Windows Messenger Connect Revealed: Private Social Graphs & More

At the Next Web Conference in Amsterdam, the Windows Live Messenger team announcedMessenger Connect,” a brand-new collection of APIs for Windows Live Messenger. The Messenger Connect API actually ties together APIs that have been around for awhile, including the Windows Live ID, Contacts API, Messenger Web Toolkit, and more) into one single, standards-based API that uses OAuth WRAP, ActivityStrea.ms, and PortableContacts while also adding some new scenarios.

The new Messenger Connect API lets developers do 3 main things:

  1. Create instant user profiles and friend lists. In other words, portable friend lists you can choose to share with websites by signing in.
  2. Enable real-time IM on websites plus feed-based sharing options
  3. Easily integrate into multiple development environments (an API service exposes a RESTful interface, wrapped in a range of libraries including JavaScript, .NET and others)

For end users

But for consumers, what the Messenger Connect will allow for is the ability to pull together “all of a user’s social networks into one ‘passport’ that they can use around the web,” writes Martin Bryant on The Next Web blog. Yep, that means you can tote around your Facebook identity and others too, all in one package.

“Like the new version of Windows Live Messenger, it supports Facebook, Myspace and LinkedIn but will additionally be supported by over 100 third party partners at launch,” Bryant explains.

While Microsoft claims that the aim is not to compete directly with Facebook’s Open Graph, “we’re not trying to be a social network, we’re trying to be the best companion to social networks…,” Microsoft’s John Richards told TNW, there are some similarities between the two services and how they both let you port your social graph around the web.

However, privacy is being positioned as the biggest difference. The official blog post reads: “…we believe that the privacy of a customers’ data is a critical element of a secure web and the customer should be in control…Websites cannot access any of a user’s non-public information from Windows Live without prior consent…”

Security and privacy, in fact, are listed as “foundational elements” of the new service, which should be a big plus for consumers who want the convenience of a social companion service without the fear of over-sharing.

The new API is part of the next version of Messenger, coming soon and available for preview here: http://www.messengerpreview.com/

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