All your contacts in one place

All your contacts in one place

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When you want to get in touch with someone, where do you look? There are lots of places that people store their contact data - the address book for their email account, their Instant Message buddy list, Facebook, LinkedIn, their phone…. When you find that person you want to reach out to, is their information up to date? What about their email address? If they have more than one email address, which do you use? Are they online? Maybe you should send them an SMS or Facebook message.

My oh my, there are lots of ways to keep in touch!

Managing contacts just isn’t something people want to spend their time doing. Well, maybe some people… but I gather most of you would like an address book that is:

  • Up to date
  • Reflective of all the people you know on all the services you use
  • Available on all the devices you use (phone, PC, web)

In this release of Windows Live, we paid special attention to giving you exactly that.

Your one contact list is up to date

Across Windows Live and many Microsoft services, we all share a common address book. This information is stored centrally on our servers and available to a number of Windows Live products like Hotmail and Messenger as well as other Microsoft products like the upcoming Windows Phone, Outlook via the Hotmail Connector, Windows Live Mail, and now any phone that supports the Exchange Active Sync protocol like iPhone, Windows Mobile, and some Android and Nokia devices.

You can access your contact list by visiting http://contacts.live.com (note some of you will not see the new experience until the Hotmail rollout is complete).

all contacts

Additionally, you have access to all these same contacts on Messenger.

For all your Messenger friends, we also make sure that any of the changes they make to their contact information automatically go into your address book so that your friends’ latest phone numbers, mailing addresses, and other contact info is available to you anywhere.

All your contacts across the services you use

Not all of the people you know are going to be in your address book, though. For example, I know a lot of people on Facebook and LinkedIn, but I don’t have contact info for every one of them available in Windows Live. For this release, we built a set of features that connects Windows Live to the social networks that you use and keeps track of your entire list of contacts. When you connect a service like Facebook, MySpace, and soon LinkedIn to Windows Live, all of your contacts from those services will be available in Windows Live automatically.

This means, for example, that you can easily send a message to a Facebook user directly from Windows Live.

send a message to Facebook from Windows Live

Soon you’ll even be able to send your Facebook friends an instant message from the Messenger program and on the web.

send a message to Facebook from the web

In planning this work, one problem we immediately recognized was that a lot of you have multiple connections with some of your contacts on Windows Live. For example, I have my wife on Messenger, Facebook, and LinkedIn. What I don’t want to see are three copies of my wife’s contact information in my address book.

To solve this problem, we automatically identify and recognize who all these same people are across different networks and build a virtual Person view of their data. We combine all the information we have about that person into a single view and make it really easy to communicate with them on the different networks they belong to.

one contact, multiple services

Additionally, we keep this information fresh by continuing to sync data from your networks into Windows Live, ensuring that when information changes, you’ll always have the latest info. Finally, we let you annotate any contact data that comes in from a social network with your own information. For example, if you want to get a birthday reminder for a Facebook friend’s birthday but they haven’t included that information in their Facebook profile, you can add it in Windows Live, and we’ll remind you of their birthday.

Your contacts on the go

Many of us now carry a smartphone like the iPhone, a Nokia device, or a Windows Mobile phone (and hopefully soon, Windows Phones). All these devices can soon synchronize your email, calendar, and contacts with Windows Live so that you can take all your contacts on the go and access people’s phone numbers and email addresses (requires the new version of Hotmail). Combined with a smart address book, you never have to worry about having stale information for your contacts.

As I mentioned earlier, you can also get your contacts as well as mail and calendar in Outlook via the Outlook Hotmail Connector. This will get even better today since we are announcing a new plug-in for Outlook that will let you also see social updates from your Messenger friends (and your friends on other services connected to Windows Live) right in your Outlook inbox.

If you don’t have Outlook, you can use our free Windows Live Mail program for Windows to get contacts, mail, and calendar on your desktop.

Importing your contacts from numerous services

Windows Live lets you import or invite your contacts from numerous services. It’s our desire and hope that if you want to move your contacts to our service, it’s easy to do that. We support a number of popular services in different markets.

import contacts

All the people you know, in one place

We worked hard on this release to make sure you had one easy place to view and communicate with all your contacts on all your devices. We hope you find these features useful and look forward to your feedback.

Omar Shahine
Principal Lead Program Manager, Windows Live

23 Comments
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  • evilc676
    13 Posts

    @Omar Shahine I know I posted this 'complaint' in one of the other blogs and you were kind enough to reply to.

    But please could you feedback to 'the team' about the automatic contact updates not being a good idea in some cases.  I'm sure it was done with the best intentions, meaning that contact information is always up-to-date - but it does have a major drawback in overwriting specific contact details you may have for the contact (which that contact may not want to publish generally on their profile for everyone else).

    It would be far better to have the option of automatic updates or not... and if you've opted out then the 'updated profile information' of the contact is listed directly under the field in which the info is different to what you have stored for that contact.  I see this happens with information from facebook now.  Can this not be adopted for profile info too?

    I really want Hotmail to be the central place for my contacts, but if it means that information is overwritten/removed/changed without my control it means that I have to have an alternative place to store contacts (defeating the 'single place for contacts' that you posted about).  This is a major problem for me, not having control of information I store for my own contacts.  I hope that you understand the examples I have given.

    Many Thanks

  • lightseed, ggreig, thanks for your comments about syncing contacts.  We take your feedback very seriously, and will look into it on our end.

  • @johntraynor the current contact limit is 6,500.

    @jamiet if you have email notifications enabled for facebook messages, and you send those to Hotmail, they will appear under social updates.

  • Has the limit of 1000 contacts been removed? This is great, but pretty useless if two-thirds of one's contacts can't be stored in Windows Live. There are lots of people I have met whose contact information I want to keep available in one place but who are not social network "friends" necessarily.

  • omgbbq
    26 Posts

    @Omar,

    I'm confused.  Windows Vista and Windows 7 have a user-centric application-agnostic contact store.  Why would Microsoft introduce this feature and not leverage it in Windows Live?  This is currently my primary contact store.  Apple's iTunes has integrated with it just fine for some time and my iPod is always kept up to date automatically, but I still have to manually manage other Microsoft services?

  • Wow thanks man, im trying this out now =)

  • @Greg Edwards we have def gotten that feedback and will look to improve how pages and such are surfaced in Windows Live in future releases.

  • @omgbbq Starting with Windows Live Messenger Wave 3 we no longer expose Windows Live Contact data through the Windows Contacts APIs. This means that the Windows contacts application won't have access to these contacts.

  • +1 to jamiet's request, by the way.

  • I love the direction that the new Hotmail is taking unified contacts with links to all their connected services. However, I've noticed it pulls in my Facebook "liked" page as contacts, presumably so I can see their updates in the Messenger Social. It's more than a little weird to see "30 Rock" and "Telling Rush Limbaugh He's Full of Crap" as contacts in Windows Live, like they're real people. Is there a plan to streamline that in the future?

  • I also second Jose D. Morales' post about wanting Twitter. In fact, if you could import WAY more services then I could stop using Friendfeed, which was bought by Facebook, and they haven't updated since.

  • I would love to have my Outlook address books synched in this way, but I don't want my contact information permanently stored online. I'm quite annoyed to discover that my Messenger contacts are already there, and agree with @lightningseed that you need to take a different approach to remain legal in some countries. Your approach is very questionable in European countries.

    What I'm looking for is something like the data storage in Live Sync, where you can sync between multiple machines but opt out of synching to SkyDrive. (Actually, although opt-out made that sentence easier to read, it should be an opt-in - nothing should be synched to SkyDrive without an express decision on the part of the user.)

  • sp1der
    35 Posts

    when rollout will be complete????

    when exchange activesync will be available????

    when? when? when???

  • jamiet
    45 Posts

    Omar,

    The ability to send someone a FB message from within WL is very handy and one I didn't know about. However, there is no way of knowing, on WL, if I have received a FB message - I still have to visit FB in order to answer it (or even to know that its there if I'm not getting email notifications from FB).

    if you can fix that particular disconnect I'd be very grateful.

    -Jamie

  • @Omar I actually asked about this and was told that it was a problem with some plug-in. windowslivehelp.com/thread.aspx

  • @jagansai can you elaborate on what you are referring to or post a link directly to the issue on the feedback forum so I can direct accordingly?

    @achalddave thanks for the feedback. I'll send that to the Windows Live Mail team. With respect to Photo Gallery, you should not be seeing duplicates. I'll also pass this on to the team.

    @tylerwasson123 thanks for the feedback, I agree this would be useful

    @usctrojan98 yes, you will be able to manually select and merge contacts. However your experience in Outlook when you connect services in Windows Live will remain unchanged. Outlook will show your regular address book contacts and messenger friends in the Windows Live connector, and won't show your Facebook or LinkedIn contacts there (those will appear under the respective contact folders). Outlook doesn't have the notion of a virtual "person" yet.

  • This is extremely welcome news. I hate having so many different address books. My concern is that the unified contact is a virtual identity. Is there a physical address book where I can "merge" the contacts and see the person as just one entry with multiple "services"? Right now I use my Outlook address book as the master and with the social connectors, I have 3 new address books in Outlook. How will it work in contacts.live.com once I hook up mutliple services? And I am afraid to even ask, how will it work in Outlook after I get my wave4 rollout and have hooked up the various services on live AND have the same services in Outlook Social Connector?

    Contacts sync, de-dupe and merge is not easy, so I really appreciate the simplicity you bring with the virtual "person" entity. But at the same time I do need a physical form somewhere which I could make my master.

  • I'm very excited about the new features.  For a future release I would love to see the ability to share a contact between two or more people.

  • omgbbq
    26 Posts

    Do you support Windows Vista/7 Contacts?

  • I imported contacts from Facebook to Windows Live, and they got merged with my Windows Live contacts seamlessly. I love that. What I don't love is that in Windows Live Mail, the contacts are not merged.

    The same applies to Windows Live Photo Gallery. WLPG makes it annoying, because if I want to tag, say Joe Smith in a photo, it'll ask me whether I want to tag the Facebook Joe Smith or the Windows Live Joe Smith, which are both the same. I don't realize whether this happens all the time or not. Sometimes it doesn't. I've seen that it happens always if the emails on the two accounts are different [even if the contact is merged in hotmail]. This is extremely annoying and needs to be fixed.

  • you actually need to change this so that when setting up windows live mail it gives you the chance to opt in or out of syncing contacts to an online source.  I do not use hotmail etc.  I use windows live mail as my email client for my isp accounts, and that you automatically synced my contacts without any prior consent means you have broken the privacy laws in my country.

  • Jagannath
    11 Posts

    In fact, all my contacts are not synced up. My contacts in hotmail don't reflect in Windows live mail beta and the same case with messenger. I tried posting the problem in feedback.live.com but looks like that is not the right forum to get the answers for Windows Live essentials beta.

  • hope you guys can bring back Twitter for the services!