Archive for August 2007
A post on Liveside the other day remarked that Live Events and Live Calendar icons had been added to http://home.live.com if no-one were logged in. I remarked in the comments that Onecare had been removed from the navbar as well but someone else retorted that that wasn’t true and sure enough when I checked again it was back.
Well just to prove that I’m not not going mad here’s a screenshot I’ve just taken and sure enough Onecare isn’t on the navbar.
Once you sign in, Onecare reappears.
This isn’t a very interesting post I’ll grant you but I wanted to prove I wasn’t going loopy!
I’ve noticed some interesting applications lately that enable someone with a GPS receiver to broadcast their whereabouts to all and sundry on the web. The first I remember was the London bike route on the Contoso Bicycle club Quickapps demo. Then today I was made aware of Bill Snitzer filming his route from San Fransisco to Los Angeles and allowing people to track it on Google Maps (at the time of writing its not working too well but I’ll let them off). I’ve seen various other apps doing similar things.
It occurred to me that the various map online providers out there are missing a trick here. How difficult would it be to provide a service that allowed someone to broadcast their position on a publicly available map? Even better, how about if that map showing the person’s location could be embedded in a web page (just like you can do today with a conventional Google map) and automatically updated. Better still, only allow your position to be broadcast to people that you feel are worthy of knowing about it. There are a number of "bits" that are required here:
- Some software, probably hosted on a phone equipped with a GPS receiver, that can zap your position back to some service in the cloud that collects it and stores it. Yahoo, Google and Microsoft already have phone-based software that could easily allow this. I reviewed the Google and Microsoft offerings here.
- The cloud service to capture the information and then display it (this is the bit everyone is missing)
- Online maps (again Microsoft, Google and Yahoo already have this)
- An authentication system (they all have this too)
- A contacts list that could allow you to select who can see your position (Microsoft have this, not sure about Google and Yahoo)
- Ability to embed the map into a web page (Google have this)
- Ability for that map to auto-update with the person’s position (theoretically not too difficult for Google to add this)
- Somewhere to embed the map (Microsoft have this with Live Spaces, I suppose Google have it with blogger, not sure about Yahoo)
Most of the bits are just about in place. Why aren’t these three powerhouses coming out with this sort of service?
Aside from the coolness factor and the fun you can have with this there are some obvious real-world benefits too. Parents have the ability to track their kids, employers have the ability to track their staff, lads and lasses have the ability to track their wayward other halves :) I’d be surprised if one of the aforementioned big three didn’t come out with some service like this in the near future.
Wahey! My liveside sticker arrived in the post today and just to prove it here’s a pic (yes, that’s me).
Actually Kip sent me two so now I have a dilemma…what to do with the other one? I don’t think my fiance will let me put it on her macbook!
UPDATE: Kip has updated the live map collection with my info. I’m #25!
Pretty soon Windows Live Messenger, Hotmail, Contacts and Spaces will be available on Nokia mobile phones. i.e. Without using a web browser. As usual Liveside were first with the scoop.This is a great coup for Microsoft, even better for them is the news that as of early-2008 S40 devices will have all the bits pre-installed.
Although it may seem as though availability of Windows Live Messenger is the big story here – I for one disagree. Live Contacts (along with Live ID) is the glue that ties Messenger, Hotmail and Spaces together and if Nokia users are going to inherently be leveraging Live Contacts that that’s a huge win for Windows Live.
I personally love the fact that my Contacts are automatically synchronised between Hotmail, Live mail (i.e. the desktop client), Messenger and (crucially) my phone (which is a Windows Mobile phone). Even better is that through the use of Custom Domains I don’t even have to have a …@hotmail… email address but can still use the http://mail.live.com to read my mail.
I have one request to make for Live Contacts though. I have a @Live.com address as well which I may start using one day – but only if I can synchronise with my existing Live Contacts. If I can share a contact list between multiple Windows Live IDs then I will be a very happy man!
Some significant news concerning Windows Live and social networking this evening. Undeterred by Live Spaces’ failure to become a recognised leading social networking platform Microsoft seem to have decided that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ALL of ‘em. Following on from the now old news that Live Messenger users can converse with Yahoo Messenger users Microsoft have announced that Bebo users will now be able to meet ‘n’ greet on the world’s most widely used IM network as well. Clearly Microsoft are beating the interoperability drum rather than trying to beat Facebook/MySpace/bebo/etc… at their own game by building a social walled garden of their own. I suspect Microsoft will be hoping that all of these social networks are eventually pressured into signing on the Windows Live dotted line thus making Windows live the epicentre of social networking interconnectivity – the like of which Plaxo long to be.
Reuters were first to break the news so read about it here: http://investing.reuters.co.uk/news/articleinvesting.aspx?type=allBreakingNews&storyID=2007-08-20T223015Z_01_N20298481_RTRIDST_0_MICROSOFT-BEBO.XML&pageNumber=0&imageid=&cap=&sz=13&WTModLoc=InvArt-C1-ArticlePage2 I suspect there’ll be some excited announcements coming out of Microsoft about this tomorrow.
My fiance is a heavy user of Bebo so I’ll try and get her take on these changes as and when they happen.
UPDATE: Turns out it does work on a mac. You just have to install Firefox and use that instead of Safari.
Add Live Maps to the list of Windows Live properties that doesn’t run in Safari on a mac. Try going to http://maps.live.com from a mac and you get redirected to http://intl.local.live.com/. Very disappointing.
On the positive side, its introduced me to a Windows Live property that I didn’t know about before. Here’s a screenshot of http://intl.local.live.com/ in all its minimalist glory:
There’s not much to it but I like the way that the results are presented. Here’s a search for restaurants in my area:
Note that the map is from MapPoint, not Virtual earth.
Good question. This might take a bit of thinking about and frankly I’m not the guy that’s going to do it. Is "You should be able to do everything with the API that you can at http://skydrive.live.com" a good enough answer for you Angus?
When you consider what an API should offer you really have to think about it from the point of view of the user. There are two types of user that a SkyDrive API is going to have to support in the future, home users and business users. I fully expect that one day there will be a SkyDrive offering coupled with Office Live. People (both internal and external to Microsoft) are going to want to leverage SkyDrive for their own purposes and that is why an API is vital. In the future I’m going to want to be able to:
- Store documents created in Microsoft Word/Excel/Powerpoint etc… direct to my SkyDrive. This becomes even more important if Microsoft come out with a purely online version of Office (which I think they will) because with that, where else are you going to store your documents to?
- Store documents created in other online software (such as Google Docs and Spreadsheets) in my SkyDrive
- Store documents created on my Mac straight to my SkyDrive
- Embed SkyDrive viewers into social networking sites and other websites
- Access SkyDrive from rich clients on a mobile phone
- Synchronise traditional hard drive storage with SkyDrive. This includes the hard drive on my smartphone by the way.
- Play media stored on my SkyDrive in the media players I have on my PC
- Sync my Zune directly with media store in SkyDrive
I would hope that all of the above would be made possible through the use of an API
Incidentally, yesterday Scott let me have a play with his SkyDriveViewer that Angus talks about (I managed to find a couple of bugs ). Quite impressive stuff in lieu of an API but of course screen-scraping can only go so far. An API needs to be introduced for this ASAP.
UPDATE, 30th June 2008: You should read this blog entry in conjunction with my update: SkyDrive API revisited!
Yesterday my fiance, Helen, and I purchased our first ever Mac. We’ve been wanting one for ages so we went for a macbook and its been great fun getting to know a new O/S having used only Windows for the past gazillion years. We bought it primarily so that Helen would have a machine to use for the college course that she’s studying for right now -sharing our one other machine was becoming a bit of a bind- so she’ll be the one that is primarily using the macbook rather than I. Helen is a big user of Windows Live properties (Hotmail, Toolbar, Favo(u)rites, Messenger, Spaces to a certain extent) so its been an interesting experience seeing which Windows Live services work on a mac and which don’t.
The first thing I checked out (and I actually did this in the shop) was find out if Windows Live toolbar was available for Mac’s internet browser, Safari. Bad news – it isn’t. We use the toolbar primarily for syncing favo(u)rites between different machines so I was disappointed we couldn’t sync Helen’s favo(u)rites to the macbook. [This became even more annoying when I found out that Safari pre-populates your favo(u)rites (what they call bookmarks) with a load of links that I'm not interested in but anyway, that's a different story.]
So given auto-sync using the toolbar wasn’t available it meant that copying the favo(u)rites over had to be a manual process so we headed to http://favorites.live.com (sorry to my fellow brits, http://favourites.live.com/ doesn’t go anywhere unfortunately). This is where I became REALLY disappointed, that site doesn’t show up properly in Safari. None of the favo(u)rites are visible. Disappointed but undaunted we resorted to copying all the favo(u)rites onto a USB memory stick and copying them that way. Its crude, but it works.
Other than that, hotmail, spaces & messenger all work fine. Messenger for Mac is a long way behind Messenger for Windows in terms of features (main gripe is that groups don’t seem to be available – I stand to be corrected) but all we’re really bothered about is the core ability to chat to friends – and that works fine.
If I have any more to share I’ll post it up here.
UPDATE: Turns out that groups ARE available on Messenger for Mac. My bad!
UPDATE 2: Favorites work if you Firefox rather than Safari.