A preview of Windows Live for Windows 8

A preview of Windows Live for Windows 8

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Last week we released the developer preview of Windows 8 (WDP) at the //BUILD conference. While we covered a lot in the keynote, I wanted to provide folks who’ve been following our services for some time with a quick summary of what we talked about and what’s coming next. Windows 8 provides us with an opportunity to reimagine our applications and services in a new context of user interaction and the power of connected apps. Across our teams we have been building applications and services with Windows 8 in mind. In particular, we took the bold steps of:

  • Enhancing our Live service for sync across your PCs
  • Making a SkyDrive available to every Windows 8 and Windows Phone customer
  • Building a new suite of Metro style apps for communications and sharing
  • And enabling app developers to use Live and SkyDrive through the Live SDK

Live service to sync across your PCs

One of the great things about web-based services is that you can log in from any browser and start right where you left off. The service keeps track of your settings and profile, and you can get started just by typing in your ID. With Windows 8, you now have that same ability for the important parts of your Windows experience, if you choose to. You can sign in to a Windows 8 PC with your Windows Live ID, and then it gets your profile, application settings, and other important information right from the cloud. And it is all built on top of the Windows Live infrastructure we’ve built to support over 500 million active users a month. In fact, over 150,000 people have already logged in to Windows 8 with their Windows Live ID, and as they move across Windows 8 devices, their settings and preferences will go along with them. The Windows Live service also keeps track of all of your Windows PCs and Windows Phones, allowing you to easily connect back to any PC when you are away, or find your phone when it is lost. 

SkyDrive for the information you create and care about

We all create documents, photos, and other files, and it is increasingly important that there is a place to store them in the cloud, either so you can get to them from any device, or so you can share them with friends, co-workers, or family members. Now every person who uses Windows 8 or Windows Phone has access to a SkyDrive, where you can put your most important files. These are stored in the cloud, accessible from any browser, and connected to the apps we’ve built for Windows 8 and Windows Phone. And you can share things with anyone, over email or through networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.   

New Metro style apps for Mail, Calendar, Photos, Messaging, and People

Metro style represents a new way to write applications, and we have rewritten our applications from the ground up based on the new Windows 8 platform. Our new applications target the new Windows 8 runtime and embrace the Metro style design principles, and cloud powered by our Windows Live service. An important aspect of our applications is that they are connected to the services you use every day, so you can quickly get a view of what’s happening. We know most people have more than one mail address, and Mail connects to multiple mail accounts, at home or at work. Calendar connects to your work and personal calendar, as well as calendars from friends, co-workers, or family members who have a Windows Live ID. People is a connected address book, bringing together contacts from work, home, and popular networks including Facebook and LinkedIn. Messaging keeps track of all of your IM conversations across Messenger, Facebook, and other connected IM networks. And Photos lets you view your photos, whether on your PC, another PC, SkyDrive, or other popular services. 

We'll have a lot more to say when we make the code available for these apps. At BUILD we just showed a short preview of what's on the way.

Live Connect for developers

Of course, an important part of Live and SkyDrive is the opportunity for software developers to use these services to power their applications. As we mentioned in the conference, Metro style applications are automatically cloud powered because Windows takes care of roaming the important settings. If you want to go beyond the basics, we have an API for SkyDrive that enables Windows 8 developers to read and write files to SkyDrive, and allows device manufacturers to add SkyDrive to their devices. And we have an additional set of APIs for Live, Messenger, and Hotmail, allowing developers to use these services. These are all part of Live Connect and were covered in depth in our talk at //BUILD.

We’re super excited by the opportunity we have with Windows 8 and have had a lot of fun building the new applications and services on the platform. Of course, we’re very early in our work and there is a lot more to talk about – what we showed is just a preview of what’s to come. We still have the rest of Windows Live Essentials; updates to Hotmail and Messenger; and even more on SkyDrive, Live, and our applications for Windows 8. We’ll cover these and more in subsequent posts.   

Chris Jones – Vice President, Windows Live engineering

26 Comments
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  • It's great you developed the Metro UI style for tablet/phone users, but my triple monitor desktop is never going to use Metro.  It makes no sense for me.  I have upwards of 12 things open at once and my daily workflow means I'm constantly switching between them and constantly have several things open on the screens simultaneously.  If I install W8 and I'm suddenly forced to jump over to Metro to use a full screen IM app, I will have to abandon Messenger.

    I get why MS is so excited about the Metro paradigm for smaller devices and even some laptop users.  But the desktop?  I just don't get it.  I've seen several articles defending Metro on the desktop and while I think Metro styled design (font / typography / minimalistic UI elements) might work and look great, the actual Metro full screen, giant block tile UI is as frustrating to navigate on a desktop as navigating a desktop is on a phone.

  • I started using sync with Folder Share before Microsoft bought it. Since then MS has changed the name and functionality of its sync "product" numerous time. What I miss at this point is some missing sync to Windows Phone and clarity on future SkyDrive capabilities. (Yes, we have OneNote sync in 7.0 and more things syncing in 7.5.) What I’d like to hear about is IE Favorites and dictionary sync. Live Mesh presently has Program Settings built in. There’s an IE section and an MS Office section (by default). If those Live Mesh syncs were not only synced between my computers but with my phone, I’d be shouting from the roof tops how good Windows Phone is.

    It seems like MS is trying to figure out if it wants to be a back-up provider and music streaming company. They need to settle that question and move on. To that end, I also wish I could sync flash drives to SkyDrive.

    I also think it’s strange and disappointing that Windows Live has “federation” with Flickr but Flickr Sets don’t show up in the Windows Phone Picture Hub.

    +1 emiliano84's requests.

  • Thanks. You can visit my site <a href="http://newswindowsupdate.blogspot.com">News Windows Update</a>.

  • abm
    268 Posts

    @Rod Davis, thanks for the reply. I was referring to the ability to copy or move files from/to root of SkyDrive via web-based interface http://skydrive.live.com which is still lacking the ability to do so.

  • Fantastic! Congratulations WL Team. I found it very intuitive and not cloying like the interface in apple ios.

  • ...and this is my hope:

    - merge live messenger/skype/lync/yahoo messenger (if microsoft buy yahoo as i hope)

    - merge skydrive/mesh with full support of sync folders/files/remote desktop

    - sync rss and favorites after settings

    more:

    - merge windows media player/zune/media center

    - merge paint and photogallery

    - merge wordpad and writer

    in one word less softwares with more functions!!!

  • Nora
    4 Posts

    What about Live Writer? I get really worried that no one ever blogs about it on this blog and that has me believing that it might be dead. The Live Writer team used to be really active with their twitter and in the help forums and that has kind of gone dark. We have sent them customer issues that I hope they address in the next release. It would also be great to see new features like tumblr support.  I guess you are working on a Metro version of Live Writer but I really love the desktop version and it would be great to hear about what is new beyond the issues we have reported to be fixed.

    Also what happened to the update to "Blog This" for Firefox plug-in? With the newer versions it has stopped working when it is clear that all you have to do is update the version that is supported like you did a couple of years ago. It seems strange that the Live Writer team has not kept up with this considering they used to be so responsive to this. This might go back to my first concern that the product is dead.

  • Fancy putting the option in to turn off metro because im not on a tablet and i am a normal windows user and not the minority your building the OS for?

  • @abm @WPS

    Actually, you can now map the root drive of your SkyDrive to a Drive Letter in Explorer. This works in both Windows 7 and 8.

  • Hello - As I noted in the post we'll cover other improvements in subsequent posts.  We're certainly as excited as you are to share more about our work but want to do it when the time is right.

  • How about an answer for wluser's question? Will this mean the end for the desktop versions? I for one don't much like the idea of running full screen IM on a desktop. nor email. Work's good on a smaller tablet and phone, but not so on a dual to tripple screen desktop...

    If so, does it mean the current live services for Xp and Win7 will just be halted?

    Microsoft on a whole need a better story for the desktop.

    It is kind of telling to skip a question in between two when answering...

  • Nater
    147 Posts

    Those apps look like crap.

    And can we get Sent, Delivered, Read tags for Windows Live Messenger?

    But seriously...  Those apps look terribad.

  • WPS
    8 Posts

    Will SkyDrive also available in the "normal" Windows Explorer? So it would be easy to use it from "normal" Windows programs, wich are not special programed for usage with SkyDrive. I know there are already third party tools out there wich do that, but they are more bad than good...

    So, what do you guys think? I hope you answer:)

  • abm
    268 Posts

    Please enable copy file/folder from or to the SkyDrive's root folder.

    Also, allow us synch Favorites or Bookmarks from within IE10 or Bing bar (to support other browsers) via SkyDrive and provide a simple CRUD app on SkyDrive to manage those Favorite websites. In comparison to Gbar's portable bookmarks feature. More on: connect.microsoft.com/.../sync-favorites-with-skydrive-an-idea-to-enhance-personalization-experience

  • frankwick
    37 Posts

    Don't kill essentials!!! I use WLPG every day.

  • WPS
    8 Posts

    Will there also be "normal" Windows Live desktop programs for Windows 8?

  • Do you have a timescale for making the new Windows Live Metro apps for WinRT available?

  • vieya
    44 Posts

    Fix the horror that is windows live movie maker.

  • @davidacoder appreciate the enthusiasm around this request. While this post doesn't specifically answer your question, we do realize where we have gaps in the scenarios we've enabled with SkyDrive and Mesh.

  • I take it from this "long on marketing speake but short on clear info" blog post that there WON'T be file sync a la Mesh between computers and Skydrive? I have rarely seen a post so carefully avoiding a topic, and such evasiv answers to clear questions in the comments, gee... Just let us know if this no 1 requested feature will again not be there.

  • Does it mean that WLE preview is [very] soon on the way?

  • @Bernard Angustia We showed the Live service connecting your devices (PCs and phones), fetch (so you can get to your files on your remote PC), and SkyDrive (a place to store your photos, documents, and other important files in the cloud).

  • @jader3rd Yes you are in control of what (if anything) gets synced between your PCs.  We showed this in the keynote (you can see it in Steven's section).

  • jader3rd
    24 Posts

    Is there a way to configure Windows 8 such that my settings won't get sync'd through Windows Live? Since I treat my different computers differently I actualy don't want the settings to migrate.

  • wluser
    3 Posts

    Will we have 2 differents versions of Windows Live or all the wave 5 will be with Metro style?

    I mean the classic applications we know of live services + New Metro Live apps or just  W8 just metro. I really would like to know  what are Microsoft plans for that.

  • Does this mean we'll finally get Ray Ozzie's Mesh vision of 2008 where all your devices, photos, videos, documents are linked together with Windows Live? Will this include the Xbox? Phones/Zunes? Photo Frames? Printers?