Jamie Thomson

Thoughts, about stuff

How Windows Live differs from Facebook and the rest!

with one comment

Prolific blogger Dare Obasanjo has posted a blog entry today The Facebook Effect: Google Reader Violates User’s Privacy that talks about how Google are accused of sinning by sharing Google Reader activity with anyone that happens to be a contact.

I know I probably shouldn’t do this (given the disclaimer that he often puts at the top of his blog entries) but I can’t help but read Dare’s comments in the context of his day job; that being Program Manager on the Windows Live team with an emphasis on Microsoft’s modelling of the giant global graph. Harnessed with the power of Live Contacts, Microsoft have the capability to do similar things to what Google Reader has done here (and what Facebook has done with Beacon), i.e. share a record of your activity with anyone that you happen to correspond with. Microsoft choose not to do this, instead they have the notion of "friends" which represents a different level of engagement with other people. Sure, Live Contacts can be promoted to the status of a "friend" but only if you and they want it to be so, and after that your activity will only be shared if you choose that it should be shared.

Hence, Microsoft’s policy around sharing of activity is in start contrast to that of some of its competitors. Dare states "I also predict that we will see more ham fisted attempts to grow their social graph at the expense of user privacy from various large [and small] Web properties including Facebook in 2008". Reading between the lines its not hard to envisage a pertinent appendage to this sentence "but Microsoft won’t be one of them".

Just recently I was interested to note that I now have a completely different way of defining "friends" via their and my Windows Live ID; I can specify that fellow contributors to the Zune Social can be my friends but these are different friends to those that I define on Windows Live Spaces. This raises a few questions to me:

  1. How many different groups of friends are eventually going to be accessible via my Windows Live ID?  (I say "hopefully, many")
  2. Should my Zune Social friends appear in my list of friends on Windows Live Spaces? ("yes")
  3. If so, should they appear as a seperate group? ("absolutely, yes")
  4. Will there be an attempt to de-duplicate my Zune friends that are also my Windows Live Spaces friends ("again, definitely yes")

However if that were the direction that Microsoft were to take it raises the question "Should my Zune friends be able to see my "What’s New" feed in Windows Live Spaces?" and that’s a difficult one to answer. If we are going to be defining different types of friends according to where we define them then we have to question how they are differentiated in our aggregated list of friends and, more importantly, what data about me will they all have access to? Defining groups of users is becoming so incredibly important now that it really is going to be the crux of the Windows Live infrastructure and hence I’m finding it easier to understand why Windows Live Groups is seemingly taking so long to be delivered.

As you may know from a previous blog entry of mine (New Spaces home page) I am interested to see how other MSFT properties may look to leverage the Spaces ‘What’s New’ feed in the future and I know that Dare had a lot of involvement with the "What’s New" feed. I would be interested to see Zune activity appear on my "What’s New" feed and I suspect that this cross-pollination of disparate properties is what Microsoft are replying on to keep themselves relevant online.

How many different groups of so-called "friends" am I going to be able to define on Microsoft properties? Well clearly we already have friends on Windows Live Spaces. As I’ve just explained we have music friends defined on Zune Social. Will we be able to define video submitters on MSN Video as friends? Can I define Office Online users as my work-based friends? There’s lots of possibilities and I’d like Windows Live Groups to underpin all of them. As I have alluded to before this is what truly excites me about Windows Live; many many disparate services across the whole Microsoft spectrum all linked by that single property – the Live ID.


Written by Jamiet

December 26, 2007 at 11:06 pm

Posted in Windows Live

One Response

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  1. I like your blog. :)


    December 27, 2007 at 1:17 am

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