Next from Microsoft: social media tools

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Microsoft Corp. launched the next generation of Windows Live last week at ad:Tech New York. The new platform gives users a new set of social and sharing tools that aim to address the growing significance of social media.

Before the software giant debuted the new service, it conducted a study about consumer behavior, entitled Windows Live Social Media Opportunites November 2007. The report found that social media tools have become important for consumers and represent an opportunity for advertisers.

“There are a million conversations happening every day in Windows Live Mail and in Messenger which have great potential for advertisers to harness,” said Timothy Waddell, director of product sales strategy at Microsoft Digital Advertising. “This expands the reach of advertisers to converse with these people all day long.”

Unlike Google, Microsoft is not planning on scanning these messages. It instead plans to track behavior around messages. For example, a consumer looking to buy a house may discuss this in e-mail and then may go directly to a search engine or MSN lifestyle page.

With this connection to the conversation, a marketer can track the behavior across these social spaces and then serve the ads. The study also found that 61% of online consumers are frustrated by having to visit multiple Web sites to access online information, and 67% of online consumers said that they would use an all-in-one service with a single username and password to manage all of their online transactions.

The new tool is aimed at addressing this need. The Windows Live Mail application lets users cross access information across various Web based e-mail accounts such as the inbox or contact list of an AOL or Gmail account into the Hotmail account via an e-mail address  at The platform is available as a set of free downloadable PC applications, which are connected to services delivered over the Internet. It includes social assets as well, including messaging with video sharing and voice over IP capabilities, as well as photo sharing, blogging and event planning tools.



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