Microsoft will begin adding key integration pieces between its Windows Live online services and popular social networking services such as Facebook and MySpace. The additions make Windows Live more desirable to consumers because they provide a way to centrally manage the many online experiences which they've joined.

"We've added 20 new third-party content partners that you can integrate with Windows Live, bringing the total number of third-party content partners to more than 30," says Brian Hall, Windows Live general manager. "We're \[also\] working with three new contacts partners—MySpace, hi5, and Tagged—so you can easily invite your contacts from third-party sites into Windows Live and vice versa, rather than having a different set of friends and contacts on each site. This simplifies your contact lists, \[and\] gives customers greater security and control over how they share their data."

Windows Live now offers two levels of integration with other services. There are feed partners, such as Facebook, that allow people to aggregate their activities on those services—like Facebook status updates—into the user's Windows Live "What's New" feed. And there are contacts partners that permit moving contacts lists among their third-party services and Windows Live.

The Windows Live partners list is pretty extensive and includes a number of top-tier online services, such as Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and TypePad, as well as many smaller services. By aggregating content from all these services into a single feed on Windows Live, users can easily present a single, aggregated view of what they're doing to others and more easily keep track of what their friends are doing. Microsoft already has the largest webmail service on Earth and the largest free instant messaging (IM) client; by opening up these hundreds of millions of users to other popular online services, Microsoft makes Windows Live an even more central part of their daily computing experience.

Microsoft also points to the coming release of Windows 7 as an important melding of the desktop PC with cloud-based services. "Windows Live integration with Windows 7 will really showcase the way the Windows Live suite of Web services and applications works hand in hand with the PC to create a simpler, more streamlined online experience for consumers," Hall says.