Microsoft has been really impressive lately with all of the Windows Live releases that they have had. One of my favorites is, of course, the Windows Live Writer which is the best blogging software that I have used. There are a few kinks but nothing that won’t eventually be taken care of.
However, the newest Windows Live release doesn’t come in the form of a new service or program, instead it is a helpful gadget. The screenshot of the Windows Live Contacts looks like some software but instead it is a gadget that is designed to be placed on a Website.
Instead of typing a shipping address into a shopping cart form, for example, the user could simply select one of their Windows Live contacts from the contact gadget. The user saves time and effort in completing the order, and you gain the benefits of an address book for your Web site without having to implement, maintain, and provision data storage and management UI on your servers. The user maintains control of their personal contacts data, while you focus on providing services with data the user gives you.
You can find a live example here that will let you select certain contacts and map their locations. Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention that I couldn’t get it to work in Firefox 2 Beta 1 so you may have to open up Internet Explorer to test it. The lack of Firefox 2 compatibility was a little disappointing but they have done a really good job implementing it.