Microsoft Rolls Out Improved Windows Live Portal

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Microsoft Rolls Out Improved Windows Live Portal

Two weeks ago, Microsoft announced that they would be making substantial changes to Windows Live. These changes have now been made and it looks as though Windows Live is likely to replace MSN as Microsoft’s mainstay.

Screenshot of the new Windows Live personalised user homepage

The Live homepage will now work as a social network page, enabling users to find out what their contacts are doing.

home.live.com

It will also be possible to see the latest headlines, local weather and calendar through the Live homepage. Recent photographs of the user will be displayed at the top of the page. Other services offered will include Events, Mail, People, Skydrive and MSN.

Microsoft has made the service truly social, with the ability for users to modify their profile, upload profile photos that rotate and create and join groups. The profile page contains details of the user’s activities, not only on Windows Live, but also on Flickr, Twitter, Yelp and other networks.

Users can network with friends from their Windows Live (MSN Messenger) contacts as well as Facebook and LinkedIn contacts. The latter two require logging in using a Facebook and a LinkedIn ID, but this is likely to change very soon as Facebook Connect readies for launch.

This, of course, is the second instance of Microsoft showing how they plan to leverage their investment in Facebook. The first was back in October, when Facebook announced that its users could search the Web via Live Search.

TechCrunch reports that Windows Live has initially been updated only in the U.S. and 54 other countries will also be able to avail of these services by the beginning of the next year. However, a number of UK users are already seeing the updates on their Live homepage.

Windows Live Search has integrated itself with over 50 companies, such as LinkedIn, Flickr and Pandora. HP will also integrate Windows Live Search into their new printers, and Windows Live Search will be cobranded by China Telecom. Could Microsoft be abandoning their direct fight with Google on the search front and instead gunning for dominance on the social front?