LiveFX: Windows Live Services and Live Mesh converge
Microsoft’s strategy for their Windows Live suite has drawn much criticism since its inception in November 2005 but of late the muddy waters have started to clear a little bit. Firstly we have had the latest beta releases of Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Writer, Windows Live Mail and Windows Live Photo Gallery (all downloadable from http://download.live.com) which, for various reasons, look like being a much more integrated suite than previous. Secondly the Live Framework (aka LiveFX), an API for connecting to the Live Operating Environment, was announced as part of the Azure Services Platform at PDC2008 and within it there are clues as to the future direction of the various online Windows Live services (which include Windows Live Spaces, Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Events, Windows Live Skydrive and Windows Live Calendar) and that is what I’m going to focus on in this blog entry.
When we use LiveFX we talk about connecting to the Live Operating Environment (LOE) which is essentially the root of all the Windows Live data that your Windows Live ID gives you access to. In the screenshot below we see all the properties of the LOE and I’m drawing your attention to the Profiles property.
To take a closer look at that collection of Profiles we can use good old Visual Studio Intellisense:
The collection contains 5 profiles. The interesting thing to note is that when you drill into them you will see the same information that can be edited at http://spaces.live.com/profile.aspx.
Why am I telling you all this? Well in short I find it really interesting that information supplied in existing Windows Live services is now being exposed out of the LOE; Interesting because LiveFX is a ready-made API for allowing each of us to share our pertinent personal information with whomever we wish to share it with and THAT opens up tremendous possibilities.
Given that LiveFX provides information about each LiveID I strongly suspect that much of the other information that is held about us will also be exposed out of the LOE. Contacts are already in there (more about that in a future blog entry hopefully) whilst Calendars and Skydrive folders are all pertinent to an individual so those will be obvious candidates too. We may even one day see data from other properties being exposed out of here; LiveFX could become an API for your XBox Live achievements allowing you to boast about them wherever you like if you are that way inclined.
The other main thing that LiveFX gives you access to is the contents of your Mesh; indeed, the user experience at www.mesh.com is built atop the LOE. We now have a single endpoint for getting at both our Windows Live information and the contents of our Mesh and that should provide some really interesting possibilities for applications; one such example of which is the iPlayer/Mesh integration that was displayed in day 2 PDC keynote (its right at the end).
Bear with me, I may be talking about this stuff a lot.
P.S. For more Azure-related blogging from my colleagues and I head to: http://blogs.conchango.com/tags/Azure/default.aspx (RSS feed)