There's been a bunch of activity in the Windows Live world this week. The first bit of news is that a service I've been wanting us to ship for a while is now in public beta, Windows Live Calendar. You can learn more about it in the blog post titled Make some plans with the new Windows Live Calendar beta! on the Windows Live Hotmail team's blog which states

In the past few years, we’ve been investing heavily in building the best web e-mail offering. But part of the team has also been intently focused on delivering the next-generation web calendar: Windows Live Calendar. It’s been a long time coming and we’ve been pretty hush-hush about it. Today, we’re finally ready to invite the world to try the new Windows Live Calendar beta!

Stay coordinated with friends and family

If you have a family, you know how difficult it is to coordinate schedules between spouses and kids’ activities. If you’re a student, you know how consuming it is to find time to meet for school projects with your classmates. By sharing schedules on Windows Live Calendar, we take the chore out of coordination.

· Share as much or as little of your calendar with free/busy, read-only, or read/write permissions.

· Send friends a view-only secret link to your calendar so they don’t need to sign in with a Windows Live ID.

You can also make your calendar public, so if you’re running a business or an organization that is keen on promoting events, you can make it easy for people to find out what’s going on.

Get reminded

Sometimes we forget our commitments so Windows Live Calendar delivers you reminders through e-mail, Windows Live Messenger, or an SMS message on your mobile phone. You can also wake up to your upcoming schedule by including an RSS feed of your calendar on your favorite home page like, or Because Windows Live Calendar supports the iCal standard, you can add any ICS-based calendar you find on the Internet so you don’t miss out on your favorite sports games, movie openings or upcoming holidays. To start, try our holiday calendar list or go to the iCalShare site.

I've been using it quite a bit already and I have to say there's all sorts of AJAXy goodness in the product which is also described in the blog post. The bit in red font above is something I started of working with the Calendar team on until I switched projects and Ali took it over. Congratulations to the Calendar folks. I know they've been wanting to get this out for a while. Kudos on a great beta.

The next bit of Windows Live news is that you can now get a email address by going to or . The latter page informs readers

Here's the deal—if you currently have an e-mail address with or or a Microsoft Passport, you already have a Windows Live™ ID. Now you have a choice:

Keep your old account and continue to enjoy all of your favorite Windows Live services.


Get a new Windows Live ID (i.e., and take advantage of your fresh start!

The page goes on to explain how to switch email addresses but still keep all your information and contacts in Windows Live Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger. The always up to date folks at LiveSide have a comprehensive list of all the @live.xx domains that are available to choose from. So what are you waiting for? Get yours, I already got mine.

The final bit of news is that the next generation of Windows Live services and desktop products is finally here. All the Windows Live desktop applications and non-beta Web properties have been refreshed. You can learn more at or from the press release Microsoft’s Windows Live Free Online Services Available Now.

I personally like some of the favorable press this release has garnered in press such as Mary J Foley's article Microsoft’s Windows Live finally starting to come into its own which is excerpted below

Until recently, Microsoft has floundered badly when trying to explain exactly what Windows Live is and how Live services and Live software complement Windows. Last year, the Windows Live team was unveiling new services at a breakneck pace, but doing nothing to put them in context or explain when/how Microsoft planned to take them final.

Now Microsoft is starting to talk about different groupings of Windows Live services and software. It is positioning the Windows Live Client Suite as what users should install on their home PCs. is the starting point for users who want to “anywhere access” to their Windows Live services. is the home for Microsoft’s growing family of Live services for mobile phones and PDAs. For those with smartphones, another option is a client-style suite of Live services for mobile devices (like what Nokia is providing now on certain Windows Mobile phone models).

In the new Windows Live world order, the Windows Live taxonomy looks something like this:

Windows Live Client Suite (single installer and updater; client-based software with a services extension)

Windows Live Web Suite (service only)
Microsoft still has quite a way to go to make its Windows Live story truly intuitive and understandable by non-Microsoft-watchers. But compared to where the company was even a year ago, the Live team has come a long way.

Nice. That's a pretty big compliment coming from a skeptic like Mary J. :)

With all the releases, it's now time for my favorite part. Figuring out what we're going to ship next. Stay tuned.