When I talk about what we’re doing in Windows Live, people often start by asking me: What is Windows Live?

Many folks know about Hotmail and Messenger, and there are millions of users of our other desktop apps and services like SkyDrive, Photo Gallery, and Movie Maker. So what people are really asking me is how Windows Live threads these experiences together, and how we choose the elements that make up those connections. Our overriding philosophy is very simple: Windows Live completes the Windows experience. Our goal is to provide you with the essential software + services that help you get more done and have fun on Windows. It’s as simple as that.

So how do we choose what to focus on with each release?

Consumer needs & trends

We start by looking at consumer needs and industry trends.

Psychologists talk about a person’s hierarchy of needs that start with the physical and extend upwards through safety, love, esteem and self-actualization.This model can be equally applied to how customers choose a PC: people want a safe, secure and reliable computer that just works. Then, folks want flexible tools that help them communicate and share with the people they care about. And of course, people want to express themselves and have fun too.



Going beyond “It just works”

Windows 7 has been received as a new benchmark for PC simplicity and reliability. More than any previous version, Windows 7 saves time and helps you get more done.

We wanted to know how we could improve Windows Live to help you save even more time and get more done.  So we asked a cross-section of Windows users: what do you do after you boot up Windows? What are the top tasks that matter to you?

In general, people told us they spend time doing five things on their home PC:


    1. Surfing the web
    2. Organizing and sending email
    3. Organizing, viewing, and sharing photos
    4. Social networking and blogging
    5. Burning music, photos, or videos to CD or DVD


 

To these we can add the following macro trends:


    1. Cameras are getting smaller and cheaper. And because of that, there are more cameras on all kinds of devices than ever before. Last year alone, consumers took nearly 622 billion new photos. That’s an additional gigabyte of photos every 6 months for every PC.
    2. Users are facing an overload of social information stemming from the proliferation of new social networking and communication services. There’s just incredible growth in people sharing on the web. Today’s average consumer has three email accounts, two social networks, and hundreds of friends on all of them.


 

We looked at these trends and realized that with all these new capabilities came increased complexity. It’s still too hard to connect. Too hard to organize. Too hard to share. How do we simplify these experiences for people?

Windows Live Essentials

Windows Live Essentials is the suite of desktop apps designed to help you do more with Windows. It includes powerful yet simple tools for communication and self-expression.

 

The tools we offer are tightly mapped to the customer trends found in our research. Among those trends, the most notable “new” customer behavior is engagement in social networking, which didn’t even show up in the list a few years ago. This is one reason you'll continue to see us invest heavily in tools to help users deal with the onslaught of social information.

In addition to providing new ways to communicate and express yourself, Essentials applications are also tightly integrated with Windows Live web services, so you can sync your desktop mail and calendar with Hotmail, share photos on SkyDrive, update your Messenger status on your profile, and so on. You can even use Sync to access files on your computer from anywhere.

So, what is Windows Live?

People want a PC that just works, that helps them get productive right away, and makes it easy to share photos and ideas, and access their digital stuff on the go. This is the central connection between Windows and Windows Live, and how we think about threading the connections between these experiences. We're building a suite of software and services that:

Help you organize and create beautiful new photos and videos.
Help you share your stuff, with whoever you want.
Help you access your stuff on the go, from wherever you want. How are we doing?

We hope you’re already using Windows Live Essentials on your PC. If not, go try it and tell us what you think!

The feedback we've gotten so far has been positive, both statistically (in terms of usage and engagement) and anecdotally. I know Microsoft can sometimes seem like a giant impersonal corporation but I can assure you it is made of actual human beings.*  We take great pride in our engineering and craftsmanship, and we love it when you tell us what’s working. We also need to know what isn’t working – we really do want all of your feedback, as it’s the only way we’ll know if we’re on the right track.

Piero Sierra
Group Program Manager
Windows Live Messenger and Mail

*This would, of course, be the first thing a team of sentient robots would claim. I’m just saying.


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