Windows Live and You: “My life revolves around Messenger” (Siebe Tolsma)

As promised, here is the interview I had been talking of. I don’t know how many of you know Siebe, however I am sure you will find the following interview in the series “Windows Live and You” interesting. Have fun!

mynetx: Nice that I may talk with you a bit about Windows Live and You. Would you mind introducing yourself and your Windows Live relation in one sentence?

Siebe: I’m Siebe Tolsma, and I work as a Software Development Engineer at Microsoft in Canada. I’m with the Windows Live Platform team, who ship the Windows Live Messenger Web Toolkit πŸ™‚

mynetx: What’s that?

Siebe: It’s a toolkit which helps developers add Messenger functionality to their own websites. It consists of two parts — The first is a set of fully skinnable UI controls. The second is a javascript library that can be used to build similar functionality from the ground up.

mynetx: Ah – like custom Messengers running from the Web?

Siebe: Yes, exactly. Developers can add Messenger to their website, so their visitors can now interact with their buddies right from the web… and of course bring new visitors to your website that way.

mynetx: Competition to traditional Web Messengers, like eBuddy or Meebo, in your opinion?

Siebe: No, I think of it more of a way to provide additional functionality to developers, whereas Meebo and eBuddy only have the core web messenger functionality. For example, with our toolkit, you can very quickly and easily set up some controls and code to enable sharing of content between the visitors of your website and their buddies. I like to think of our toolkit as web messenger plus the cool and exciting features of your own website.

mynetx: Your job in the Windows Live Platform team must be a great one, true?

Siebe: Absolutely, I get to work with some very smart people and develop great new products for Windows Live. Being on top of the latest and greatest web stuff is a great way to spend my day πŸ™‚ It’s a dream come true, haha.

mynetx: :D. By the way, since when are you in the Live business? Tell me a bit about your history and how you came to that job.

Siebe: Ah, it’s a bit of a long story, but interesting nevertheless. Back in 2003 (I think it was), I started a new bot (or Windows Live Agent, as they are called now) called BOT2K3. For those who don’t remember or don’t know it, it was a bot you could add to your contact list and play games with and so on.

From there I got to know a lot of people from the Windows Live (and MSN) community, and eventually a few people from Microsoft. After a few informal meet-ups with them and a few others from the community, I was invited to submit my resumΓ© to do an internship in Redmond. Eventually I did two internships and ended up here in Canada as a full-time employee.

mynetx: I start understanding your dream came true, lol. When I first got to know you a bit, that was when I read some news on and noticed that they had been brought to them by “Inky” πŸ™‚

Siebe: Yes! During those days I was known under the nickname Inky. I got to know Dwergs and I did some news posts for his popular news website

mynetx: As an MS worker in the Live team, are you running Messenger 24/7? Maybe you’ve got kind of a daily routine with Windows Live.

Siebe: Yeah, my life pretty much revolves around Messenger. I love the new MPOP feature (signing on at work and at home). I talk to my friends and parents back home on Messenger, as well as the rest of my team. Being up in Canada away from my manager and the rest of my team is a bit of a challenge, but using Messenger all day to communicate makes things a lot easier πŸ™‚

The first thing I do every day is check any IMs I got overnight, and last thing is usually saying good night to all the rest of my friends across the globe.

mynetx: What is your favorite feature in Messenger?

Siebe: There’s so many to chose from! But if I had to pick, it would be the categories and groups in the contact list and MPOP as a close second.

mynetx: Why?

Siebe: Being able to sort and categories all my contacts is very important to me, even when there is a search feature. I have gotten so many contacts over the years. Being able to sort them out helps me remember where I know them from πŸ˜‰

As for MPOP, it is very useful to be able to read back things I said during the day when I get home in the evening.. And now I can just leave my computer signed in all day πŸ™‚

mynetx: May I ask how many categories you have?

Siebe: I have about 12 categories with about 150 online contacts (plus a similar amount of offline contacts).

mynetx: Hmhmm. Not many for a Softie, hm?

Siebe: Haha, perhaps not. But I think it’s more than enough πŸ™‚

mynetx: And how many Live IDs do you run?

Siebe: I currently only actively use two Live IDs — One for Messenger, and one for my XBOX and Zune (which is tied to a single country).

mynetx: Ahh. Looking at the rest of the Windows Live bubble, what do you like most in Windows Live at all?

Siebe: Well, Messenger obviously, haha. But aside from that, I think Writer and Mail are great products. I also use Spaces, but I feel that it could use some work πŸ™‚

mynetx: When you’re using Messenger intensively, I’m sure you’ve got a breaking tip for an “aha” effect. Give me a tip you consider precious πŸ™‚

Siebe: I really like being able to drag new pictures onto the “me area” to update my display picture. It saves a lot of time rummaging around in the various dialogs.

mynetx: What is the thing you’d love most to be added to Messenger?

Siebe: A few minor things at this point. First would be “inline chat”, quickly sending messages from the contact list itself. Second is better mark-up support (similar to what Messenger Plus! already does) and finally the ability to disable Photo Sharing without regedit hacks πŸ™‚

mynetx: Are you using Messenger Plus!, by the way?

Siebe: No, I don’t.

mynetx: Do you think the features you mentioned, will be added in Windows Live Wave 4?

Siebe: I can’t really say. Planning is underway, but I think we’ll all have to be patient and see what cool stuff the client team comes up with this time around πŸ™‚

mynetx: Are we going to see any interesting changes or additions to the Web Toolkit? I can’t wait to see… πŸ˜€

Siebe: Definitely! We will be releasing an update very shortly with a bunch of fixes and support for IE6. [Editor’s Note: This update has been released on 30 April 2009.] In the near future we’re going to add localization, and for our next major release we plan on adding a bunch of new and exciting features! πŸ˜€

mynetx: Like?

Siebe: Haha, I don’t want to spoil the surprise πŸ™‚

mynetx: Not even a small hint? (A)

Siebe: Okay, but a really small one: Flexibility. Make of it what you want (-;

mynetx: And finally, what’s the Live-related project you’re currently working on?

Siebe: Outside of work you mean, or? πŸ™‚

mynetx: Yes!

Siebe: Haha, um, currently I (unfortunately) don’t really have a project going on.. But I hope to come up with some crazy new cool idea soon πŸ™‚

mynetx: Okay, be sure to ping me then…

Siebe: Certainly will do.

mynetx: Anyways, thanks that you took these minutes to discuss Windows Live and You with me!

Siebe: No problem, I’m looking forward to the remaining interviews you have in store for us πŸ™‚


  1. “Haha, I don’t want to spoil the surprise”
    Bah! Could’ve at least told us a date! (A)
    Anyways, great to see an interview from a Live insider, congrats =)

  2. interview sounded great, Very Impressive….except my Windows Live Messenger died a week ago… wouldnt let me log in… I deleted it… completely… so i thought… then went to a couple sites ..was able to delete it from registry…and reinstall…. i ended up with the exact same symptom… When i try to sign on…it gives me an error : Error Code : 8004888d…. Im about ready to sell my Microsoft Stock, and maybe jump out the window. If you can help me, with an actual answer that works, I’d appreciate it… If you can’t , then I’ll know you’re full of it. Have a wonderful day.

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