I was lucky to be invited to the official press conference of announcement of the new Live service from Microsoft.
It looks very promising, and would give Google (and Picasa) a tough competition.
Here are some interesting points from the presentation:
- Microsoft global market status: According to the speaker there are 280 million MS Messenger users worldwide, and the number of Hotmail users is three times the number of GMail users. If these numbers are correct, Microsoft can still hurt Google badly.
- The new mail service (Windows live mail) allows integration with Messenger - you can see your friends online while typing a message to them and start a chat. (Additional interesting features - contacts lists, RSS support). I was also told the spam prevention mechanism (a major problem for Hotmail users) was improved - I intend to check that.
- MS Messenger itself had an improved integration with mobile devices - you can leave voice messages to friends online.
- In the photos department Microsoft is in direct competition with Picasa, which had the advantage so for for being a "one stop shop" for all photo related applications. The new Live client application allows you to send photos to friends, with the mail containing only small thumbnails and a photo sharing site is generated automatically that allows viewing/downloading of the original photos. Additional features include embedding photos in a blog post, and creating an event-dedicated shared site, in which participants can upload photos and share them with each other.
- All of these applications come wrapped up in a single installer which allows you to select the desired installed features. It's a serious upgrade for Outlook Express users and Messenger users, and I recommend installing Windows live photo gallery application.
- All of these services are aimed at the personal user - for organizations Microsoft has Office Communicator and a beta version of calendar sharing site.
- In the future there will be an integration between MS Live and Media center, allowing you to read and manage blogs, photos and contacts using the TV screen.
- You can register to the new service and receive a brand new mail address (you name may still be available!). Us users are directed to the Live.com domain, while users in other countries (depending on the first language in the browser's languages configuration) may choose other domains.
Here are some pictures I took which are hosted in the new Live space I created: