Windows Live Wave 4: Can it change “hearts and minds”?

By Kip Kniskern | In Opinion | Posted May 2, 2010 22 comments

Finally, it looks like Windows Live Wave 4 is just around the corner.  Microsoft last week began to talk publically about Messenger Wave 4, notably in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and in Amsterdam, where Messenger usage is heavy, to put it mildly.  If the timeline predictions floating around are correct (as they have been so far), a public “beta” should be available in early June – *perhaps* with an announcement by Steve Ballmer onstage at the “D8” Conference:


It’s been an agonizing year with little or no public discussion of Wave 4 and almost nothing in the way of updates or added features (unless you count Movie Maker).  In a blog post in December, Microsoft Corp. VP Chris Jones defended the lack of progress, saying:

There are certainly folks (and many commented on this blog) who would like to see us ship “sooner” and “change more.”  There are others that we hear from in other forums who “don’t like change” and want us to “keep things as they are.”  And then there are the questions of which  features we pick and how long those will take to be delivered with quality.  In the end, I’ll simply say that we are generally happy with our release rhythm and we recognize as well that our customers and competitors continue to innovate, which increases the importance of planning well.

However for Windows Live users, stuck using a barely functional Calendar with no phone sync (read: useless), a Messenger without tabbed conversations (probably the number one feature request forever), or threaded conversations in mail, this isn’t about “icing on the cake” type feature releases, it’s about basic functionality.  Up until now, Microsoft simply hasn’t delivered the goods.

But amazingly enough, from the looks of it, we’re soon going to get our hands on a well thought out, fully functional, integrated set of services.  From the best privacy controls in the business, to a set of social integrations we might actually use, to leading edge mobile services delivered to not only a new Windows Live friendly Windows Phone, but to all the major devices including the iPhone, for once Windows Live users may just be at the front of the pack, instead of trailing badly behind.

We’ve been with Windows Live since the beginning,  sometimes kicking and screaming, but still loyal to the idea that if Microsoft ever got its act together with Windows Live, it could be compelling.  In a few short weeks, for the first time, we may be getting our hands on what Windows Live has always promised to be.

Of course then the real work begins, as much of the world’s markets aren’t like the Netherlands and Brazil.  Most people in the US, for example, wouldn’t be caught dead using a Hotmail account as part of their personal brand (which is why it’s so sad Windows Live botched the brand and domain so thoroughly), and even with a great set of services the road to repositioning Windows Live as “cool” will be extremely difficult.  Windows Live Wave 4 looks to be taking a giant step in the right direction, however, but will it be enough to change hearts and minds?

Posted May 2nd, 2010 at 8:35 pm
Category: Opinion
Tags: Wave 4
  • Kit Y

    Their release rhythm is a complete joke… feature takes forever to get done. Why can’t they be a bit more like facebook, of course they are a startup. Seriously, they have lots of innovative stuff coming on. even the Like button.

    • Menthix

      I you consider completely ignoring privacy issues innovative, sure :).

      • Kit Y

        never an issue to me, I read the options before I click yes… the more annoying would be the Google Buzz.

  • Greg Edwards

    I can’t help but think there will be a loyal group of WL lovers (probably most folks who read this blog, myself included) who’ll really like wave 4, but within a couple of days, they’ll start barking about when we can expect wave 5. With some folks, it’s never enough.

    • James Kay

      Today (Taiwan time) I started Outlook and discovered I was cut off from my e-mail account until I agreed to do an upgrade of the office outlook connector. No big deal, even though this ‘you MUST do this right now’ attitude is a bit arrogant. Well, guess what? The upgrade doesn’t work! No matter which options or approaches I’ve tried, when I bring up Outlook, I am AGAIN prompted. So my calendar and contacts are now hostages on and I must wait to get them back. With service like this (and I PAY monthly for premium service,) scares me just a bit.

  • technogran

    You can’t please everyone, it’s an impossible task but you can try and please your biggest majority of users. I think that everyone at Live were dealt a bit of a shock at the backlash following the Wave 3 updates. Hardly anyone had asked for what they ended up getting.
    I agree with Kit and the bulk of this post. The Live teams seem to have now listened to the complaints made after Wave 3. We shall have to just wait and see how it all pans out and how well its all received by its users.

  • anonymous

    Windows Live is FAIL without XP support, Microsoft’s most successful ever and currently overwhelmingly dominant OS. XP is not dead but MS are doing planned obsolescence. It is still the most used OS (more than Vista and 7 combined. Saying that users should “move on” from over 55-60% of the market is questionable at best. MS is not doing good by ignoring over 55-60% of the market. Let’s see how much of a success it is with just 16% of Vista market and 10-11% Windows 7. Especially since they’ve never delivered with Windows Live in the past and forever missing baseline features. Their competitors and partners aren’t going to remotely think of dropping XP support any time soon.

    • Damaster –

      Just want to point out that your statistics for WinXP users includes businesses. Most businesses are already planning to migrate towards Windows 7 – it won’t be feasible for businesses to provide an operating system that will no longer be supported in the near future. Moreover, many business users, while they’re forced to use WinXP at work, they’re already using Windows Vista or Windows 7 at their home PC, especially if they’ve purchased a new PC in the past few years. Remember that the target audience of Windows Live is consumers, not businesses, so your notion of “majority” might not be so accurate.

      Additionally, for Windows XP users, you can still continue to use Windows Live Essentials Wave 3, as well as all of the web services from Windows Live Wave 4 – this includes the brand new Hotmail, Windows Live Office and SkyDrive for productivity users, or receive all social highlights using Windows Live Home, Profile and Contacts…etc.

  • Mario Albertico

    All I ask for is a timeline in Movie Maker…lol, that’s all I need. If they’re not going to give me a descent video editor in Windows 7, then Live Movie Maker needs a timeline. (I guess this is an example of everyone having their own “wants,” but seriously, is requesting a timeline in a video editor so out of bounds?! Because they started off at such a base level, they can’t expect users not to demand at least what other services offer). And to the whole change issue, sites and software change massively now and then. Sure there’s backlash at first, but people get over it and keep using Facebook, Office’s Ribbon, etc. If you concentrate on pleasing the conservative folks, you get stuck at Microsoft’s slow innovation pace. When you cater to the heavy, “next thing” crowd, you get the attention of the folks who write the blogs, articles, and headlines that trickle down the positive bits to the masses.

  • CW

    The disaster of Windows Live Movie Maker – which still looks like an early beta release – definitely needs an update. Frankly, they should have updated Windows Movie Maker 6 until they had a fully formed Live Movie Maker (read: with a timeline) ready to go. Asking people to wait for a year has been completely amateurish.

    • Mario Albertico

      Thank you…I agree completely.

  • Joe

    I wish windows live could do this gives you a 3D view of you desktop, allowing you to manipulate files and folders as you would in the real world. There are many gestures and actions that can be taken to manipulate files within the 3D environment.

  • peter terry

    i use as my personal email, and no one seems to have ever heard of it.

  • Parent

    “best privacy controls in the business”. LOL. The web-based cumbersome to set up UI of Windows Live Family Safety is anything but “best”. Vista’s Parental Controls were good though. If you are writing a rich client app which ships as part of the suite, you might as write a decent app with a UI which doesn’t require a browser and Live ID sign in for parental controls. Why can’t it associate with a Windows user account like all of the other parental controls on the market do?

    • Damaster –

      If you’re looking for basic parental controls which doesn’t require Live ID, Windows 7 (as well as Vista) has built-in parental controls. The reason Windows Live Family Safety uses Windows Live ID is so that parents can control their children’s accounts directly over the internet (perhaps the parent is just in the next room on a separate computer, or even at work). With Windows 7, you can now associate your Windows Live ID with your Windows account too.

      Windows Live Family Safety Wave 4 is set to have more controls such as time limits, game ratings, as well as blocking specific programs from running – and you can do all of this over the internet. You can also check out our previous coverage on Family Safety Wave 4 here:

  • Kip Kniskern –

    @Parent – with what we’re hearing about privacy controls in Wave 4, they should be much improved, and what I was referring to. Granted, we’ve yet to hear much about the future of Family Safety, but hopefully we’ll be seeing improvements there, too. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  • Casho

    I just have one wish for Wave 4, that Windows Live Movie Maker supports publishing to PAL video settings. Currently (and inexplicably) the current version only support NTSC, which makes it completely useless outside of the US.

  • Brent Vermilyea

    Right on point, Kip.

    What I really like about Wave 4 (on the web side) is that Microsoft is focusing on their BIG assets: Messenger, Hotmail, Office and the social. Good. That’s how it should be. That’s what I want from Windows Live on the web. And on their desktop software solutions: it looks good. There’s probably nothing revolutionary here, but it will help fill in the holes where features have been lacking.

    The biggest move for Microsoft in the cloud, in my opinion, is the partnership with Facebook. This will help drive MSFT products online and mitigate competitors.

    Also, projects at Microsoft get their days in the sun. And while Windows Live is important–it’s also just one of many important things. It was Windows 7 last year, it’s now Windows Phone and Kin, now Office 2010, coming up will be Windows Live, and then after that the new XBOX Slim with Natal, etc. We just need patience. When I look at how Microsoft is tying in its valuable assets across all platforms, I’m quite amazed. I think it took a long time for them to get it right, but it’s all coming together.

  • JSYOUNG571

    I feel this is a make or break wave for Microsoft via Windows Live. We have been waiting on projects for years and Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do. By the time Microsoft arrives with the goods, the others (Google,Yahoo,Facebook, and Apple) have moved futher ahead on new projects. Microsoft has always fell behind. Yes we have been loyal followers,but I think Microsoft has taken advantage of that way too long. I get the same response back from my friends and others who are part of other services. When I talk about what is coming new in Windows Live, their response is you all our just getting that service, we have been had it for almost a year or two. The calander sync for the Windows Mobile phone, the follow up flag in the email along with conversation window, the ability to chat on messenger within your email box, the ability to share not only pictures by messenger, but videos also. A lot of these services have been out a long time with other web services. If Microsoft doesn’t come through on Wave 4, this might be the last dance with their loyal followers. It is one thing to make us believe that good things come to those who wait, but it is another when the wait was for something we should have had at the same time the other Web services introduced 2 years ago. I am hoping they do not drop the ball this time. I want to thank them for taking my idea about Windows Live Video Message Beta and making it part of Windows Live Messenger. It had been in beta for over a year and I had been saying since day 1 that they should connect it to Windows Live Messenger. Hopefully they will also connect it to Windows Live Hotmail. You can record a video message and send it right from Windows Live Hotmail, instead of going to a site by itself.Here is another idea if anyone form Windows Live developement team is reading. Try adding a windows live video message application to your Windows Live Mobile application. That way if we want to record a video message by our phone, we can send it directly through our Windows Live Mobile application. Make it where we can view the vidoe message throgh Hotmail on our computers as well as our phones. Just an idea, before the other Web services do it.

  • efjay

    “to leading edge mobile services delivered to not only a new Windows Live friendly Windows Phone, but to all the major devices”

    But guaranteed NOT to come to the over 20 million Windows Mobile users but of course the iphone will get it. Thanks again Microsoft for supporting your competitor over your very own mobile OS.

  • Jeff45

    Hi there :)

    Just to tell you that the Windows Live Essentials Wave 4 will be launched on 21th June 2010 (source :

    Confirmed by Microsoft France ;)

    Have fun !