Managing your contacts with Windows Live People – Update being rolled out!

Managing your contacts is going to be easier as a new update is rolling out:

During the past year, we set out to build a few new things:

  • A unified contact list for all Windows Live users across all of our services
  • A unified invitations experience for inviting people to your network on Windows Live
  • A common look & feel for how you select contacts, view networks, and do other contact-based tasks

Before I continue, I want to be clear that we are not done with our releases and so some of these improvements are still coming – particularly the latest updates to Windows Live Hotmail and Windows Live People.

Here is a picture of the People page, which is rolling out shortly and and should be available to all customers within the next few weeks.  

PeoplePage_thumb[3] News

Yea, looks different than the one we have now:

wlpeople_thumb_65a2346c News

Differences noticed at a glance:

1. A theme that’s not available from the themes list now
2. Advertisement on the right instead of at the top
3. Left pane: Network divided in In Messenger and On Profile. Your Network with: Add people, See suggestions and View invitations
4. Right pane: Column Network, which shows to which network(s) the contact is added.

Now number 1 and number 2 are most likely because on mine, Hotmail has not been updated to the latest (January update) yet either. LiveSino has some pictures of the January Hotmail update. I’ve not seen a Team blog post on the upcoming changes there.

Windows live People contains all your contacts. You can edit standard details there like addresses and phone numbers. But there’s more you can do on the Windows Live People page, things like import/export contacts and even clean up duplicate contacts! Clean up feature? Where? You can find that one under the manage drop down, same as import/export and merge.

People in your network

Omar Shahine highlights two types here:

  • Messenger contacts – These are the people you invited to Messenger. You see when they’re online and can instantly start a chat with them. Your Messenger contacts are private—no one else can see that they’re your contacts.
  • Profile contacts – These are the people you’ve selected to appear on your Windows Live Profile page to those whom you’ve given permission to see the page. Your Profile contacts are public—they let your friends discover other friends through you. Unlike Messenger contacts, these contacts can’t see when you’re online or instantly start chatting with you (unless you’ve also approved them as Messenger contacts).

These two make your Network:

Network_thumb[5] News

Now why are these two so important? These two types of contacts are important because you can receive regular updates from them:

  • Contact information updates—If a contact shares a mailing address with you and then moves, the new address will be saved in your address book automatically. This is something a lot of people tell us that they love because it means you always have the latest contact information. You also get birthday reminders for contacts in your network.
  • “What’s new” information—These are updates that people in your network decide to share with you about what they’re doing online. They cover activities in Windows Live (for example, changing a picture, joining groups, or publishing a blog post) as well as activities on other websites (for example, updating on Twitter or publishing photos on Flickr). You’ve likely started to see “What’s new” information appear in Messenger, on home.live.com, and in many other places (soon including Hotmail when you sign in and when you send e-mail).

If you want to put your existing Messenger Contacts on your profile, the easiest way is to do so on http://profile.live.com/connect/upgrade.aspx?ru=windowslive.

Categories

On to the organizing part. You can organize your contacts into Categories. Of course this is handy to quickly find your contacts but there’s more!
You can set permissions per Category. Handy if you only want to share an photo album with for example the Category Family, or a set of files with your co-workers. Even profile details can have different permissions per Category.
Send an email to the entire Category.

You may have already noticed the Category called Favorites in Messenger. Favorites are in Windows Live People too! The stars after their name indicate that. You can add or remove people from favorites by clicking that star.

I’m very much looking forward to this update and can’t help but wonder: On windows Live People, will one be able to choose on deletion/adding where one wants to delete/add a contact from/to? At the moment when you Invite people there’s checkboxes for Profile and Messenger, but when deleting someone on Windows Live People I’ve not seen such a choice…