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Review: Windows Live for Windows Phone

One of the things that have made Google’s Android platform such a strong player in the mobile space is the simple fact that Google has so many popular services. Google’s ability to tightly integrate these services into the Android experience is one of the things that is so appealing. Microsoft may have the numbers, but Google has everything neatly and seamlessly on Android, where Windows Mobile does not.

Think about it. Where Google has Google Search, Gmail and Google Talk; Microsoft has Bing, Hotmail/Live Mail, and Messenger. Though the similarities between the two giants are well documented, the way that they have approached the integration of their services into their mobile platforms couldn’t be more different. While Google makes use of their services bordering on mandatory (you have to have an account to even use an Android device), Microsoft has chosen to take a much more low key approach through Windows Live for Windows Phone.

Windows Live for Windows Phone hasn’t received much face time; but is worth a quick look, which is waiting on the other side of the break.

Concept

The idea behind Windows Live for Windows Phone is to give you access to some of the free services that Microsoft offers. Hotmail/Live Mail and Live Messenger are the primary services that Windows Live for Windows Phones offers you, as well as Bing Search and some of the social media aspects of Live Blogs.

Usability

Windows Live for Windows Phone balances the navigation between buttons and menus. At times, navigating between different features becomes a little disjointed; but it begins to make more sense once you get a feel for the applications that are included.

Value Added

The primary benefit to using Windows Live for Windows Phone is if you have a Live Mail account. Using this application, your gain push functionality and this is integrated seamlessly into Outlook Mobile without it hijacking your Exchange Connection. Contacts can be synchronized to and from your account, making management and backup of your contacts simple.

Secondly, Live Messenger support gives you access to your contacts using Instant Messaging; which is often one of the most effective methods of carrying on a conversation while mobile.

Conclusion

There are definitely parts of Windows Live for Windows Phone that make a lot of sense, especially if you already use Microsoft’s Live services heavily. To be brutally honest though, much of this application seems like an afterthought. I do appreciate that Microsoft has given us a mobile platform that gives us an enormous amount of choice in what services we use, but I would love to see tighter integration with Microsoft’s products and services.

I see this area (integration with services) as an area in which Microsoft is beginning to make a much larger push. In the next year or so I would expect things like Xbox, Zune, Exchange, Bing, and Live to all be greatly improved and integrated into the OS itself. Until then, visit the Windows Live for Windows Phone page to download the latest version.

Pros: 
Provides Push Email without needing Exchange. Supports Messenger chat. Free.
Cons: 
Not enough support for Windows Live services. Bland appearance.
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Comments

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says:

For me and in this case "Visually boring" belongs to a "Pros" list.

says:

I've been a windows live user for a while now and I've seen Google surpass it recently when they enabled push email to their services. With Google, I can have push email, sync contacts and calendar entries all within their exchange service. This is on my WM 6.5 device.

With Live, I can sync contacts and have push email but the critical thing missing is Calendar integration. Actually, their calendar integration is a complete mess. If you have a Windows machine, by default the Windows Calendar cannot sync with Windows Live Calendar. Then if you install Office with Outlook, Windows Calendar and Outlook Calendar co-exist on the same machine, but are independent (unless you import and dump one). Again, both, by default cannot sync with Windows Live Calendar. You have to download the outlook connector to make it work. After all that mess, you still cannot sync over-the-air the calendar entries from either Windows Calendar, Windows Live Calendar, or Outlook Calendar to your mobile phone calendar or vice versa. the only way to do it reliably is to connect your windows phone via cable and sync it that way. That's old school by today's standard.

I would give Windows Live for Mobile a 2/5 simple because of it's missing functionality (Calendar integration).

Google has far superior integration from your mobile to Google's services and vice versa. With Activesync on your mobile set to "As Items Arrive" which is essentially "push", creating entries on either my mobile or google services gets synced almost immediately over the air. And the great thing is that it uses Activesync which is always running on your WM phone anyways, you don't have to download a separate Windows Live for Mobile program to get this functionality.

People say that the WM and Activesync is geared for business users that connect to exchange servers and Windows Live for Mobile is geared towards consumers. Why make that distinction? Is it even relevant anymore?

If windows mobile 7 is going to even make a dent in the mobile industry, it has to have at least the functionality of what Google is offering.

Tim Ferrill says:

VERY high on my wish list for WM7 is the ability to hit multiple Exchange accounts. You would think that Microsoft would enable Exchange Sync to their hotmail/live servers.

says:

"While Google makes use of their services bordering on mandatory"

this is a big reason why i am not getting an android phone. and the fact that all your info on your phone hardly belongs to you. syncing is done through google servers is what i hear. i dont like that. i like complete control over my stuff and choosing which services i want and dont want. i dont need google holding my hand through syncing or backing up my info when i could easily do it myself on my own home computer

says:

What you hear is true.

Don't expect any privacy from google if you use their products. It's a given at this point in time that google basically owns whatever you do on their products.

Google-ness aside, I personally don't even think Android is that nice. The only thing I would really want from it in WM7 is the top (notification) bar, which I hope can be more customizable- alert settings, etc.

says:

It would be great if they allowed the multiple sign in to one account with the Windows Mobile live.

gregorypleau says:

+1 (assuming this is Live Messenger we're talking about)

says:

it will be increasingly on the quality of imtegration with these, and other, online services that mobile phones using apple, google and msft os will compete. why do you think palm maintain their links to itunes? Because itunes connectivity helps palm level the palying field a bit with apple.

so, msft live is a very important chess piece for msft to fix up and deploy in the mobile wars. along with all their other consumer offerings.

please keep reviewing these types of services and their integration with devices.

thank you!

says:

If someone were to talk to me while im on my mobile acount on windows live messenger and i were to answer the person back will it cost me money to send that text if i have unlimited texting on my cell phone plan?

says:

To answer your question, No. Windows Live for Mobile (if using the Windows Live Messenger app included will not cost you text messages, it uses your data plan. You would only incur a charge if you didn

says:

I agree that makes this application virtually worthless. 50 e-mails :(

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says:

I used to use Live mail almost religiously, until I tried to actualy get me Live Calendar to sync with, oh, I don't know, anything. In one of my classes I had to do some research on Google and their apps. I stumbled across google sync and have not looked back. I find it kinda funny that Google can do something on a WM phone that MS cannot seem to, sync my online calendar with my mobile phone.

says:

Windows Live and Live Mesh are the 2 things that have kept me on WinMob. I echo all the feelings about the Live Calendar not integrating, but the Messenger and Hotmail + contact sync are good - but perhaps have been overtaken by Google.

Consumer Mobile OS buying behavior has changed for many Power users, and is simply decided on where your main email sits - if it's @mac.com, @gmail.com or @live.com/@hotmail.com. For each one the ecosystem is as important as the OS. This trend will be mainstream in the future.

Windows Mobile should make Windows Live the centre of the 'Phone' part of the OS. Messenger shouldn't be a separate app, but should BE the contact list - starting an SMS, PM, Email or Phone Call straight from the Messenger list.

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