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Windows Live Services out of Beta

Microsoft has officially unveiled the new version (opens in new tab) of Windows Live Services in 36 languages and 59 countries worldwide, backed by 10 billion online ad impressions.

WLS is essentially a set of connected services that allow people to communicate, share and access information from a browser.

The central pivots (opens in new tab) of the bunch are Windows Live Mail, which is a re-branded Hotmail in disguise and Windows Live Messenger; both of which accounts for more than 400 million customers which is substantially more than ALL social networks put together and represent around a third of all Microsoft Windows users.

Other services included in the package are Spaces which competes with blogging services like Blogger or Wordpress, Photo Gallery, Events, Writer and OneCare.

You can also register for email addresses with and suffixes as from now and, unlike Google, Microsoft seems to be happy with customers having two Live accounts running simultaneously on their computers.

Microsoft has been under increased pressure from rivals like Google and Yahoo to make improvements to its online services. For example, Google's Gmail forced Hotmail to upgrade its capacity from 100MB of storage to 5GB.

Whether the upgrades will be enough to keep Google from poaching Microsoft users remains to be seen as Windows Live Services seems to lack a special something.

For example, the adverts are far bigger and intrusive than Google's own, Windows Live Mail feels notably slower (even in the classic mode) and while WLS was supposed to be more tightly integrated, you can't access events or Skydrive straight from your mail.

In addition, a Microsoft-commissioned Harris Interactive study showed that 61 percent of online consumers find it frustrating to visit multiple Web sites to access the online information they need, with two thirds of those surveyed saying they would use an all-in-one service with a single user name and password for organizing and managing everything they do online, Hall said.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.