Live Events has been, well, live for a couple of weeks now. There was a lot of positive press about it when it was released but I wanted to give it a proper run for its money before I really made a judgement on its usefulness. So, I set up an event of my own for my fiance and I’s wedding which is happening next year and started to play around with its features.
First let’s look at the positive stuff.
Prior to Live Events getting released I was wondering how it was actually going to get delivered to us and was worried (and expecting) that it was going to be another brand new beta service that wouldn’t see the full light of day until a long time from now. I was pleasantly surprised upon discovering that in reality Live Events is built upon the established Live Spaces platform. This meant there was beta tag on it – great news. It also meant that all the features of spaces are (potentially) available to us on live events as well. More goodness. Third, it means that we can easily leverage our Live Contacts which is another infrastructural piece of Windows Live. Excellent stuff.
I like that I can send invites to my event to people who don’t have a Live ID of their own and that those people can still reply to the invite. (Note to my dearest, I’m not contemplating using this to send out all our "proper" wedding invites. Don’t worry!)
Integration with different calendar applications including none-Microsoft ones is commendable. I can only assume however that the lack of support for MSN Calendar (which I use a lot) is because support for Live Calendar is coming very soon. I hope so.
The ability to have guests upload pictures of their own is a fantastic idea and one that I hope my wedding guests will make use of after our wedding. Can guests upload videos as well? Not yet it seems – that would be cool too!
The ability to have a discussion board devoted to the event is a great idea. I see this being really useful for smaller ad-hoc events such as cinema trips or sporting events. On my event I’ve begun a thread asking people what music they’d like the DJ to play (no promises mind you).
My favourite feature though is that I can pick the URL to use for my event and even better, its http://myeventname.events.live.com rather than http://events.live.com/myeventname. This serves to make it look more professional, more like a dedicated site. Hopefully this will impress my less tech savvy friends and family that aren’t yet aware of what Microsoft is doing with Windows Live. This, along with the ability for our guests to upload their own photos, both made my fiance say "wow" and that’s gotta be good news 🙂
I can’t ignore the negative aspects of Live Events though. There are three main things that I find pretty annoying:
- My main gripe (and its one that is true of the Live Spaces platform as a whole) is the thoroughly poor support for displaying maps. I remember that when http://celebrities.live.com was announced months and months ago (it seems to have disappeared now) I was impressed that the three celebrities (two of which I’d never heard of) had a gadget on their Live.com collections that displayed a live map collection. Try as I might I couldn’t find a gadget on the Live Gallery that did the same thing and to this day I still can’t find one. The map on Live Events at the moment only allows one marker and … well … that’s it. There’s not even any information displayed for the marker. This is nothing even close to the first-class experience on Live Maps and that is very very disappointing.
Fundamentally I want to display directions to my wedding (the newly announced 1-click directions feature on Live Maps would be perfect for this) and at the moment I cannot do it. My wedding is next September guys, if you can give me this feature before then I would be very happy. I’d also like to be able to build a 3D tour video of driving directions although this is more of a problem for the Live Maps guys to sort out.
- As far as I can discern it isn’t possible to change the photo that is displayed on the event details. Below is a shot of the event details from my event, I’d like to change the photo to one of my fiance and I. but I can’t.
- Unless its passed me by there is no way to add new gadgets to your event from the Live gallery. For example, I wanted to add a countdown gadget that counts down to the day of our wedding and as you can see from the following screen shot there is no way to add the countdown gadget from the Live Gallery to an event:
OK, so those are my main complaints. I’ve a few other minor quibbles as well:
- The links to "Create your own event" and "Subscribe to RSS feed" are hidden away in the tools menu. I’d rather that they were front and centre, especially ‘Create your own event’ because that’s what will allow Live Events to grow virally.
- I’d like something similar to Live Spaces’ "What’s new" feed so that I can see exactly who’s been visiting my event site and what they’ve been doing.
- When I create a new event it doesn’t show up on the "What’s new" feed on my friends’ What’s new feed. Why not? No reason why it shouldn’t do or even better, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have the option to have it show up there.
- There doesn’t seem to be a way for people to subscribe to updates to my event via Live Alerts. I think there should be because not everyone uses RSS feeds, certainly I’m sure most of my friends and family don’t.
All in all I’m really very impressed with Live Events. One final thought, Techcrunch wrote an article all about this which you can read here. One commenter said:
"YAWNNNNNNNNNNNNN why in the world would people use that when there’s evite.com?!!??!!"
My response to that was:
The answers (for me and me only) are:
1) Before Live Events was released yesterday I’d never heard of eVite
2) I already have a username/password that gets me onto Live Events, why would I bother going and getting another one to enable me to do the same thing?
That second point sums up, in a nutshell, why I’m such a big fan of Windows Live.