Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Windows Live and Social Networking

Today Windows Live have announced that they are now working with social networks such as Facebook.com, Bebo.com and LinkedIn.com.

Earlier this month at MIX08, the Windows Live platform team announced a number of new and improved APIs and tools to help the developer community continue to push the envelope and deliver innovative customer experiences. We outlined the priorities for the Windows Live platform, including our intent to simplify data portability while keeping users, and their data, safe and secure.  We announced the beta release of the Windows Live Contacts API, which web developers can use in production to enable their customers to transfer and share their Windows Live Contacts in a safe and secure way. Simply stated, our efforts aim to put users at the center of their online experience.

Today I’m pleased to announce that Microsoft has partnered with some of the world’s top social networks on contact data portability. Starting today, we will be working with Facebook, Bebo, Hi5, Tagged and LinkedIn to exchange functionally-similar Contacts APIs, allowing us to create a safe, secure two-way street for users to move their relationships between our respective services. Along with these collaborations, Microsoft is introducing a new website at www.invite2messenger.net that people can visit to invite their friends from our partner social networks to join their Windows Live Messenger contact list.

Our commitment to data portability

To tackle the issue of contact data portability it is important to reconcile the larger issue of data ownership.  Who owns the data, like email addresses in a Windows Live Hotmail address book?  We firmly believe that we are simply stewards of customers’ data and that customers should be able to choose how they control and share their data. We think customers should be able to share their data in the most safe and secure way possible, but historically this openness has been achieved largely through a mechanism called “screen-scraping,” which unduly puts customers at risk for phishing attacks, identity fraud, and spam. Now with the Windows Live Contacts API, we have provided an alternative to “screen-scraping” that is equally open but unequivocally safer and more secure for customers.  

Strong Partners

The collaborations with Facebook, Bebo, Hi5, LinkedIn and Tagged will make it easier, safer, and more secure for people to have access to their contacts and relationships from more places on the web. These networks will be adopting the Windows Live Contacts API instead of “screen-scraping.”  Starting today, you can visit www.facebook.com and www.bebo.com to find your friends using the Windows Live Contacts API.  Hi5, Tagged and LinkedIn will be live in the coming months.

With these collaborations and the new website at www.invite2messenger.net that lets people invite their social network friends to join their Windows Live Messenger contact list, we’ve essentially now created a two-way street for people to share their information.

In completing this two-way street, both Windows Live and our partners have paid special attention to relationship context and privacy management in order to create the best possible user experience.  We understand that just because people have a friend relationship with a contact on one social network, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they want that same relationship on another network. To preserve the context of the relationship, we are requiring that relationships be re-established in each experience with permission from the friend or contact, rather than automatically storing the data.

We encourage you to visit www.invite2messenger.net to see these ideas in action, and to invite your Facebook, Bebo, Hi5, LinkedIn and Tagged friends to join you on the world’s largest instant messaging network, Windows Live Messenger.

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