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A preview of Windows Live for Windows 8

Last week we released the developer preview of Windows 8 (WDP) at the //BUILD conference. While we covered a lot in the keynote, I wanted to provide folks who’ve been following our services for some time with a quick summary of what we talked about and what’s coming next. Windows 8 provides us with an opportunity to reimagine our applications and services in a new context of user interaction and the power of connected apps. Across our teams we have been building applications and services with Windows 8 in mind. In particular, we took the bold steps of:

  • Enhancing our Live service for sync across your PCs
  • Making a SkyDrive available to every Windows 8 and Windows Phone customer
  • Building a new suite of Metro style apps for communications and sharing
  • And enabling app developers to use Live and SkyDrive through the Live SDK
Live service to sync across your PCs

One of the great things about web-based services is that you can log in from any browser and start right where you left off. The service keeps track of your settings and profile, and you can get started just by typing in your ID. With Windows 8, you now have that same ability for the important parts of your Windows experience, if you choose to. You can sign in to a Windows 8 PC with your Windows Live ID, and then it gets your profile, application settings, and other important information right from the cloud. And it is all built on top of the Windows Live infrastructure we’ve built to support over 500 million active users a month. In fact, over 150,000 people have already logged in to Windows 8 with their Windows Live ID, and as they move across Windows 8 devices, their settings and preferences will go along with them. The Windows Live service also keeps track of all of your Windows PCs and Windows Phones, allowing you to easily connect back to any PC when you are away, or find your phone when it is lost. 

SkyDrive for the information you create and care about

We all create documents, photos, and other files, and it is increasingly important that there is a place to store them in the cloud, either so you can get to them from any device, or so you can share them with friends, co-workers, or family members. Now every person who uses Windows 8 or Windows Phone has access to a SkyDrive, where you can put your most important files. These are stored in the cloud, accessible from any browser, and connected to the apps we’ve built for Windows 8 and Windows Phone. And you can share things with anyone, over email or through networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.   

New Metro style apps for Mail, Calendar, Photos, Messaging, and People

Metro style represents a new way to write applications, and we have rewritten our applications from the ground up based on the new Windows 8 platform. Our new applications target the new Windows 8 runtime and embrace the Metro style design principles, and cloud powered by our Windows Live service. An important aspect of our applications is that they are connected to the services you use every day, so you can quickly get a view of what’s happening. We know most people have more than one mail address, and Mail connects to multiple mail accounts, at home or at work. Calendar connects to your work and personal calendar, as well as calendars from friends, co-workers, or family members who have a Windows Live ID. People is a connected address book, bringing together contacts from work, home, and popular networks including Facebook and LinkedIn. Messaging keeps track of all of your IM conversations across Messenger, Facebook, and other connected IM networks. And Photos lets you view your photos, whether on your PC, another PC, SkyDrive, or other popular services. 

We'll have a lot more to say when we make the code available for these apps. At BUILD we just showed a short preview of what's on the way.

Live Connect for developers

Of course, an important part of Live and SkyDrive is the opportunity for software developers to use these services to power their applications. As we mentioned in the conference, Metro style applications are automatically cloud powered because Windows takes care of roaming the important settings. If you want to go beyond the basics, we have an API for SkyDrive that enables Windows 8 developers to read and write files to SkyDrive, and allows device manufacturers to add SkyDrive to their devices. And we have an additional set of APIs for Live, Messenger, and Hotmail, allowing developers to use these services. These are all part of Live Connect and were covered in depth in our talk at //BUILD.

We’re super excited by the opportunity we have with Windows 8 and have had a lot of fun building the new applications and services on the platform. Of course, we’re very early in our work and there is a lot more to talk about – what we showed is just a preview of what’s to come. We still have the rest of Windows Live Essentials; updates to Hotmail and Messenger; and even more on SkyDrive, Live, and our applications for Windows 8. We’ll cover these and more in subsequent posts.   

Chris Jones – Vice President, Windows Live engineering