Windows Live completes the Windows Experience

Windows Live completes the Windows Experience

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When I talk about what we’re doing in Windows Live, people often start by asking me: What is Windows Live?

Many folks know about Hotmail and Messenger, and there are millions of users of our other desktop apps and services like SkyDrive, Photo Gallery, and Movie Maker. So what people are really asking me is how Windows Live threads these experiences together, and how we choose the elements that make up those connections. Our overriding philosophy is very simple: Windows Live completes the Windows experience. Our goal is to provide you with the essential software + services that help you get more done and have fun on Windows. It’s as simple as that.

So how do we choose what to focus on with each release?

Consumer needs & trends

We start by looking at consumer needs and industry trends.

Psychologists talk about a person’s hierarchy of needs that start with the physical and extend upwards through safety, love, esteem and self-actualization.This model can be equally applied to how customers choose a PC: people want a safe, secure and reliable computer that just works. Then, folks want flexible tools that help them communicate and share with the people they care about. And of course, people want to express themselves and have fun too.

Pyramid representing self-expression, communication, and reliability

Going beyond “It just works”

Windows 7 has been received as a new benchmark for PC simplicity and reliability. More than any previous version, Windows 7 saves time and helps you get more done.

We wanted to know how we could improve Windows Live to help you save even more time and get more done.  So we asked a cross-section of Windows users: what do you do after you boot up Windows? What are the top tasks that matter to you?

In general, people told us they spend time doing five things on their home PC:

    1. Surfing the web
    2. Organizing and sending email
    3. Organizing, viewing, and sharing photos
    4. Social networking and blogging
    5. Burning music, photos, or videos to CD or DVD

 

To these we can add the following macro trends:

    1. Cameras are getting smaller and cheaper. And because of that, there are more cameras on all kinds of devices than ever before. Last year alone, consumers took nearly 622 billion new photos. That’s an additional gigabyte of photos every 6 months for every PC.
    2. Users are facing an overload of social information stemming from the proliferation of new social networking and communication services. There’s just incredible growth in people sharing on the web. Today’s average consumer has three email accounts, two social networks, and hundreds of friends on all of them.

 

We looked at these trends and realized that with all these new capabilities came increased complexity. It’s still too hard to connect. Too hard to organize. Too hard to share. How do we simplify these experiences for people?

Windows Live Essentials

Windows Live Essentials is the suite of desktop apps designed to help you do more with Windows. It includes powerful yet simple tools for communication and self-expression.

Windows Live Essentials icons

The tools we offer are tightly mapped to the customer trends found in our research. Among those trends, the most notable “new” customer behavior is engagement in social networking, which didn’t even show up in the list a few years ago. This is one reason you'll continue to see us invest heavily in tools to help users deal with the onslaught of social information.

In addition to providing new ways to communicate and express yourself, Essentials applications are also tightly integrated with Windows Live web services, so you can sync your desktop mail and calendar with Hotmail, share photos on SkyDrive, update your Messenger status on your profile, and so on. You can even use Sync to access files on your computer from anywhere.

So, what is Windows Live?

People want a PC that just works, that helps them get productive right away, and makes it easy to share photos and ideas, and access their digital stuff on the go. This is the central connection between Windows and Windows Live, and how we think about threading the connections between these experiences. We're building a suite of software and services that:

  • Help you organize and create beautiful new photos and videos.
  • Help you share your stuff, with whoever you want.
  • Help you access your stuff on the go, from wherever you want.

How are we doing?

We hope you’re already using Windows Live Essentials on your PC. If not, go try it and tell us what you think!

The feedback we've gotten so far has been positive, both statistically (in terms of usage and engagement) and anecdotally. I know Microsoft can sometimes seem like a giant impersonal corporation but I can assure you it is made of actual human beings.*  We take great pride in our engineering and craftsmanship, and we love it when you tell us what’s working. We also need to know what isn’t working – we really do want all of your feedback, as it’s the only way we’ll know if we’re on the right track.

Piero Sierra
Group Program Manager
Windows Live Messenger and Mail

*This would, of course, be the first thing a team of sentient robots would claim. I’m just saying. ;)

16 Comments
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  • @customcomputers

    We’re definitely looking into improving this as we consider the next release. When we design our products one of our key beliefs is that no consumer is exactly alike to another. The ability to control key areas of your experience is critical to delivering on that promise. You can check out this blog posting (windowsteamblog.com/.../getting-ready-for-windows-live-wave-4.aspx) about the upcoming release discussing how we plan to move forward with privacy controls and what you can expect in the upcoming months.

  • I wish that more of windows live and all it has to offer was able to be used in Microsoft Outlook. Live Mail, and Outllok are both great programs, but Outlook can not receive msn,live,or hotmail mail items without the connector which is a pain to use and only works half ----.

  • Messenger should be available on Xbox 360: http://bit.ly/dsY0fv Am I right? :)

  • someone
    156 Posts

    Agree with all the comments here that the Windows Live division is the worst at listening to feedback. Instead of making the apps powerful tools, you are dumbing them down, putting lame features and removing existing features. Please stop doing that and release blockbuster full-featured apps.

    Almost all of the apps are inferior to their previous Windows couterparts. Windows Live Movie Maker is a joke compared to Movie Maker which itself wasn't very full featured but still had a timeline. And when will it support formats besides WMV? Live Mail is a complete mess compared to Windows Mail. It doesn't even support HTML source editing. WHY? Why does the photo slideshow feature a web service and requires internet access? Why don't photos get attached to the email and the slideshow play without internet access? Photo Gallery doesn't even support exporting to other formats like JPG to PNG like XP's Picture Viewer did and Picasa does. I have reported bugs in Photo Gallery to dozens of places (feedback.live.com, their photo blog, forums everywhere but it's not been fixed for 3 versions now? Compared to Picasa, WLPG lacks SO MANY FEATURES. Messenger is becoming more and more bloated by every version. Having a glitch-free and drop-free audio conversation on my quad core laptop isn't possible if I'm doing other things at the same time. Family Safety replaced the Vista Parental controls but WHY IS STILL HAVE A DAMN F**KING WEB INTERFACE instead of native Windows UI dialogs? Why do I have to sign in to a Live ID to use Family Safety when Windows user account credentials were enough for Vista's Parental Controls? Writer is the only good tool because it was based on an acquisition from Onfolio and MS has dumbed it down yet fortunately though removing the icons from the toolbars makes it harder to use.

    And btw your Live Messenger for Mobile doesn't even support audio/VoIP calls and it's been like for eternity. We had Skype but it was discontinued for Windows Mobile 6.5. Please support audio and video calls in the next version of Messenger for Mobile.

    Windows Live makes the Windows experience look sucky.

  • 7flavor
    352 Posts

    So you're now going to give millions of your XP customers an incomplete experience by dropping XP support for Live Essentials Wave 4? XP support IS MANDATORY. Are you listening this loud and clear?

  • You mention 5. Burning music, photos, or videos to CD or DVD, but what in Windows live makes this easier.  We really need a dedicated app for this as using windows to burn CD's without expensive third party software is a disaster

  • @Technogran

    Hey Technogran, that's my picture right there!  :)  More here just for fun:  cid-b3087f0d0fa92385.skydrive.live.com/albums.aspx

    RE Secrecy - there's definitely not an increased culture of secrecy within the WL division, or if there is it is a side-effect.  What we've changed in the past years is that we are more deliberate about what we do in a Wave, and when and how we disclose it.  Much like the Windows & IE teams, we plan an entire Wave for all teams upfront, and then set out to deliver what we planned.  Along the way we have checkpoints to solicit qualitative and quantitative user feedback.  The goal is not to keep people in the dark, far from it, but rather to move away from how we used to do things.  We used to have multiple smaller teams releasing tiny updates at random times and blogging about it. This gave the impression of transparency and agility, but the resulting products were not very coherent.  Overall we much prefer the new way of doing things and we hope it will translate into better product, and happier users.

    RE blogging - as you noticed we've consolidated our various team blogs into this one.  Our past approach was very chaotic and users did not know where to go.  There were literally dozens of blogs, each with their own URL, publishing everything from minor updates to random musings.  As a power user (and long time Live user – we’ve been reading your blog for years :-) you personally could keep up with all this, but most of our users could not. What we are trying to do this in this wave is to be more deliberate about this conversation.  You will also notice we are trying to go much more in depth about the thinking behind what we do and why, with longer posts that include metrics etc that in the past we might have not have disclosed.  The goal is not marketing - we have other venues for that.  It's about telling people what is going on in our minds that is shaping our approach to live, and having a productive 2-way conversation about it with our best users.  I personally think it is working, I feel like I’m getting more productive feedback than in Wave 3.

    RE Beta, fear not.  There is a major Beta of Wave 4 coming soon and it will be open for download.  Then will take the time to gather the feedback and telemetry and incorporate it back into the product.    We’re just not quite ready to talk about it, but we will be soon!

  • To be honest I do the following things, Surfing the web, Organizing and sending email, Organizing, viewing, and sharing photos, Social networking and blogging.

    That is all I do here for my Windows Live. And not to forget I just love WILM!

  • I agree with most of thes comments especially from gkeramidas. At one time, the betas were freely made available when Windows Live first began, and if you were testing them you contacted the teams via email to give feedback. Teams all had their own blog where ALL Windows Live users could give feedback, not just a chosen few. Not only that, they often published their photos on their blogs so that as a user you felt that you knew them all. Of course all that has now been stopped and their is no way for most Windows Live users to give their feedback to the individual teams.

    In previous years betas I for one would be testing it all long ago and giving feedback to the teams or via comments on their blogs. Now its impossible to do. Its become almost like a secret society. Why? Where has the openess with your users gone?

  • @Custom Computers - I will forward your concerns to the team that manages spaces.

    @gkeramidas - I am sorry your comments fell on deaf ears.  I will send you private e-mail to see what we can do.

  • Gary
    12 Posts

    first of all, we've tried to give feedback on windows live mail in the beta, nobody listened. i wrote a 2 page summary of issues that was sent to the windows program manager and he said he made sure your team received it. did any of my concerns get addressed? no. not mentioning his name in the public forum, but if you want the list of things that are wrong with windows live mail, let me know and i'll email it to you.

    your group has been one of the most stealth groups within Microsoft and I can give you a whole list of names that were beta team members that feel exactly as I do. I had to leave wlm behind and go to outlook because you ruined wlm.

  • All is well with WLive here since beta days... however concentrate on removing "comment ability"on spaces and profiles!  Spend a day viewing active users profiles including some of your own blog post sites with comments enabled to find a high degree of spam which when reported nothing happens. The report mechanism page is flawed by design in that your people recieving reports do not know how to use properly I think.

    The only other improvement issue is with Live Sync which has had varied issues of which we are aware, but as an IT Pro with 15 years accumulated knowledge, Sync still does function to my expectations. Nor that of many with mulitple sytems.

  • Thanks for your feedback.  These are all good ideas of course.  

    @SkippyG4 - we have added a feature we call MPOP (Multiple Points of Presence) to the Messenger protocols which does excactly what you ask for.  Messenger 2009 already behaves like this, and we are moving all of our clients towards working this way.  We have not finished upgrading all clients on all OSes though, so stay tuned.

    @Rodrigo - You are right to point out that Sync does not allow syncing to SkyDrive/cloud storage.  While both Sync and Mesh are compelling services in their own right, we realize it is confusing to offer two distinct services that overlap.  We are working on addressing this.

    @Islander - Good suggestions both.  

  • Islander
    46 Posts

    Sorry to disagree, but Windows Live needs much much more integration into Windows to "complete the experience". What about a way to access SkyDrive from within Windows Explorer? What about a Sidebar/Desktop gadget for Windows Live Messenger so you have your contact list information straight on the desktop? That's just two things that would definately make a huge difference.

  • "You can even use Sync to access files on your computer from anywhere."

    Nowadays Sync doesn't work exactly like this. I mean, I can't access my files in the cloud, just in another computer, considering it's on.

    I hope this will change in Wave 4, a more "Live Mesh" approach, with files in the cloud as well.

    []'s

  • Would be nice if the mobile messenger client for Windows Mobile supported the login at multiple locations like the Blackberry Client.  Really you can enable this in a competing platform but not a platform run by MS?  That is odd to me