Windows goes social: secure collaboration from Unisys, social networking from Windows Live

Two announcements today give insight into the social, collaborative new world that Windows users are

about to receive -- and not just from Microsoft. A product from Unisys fills an interesting niche because it offers encryption strong enough to meet Department of Defense criteria. This tool lets users create social networks based on Windows group policies that can securely swap data.

The tool is called Unisys Stealth Solution for Network, and it allows Windows desktops and servers to make use of session-specific encryption that uses the U.S. government-approved Advanced Encryption Algorithm keys to scramble data as users share it. Users are placed into communities of interest through a group policy using Microsoft Active Directory.

If you don't need to lock down your data with such strong encryption, but you were longing for Microsoft's online services to at least let you pal around with your social networks on Facebook, Microsoft has rolled out the promised upgrades, reports PC Magazine. The Windows Live Home site gives Live users a customizable landing page for all the services, called Wave 3. Similar to Facebook, it lets users create a network of friends and post updates and photos.

The new home page supports third-party, popular social-networking sites like Flicker, iLike, Twitter and Yelp. Other changes have been added, such as allowing instant messages to be handled via a browser (think Meebo, but only for Windows Live Messenger). PC Magazine also reports:

"Windows Live Groups, which will replace MSN Groups, will allow chat, photo sharing and announcements among private group members. The SkyDrive online storage service also has been updated, with a free storage allowance increased from 5GB to 25GB. Web Photos has been beefed up with more storage, too, also 25GB, and improves tagging, commenting, slide shows and uploading from cell phones. Windows Live Events, too, gets the makeover, with a simplified interface."

These are me-too moves by Microsoft and not likely to drive users to ditch a favorite social network and start using Windows Live. It feels as if the suits in Redmond are saying, "Let's share updates with Twitter -- all the kids are doing it!" But baby steps first. If Microsoft can make social networking appeal to the enterprise by offering social-networking services that integrate with Office/Exchange while handling security, reporting and compliance, it might have a winning combination.

Visit the Microsoft Subnet web site for more news, blogs, podcasts. Also see:

Microsoft patents ... a mere 146 issued so far in NovemberAdvocate says IPv6 will reduce global energy usage10 questions for Small Business Server/Essential Business Server guy, Russ Madlener7 Keys to cleaning up Windows with Windows 717 job-hunting resources for Windows prosGlenn Weadock on Windows Server 2008Library of Windows management tools from A Better Windows Worldall Microsoft Subnet bloggers.bi-weekly Microsoft newsletter. (Click on News/Microsoft News Alert.)

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