Windows Live Spaces – How it should be fixed

                                              

Windows Live Spaces is the platform for my blog as of now. It works fine for what it is. Much better than MSN spaces was. I’m not interested in making my own site right now. I just do some writing sometimes, and Live Spaces is fine for it. I like how it’s somewhat easy to use, nice on the eyes, and just overall good to use. But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect, or the best. What I’ve always wondered was, is Windows Live Spaces really a social networking site? There isn’t really a group you can make on Live Spaces, nor a page where you can register what school you go to, to find other friends (probably because most teens use MySpace), or anything like that. That’s something that they should work on, really making Live Spaces a social network. So here are improvements that Live Spaces should have had for a long time:

  1. Scalable panes/modules – (I prefer to call them panes, but they call it modules)Sometimes, I’m irked by the layout of my Live Space. Sometimes the panes are too big, or too small, and I just wish I could customize how big or small I want it to be. It would also help if the gadgets themselves work just as well when they are small, instead of looking squashed, cut, or just plain ugly from being cramped in a small column. If they can make the panes scalable, to change size on-the-fly, that would be awesome.
  2. Changing ‘Categories’ to ‘Tags’ – Categories are kind of old school. I hate how a post has to within a specific area. Maybe a post might be more than about life. It could be about travel, school, work, anything at the same time. A certain category doesn’t specify that well. That’s how tags come in. Tags are Web 2.0. They can express more ideas about a post. Like travel, school, work, John, Baltimore, could all be tags in one post. I can associate them more than just plain school, or just travel, or just John, and so on, and so on. Tags allow more to be known than a category ever will, and that’s why categories ought to be switched to just tags. And Microsoft could make a tag cloud gadget maybe like TagSpace so that tags you use on your Live Space can be displayed and guests can take a look at the tags you use, and figure out what you like to write about based on the size of your tags, and whatnot. It’s kind of self explanatory.
  3. Allow commenting to non-Windows Live users – even though Live accounts are popular throughout the world, not everybody wants to use one. Even if it is easy to get one. Blogger allows it. WordPress sites do it (quite well, I should say). So why can’t Live Spaces? It’s much more friendly to allow it this way. But they probably do it, so that someone just can’t leave spam without Microsoft being able to identify the user. But most likely spammers change accounts, so this method wouldn’t work any better. So they might as well allow anyone with an e-mail account to some web company to comment. At least Live Spaces could play fair that way, and doesn’t make some people angry that they can’t comment. Just as long as they leave an e-mail, it’s ok.
  4. Groups – Like I said before, Live Spaces needs groups. A place where users who share an interest can meet and interact. Like Message boards, forums, group photo albums, post document folders, list pages, videos, all the stuff you can find on most Internet groups. Sort of like MSN groups (which hasn’t been changed lately, and has been really dying). Sadly MSN groups is really weak, and needs a wake of web 2.0, or any remake. Compared to Yahoo! and Google Groups, it really sucks. Hopefully, Live Spaces can give it a big refresh with web 2.0, and add tons of more great features. Features, hopefully that could make Live Groups a big contender to Yahoo! and Google Groups. Which is another thing, Live Groups is really a service, and has nothing to do with MSN and it’s content. So a move to Windows Live is in order, and integrating it with Live Spaces is even better and smart. So basically, they should make a Windows Live Groups on Live Spaces for people who have similar hobbies to meet and talk together. How hard is that?
  5. Photo improvement – Photos is just ok on Live Spaces. The upload feature is quite good. Compared to MySpace, you can actually edit your photos with some tools, and it’s quite nice. You can upload multiple photos at the same time. You can add captions and stuff. I want to be able to add tags to my photos too. And annotate some notes just like Flickr does. A common complaint amongst most users is that photos aren’t displayed as well, as they were originally. The resolution might be off, not as detailed, slightly cropped to fit in, and some other similar stuff. Photos should be displayed the way they were, or at least so that you’re able to view the original photo somewhere. Maybe allow an offer for users to download or order, or something. Private photo galleries are another thing. I might not just want anyone to see my embarrassing photos, or just anything. Allow users to be able to make some photos private, and selective from the friend’s list. I can choose who should see it, and who doesn’t. That’s how photos ought to be.
  6. Live Spaces profile should have more – The profile pane is ok. It could still use some more though. There needs to be an option to have your Live Messenger status in your profile. Similar to the way MySpace has that feature. I could be online, busy, away, offline, whatever, and it would show up on my profile. People who read my blog could click on it, and IM me if they want. And I could chat with them if I wanted to. Having the Live Messenger status should be optional of course. Not everyone wants strangers IMing them. But I would definitely like that feature. There needs to be more options with what interests you like. Like a section where you could put ‘favorite movie’, ‘favorite color’, ‘favorite food’ and that stuff, instead of doing it yourself in your ‘about me’ box. Plus, it’s kinda strange that your display icon on the web, and your display icon on Messenger can be different. You could make them the same, but why give a choice in having them be different? I guess I’m ok having this icon to show how I am on the web, and a different one on messenger, but it’s kinda weird. I guess it works out for people who prefer it this way.
  7. Custom domain support – How about instead of http://msftandthefuture.spaces.live.com, it can’t just be http://msftandthefuture.com? Or if they still want to keep the Live insignia on it, how about http://msftandthefuture.live.com? I already hate how my URL is already long, but could the just remove the ‘spaces’ part? Compared to most other social network sites, the URL’s for Live Spaces are really long, and somewhat hard to remember.
  8. Friends list needs some work – Friends list is another fine feature in Live Spaces that could use some work. I like how you can hover over each friend, and get a nice updated profile balloon telling recent posts and pics and stuff. That’s neat. But how about automatically putting adding them to your Live Messenger friends, if both of y’all accept to be each others friend of Live Spaces? Friends you make on Live Spaces should automatically be added to your contacts in Live Messenger and Hotmail. Otherwise than that, that’s all I can think of.
  9. Statistics area needs some work – I’m not even sure if it’s just ok. Sometimes, I think it counts every time I view my page, which I do a lot. I don’t think it should count your own page views. I’m not sure if it does, but it seems to do that. It also needs to have the referring URL that led someone to the site. Like the URL they were on, right before they came to your Live Space, to see where it came from. I only see 3 URL’s on my site and all 3 of them come from baidu.com (a Chinese web search engine?). It would also be cool if it could integrate with Spaces Map, a map tool gadget that shows where all (or most) of your visitors come on a Virtual Earth map. It’s really neat. I have one on the left pane of my Live Spaces. It uses Virtual Earth technology, so why not integrate Spaces Map with the Statistics section to show a better overview of your visitors? That would be hot.
  10. Better theme customization – Pretty self explanatory. It’s pretty ok, but more preset themes would be nice. The new advanced tab under customization (from the last update to Live Spaces) is really nice. I can change the fonts and lots of stuff. I really want to do more with the title pane though. Like put in my own picture, icons, and whatever. That’s about it. For the most part, customization is good.
  11. Faster page uploads – Sometimes, the page takes awhile to upload with all the modules, graphics, and whatnot. Is there anyway to speed it up? Would be nice if they could do so. Page uploads aren’t that important to me.
  12. Better gadgets – One thing I love about Live Spaces is the support for gadgets. Gadgets are neat. Little neat boxes that have the content you want. But unfortunately, many of the gadgets on Windows Live Gallery kinda suck sometimes. Microsoft should make some more official gadgets. Ones that don’t really suck. Especially a poll gadget. There’s one, but it really disgusting. A nice aesthetic poll gadget would be nice. Plus, it would be neat if the gadget platforms were universal. So that they could work on a variety of platforms like live.com, Sidebar, Sideshow, Live Spaces, tons of stuff. At least mostly universal. If they can (or already do), that would really beat widgets. It’s just too bad that widgets still kind of look nicer.
  13. Fix up Live Spaces homepage – The Live Spaces homepage is kinda bland to me. It could use some more. They should make everything look more sleeker and add a big video tour for newbies to Live Spaces. Oh, and the video shouldn’t be corny, boring, or just too non-interesting for anyone. Try to compare how Live Spaces is better than the other leading social networking sites, instead of just listing off a bunch of features that Live Spaces has (as do many other sites). Sometimes, direct comparison is better than just saying how you’re good, but not saying how you’re better. Just put some more cool and it would look nice.

That’s about it. That’s pretty much my wishlist for Live Spaces. So is there anyway someone on the Live Spaces team could do that? I actually hope someone from the Live Spaces team reads this. Oh, and I used some of Brandon LeBlanc’s ideas on his own wishlist of new improvements for Live Spaces. I just spiffed some of his ideas a bit, and added my own. I don’t think Brandon would mind, but I’ll take them off if he tells me. Thanks for reading.

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