Getting ready for Windows Live Wave 4

Getting ready for Windows Live Wave 4

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Over the last few months, we’ve focused this blog on our current software and services – how we build them and how they're used around the world. We’ve also talked about trends we’ve observed both in the use of our services and in our research with customers. Today marks the point where we shift the focus of our blog from our current services to our next major release – known internally as “Wave 4.”

For several months now, we’ve had several thousand people running regular builds of this code inside Microsoft, and we’ll shortly begin expanding this testing to some folks outside Microsoft for additional feedback.

We will then roll out updates to our web services, followed by betas of our software for Windows PCs, Macs, and phones. Our approach is to release betas to the public once we think the build is in pretty good shape, learn through beta usage data and beta user feedback, and make additional refinements that eventually become the final release. Of course, we’ll continue to update the service as we see how you use it every day and hear from you about what’s working and what needs improvement.

As promised, in this blog we want to talk more about our thinking and focus as we've designed this next wave of Windows Live. While there’s a ton of great stuff to come, you’re going to hear us really focus on three key areas – Messenger, Hotmail, and Windows Live Essentials — especially how the Essentials suite completes your Windows PC experience and connects your PC to the services you use every day.

Messenger –staying in touch with the people who matter most

Windows Live Messenger logo

In the not-so-distant past, your friends were mostly on one IM network, mostly on a PC, and it was easy to keep track of what they were doing. Today’s instant messaging is still mostly about people who are online on a PC having a conversation with each other. In Messenger, these conversations occur between more than 320 million users who exchange more than 10 billion daily messages with their real friends.

But in the last several years, conversations have shifted beyond IM sessions, to activity on social networks, sharing in email, and SMS messages.

People have hundreds of “friends” across numerous social networks and sharing sites, but most people still spend most of their time communicating with a core group of people. To stay up to date with these "real friends" you have to go from site to site and wade through long lists of posts. And really, most people don’t need another social network – the one they have is just fine.

Messenger will always be great for IM, and we’ll do more to make those conversations even richer. But Messenger is evolving into a companion for your social networks, so you can stay in touch more easily with your closest friends across the many services you and they use. As we broaden Messenger's reach, we remain committed to ensuring that you’re in control of your privacy. From simple defaults that keep your private life private, to powerful controls customizing how you share.

Hotmail – the most efficient email service for busy people

Windows Live Hotmail logo

Much like instant messaging, email has changed over the last several years. In the “old days” of email, you would only get mail from a real person, someone who knew your email address, and email was mostly text. Email today is a lot more than plain text – it is the way we get things done. It's where we conduct business, keep up with social networking updates, and share photos, documents and links with friends and co-workers. Similarly, your “contact list” isn’t just people you send email to anymore – it is a long list of people you communicate with in the social networks you use every day.

In past blog posts, we’ve talked a lot about how consumers are increasingly busy, and how Hotmail builds tools to save time for over 350M+ active users. We’ll focus our improvements in Hotmail on helping all those busy people get more done in email, in the most efficient way possible. This means helping you quickly see the mail that matters most, and letting you easily sweep away mail that you don’t want. We’ll also make it simpler and easier to share through email, whether you're sharing and editing Office documents with co-workers, or sharing vacation photos with friends and family.

Windows Live Essentials – completing the Windows experience on your PC

Windows Live Essentials logo

PCs running Windows continue to be the most popular way to connect to the internet. And, just as email and instant messaging have changed, the way people use their PCs has changed too. These days, folks use their PCs to communicate on social networks, send email, browse the web, and share photos and videos with their friends. Most people have a mobile phone, and many have an additional PC. And most people already have at least one social network (often more), a photo sharing service, and an email address.

Wave 4 of Windows Live Essentials includes the best tools to organize photos, make movies, and keep in touch with your closest friends, all designed for the power of the Windows 7 PC. We’ll focus on connecting your PC to your social networks, your photo sharing services, your phone, and your other PCs – and help you keep things in sync across all the devices you use.

Any time, any device, securely and safely

We’ve designed Messenger, Hotmail, and Essentials to work across the devices you use every day – the PC, the phone, and the browser. We’ll continue to focus deeply on security and privacy, so you get notified about suspicious or unusual activity, you get extra security on your PC, and you stay in control of how your data is shared with others.

In our upcoming posts we’ll go into depth on Messenger, Hotmail, and Essentials – and provide more information about the new features we’ve built and why we’ve built them. We’re excited about what’s coming next and we hope you enjoy the release as much as we’ve enjoyed building it. Stay tuned.

- Chris

Chris Jones is Corporate Vice President of Windows Live.

31 Comments
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  • Nater
    147 Posts

    Quote:  "This won't go down lightly Microsoft with me or with other XP users like me. I guess time has arrived finally to switch to Google's services."

    Let me know how good Google Live Essentials is, or their Outlook Connector.  Their Messaging client isn't much to write home about, either (and I don't know anyone who uses Google Talk, personally).

    Seriously, you're not making much sense. <- You have to at least do that when you threaten to leave.  That is, if you wish to not sound like a random troll.

  • Nater
    147 Posts

    Quote:  "No support for XP will cause many people to get so incredible annoyed by Microsoft, that many will consider the move to Mac or Linux.... Good move !!"

    FUD.  1.  Live Essentials will not run on Linux.  So what's the point?  2.  An iMac costs way more than a Windows Vista/7 License, and an iMac will usually cost factorably more than a Windows PC with the same/similar specifications.  Windows Live Essentials will not run on an iMac.  I fail to see how the thought of switching to Linux/Mac because you can't run Wave 4 isn't anything but rediculous, but you can try to convince me otherwise.  I approach everything with an open mind!

    Quote:  "I sure hope Microsoft is going to get with the times and keep up with Google by adding IMAP to Hotmail. I own an iPhone and it is so frustrating that I cannot keep my MSN Hotmail synched with my iPhone due to the lack of IMAP."

    Microsoft will have ActiveSync for Hotmail in Wave 4.  ActiveSync is supported on Windows Mobile, iPhone, Symbian, and IIRC Palm devices.  You'll be able to Sync Mail, Calendar, Contacts, and maybe Tasks (the latter, I'm not so sure about).  Stop the pre-emptive crying, and at least attempt some elementary research.  Bing it?  Lol.

    On the desktop end, DeltaSync > IMAP, convincingly...  Anyone who's used Windows Live Mail (with DeltaSync) as well as something like Thunderbird and Google Mail can attest to that.  It's almost like using Outlook + Exchange.  Windows Phones (WM5.0 and above) already get Push Email for Hotmail.

    I prefer to Sync Hotmail via Windows Live for Mobile, because it allows me to Sync both Hotmail as well as Exchange (which I also use).  If you set up ActiveSync, you can only have ActiveSync set up for 1 Server.  Using the Live Software avoids that conflict.  I get my Hotmail pushed to me as fast and efficiently as my Exchange mail.

    Quote:  "You are hypocrites Microsoft. Outlook 2010 can run on XP but not Live Mail? Word 2010 but not Live Writer? PowerPoint 2010 with 3D DirectX transitions and video trimming but not Photo Gallery and Movie Maker? Office Communicator 2010 but not Windows Live Messenger? I am already looking for alternatives. Let's see there's Picasa, Google Talk, Google Toolbar and Blogger. You just lost customers by cutting value-added products for your existing loyal customers."

    No one cares about Toolbars now that every browser comes with tabbed browsing and a search box.  Maybe for Google  users it matters, since Google doesn't have many decent Thick Clients for their services (there is Picasa and their crappy Google Talk client, but I don't think there is much else - correct me if I'm wrong).

    Using OS Libraries is always better than using dependencies form seperate products.  Moreover, when they want to enhance the applications, XP support can become a huge hamper.  They will have to do too much backporting of Vista/7 features to XP, when that time coding/testing can be used on Live Essentials features and enhancements.  Dropping XP support is beyond an excellent idea.  It's common knowledge that using an old OS can and will ultimately limit the amount of new software offerings you will be able to run.

    How many Mac users do you know using OS 9 and complaining to Apple because the latest version of iTunes or iWorks won't run on their machine?

    Not many?

    *******

    Moving on.  Something I'd like to see is for the Settings/Profile data for Windows Live Accounts to be integrated.  It always seems like I have to go to 3 different places to change stuff.  Also, the Security controls are just everywhere and it's too tedious.  For that reason, I've never seriously used spaces or anything else.  I just set everything to private, delete most stuff, and use the Thick Client applications to get to the stuff that is definitely needed.

    I'm sure stuff like SkyDrive, Photo Gallery, and Office Live Spaces (to be merged with SkyDrive) can greatly simplify the things I do, but you guys have so many overlapping services that aren't properly integrated/merged that it has become a hassle to work with them in the fashion that was envisioned.

    - Nater.

  • and when I mention synchronization, I'm speaking of synchronization of contacts between hotmail, outlook, and phones.

  • I just hope that this iteration of windows live and hotmail provides better synchronization tools between hotmail, outlook, and phones. Cause this import/export excuse of a tool is weak. It's 2010! Synchronization should now be standard, not a feature!

  • I want to have a try

  • Well I for one am so looking forward to these updates. However I do agree that there is too big a gap between the last big update (Wave 3) and this one. Also many Windows Live users (especially those who are either new to computers or silver surfers) have problems adjusting to a massive change as was seen following Wave 3.

    For me it looks as if most of my wishes have been implimented so I can't wait to try it all out.

  • vasudev
    28 Posts

    As in the post it says :

    "......We will then roll out updates to our web services, followed by betas of our software for Windows PCs, Macs, and phones........."

    So will the Wave 4 be released for Macs??

  • Very well said, verdelyi.

  • Eh, don't you want Windows 95 support as well? Or maybe consider going back to DOS.

    If you move to Mac, it will be more expensive than buying a new Win7 PC. If you move to Linux, it will be painful and maybe you will want to come back. Moving to Google? They provide almost the same, it's just two different aspects. If you like that more, go there. I personally like the Microsoft way more and I don't care for XP.

    Another thought: Office 2010 is paid software. You pay and you can expect support for your money. Windows Live is free. That means you can use it as it is. You didn't pay Microsoft to spend (lots of) additional resources on making Wave 4 compatible with XP.

    @MS:

    People using XP cause many security and compatibility issues that throttles the advancement of new software. If you at Microsoft don't force people to use the new stuff, they'll stick to XP as long as they can. They don't want to learn how to use Win7, they don't want any change at all, no matter how insecure or obsolete their OS is.

    If you lose those customers, well, you may be better off that way. Let them go and let them complain about eternal XP support elsewhere. I think you want to finally get rid of that codebase.

  • Thank you Microsoft for dropping XP support. XP is an insecure and unusable OS in 2010. I'm loving Windows 7. Windows Live Wave 4 will be great.

  • I am another detractor from windows after this. I can understand wanting to push your software forward, but when you have the mishap of making bloated software such as Vista so it can't run on netbooks then you aren't supporting 10 year old software as people are saying, but supporting software that I bought less than a year ago, in August.

    I will no longer look for microsoft products, but go out of my way to find alternatives for everything I use. I already made the switch to gmail. What's worse is I have really loved running the Office 2010 beta on my netbook, but after this I'm going to try out OpenOffice and recommend that my friends switch as well.

  • This won't go down lightly Microsoft with me or with other XP users like me. I guess time has arrived finally to switch to Google's services.

  • 7flavor
    352 Posts

    You are hypocrites Microsoft. Outlook 2010 can run on XP but not Live Mail? Word 2010 but not Live Writer? PowerPoint 2010 with 3D DirectX transitions and video trimming but not Photo Gallery and Movie Maker? Office Communicator 2010 but not Windows Live Messenger? I am already looking for alternatives. Let's see there's Picasa, Google Talk, Google Toolbar and Blogger. You just lost customers by cutting value-added products for your existing loyal customers.

  • i love hotmail ♥

  • I sure hope Microsoft is going to get with the times and keep up with Google by adding IMAP to Hotmail.  I own an iPhone and it is so frustrating that I cannot keep my MSN Hotmail synched with my iPhone due to the lack of IMAP.

  • porp
    1 Posts

    If the new version of Messenger *still* fails to save conversation history on anything other than a manual exit, I might literally explode.

  • wesdo
    4 Posts

    Hopefully you'll introduce HTTPS for the web version and IMAP. That'd be a great improvement.

    Can't wait to see what it'll bring us :D

  • Typhoon87
    27 Posts

    In addition you need to launch new versions faster than you have been. It has been over a year since the last updates to live messenger and the rest of the essentials.

    You need to speed up, google, aim, and yahoo offer feature upgrades every so often and not a year in between. please stop dragging your feet.

    Also please reduce duplicate/semi duplciate services. Live Mesh, Live Sync, Skydrive should be merged into one single application, these apps are too simular just make one with all these features.

  • I wish we could get it as quick as you can!

  • barts2108
    65 Posts

    And I am wondering (I think as many people do)  Why do we get ERROR messages on this website and other Microsoft websites when we try to post something ? Even though the post is successfull it says that there is an error.... I guess it must be the new Microsoft Experience

  • barts2108
    65 Posts

    No support for XP will cause many people to get so incredible annoyed by Microsoft, that many will consider the move to Mac or Linux.... Good move !!

  • Before Windows 7, Windows XP owns!

    I just love Hotmail, Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Messenger. But I would like to know if there is custom sign in sound or not? Like if I want to set my own custom sign in sound. Can I do it in Windows Live Messenger Wave 4?

  • Thanks for all the comments on Windows XP support.  We know many customers use Windows XP and are happy with their experience, and of course we will continue to support our current release of Windows Live Essentials on XP and the new versions all of our web-based services (including Hotmail and SkyDrive) will run on XP.  As some have noted on this blog, Windows XP is nearly 10 years old and simply doesn’t provide the same level of platform support for graphics, and we recognized early in our work on Wave 4 that we could do much more in our software on a modern graphics platform.  As a result our new version of Essentials will require the new graphics platform and controls that are only available on Windows 7 or Windows Vista and therefore will only run on these platforms.  So if you are happy with XP, you can keep running the current version of Windows Live and our new services.  When you move to Windows 7 and Windows Vista, we will have a new version that will let you do more on a modern platform.

  • Are we going to see developer access to calendar, tasks, and mail at some point in the near future?  We have been hearing about APIs coming soon since 2006, if not earlier...

  • aguilar
    3 Posts

    To all the Windows XP apologists out there: get off your unreliable, insecure and obsolete pulpit and upgrade to Windows 7 NOW. Microsoft is just looking ahead at what will be the reality in a few months: over the next year you will go from being the majority to the minority. Stop whining and get with the program; otherwise, you're worthless.

  • Typhoon87
    27 Posts

    Not supporting Windows XP is a terrible decision. On one side yes the Version of Windows is 10 years old, but with so many people skipping Vista you have to account for the exteded life of the operating system.

    Its still 70 some odd percent of internet connected computers.

  • anonymuos
    87 Posts

    WinXP support please.

  • 7flavor
    352 Posts

    No Live Movie Maker on XP was understandable but Live Mail, Messenger, Family Safety, Sync, Writer and Photo Gallery are wanted by lots of XP users. Please oblige MS.

  • Kit
    23 Posts

    I dislike how web applications takes that long to have updates....

    How about Windows Live Gallery, still in wave 2.

  • someone
    156 Posts

    In other news I just migrated to Yahoo! Messenger 10 as I need XP support. XP is older than stone age, I don't care. You are doing a mistake here Microsoft by abandoning a very large % of your Windows userbase (60%).

  • I love hotmail.