Talking about Windows Live always means talking about its users—the tech-savvy ones as well as the “normal” users. Today I am talking with Technogran, a ‘geeky grandma trying desperately to keep up with it all’, as she describes herself. She lives in the UK and likes Windows Live very much.
mynetx: Technogran, it is nice to welcome you as my guest! Please tell me a bit about yourself. How is your life involved with Windows Live?
Technogran: Thank you very much mynetx, it’s nice of you to invite me! I am very flattered to be asked, especially following others such as Angus!
I am on Windows Live and also use all of the Live Essentials Suite of programs on my desktop.
mynetx: Since when are you using Live? Tell me a bit about your history.
Technogran: Oh, I have been using all of the Windows Live applications and also the site itself since it was first thought of, although it doesn’t show that via my Space because I kept deleting it and starting from scratch. When the applications began appearing, they were all in beta, but I downloaded and tested them, and I loved them all.
mynetx: Do you think the Windows Live team cares for their users’ demands? Why?
Technogran: Tricky one this to answer, but I will be as frank as possible. I think that like a lot of Microsoft, the Live teams tend to listen to the wrong users. They take notice of the feedback from the more able user, such as the MVP’s, their ‘in-house’ users, and the more technically able, and the more ‘ordinary’ users views don’t tend to get heard. Microsoft isn’t alone in this, I hasten to add, lots of ordinary users just don’t know how to get their views across, because they are not as computer savvy as the more proficient user is. I am neither. I’m a sort of in-between user if you like, an ordinary user, but capable of making my views known on behalf of the ‘little everyday user’.
Technogran: LOL. What else is there? I love Writer, and in my opinion, Microsoft should be shouting from the rooftops about it! I have done my homework and tried to find an equivalent program that does everything that Writer does, and come up with zilch, so I consider it unique and for blogging (which let’s face it, every man, woman and their dog does these days) it’s a must have. I also like it because it’s on my desktop. I am a desktop person, that’s where I spend most of my computer time, and I love the way I can start a post, change it, save it to draft, and work on it at my leisure, only posting it when I feel it’s perfect.
Technogran: Hmm. Hard one because Brandon has been doing some great tips for Writer lately. My tip to anyone using it (because it annoys me more than anything that more users don’t make use of it) is to use the Margins feature to put a gap between a picture and their text. It tends to look so unsightly when the text ‘butts’ up to the edge of a photo or picture, and it’s so easy to do!
mynetx: Within the next five years, where could you picture Windows Live?
Technogran: I think it all depends on where the Live Teams want to take it, and which direction. There does seem to be a ‘mis-match’ between how they view Windows Live and how the majority of users view it, as was ably illustrated after the Wave 3 updates. Lots of users saw Windows Live first and foremost as a blogging platform and site which then produced a ‘blogging’ community, but it seems that the teams don’t quite see it as such, and to be honest, have never ever referred to it as such.
mynetx: Please provide two positive and negative comments about any outstanding Windows Live product.
Technogran: Hmm, you ask some difficult questions mynetx! Let me see…
Positives. Windows Live Mail, its ability to set up your e-mail accounts quickly and easily. The way it can fetch down all your e-mails, RSS feeds, and Newsgroups all to one place! Love it.
Negatives. Live Calendar. Wish it had incorporated into it a ‘to-do’ feature. I’m not too keen on having all those different calendars either. And Live Photo Gallery, wish it let me ‘geo-tag’ my pics.
mynetx: Do you run Windows Live Mail 24/7? Do you have some kind of a routine with Mail and the other parts of Windows Live?
Technogran: Yes I do. Windows Live Mail is the first program I open in a morning to check my e-mails, then I check all my RSS feeds and read them all. Also most of the newsgroups (about Windows Live natch). Obviously I only open Gallery if I am doing something with my photos, and Writer is open when I am constructing a blog post.
mynetx: Use your fantasy: how do you think Mail will look like within the next five years? What new features could it present?
Technogran: Hmm. Again a toughie because I think a lot will hinge on Google Wave, and whether or not us ‘ordinary users’ take to that or not. Mail has been around for a long time without really changing its format, and it IS based on the letters arriving on your doorstep. IF Google Wave does take off, especially with the ordinary user, then it’s ‘all change’ as they say, and Mail as we all know it will wither and die. It all changes so quickly these days, and change is speeding up, so who knows, but obviously as we have all seen with Windows XP and IE6, there are loads and loads of users who will resist change to the end, no matter how good the replacement is!
mynetx: Comparing these ideas with Mail’s current features, which of these might be added in the next release, Wave 4?
Technogran: Well, we know that Calendar is getting Alerts added—and hopefully for Gran, reminders or even better ‘pop up on your taskbar’ to-do’s. (to aid lousy memories! You’ll all get there some day!) I think the team will want to keep the clean interface, and I know that I am one of its fans, though many don’t like it and think it looks ‘washed out’. I would personally LOVE to see the return of Active Search which was in the old incarnation of Windows Live Mail when it was better known as Windows Live Mail Desktop (and was a pig to type each time you mentioned it!). I loved it but again, lots didn’t and it was eventually removed from the completed product, despite the fact that the team made it ‘choosable’.
mynetx: Windows Live Movie Maker—does its release, only some 24 hours ago, contain any surprises? What do you feel when thinking about it?
Technogran: I love the way the guys were brave enough to take Movie Maker (which was already well liked) and just begin again from scratch. I also love the fact that their new ideas all hinge around making Movie Maker easier to use for a newbie! This is an attitude that this Gran is all for, then everyone benefits! Sure if you are more technically able, there is all the features that you want, but for anyone who has never used a Movie making application before, I applaud their use of the ‘Ribbon’ interface, lovely large easy to see icons, etc. Bet you it won’t be long before we see the video out of a seven year old who has single handedly created a movie with his/her pictures! (Mind you, less of the youngsters, they should show one of a 80 year old Granny or Granddad using their apps as well!)
mynetx: Nice that you already tried the new version of Movie Maker and that you blogged about it.
—Are you satisfied with the Windows Live services that are provided to you? Why?
Technogran: Yes I am. However, I wish their was an easier way to give feedback, and to get feedback back. When the Essentials programs were first in beta all those years ago, I can remember conversing with the teams responsible for all of them via e-mail! Yes it’s true! And you really felt that your feedback was actually not only being read, but also being acted upon. I know it can be time consuming to sift through, but it just makes users feel closer to contributing to a program or application.
mynetx: What is your favorite feature in Photo Gallery?
Technogran: The fact it’s free! LOL. No, that’s difficult because I love all of it. As different features have been added over the course of time, it has become a really powerful photo manipulation program, and I just hope that this continues in the future. I love using the Panoramic Photo feature for example, I love how easy it is to edit your pictures and improve them as well. I would love it if Photosynth and DeepZoomPix were also added as well. That would make Photo Gallery really one of the most awesome free photo programs out there (although it already is in my book!).
mynetx: Ever heard of Live Mesh? What was your first impression of it? Could it be a new diverse method of file sharing among peers, or could it improve the current system at hand?
Technogran: Yes I am beta testing Live Mesh and have it on my computer at all times. Trouble is, I don’t really have any other computer to sync with, but I tend to use it to allow my eldest son to access my files that I need to share with him. I have also used it with a few others who I needed to see a video for example.
mynetx: Do you wish one of the Live Services/Essentials would have a feature that a third-party service/software already has?
Technogran: Yes! I wish Windows Live Mail had a reminder feature such as the one for Thunderbird/Firefox called Reminderfox! I love that program, and found it almost indispensable but no one has ever made one similar for IE or Live Mail. Drat!
mynetx: What is your intention behind talking with everyday users in your section “Living with Live”? What inspires you?
Technogran: Why the newbies of course! It has always annoyed me that we ‘ordinary users’ don’t get heard. Especially this applies to what has become known as ‘silver surfers’ meaning us users who are now retired and now beginning to get to grips with using computers for the very first time. All of the coders, engineers, and those who work in Information Technology as a whole tend to forget that we didn’t have computers at school, no one taught us how to use them, we don’t know you can ‘right click’ to find another menu list, we are of a different mindset and age where we have always used pen and paper, and full words, not all this ‘messenger speak’ that the younger end use today! (I have to often ask my grandchildren to interpret most of what they send in a messenger conversation! In fact my messages usually consist of ‘what does that mean?’) So getting back to your question about what inspires me, it’s that someone has to try and help those users in an easy to understand manner, and as it’s not all that long ago since I was in that position of not knowing anything about using a computer, it’s still all pretty fresh in my mind. Besides, they might listen more to someone who is just an ordinary user like themselves. My ‘how-to’s’ on the Clubhouse are often posted in response to someone on my Network having trouble with either the Windows Live site OR one of the desktop applications.
When Wave 3 was launched I was at my busiest, trying to do posts to help users find their friends, or find their Space etc.
mynetx: Are you working on any project related to Windows Live currently?
Technogran: Not at the moment, although it’s the ‘lull before the storm’ of course, as we all wait for the Wave 4 updates to arrive. I shall most likely be glued to the keyboard night and day when all that occurs as users post up with ‘can’t find this’ or ‘can’t find that’. I would rather do a post to help than give an answer in a forum, simply because you can illustrate the steps to take with pictures and it’s easier then for a user to follow. Also they can always print it out to follow it as well. It’s time consuming doing them, as I like to get my ‘how-to’s’ just right, and make them as easy as possible, but I love doing it and being helpful to other users on here. After all, the last thing we want is users getting so frustrated that they either don’t bother joining and using Windows Live or they just give up because it’s all too much trouble.
mynetx: Technogran, seeing Windows Live from your point of view was very interesting. Thank you for sharing this all with us!
Technogran: No problem! 🙂
You liked this interview?
Technogran and me have started a cooperation—look forward to regular rant conversations about the most recent news and happenings in the world of Windows Live!