Saturday, April 25, 2009

Windows Live to get social with Facebook and Digg, 18 others

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Or, in this case, partner with them. Microsoft has announced that it will be adding 20 new third-party feed partners and three new contact partners (MySpace, Hi5, and Tagged) to Windows Live next week. 

The first means users will be able to include their Web Activities from sites such as Facebook (a deal originally announced in January) and Digg in their Windows Live network. The second means that users will be able to invite their friends to Windows Live and vice versa; Facebook and LinkedIn are also to become contact partners "soon." Microsoft's goal with this is quite obvious: to turn Windows Live into the average netcitizen's main hub for his or her social life, or at the very least to turn Windows Live into a social network. 

Here's the complete list of new feed partners: MSN (Microsoft Network), Arto (Denmark), (Sweden), Dada (Italy), Dailymotion (France), Digg (US), Facebook (US), Fotolog (France), Hevre (Italy), Hyves (Netherlands), (UK), Live Journal (Russia), MClub (China), Metroflog (Argentina), Overblog (France), SmugMug (US), TypePad (US), Yandex (Russia), (Greece), MySpace (US, in the coming months).

If you've been counting, this means that Windows Live will soon have 31 feed partners including the ones it already has: Daum, Flickr, Flixter, iLike, Pandora, Photobucket, StumbleUpon, TripIt, Twitter, WordPress, and Yelp. When users update their statuses, share pictures, recommends an article, and so on, the activity can be set to be automatically added to the "What's new" feed on their Windows Live network. 

Microsoft claims that there are currently about 500 million customers using Windows Live, which is the same number the company cited in January when talking about the number of Windows Live Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger users (I guess not many users are using any of the other Windows Live services or applications). In either case, Microsoft wants to grow that number by having users invite their contacts from social networking sites over to Windows Live. 

Microsoft is also trying to figure out different ways for users to share content with their friends already on Windows Live. The goal with this is to get current Windows Live users to realize that Windows Live can be used like a social network. Dont' be surprised if you see more updates to Hotmail and Messenger along those lines. 

I find this a strategy an interesting one: it's simple and it's working, something we frankly don't see coming from Microsoft when it comes to the Web. That said, this is just a small stepping stone if Microsoft wants to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to social networking, though I will agree that getting your already large userbase to do much of the promoting is a good start. 

In slightly related news, if you have been having trouble with birthday calendars in Windows Live Calendar, Microsoft claims it has fixed the issue. The Wave 3 version of the Windows Live Web services, which included Windows Live Home, launched in December 2008.

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