sobota, 11 sierpnia 2007

Windows Live

Mood: Bored

When I have visited my first impression was: “Microsoft finally fights Google back and tries to deliver the similar set of rich services like Google". Actually I am still surprised that number of my collegues still does not know about iGoogle, which allows you to create easily the rich start page like the one below: has the same approach and it is the next face of MSN Search and it is mainly Microsoft’s search engine, which has the ambition to compete with the Google Search. The service increases its share from 8,9% in February to 13,3% in June in search market according to Nielsen//Net Ratings. There is however, the other interesting thing happening in here, as is also a new face of

Let’s explore :) what is inside.

First page
The first page allows you to create your own matrix of gadgets including the things like:
  • Preview hotmail email account
  • Weather
  • Windows Live One Care (after installing additional software)
  • RSS feeds
The way of using some of these things is not straightforward. For example you must first add the weather gadget before you can change the cities displayed. On the other side the whole thing looks quite neat and provides in the list even smaller towns from Poland like Włocławek, which is a town with 123k citizens. My only question is… what means these postfixes like MA, WP, KP – I could not find it easily? Anyway… cool thing coming from quite interesting Foreca service, which is definitely beating the weather service attached to iGoogle!

The RSS feeds are more user-friendly. First of all you have the whole set of ready to use !LOCAL! news services. It is truly unique experience to see in the service like this about 10 major polish news sources. There was also not a problem to link to the other RSS feeds, however unfortunately you need to know the exact link to add to the text box – there is no option to search for RSS feeds and add it (you can find, but you can not add).

Anyway after no more than 15 minutes, doing the One Care scan in the background, I could create my morning news paper looking like:
There is a number also the number of small, useful things like:
  • You can change the name of the tag (including national characters)
  • Menus
  • As you can see, there is nice “popup” showing you the details of the article
  • Except adding additional blocks with content (gadgets or RSS feeds), you may also add additional pages and manage all the things quite easily.
  • All the elements may be moved by drag and drop and number of columns may be changed
  • You can publish the page or the whole thing and Windows Live will provide you the public link to your page and/or the option to send it to your friends by email
  • In each feed you may define the number of headers

The whole thing is based on DHTML and java script, without any fancy graphic, so it is working quickly and smoothly. There are some moments when your browser does not behave as it should (see below), but it does not happen often and you may live :) with it.


The Windows Live provides also the possibility to add OPML file (OPML stand for Outline Processor Markup Language). It is targeted at iGoogle users, who wants to move all their feeds into They can export these feeds with OPML Export gadget and then import them in Windows Live. Unfortunately the gadget did not work for me in iGoogle. Funny thing is though that Windows Live does not provide the option to add new gadgets, so in effect, you may only import OPML file, but there is no option to export it. Is it done in purpose?

Other solutions

Considering this thing as “your start page” in internet, except the iGoogle, there is also the other quite interesting polish project called iloggo. It is kind of the shell around the Google search, which allows you to display the sets of your favorite links as the pictures. Worth to see at least the video on you tube.

The most amazing thing, which I have seen lastly is however the PageFlakes service. First of all it configures the interesting start page for you in 5 minutes and you do not need to provide any email address to register! Furthermore as you can see below the content is very rich and personalized for the country:

The service won Web 2.0 award in 2006 year beating The only thing where Live com seems to be better is the bigger range of languages available, but the whole thing is much cooler and working more smoothly plus the range of additional widgets is much richer than in

Other Live Services

Except “your start page” there is also the big number of the other on-going beta projects like for example Windows Live Gallery. Its name is a little bit misleading and it has nothing in common with the Google’s Picasa Web Albums project. Live Gallery provides you the access to very various content like gadgets, icons and pictures.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of mess around – commercials, GUI far from MS standards, many things in one bucket and each provided item has a different style.

When you do the presentations, web pages or applications, there is a common, general problem to find the set of graphics with one style – the service would be a perfect shot to fix the problem, but unfortunately it is a lost chance. For now it is simply the next, silly bucket with “cool” items for kids.

Except Live Gallery, Microsoft tries also to sell for the next time the Messenger, Spaces and Toolbar. Unfortunately, despite I try and I try and I try, I cannot see the big picture as I do, when I am looking at Google Services. Live Services seems to be the cry that MSN idea did work out. Microsoft THINKS now, what to do with all these things, trying to pack them under the Live Services brand, but it will not work out. I truly hope that following months will show that Microsoft has some consistent vision of Live Services, which will be something more that just a new version of Messenger and Spaces. The is the light in the tunnel (I am not visiting iGoogle, but I may visit from time to time) and I hope that it is leading to the place where Google Services truly will have some competitor.

Funny feeling to write all of these things in Google blog service :)

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