The new Windows Live update came around for me on Wednesday, December 3, 2008. I’ve had a chance to explore it, and here are my perceptions on what I find is great and not so great about the update:
Home – Worth taking a look at!
1. Much improved look and to the point – Finally, a Windows Live Home that I don’t mind looking at. The look is much better than the previous, and displays more relevant information than a bunch of mumbo jumbo I have little interest in. However, there’s a graphic ad and headlines from MSN that I’m not interested in, nor have the option to opt out of. The customizability is much better though.
2. New Themes – I’m excited about the new themes, especially the dynamic themes (which automatically changes depending on the weather and time of the day). I think they’re a big improvement over the pastel colors of the old Live.
3. Better network managing – Now it’s much easier to manage and connect with friends in the form of People Suggestions. Here, you can view all your messages from within your Profile, Invites, and even Suggestions about friends that you might be interested in.
4. Ability to add 4 personal photos – It’s a nice personal touch, and adds a bit to your profile.
5. Quick access to hiding certain updates – I like having quick access to hiding certain types of updates or users.
1. No ability to put HTML in the Guestbook – A lot of people have been complaining about this. Personally, I don’t care, but if you’re going to remove a feature, the team better state it out clearly as to why.
2. MSN Headlines can’t be taken off – I don’t understand why you can’t disable them. I’m not too interested in MSN Headlines, and I don’t like being forced to look at them.
3. Wish for a better layout – I wish there were some boxes, or outlines separating each area of the page. Maybe a dashed border perhaps? Or even the icons? I also don’t like the mix of orange title, and blue links. Kind of blechy. Wish I could customize it more.
4. Needs MORE themes – I wish they would bring back the option to just simply change the color of the header to any solid color you would like. The default is blue, and that’s it. I would also like some more dynamic themes, a bigger plethora of themes, or an easy way to create your own and share it on Windows Live Gallery.
Profile – Like Facebook without the annoying Application requests
1. Easy to share your favorites – It’s very easy to share some of your favorite things, like movies, books, and music. http://profile.live.com/FavoriteThings
2. My list of recent updates – I love to share what I’ve done recently, and read what other people have been up to. Here, I can see a feed of recent status messages, comments I posted on other Profiles/Spaces, latest pictures, newest friend, etc. It’s very convenient, and if you don’t like to share what you’ve been doing, you can easily turn it off. People can easily get an RSS of it.
3. Profile information in Details – You can find as much information the person will describe him or herself in the person’s details area – http://profile.live.com/details
4. Notes – Friends can leave Notes on your profile, similar to the Comment section on MySpace and The Wall on Facebook.
5. Web Activities – Neat web activities that you can share with your friends, so the can find you on other services, and updates on those web services appear in your What’s New Feed.
1. Adding networks – I wish you could add high school networks (doesn’t Microsoft want younger users?) and more large workplaces need to be within possible networks to join.
2. Color scheme – Same as I mentioned with Home; Orange & Blue are a rather strange combo, and I wish they would do a better job of separating different areas.
3. Still not the same as Facebook – For some reason, I still don’t see Profile becoming a Facebook killer, or anything close to it. Facebook just feels more mature and slicker than Profile. I still think Profile has limitations where Facebook doesn’t. Profile does have the leg up where you can view updates outside of the Microsoft ecosystem, like FriendFeed does.
4. No instant search – I wish the search box in the header was like Instant Search, where as you type, likely results appear right before you.
5. Needs more web activities – Is it that hard? Where’s YouTube, MySpace, and a bunch of other important sites? Even if the site is not available yet, how about a simple logo of a web service, where I can post my profile URL for people to find me on those other services? Yahoo’s MyBlogLog is much more comprehensive:
Spaces – Minor improvement
1. New default font – I actually really like the Segoe UI font. The text looks more crisp and easier to read in my opinion.
2. Ability to delete comments right off the Recent Comments section – It works, but every time I click delete, a dumb prompt keep asking if I’m sure, and I’m quite certain!
3. Taking off the banner ad on Spaces – I’m glad they finally removed the dumb banner ad that took up the top of peoples’ Spaces. I wouldn’t have minded if they pushed it to the right or bottom or something, but no annoying graphic ads is nice. There is still graphic ads on other parts of Spaces though, so it’s not all the way.
1. Needs a nice simple Dashboard, like Spaces Home was once – Remember Spaces Home? I’d like to bring up something similar to a dashboard interface for Spaces. So I can see friends’ updates, recent comments, quick Space statistics, maybe Similar Spaces, and a bunch of other things.
2. Didn’t meet most of my wishes on my Spaces Improvement Wishlist – I was hoping the team would make more fixes, that could be crossed off my list, but this update was more about new features instead of fixing. I hope over time, I can cross stuff of my list though.
3. Comment section loses the formatting toolbar – Remember the toolbar over the comment section? Where you could bold, italicize, hyperlink, etc.? Now it’s gone! I actually used it frequently to make my comments stand out and clear. I’m disappointed with it’s removal.
4. No ability to put HTML in the Guestbook – A lot of people have been complaining about this. Personally, I don’t care, but if you’re going to remove a feature, the team better state it out clearly as to why.
5. Removal of the search box – I’m kinda sad about this one. The search was already pitiful. But instead of improving it, they killed it? I don’t think that was the way to go. They should have made it easy to search within a person’s Space, and find posts throughout Spaces marked as Public, and find other Spaces.
6. How do you change the header color? – I tried messing around with the Advanced options, and I just can’t figure it out. So could the Spaces team explain?
Overall, I’m pleased with a lot of the new stuff, but I wish the team will refine a lot more stuff before releasing it as final.