don’t have to worry (yet) because Microsoft says there is no plan to phase it out and it will remain part of the Windows Live family, but one can’t help but wonder which other of the multitudinous remaining family members will be shown the door.
The Wave 3 enhancements to Windows Live promised in November started rolling out today according to Dharmesh M. Mehta, Director of Windows Live Product Management:
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.
Mehta’s blog post has more details and some screen shots from which I have borrowed the following of Windows Live Profile, the social networking foundation that caused all the buzz when the Wave 3 features were revealed in November.
Click through for a larger image, but the idea is that " Your new profile is the place to decide what information about yourself you want to broadcast." much like Facebook or MySpace only for Windows Live. The added bonus is that it can also show your activity on other social networking services like Twitter, Flickr, and Yelp to mention a few. Not a bad approach when playing catch up.
So is Windows Live going to challenge Facebook or MySpace? I don’t see how unless it benefits from an incredible fad. Well then, will it be popular enough to be worth Microsoft’s expenditure? We’ll see and some of the specialized services may well have a life of their own.
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.