Jamie Thomson

Thoughts, about stuff

My thoughts on the leaked Windows Live wave 4 header

with 32 comments

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:

  • Hotmail
  • Messenger
  • Photos
  • Docs

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.

Wave 4 Messenger menu

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).

Mesh arrives

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.



Written by Jamiet

January 5, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

32 Responses

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  1. Interesting perspective on Messenger, Jamie. I was initially opposed to Spaces and Groups being classified under Messenger, but the more I think about, the more sense it makes to me. Messenger has long been able to display updates, first via the Alerts service, and later as an extension of the What’s New feed, including Spaces and Web Activities. We’ve become accustomed to thinking about the Windows Live social experience as something that happens on set of web page properties, but some might consider it being an extension of by Messenger. Kind of shifts the focus to what you can do, as opposed to where it’s housed. Kind of like SkyDrive being moved off center stage in favor of Photos/Docs.


    January 6, 2010 at 1:23 am

  2. Well I would have been surprised if you hadn’t been thrilled with this picture Jamie, and I know that you will equally be aware of my response. Again, you IT professionals are being taken care of, and your usage of the Windows Live site is taking priority. Believe you me, if I worked in IT and/or an office for example, I would also welcome these changes, as would any other user who needs to share documents with others, make use of sharing appications between lot’s of different hardware. We have a problem though with all of this. The Live teams are obviously themselves thinking in terms of ‘I would use this feature’ and not about ‘ Would the majority of those who are on Windows Live use this.’ You say that Windows Live has for many years been searching for an identity Jamie. ‘One of the big complaints about Windows Live down the years has been that no-one knew what it really was’ It HAD an identity before Wave 3. It was a community blogging site! It had a heart! A reason to be on here! You can read 140 letters on twitter, you can see updates from users on Facebook, but you can never REALLY get to know them until you read their blogs, see their photos of their family, their vacinity where they live, their favourite things, the music they like to listen to, the movies they like to watch. This screeen grab suits you and other IT professionals such as yourself because obviously you will make full use of it. Will others? ‘I’m confident that this new feature will send usage of Windows Live sky-rocketing.’ Hmm. Well, I’m just as confident Jamie that if this is the completed header, and therefore a continuation of moving away from the Social Network that we had centered around our Spaces and blogs, moving to meeting the needs of those who work in IT or the more professional user, then many more will leave and go elsewhere, perhaps other blogging sites such as blogger for example, and Windows Live will just be left with those users who will make use of those new features. Its such a shame that we can’t all have our wishes and needs met, from the little old Granny who wants to just share her stories, her photos, find new friends by reading about their life, and users such as yourself who obviously require something completely different from the site. NOTE. Don’t forget Jamie, there’ll come a day when you are retired, when with time on your hands you want to tell your stories, share your photos of your grandchildren, make new friends across the world. Just a thought.


    January 6, 2010 at 8:04 am

  3. Greg: probably misunderstood your comment, but it’s interesting too if Messenger then became a client for "Windows Live" social aspect. There’s picture sharing, so using the same interface, access to Groups and Spaces instead of going through the website. Maybe, they can even add interface like Wave, with updates from network flowing….okay, that’ll be huge bloat, and having the updates stream taking "screen real estate" would irks many from the idea.TG: when talking about community blogging site, the first name in my thought is actually LiveJournal instead of Live Space. Although I’m not involved often, most of my friends seems to build really solid communities there, especially on interest groups.Live Space is a blogging platform. As you say, getting to know peoples from the story they told… that can be done in other sites too, the important thing is if you want to do it or not.


    January 6, 2010 at 8:31 am

  4. TG,I’m still totally completely and utterly clueless as to why my working in IT is significant or why you think there is anything here that is aimed at IT folk. I have never, do not currently, and probably never will use anything at *.live.com in my day-to-day work.-Jamie


    January 6, 2010 at 8:45 am

  5. Jamie: Might be rude, but I think, unconsciously, making the tension betwen class.TG’s depiction of IT worker in comments are somewhat like… "elites", "exclusive", something unlike "most peoples". In the other hand, "elites" had lots of bad stereotypes following behind.


    January 6, 2010 at 8:54 am

  6. Yes. Perhaps my description and generalisation of the term ‘IT’ is incorrect. Sorry. Proffessional then? I dunno. All I know is that there is a very wide spectrum of users on Windows Live. Some of them won’t find a use for Doc’s. Some, including me because I prefer to use the desktop applications such as Windows Live Mail to access my Hotmail account and NOT its online version, and if I use messenger I also use the desktop version, won’ t make use of most of those tabs that this screen grab shows. Its trying to cater for every type of user on here. That’s the trick. Who are those users? Who makes up the bulk of your users of your site? Who’s needs and requirements should you try to meet? Seika, I am not trying to sort users into ‘elite’ exclusive’ and I am sorry if that is how it reads. It’s just very difficult to try and explain the huge difference between how some users need to use the Windows Live site and what features they require as opposed to those features that others feel they require and would use. Perhaps Seika you might explain it better than I?


    January 6, 2010 at 9:28 am

  7. Okay. We now have Windows 7. All users now buying a new computer, or upgrading to the new OS are encouraged to use the Live Essentials suite of programs. In that suite is of course the desktop mail program Windows Live Mail. It also contains Windows Live Messenger. So when you set up Windows Live Mail, you set up your Hotmail account. You can now access your Hotmail account on the desktop. Therefore cancelling out any need to come up here and access your Hotmail account up here. Messenger. Again, after setting up on your desktop your account, you can then message anyone on your desktop. Why would you use it up here? So we have two methods now being used to access both. One can cancel out the other. I don’t come up here onto the site to access my Hotmail account! Why should I? Its easier to read my Hotmail via Windows Live Mail. Same applies to Messenger. So from that shot, how many tabs am I going to be bothered about? In other words, the Desktop applications negate the need for the online site versions. And because Windows 7 relies and makes so much use of these desktop applications ,then surely there usage will grow and grow thereby causing more and more computer users to use the desktop versions?? Or am I unique in my usage?


    January 6, 2010 at 9:37 am

  8. TG,You’ve hit the nail on the head when you keep saying "some". There’s millions of people that use this stuff and you can’t please all of the people all of the time. Instead, a good tactic is to try and please as many people as you can as much as you possibly can, in other words cater for the majority. I suspect that philosophy drives a lot of decisions that are made in WL but inevitably its going to disappoint some people. Again, you can’t please everyone all of the time.You ask: "Who makes up the bulk of your users of your site?"For Windows Live its Hotmail and Messenger users, not Spaces users. As is demonstrated in this new wave 4 header.-Jamie


    January 6, 2010 at 9:38 am

  9. " the Desktop applications negate the need for the online site versions"For you – maybe. But given that Hotmail is one of the world’s most highly trafficked websites there’s obviously a lot of people that use it. Again, they cater for the majority.


    January 6, 2010 at 9:40 am

  10. I disagree a little here… The new header almost feels like MS are giving up on a bunch of services.In all fairness, with the introduction of photos and profiles and networks, more of my contacts now seem to use Windows Live as a way of communicating, and I think that promoting the services rather than burying them makes little/no sense to me.I use "Groups" a lot for software development. It’s a great place to be able to discuss progress, comment on files and builds, and really doesn’t fit under the "Messenger" umbrella. Neither does profile (which is used by a larger number of services), neither does Spaces. I agree, they should be promoting their stronger brands, but I think the new header looks/feels more like WL wave 2.5 – it’s a step back from version 3 in my opinion… Not to mention the fact that they don’t even look like drop-down menus. Hardly intuitive.Just my opinion… It seemed like Wave 3 was building up the WL services. Wave 4 feels more like services are being sidelined. Defeated.


    January 6, 2010 at 10:07 am

  11. If I was in charge of designing Wave 4, I’d put home/profile at the forefront. And have the rest of the services feed off of those things.Spaces could easily be improved into a better (and more standards complient) blogging system. Windows Live Writer is a great entry point for most people to get into Blogging and sharing photos. The fact that Spaces is now grouped under Messenger to me, says that Spaces is probably not going to get any feature upgrades.My ideal menu would be:Home, Profile, Hotmail, Messenger, Photos, Documents, Groups, Spaces, More (Calendar, Custom Domains, Downloads, etc)…And if that’s too complex, I’d group Messenger, Groups and Spaces under a "Social" menu. I agree with you that Messenger is a well known brand, but I’d guess that 90% of people run the client (and if Web Messenger is going to be featured on every page anyway, promoting it as a header is almost redundant).I guess I wish that they were building the WL ecosystem, in the same way that Google has been as of late, rather than cutting it back. But then again, I was sad to see Events retire… I enjoyed having that service.Anyway, we’re all speculating on a pre-release header, so hopefully there’s some refinements before lanuch.


    January 6, 2010 at 10:14 am

  12. Well let’s hope you are right Jamie and that the majority of Hotmail users do use the online version and that I am in the minority. I agree with Ali on lot’s of points. Okay, so Windows Live has now decided its lost the Social Networking war to Facebook, but I am seeing Windows Live users in my network being driven from here TO Facebook, where they can socialise and chat. Let’s hope that your are right Ali and things have changed regarding that header and its priorities contained within it.


    January 6, 2010 at 11:37 am

  13. > …context sensitive position.Thinking about it, without the search box, the placing of the text does seems a bit unbalanced. Only four links, and it doesn’t even reach up to the middle. Would be interesting too if that’s the general header. Then in specific tasks, there will be more header links showing up, like the Table or Drawing tab in Office’s ribbon.TG: Not sure myself for terms, but… I’d rather steer away from generalization that’s difficult to back up. Or maybe, focus more to user that use some features, as opposed to their real world demography.


    January 6, 2010 at 2:47 pm

  14. Your right Seika of course! I shouldn’t generalize should I? You can get yourself into all sorts of trouble by doing so. We will all have to be very patient and just wait and see what changes are in fact made, and then what reactions from Windows Live users they invoke.


    January 6, 2010 at 3:21 pm

  15. I think TG is overlooking Microsoft’s viewpoint. It’s not concern for you and me, the average hotmail user who generates little income. They look at their customer base in corporations and academia and then they look at services and software moving into the cloud with or without them. Then they realize the equation does not add up in their favor. At this time it looks as if MSFT is losing ground to Google who has a bottomless bank account. As Google dominates in the cloud and as enterprises start to move that direction, MSFT will feel it at their bottom line. We will see a reduced value in local apps (a major portion of MSFT’s offerings) as apps in the cloud and hosted cloud services take over. This will happen. This is not a maybe scenario. MSFT has to work hard and fast to retain their enterprise market share by giving enterprises a good cloud option. This has happened already with Live @ Edu which beats the pants off Google Apps for Ed, and it will get better as SharePoint moves into the cloud in mid 2010. Now they need to get Office in the cloud for non-academia. Everything I see points that direction — the merging of SkyDrive, Mesh, and OfficeLive as well as the placement of Office on the web and the integration of Live into Office 2010 clients. It’s not about us hobbiests. So, beat up on IT professionals all you want, but MSFT must please them and their corporate bosses to survive the next 5 years.


    January 6, 2010 at 4:36 pm

  16. Your probably right Brien. But where does that leave folks like me? The users who aren’t interested in the ‘cloud’? Who prefer to stay on their desktop as much as possible? And if everyone wants to use all these cloud apps, what happens when servers go down? I’m just a humble Granny. Most of this stuff I have no need of. Am I a lonely voice? Or are there other users who aren’t interested. Of course you have to make money, and I suppose that no one makes anything from me and my usage on here. I hadn’t really overlooked their viewpoint actually, just hoped that they could find some way of pleasing every type of user …… guess its not possible……..


    January 6, 2010 at 9:49 pm

  17. TG – I wouldn’t worry about this. The last set of alleged "headers" had "too many" links. This one has too few. Has someone FROM MS in anyway confirmed that these are more than mere Photoshopped images? It seems odd to me that the images off the LiveSino site look almost identical, except for the language. The English version even has some "fuzzed" out text in one of the menus. I hate to be a doubter, but why are we all in a frenzy over something that, even if true, will likely bear little resemblance to the final product. If it will make you all happy, I will photoshop up some really nice headers to put you at ease. Seriously folk – it’s time to get a little grounded.


    January 7, 2010 at 4:44 am

  18. @technogran: By using Windows Live (Messenger, Spaces, Hotmail…whatever), you ARE using the ‘cloud’. To address your concern, it is quite rare that large-scale "cloud" servers like Windows Live will go down, and if they do, even your Messenger or Windows Live Mail client will be unusable also. What I see is that the "clients" are the enhanced versions of the "web services". Take Hotmail for example – Hotmail is an online service, and it grew popular in the past 15 years because it can be accessed anywhere, anytime using any web browser or computer, and that’s the core value of Hotmail. If Hotmail was simply a "client-based" e-mail service, imagine one day your computer broke and you have an urgent need to check your e-mail, you’d have to go to another computer, install Windows Live Mail, manually setup your e-mail acount there, download your inbox again, just for the simple task to check your e-mail. That’s why "cloud" services are getting more prominent in today’s world due to its ubiquitousness. It’s to make people’s everyday tasks easier and faster – it’s not designed for Professionals only, in fact, Windows Live is aimed at the average consumer like you and me.The direction Windows Live is heading, is "Software+Services", meaning that at home, you have the software "clients", that provides you rich and enhanced experience with what you’d want to do on Windows Live (ie. Writer to write your blog posts, Messenger to chat with your friends, Mail to access e-mails, Photo Gallery to share and upload photos…etc); but you also have the web "services", that allows you to access everything you need simply using a web browser, designed just for the occasional event when you’re on-the-go, at a public location, at a friend’s place…etc, where all you’ve really got is a computer and a web browser that connects to the internet, that way I can still do what I need on Windows Live, just without the clients (like Spaces to write my blogs, Web Messenger to chat, Hotmail to access e-mails, Photos to view/share photos…etc). The clients and the web services complement each other.As for the header placements, they might be designed for 80% of Windows Live users who uses Hotmail and Messenger regularly, but that does not mean that the remaining 20% who doesn’t use Hotmail or Messenger won’t be able to access their Spaces, or their SkyDrive documents, because they’re not featured at a prominent position on the header. You’re not forgotten, but it is difficult to please 100% of the people. Greg Edwards makes a really good point about the position of "Profile" – you’d probably access Profiles more often by clicking on a user’s display picture somewhere else, rather than clicking "Profile" in the Wave 3 header?


    January 7, 2010 at 6:07 am

  19. John, some good points. But does the so called ‘average consumer’ have another computer where they need to access all these services either ‘on the go’ or via their mobile? Does anyone ever try to do some market research to check just what and how the ‘avarage user’ actually wants to access these services? How ‘average’ am I? I don’t have a need to access the internet at all when I leave my door. I only have one computer, a desktop computer. I much prefer to read my e-mails on my desktop. And use Messenger from there. Contrast my usage with someone who works, who wants to access everything ‘on the go’ sync everything to other hardware such as their work PC, laptop and mobile. It’s a difficult job to meet every users needs.


    January 7, 2010 at 7:11 am

  20. "But does the so called ‘average consumer’ have another computer where they need to access all these services either ‘on the go’ or via their mobile?"Yes, absolutely. And increasingly so."Does anyone ever try to do some market research to check just what and how the ‘avarage user’ actually wants to access these services?"I’m sure the answer is "lots".


    January 7, 2010 at 7:17 am

  21. Yes Jamie, I suppose you are right and I am not the ‘average consumer’


    January 7, 2010 at 7:40 am

  22. Just one thing: remember when Messenger first reared its head from within Hotmail? Everybody growled when it kept logging on and off every time we either opened or closed Hotmail on the web! Now, it’s supposed to be getting integrated on every "page link" from within Live. Does this mean you can cruise through Live whilst using Messenger without those awful logging in/out problems?


    January 7, 2010 at 10:10 am

  23. Hard to say Jen, because this is all just speculation at this point. But in theory, yes. LiveSide hinted at the fact that web-based Messenger will be persistent across the entire set of Windows Live properties. Notice the Messenger menu above? It was implied that the extra width of the menu would be used for some kind of additional status indicators or tools for interactions between Messenger and those ancillary services.


    January 7, 2010 at 1:14 pm

  24. Hmm. Could this be the way to incorporate our much discussed ‘chat’ facility on here? Make it available via every page? I wonder………;)


    January 7, 2010 at 3:21 pm

  25. Bit weird tho’, innit! Having an IM appy both on the desktop AND on the web! Same with Writer. Okay, it makes things easier if you want to include photos and such, in blogs, but it keeps getting this server error which has never been fixed. I’m seriously thinking about booting some of the desktop "essentials" back off, quite honestly.


    January 8, 2010 at 1:23 pm

  26. Jen, that server error is not always caused by writer. If I ever get it again, I delete some of my categories and that usually sort it out. There must be some sort of limit on Windows Live as to how many categories you can place your posts under.


    January 8, 2010 at 7:32 pm

  27. Categories isn’t the issue for me, TG. It’s getting to be a bit of a nuisance these days, and it’s always when someone’s tinkering with the system. Mind you, it also happens with the online editor when things get really busy!


    January 8, 2010 at 7:52 pm

  28. I didn’t know that it also occured with the online editor! If that’s so, then that proves its nothing to do with Writer Jen, and more to do with Windows Live site itself. I find that if I delete some of my categories (in Windows Live itself) it usually is then resolved. Almost as if you are only allowed to have a certain amount. (limit) I haven’t actually experienced it for quite some time when using Writer.


    January 9, 2010 at 8:06 am

  29. Does this mean that people will be able to view your messenger contacts? Or will you have to add them to your profile like you do in the current wave where you have seperate Profile contacts and Messenger contacts.


    May 25, 2010 at 7:12 pm

  30. Hi default,not sure I totally understand the question but…. people will be able to view your messenger contacts IF you give them permission to do so. That’s no different to today. Ostensibly there isn’t much difference between messenger contacts and your network.does that help?-jamie


    May 25, 2010 at 10:27 pm

  31. Hi jamie thank you for taking the time to respond to me. The best way I can explain what I mean is by saying that currently people can not see who I have added to my msn messenger list unless I add them to my "Network". I do not believe that you can currently do this, as you can only view someones "Network", as some people may have a large msn messenger list but may not have added anyone to their network for others to see on their profile.Am I right in my understanding that microsoft is going to get rid of these network contacts who you have added to your windows profile and simply import your entire msn messenger contact list for all to see. I know you will be able to set permissions on what you want to be displayed, but when wave 4 launches will you have to state that you would like to share this information (msn contact list) or will it automatically be put there until you change permissions to say otherwise.Thanks alot-Default


    May 25, 2010 at 11:07 pm

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