With almost a full set of Windows Live services now out of beta, we thought we’d take a look at all those currently available and choose our top 10 features / mini-services that most people aren’t currently using and should be.
- Windows Live Mail desktop has a “View by Conversation” option that groups an email and its replies together, something which Gmail users love. You can try this out for yourself in the most recent Windows Live Mail desktop beta by selecting the following option: View – Current View – View by Conversation
- Live Feed Search is a great way to find blogs on niche topics, or if you want the majority of your search results to be from blogs. Power users will probably want to stick to Technorati however. Try it out at http://search.live.com/feeds.
- Live Search has a nifty “prefer” operator to help you refine your search results. Here’s an example of it in action: Without | With. You use this in the same way as all the other search operators; add “prefer:” followed by your refining term.
- Live Map Search has several “hidden” features, but the one we’ve chosen is using the line tool to measure distances – great if you plan on walking between locations. You can access this by clicking the Collections menu, choosing Open and then selecting the line draw tool from the bottom of the scratchpad. (Screenshot)
- Active Contacts has a huge amount of potential yet not many users seem to understand the benefits of using it. Active Contacts allows you to share personal information with the individuals you wants and if they subscribe to you, keep them updated on any changes you make. Of course this also works in reverse too, the more contacts who you subscribe to, the more connected you are (see examples). You can share your own contact information from the menu you use to change your online status in Windows Live Messenger – Click your Display Name – Share Contact Information.
- Windows Live Mobile Messenger (G2) allows you to send a voiceclip from your mobile phone to a contact running Windows Live Messenger. While the ability to send a voiceclip from the desktop client is not particularly useful, in the mobile client it is a killer feature, allowing you to quickly send a message to your contacts without having to type it out on your mobile device. Definitely a handy feature for situations when you’re in a hurry. Currently G2 is only available on Windows Mobile 6 devices.
- Windows Live Messenger users seem to have an unquenchable desire for the weirdest and wackiest names they can think of, as if the personal status message feature didn’t exist. Tidy up your contact list by using the nicknames feature in Messenger: In the contact list, right click the offending contact – Add a nickname.
- Live Search activity in Messenger is a great way to find information you need for a conversation, without firing up your browser. One novel use we were told of is using Live Image Search to find new displays pictures, which you can use by dragging them directly to your existing display picture. Note this is a 1-person application and your contact will not know you are running it. From the Messenger conversation window open the Actions menu – Start an activity – Search
- Live Search for Mobile is just so useful that it is worth highlighting in its entirety. Mobile is one of the areas within Windows Live that is consistently producing great products and Live Local Mobile is no exception. Although the regional support is still somewhat limited (currently US and UK only), they now include support for Java-running phones, as well as Blackberry’s. Go to http://wls.live.com/ on your mobile device.
- Windows Live Toolbar has a nifty feature called Smart Menus that enhances the browsing experience, for example getting a map preview for an address on a webpage. While I’m not a big toolbar fan, this is one feature I wish I had. To use this you need Windows Live Toolbar installed, then highlight the information (address, phone number etc) and right click to view the available Smart Menu options. Dennis Cheung has a great set of videos that explain the possibilities in more detail.
Anything you think we’ve missed out?