New Windows Live Tool Helps Users Plan Gatherings

Microsoft has added a new feature to its Windows Live platform that lets users take advantage of the Web to send invitations to parties, business meetings or other happenings.

Similar toEvite, Windows Live Events provides an array of graphical templates and other tools, such as maps and calendars, to design the invitations. There are templates for any number of possible events, ranging from national holidays to religious observances to birthdays.

The application also lets users create a Web page for a public or private occasion.

At first, most people will likely use it for private, invitation-only events, Greg Sterling, founder of Sterling Market Research, told TechNewsWorld.

However, as the Live platform gains momentum, he expects more people will use the page as a de facto blog.

“I can see people using the page as a promotional vehicle to draw attendees to public events,” he said. “One feature that is particularly interesting is the ability to post photos and have discussions after an event.”

Spreading Presence

This new feature is the one of the best examples of how Microsoft has pulled together different Web 2.0 tools to build its Live platform, said Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates.

Indeed, Microsoft has been churning out new features and functions designed to build traction for the Live platform. For example, it recently expanded its partnership with Nokia to let users access Windows Live on mobile devices. The new suite of Windows Live services designed specifically for Nokia handsets include Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Contacts and Windows Live Spaces. It also recently upgraded the way users store and share photos and files online.

These steps are helping Microsoft continue to build out its Live platform, which “has been slow to take off,” Kay said. “Awareness is still pretty low.”

New Focus

That said, Windows Live offers some advantages over competing platforms. Given its larger strategy — to link as many Web 2.0 services as possible to its operating system — it can afford to be patient as awareness grows.

The fact that these services all can be found at a central site, for example, is a competitive differentiator for Live, Charles King, principal at Pund-IT, told TechNewsWorld.

“Microsoft is leveraging a common access to the Web and then providing different services and vehicles for people to contact one another and to gain access to very rich content,” he observed. “If there isn’t now, eventually there will be a ready audience for this.”

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