Jamie Thomson

Thoughts, words and deeds

Archive for July 2008

The first vertical service in Windows Live wave 3 rears its head

with 8 comments

Back in November 2007 I wrote a blog entry called "Windows Live’s vertical offerings" where I said:
I am interested to see what will constitute Windows Live wave 3. Microsoft’s success is built upon providing platforms and that is exactly what Windows Live now is – its a platform. A platform for what though? Well clearly Microsoft want third parties to build upon that platform but I wouldn’t mind betting that Microsoft themselves will be providing their own applications on top of this myriad of services and that’s what I think wave 3 will be all about. This is what I like to refer to as vertical offerings on the horizontal platform.
Another way to think of Windows Live as it is today is that it forms an infrastructure on which other applications can be built. I use the term "vertical offerings" to refer to applications that are built using this infrastructure that have a specific purpose in mind and today we saw the first incarnation of one such application with the preview release of Windows Live FrameIt (as usual Liveside have all the details).
 
FrameIt allows us to specify stuff to be displayed on a digital photo frame. What I find really compelling about this idea isn’t that we can display a carousel of digital photos in our living room (we’ve been able to do that for years) but that we can display other content as well. For example, I can have the morning’s news headlines presented to me which I can read while I’m eating my cornflakes whilst in the evening the photo frame can show the evening’s TV listings. There are a lot of form factors other than digital photo frames that could leverage FrameIt, Epigraph is one obvious example. Photo frames are just the start.
 
Like Liveside I suspect that Microsoft will be partnering with hardware manufacturers to produce digital photo frames that specifically leverage FrameIt and those I expect those to be with us before too long.
 
-Jamie

Written by Jamiet

July 31, 2008 at 11:15 am

Posted in Windows Live

Mesh’s hidden agenda

with 5 comments

I’m sat on my train home listening to last Friday’s (25th July 2008) episode of The Gillmor Gang; for those that don’t know The Gillmor Gang is a conglomerate of technology pontificators based in Silicon Valley that are headed by Steve Gillmor. On this particular episode they’re talking about what they think Microsoft are doing and are going to do in the online space – well worth a listen if you’re interested in such things (as I am).

They talk a lot about Mesh, XBox, Ray Ozzie, Live Search and the relative relevancy (or not) of each. They didn’t come to any conclusion about any of it but it was fun nonetheless although I do think they missed an important point about Mesh and search. Its something that’s been rolling around my head for a while and the point is this. If Mesh is a success (and I believe that it will be) then there is going to be a lot of information (gigabytes worth) per person stored in the cloud and across a multitude of devices that crucially only Microsoft has access to. And what is the best way of making sense of information of that magnitude? Search, that’s what!

Hence I predict that we will see a new kind of search engine from Microsoft. One that shows information from the web alongside and interspersed with your own content and that which your friends have chosen to share with you. If you are logged into http://search.live.com then Microsoft can return to you search results of YOUR OWN STUFF and that is a game changer in search. As Joe Wilcox said earlier today “Search should be about what’s important to you.”

Let’s take an example. Imagine you remember that you had recently been reading a Word document about balaclavas; you don’t know whereabouts you have the document but you know its in your Mesh somewhere. Instead of hunting around for it you head for http://search.live.com and search your Mesh from Microsoft’s own search engine. In your results you find the document that you’re looking for and also get back helpful information from Live Search including where you can buy the cheapest balaclavas and all the information you ever wanted to know about them too. Ever wonder why in Microsoft Office 2007 all the documents are saved as XML files? Simple…it makes it easier to search them.

Want another reason? How about being able to search through all of your Messenger conversations from http://search.live.com.

There are other ways that Mesh and Live Search can be mutually compatible too. As my colleague at Conchango Paul Dawson points out in his blog entry Live Services – Social Search – Collaborative research social search is evolving:

Using the Live Messenger services, and the Live Search services to create ‘social search’ – or in my book, a nice way of being able to share online research with someone – or a group.

it’s what we’ve been talking about for many of our clients. You can see this being used for a group, or a couple, planning a holiday or a trip, sharing their early research, and testing ideas on where to go with each other.

Paul and I have spoken about this a lot lately as we try and cook up some ways that we can use Mesh in the future. Mesh presents a great opportunity for conducting your research via a search engine and “shelving” your search results so that you or someone else can view them later.

image image

Live Search and Live Mesh– a winning combination. You heard it here first.

-Jamie

Windows Live Tags: clubhouse, search, mesh, story

Written by Jamiet

July 28, 2008 at 11:19 pm

Posted in Live Mesh

A great new feature for Windows Live Photo Gallery

with one comment

There’s an exciting blog entry on Liveside today which states:
Windows Live Photo Gallery – the main new feature in the current M1 build is facial recognition. Photo Gallery will automatically recognise people’s faces in your photos, and users will be able to add tags to each person
That’s very interesting because in a blog entry entitled "Auto-tagging in WL Photo Gallery" from November 2007 I asked for that very same feature:
…wouldn’t it be better if Windows Live Photo Gallery suggested tags to us and we just pick the ones that we want. For example, I take a lot of photos of my fiance, Helen. It would be useful if, when importing more pictures of Helen, Windows Live Photo Gallery were intelligent enough to realise that one of the faces appearing in my new batch of photos were similar to those I had already taken and thus infer that any tags from those existing photos might be applicable to some of the new ones
I waste a lot of copy on this blog fantasizing about future enhancements to Windows Live products so I’m delighted that something I want is making it into one of the products.
 
I now wonder whether this feature will make it into a future Flickr compete from Windows Live? It would be great if tagged photos in Windows Live Photo Gallery got automatically synced to an online photo-sharing service.
 
Oh look, there’s that word again. Sync. Can you spell "Mesh"?
 
-Jamie
 

Written by Jamiet

July 24, 2008 at 11:28 am

Posted in Live Photo Gallery

Big month for Windows Live

with 2 comments

August is shaping up to be a big month for Windows Live judging by stuff I’ve picked up from around the web. I happen to know that there is a new product release coming on 4th August; Mary-Jo Foley hinted yesterday that a new private beta for Windows Live wave 3 is due very soon, Windows-Live-senior-tech-product-manager-marketeer-cum-evangelist-type-guy Angus Logan said in an overnight Twitter "we have some stuff FINALLY being made available next week"; and to top it all the $300m marketing blitz that was promised for Windows Live should soon be seeing the light of day.
 
Something else that has hit the webwaves overnight is a new podcast from Windows Live community manager Marcus Schmidt. Read what Marcus has to say about it on his blog entry Podcast: What is Windows Live. I’ve told Marcus that he needs to make this available as a podcast feed so that we can subscribe to it through our iPods and Zunes so hopefully we’ll see that soon.
 
-Jamie
 
Update: Marcus has made a podcast feed available: http://marcussc.web.officelive.com/Documents/winlivemp3feed.xml

 

Written by Jamiet

July 23, 2008 at 8:53 am

Posted in Windows Live

Inside “Inside Messenger”

with 2 comments

I’m on a Live Messenger tip tonight.

I’ve been checking out the Inside Messenger bot (otherwise known as a Windows Live Agent) and having a lot of fun with it. As you can see below I’ve been checking out the new House of Cards video from Radiohead. Its hosted on Youtube but I’ve no need to go to Youtube to watch it because I can watch it right from within Live Messenger using Inside Messenger and, not only that, I can twitter about it at the same time. All from the same conversation window.

image

image

 

If you want to do the same then its dead simple, just go and add chat@insidemessenger.com to your Messenger buddy list and you’ll be away.

image

Cool stuff.

-Jamie

Written by Jamiet

July 18, 2008 at 10:52 pm

Posted in Live Messenger

What is the UK’s most popular web application?

with 7 comments

In terms of minutes spent online, what do you suppose is the UK’s most popular web-based website or service? Google? Facebook? iTunes? eBay? Maybe Second Life? MySpace perhaps? Well if you said one of those you’d be wrong on all counts, its actually Windows Live Messenger….and by some distance too.

Check out the latest standings as gathered from a report by Nielson Online.

image

I was quite shocked when I saw that, I never expected Live Messenger to top all that lot but I’m happy that it does. I’m a big believer that Messenger is an incredibly underused tool and I said so in my blog post I believe that Agents are our future… back in December 2007:

I look forward to the day when I am able to view my bank balance, pay my bills, purchase things from Amazon, book flights, view live flight information, update personal details that people may have about me and do countless other things that I haven’t thought of yet all from within my Live Messenger window.

Thanks to Riann for the tip. You can catch Riann on Twitter by the way at http://twitter.com/riaanvs, he’s got quite a lot to say about Messenger.

-Jamie

Windows Live Tags: Clubhouse, Story, Live Messenger, Messenger

Written by Jamiet

July 18, 2008 at 10:10 pm

Posted in Live Messenger

Storing Messenger conversations on the Mesh

with 3 comments

As I interact more and more with Live Mesh I’m having more and more ideas about how it could be leveraged. Even if you have access to www.mesh.com right now you really haven’t been a party to the full Mesh experience; no-one outside of Microsoft has. Its intriguing though to think about what will be possible when the platform really hits its straps.
 
With that in mind here’s a feature request for the Live Messenger team. Currently I don’t save my Live Messenger conversations but often I’ll think to myself "Ahhh…I once talked about that with someone in a Messenger conversation, pity I don’t have a record of it". I’m sure I’m not the only person that does that. Wouldn’t it be cool if all of our Messenger conversations were automatically saved to the Mesh? That way every conversation I have would be recorded and I would be able to search through them all as well.
 
Furthermore, once our conversations are stored on the Mesh then we can access them all programatically using the Mesh APIs that will soon be delivered and take that content, our content, and share it to wherever we want to share it to. Perhaps we could choose that our conversations are searchable for other people; perhaps http://search.live.com/messenger becomes a window onto a wealth of thoughts and ideas that until now simply don’t exist because they’re not recorded anywhere. There’s lots of possibilities here when you start to think of Mesh as more than just a file sync engine.

Better still, it wouldn’t just do this with typed conversations. My audio and/or video conversations would be recorded too. And THEY become searchable as well.

I think this is a pretty exciting possibility. What do you think?

-Jamie
 

Written by Jamiet

July 17, 2008 at 8:57 am

Posted in Live Mesh