The Official Microsoft Blog recently had an entry called Baking Social Into the Experience that summarizes several initiatives that Microsoft has taken to integrate the social experience into their products and services.
They list several in the story but I wanted to highlight a few that I think have really made a huge difference in the product/experience:
• Xbox and Xbox Live. Microsoft pioneered the first online console gaming community, which is the largest in the world today with more than 25 million users who spend more than 1 billion hours a month on the service. Xbox Live is also integrated with the great services from our friends at Facebook and Twitter, and we recently added Video Kinect, which makes sure you’re always in the frame and can video chat with Xbox Live and Windows Live Messenger friends through your TV.
• Windows Phone 7. Users and reviewers have lauded the Windows Phone 7 support of and integration with social media in a way that is fundamental and distinct from any other mobile device, from smart design that places peoples’ social media at the center of the experience to the support of rich social apps. For example, instead of drilling into a specific social app for updates, “social” information from services such as Facebook is automatically surfaced for the person in your contact list that you’re calling or texting. Windows Phone 7 has been called “the most exciting thing to happen to phones in a long time” (Matt Buchanan, Gizmodo).
• Windows Live Essentials. Windows Live Essentials 2011 supports deep integration across the board. Windows Live messenger users can connect to their friends on Facebook chat, Yahoo! Messenger, Microsoft Lync and Xbox and also comment on social updates from more than 75 websites. Windows Live Mail connects to Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail Plus and other e-mail services to help. Windows Live Photo Gallery users can upload photos directly to Flickr and YouTube as well as Windows Live SkyDrive. With Windows Live Essentials, we’ve sought to work closely with partners across the industry on key standards, including OAuth WRAP, Portable Contacts and Activity Streams. My own personal favorite is Windows Live Writer, which was used to publish this post. It is considered by many to be the best blog authoring tool — it plays nicely with WordPress.com, Blogger, TypePad and many more blogging services.
It should not be a big surprise that a company like Microsoft is knee deep into the social media arena and have worked to really integrate them into their offerings.
If you remember many years ago Microsoft was late to the Internet game and openly discussed that missed opportunity so for them to be integrating sociality into so many of their core products and services makes complete sense.