Jamie Thomson

Thoughts, about stuff

Windows Live People review

with 6 comments

On 1st July 2008 I posted a blog entry entitled Live Contacts feedback which detailed some changes I wanted to see made to the existing contacts service at http://contacts.live.com and judging by the comments it received a lot of people agreed with me. We now know that that service has been superseded by Windows Live People so I thought I would go back and compare the new service against the changes that I requested. Here goes:


  • The ‘Receive contact updates’ and ‘Invite as messenger contact’ links were showing up on many of my contacts earlier this morning. Since then I have logged off and logged back on again and those options have inexplicably disappeared I haven’t seen this reoccur in Windows Live People.

  • Having two profile pictures, one for Messenger and one for Spaces, gets confusing at times. I am fairly proficient in using online services and can sort through the debris to work out which each is but I imagine it must be pretty confusing for Joe Newcomer to work out why he has to submit 2 pictures and where each of them gets displayed. Is the profile picture that gets displayed at http://contacts.live.com their messenger picture or their Spaces picture? I haven’t got a clue and I suspect no-one else has either. We still have two separate photos, one on Messenger and one on our profile (http://profile.live.com) so there’s no less potential for confusion now then there was back in July.

  • The difference between tagging Spaces friends and putting messenger contacts into groups is also confusing. If I add someone into (e.g.) a contact group called "Work colleagues" then in order to have the same information available in Spaces I would have to go and tag them with the same. I now have the problem of maintaining the same information in 2 places and making sure that they remain consistent. I’d completely forgotten about this one-time problem until now. I had complained about this feature duplication elsewhere in my blog entry Spaces: Groups or tags. But not both please as well so I’m glad to see that the tagging feature has disappeared. Not surprisingly I have not seen anyone even mention that this feature has gone so its clearly not missed.

  • I have many contacts for whom "You receive contact updates from this person" is the case. This is a great feature (especially as I will soon be able to have the same synchronised to my mobile phone) but looking through a lot of my contacts a lot of them don’t update their information which renders the feature fairly useless. Is there any way to be proactive, without being intrusive, about getting people to keep their information up to date? Great to see that steps have been taken to solve this problem. I have seen prompts both at http://home.live.com and when signing into Messenger for me to update my profile so I’m delighted that Windows Live is indeed being proactive about getting people to keep their information up to date.

  • Overall the interface seems rather inconsistent. Sometimes certain links (e.g. Receive contact updates) appear, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes profile pictures appear, sometimes they don’t. There might be perfectly plausible reasons for this but you don’t actually tell me what those reasons are. it would be good to have some information such as "XXX has chosen not to share their home address" or "XXX has not uploaded a profile picture". I don’t notice problems like this anymore so either they’ve gotten rid of them or I’m just not being driven to the same places where they appear. Either way, its good news.

  • I don’t think "Your request for contact updates is pending" is a very user-friendly message. How about "You have asked XXX to share their contact details but they haven’t agreed to do so". I think that’s better. Only marginally better but nonetheless, better. I don’t see this message anywhere anymore even though I know there are people that I have invited in the past who have not yet accepted my invitations but still appear on my People Suggestions. Is it better to replace a nebulous message or get rid of it altogether? That’s up for debate I guess but at least its changed from what it was before.

  • Sometimes I see a message "Your request for contact updates is pending", sometimes I see "You receive contact updates from this person" or sometimes I see a link inviting me to "Receive contact updates from this person". I would have thought that those 3 things are pretty much all-encompassing yet sometimes I see none of these messages, even when I have the person’s Windows Live ID. That seems rather strange to me. Haven’t really noticed this problem since wave 3 came out. As I said above this could just be because I’m not being driven to the same places anymore.

  • I have one contact for whom whenever I hit the "Receive contact updates from this person" link I receive a message "Your contacts can’t be saved right now. Please try again later." in the yellow bar at the top of the page. I do also get the message "Your request for contact updates is pending" but whenever I click away from her contact record and then back to it I again see the "Receive contact updates from this person" link. This happens every time I do this for her – and I’ve been trying for a few months. I haven’t seen it happen with any of my other contacts. I wish I could remember which contact this was so I could go back and check 🙂

  • There’s no obvious way of knowing whether one of my contacts is a Messenger contact, a friend on Spaces, both of those or neither of them. I would have thought there would at least be a visual cue that a contact is a Spaces friend. The differentiation of which “buckets” a person falls into is now much clearer at http://people.live.com as I explained in my blog entry Your Windows Live network explained.

  • I have some contacts for whom I know their name and nothing else. I haven’t got a clue how they came to be in my address book and in some cases I don’t even know who they are because they use a nickname to identify themselves. I am guessing that they are some random person that has befriended me on Spaces but the point is that I don’t actually know. I’d like some information about how and why they came to be in my contacts list. When I check out http://people.live.com today I’m pushed to find someone that I can’t identify at least by an email address if nothing else so this problem has been cured. It would still be nice to know how, why and when they came to be entered into my list of contacts however.

  • Some simple info that you could provide would be when they got added to my contacts list and when the contact record was last updated (if at all). If it HAS been updated, who was it updated by? Me or them? No, we still don’t have this type of information which I refer to as auditing information. I live in (probably vane) hope.

  • Stretch goal – how about an update history? As above.

  • Sometimes it hangs. For example I tried to delete someone from my address book about 3 minutes ago and since then have had the yellow box saying "Working on your request…" displayed on the screen with nothing atually happening. To fix this I have to close down the browser and go back in. Haven’t experienced this problem in wave 3.

  • I want Live Contacts to be my online address book but unfortunately there are many address books out there like Plaxo, LinkedIn etc… and my friends/work colleagues are also on those too. This raises 2 things (1) How do you make Live Contacts more appealing so that people choose to use it over those other services and (2) can you partner with those companies so that I can link my Live contact profile to (e.g.) Plaxo and LinkedIn so that when I change my profile on Live Contacts is also shows up on those services but, more importantly, when my friends on those services update their profiles those changes end up in my Live Contacts address book too. This is a hugely difficult problem to solve (and its a politically charged problem more than a technological one) but the industry is moving in the right direction with the establishment of organisations such as http://dataportability.org/. Microsoft have shown themselves to be very open in the data sharing arena (open advocate Marc Canter is often heard praising Microsoft for being the most open vendor out there) so expect a lot of advances in this area in the next few years. Given Microsoft’s various initiatives with Facebook I wouldn’t be surprised to one day have the ability to directly link a Facebook profile to a Windows Live profile and hence let data flow between them.

  • The user interface which basically displays a few small details on a white space that takes up most of the screen is pretty ugly to say the least. I find http://people.live.com to be much better aesthetically than its previous incarnations.

  • A big stretch goal would be to click on a contact and see a list of all my interactions with them. e.g. All my messenger conversations (with a link to the transcript if I have saved it), all Spaces messages, all comments I have written on their Space. I know that this is a huge huge ask – but it would be very nice to have and a killer feature that no-one else has (or in fact could ever have). Progress has definitely been made in this area. I can now go to someone’s page at http://people.live.com and see all the emails in my Hotmail account for that person. That’s cool – but there’s still a lot more that can be done.

  • If a request for updates is pending I would like to know when I made that request. I would also like to cancel the request and/or re-request it. Obviously you don’t want to give me the opportunity to spam people so perhaps you only give us the ability to request contact details (say) once every 3 months per contact. None of this has been provided.

  • just to prove an earlier point…there is someone in my contact list for whom all I have is their name and a link to their Space. I presume that this is some random person that I befriended on Spaces (note to self – really must stop doing that) but actually when I click the little dropdown under their name I see the "Invite to friends list" link. I haven’t a clue, and I can’t even begin to guess, how or why this person is in my address book and I haven’t a clue who they are. As previously stated I don’t have this problem anymore.

  • I have no way of knowing which contact groups a contact is in, especially if they are in more than one. the only way to find out is to go and manually search the address book and I’m not going to do that. I now see all of the categories listed at http://people.live.com

  • If someone’s Windows Live ID has lapsed/gone out of service shouldn’t you tell me about that? As far as I know you don’t at the moment. I have no idea if there have been any improvements here.

  • Perhaps the big white space that I talked about earlier could be filled by my Spaces newsfeed, filtered to only show activity for the currently selected contact. Again, that would be a killer feature. As stated, they’ve definitely made moves in this direction by showing all the emails I’ve exchanged with a person.

  • I have just clicked on "Receive contact updates" for one of ym contacts. There is nothing on his contact record to say that "Request for contact updates is pending" until I click away and click back. Experience here is definitely better with http://people.live.com

  • There are a number of people in my contact list for whom I receive contact updates but for whom I still don’t actually have any information because they have chosen not to share anything. Perhaps you could inform people, when they accept an invite to share their contact details, what they are actually sharing. Similarly, if someone changes their preferences so as further restrict the information they share tell them who is subscribed to their information and thus is going to be affected by the change. The surfacing and administration of information about who can see what on your profile has improved tenfold in wave 3.

  • There are many (and I mean more than 50) contacts for which I don’t have any information except their name which is Qxxx where xxx is a number. I presume that these are people I have befriended on Spaces because they all have a "View Space" link but why on earth are they all called Qxxx? Also, I just clicked on a few of them and selected "Receive contact updates" and received a message (e.g.) "Your request to receive contact updates has been sent to rochelle". If you know their names, why does their name not show up in my contact list? Are these people that I have invited to be Spaces friends but have not responded? I suspect that might be the case because in fact one of them DOES have his name displayed – its <name removed to protect the innocent>. Although another one of them is <name removed> and I know that he is one of my friends on Spaces. Another one of them was <name removed>, and he will tell you that we’re friends on Spaces too. I have now clicked to receive contact updates from <name removed> and his details (including his name) have been filled in appropriately but he’s still listed in my contact list as "Q98". Once I logged off and back on again he became correctly listed as "<name removed>". It’d be nice if I didn’t have to log off for this to happen. This has been improved tremendously. I now only have 2 contacts out of over 600 that are listed as Qxxx.

I think its fair to say from that assessment that Windows Live People is a huge improvement on what we had before. Top marks to the Windows Live People team and indeed Windows Live in general for what has gone on here.


Windows Live Tags: clubhouse, story, people, feedback

Written by Jamiet

February 2, 2009 at 6:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

6 Responses

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  1. >This has been improved tremendously. I now only have 2 contacts out of over 600 that are listed as Qxxx.You should have none. This was one of the problems we worked hard to make sure was addressed by Wave 3. Do you have any idea when you added those contacts or how you added them?


    February 2, 2009 at 6:49 pm

  2. Dare,Yeah, one of them invited me onto his profile (which I accepted) sometime in the last 2 or 3 days (I only know that because I recognise his photo). The other one – no idea whatsoever.-Jamie


    February 2, 2009 at 7:04 pm

  3. Does the user who invited you to their profile have a first/last name visible on their profile or are they a "no name"?


    February 2, 2009 at 7:40 pm

  4. Dare,Check your yahoo email account for some screenshots.


    February 2, 2009 at 7:48 pm

  5. I still have Qxx’s as well — these are contacts that were added in 2006. They were added via the old Spaces interface.


    February 2, 2009 at 8:46 pm

  6. Pursuant to one of your excellent points about categories, I’d really like to see all of the groups to which a contact belongs. Don’t think you can currently see that in WL People.


    February 2, 2009 at 8:59 pm

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