I use the Windows Live Services, and I find them very useful, but in daily use, their limitations do become apparent. They have come a long way, however, but I do have some suggested features that I believe would make these programs much more useful and user-friendly.
Break this out of the Windows Live Mail as a separate program again. It’s hiding in there, and I would not think to find it there unless I were a user of MS Outlook. A completely new user wouldn’t think to look here.
When adding a place to an event, make that a geotagged place so that when this shows up on my Windows Phone, I can get directions to this place. For example, if I say “Starbucks on San Jose Blvd” the place should auto-correct using Bing Maps to the multiple Starbucks on San Jose, and when I choose the right one, it stores that location so when I have my phone out, and I need directions, I just tap the place, and then the phone shows me where that Starbucks is. This is not currently possible in Calendar, but it would be very very useful.
Attendees should be marked on the event as well from my contacts, which it looks like it does.
Again, this should be separated out from Windows Live Mail. The data should be presented in that program, sure, but it should be a separate program on its own.
My contacts should have as much information on their contact cards as they do in Windows Phone. Pictures I’ve tagged on my computer with them, places I’ve been, phone/text/e-mail history, and their social network updates. The contact card should also link their family there, so that my sister’s husband is linked on her contact card under ‘spouse’, and I can click on him to get to his contact card.
Contacts should also be linked to their Zunetags and X-Box Live tags so we can see their game and music history, and comment on that just like on any social network, share our music with contacts (without having to open a separate program) just by dragging music onto their card (sending them a link to the song on Zune, of course).
Also, favorites of my contacts should be listed on their contact card, including: Movies, TV Shows, Actors/Actresses, Directors/Writers, Books, Authors, Comics and comic book characters, Music (Artists, Albums, Songs, and Genres), Restaurants, and Tourist Attractions). This way, if I mark out that my father likes Johnny Cash, I can get an update on his contact card when a new album by that artist shows on Zune, and I can share that with him, or when a new movie comes out in 2 weeks, and it’s related to some movies I marked as favorites for him, I can send him a note saying we should go see that movie.
A contact card with that info on it should also alert me when my favorite author is coming out with a new book, new artist albums or concerts near me, new TV Shows related to ones I like already (such as if I like Smallville, I might also like Heroes, etc.), and link me to Zune for purchase/rentals, and likewise with Movies available on Zune. If I choose to share this info with my Windows Live Contacts, then they can see my favorite restaurants when searching for Italian, see that I’ve been to Carabbas on Baymeadows, and then ask me how I liked it, and ask for recommendations. My friends would also see that I went to stay at the Hyatt in DC, and could ask me about prices and such, and also that I visited Universal Studios, and then message me or comment on that like, and we could plan a trip together.
In addition to liking things on Live.com, I would like to include a ‘Gallery View’ of my music, TV Shows, Books, Comics, Movies, magazines, and music videos that I chose to like on home.live.com. I can choose to ‘like’ a lot of those items there, but it would be great to see them in a huge gallery so I can browse through them, share them with friends (invite friends to view my collections), and comment on them. I can mark items that I own, that I want, and if I mark down ‘wanted’ items, the live.com site will alert me there when they come available (like the Lord of the Rings extended edition Blu-Rays) and link to Amazon.com and a few other shopping sites so I can comparison shop and get the best price. If I then buy something, my collection updates to show that I own it.
Through Zune itself, we should be able to purchase books, comics, magazines, and newspapers, and subscriptions thereto, and have those show up here in home.live.com as back issues, so that we can always access that one comic we saw last year, or that magazine we read last week from Scientific American. This should not be region-locked either. I want to buy Spektrum der Wissenschaft and the London Times, then let me do so. If I want to buy Le Monde and Kölner Stadt Anzeiger, then let me. Give me the price I’d pay over there, not a 200% jacked-up price just for the ‘privilege’ of buying foreign content.
The mail program works well, though the contacts view within it is quite limited, and can’t show me contact history – the list of mail messages between me and the contact I view. This should definitely be updated.
The photo gallery is nice, but there are improvements to be made, most notably to the geotagging feature, which only lets me tag a city/state where something is. I should have the option to geotag on Bing Maps exactly where I took a picture and the orientation of that picture, so if I’m facing the Capitol in DC, it will show exactly where I took the picture. If I choose to also, I could share my pictures on “My Map” on Bing, and my friends could see, in pictures, where all I’ve been and have my pictures show up on the map, just like Google Maps already does. This would be even better if Photosynths were included in this as well. Similar to how Facebook lets me tag pictures with places, but this should be more accurate, and give me finer control over the exact place I took a picture, should it not have GPS information in the picture itself. If I know the address of a place, let me zoom into that place, and pin exactly where on the map the picture is, and the orientation if I choose. MS Pro Photo Tools 2 and Photosynth let me do this, but the former isn’t terribly novice-friendly, and the later isn’t integrated well into Photo Gallery. Photo Gallery is too limited in that I can only choose the city where a picture was taken, not the exact address or exact position.
Any people tags I make on my pictures should also enable me to view those pictures on that person’s contact card on my computer, so I can see what I’ve done with that person, and a timeline view of this also, such as “May 2008, you and John Smith visited the Chocolate Museum in Cologne, then went to Hard Rock Cafe that night” (the timeline shows me a picture of the chocolate museum, then the hard rock cafe). This ‘photo slideshow’ would be much more meaningful than the simplistic fading photos one after the other, since there’s some context to the pictures. Even better would be a timeline slideshow that shows me map-wise where I’ve been, or where I’ve been with a person, so that it shows the picture, then zooms out on Bing maps a little bit (enough to show where the next picture is), then zooms back in at the next picture’s location.
The new SkyDrive is incredibly nice, and it looks like it will be even more so in Windows 8. I would like to improve it a bit more with better geotagging of the pictures, like I proposed in Photo Gallery itself – I often know where exactly I took a picture, so I would like to geotag that on my pictures, since my camera doesn’t geotag for me.
A lot of my music that I like is available on Zune for streaming, so what I would ask for Skydrive is to scan my Zune collection, and within the browser, make it available for me to stream from Skydrive, and anything that isn’t matched, upload it to a music>artist>album folder so that I can listen to my music from any browser, anywhere in the world. This is essentially the same feature as iTunes Match.
I would like to be able to upload and backup all my information to Skydrive, including TV Shows and Movies I purchased which later may not be available on Zune. I shouldn’t have to upload this to Skydrive, but when I buy something, a copy should automatically be stored on my Skydrive so that it’s always available. If I buy something – that’s me buying it. Not buying it for 1 year or 6 months, or however long the contract between 20th Century Fox and MS Zune is, but it’s permanent. I paid for it, therefore I own it, and the studio should never, ever determine otherwise.
More to come…