Over the next few days, Microsoft will be rolling out a new service called Windows Live Events, which will be a customized version of Windows Live Spaces for organizing events and sharing memories among participants. (The link above may redirect to Windows Live Spaces for some people, as the roll-out of the service will be gradual across different geographies). Windows Live Spaces is, of course, Microsoft’s family-friendly answer to MySpace—and it’s not doing badly, drawing 100 million unique visitors and 2.5 billion page views a month, according to Microsoft.
Windows Live Events is an attempt to carve out a specific niche for for Windows Live Spaces around events. It’s like Evite with a little social-networking fairy dust sprinkled on top. You can manage invitations and RSVPs for a party, wedding, or any other event by setting up an invite list and sending out a mass e-mail with a link back to your Windows Live Event site. All the event details are also available as an RSS feed, making it easy to export the information. On the site itself you can post information about the event, but it is also a place where attendees are encouraged to come back to share their photos, videos, or blog posts after the fact.
Thus, every event big or small can have its own social Website. “We want it to be a place where people can share their memories and stories after an event,” says Windows Live group product manager Jay Fluegel. Your guests always take better pictures than you at your kid’s birthday party. Now they have an easy way to share those pictures with everyone who was there.
As with Windows Live Spaces, Windows Live Events is very customizable. You can change the color, fonts, background, and play with the design and different features on the site, including adding discussion boards, blog posts, and photo- and video-sharing modules. You can also take your pick from the assorted gadgets (aka widgets) available in the Windows Live gallery. For instance, you could add a countdown-to-the-birth gadget for a baby shower or an Amazon wish list for a birthday party.
Here is Microsoft’s official blog post about the service. Microsoft keeps dribbling out these Live services. Some are unremarkable, and some are solid improvements over Microsoft’s current offerings. People who live on Facebook or MySpace probably won’t flock to this service. They will manage their events where their friends already hang out online. But for everyone else, especially families, I can see this gaining some traction. Expect Microsoft to launch more Live services before the year is out.