Wave 3 was pretty neat, and a big step forward, and I hope to see Wave 4 continue on with what Wave 3 has brought. So here’s a list of what I’d like to see come out by then:
1. Windows Live Pro – This is for an option for users who want to get more out of their Windows Live experience. For possibly a fee of $25-30 a month, they can get:
- NO ads – No advertisements on everything Windows Live. Whether it’s Hotmail, Profile/Spaces, Messenger, Live Search, MSN Video, etc. they all won’t have any ads if you sign-in. This could be a major plus for some.
- 100MB limit on attachments – instead of 10MB
- IMAP on Hotmail – Should be free like Gmail, but if POP3 does a free route, then IMAP is fine to pay for
2. Universal Inbox – Instead of going to separate places to view e-mails (Hotmail), offline IMs (Messenger) and video messages (Windows Live Video Messages), and voice mail, it’d be far convenient to see them all in one place. I’m quite sure if anyone could do it, Microsoft could, but most likely, they’ll be catching up when someone else gets there first.
3. Combine Live Mesh, Sync, SkyDrive, and Office Live Workspaces into one – Here’s how I’d do it:
- Mesh+Sync – It’s already going to happen, from what I’ve heard. They’ll take the cool technology and features in Mesh, and combine them with the current Windows Live Sync to become simply just “Windows Live Sync”.
- SkyDrive – Make this the official cloud storage option for Windows Live Sync, yet independent enough so that users who are only interested in backing-up or sharing data could just go directly to SkyDrive, without having to bother with Sync if they don’t want it.
- Office Live Workspaces – As far as the web service goes, you just store documents and open them into the Office programs if you have them. Boring! You could just store the documents on SkyDrive instead, and offer REAL-TIME collaboration right within a browser with a web-based Office 14 or some simple editing tools for those that don’t have Office (Microsoft showed a demo of this at PDC 2008 – here are some screenshots)
As you see, it IS possible to cleanly integrate all these into one simple data synchronization/sharing/storage service. It’s just up to Microsoft to do it. I can’t think of a better way of combining these redundant services. Hopefully, there will be a mobile version of this service, instead of another redundant service like My Phone.
4. Web-based RSS feeder – Windows Live Mail already has a nice RSS feeder built-in, but now it’s time to take it up a level, and make it web-based. Feeds you add on the web-based feeder, and feeds you add on Windows Live Mail are AUTOMATICALLY SYNCED. You can SHARE a favorite feed to you contacts via the What’s New feed, or E-mail or whatnot. Essentially, just do everything Google Reader does, but see if there’s any room to do MORE.
5. MSN Video to Windows Live – I said it once, I’m going to say it again; MSN Video should just be rebranded to Windows Live Video or some other name. At least the Soapbox part, where users can upload videos. The MSN Video site hasn’t had any major improvements for over a year, I think? It’s current state would hardly make it a good alternative to the already existing video-uploading sites. I think that if it gets moved over to Windows Live, there will be a more faster updates that users actually WANT, and there’s a better chance of it succeeding and being more extendable across the web. I would say it’s probably one of the worst video-uploading sites if it weren’t for Google Video managing to cling to it’s dear life.
6. Windows Live for Mobile upgraded – A version for non-touchscreen phones, and a more feature-rich version for large touchscreen phones (like drag-n-drop, more graphics, etc.). Full synchronization for Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Calendar, Windows Live People, etc and push updates? Give a more slick interface, especially for the touchscreen phones, and improve voice command input.
7. Tools – Provide simple tools that can be handy, in something like a quick and convenient toolkit, or built into Live Search. I’m talking about tools like a currency converter (look at Yahoo!’s for inspiration), dictionary (Encarta’s?), unit converter, and other on-site applications that may be handy to access (not necessarily through a search box), as well as an option to download a gadget/widget for it.
8. Bring back the icons for commands! – I know there are people that don’t mind, but I’m visually oriented when I’m on the computer, and icons really help when I’m hunting around for a command, and looking at word after word to find something, when I can easily recognize from an icon just doesn’t make sense. How about an option if we want the icons on or off? Sometimes I don’t even notice the little pieces of text commands. Just please bring it back.
9. Make the search box useful – I find it rather useless. If you are on a specific service, the search box should purposely offer a specific search, with “web” as a secondary or one of the last options. Like if you are on Hotmail, the search box should be fit to find either “Messages”, “Contacts” or “Folders” or something like that with Web as probably the last basic option. If you’re on Spaces, it should offer to find content on “My Space”, “Users’ Spaces” or “Posts” of other users with “Web” as a convenient option if you want none of those. Make the search box actually useful.
10. MORE themes – I’m pretty sad by the scanty amount of themes available. The themes are nice, but we need more! I’d like to see different color variants of the default Windows Live theme (basically the Flair) like it had before in Wave 2. Also I like the idea on how Windows Live Messenger lets users drag-and-drop a personal photo to create a custom static theme, so why not allow the same for all Windows Live? Maybe not drag-and-drop, but uploading a static personal photo would be just as neat.
11. Bring back the toolbar for comments! – I loved it back when you could customize your comments, at least a little bit. Whether I leave a note on someone’s profile, or add a comment to a blog entry, I want the toolbar back so I can do basic text editing, or embed a photo/video/URL like other social-networking sites like Facebook, Flickr, and MySpace do. A simple comment box isn’t enough for me to express ideas.
12. New brand name? – I’m still not liking the “Windows Live” branding. One, it hasn’t been effective. People still call Windows Live Messenger as either ‘MSN’ or ‘MSN Live’, which is kinda sad. Also, it’s just not catchy, and it’s a long brand name. Saying, “Hey, have you tried Windows Live Personalized Experience?” would not make sense to most people. A new catchy name should be made (I don’t like Kumo btw).
13. Combine the free storage and allow user to allocate it – You can get 25GB in SkyDrive, 5GB+ in Hotmail, 2048MB in Video Messages, etc. all for free. Now how about combining all these storage options, and letting me choose how I want to use up my free storage. Like someone may use SkyDrive a lot, and has GBs of storage in Hotmail that they could really use. That person should be able to use those free GBs, instead of running to the limit that Microsoft allocates for SkyDrive.
14. Allow users to download/delete individual Windows Live programs – I know a lot of people complain how the Windows Live installer wants you to download all the Windows Live programs available, but there are people who just want one specific program. It’s annoying, and people don’t want to push their hard drive space with programs they won’t use. Please let people download what they want. They also want to delete certain Windows Live programs they do not use often.
As for each current applications that I’d like to see an update or more functions to:
Windows Live Hotmail:
1. IMAP access for free users – Free IMAP is the reason why many techies prefer Gmail above all others
2. Collapsible ad pane – I like Yahoo! Mail’s method of allowing the user to close the ad pane, at least until you click upon another message or something. When I collapse the ad pane, I’ll at least take note of the ad (advertising works!) and it allows more room for viewing messages and pictures and whatnot.
3. Fix the in consistency with “Mail” on the Windows Live header – You’ve seen the Wave 3 Windows Live header, right? You’ll notice a link that say “Mail” but it doesn’t take you to Windows Live Mail. It takes you to Windows Live Hotmail, which is kinda dumb. Just rename Windows Live Hotmail as Windows Live Mail, and as for the application that’s called Windows Live Mail, just call it an Organizer or something, because it does more than just e-mail at this point.
4. E-mail tagging and favorites – Gmail has these nifty features, and I’d love to add special tags and favorite e-mail messages. It’s also more flexible than dropping them into folders, as it makes it easier to search.
5. Use Web Messenger directly in Windows Live Hotmail – I don’t want an external tab to have conversations and whatnot. I want it done the way Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and even AOL Mail do it; directly on the page. How about supporting Windows Live Web Toolbar right into Hotmail?
1. Thumbnail views work for all types of files, not just just music – How about a thumbnail view of a Word or PowerPoint document? A video clip? As far as I know, only photo have thumbnail views. Hopefully by Wave 4, we can get thumbnail views for most types of files where it makes sense.
2. Preview files within SkyDrive – I might not necessarily want to download it, and it’d be nice if I could be able to play the media within the SkyDrive site so I could get a preview of what I might or might now download. A Silverlight player maybe? Same for documents; I’d like to be able to preview documents within a pane possibly so I know what I’m attempting to open/download.
3. Move multiple files at once – I wish there was something similar to the ability to hover over an image (or images) in Windows Live Photo Gallery and check to select it and do whatever you want with the file(s). I want SkyDrive to have such a feature so I can easily move around many files to the same place all at once.
4. Annotations on files – I’d like add notes on top of viewable files, to maybe point out something to someone that can view it, or for myself.
5. Ability to share personal SkyDrive files onto group SkyDrive – For instance, if I join the I LUV COOKIES group on Windows Live Groups, and I already have a good number of pictures of delicious cookies on my personal SkyDrive, why not allow me to share the photos on the I LUV COOKIES group without having to upload my SkyDrive files there and storing and taking up space in the group’s SkyDrive? Essentially, I just want group members to see a file I want to share with them (in the form of a the form of a thumbnail), and when they click on it, they’re taken to the file’s page on my personal SkyDrive. No need to upload the same image from my PC or from my SkyDrive onto the group’s SkyDrive and having to take up storage space for it. At the same time, the file page, with all the details about it, will mention that my photo is shown on a certain group and users can click on the group name to take a gander and might be interested in joining in it. This is the way Flickr groups work.
6. Geodata on media – I’d love to post exactly where it was shot, or the vicinity it was show with an embedded Live Search Map or something. Especially useful if your camera has the ability to add GPS coordinates to your content.
7. Give me more stats! – I want to know how many views, where the sources came from, and other useful bits of data. Maybe for Windows Live Pro users?
8. File tagging – Please let me tag files. Tagging files gives each file a unique identity and can be useful if you want to search for it, or view related media associated with the tag.
9. SkyDrive Mobile – Upload your smartphone’s latest pictures, videos, text messages, etc. over to your SkyDrive. In fact, why not bring together My Phone and SkyDrive together and call it SkyDrive Mobile?
Windows Live Profile:
1. More “Web Activities” to add – It’d be nice if Microsoft could continue working with mainstream social networking sites in allowing updates to show up on Windows Live. Also, even if they aren’t working, it wouldn’t hurt to list other popular sites and allow me to link my profile from that site next to the site’s favicon, so at least people can find me on other services. Better than nothing.
2. More feed updates from other sources – Why doesn’t it show videos I uploaded to MSN Soapbox? Or a new song I added as a favorite on Zune Marketplace? Or updates to my latest public Live Search Map collection? I’m talking about services that Microsoft already offers, and could use some promotion by allowing feed updates to include and integrate other Microsoft services that users may commonly use. It makes so much sense.
3. Easily access Private Messages and Invitations from Profiles – It makes more sense to highlight any new invites or private messages on Profiles than just on Windows Live Home, right? Apparently not to Microsoft. On the Windows Live Home page, it’s easy to see if I have any new private messages or invites to look at.
However, it’s not quite as obvious on Profiles, where I’m more likely to interact with my friends/contacts and view their messages and invites.
That’s why I’m stressing Microsoft put out some icon to make it noticeable, or put it on the header where it can catch my eye.
4. More “favorite things” to add – Like how about TV shows/series (from MSN TV), songs (individual songs from Zune Marketplace), brands/products, and whatnot. I have a lot of favorites, and I need more than just movies, books, and artists.
5. Customized URLs like Live Spaces – Some people would like to have more meaningful URLs than just those GUIDs. Like for instance, http://iloveyou.profile.live.com/ instead of just some random combo like http://243aslrkjlasjkdlrje.profile.live.com/
Windows Live Home:
1. Combine My.Live.com with Windows Live Home – Even though Netvibes will probably be the best internet start page ever, Microsoft needs to update Windows Live Personalized Experience and they might as well just integrate with Windows Live Home instead. Windows Live Home will like stay the same, but with the ability to add “gadgets” and “feeds” from Windows Live Gallery.
2. Option to get rid of MSN headlines – No offense to MSN, but I’m just not interested and I want the option to take the MSN headlines off. Takes up too much space, and I already visit MSN sites from time to time anyhow. A lot of people feel the same way; thanks, but no thanks.
3. Change status message directly on the page – I don’t like that you can’t easily change your status message right at Windows Live Home.
Taking me to another page that doesn’t even render properly, is just annoying, and it’s not user-friendly.
4. Show my contact if they are online, even if I’m not signed into Messenger – I should be able to see if my contacts are online, even if I’m not actually signed into Messenger. Isn’t signing in to Windows Live Home good enough to show which of my contact happen to be available? I noticed that if I’m not logged in to Messenger, I wouldn’t know if they were online.
5. Show emoticons next to ‘Headlines’ – I would be really handy if I could have the source’s emoticon next to each source. Really, icons improve usability, so I don’t see why the team has been so against this lately.
Windows Live Photo:
1. Extra features – Such as annotations, viewing all sizes, keeping online favorite collection (another update for the What’s New feed), add metadata tags, flag/report pictures, different slideshow views, and other plethora of features to better compete with Flickr.
2. No duplicates! – I noticed that when I resize the original on a blog post, it often duplicates the original pictures in Windows Live Photos: One is the original, while the second is the resized version. Please, just show only the original; I don’t need a duplicate of one slightly resized in a blog post.
3. Metadata tags – Makes it much more useful for sorting, or looking up similar photos from a collection.
4. Give me stats! – I want all types of stats like the one Flickr displays, including what camera took the photo, how many times it has been viewed, what location it was taken (Live Search Map embedded?), show what Windows Live Groups it is a part of, etc.
5. No graphic ads on individual photos! – It’s really tacky to insert a graphic ad right next to a photo. The only interesting thing on a photo page is just the photo; no distracting ads! Do a text ad or something, but please no graphics. Put advertisements when you’re searching for a photo or something else. But not graphic ads next to a photo!
6. Make public photos system wide searchable – That’s what I love about the more popular photo-sharing sites; Just as it is easy to share photos, you can also FIND cool photos. Personal photos are often times more interesting than looking up pixelated photos on an image search engine.
Windows Live Video Messages:
1. Integration with Hotmail and Messenger– I don’t think Windows Live Video Messages (WLVM) needs to be a standalone site. I think it should just simply be an integral part of Hotmail and Messenger. There can be a video capturing button on Messenger and Hotmail, and just click and record and send. That’s it. Integrating WLVM would be a better idea.
2. No need to “add” contacts to WLVM – I don’t understand why I need to add my contact to WLVM. Is there a reason? Why can’t I just simply choose one of my contacts to send a video to and it’s done?
3. Load faster – I think the site designer needs to update to the latest Silverlight, because it’s somewhat slow in responding, and I don’t like the beaded circle that keeps cycling itself.
4. See online contacts at the top of the list – I want an option to see online contacts at the top. Makes it more convenient.
Windows Live Calendar:
1. Support synchronization with Windows Mobile phones – There should be instant syncing with Windows Live for Windows Mobile by now. It would make viewing and adding stuff a whole lot easier.
2. .ical subscription is still buggy – Like if I subscribe to a Google calendar that a site offers, it won’t always sync so well. Initially, it worked fine for a few weeks, but the calendar entries disappeared and never came back. It’s not all calendars, but there are some bugs.
3. Synchronization with Outlook/Exchange Calendars – Synchronization is important!
Windows Live Spaces:
1. Bring back the Home dashboard – I like how you could view recent comments right when you landed on the Spaces Home page. Now it’s another dumb click away.
2. Delete comments without a prompt – It would be create if I could delete a comment without seeing this:
I’m quite sure after seeing this one time, I’m smart enough to know that clicking ‘Delete’ means I’m deleting a comment for good. This is especially annoying when I’m going through a bunch of spam comments (though spam in comments has decrease considerably).
4. Even more ways to customize your Space – I wish Spaces was on the same level of customization as Blogger.com is. Spaces is pretty customizable, but I want to reach the same extent as I can on Blogger. I hope Spaces can be more than just a ‘casual blog’ for people. I want more fonts, wider color gamut, module shapes,
5. Better statistics – We need a better statistic counter, like what Microsoft’s Gatineau project was.
6. Make nice quick changes without reloading the page – AJAX would be good
Check out more here: http://msftandthefuture.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!1CA34B674D84900!3210.trak
Windows Live People:
1. Change the name to ‘Contacts’ – Honestly, stick with the simplicity shared by other Windows Live properties, and call your contacts as contacts. Not your ‘people’
2. Show results-as-you-type – As I’m typing to look for my contacts, any contacts whose names correspond to what I’m typing should show up in a drop down list. Makes it much easier.
*This list only covers the most prominent Windows Live services. Other services like Events, Groups, Family Safety, etc. are not widely used by myself or most people, so I have not included them.
Any opinions? Thoughts? Just comment!