Planning a trip using Groups, OneNote, and SkyDrive

Planning a trip using Groups, OneNote, and SkyDrive

  • Comments 16
  • Likes

The last time I planned a summer trip with a group of friends, it was a long process that involved picking the right dates, finding hotels, and looking for activities to do once we got there. It was all pretty disorganized, with long email threads and multiple copies of documents that people had been sending back and forth in email.

It would have been a lot easier if we’d been using Windows Live Groups to plan that trip. It would have helped us organize all the planning and trip information in one place, making it so much easier for everyone going on the trip to be a part of the planning process.

For each group you create on Windows Live, you get a unique URL and email address. Group members can access all group information from the group's site. Once you invite someone to be a member of your group, they start receiving group email (even if they don't sign up), and they can view group photos and documents.

Windows Live Groups

Collaborate on documents like never before

Each group has its own 25 5GB of online storage on Windows Live SkyDrive, which gives you a central place to store and collaborate on documents. In this release, we’ve added the ability to share documents and photo albums that you’ve stored in your personal SkyDrive with the group.

Correction and clarification, 8/2/10: Each group’s SkyDrive is still 5 GB (as before), but because each member can now also use their 25GB personal SkyDrive to share files with the group, you have lots more space to share photos and documents than before.

Documents on Group SkyDrive

Now that Office Web Apps are integrated with SkyDrive, group members can view and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents right in the browser – even if they don’t have Office installed on their PC.

Group owners can "pin" documents and folders to the group profile page to make it easy for anyone in the group to find an important document.

Pinned documents

Your secret weapon – OneNote

Every group also gets its own OneNote notebook on SkyDrive, with different sections and pages just like a regular notebook. Your group’s online notebook is useful for collecting information from members and for storing centralized resources. You can copy in links, images, maps, and random notes, and rearrange them on the page as you get things organized. It’s great for brainstorming with others as you plan your trip, because you can each add your own notes and ideas to the notebook in real time, without fear of overwriting anyone else’s notes In other words, it’s a great companion to trip planning.

Group OneNote notebook

Messenger integration

Groups is also integrated into the new Messenger. In one click you can start an IM conversation with the entire group (for groups with less than 40 members).

Groups integraton with Messenger

Group activity is also really easy to keep track of. Each group has its own Messenger social feed on the group's main page.

Group Messenger Social feed

Sharing photos with the group

After your trip, everyone in the group can upload photos to the group's SkyDrive or share albums from their personal SkyDrive folders with the group.

Here we're uploading photos from Windows Live Photo Gallery directly to the group:

Uploading group photos

And here's what it looks like when you’re viewing those photos in a cool Silverlight slide show on the group’s SkyDrive:

group photo slide show

A powerful tool for group planning

Windows Live Groups is a simple and powerful tool to plan a trip or event or stay connected with your family, your team, or your social club. In our latest release, we’ve added deeper integration with SkyDrive, which makes collaborating on docs or sharing photos easier than ever. Give the updated Windows Live Groups a spin at groups.live.com, and let us know what you think.

Omar Shahine
Principal Lead Program Manager, Windows Live

16 Comments
You must be logged in to comment. Sign in or Join Now
  • How about group management tools? much like pal talk had. The admin can assign other admins or mods. bounce (kick out) or ban people. Set a time limit.

  • Skydrive (Office Web Apps) is not very useful if I don't get email notifications when the doc is updated by others I share it with. I have asked this in the past and was told the only notification is in the messenger feed. Email notification is a feature that should be supported to enable collaboration.

  • HeinrichP
    18 Posts

    I have more enchangements: As in the application "Dropbox" (www.dropbox.com) you install an application on your computer, and then it automatiically makes an folder on the desktop, where you can put you files in. This folder automatically (without user's consent) syncs the files to your online dropbox. It's very easy -you don't have to log on, you don't even have to have an working internet connection. -it just happen automatically next time you connects again.   Very smart. Should also be possible in skydrive.

  • HeinrichP
    18 Posts

    I have some feedback: I have an folder with some vacation-pic's. But the person I'm going to share them with doesn't have Windows Live Hotmail. It would be nice, if I could give him a temporary username and password, so he could access these files on my skydrive only.   Please enchange this in Hotmail and Skydrive.

  • treize13
    12 Posts

    This is a really nice feature that I am enjoying testing out. However, have you all considered adding some kind of message feature directly into groups (like a bulletin board or message board)? The ability to post messages within groups and then have those messages sen tto group member emails would be more usefull in my opinion. However I'm loving the innovation and integration.

  • @adamzea In Wave 4 we also shipped a mobile experience for Groups. All the URLs are the same as on the PC, just navigate to groups.live.com on your mobile phone to check it out! Note that the mobile experience is only available on smart phones with modern mobile browsers. If your phone can view the mobile experience you'll automatically be redirected to it by going groups.live.com.

  • adamzea
    2 Posts

    That's cool, but it all needs to be accessible from Windows Phone for when you're actually ON THE TRIP and you need that kind of information or you need to navigate to one of your locations.

    Remember when Bing Maps for Windows Mobile was able to access location collections that were shared between users?  That feature allowed collaboration for points of interest and all people involved were able to access the locations lists from their phones.  See:  pocketnow.com/.../planning-a-trip-with-bing-maps-windows-mobile

    Unfortunately the feature was removed from current versions of Bing Maps for Windows Mobile.

  • Eric C.
    6 Posts

    Just came to say THANKS! for the New HotMail update, loving it and hope to see more as I poke around, THANKS again!

  • Hi Omar, this -almost pretty cool. I created a group for my family and as I navigate back and forth within the group's pages I keep getting error message below (sometimes I'm even getting it in Portuguese!). What gives?

    This page is temporarily unavailable

    We're sorry, there was a problem showing this page. We experienced some technical difficulties retrieving the content.

    Sign in with your Windows Live ID or go to the Groups home page.

  • How come MSN messenger is not connected right now?

  • It would be nice when you create or become part of a group to automatically add your group email to your contacts.

  • There is something wrong with my profile. Since yesterday, I keep getting this error message "This page is temporarily unavailable We're sorry, there was a problem showing this page. We experienced some technical difficulties retrieving the content. Please try this page again in a few minutes."  Who can I speak to? Thanks.

  • controlz
    145 Posts

    Great stuff, is groups. Trouble is, I'm on Family Safety so I can't use it. Please can you allow groups on Family Safety?

  • I also use Groups with some friends. Most of all for the Calendar and the Messenger chat feature. But knowing that I could work that way with Photo Gallery and Skydrive is really cool.

    I like the idea of using this Groups for "small" groups of people who are willing to achieve something or just share stuff.

    I'll loke forward for more comments and further posts.

    Thanks! :)

  • @Greg Edwards thanks for the comments and glad you like the features. We did a lot this year to focus in the areas you specify. The issues you noted are things we'll look at for the next release. Thanks!

  • Honestly, I'm glad to see that Microsoft still remembers it has a product named Windows Live Groups. It has been one of my favorite features since its initial release in wave 3, but it didn't feel like it received a lot of attention since then. I really like some of the new document collaboration features provided in wave 4, but I'd also like to see more development around the discussions, group e-mail, and page customization features.

    I get that Microsoft wasn't looking to create another big tent web forum tool with Windows Live Groups. Instead, they were going for smaller, more intimate groups of friends, colleagues, and families that share a common interest. They also provide a great way for casual acquaintences to interact without cluttering each other's networks.

    Discussions remain the primary way that most of my groups' members communicate with each other, and they would benefit from improved sorting and searching abilities. I can't tell you how many times I've needed to locate a point that was made in a discussion, and I have to wade through pages and pages to find the right reply. Threaded replies would also be nice. Oh, and group owners also need the ability to pin discussions to the group's main page, just like documents and folders.

    I think shared group notebooks hold a lot of potential, once members figure out how to use them. They're not particularly linear, and it can be somewhat difficult to find an individual author's latest contributions.

    I don't get the 40-person limit in group chat. Yes it sounds like a high ceiling, but it's disappointing that groups with more than 40 members are automatically prevented from using the feature at all. I've participated in several large groups, and there are typically very few active users at any given time. It seems to me that a smarter way to implement group chat might have been to allow up to 40 members to actively use the feature at the same time, instead of disabling it for the entire group. As it stands, I'm faced with limiting membership or losing the group chat option.

    I'd also love an option to allow non-group members to send e-mail to the group's address. For instance, I have a family group, and I'd really like friends to use our group e-mail address to send messages to both me and my wife. I realize that's not practical for every group, but it would make a nice optional feature that owners could configure.

    Lastly, it'd be great to have the option of a semi-public or public group in which anyone could view discussions or public files, while participation in discussions is limited to group members. I think that would go a long way to making groups more discoverable and engaging. In that way, your group could evolve into a rudimentary community website or multi-author blog.

    Thanks for developing such a great compliment to the Windows Live family of services!