Microsoft had a great concept behind its recent launch of Windows Live Wave 3, though as usual the company wasn’t thinking about the common user.
This latest overhaul of Windows Live is Microsoft’s way of building a “home base” for Live users by organizing their lives under one homepage. There are four basic new functions:
° Download friends from LinkedIn, FaceBook, Hotmail or by entering a friend’s email address
° SkyDrive upgrade from 5GB to 25GB for a more competitive photo sharing system
° Capable of showcasing RSS feeds for a blog or social network
° Profile capabilities that allow users to post updates and comments
Users who first enter the site are invited to view the new changes and to create their personal profile, which is very simple.
“Your Social Info” allows users to tell friends and the public about themselves, including their fashion style—Outdoorsy, Classic or Trendy— and even their sense of humor—Sarcastic, Clever & Witty or Campy & Cheesy. A “Favorite Things” section allows users to personalize the profile with great books and music accompanied by pictures.
Besides providing plenty of ways to personalize the profile, it’s also easy to add and organize friends from other social networks. Windows Live allows users to group people under predefined categories, such as “Coworkers” or under categories created by the user. These groupings are accessible for sending photos or emailing as well.
The overall result of Windows Live Wave 3 is a home page that blends interesting concepts from FaceBook and MySpace, but without the fun factor and usability elements.
While building my profile, I couldn’t help but envision PC, the nerdy, pudgy man in a boring brown suit from the Mac commercials. The language on the site made it feel stiff and probably appealed more to a corporate businessman than your average Joe.
For instance, would an average person refer to anyone in their lives as an “activity partner.” This language appears when users decide why they are on the site; is it for making friends? Dating? Activity partnering?
The language, like the overall site, can be confusing.
Common users may get easily lost on this site as Windows Live doesn’t maintain a consistent navigation. MySpace users can easily search for people and music on the web or on the site without worrying about finding their home profile. That’s not the case with Windows Live, which becomes too cluttered too quickly with too much personalization.
In addition, instead of making us enter by hand a bunch of favorite sites, accompanied by a picture, let our social networks speak for us. Thank you for letting me ad Pandora to “My Web Activities,” but where is Digg, YouTube, and Good Reads. All my favorite books are on Good Reads already. Why isn’t this available? Or is it and I just can’t find it because the site is so hard to navigate?
Usability is clearly a problem Microsoft still hasn’t fixed. That’s why Google continues to dominate search with a 63.1% market share. It’s also why I was able to fully personalize my iGoogle home page in 30 seconds instead of 30 minutes.
The point of a “home base” is that it saves the everyday user time and provides easy access to their online lives. Clearly Microsoft wasn’t thinking about this concept in the design stages.
So the official Oneupweb Review… Windows Live Wave 3 gets a OneUp Thumbs-Down.
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