With the recent deadpooling of Windows Live Expo, you could be forgiven for thinking that Microsoft was rationalising its online services. That’s not the case though, as this whois search shows. Microsoft appears to be preparing a new online service as part of wave 3, going by the name of Windows Live FrameIt.
So what does the new service do? Essentially it extends the functionality of digital photo frame devices, allowing users to customise the content delivery from multiple sources.
Take for example the Samsung frame launched at CES earlier this year, that displays photos using RSS feeds, including from Windows Live Spaces. This content source is fixed to whatever feed the user specifics, and changing the photos on display is an entirely manual process – the user has to change the feed address.
Enter Windows Live FrameIt. This service will allow the user to setup all their different content feeds, be it from Flickr, Facebook, Smugmug, the range of default content feeds or just a generic RSS feed. What’s clever is that the timing for when each feed of photo collections appears in the frame can be specified. For example, you might want today’s weather to be in the frame from 7-7.30am when you get up, holiday photos showing during the day and the latest city nightscapes from Flickr in the evening. In addition, we’ve heard that FrameIt will offer support for sharing these content feeds between users, allowing you to send photos to your friends’ photo frames and vice versa. Rickrolling anybody?
While this sounds like a cool scenario, it does mesh both hardware and software, something that Microsoft has already tried with Windows Live Messenger Phones. That didn’t really get off the ground despite some major airtime at CES and support from some big hardware vendors like Philips and Motorola.
For FrameIt the challenge is perhaps somewhat easier, RSS enabled devices such as the WiFi photo frames already exist and are selling across the world. They were also one of the devices mentioned just last week by Ray Ozzie at FAM 2008, suggesting that Ray sees them becoming commonplace over the next 10 years:
[T]his transformation will take us from a world where the dream was a PC on every desk and in every home into a world in which it won’t be uncommon for families and individuals to have many, many PCs in their homes and in their lives, as well as many other Net-connected devices such as mobile phones, set-top boxes, game consoles, digital picture frames and so on.
While we’ll have to wait and see just how much marketing Microsoft gives this service in the short-term, is Microsoft now trying to make up for being late to the photos party? Is it enough? That’s a topic for another post I think.
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