Windows Live Alerts help you keep up with forum replies, stocks, traffic, sports, and a quite a few other services. As you might imagine, when something changes in the source, you can be notified via email, IM, or phone. I don't have any complaints about the service, but I would like to suggest one addition: search-based alerts. Once again, this is something Google offers that I thought was pretty nice. Essentially, you'd sign up for an alert and would receive an email daily, weekly, or monthly with whatever new search results are added to the global search index.
Some might wonder how/why this is useful. Well, there were a few instances where I used it. First, I put my name in there. Initially, this was just to try out the service to see what it was like, but after a while, I found it helpful to see how/where references to me came up around the web. Some I knew about, but others I didn't. This allowed me to respond to someone's blog if they were commenting on something I said, for instance. The second use was to get alerts on a few of my favorite tools. At the time, Update Version (command-line .NET assembly version updater) and DotNetNuke (open source .NET portal) were two examples.
The concept is pretty simple. I don't know what it'd take to build that into Live Search, but it would definitely be a nice-to-have.
Windows Live Search is all about getting search down to its bare essentials. That's exactly why Google was so successful over the years. Users went to the site, got what they wanted, and only what wanted. Their tasks were seemingly streamlined for them. One step of this streamlining process, albeit minor, is auto-focusing on the most used element of the site. Live Search does good, but for some reason, Live Local doesn't. I'd like to see that changed.
Windows Live Custom Domains is great. Before I started with Microsoft, I was using Google's offering. Of course, at the time, Live Domains wasn't available. Despite all that, one thing that I wish I could do in Live Domains that I can't is setup email forwarders. Probably ever email system that I've ever used allowed me to do this, so I'm hoping it can make it in there sometime.
While my post's title may not seem that way, I'm more of a "coder" than a "drag 'n dropper." Whenever I edit a user control or web page, I'm always in source view -- well, 98% of the time, anyway. With that, I'd love to see the ability to drag a control from the Solution Explorer to the code to have it instantiated. My main concern is when dragging user controls to HTML-based pages (i.e. master pages, web pages, and user controls); however, the concept works in just about any environment (i.e. drag server controls to HTML-based pages or drag any type of class to a code file). The concept of dragging any class file over to another seems pretty cool to me. The only problem is when people use stupid practices like including more than one class in a file. Even with that, tho, a simple context menu could solve the issue by allowing the user to specify which class to instantiate.
Anyone who has seen me work or watched my blog for a while knows I'm all about productivity. I love finding new utilities that help me do my job faster. One thing that does that is Firefox's bookmark keywords. Let me explain how Firefox bookmarks work...
There are four properties for each bookmark: name, location, keyword, and description. The name and location are obvious -- the name in the favorite/bookmark list and the URL it links to. The keyword is simply a shortcut that you can type in your address bar. IE allows you to type the name, which is the spirit of the idea, but still not quite. The nice thing about a separate keyword is that it allows you to type m instead of microsoft or microsoft.com. For sites you visit often, this is invaluable. To go one step beyond the keyword support, Firefox also allows the user to specify a parameter in the location. So, for instance, I can create a bookmark called Windows Live with a location of http://live.com?q=%s and a keyword of live. This bookmark allows me to type in live michael flanakin and do a search for michael flanakin. This feature is absolutely awesome. It saves SOOO much time it's not even funny.
Now, I know some people will say to either click the favorite in the menu, add a favorite to the toolbar, or even utilize the IE7 search provider; but the problem with all of these answers is that I have to take my hands off the keybord, which is wasted time. For those of you who are more mouse-oriented, you just won't understand the benefits of keyboard access and how fast it can make you.
Just to give a few examples about how I use it, let me list off the sites that I have setup this way: IMDB, TV.com, .NET class library, and Wikipedia. If you've seen my website, you know I'm big into movies and TV shows, which explains the first two. I hate going to their sites, clicking the search box, and typing what I want. I'd much rather skip all those steps and type everything in a split second. Next, as a developer, being able to specify .NET classes and/or namespaces can bring up the help for them instantaneously. For those interested, here's my location: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/%s.aspx. This resolves to the real URL, whether its a class or namespace. Finally, I'm sure you all know that Wikipedia can be a great resource for just about anything. I would link to Live, but I use the search box for that.
I've tried to move away from Firefox, which is why you'll probably see a lot of posts about suggestions for IE; but if I was using Firefox full-time, I'd probably have Live Local and a few others in there, too.
Here's a fairly simple one: add support for Ctrl+Backspace to the search textbox. As a dev-type, I use a lot of shortcuts. The Ctrl key is one of the most widely used typing shortcuts in my arsenal (i.e. Ctrl+ arrow key, Home, End, Backspace). Instead of the intended action, I get those stupid little squares I hate.
One of my favorite features of Firefox is that you can do inline searches without a popup. Not only that, but it supports the standard F3 shortcut, which IE doesn't.
For those who haven't seen Firefox's text search, it's a small bar the is displayed directly above the status bar. As you type letters, it searches for the next occurrence of what you've typed so far. For instance, if you want to find "Michael", you start by pressing "M". Once you do that, the first "M" (case insensitive, unless you select that option) is highlighted with a bright green background. Next, you type "i" and the first occurrence of "Mi" after the current cursor location is selected. This continues as you type the rest of your phrase. This feature is absolutely awesome.