Microsoft’s Live.com portal will change significantly this evening. No longer will it be a simple search engine with a few other services bolted on. It’s now a social network, too, pulling in activity information and content from around the web. They’re also launching Windows Live Photos and Windows Live People, and other services. Check it out at Home.Live.com.
A lot of what they’ve done is exactly what Yahoo has been talking about for over a year now – leveraging social connections that already exist (Yahoo is using email, Microsoft is using Messenger) and doing a lot more with it.
Users are automatically connected with any friends they have on Windows Live Messenger, which is by far the most popular instant messaging service worldwide (Comscore: Microsoft Messenger has 268 million worldwide users, compared to 116 million for Yahoo and 6 million for Google Talk).
Users are asked to build out their profile, and can also bring in content they create on blogs (or any RSS feeds, Flickr, LinkedIn, Pandora, Photobucket, iLike, Twitter, WordPress and Yelp. When you do something new on those sites, the information flows into Live.com for your friends to see (in a very similar way as FriendFeed, Plaxo and others do today). Eventually, says Microsoft, more than 50 partners will be supported. When users add photos, write reviews, and update their profiles directly on Live.com, that content will be put into the activity stream as well.
The hope, of course, is to get people to hang out a lot more at Live.com. At least those people who use Messenger, since they already have their contacts established. Like Yahoo, Microsoft is going with its strengths, which in their case is instant messaging.
Microsoft’s software plus services strategy has clearly infiltrated Live.com as well as their approach with Office. Live.com users can now access a variety of online services like mail, calendar, photos, online storage, etc., as well as downloaded services that include a mail client, instant messaging, Movie Maker, Photo Gallery, the Toolbar and other services. And now it’s also one big social network.
The result is an impressive personal productivity suite that makes me almost wish I wasn’t solely a Mac user.
Overview video and reviewers guide are below: