One of the common things that seems to be happening with the major Windows Live services and products is for a development SDK to be released for the product to allow 3rd party developers to build upon the application and add extra functionality to the service. We’ve seen it with Messenger (albeit a rather limited SDK for add-ons), Live Writer, Live Local (Virtual Earth), to name just a few (a full list is on http://dev.live.com), and certainly with the latter two we have seen some great additions to the service. And even those services that don’t have an SDK at least allow the user to create something for themselves, like adding your own button in Live Toolbar and creating your own search macro with Live Search.
There seems to be an almost new reliance on 3rd party developers to extend the functionality of the Live Services. Where features that the product team can’t/won’t put into the product natively can be added through the use of the SDK, thus making the product more popular and versatile. So is this the way that Microsoft is going? Is this the real future for Windows Live? The amount of Windows Live services and products that the user can create something of their own would seem to indicate that perhaps yes, this is the way forward for Windows Live.
Of course this isn’t really anything new for Microsoft, their WindowsSDK has been around for some time for developers to call upon Windows functions, but for the Windows Live area, I suspect the SDKs and 3rd party development will play a more important role than it does with Windows itself.