When you want to get in touch with someone, where do you look? There are lots of places that people store their contact data - the address book for their email account, their Instant Message buddy list, Facebook, LinkedIn, their phoneÖ. When you find that person you want to reach out to, is their information up to date? What about their email address? If they have more than one email address, which do you use? Are they online? Maybe you should send them an SMS or Facebook message.

My oh my, there are lots of ways to keep in touch!

Managing contacts just isnít something people want to spend their time doing. Well, maybe some peopleÖ but I gather most of you would like an address book that is:

  • Up to date
  • Reflective of all the people you know on all the services you use
  • Available on all the devices you use (phone, PC, web)
In this release of Windows Live, we paid special attention to giving you exactly that.

Your one contact list is up to date

Across Windows Live and many Microsoft services, we all share a common address book. This information is stored centrally on our servers and available to a number of Windows Live products like Hotmail and Messenger as well as other Microsoft products like the upcoming Windows Phone, Outlook via the Hotmail Connector, Windows Live Mail, and now any phone that supports the Exchange Active Sync protocol like iPhone, Windows Mobile, and some Android and Nokia devices.

You can access your contact list by visiting http://contacts.live.com (note some of you will not see the new experience until the Hotmail rollout is complete).

Additionally, you have access to all these same contacts on Messenger.

For all your Messenger friends, we also make sure that any of the changes they make to their contact information automatically go into your address book so that your friendsí latest phone numbers, mailing addresses, and other contact info is available to you anywhere.

All your contacts across the services you use

Not all of the people you know are going to be in your address book, though. For example, I know a lot of people on Facebook and LinkedIn, but I donít have contact info for every one of them available in Windows Live. For this release, we built a set of features that connects Windows Live to the social networks that you use and keeps track of your entire list of contacts. When you connect a service like Facebook, MySpace, and soon LinkedIn to Windows Live, all of your contacts from those services will be available in Windows Live automatically.

This means, for example, that you can easily send a message to a Facebook user directly from Windows Live.

Soon youíll even be able to send your Facebook friends an instant message from the Messenger program and on the web.

In planning this work, one problem we immediately recognized was that a lot of you have multiple connections with some of your contacts on Windows Live. For example, I have my wife on Messenger, Facebook, and LinkedIn. What I donít want to see are three copies of my wifeís contact information in my address book.

To solve this problem, we automatically identify and recognize who all these same people are across different networks and build a virtual Person view of their data. We combine all the information we have about that person into a single view and make it really easy to communicate with them on the different networks they belong to.

Additionally, we keep this information fresh by continuing to sync data from your networks into Windows Live, ensuring that when information changes, youíll always have the latest info. Finally, we let you annotate any contact data that comes in from a social network with your own information. For example, if you want to get a birthday reminder for a Facebook friendís birthday but they havenít included that information in their Facebook profile, you can add it in Windows Live, and weíll remind you of their birthday.

Your contacts on the go

Many of us now carry a smartphone like the iPhone, a Nokia device, or a Windows Mobile phone (and hopefully soon, Windows Phones). All these devices can soon synchronize your email, calendar, and contacts with Windows Live so that you can take all your contacts on the go and access peopleís phone numbers and email addresses (requires the new version of Hotmail). Combined with a smart address book, you never have to worry about having stale information for your contacts.

As I mentioned earlier, you can also get your contacts as well as mail and calendar in Outlook via the Outlook Hotmail Connector. This will get even better today since we are announcing a new plug-in for Outlook that will let you also see social updates from your Messenger friends (and your friends on other services connected to Windows Live) right in your Outlook inbox.

If you donít have Outlook, you can use our free Windows Live Mail program for Windows to get contacts, mail, and calendar on your desktop.

Importing your contacts from numerous services

Windows Live lets you import or invite your contacts from numerous services. Itís our desire and hope that if you want to move your contacts to our service, itís easy to do that. We support a number of popular services in different markets.

All the people you know, in one place

We worked hard on this release to make sure you had one easy place to view and communicate with all your contacts on all your devices. We hope you find these features useful and look forward to your feedback.

Omar Shahine
Principal Lead Program Manager, Windows Live