Microsoft looks to kill off WL Favourites – Skydrive becomes storage central

Its true, nobody is perfect. In fact during the May 22nd update to Skydrive, we missed the addition of Favourites support to Windows Live Skydrive (hey pp2 missed it until recently too!). Interestingly enough the team blog post didn’t point out the change either. (and nobody tipped us? Guess you’re all using Mesh too…)

Check out the not-so-new Favourites folder that now exists by default on http://skydrive.live.com.

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So what does this mean for the existing Windows Live Favourites service? We’ve heard that by the end of Wave 3, favourites.live.com will redirect to this new Skydrive folder.

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Obviously nobody will want to manually enter in their 100 favourite websites into Skydrive, which is why we’re expecting to see a new Windows Live Toolbar add-in for Wave 3. For those who have good memories, an add-in for the old service was rolled out 2 years ago – those who beta tested it will remember it with some fondness. This ability to synchronise favourites and thereby provide a compelling user experience with Internet Explorer 8, is something that Mary Jo Foley keeps referring to. She did so again today, quoting one of the “Big Bets” made by Chris Jones in a certain Wave 3 planning memo:

“Our experiences will be designed so when they are connected to Windows 7 they seamlessly extend the Windows experience, and we will work to follow the Windows 7 style guidelines for applications.  We will work with the Internet Explorer 8 team to make sure we deliver an experience that seamlessly extends the browser with our toolbar and other offerings.Search and MSN.”

Lets not get ahead of ourselves here, we don’t even have the favourites synching yet, but the ability to synchronise RSS feeds from the Windows feedstore to Skydrive is something that definitely appeals.

The move to Skydrive is a welcome update, and potentially offers the ability to share bookmarks with your friends and thereby allow other users to comment on them. At the moment though, its all privately stored, with the comment form rendered somewhat useless for the time being. The old/existing stand-alone service has a top-favourite and also sharing options, suggesting that this move is less about developing the service, and more about taking Windows Live Favourites to a mainstream audience as part of Skydrive.

Make Skydrive the one-stop shop for sharing with your friends, and then there is less user confusion around which service to use. This makes sense when you consider that Skydrive could be used to share more than just files and favourites; photos as well, maybe even videos? Following the closure of Expo, we like the idea of deadpooling Favourites as a separate service –  Mini-MSFT be proud!

(Note: We don’t fully understand either why Microsoft is putting so much time into Skydrive given the huge potential of Mesh as a platform, beyond the fact that Skydrive is a short-term solution for now, and Mesh has a much longer timeframe for development. That said, hopefully somebody will start clarifying these differences – why build 2 products that do the same thing?)