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Microsoft to boost social networking in its Web services

November 14, 2008|Jessica Guynn | Guynn is a Times staff writer.

SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft Corp. is making a social networking play.

The Redmond, Wash., software giant said Thursday that it was adding social networking features to its latest release of its Windows Live Web services.

An investor in popular social networking site Facebook Inc., Microsoft has hundreds of millions of e-mail and instant-messaging users. But, like Yahoo, it has yet to tap the underlying social networks that connect those users.

In coming weeks, Microsoft plans to offer its users new ways to engage and share with friends online. They can assemble contact lists, set up networks of people and create news feeds that feature Twitter updates, Flickr photos, Yelp reviews and other popular online activities.

Brian Hall, general manager for Windows Live, says Microsoft is trying to create a central hub where people can interact easily, whether sharing photos or planning events. That's an ambition that mirrors Yahoo Inc.'s, and it puts Microsoft in competition with Facebook and News Corp.'s MySpace. Google Inc. is pursuing a similar strategy with its OpenSocial initiative.

Hall underscored that Microsoft was trying to simplify the Web experience by bringing together people and content scattered all over the Web and across personal computers, phones and other devices. Having one central place to organize and manage information relieves some of the social networking fatigue people are experiencing, he said.

To that end, Microsoft formed partnerships with a number of companies including LinkedIn Corp., Photobucket Inc. and Twitter.


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