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Thursday, December 02, 2004

 
Microsoft have just (of a few hours ago) launched MSN Spaces which is essentially a new blogging tool. It's clearly an attempt to rival Google/Blogger in the blog area. The link takes you to their site which allows you to set up your own blog. I've not started one myself, but here's more on the deal with my comments in italics:

It’s an easy-to-use service that is more like a dynamic online scrapbook, giving people a place to create and update a Web log.

Rich layout. Fifteen custom backgrounds and five layout template choices allow consumers to customize their MSN Spaces quickly.

Web logs. The MSN Spaces blogging tool allows people to publish and maintain online personal journals and enables them to link to photos and other Web sites.

Photo albums. Consumers can upload up to 10 MB of photos (250 images after compression) to their Spaces sites and display them to others in slide shows. (I'm interested in the word 'consumers' here, rather than clients or bloggers or users or patrons.)

E-mail uploads. Consumers can upload photos or blog postings to their Spaces from virtually any e-mail service or e-mail-enabled mobile device. This is going to be an essential item, much like the Blogger icon on the Google toolbar, and of course it helps tie users into the MSN world.

Music favorites and lists. Consumers can create and manage lists of information that is important to them, such as their favorite music, books or travel destinations.

Contact Cards. When a person clicks on a Contact Card in a MSN Messenger or Hotmail® Contact list, the card pops up and gives a sneak peek at that contact’s Space – from its look and feel to the person’s most recent postings. The Contact Card includes links to the Space and those entries for easy access. This is a very neat idea, and I like it a lot, *if* you're a user of Messenger or Hotmail.

Gleaming. When a Spaces site is updated or content is added, the MSN Messenger Contact icon of the Space’s owner will light up, making it easy for friends and family to know when there have been changes. This facilitates more visits to a Space, faster responses to new postings and closer bonds between Space owners and their contacts.

RSS. MSN Spaces also supports RSS 2.0, so consumers can publish their Space to others by way of RSS viewers and aggregators, including My MSN, scheduled to come soon. Well, that's an obvious thing to do.

Permissions. Consumers have three permission control settings on their MSN Spaces site, enabling them to decide just how widely they want to share their content. This is a nice idea, and it looks like it's going to be very easy to make it work.

Some MSN Spaces weblogs have already been set up by MS staff, so you can take a look at how they work and what they look like:

Carnage4life Please.. black and dark blue on a black background just *does not work*!!

MC's space

Mike's Space

Scott's Place This is probably the best one for learning more about the service; very informative.

Channel9 has some more information about MSN spaces, including video clips if you want to find out more.

First couple of questions that I've got (which I'll be asking Microsoft shortly) are: Can you use it with Firefox (and if not, why not?) and Can I use it to create a blog on my own site, rather than being tied into their own space (which I suspect I can't, and that's a shame if it's the case.)
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