Microsoft seems to have a winner on its hands with the Windows Live™ product/services series. Looking at a list of Windows Live services on MSBlog, it struck me that I use very few of them, though many of them would be guaranteed to save me time. So what is it?
The problem is that they are a whole new generation of products, and have no place in “yesterday’s programs” so to speak. What I’m talking about is Microsoft’s multi award-winning PIM, Outlook. Microsoft Office would be nowhere without Outlook, and without Outlook many successful people wouldn’t be where they are today. Without Outlook, NeoSmart Technologies would never have made it to the playing field. Ours is a world of crazy, mixed-up technology, and Outlook sorts it out.
But that’s the problem. The whole Microsoft-powered world relies on Outlook to shine the way, and from the middle of nowhere we get a series of wonderful programs and services that really do work, but have no place to go. They do indeed make life a lot easier, but Microsoft needs to find a way to reconcile the old and the new.
For instance, Windows Live Desktop is great. It plugs straight into a number of the Live services, and it’s a part of the Microsoft Revolution. But with Outlook, you just don’t have that. MSBlog lists 47 Live products/services and counting, but close to zero fit in with Outlook anywhere. Programs such as Windows Live Messenger have some basic minimal integration in Outlook, but imagine the rest. What if Microsoft provided an extension for Outlook 2007 (which is shaping up great BTW!) that synchronizes Windows Live Contacts with your desktop Outlook contacts with just as much control?
What if there was a way to tie in Windows Live Spaces and your Outlook’s close-to-useless “Today Page” together? Integrating Live Safety Scanner with Outlook’s attachments for people that don’t have antivirus installed? Windows Live Feeds and Microsoft’s own in-built Windows RSS Platform (used in IE7 and Outlook 12) would be a great match for each other. Imagine if Windows Live ID could store a list of your email accounts so you wouldn’t have to set up Outlook over and over again every time you format and reinstall.
What if your Outlook PST was stored on a Live Drive in the world of tomorrow? How would it be if Outlook gave you access to on-the-fly mapping of your contacts’ addresses via Live Local (Microsoft Virtual Earth) and let you tie all that in with your mobile phone or PDA via Windows Live Mobile without batting an eye?
Microsoft really has it made with its Live Series, but it needs to tie them in together. Not just to one another, but especially to its traditional line of applications – we gave you the examples for Outlook, but that’s just the beginning. Outlook is where all the information meets, but it can be extended to almost any other Microsoft Office product, and Windows Vista too.
Windows Vista is something else. It’s a platform, it’ll evolve. Microsoft needs to add it’s own extension system that will let them design Live product integration with Vista in a way that’s easy for them to control and fun for us to use. It doesn’t stop there, Vista and Office 2007 are still undergoing perfection, and Microsoft has a chance to make them the greatest complete product and services platform the technology world has ever seen – all it needs is a bit of effort.