With the announcement of the Windows Live Wave 3 (web) services today, there are a few new service names that have popped into the mix. One of these is Windows Live People and this new address book features all of your contacts, both Hotmail, Messenger, Spaces friends as well as Groups you are part of. Here’s a brief overview of the main things that are new.
Finally we have a consistent UI! Along with the new Wave 3 header, that makes it much easier to swap between services, the contacts service is now much more intuitive.
The sidebar features the categories (formerly groups) of all the various contacts, and lets you “favourite” any of your contacts with just one click on the star. Online presence is featured heavily throughout the address book, with the new status of Online/Away/Busy/Offline being shown through the display picture borders (just like in Messenger).
You’ll also notice the new Messenger sign-in link, which offers WebMessenger functionality through the new Wave 3 pages. We’ll have more on that separately.
The first allows you to send an email direct from the contact page. Its a nice touch, but as for actual usage, I’m not sure how popular it will be. I guess its useful for sending an email to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, who you see while browsing your address book, but that was the only scenario we could come up with. As always, feel free to correct us via email or in the comments.
The second new part on this page is the recent emails box, which is definitely useful. Searching for recent emails in Hotmail has never been as easy as it should be, but now its a whole lot simpler thanks to this addition. The “more” link here takes you to the Hotmail interface with a pre-populated query for all that contact’s email addresses, allowing you to see the 400 most recent emails with that contact.
Finally there is also a separate “permissions” page for each contact, which shows you the information and files you are sharing with each contact through all the other Windows Live Services (not Mesh yet though).
There are also permissions pages for each category of friends you have, allowing you to update what you are sharing at a higher level, think Facebook friends lists.
Managing your contacts
To help manage your contacts, there’s now an improved feature allowing you to clean up your contacts. It lists the number of duplicates, along with the personal information in each, allowing you to merge or delete as appropriate. Note that if you have multiple IM addresses, you won’t be able to merge the contacts without losing one of these from your Messenger contact list. Hotmail will prompt you if this is the case though.
Yes my favourite Windows Live Wave 3 feature also makes an appearance in Hotmail too. Now when you send an email to a contact, the email confirmation page will show you recent updates from those you just emailed. A powerful change for sure, and one that may just help start driving usage of these other services such as Photos and Profile.
Overall we really like the changes that have been made with the contact management, with the execution of the improvements being good too. Its simple, but effective.