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Windows Live gets more lively

Microsoft woos developers

Microsoft officially launched its developer site for its Windows Live services at Tech Ed in Boston this week. The site offers tools that enable developers to extend Microsoft's web-based services.

The site includes two SDKs (software development kits), one for Microsoft's Virtual Earth search tool and another for creating gadgets that run on Live.com, the customisable portal where online users can aggregate Windows Live services. Gadgets are mini-applications that allow users to access information, such as news and weather reports, over the internet.

George Moore, a general manager for Windows Live platform at Microsoft, described the Virtual Earth Interactive SDK during a session at Tech Ed on Tuesday. The toolkit, among other things, enables developers to customise maps in Virtual Earth and add them to web pages.

Moore demonstrated how developers can extend Windows Live Messenger to add interactive bits of code that fire up tasks, or what Microsoft calls "activities," so users chatting through the instant-messaging client can share web pages.

"The activity opens up an activity window and navigates to any URL," he said. "The activity code can interact with the IE object model as well as the [Live Messenger] API."

These activities allow people chatting through instant messaging to share web pages while they chat. Windows Live Messenger is the next version of the current MSN Messenger, and is currently in public beta.

At the conference on Sunday, Microsoft Chief Technology Officer Ray Ozzie said Microsoft plans gradually to merge its consumer-focused Windows Live services with services for business customers. It's still unclear, however, exactly how the company plans to do this.


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