Wave 4: Windows Live Profile – An In-depth Overview

Following our coverage of Windows Live Office and Windows Live Groups Wave 4, today we’ll take you through the new Windows Live Profile experience. First up, when you first log in to Windows Live Profile (once it gets upgraded to Wave 4), the first-run experience will prompt you to setup your Profile, which includes things like adding your full name, setting up your birthday, as well as connecting your Services (like Facebook and MySpace). It will also have a Profile completion bar on the left showing you how complete your current Profile is:

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After you have set up your Profile, if you haven’t tried the Profile Connect service, you can try it now. What’s new in Wave 4 is the ability to add contacts from Outlook, as well as import contacts from another Windows Live account. This would be really useful when you’re wishing to migrate your account over (and this replaces the old Messenger contacts import/export feature):

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While you’re adding contacts, Windows Live Profile will prompt you to setup your privacy settings. Privacy settings in Wave 4 has been greatly simplified, and all the controls you need are all in one place, conveniently found at http://profile.live.com/privacy. You can choose from three default options – Public, Limited, and Private, or you can choose from very granular privacy settings which allows you to customise exactly what you want or don’t want to show to a particular friend. You can check out our previous coverage on the new enhanced privacy controls by clicking here. Here’s a screenshot, prompting you to set up your privacy settings as you’re adding your contacts:

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In addition to adding your contacts, you can also connect your Windows Live account to “other Services”. As we mentioned earlier, you can consider “Services” to be an upgraded version of Web Activities, where the latter only provides feed aggregation from third party websites (and only worked if your contacts had actually added those Web Activities). The new Services allow you to directly connect to third party website’s account and allow two-way interactions with that website. Take Facebook for example, once you’ve connected the Facebook Service to Windows Live, you’ll be able to aggregate all your Facebook friends into your Windows Live contact list, view all social updates from Facebook directly within Windows Live (even those who are not in your Windows Live network, or has not added the Facebook web activity), as well as post status updates, photos, and links directly to Facebook from within Windows Live. Do note that at the beginning of Wave 4, only Facebook and MySpace features this full set of two-way interactions between Windows Live and the Services. For other Services, the degree of interaction will vary from basic Web Activity-like feeds to full integration. This is the new page where you can connect new Services to Windows Live:

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Once you’ve set up your contact list, privacy settings, Services, and your Profile details, your Window Live Profile is now ready, as shown below:

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You’ll notice that you’ll be able to post status updates, photos, and links using the status box at the top, and if you’ve connected Services like Facebook to Windows Live, these updates will be published to your Windows Live Profile as well as these other Services. In addition, everything under the “Messenger social” feed (previously the What’s New feed) now supports inline commenting – meaning that you’d be able to directly comment on each individual status update (instead of the Notes section in Wave 3 where notes left are for the Profile, not for specific status updates, rendering it rather useless besides for spammers). If you have connected other Services too, updates from these third-party websites will also appear under “Messenger social”, and for updates from Facebook for example, inline comments made on Windows Live will be reflected on Facebook as well, and vice-versa. Talk about true social integration!

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Overall, the look and feel of Windows Live Profile has not changed much from Wave 3, however, the updates made around the enhanced privacy controls, integration with third party Services, and the inclusion of the Web Messenger on every Windows Live web service’s header makes Profile much more useful than before. What do you think?

(Thanks to Technogran, Vasudev, and PC Magazine for the screenshots used in this post!)