Report: Microsoft prepping new version of Windows Live

Posted by Starr Keshet

Microsoft is preparing to launch a new version of Windows Live, which has apparently been dubbed "Wave 4" by a team of very bored marketeers.

Chris Jones, the corporate VP Windows Live, explained that at least several thousand people were currently running "regular builds" of the updated Live code "inside Microsoft," with external testing slated to kick off in the near future.

Report: Microsoft prepping new version of Windows Live"We will then roll out updates to our web services, followed by betas of our software for Windows PCs, Macs, and phones," confirmed Jones.

"Our approach is to release betas to the public once we think the build is in pretty good shape, learn through beta usage data and beta user feedback, and make additional refinements that eventually become the final release."

According to Jones, Wave 4 focuses on three key areas: Messenger, Hotmail, and Windows Live Essentials.

"[For example], in the not-so-distant past, your friends were mostly on one IM network, mostly on a PC, and it was easy to keep track of what they were doing. But in the last several years, conversations have shifted beyond IM sessions, to activity on social networks, sharing in email, and SMS messages. 

"To stay up to date with these 'real friends' you have to go from site to site and wade through long lists of posts. Messenger is evolving into a companion for your social networks, so you can stay in touch more easily with your closest friends across the many services you and they use."

Jones also acknowledged that e-mail had changed over the least years, with text-based letters giving way to more HTML-oriented messages. 

"[So], we'll focus our improvements in Hotmail on helping all those busy people get more done in email, in the most efficient way possible. This means helping you quickly see the mail that matters most and letting you easily sweep away mail that you don't want.

"[In addition], we'll make it simpler and easier to share through email, whether you're sharing and editing Office documents with co-workers, or sharing vacation photos with friends and family."

Finally, Jones noted that PC use had evolved since the days of Windows XP, with people now "communicating" on social networks, sending email, browsing the web and sharing photos or videos.

"Most people have a mobile phone, and many have an additional PC. And most people already have at least one social network (often more), a photo sharing service, and an email address. [As such], Wave 4 of Windows Live Essentials includes the best tools to organize photos, make movies, and keep in touch with your closest friends, all designed for the power of the Windows 7 PC.

"We'll focus on connecting your PC to your social networks, your photo sharing services, your phone, and your other PCs – and help you keep things in sync across all the devices you use."