My thoughts on the leaked Windows Live wave 4 header
Yesterday Liveside had a blog post entitled A new wave, a new look: First look at the Windows Live Wave 4 header where they showed some leaked shots of what the Windows Live Wave 4 header *might* look like. Here’s the current wave 3 header:
and here’s the leaked wave 4 header:
I left a few comments on that blog post and I figured I would collate them here for posterity.
The four pillars
First impressions are…I like it. There’s less up there which means its less cluttered and thus more elegant. I particularly like the emphasis on 4 pillars of:
That really helps to convey what Windows Live is really all about both to those who have followed Windows Live for a long time (like me) and also those that are new to it. One of the big complaints about Windows Live down the years has been that no-one knew what it really was; I believe that this new header indicates that one of the aims of wave 4 is to clear up that confusion.
I’m glad to see docs up there. Clearly Docs refers to the Office Web Apps that are currently available in beta which obviously have a large part to play in wave 4, I’m confident that this new feature will send usage of Windows Live sky-rocketing.
The social side
Hovering over the Messenger header item reveals a sub menu containing links to Spaces, Profile, Groups and Contacts.
One commenter stated that “Social” or “Services” would have been better than “Messenger” but I don’t agree. Messenger is a product that is used by about 350million people on a regular basis and is a brand that is understood the world over – for that reason alone it is a good choice to use Messenger to highlight the social aspects of Windows Live.
We have to realise (as Microsoft clearly did in wave 3) that Windows Live has already lost the social network war and that Facebook (not Spaces) was the heir apparent to MySpace’s crown hence they adopted a "if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em" approach by embracing other web properties in the form of web activities. For that reason Microsoft are right not to push Windows Live as “just another social network” and it explains why Spaces has morphed into an afterthought in Windows Live rather than being at the forefront of it as it was before wave 3. Messenger is a well understood, market leading product and its appearance in the header is acknowledgement of that.
I know there will be people disappointed in the continued demise of Spaces but the reality is that its role as the centre of the Windows Live world was over a long time ago. Making Spaces and Groups subordinate to Messenger emphasizes that they are now merely supplemental, not stand-alone services in their own right.
I notice from these screenshots that all mention of a user’s “network” has disappeared. I think that’s a good thing; the existence of “people” contacts” and “network” concepts in wave 3 was confusing and the eradication of the network concept highlights the theme of simplicity that seems to be prevailing in wave 4 (and indeed in the big daddy itself – Windows 7).
One of the main thrusts of wave 4 is the integration of Windows Live and Live Mesh which, at the time of writing, can be seen at www.mesh.com. This is evident in the dropdown menu on the right hand side of the header bar. See anything familiar?
That’s right, Mesh Devices are moving into wave 4 proper. I was half-hoping that we might see an “Apps” menu in the header bar, the same as which was made available in a Mesh technical preview back in 2008, but I suspect that’s fallen by the wayside (I actually have a few more suspicions about what has happened to developer story of Mesh but I’ll save that for another day).
That’s all for now. Let me know what you think about this potential wave 4 header and the direction that you think Windows Live is going in wave 4.