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Windows Live Product Suite October 14, 2006

Posted by sk in Computers & Internet, Microsoft, Technology and Software, Windows Live.
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Over the last few months, I’ve beta tested several Windows Live Applications. While some of them have managed to stay on my system after they passed the beta phase, I’ve uninstalled a few others because I didn’t find the need for them (or they were just too buggy). I’m listing some of the applications that I have used and the things that I like and dislike about each of them.

  1. Windows Live Messenger: I love this application, especially the concept of sharing folders. I’ve also used the live calling feature to call India and the voice quality is pretty good. This messenger allows one to chat with Y! Messenger users, but it’s at a pretty basic level now. I look forward to seeing more functionality with respect to that. The look and performance is decent too. I have had a few issues with connectivity though. In addition, The “turn on what I’m listening to” feature doesn’t seem to work for me. Overall, I would have been happier had this still retained the “beta” tag. More info at: messengersays.spaces.live.com
  2. Windows Live Mail: Overall, I think this is the best product among the Live Suite so far and the most fun to use mail client that I’ve used so far. It has a very simple, yet cool UI and the latest release, M8 has only taken it a step higher. I love the “Send E-mail from” feature where you can send an e-mail using any other e-mail address. I hate the ads, though. They’re extremely intrusive. Also, it’s still a little slow. Moreover, while all features work with IE6, IE7, and FF1.5, in Opera only the basic functionality (classic view) is available. More info at: mailcall.spaces.live.com
  3. Windows Live Mail Desktop: The UI is awesome. There’s not much more, though. While the latest release does seem to have tackled some performance issues and have cleaned up the UI, I’m still not happy with the fact that one can’t group two or e-mail accounts together into one folder. The feed reader is neat and the new version has an “Update Feeds” button. More info at: morethanmail.spaces.live.com
  4. Windows Live Spaces: Much better than MSN Spaces, but the header ads are annoying.  Also, why can’t one customize the header??? The statistics provided are not sufficient either. One more thing I’ve seen is that blogs on Live Spaces are not very visible on Google. Correct me if I’m wrong!
  5. Windows Live Local: Great quality maps, amazing satellite views and the bird’s eye view is breathtaking. I hate the directions though. I wish they’d provide images. Also, when they ask you to bear right onto the ramp for I-805, do they mean 805 South or 805 North?? This is especially confusing when the ramp to both directions is on the same side of the road. Way to go!! Available at:local.live.com
  6. Windows Live: Looks good and all that but this is just not ready for prime-time. I’ve decided to switch to bloglines for now. Maybe I’ll get back when things improve.
  7. Windows Live Safety Scanner: A very good free online safety scanner. It scans for viruses, removes temporary files, cleans the registry, etc. Pretty decent. It’s available at safety.live.com
  8. Windows Live One Care: Similar to Live Safety Scanner, but this one rests on your desktop. Moreover it’s not free. I think three licenses cost $49.95 for a year (or less on Amazon). Of course, you can try the product for free for three months at onecare.live.com
  9. Windows Live Search: Finally Microsoft has released a search client that matches Google. But why would one want to switch now? I haven’t. Try it out at: search.live.com
  10. Live toolbar: Very useful if you use any other Live products like Windows Live Writer, which I haven’t talked about in this post (but Tismar takes care of that). Available at: toolbar.live.com

More information about these products is available at liveside, in case any of you is interested. Also, a list of beta and released Live products is available at Windows Live Ideas.

P.S. I hate to add images to my posts and I know that makes it even more boring. In case anyone on the Sparks team wants to add images, feel free to do so. Just make sure they’re relevant. So… no Nagma! 🙂

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Comments»

1. ruhi - October 14, 2006

“P.S. I hate to add images to my posts and I know that makes it even more boring. In case anyone on the Sparks team wants to add images, feel free to do so. Just make sure they’re relevant. So… no Nagma!”

Mallika Sherawat?? Is she off topic too 😛 She will spice up your post..just kidding!

About the windows live search, I havent used it yet, but i guess ill give it a shot. Its difficult to believe that it matches the google search engine though.

2. Tismar Khan - October 14, 2006

may be i missed it, but they(ms) havent made it like super clear that they decided to get organized and have all their products under the tag ‘live.’

it was confusing when they used terms like windows, hotmail, passport, msn, for the same thing
so may be this live beta is a good idea, just like yahoo, google mozilla products.

also on live.com, they shud add some more information on whats the entire deal and they shud also try to unify, msn.com and live.com, considering msn messenger and live messenger leads to the same page!

point being, it just too much of terminology and lot of different websites which belong to same company! ..

but again, may be its just me who gets confused very easily in general.

and yes i agree, nagma’s pic would be very irrelevant. I will search for some of her videos and add it.

3. shrav - October 14, 2006

“Mallika Sherawat?? Is she off topic too She will spice up your post..just kidding!”

Yes – that’ll definitely be more relevant~ 🙂

“About the windows live search, I havent used it yet, but i guess ill give it a shot. Its difficult to believe that it matches the google search engine though. ”

:-). I shouldn’t have said it was. For some searches it’s better while for some it’s worse. Overall, I still think Google is better.

“it was confusing when they used terms like windows, hotmail, passport, msn, for the same thing…”
“point being, it just too much of terminology and lot of different websites which belong to same company! ..”

I have no idea where they’re going with this. I think they’re just as confused as the rest of us. At one point they said MSN will be a portal, while Windows Live will incorporate services. Why the heck is Soapbox – their YouTube competitor- not Live Sopabox? Why is it MSN Soapbox?

4. becs - October 14, 2006

No Windows Live Writer?
I thought every blogger must have tried this one 🙂
If you have not tried it, I highly recommend it as an excellent blog publishing tool.

5. Tismar Khan - October 14, 2006

becs, trust me, its like u r asking neil armstrong to try travelling on moon.

and just in case there is no confusion, This is a team blog i.e. I am not referring to myself.

6. shrav - October 14, 2006

I’ve actually not found anything that handles pics well with WP. Performancing for Firefox, Windows Live Writer, and WP’s own editor are all *crap*. I’ve found that uploading pics to flickr first and then adding flickr images to the post works better, but can someone suggest a better way to do it using WLW?

7. Tismar Khan - October 14, 2006

Huh..I never had issues with pics while using WLW and performanicing. I mean I didnt try anything fancy but it does retain the relative position of the image with respect to the text. (I cannot imagine what else could be the issue) and inserting image in both of them is fairly simple.

Google docs did a good job too.

8. shrav - October 14, 2006

I think the problem is with WP rather than these things. Their online storage sucks. I’d rather upload images to flickr and use them than try and put them on WP directly. Ruhi had a problem trying to align images for one of her posts too, apparently.

By the way, regarding Google Docs, I think Paul Thurrott said it best:

Although I’m a big fan of the whole Web 2.0 thing, I guess I don’t quite get the point of online productivity applications such as word processors and spreadsheets. Any computing device these days can utilize simple and free applications that can do much more than these online variants. Heck, even Palm devices come with good productivity applications now. This is an example of Google solving a problem no one has–and all because the company feels as if it needs to compete with Microsoft every step of the way.

Why? On the one hand computers are becoming more and more powerful – we have multi-core chips, storage and RAM are increasing too- and on the other hand Google is trying to get everyone to do stuff online!!! I just don’t get it. Why would I want to use an online Office suite when Open Office is free and more powerful (I personally use Microsoft Office but it is expensive)??? And the worst thing about this is that Microsoft is following suit and making their Works suite a web based offering. Idiots!!! Comments??

9. Tismar Khan - October 14, 2006

“..This is an example of Google solving a problem no one has..”

No one had a problem even before computer and internet. Bridges, trains, rockets and planes were made withouth these things. Heck we went to moon by using slide rules, and NO animations.

Today, one can only imagine how one lived without computer and internet.

 and even after arrival of internet, no one had a problem with 2 mb of email space or telephone modems.

We all try to fit in to the best technology we have and always try to make it better and better. Not because we have a problem, because  its human nature to try. Something might fail something might work but its the innovative attempt which is important for the progress of mankind..

Clap…. clap clap.. clap clap clap….applaud. standing ovation. what a speech!!!.

Now lets get specific.

I personally think its a pretty decent idea. (although as I have commented even in past, google always fall shy of perflectly implementing these good ideas)

Let us just talk abt the idea for now

agreed, ram, storage everything is getting stronger than ever, but there is one basic limitation, its ONLY on ur local disk.
and thats where these things comes into picture.
There is another thing which is getting stronger than ever. Web. very soon we would have fast, secure, internet EVERYWHERE, just like cell phone towers and every device would have inbuilt ability to catch that internet. Its a luxury now, it wont be in future.
under that situation, I would any day prefer to store ALL my documents online and I know it wont be gone if i loose my flash drive or my computer crashes on me (events which i am getting more and more used to) . I can access my files from ANYWHERE without worrying abt data being corrupt and I dont have to install any software..!

Next, these online application provides another beautiful feature. Sharing. U can easily have some one look at ur documents, work on it with u, make comments etc.
Currently all these ability and storage space is fairly primitive in google docs, but i think the idea is totally revolutionary.

May be microsoft or someone would take up and improve it better, i dont know but whoever it wud be ,it wud surely help me if it is leading to where i think its leading to.

10. shrav - October 15, 2006

1. Let’s start with your favorite feature first: sharing. Sharing of documents is usually done at a corporate level. Most home users don’t use those features (and even if some people are, it’s just because of the coolness factor associated with it). Microsoft Office already provides SharePoint for that purpose and it lets the document reside on the company’s own network, rather than Google’s servers. Now, however great the internet may be and however noble Google may be, I’m not sure many companies would like to save their confidential documents to Google’s servers and that is exactly the case with Google’s suite. You may or may not agree with this but this is the truth. Why would someone at Qualcomm upload an Excel file containing their marketing budgets etc. to Google’s servers? Remember that most if Office’s customers are in the corporate world. For others, how difficult is it to e-mail a copy to someone and then merge changes?

2.Computer crashes are not as common as you describe them to be. Internet connection losses are more common. Also, the future is flash memory based hard drives that are much more reliable. Why not use a backup service then?

3. If you work with desktop productivity suites, your document resides on your computer. You can work on it wherever/ whenever you want. You don’t have to depend on the internet connection.

4. The internet, however great it is, is extremely dirty. I’d rather have my files resting on my laptop than on some company’s servers. I can use backup programs to backup my important documents. I don’t trust a company that provides no support to help me with lost documents.

5. You claim to use GMail because it allows your email client (Thunderbird) to download emails to the desktop and display them. Now, you want your e-mails on the desktop but you want all your important files stored online? I don’t get that. Especially if you have just one single laptop, why would you want to work online? Would you be comfortable writing your thesis online? Remember – this is not a backup service where you work on your laptop and your files are backed up to an online location.

I see an initial craze for Google Documents and Google Spreadsheets, after which it’ll be forgotten. You may say that applications on the internet are getting more powerful, but the truth is that desktop applications are getting more powerful too… and at a faster pace.

Your spiel, although fascinating missed the whole point: Google has provided a solution to a problem that does not exist*. Everything that Google Docs provides already exists in Microsoft Office and at a much more advanced level. Revolutionary? No. I don’t think so. Remember the link that planetsk posted? The one where your programs are stored on flash drives and can run on any comp? Now that, IMO, is more useful. 

*Not google actually. This technology existed long before google thought about it.

11. ruhi - October 15, 2006

I would never feel safe keeping my money in someone else’s house..thinking that it will be “safe”..why cant you just keep it with you??

Also, if there will be such advancements relating to internet, then i think the computer will also undergo lots of changes and the future generation might not even know what does it mean when the hard disk crashes!

12. Tismar Khan - October 15, 2006

As I said, I am not talking abt google docs in particular. I agree with all the flaws u mentioned with google docs. I am only and ONLY talking abt the idea of online productivity which paul thorrot is saying no one needs.

“Let’s start with your favorite feature first: sharing.”
Never claimed its my favorite. I like the idea though.

“..Most home users don’t use those features (and even if some people are, it’s just because of the coolness factor associated with it)…”
again back to my introductory statement. Didnt home users start using internet bcos of coolness associated with it?

“..You don’t have to depend on the internet connection…”
“The internet, however great it is, is extremely dirty…”

I forsee that would change in future. Stronger and Secured than ever.  Btw, dont we still have all our emails, credit card accounts, bank statements on this dirty internet. ?

 “Now, you want your e-mails on the desktop but you want all your important files stored online? I don’t get that.”
They are still archived on gmail server and I can access it anytime, even if i delete it from my email client. Thats why I use GMail.

“..Google Docs provides already exists in Microsoft Office and at a much more advanced level…”
I am not sure whats ur point. Google should not invent a product which microsoft already did ? I thought u were saying this is something no one needs. Fine, may be ms is solving a problem which no one has and that too at advanced level.

In either case, I have no love lost towards google or ms, and I am making no claims who is better and all.

On the whole, I think this concept of online productivity (without any claims abt the company), would go much farther than you guys are thinking.

Considering both ms and google are doing it, i would say I am not the only person who sees it that way.

and also this company

http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/10/10/zoho-virtual-office-launching-tommorow-racing-google-to-market/

13. shrav - October 15, 2006

“. I am only and ONLY talking abt the idea of online productivity which paul thorrot is saying no one needs.”

Me too. I was talking about the idea of online suites in general. Let’s see the advantages they offer:
1. They’re free: All right. MS Office is not. Open Office is, though.
2. They allow for sharing of documents etc. between people: As I mentioned earlier, MS Office does that too and handles it better (SharePoint).
3. Nothing to install on the computer: Well, that’s both an advantage as well as a disadvantage. I have to depend on the internet. If I have to work on the document or even view it from the airport, I’d need to buy an internet connection. Remember, we’re talking about the online sute replacing the traditional desktop suite here, not complimenting it. (If you do have a desktop productivity suite, why would you work online?)
4. Documents are stored on the company’s servers: Is this really an advantage?
5. Google is doing it: Now that’s the only reason I can see why people are calling it revolutionary. This concept has existed for quite some time now and until Google decided to do it, no one cared.

“’..Most home users don’t use those features (and even if some people are, it’s just because of the coolness factor associated with it)…’
again back to my introductory statement. Didnt home users start using internet bcos of coolness associated with it?”

Yes, but tell me of a scenario when people will really need to use this (not because it’s cool). Here are two:
1. Doing accounts (between roommates etc.): Bill monk like services are much more convenient.
2. Univ. students working together on a project/ project report:: Put it on the server. Otherwise, email and merge changes.

” Fine, may be ms is solving a problem which no one has and that too at advanced level.”
Look. I don’t know if you think I’m saying all this because I “love” MS. I just don’t see the problem with desktop productivity suites that you do. And remember. I use them more than you do.

Even I think online productivity suites will go far. So will desktop productivity suites. BTW, think about this common scenario:
I use MS Office and you use Open Office. I work on a file and mail it to you. You make changes and mail it back to me. I merge all the changes into the file and we’re done. What about online suites? What if I use virtual office and you use Google docs?

14. shrav - October 15, 2006

“I would never feel safe keeping my money in someone else’s house..thinking that it will be “safe”..why cant you just keep it with you??”

Exactly.

You know what is funny? That MS has to copy everything that Google does, however bad the idea is.

15. Tismar Khan - October 15, 2006

“..I don’t know if you think I’m saying all this because I “love” MS. ..”

Certainly not. I try my best to allienate all personal opinion, mine and others for such things. You just compared google and ms so many times even in this comment, like “no one cared until google decided..” and all

and my point is doesnt matter. whoever did this, its a good idea. If it was there before, I guess I missed it and when I realzied its there, I think its a good idea. Thats it. I am not giving any credit to google.
If share point, zoho is better, i will use that.

“.. And remember. I use them more than you do…”
I never forgot that.

“..I have to depend on the internet. If I have to work on the document or even view it from the airport, I’d need to buy an internet connection…”
and I say that would change. Internet would be just like cell phone tower, everywhere, free or with some fixed charge.  (i know its more or less already there but I am saying it would be even better, easier and much cheaper) So u cud work at home on ur laptop, leave ur laptop at home, go to airport, take out ur pda, and continue working on ur document. That I call revolutionary and I dont think it wud be a luxury in future.

“Remember, we’re talking about the online sute replacing the traditional desktop suite here, not complimenting it”

Actually I am talking abt complimenting it. I do not know if any one has done it yet, but if not, I am sure very soon they would have a simple option, ‘save to local disk’.! I would be surprised if that wont happen and yes, without that I surely will not use it.
So what I am thinking is while use of desktop suite, will not be viped out, it will be just optional. If u want to read ur files on desktop, download the software and read it. or just use it online.

“but tell me of a scenario when people will really need to use this”
surely not limited to those two u mentioned. Resume editing, making posters together, co-authored articles for blogs, websites, etc..and hell why r we trying to count it, for any damn thing one wud use desktop suite.

“What if I use virtual office and you use Google docs? ”
Good point, but thats only a compatbility issue. Someone could, should and would come up with a way to make that thing work easily as well.  

I mean, yes,  it has be user friendly, compatible, flexible etc..which its not now but every analyst believes that these things would have lot many features in future.

My entire point is the basic idea of keeping everything online is good. I dont say its all abt google and i dont say its to vipe out the idea of desktop suites. Its just the idea of adding another drive. web.

16. shrav - October 15, 2006

“surely not limited to those two u mentioned. Resume editing, making posters together, co-authored articles for blogs, websites, etc..and hell why r we trying to count it, for any damn thing one wud use desktop suite. ”

I agree with you about co-authored blogs. For everything else, I think e-mailing works just as well. My basic idea is that keeping everything online is like keeping all your stuff in your neighbor’s house (as Ruhi mentioned). “Why the hell” are we trying to count the number of uses for the product? Because I’m still trying to figure out what makes this product “revolutionary”.

“You just compared google and ms so many times even in this comment, like “no one cared until google decided..” and all”

You don’t expect to discuss productivity suites and not bring MS into the picture, do you? And frankly, did you even know about this concept until Google got into it? Anyway, FWIW, I didn’t compare Google and MS. I compared Google Docs to MS Office.

Oh and BTW, accessing your hard drive is still way faster than accessing the internet and is far more reliable. Now I understand backing up important files etc to an online storage but I simply don’t get the concept of working on them online.

17. Tismar Khan - October 15, 2006

i think there are two main points we are arguing abt
security and speed.

as far security, i do not buy urs and ruhis argument on saving my files into my neighbors house. What r u doing with ur email? Are they stored in ur ‘neighbors’ house.?
Your bank accounts are on the servers of the companies you do not even know. (third party hired by bank for back up data). I at least know the sever in this case.
If I am assured of same or higher level of security as email, I would feel safe. Agreed it will be never 100% safe, but its under acceptable limits.

speed: I agree on this one. however fast web gets, local drives wud get even faster. So web cant beat that. but if the difference is 2 seconds vs 1/10th of a second, I think I can accept even that.

“.And frankly, did you even know about this concept until Google got into it? ..”
didnt I say I didnt? I know about it now. Does that make my point any weaker?

“I simply don’t get the concept of working on them online. ”
for some mysterious reasons, I do !

I might have stretched the definition of revolution here, I surely do not mean something which will change the world. All I mean is its going to be a succesful product and if it is succesful, people are using it. and if people are using something which they didnt use before, thats a revolution. thats it.

18. shrav - October 15, 2006

“i think there are two main points we are arguing abt
security and speed. ”

There are amny more. What is the point of this whole online app thing when computers are fast enough? Why settle for slower speeds and fewer features just because this stuff is online?

“didnt I say I didnt? I know about it now. Does that make my point any weaker?”
Okay. Please stop putting words into my mouth. I never said it did. My statement was in response to your comment that I keep bringing Google and MS into the argument.

As far as I am concerned, this argument is over. I don’t think anything I say will convince you otherwise and vice versa. We have agreed to disagree and we should stop at that.

19. Tismar Khan - October 15, 2006

“..Please stop putting words into my mouth..”

when did i start? When did I say u r implying that. I am only asking why is it important that I didnt know abt it earlier and how is it related to me saying u bring google and ms to the argument. I quite didnt get that part, but its not important. So dont worry abt it.

” I don’t think anything I say will convince you.”

On the contrary. I am convinced by validity of most of ur points. It has less features, it is slow, and alternate solutions are better.
I am saying it will work in spite of that bcos some of those factors might change in future. Thats it. If they dont, I guess I am wrong.
So there is nothing i am ‘not convinced’ abt.

“we have agreed to disagree””
Not me. I dont look at it that way.

hmm.. another disagreement. May be u r ight.

Its ur fault. All I wanted was Nagma on there and  u thought Mallika was more relevant. How could I agree to that?

20. iSHMAel - February 16, 2007

a016070970 –


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