Microsoft really, really wants people to try its Live Web services.
It wants users so bad, it’s acting like a geeky fraternity that hangs out a “free beer” sign to lure people into its parties.
If you don’t mind stepping into Microsoft’s world, they’re pretty nice services and the freebies are pretty generous.
Cashback’s been getting attention lately, but a bunch of upgraded Windows Live services announced today are worth a look.
Especially the upgraded SkyDrive storage service, which lets you upload, store and share up to 25 gigabytes of data for free.
That’s the equivalent of Microsoft giving you a free external storage device. The catch is that you’ve got to register with Microsoft, if you aren’t already registered to use a service like Hotmail. If you use SkyDrive to share with friends and family, they’ve got to be registered as well.
The free storage can also be used with Microsoft’s upgraded Windows Live Photos management and sharing service. It looks great and taps the 25 gigabytes of storage, but it’s also designed to propagate Microsoft’s (free) Silverlight presentation software:
Other freebies, offered in exchange for your joining the Microsoft club, include:
— A new Live dashboard that makes it a more appealing home page/start page if you’re using Live services for mail, photo sharing and calendaring. The dashboard displays messages, appointments and photos from your collection. Kind of reminds me of the home page/dashboard designed by Seattle’s Cozi. The new Live dashboard:
— A new service called Windows Live Groups, a service for teams, clubs and other groups to set up a space where they can share files, host discussions and post updates. Each group gets a profile page where they can have a shared calendar, photos and access to the group’s own Skydrive space.
— Windows Live Profile pages were upgraded so you can now add Facebook-like updates on what you’re up to currently.
— Microsoft also removed banner ads from the top of its Spaces social networking pages and upgraded the interface of its Events calendaring service.
It remains to be seen how much traction the upgrades give these services, which haven’t been able to match the buzz of their hip Silicon Valley competitors. But you can’t beat the price.