Jamie Thomson

Thoughts, about stuff

Archive for December 2008

View WindowsLive.com content in your newsreader

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www.WindowsLive.com has become a great place to read about new innovations in the various Windows Live services but its always been missing a useful RSS feed. Previously the RSS feed just provided the body of each post as a monolithic slab of text, devoid of formatting or images.

Happily that has now changed. You can now paste http://www.windowslive.com/feed/feed.rss into your RSS feed reader of choice and never miss any content from http://www.windowslive.com.


In the clubhouse: clubhouse, how-to, windows live, RSS


Written by Jamiet

December 22, 2008 at 8:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Calendar and mobile fallacy on windowslive.com

with 10 comments

I have just been browsing around http://www.WindowsLive.com and happened to notice the following on the Calendar page (http://windowslive.com/Online/Calendar/posts)

get started with live calendar

Its the “works great with mobile” bit that irks me because, in my experience, if there’s one Windows Live property that doesn’t work on mobile even the slightest little bit….its Calendar.


Am I missing something?


Written by Jamiet

December 22, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

View your Facebook Calendar in Windows Live

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Did you know that you can get access to all of your Facebook calendar (which contains all of the Facebook events that you have been invited to) in Windows Live alongside all the other calendars that you subscribe to?

Here’s how you do it.

  1. Open up http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/events.php which, after you login, will show you all of your Facebook events

    facebook events

  2. Click the Export Events link (you can see it above) and the following information appears. Copy the link.

    facebook calendar export linkMake sure you don’t share that URL with anyone, it contains IDs that are pertinent to you and you only.

  3. Head over to Live Calendar and hit the Subscribe button

    live calendar subscribe

  4. Ensure that “Subscribe to a public calendar” is selected, paste in the URL that you just copied, give the calendar a name and finally pick a colour for the calendar. Once you’ve done all that hit Subscribe to calendar.


  5. And voila, your Facebook calendar will appear at http://calendar.live.com along with any other calendars that you use. That’s all there is to it!


I really love this feature because I can now see nearly all of my calendar information (and my wife’s) in one place at http://calendar.live.com. Now if only the Windows Live and Office teams at Microsoft could knock their heads together to enable me to see my work Exchange calendar as well. As I said a year ago in my blog entry Viewing work and personal calendars together this is not a big ask given that I already publish my Exchange calendar to Office Online using my Windows Live ID.


Windows Live Tags: clubhouse, how-to, calendar, facebook

Written by Jamiet

December 22, 2008 at 1:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

People suggestions in the new Windows Live

with 5 comments

I just clicked the People you might know link at http://home.live.com and got faced with the following 12 suggestions.


Take a look at the 3 suggestions I’ve outlined. Can anyone spot the obvious problem here?

Message to the Windows Live team – if you’re going to suggest people to me make sure you know who they are!!! It would also be helpful if clicking on “ignore” for someone meant that they weren’t suggested to me again in the future!

As you can probably tell I’m not too enamoured with the new “People Suggestion” feature. To be fair there’s not a lot else that I feel is worthy of criticism in wave 3 but I enjoy pointing out the odd minor flaw here and there anyhow! 🙂

Written by Jamiet

December 18, 2008 at 11:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

What’s cooking in the Windows Live installer

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The next beta (what? another beta?) of Windows Live Essentials is out today and I noted some interesting things in the installer. This thing isn’t just installing Windows Live software, Silverlight and a Microsoft Office add-in are bundled in there as well.

windows live essentials installer

I wonder if this trend will continue? Will we one day have the option to install Photosynth, Worldwide Telescope, Live Mesh client and the Virtual Earth3D viewer? It certainly wouldn’t surprise me if we did.

One final thought. Why is the Windows Live Photo upload control not offered as an option here?


Written by Jamiet

December 15, 2008 at 8:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Did Windows Live Wave 3 deliver on what I wanted?

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On 18th October 2007 I published a blog entry What do I want from Windows Live? which was, exactly as it reads, a list of stuff I’d like to see delivered within Windows Live. I thought it would be fun to run through that list today and see how many items Windows Live Wave 3 delivered upon.

  • Hotmail and Windows Live Mail (i.e. the desktop mail client) should offer the ability to attach files from Skydrive or, even better, embed a link to a Skydrive-stored file. I’ve talked about this before. Not delivered in Wave 3 as far as I’m aware.
  • Skydrive offers the ability to subscribe to the contents of a folder via RSS feed. That’s all well and good for those that use an RSS reader but as Robert Scoble pointed out recently, most people on the internet don’t. Hence I would like to see people being given the ability to subscribe using Live Alerts which is currently a woefully underused platform in the Windows Live landscape. Like it or not the world still runs on email, not RSS (and certainly not on walled-garden social networks). Not delivered in Wave 3.
  • Messenger should provide us the ability to send files from our skydrive or, even better, embed links to them. This should supercede the current ‘Shared Folders’ feature within Messenger. Not delivered in Wave 3.
  • As I said very recently most activity committed using a Live ID should be viewable via the Live Spaces newsfeed. Furthermore there should be an API available that allows third-party offerings to publish activity to that newsfeed too (more on APIs later). It would be nice to see all this activity on a timeline overlaid on Windows Live Calendar when that finally arrives. Huge progress has been made on this in Wave 3 by extending the power of the What’s New feed as Dare Obasanjo has covered in his blog entry What We Did Last Summer: Social Network Aggregation and Activity Feeds in Windows Live. The Calendar timeline idea hasn’t been provided but in hindsight that was a naff idea anyway.
  • Change of status on Messenger should be reflected on Live Spaces too. Definitely delivered in wave 3. Not in the guise that I describe here but instead on our profile at http://profile.live.com.
  • Geotagged photos should be viewable on a Live Map. Not delivered in Wave 3 at http://photos.live.com. Disappointing
  • Whenever we build a search macro there should be a Live Agent automatically built that allows us to query that search macro from anywhere that we can converse with Live Agents. (N.B. Live Agents are sometimes known as messenger bots). Not delivered in Wave 3 and won’t be in the future now that we know that Live Agents will soon be disappearing.
  • We should have the ability to interact with Live Agents via a gadget as well as Messenger. Ditto.
  • We should be able to update all the information that Microsoft has about us using a Live Agent or a Vista Sidebar gadget. Why should I have to go to a web page to do it? Ditto. Can you tell I’m disappointed about Live Agents disappearing?
  • Skydrive should be browsable from a Spaces Gadget or Sidebar gadget. Not delivered in Wave 3, although someone could build one using RSS feeds from SkyDrive.
  • Photo albums and MSN Video should be browsable from a Sidebar gadget. Not delivered in Wave 3.
  • Zune should have the ability to sync with photos on Live Spaces or videos on MSN Video. Not delivered in Wave 3 (although not really a Windows Live thing).
  • Gadgets from the Live Gallery currently run on Vista Sidebar or Live Spaces. I’d like to see them run on a Zune as well. Zune gadgets if you will. Not delivered in Wave 3 (although not really a Windows Live thing).
  • Zune should load content from Windows Media Center and vice versa. Not delivered in Wave 3 (although not really a Windows Live thing).
  • An online custom word list for Office and other applications that use a dictionary via the F7 key. I’ve previously mentioned this here. Not delivered in Wave 3 (although not really a Windows Live thing). I still have high hopes that this will happen in the future, it would be a great one for Office Live to take on.
  • Preferences for Vista (or whatever follows it) should be stored in the cloud so that if I have multiple O/S instances I can make them all behave the same way. Windows Home Server may have a role to play here. Not delivered in Windows Live Wave 3 but then its not really a Windows Live feature. I strongly suspect that Live Mesh will bring with it the capability to do this – here’s hoping the Windows team choose to leverage it.
  • Most stuff viewable via Zune Social should also be available via my Live Space as well. e.g. I want to publish my most-listened-to list on Live Spaces. I hear strong rumours that this is just around the corner.
  • If I’m watching a TV program or a film on Media Center I’d like that information to be made available on other Live properties such as Messenger. This is no different to Messenger having the ability to publish "What am I listening to now" via my messenger status. Similar things have already happened. For example if I start playing a game on my xBox my Messenger status gets updated accordingly.
  • Windows Live Photo Gallery should allow us to build HD View photos and Photosynth collections. Photosynth integration; check. Nothing for HD View as yet.
  • MSN Video should allow us to set more granular permissions on our personal videos than just "All" or "None". It should use Live Contacts. Nothing changed here, again, not really a Windows Live thing although granular sharing permissions have been introduced for Windows Live properties so there’s no reason why the same cannot occur for other Microsoft services such as MSN Video.
  • All sign-ins done using Windows Live Sign-in Assistant Not there yet. Zune Social, for example, doesn’t use the sign-in assistant.
  • Share Listas lists with a subset of my contacts rather than "all-or-nothing". I hear on the grapevine that Listas is disappearing so that won’t be happening.
  • List gadget on Live Spaces should use Listas lists Ditto.
  • All activity using a Live ID should be audited centrally so that we can view all activity using our Live ID. This would help to identify if our live ID has been compromised. The Wave 3 What’s New feed provides a lot of this.
  • Windows Live Photo Gallery currently enables us to easily upload to Live Spaces. I’d like to take that one step further – I’d like to automatically sync with photos on my Live Space. Not delivered in Wave 3 but I have high hopes that Live Mesh will provide this capability in the future.
  • All APIs should be built on an open standard, not a bastardised version of one that requires specialised code libraries. Done. Read: A Unified Standards-Based Protocols and Tooling Platform for Storage from Microsoft.
  • Delegate access to all our live data. Moves are already being made in this area through the use of the Live Contacts API and similar. I’d like to see all data made available via APIs. Not delivered as yet but plans are definitely afoot. Read: Live Services move into the Live Framework.
  • Popfly should give us the ability to build Zune gadgets (see above). Nothing to report in this area. Not really a Windows Live thing.
  • I’d like to see a workflow-based approach to building Live Agents. Perhaps Popfly could offer this at some point. Again, Live Agents are on the way out.
  • Give us a Skydrive API please Still nothing to report here.
  • Twitter has already cornered the market in answering "What am I doing now?". Nobody has yet answered "Where am I now?" though. GPS devices are beginning to proliferate so I hope to see a service like what I have described here sometime soon. Nothing to report but I have a strong suspicion that the Live Framework is going to offer something here.
  • I’d like an Online RSS reader with offline syncing. And the offline stuff shouldn’t live in a web browser. No sign of anything here from Windows Live but I’m pretty sure that an online/offline RSS reader will be delivered by someone as a Live Mesh application.
  • Live Calendar. nuff said. Its here, its very very good and it almost out of beta.
  • A competitor to PayPal. A payment service that I can use with my Live ID would be fantastic. It’d have to go some to be as good as PayPal though. No sign of anything here.
  • I’m looking forward to seeing the rumoured Live Groups as an upgrade to MSN Groups. I expect that this will integrate heavily with Live Spaces. Check. Live Groups is here and it promises great things.


Rather than look back on what I wanted a year ago perhaps its more useful to see what Microsoft themselves were promising for Windows Live Wave 3. Here’s an excerpt from a memo by Corporate VP Chris Jones in summer 2007:

“We will invest to deliver a seamless experience for customers who own a Windows PC. We have a unique opportunity to remove the seams between Windows, our applications, and our services. Windows Live Wave 3 will be designed so it feels like a natural extension of the Windows experience.

While we will target a seamless experience on Windows Vista, we will make a bet on the Windows 7 platform and experience, and create the best experience when connected with Windows 7. We will work with the Windows 7 team and be a first and best developer of solutions on the Windows 7 platform. Our experiences will be designed so when they are connected to Windows 7 they seamlessly extend the Windows experience, and we will work to follow the Windows 7 style guidelines for applications.”

Windows Live Wave 3 will be designed so it feels like a natural extension of the Windows experience. … We will ‘light up’ the Windows experience with Windows Live. … What’s the relationship between a Windows account and a Windows Live ID (Microsoft’s Web-authentication technology)? Should we have a LiveID connected to account settings?”

Anything in there regarding Windows 7 is still out in the future but do you think that they are delivering on those promises thus far with Windows Live Wave 3?


Windows Live Tags: clubhouse, story, wave 3, windows live, feedback

Written by Jamiet

December 7, 2008 at 8:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Your Windows Live network explained

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If you’re anything like me then you’ll currently be a bit mystified as to what your Windows Live “network” is and how that relates to Spaces friends, Messenger buddies and Hotmail contacts. I was asking myself questions such as:

  • What’s the difference between people in my network and people on my profile?
  • Are Spaces friends part of my network?
  • Can someone be a messenger buddy without being part of my network or on my profile?

Well, I asked these questions to a developer on the Windows Live team and he very graciously passed on the following very informative diagram:

  Windows Live People
+—-Your network
|         |
|         +—– People on your profile (formerly Spaces friends)
|         +—– Messenger contacts (people with whom you share your presence)
+—-One-way  contacts (from Hotmail address book)

That certainly makes it a lot clearer. I wanted to draw this as a Venn diagram so downloaded Paint.Net to try and draw one but then impatience got the better of me and I figured I’d just post the above diagram instead – I think it tells us all we need to know. I know a lot of people have been wondering what has happened to Spaces friends in Windows Live Wave 3 so here’s the answer – they haven’t disappeared, just renamed.

Remember, your route into managing your network and contacts is http://people.live.com.

Thank you very very much to the afore-mentioned person that supplied this information – you know who you are!


Written by Jamiet

December 7, 2008 at 1:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized