Windows Live Home beta (accidently) available to public!

As I was checking my Calendar (using the dogfood address we mentioned earlier) today, I unconsciously clicked "Home" to take me back to the usual Windows Live Home, forgetting that I was on the dogfood server. Expecting that I would get to the 404 page not found, instead I was redirected to the new Windows Live Home beta (http://home-beta.live.com) that was previously available only to internal Microsoft beta testers. At the time of posting, the beta home page is still available to the public intermittently. Here’s what comes up first on your Home page:

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We can see several old features like the ability to see your Hotmail and Office Live Workspaces directly from your Home page (with slight improvements to allow you to show more than three headings), weather information, and a shortcut to all the other Windows Live offerings. What’s important are the new features we’ve noticed, such as:

• "What’s New" feed integration (similar to that in Messenger wave 3) – and the ability to post Notes (ie. comments) to each of the "What’s New" activities
• RSS Feed support (limited to a certain pre-defined list)
• Adding your "Home Photo" on the top-right corner
• Sending "private messages" using Windows Live Profile
• "People you might know" feature suggesting friends’ Network you may be able to join with Windows Live People
• Integration with Windows Live Calendar showing who’s birthday it is today at first glance
• Ability to add "Web Activities" to your Windows Live Profile (more on this later)
• New Themes that changes according to the time of day and weather conditions

Here’s a screenshot of the Themes currently available, notice the last four Themes on the bottom: Daisy Hill, Tugboat, Prairie, and Desert are dynamic and change according to the time of day (every four hours to be exact) and weather conditions according to the location you’ve set. These Themes will be shown across all Windows Live wave 3 services, with the exception of Spaces and Events (which you’re able to customize separately):

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What we’re most excited about is the RSS feed integration within Windows Live Home. Unfortunately, it seems like you are only able to select from a predefined list of Feed providers, thus still not able to replace My.Live.com. Having said that, to our surprise we noticed the LiveSide is actually on the predefined list of Feed providers! [<:o)] This probably explain why we had been receiving hits from the http://home-beta.live.com address:

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As many of the features are integrated with the yet-to-be-released Wave 3 services like Windows Live Profile, Groups and Peoples (such as the What’s New feed – we know from the Messenger team interview that it’s a big thing coming), we weren’t able to play around with these new features. However, stay tuned with us as we cover about these exciting new features more in depth later.