Microsoft extends its openness policy to Windows Live developers

The message all this week from Microsoft has been one of openness, sharing with clients, and even global responsibility -- even in the wake of a new round of EC fines. This morning, the message continued into the online services space.

The communications ability of Microsoft's MSN messaging networks has been open for other IM tools to use for some time, but today, the company is making available the methodology for a concept it has been demonstrating to developers -- albeit in the prototype stage -- for over two years: integrating the ability to invoke Windows Live communications through Web applications.

Today, the company has gone live with a JavaScript client API for embedding Windows Live chatting ability directly into a Web page. The goal here is to enable clients to build tools such as customer chat rooms and dedicated social functions, using Windows Live as a conduit.

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"When a third party integrates the Windows Live Messenger Library into their site they can define the look & feel to create their own IM experience," writes Live Platform Services team manager Dave Treadwell this morning. "Unlike the existing third party wrappers for the MSN Protocol (the underlying protocol for Windows Live Messenger) the Windows Live Messenger Library securely authenticates users, therefore their Windows Live ID credentials are safe."

Of course, this process will help Windows Live to attain more active users through its IM service, and more users means more Windows Live IDs. But rather than make Web site developers force their customers onto Microsoft's territory to establish their IDs, the company is also offering access to Beta 1 of its Windows Live Contacts API.

This is a sticky subject, since attracting customers to a Web site through chat capability typically requires them to enter personal information. And since they'll be using Microsoft's messaging tools, that information will indeed be kept by Microsoft. So the Contacts API system, according to Treadwell, will let client sites attain just the minimum information they need to get a conversation started -- a client's name and his choice of username and password, for instance.

This helps Microsoft avoid the appearance of trolling for even more personally identifying information, which is a practice that has garnered all service providers -- including also Google and Yahoo -- some intense scrutiny from advocacy groups and government regulators worldwide.

On top of this news, Treadwell announced this morning that Microsoft's free streaming video service for Silverlight users is increasing its storage capacity for sites that wish to stream their own content, to 10 GB.

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