Windows Live Spaces (previously MSN Spaces) is Microsoft's blogging and Social Networking platform. The site was originally released in early 2004 under the MSN Spaces name to compete with other social networking sites. Windows Live Spaces received an estimated 27 million (27,000,000) unique visitors per month as of August 2007.
Basic functionality of Windows Live Spaces includes:
- Blogs - including support for comments, trackbacks, and RSS
- Photos - including support for grouping by album, comments, and RSS
- Lists - including Music lists, Movie lists, Book lists, and support for RSS
- Friends - including tags and notes on friends and support for RSS
- Profile - including basic info, personal info (defaulted to non-public), work info, and social info
- Guestbook - for visitors to comment on the space
Several "gadgets" are available for Windows Live Spaces users that allows for greater customisation of an individual's space. The "Windows Media Player" Gadget gives users the ability to play and display music and videos on their Windows Live Space. The "Tweak UI" Gadget, gives users the flexibility to alter the style, color and transparency of certain aspects of a Windows Live Space, while the "Custom HTML" Gadget grants users the ability to call a small amount of hand-written HTML code (a feature that is often used for displaying banners and other graphics).
Contact Cards, which summarize recent additions to a Windows Live Space for a particular user, are integrated with Windows Live Messenger, MSN Web Messenger and Hotmail Contacts. Clicking on a user's icon in your buddy list, pops up their Contact Card which shows thumbnails of their recent photos, a summary of their recent blog entries and a short list of recent songs from their playlist. The contact cards have not yet been updated to the new ones used in Messenger 8.1
MSN Spaces to Windows Live Spaces
MSN Spaces was Microsoft's free Social Networking platform. The site was launched in early December 2004 with the aim of allowing its users to reach out to others by publishing their thoughts, photos and interests in an easy and compelling way. With this goal, MSN Spaces finds itself competing with similar services like MySpace and Yahoo!'s 360°.
As well as allowing users to share their thoughts, photos and interests, MSN Spaces users were given over 100 varied themes and several different page layouts to choose from when designing their MSN Space. Users also had the option to set access rights for visitors to their MSN Space based on the relationship between them (e.g. Friends, Family etc.). Visitors were also granted when their contacts' had updated their MSN Space. On the 1st of August 2006, MSN Spaces became part of the Windows Live services platform, where it is now rebranded as Windows Live Spaces.
Changes to Spaces
There are various, obvious differences between MSN Spaces and Windows Live Spaces, the most instantly evident being a redesigned layout engine. This allows users greater flexibility in terms of the layout of their "Space", for example, it is now possible to move the "Title and Tagline" as a module, where before it was permanently fixed to the top of the page. It also looks to resolve some oft-criticised characteristics of MSN Spaces, such as the alignment of content on the computer screen. MSN Spaces was designed for resolutions of 800×600 pixels and above, and all content on the page grew out from the left side of the screen. This led to the page occupying only part of the available screen area on displays with resolutions of the order of 1280×1024 pixels, wasting a large area to the right. Windows Live Spaces aligns all content to the centre of the screen and appears to have been designed for best viewing on a resolution of 1024×768 pixels
The URL for all MSN Spaces members were moved to keep with the Windows Live branding. (Example - thespacecraft.spaces.msn.com was moved to thespacecraft.spaces.live.com), with the old url continuing to work as a redirect.
Currently Spaces are best viewed with Internet Explorer. Some users of the older versions of Mozilla Firefox find the site completely unusable (it reports a "missing framework" error). Newer versions of Firefox (2.0 and above) still have problems displaying and editing pages. Other users report that it occasionally displays pages incorrectly; a problem inherited from MSN Spaces. Recently, however, some of the Firefox errors seem to have been fixed, like the "missing framework" error and the inability to leave comments on others' spaces through Firefox. Users of the Mac OS X browser, Safari, are unable to change their space's theme.
It has been mentioned that Windows Live Spaces censors the words that a user can choose when naming their Space, prohibiting for example the word whore or the so-called "seven dirty words".  In addition, Microsoft has received criticism for censoring the words "democracy" and "freedom" under its Chinese portal.
Despite being a useful messaging and communication tool, Windows Live Spaces has been criticized as not being as powerful as some of its alternatives. One IT magazine recommends the use of Windows SharePoint Services, or a Wiki, instead of Windows Live Spaces.
Windows Live Spaces supports a number of RSS feeds for publicly shared user content.
- Main feed: /feed.rss - 20 blog entries plus photos and lists (ex: http://thespacecraft.spaces.live.com/feed.rss)
- Blog feed: /blog/feed.rss - 50 blog entries (ex: http://thespacecraft.spaces.live.com/blog/feed.rss)
- Photo albums feed: /photos/feed.rss - photo albums (ex: http://thespacecraft.spaces.live.com/photos/feed.rss)
- Photo album: /photos/Album_ID/feed.rss - photos from a specific album (ex: http://thespacecraft.spaces.live.com/photos/cns!8AA773FE0A12B9E3!3591/feed.rss)
- Lists feed: /lists/feed.rss - lists (ex: http://thespacecraft.spaces.live.com/lists/feed.rss)
- Friends feed: /friends/feed.rss - friends (ex: http://thespacecraft.spaces.live.com/friends/feed.rss)
- ↑ "Face to interface". Social networks. Economist.com. http://economist.com/daily/chartgallery/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9981022. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
- ↑ "PowerToys are here!!!". The Space Craft. Windows Live Spaces. http://thespacecraft.spaces.live.com/Blog/cns!1pBU8QRvZvOfXG4QTjpv_GFg!105.entry. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
- ↑ "Microsoft blog service sparks censorship dodging". ZDnet. http://news.zdnet.co.uk/internet/0,1000000097,39175985,00.htm. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
- ↑ "Microsoft deletes 'freedom' and 'democracy' in China". The Register. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/06/13/ms_ban_freedom/. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
- ↑ Branscombe, Mary (2005-02-03). "Space Setter". Inside IT (London: The Guardian). http://technology.guardian.co.uk/online/story/0,,1403952,00.html. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
- List of social networking websites
- Windows Live
- Windows Live Events
- Windows Live Groups
- Windows Live Spaces Mobile
- Windows Live Spaces Website
- Windows Live Spaces Team Blog
- MSN Spaces fact sheet
- Map of all MSN Spaces
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