Windows Live Wave 3: New Header UI

As the 2nd part in our Windows Live Wave 3 series, we’re taking a look at the new header UI that Microsoft is working on. It was almost exactly a year ago that we started talking about the Wave 2 UI, which saw the removal of the Flair. This next change is just as noticeable.

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Key changes include:

No orb: Windows Live is seemingly following the MSN approach, providing links to the key services and then a drop down menu with the other services on offer. This should make it easier for users to discover the less main-stream services.

Customisable background: Users can choose from a range of standard backgrounds to appear across the Windows Live sites, but we’re also hearing that users can use a custom background too.

Search: The box is less intrusive, blending in with the background. Also of note is the removal of the ugly green button, which goes a long way to making this design much more aesthetically pleasing.

No product names: In an attempt to seemingly clean up the branding issues once and for all, Microsoft is making the product names less obvious. Instead products are referred to by a basic, self-explanatory name, Files instead of Skydrive, for example. That’s not to say the product names are necessarily being cut, but this simplification is a move which is long overdue.

The new header also shows the approach to some of the Wave 3 social networking services. A focus on the user’s own profile for example, something which Microsoft has languished behind on as other social networking sites developed. Then there is the absence of Spaces in the header, instead being replaced by two separate aspects of the product, People (or Friends?), and Photos. More focus here perhaps?

The problem with Microsoft developing the Windows Live UI over the past few years has been the lack of consistency, something Kip highlighted recently about Live Search. For example, Windows Live Favorites and My.Live.com are both still running the Wave 1 UI, with this being due to a lack of product updates over the past year. Now that Microsoft is shutting down some of the unnecessary products (eg Expo, also running the Wave 1 UI), this will hopefully help improve the situation.

Disclaimer: This is just the current M1 (Milestone 1) UI, and may change before public release