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Sat, Nov 15, 2008 - Page 10 News List

Microsoft Live gets social in Web site make-over


Microsoft ramped up its battle for Internet popularity on Thursday with plans to make Windows Live services more social and build bridges to Twitter, Flickr and other popular Web sites.

Windows Live will let users keep track of friends in ways similar to those at hot social-networking Web site Facebook, which has a partnership with Microsoft.

It will also apparently incorporate Live Mesh technology launched early this year to let people combine “smart phones,” personal computers and Web sites into de facto networks that allow data to be accessed from almost anywhere.

Windows Live is a collection of Microsoft online services, including Internet search, instant messaging and Hotmail email.

The “next generation” of Windows Live updates photo-sharing, e-mail and instant messaging and allows ties to Web sites like Pandora, LinkedIn, PhotoBucket and Yelp.

“Microsoft’s Windows Live is an exciting new platform that enables new experiences for both Photobucket and Microsoft users that would not otherwise be possible,” said Alex Welch, president of the photography community Web site. “Online photo sharing is an important part of people’s everyday lives and ... Photobucket is thrilled to be teaming up with Windows Live to make this experience even easier for users.”

Windows Live users will be able to make profiles akin to those at social-networking Web sites and keep friends updated on their activities with “What’s New” feeds as well as photo-sharing.

Users will be able to have instant messaging conversations with up to 20 people and drop digital photos into text chats.

“Think of Windows Live as the single place where people using our e-mail, messaging and photo sharing services can stay connected,” said Chris Jones, vice president of Windows Live Experience Program Management at Microsoft. “Our customers have friends across the Web. They communicate through many unconnected Web services and want access to it all from a single location without worrying about how it’s done. Now Windows Live takes care of that.”

The Microsoft Live overhaul comes as the US software giant’s third-place online search engine gained ground for a second consecutive month last month.

Live Search gains seem to have come at Yahoo’s expense.

Google’s share of the online search market climbed to nearly 72 percent last month, while Yahoo’s sagged below 18 percent and Live Search inched up to 5.4 percent, figures released on Thursday by industry tracker Hitwise showed.

Along with revamping Windows Live, Microsoft announced alliances with Hewlett-Packard (HP) and China Telecom Corp (中國電信).

HP will pre-install Windows Live photo gallery software on printers it sells starting next year and China Telecom will put Windows Live Messenger on computers and mobile devices it builds.

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