Windows Live Profile Wave 4: LinkedIn to become a Connected Service, and display names to go away

Windows Live ProfileToday on the Inside Windows Live team blog Omar Shahine (Principal Lead Program Manager for Windows Live) made a blog post about the new Windows Live Profile with particular emphasis to changes made to privacy control. We covered the new enhanced privacy controls in Profile briefly before, and also gave you an overview of what’s new in Windows Live Profile too. But there’s a few things in Omar’s post that we haven’t told you about. Firstly, besides Facebook and MySpace, there will be one more Service joining Windows Live – LinkedIn.

LinkedIn had always been missing from the list of Windows Live web activities ever since Wave 3, although you were able to import contacts from LinkedIn into Windows Live. In Wave 4, instead of simply bringing it in as a “web activity” (one-way social feeds only), according to Omar’s post it sounds like LinkedIn will be available as a “Service”, meaning there will be two-way interaction between Windows Live and LinkedIn (posting social updates to and from LinkedIn from Windows Live, as well as automatic de-duplication of LinkedIn contacts with your Windows Live contact list).

 Windows Live and LinkedIn

Secondly, there are a few changes in your Windows Live Profile which cleans things up a little bit, clearing up the confusion brought in back in Wave 3 about networks, friends, contacts and profiles, as well as the removal of display names:

1. Your Messenger friends and Profile friends are merged into one list.

Starting in this release, there is only one type of friend relationship in Windows Live: Messenger friends. We made this change because we heard lots of feedback that people didn’t understand the difference between Profile friends and Messenger friends. Now they’re all just "friends," but you can easily limit access to your more private information for some of those friends.

2. You have just one name: your full name, and just one profile picture, which are both part of your profile, and always visible to friends.

In the past there was a lot inconsistency across different Windows Live products. For example, you could have two pictures, one that appeared to your Messenger friends and another that appeared on your Profile. Additionally, you could choose to show only a "display name" in some places, while in other places, your full name would appear, and in still others, only your first name. To cut through all this confusion, we had to rethink our model from the ground up, design what we wanted to have, and then work to transition our users.

The end result is that your full name and picture will always be visible to your friends, but you have complete control over who your friends are. Your full name does not become available to friends until we’ve informed you that this is happening, and given you an opportunity to change some settings if you want to. You can, of course, change your full name to whatever you want it to be, and you can always choose the Private setting if you don’t want your profile to be visible to non-friends or findable in a web search. 

This change was important to ensure that our network is one where people can find you using your real name; people who see your comments, photos, and invitations know who they came from; and your appearance is consistent across all of our web and client applications.

For some, the move away from a separate display name will be perceived as a loss of functionality. But this change, along with numerous other enhancements, will help curb abuse and scams on our network.

This is why from all the screenshots and videos we’ve seen of Messenger, the contact list always show the contact’s first and last name. Looks like display names are now a thing of the past – except for Wave 3 (Windows XP) users of course. What do you think of these changes? Leave us a comment below! Smile