Windows Lives beyond Your Computer in 'Web 2.0'

Dennis Faas's picture

The world of 'the Internet' versus 'computer users' (realized as separate entities) is amazing, but I've found that attitudes on both sides tend to polarize folks.

For example, you have The Browser Wars: Internet Explorer vs Netscape with Firefox as the latest Mozilla contender and Opera watching from the wings with an aloof cultured shrug; or The Operating System Wars: Apple vs PCs (IBM and clones), Windows vs Linux (pick your distro); add to this, GTalk, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, AIM, Trillian ... and your head starts to get dizzy.

From my seat over here in the Old Newbie corner, I prefer not to take sides - just to be mildly amused and delight in the improvements these competitions sometimes force into being.

The Future of The Web

Several years ago, it was predicted that software was changing and would become not such a large package to download and install. Instead it would be a service used from a central online server.

The immediate reaction to this was varied, but largely negative until people began thinking outside the box and beyond the modem. Suddenly DSL, WiFi, and Internet enabled phones made what was formerly considered suspect and impractical, not just an idea but an idea whose time was now.

Windows Lives beyond Your Computer in Web 2.0

There's been so much talk about "Web 2.0" that I have to admit I haven't a clue what it is or whether I'd like it very much. But Microsoft is unveiling its vision and it's worth looking at, even in the beta stages. The goal is to make the Internet more useful.

We'll see about that.

The first step in the process of developing this new world is to think outside the box. Here I'm using the term "box" in a geeky sense to mean "your PC" and ultimately to infer that a "box" can go beyond any Operating System - that is, to become compatible across all platforms.

Microsoft is doing this in its own style and has ten beta examples up and running at Windows Live Ideas Homepage.

In fact, "OneCare Live" combines some things available elsewhere online and some system tools, but works from an amazingly small download and automates many of the things newbies forget or never learn to do.

OneCare has the following features:

The anti-virus on OneCare seems to work from online resources, hence there is no forgetting to update, no files on your system to become corrupted or muddled - it is working 'outside the box'. Similarly, the firewall, which was weak in XP, monitors incoming activity. That's all that's needed, because nothing is really starting from your system.

OneCare automates Disk Cleanup and Defragmentation to enhance performance. While experienced users will say those tasks can be easily set via Task Manager, how many newbies know that? Or do it, then forget and shut the system down before it can do the assigned tasks?

It uses a Backup routine very suitable to average users and totallyuseless to novice or advanced users, because external drives and complex partitioning weren't covered in the beta so far.

Currently, Microsoft has 2 beta tests of anti-Spyware that eventually will be included here as part of the Live package. Microsoft Anti-Spyware, the older is being phased into Windows Defender. A handy reference chart is available at the beta site. Because these represent a somewhat more standard download and install, perhaps discussing them here is misleading; but it is clearly linked in the Live approach.

Windows Live Local: Looks like Google's Maps (also known as) "Local", but it has a few bells-n-whistles, such as remembering where you are. You can use one or more Push Pin markers and define them later, for example: Grandma's House, Johnny's Dorm, Pizza, Chinese or whatever.

The information is only as good as the database that supplies it, but both work from the same resources and Live promises "Maps with regularly updated info on construction and other obstacles" which I've seen work.

For the geek, Live uses different rendering of the bird's eye view. When you think of GPS (Global Positioning Systems) and Internet enabled Cell phones, this starts to look very practical.

Windows Live Mail: is more than Hotmail warmed over, because the page doesn't reload to access or move messages. Better still, with Windows Live Custom Domains you aren't, you are Mr.

So the geeks will argue: "Big deal. I can do that now myself." The difference is the Live site does it and provides 2GBs of space (and not on your web server)! It does all the cool things Outlook can do, but online, so it is accessible anywhere you can get to a browser. Junk mail and anti-phishing measures are there and being developed. I've used other web-base email and this is a step closer to emulating the convenience of Outlook's drag-n-drop and keyboard shortcuts with much less page reload time.

Live Office: When it come active will provide the power of the Office suite of software in an online site. No multiple installations. No rolling out changes and patches. A broadband connection gives everyone in the company the same tools and ability to interact creatively without needing tech support for each computer with a unique installation.

This is definitely geared to the small business, it will be equally interesting for companies with many workers operating from the field or home.

Live Expo: Look out eBay and Amazon! With the lessons learned from both, Microsoft may make this the ultimate marketplace. Not yet to the beta stage, this is something to keep on your must see list.

Windows Live: The heart of it is way more than a customized Portal. The page can add not just its pre-packaged things of interest, but the RSS feeds you choose.

If you are familiar with Konfabulator Widgets, then the gadgets that independent developers are making will enable your online page to have all the comforts of your desktop.

Again, with a user friendly drag-n-drop facility, you can design it the way you want. Simple expand and collapse arrows let you home in on what you want and the page remembers where you left it.

In Web 2.0, remote computing is where the new action will be happening. The web is becoming an application unto itself - and it's more than interactive pages or gimmicky games.

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