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.